End of Month View: September 2014

I have contributed to the End of Month View meme hosted by Helen at Patient Gardener since 2011, so it is with interest to go back three September EOMV’s to assess if the garden this year is behind or ahead of itself which is about average with no surprises.  Despite a cold August, we have had a very warm and dry September.  I heard on the radio this morning the weatherman saying that September 2014 may well be the driest September since 1910.   The empty water butts are testament to this.  Today I woke to rain which was pleasing to see, but it didn’t last long.  However, I did manage to loosen the hard impacted soil with a hoe and had a bit of a tidy up.  The trouble with soft soil it is an open invitation to every cat in the neighbourhood to use it as a public convenience!

In the last few EOMVs I have concentrated on plants and not really given an overall resume of the garden and what it looks like as a whole.   This month is a warts and all post.

First, are the roses which are still looking good and continue to produce buds which is always pleasing.  Most of the roses are in the flowerbed which is in the middle of the garden and in full sun all day.   As soon as the ground is soft enough to work, I want to round off that bed by about 2ft/3ft to plant more perennials.   I have ordered a lot of spring bulbs from J Parker & Sons and would like to make a show of the tulips and daffodils.   Parkers seem to be taking their time in delivering them though and I have already chased them once to be told I should receive them shortly.

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At the back of the house the raspberries have been incredible this  year.  Supposedly autumn raspberries, I have been picking fruit since early July and can’t give them away quickly enough.   Last week when the window cleaners came I gave them plastic bags and told them to help themselves – they were delighted.   I know it has been a good year for fruit but I also wonder how much a good helping of fish blood and bone in the spring has had a lot to do with how prolific they have been.

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If you follow my blog you will know what a nightmare time I have with ivy, most of which comes from neighbours either side.   I have started to cut down some of it on the left hand side of the garden, but the previous owners have now moved and the buyer has not yet moved in.  Once he has established himself I will try to pick a good moment to ask if he could cut his side down.    Meanwhile in desperation tried to spray some of the new shoots with weed killer but to my annoyance it made no difference!

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He will get a lot more sunshine in his garden as I have found when my other lovely neighbour has started to remove the ivy from his side.  Although it is only a small section at the moment, it has made a considerable difference to the amount of sun and light in the garden.

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The left border, which is south facing, is a bit bare having lost a lot of plants this year.  They suffered from a combination of drought, snails and an element of the ivy sapping goodness from the soil.   This is where, last year, I had Echinacia, Rudbekia, and Geums, all of which were lost.

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A the bottom of the garden, west facing, the Dahlias and Cosmos are still in flower, although I cut the only magenta dahlia flower for my previous post “In a Vase Monday”, so it is looking a bit bland.

The compost bin is next next job especially having read Helen’s recent post about compost.  Also I am going to make some leaf mould in bags this year, whereas I usually just throw the leaves into the compost bin.

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The right-hand border, north facing, is looking lush.   In the spring when it was so wet this part of the garden was really boggy and then, being clay soil, became rock solid.   The Alchemilla Mollis is spreading, but does fill in what would otherwise be gaps.   The Elderflower (Sambucus Nigra – Black Lace) needs a good prune at some time, it has grown into a bit of a beast.   It needs careful attention because it only flowered at the top of the tree this year and wasn’t so impressive.   In the spring when visiting The Harold Hillier Gardens in Romsey, it was interesting to see that they had cut their Sambucus down to about 3ft.  I wonder if that was just to get a good shape and leaves only, or if they flowered also.    Because of its size it blocked out a lot of sun this year so I will bring it down to below the height of the wall.

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I’ve got some brown patches on the lawn which look a bit ugly.  I think this is thanks to foxes but I am not certain, anyway  it needs a lot of attention, as this year lots of weeds have also appeared.   It is full of clover and “mind-your-own-business” Soleirolia soleirolii as well.   There are times I am minded just to leave it as it does make for a green lawn, but now these brown patches have appeared a trip to the garden centre will be on the cards.

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The patio is retaining its jungle quality and the passion flower  growing over the water butt is still flowering.  I was looking at the Japanese Anemones and have put off cutting them down today, however, I am having the side window replaced on Friday and the men are going to need to access it so they will have to be  pruned by then which  is a bit sad as they are still flowering.

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I will leave you with another pic of the garden this last day of September 2014, bathed in sunshine after a wet morning.

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As always, thank you Helen for hosting this great and exceptionally useful meme.   Click HERE to visit her Patient Gardener blog and read all about how other gardens are doing at this time of the year.


In a Vase Monday

I love the idea of the weekly meme “In a Vase Monday” run by Cathy at Rambling In the Garden and despite all my good intentions to be a regular contributor I have failed to do so. This week I am putting that right.

It is becoming more difficult as autumn draws near to collect flowers for posies to show indoors. I find now that I am suffering from the conflict between do I leave the few remaining flowers in the garden, or do I enjoy them in the lounge before they finish completely and the winter months leave us flowerless. All is not lost though, we can make up for this with coloured branches of evergreens and berries so there will be many weeks and months ahead for In A Vase Monday.

I wandered around the garden this morning viewing the bedraggled floral remains, looking sad and dropping under the recent rain. Yes we have had some rain! In the bottom flowerbed stands a dahlia plant with one solitary magenta flower, the size of a saucer, which I decided to being into the lounge where I can see and admire it on a regular basis.

The next step was to find a suitable vase. The single stem is not very long and the flowerhead is heavy, so the right size and shape was a challenge. Also I wanted a vase that would be in keeping with the colour of the dahlia flower. As I scanned the array of various shapes and sizes on the top of my kitchen cabinet my eyes fell upon a vase I bought from Spain many years ago. It needed a bit of dusting off as I don’t use it very often, I have no idea why as it’s a rather nice one, and it has colourful dahlia type flowers painted on it.

Here we are then, this is my In A Vase On Monday.

Thank you Cathy for hosting this meme. Please pop over to her blog to see the other contributions. http://ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com/2014/09/29/ina-vase-on-monday-all-things-bright-and-beautiful/

Chilling Out in the Gravetye Manor Gardens

My first visit to Gravetye Manor and their spectacular garden in June 2013 “Lupins and Alliums at Gravetye” created a lasting impression.  I love the naturalistic planting and the recreation of William Robinson’s style.  This is thanks to Tom Coward, head gardener, and his team.   Since that visit I have followed the garden on Facebook and Tom’s blog about the garden.

Last week there were some breathtaking photos on FB which gave me an overwhelming desire to visit again.  The garden is open to hotel guests, so we booked in for afternoon tea on Wednesday 24 September.   The late September weather was on our side, it was warm and despite a few ominous black clouds, which passed by quickly, the sky was a glorious blue – an ideal day.

Gravetye Manor has a way of making you feel very special.  The staff are friendly, helpful and like magic appear when you need them.  We were met in the car park, shown where to park, welcomed to Gravetye, taken into the hotel, and offered a map and shown the way into the garden.

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The first thing that struck me was the colour.   The formal garden was bursting with late flowering plants in autumnal colours and surprisingly some summer plants still looking healthy.  The dahlias were breathtaking.

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As we wandered around,  I could feel a sense of tranquillity descend upon me.  Tables and chairs were strategically placed  and it was clear that guests had taken advantage of chilling out in the garden.

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When we walked through to the patio area at the side of the house, we remarked on the tables set for tea and agreed what a lovely way to spend an afternoon, looking down to the lake and beyond.

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Below the formal garden is a path with a long border bursting with cosmos, verbena bonariensis and asters.

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At the top of the hill is a large, incredibly well stocked and cared for kitchen garden set out with circular paths.  We stood here for a while just to listen to the birds singing to each other.  It was truly magical, no other sounds or noise to invade the stillness and peace to spoil the moment.

The vegetables were stunning and so healthy.   The purple kale was feet high, the brussel sprouts impressive and as for the pumpkin patch – well!  The kitchen garden is built on the side of a hill so there is quite a slope.

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We were about to leave the kitchen garden when we stopped to talk to a charming and helpful gardener to have a discussion about asparagus.  I now know a little more about how to grow asparagus.

Then we walked back down the hill to the hotel for tea.

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Imagine our delight when we were shown to one of the tables we had seen earlier outside.  Tea arrived with hot sausage rolls, a delicious selection of sandwiches, warm scones and cakes, some of which we took home in a box.

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There is something wonderful about the late afternoon light which we absorbed as we sat there drinking Earl Grey and eating salmon sandwiches.  The sun was still warm and I was feeling calm and at peace with myself looking over the lake and trees bathed in the evening sun.

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Thank you Gravetye Manor for such a delightful afternoon.  I will certainly visit again.

Gravetye Manor is in East Grinstead, West Sussex. The garden is open to hotel and restaurant guests. Pre-booked tours of the garden are available for small groups. Contact the reception team on 01342 810567 for further information.  Check out their website http://www.gravetyemanor.co.uk

© Hurtlingtowards60 and Hurtled to 60 and Now Beyond ©AarTeePhotography Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited



Getting Ready For Spring

Anyone who watches Monty Don on Gardeners World will know all too well how much he likes a bargain and that he frequently harps on about how cheaply he had bought a plant etc. Well, he will be proud of my budget spring bulb pot.

In last Friday’s program he planted up a spring bulb pot, layering bulbs so they come through at different times. Armed with ideas, on Saturday I trotted off to Wilkinsons (Wilko) with my shopping trolley. Last year I traded in my car for a trolley so I am limited as to what I can buy and where I can shop. It’s a good thing really, if I went to a garden centre or local nursery I would be tempted to buy more than I really needed. My bank balance is very much happier!

I remembered to check the back of the bulb packs to ensure that I bought bulbs that will come through at the correct time. There is no point in planting early flowering tulips and adding late flowering daffodils on top, they will come through in the wrong order. I also bought a bag of bulb fibre. It’s amazing how much you get into a shopping trolley.

Today I ferreted around in the garden for a decent sized pot, emptied it out and after giving it a good clean I started to plant up. First were the tulips. Spoilt for choice I eventually went for a double pink called Angelique.

Followed by a layer of soil, I then planted a bright, happy, narcissi called Tazetta Scarlet Gem. I was looking for Tete-a-Tete (which is what Monty used) but I couldn’t find any.

Another layer of soil was followed by a dwarf blue iris called Reticulata Gordon. At 15 for £2 if they all come up they will look lovely.

Finally the pot was topped off with blue and purple pansies. I thought this was a great idea, then you don’t have a bare pot to look at through the winter months. The pansies were tiny plug plants for 24 for £3.50 I bought a week ago. I used a lot of them in a hanging basket by the front door and was wondering what to do with the remainder, so was pleased with their final home.

I am being positive that although they were cheap bulbs, they will all come through. Now tucked in a sheltered place on the patio, in view of my kitchen window, I have a lovely pot of spring bulbs to look forward to and an abundance of happy pansy faces to look at while I wait.

Win This Book: The Writer’s Garden

It is interesting that so many famous gardens were owned by or are closely connected to authors:

  • Virginia Woolf and Monks House.
  • Rudyard Kipling and Batemans.
  • Beatrix Potter and Hill Top.
  • John Ruskin and Brantwood.

These and many other writers obtained inspiration from retreating into their gardens.  How many of us, as visitors, drink in the atmosphere and surrounding landscape to imagine the emotions that they would have experienced for inspiration?  It is like a pilgrimage for a lot of us.  I know when I visited Beatrix Potter’s property at Hill Top, I was hoping to see Peter Rabbit in Mr McGregor’s garden.

The Writer’s Garden’ due to be published by Frances Lincoln Limited on 2 October is fascinating, informative and full of beautiful photographs.   It is what I would describe as a ‘coffee table’ book, with individual chapters dedicated to 20 well known authors.


The book is written by Jackie Bennett, former editor of a The Garden Design Journal, The English Garden Magazine and Gardening with the National Trust and the photographs are taken by the well-known photographer Richard Hanson who has also appeared in the above publications.

I found this a great book to dip and delve into, full of information about the authors and their gardens .   The fly leaf reads ” Every Garden reveals something of its owner’s secret nature – Charles Dickens little known love for scarlet pelargoniums…Roald Dahl’s fascination with fruit trees triggered the idea for James and the Giant Peach”.


Virginia Woolf – Monks House

Sample chapter:

George Bernard Shaw at Shaw’s Corner has some glorious photos.


There is a short history of Shaw’s life at Shaw’s Corner and a brief resume of his life and works.


This format follows through each chapter providing a background of 20 well-known authors.

I can guarantee you will love this book.  Not only as a reminder of those gardens you have visited, but it will give you places to add to your ‘must visit’ list.

Frances Lincoln Limited have kindly given me a pre-publish copy to give away.  If you would like a chance to win this copy all you need do is leave a comment to say you wish to enter and I will pull a name out on Tuesday 30 September. This competition is open to the UK only.


If you are not the lucky one, or live abroad all is not lost, there is also a readers offer :

To order The Writer’s Garden at the discounted price of £20.00 including p&p* (RRP: £25.00), telephone 01903 828503 or email mailorders@lbsltd.co.uk and quote the offer code APG218.
*UK only – Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas.