Tag Archives: West Dean

West Dean again :)


I was back at beautiful West Dean on Saturday attending a one day course on Propagation.  Whilst it was interesting, I’m not sure I learnt a massive amount, but it is always such a pleasure to visit.  The grounds are immaculate whatever the time of year, and so it was on Saturday.

The glasshouses were full of fabulously ordered rows of this and that.  Here tomaotes,


I took quite a shine to this beauty, ‘Monserrat’IMG_1524

and this enormous Snake Gourd.IMG_1522



The smell in this glass house was unbelievable!IMG_1519

In the walled garden the purple and yellow borders were still looking fabulous.IMG_1529

Just look at this planting combination.


I was particularly taken with this Verbena which was used repeatedly on the corners.  All of the plants were absolutely smothered in blooms.  I can’t help feel this would look a darn site more interesting in the front of my Swing Beds than the current geraniums with not a flower in sight!  (Note too the perfectly matched Penstemon)IMG_1531

Into the Cutting Garden and the colours are much hotter,IMG_1527

including a whole bed of stunning Zinnias.  Phwoar!


These three particularly caught my eye – ‘Coral Beauty’, ‘Oriole’ and ‘Cupcake Lime and Lime Red’ (together).

Another fabulous bed, this time of Dahlias.IMG_1500

Clockwise from top left ‘Dark Star’, ‘New Baby’, ‘Summer Night’ and, very similar to ‘Dark Star’ but with rounder petals, ‘Bishop of Auckland’.

And finally a picture of the two plants I took cuttings from as part of the course – Salvia ‘Ember Wishes’IMG_1533

and Fuschia thymifolia.IMG_1534

If  none of my cuttings take I really won’t mind.  I still met some lovely people and had a fabulous day at one of my very favourite gardens.  Thanks West Dean, I’ll be back.IMG_1492



Willow Weaving at West Dean


Wednesday saw the OH and me back at wonderful West Dean together.  I’d promised to buy him some sort of course as a birthday present, and then (pre re-employment!) decided I’d go along too.

The course was ‘Willow Work for the Garden’, the instructor Dominic Parrette (see some of his work above) and we had an absolute ball.

Dominic couldn’t have been more helpful and supportive, and we came back with an absolute stash of willow goodies, to the point where we had two items strapped to the roof rack, as well as the seats down and the boot stuffed!

We started on Wednesday evening with a general chat regarding safety, materials and tools.  Dominic grows some of the willow himself, but he had also brought some in, so there was a range of lengths and colours.IMG_6245

The first evening we all made willow spheres just to get the ‘feel’ of the willow.IMG_6246

But on the Thursday we started on various individual projects.  I wanted two tall plant supports to replace a pair which had rotted after a number of years, and so the OH and I decided to make one each.


A certain degree of rivalry ensued, but I think they look pretty good.  Note the spirals travel in different directions as I’m left handed.  I’d like to say that this helps with the symmetry, but that’s rather ruined by the fact that mine’s definitely chubbier!


After the plant supports, we both went a little off piste.   The OH created a sculptural piece which then evolved into a rhubarb forcer.  (Or, as one of our fellow attendees suggested, a hobbit house),


and I decided to convert the two spheres we’d made the previous evening into some sort of flower sculpture:


After knocking up another tall plant support after dinner (which was even chubbier), on Friday I calmed down and made a more sensible woven panel.


The challenge then was getting them home – here they are admiring the West Dean view whilst waiting for their transport.


And here are some other lovely creations made by our jolly groupIMG_6370


And finally, here are a couple of our items in situ.



With enormous thanks to Dominic, West Dean and all our lovely group for a wonderfully creative couple of days.  Do take a look at the short courses at West Dean – and note Dominic will be back in both June and October if you’re inspired by our wobbly willow!

West Dean – autumnal dream


Having described (at some length!) Keith Wiley’s inspiring talk in yesterday’s post, one thing I didn’t disclose was where the talk took place, and the answer is wonderful West Dean.

I’ve written about West Dean before, here, and it really is one of my favourite places.  The combination of a first class garden (with flowers, fruit and veg and amazing glasshouses) as well as a fabulous college, offering numerous inspiring talks and courses, makes it a place I could happily adopt as a home from home.

When I visited on Saturday for Keith’s talk, I wasn’t sure whether I would write about the gardens again.  However, I’d brought my camera just in case, and a quick whirl around the walled gardens during our lunch break made it very obvious there was plenty to share, so enjoy!







I loved this Dahlia – D. FuschianaIMG_4942

and this Zinnia, Z. Raspberry CordialIMG_4933


Perfect veg, as everIMG_4978

with more to comeIMG_5001

and a stunning array of pots to finish.IMG_4957

Greenhouse gratification – March

Greenhouse (2)Now I know I’m a very lucky girl to have such a lovely large greenhouse but it’s amazing how it fills up.   I’m already wishing away the days until I can be confident we’re frost free and I can put out all the succulents and pelargoniums which are currently occupying a significant amount of space.



Because of ongoing problems with the ankle I’ve been unable to do anything too strenuous and so have gone a bit mad with the seed planting.

First I updated my ‘Seed 2014’ spreadsheet to discover I have well over one hundred seed packets from Chilterns, Seaspring Seeds, Derry Watkins, Jekka McVicar, Sarah Raven and the RHS.  What was I thinking?

Secondly, I treated myself to a heated propagation mat, something so toasty I imagine the seeds are happy even when I’m not there keeping them company.  And thirdly, I’ve been planting.  Largely according to Maria but I have strayed occasionally (please don’t tell).

Already many seeds are popping up – certainly the sweet peas planted in February are well on the way – they’ve been pinched out and are bushing out strongly.  A second wave (in the round pots) clearly has some way to go, but the tomatoes will soon need potting on.  I’ve also already planted aubergine (Turkish Orange) and Peppers (Marconi and Mini Belle Yellow). I’ve never done that well with either in the past, but last year it was definitely because I planted too late.

I have also in the past planted the Padron Peppers, which I adore fried in the bit of olive oil and lots of sea salt, but after eating literally over a hundred when I was in Madrid recently, I’m not sure they like me as much as I like them, so I think I might give them a rest this year!

And to finish, to give even me greenhouse envy, see below a shot of one of the glasshouses at the stunning West Dean gardens taken last year.  Is it just me, but do you find that more appealing than a box of chocolates?

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