Thursday, 30 July 2015

30 July : Hollyhocks

The Hollyhocks are being idle. I don't know what they think they are going to achieve by loafing around, flaunting their green buds. Even my dear friend Caroline, who claims to avoid gardening, has photos of her hollyhocks in full bloom taken a month ago. I have told them that if they don't get their act together they will get frostbite. I admit that the location is a teeny bit shady but the effect will be utterly charming when they flower. One must suffer sometimes for Art.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

29 July : Meditation

Is there anything more delightful than standing at the window on a warm summer's morning with a mug of tea in your hand, looking out at the garden? At first you notice the things that you have not done: uneven lawn edges, a bush not clipped, the border that is waiting until autumn, but after a while you get distracted by the sunlight on the floating white Gaura flowers and the silvery whorls of Clematis. The dark amber Acer claims your attention and then you notice that the bumble bees are already busy on the pink Sidalcea. A glimpse of bright Nasturtium makes you smile and long to be outside. And so the day begins.

Monday, 27 July 2015

27 July : Jim

This is my local nursery.

It doesn't look much from the road
but inside the plants jostle for space

and the colours shimmer under the glass.

They are celebrating the 70th anniversary this year,

the kind, friendly people who welcome me every summer.

I am invited to a party with a five piece band
(and the mayor will be there too!)

It is a family business
started as a way of escaping from factory work.

I took these photographs to make a gift album
because I have enjoyed every moment
I have spent in these tranquil greenhouses.

For the first time I realised
how much more confident my photography has become.

This time last year
I would not have asked for this photograph.

Original post : An Anniversary Album 9 May 2008

Forgive me for reposting but I wanted a record of my local nursery and Jim, the owner, in this blog because I am so fond of him. The nursery is part of an old fashioned world of allotments and produce shows, hanging baskets and bedding plants and it won't be there forever.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

26 July : Rain

Gosh. So much rain. Allll weekend. There has been No Gardening. Cabin fever set in and I thought that my sense of humour was going to go into a tail spin. In the end I supervised MrM while he made a cake for the Mens' section in the Village Produce Show. Desperate times. Meanwhile in the garden everything is looking floppy. You will be relieved to know that there will be no more talk of Hydrangeas this year. They are absolutely flattened. Heartbreak. Let's change the subject and look at a nice orange dahlia shall we? This time next year...

Thursday, 23 July 2015

22 July : Hydrangea

Peninsula Square, Winchester

Let's have a hydrangea moment.
Look over there. Yes there.
That is Hydrangea 'Annabelle'.

It makes me feel a bit swoony.
All those lovely creamy heads against the brickwork.

It probably looks boring for the rest of the year.
But right now it is perfection.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

21 July : Valete

Window Box : Early Summer 2015

The purple and silver window box has not survived my recent absence and is now looking rather bedraggled. The Children from Down The Road who water my plants when I am away do a wonderful job but window boxes can go over very quickly if they are not properly soaked. I'm OK with that because I can plan new colour combinations for late summer.

The white Geranium at the back was a dismal failure - it always is because Geraniums need more light - I don't know why I keep trying. I loved the combination of dark purple Verbena and mauve Scaevola. The pale mauve trailing Convolvulus was very pretty but took a long time to establish. The silver Helichrysum went a bit mad and would have looked better in a bigger space. I quite liked the blue Lobelia in the end - who knew!

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

20 July : Begonia

I have a begonia problem. I won it in the raffle at the Village BBQ and it is my own fault because I bought too many tickets in the hope of winning a stuffed monkey for The Little Boy Next Door. Now I have this awful begonia looking hectic in my otherwise serene outdoor space. Please don't tell me that begonias are the new dahlias and that the Sainted Sarah Raven has pronounced that they are de rigeur because I am not ready. I gave it to my mother who 'forgot' to take it home so what on earth am I to do with this orange nightmare? I know it will grow until my eyeballs fall out when I look at it. The only solution that I can think of is to nurture it until it is a thing of wonder and then donate it as a prize for the raffle at the Village Produce Show.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

18 July : Cotehele

Notes after visiting Cotehele:

Must have garden with terraces.

More vertical plants next year : Veronica, Salvia, Malva, Grasses etc etc etc

Dig up late summer gold and blue border and replace with carmine and blue flowers?

Astrantia is the plant du jour.

Those blue hydrangeas are so last year.

Wild flower meadow. I need one.

Dovecote + Pond. Need these as well.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

16 July : Of Gazanias

I am not sure that Gazania is the sort of plant that respectable gardeners grow but this little firework is at the front of my late summer gold and blue border trying to look understated next to the Montbretia. I am crushing on Christopher Lloyd of Great Dixter at the moment and he loved Gazanias describing them as 'the very essence of summer'. Somebody has generously donated an entire library of Christopher Lloyd books in pristine condition to our local hospice shop and they have all come home with me. In 'The Well-Tempered Garden' he yanks out an apricot-orange primula seedling which clashes unpleasantly with pinky-mauve osteospermums. That's my sort of gardening, I thought, and immediately felt less guilty about my secateur attack on the pale pink hardy geranium which was flowering uncomfortably close to the Gazania making my eyes itch. It should have got its act together in June when the early summer pink and blue border was at its height.

Advised by Kind Reader that the photo is Not a Gazania. Collapse of Stout Party.

15 July : Birthday

It was his birthday so we indulged MrM and allowed him to do a selfie with his crew. At first MrM was worried that he could only see himself but MissM pointed out that if he held the camera sideways and stretched his arm he could fit us all in. Afterwards MasterM wished that he had said "Marshmallow!" instead of "Popsicle!" and MrsM was very grateful that there was no evidence on her face of the chocolate tart she had just consumed but MrM was happy because everyone was in the photo.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

13 July : Roses

Standing in the garden centre, looking at the dripping roses, trying to get an idea of their fragrance on a warm summer day I am aware that the lady nearby is humming. Humming in public places irritates me. Especially when I am trying to think. I look at her and see that she has dressed up to come to the garden centre on this wet day, pearls are much in evidence. "Isn't it absolutely glorious!" she says, waving her arms to embrace the aisle of David Austin's finest creations. I cannot see past the sogginess but I want to make this lady happy and so I tell her that I went to Mottisfont when the roses were at their peak. " fortunate you will always have that...when times are bad you can remember the roses at Mottisfont in June" she says and smiles at me. I watch her walk away, humming, and wonder at the kindness of strangers.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

11 July : Plans

I lie on the wicker sofa under the cherry tree and make plans. I will move the peonies and repot the fuschia. The holly tree will be reshaped. There will be white tulips in the front garden in the spring and perhaps a window box of wallflowers. I visualise the pale pink climbing rose here, and then there, but prefer here. I ponder a small terrace in front of the summer house with a little table and chairs for drinks in the last sun of the day. The ungainly white rose comes briefly under scrutiny and as a result will be pruned heavily in the autumn to improve its shape. And then, after expending so much mental effort, I pause to watch the cirrus clouds in the blue sky through the gap between the apple trees.

Friday, 10 July 2015

10 July : Agapanthus

The non-flowering Agapanthus and I have had a little chat. I have pointed out their current advantages: premium position in the garden, regular water supply, Osmocote on demand, attractive glazed blue pot. We have recalled the excellent performance last year but agreed that this year other plants such as the noble Hosta deserve promotion to the attractive glazed blue pot. I have outlined the options which include demotion to a plain terracotta pot or removal to a less prominent place in the garden and the ultimate sanction which is to be chopped into smaller pieces and distributed among several pots. The idle Agapanthus has been warned.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

8 July : Clare College

The herbaceous borders in the Fellows' Garden at Clare College, Cambridge are a masterpiece of garden design. It was raining on Sunday when we walked around so there were very few visitors and we could study the intricate planting. It takes extraordinary skill and experience to combine plants that will complement each other in colour and form and the achievement is so fleeting, so vulnerable to weather. I wish that I had spent more time in this garden when I was studying in Cambridge, I would have learned more than I did in the libraries.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

7 July : Intentions

Since we got back from France ten days ago I have been distracted by Matters Familial and there has been no time for anything except watering the garden. It all looks a bit shabby and tired but tomorrow all that will change. Weeds will be evicted. Plants which are sagging will stand to attention. There will be deadheading, trimming and raking. And the lupins will be sent to the Great Compost Heap in the Sky. Yes - sorry about that - I need the space for dahlias. I appear to be turning into a mad dahlia lady. It must be my age.

Monday, 6 July 2015

6 July : Failure

Rose 'Susan Williams-Ellis'

This rose is in prime position in the large trough outside my kitchen door but I am afraid that it will be relocated in the autumn. The blooms are charming - fragile white petals layered into chiffon balls creating an ethereal effect at night. Unfortunately the bush itself is spindly and the leaves seem to be vulnerable to caterpillars so unless it puts on a rapid growth spurt it is being retired to the end of the garden. No room for losers here.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

5 July : Inspiration

I have been looking for inspiration in other people's gardens. I fell in love with these purple  borders and window boxes in Corpus Christi College, Cambridge when I was there on Saturday evening - those tall dark salvia! I must also tell you that there was a garden room in the Master's Lodge swathed in a pale blue climber. The flowers cascaded down from the ceiling beams in a magical way. I am not sure what the plant was - a small Clematis? Solanum? Ipomoea? I wish I had asked for permission to take a photo but I was on my best behaviour at the time.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

4 July : Hubris

Sad news. My beloved pot grown Hydrangea Annabelle is has been squashed by the rain. The soft, sappy, cossetted, Miracle-Groed stems were not strong enough to support so many soggy heads. I am desolated but will now attend with emergency stakes and string to rescue her dignity. The less favoured hydrangea by the summer house is looking lean, un-squashed and smug. There is a lesson there.

I thought I would include a picture of real gardening. You know - black buckets and such like. It's not all fluffiness around here.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

2 July : Dahlia

Introducing the Bishop of Auckland. He's deep, deep red. Which is exactly what I had hoped for. Except that he is next to a Hebe which has been inspired by the heat or the solicitous attentions of myself to burst into flower too early. Purple flower. Red and Purple are not colours I would put together. I'm telling myself that it is very Great Dixter. Deep breath.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

1 July : Obsession

I know that it is wrong to love one plant more than another. There should be no favouritism especially when roses, lupins, foxgloves, geraniums and all the other hard-working and admirable plants are flowering their little socks off. But alas, I am undone...I have become obsessed with my Hydrangea 'Annabelle'. Who knew that such fabulousness could come from a small pot of dead branches. I think I might dig up the whole garden and plant hydrangeas next year. It would be spectacular.