Garden Bloggers Bloom Day – April 2017

There is a sense of nervousness around for gardeners at the moment.  In the South East it has been very dry and my water butt, along with many others, is now empty.  Pots need watering along with perennials now appearing with vigor due to the warm sunshine.  However, there is still an outside chance of ground frost, nipping at new growth.   I am waiting for the much needed rain to fill the empty butts and watch the nightly weather forecast hoping we don’t have frost.  However, there are lots of flowers in the garden to show off on this Garden Bloggers Blooms Day. 

 

The daffodils and narcissi are almost over, as are the early tulips.  There is a very pretty triple headed pale yellow narcissi that has appeared in the flowerbed which doesn’t match up with any of the packet labels, so I can’t name it for you.   The fading yellow tulips above are the last remnants of  Sweetheart and Yellow King.   A late pink tulip Synaeda Amor has made an appearance which is good, because it continues colour in the border, as the early tulips drop their petals.

Some combinations of colour are more by luck and judgment.  I am really taken with the peach tulips, no name (sorry) poking through the blue forget-me-nots.   These tulips are some of the few bulbs I left in the border from spring 2016 and have come back this year, but can’t remember what they are called.


At the end of the year, I bought a few bunches of bare rooted mixed wallflowers, on sale at half price to clear.   You know the sort, very wilted looking, wrapped in newspaper and a bit smelly!   I spread them around the garden, some didn’t make it but those that did are looking good.  I especially like the pale pink one.

If there was a test on how to prune clematis I would fail miserably.  I know the rules should be easy to follow but there are some things I can’t get to grips with.  In 2015 I over/incorrectly pruned the Montana ‘Elizabeth’ and had a dismal display of flowers in 2016, so I left it alone and this year, thank goodness, it is an abundance of flowers.  It does make getting into the shed a little tricky at the moment.

In past posts I incorrectly named this Clematis calling it ‘Josephine’ which if anyone knows their Clematis would know wasn’t right.  I know it’s not ‘Josephine’ so have no excuse to get it wrong.  It is in fact Montana ‘Mayleen’.  I have entwined it around the Sambucus Nigra (Elder), which is throwing up new shoots like there is no tomorrow.  

The Honesty (Lunaria) grown from seed last year have surprisingly produced both white and purple plants, although they came from the same seed packet.  They are in different parts of the garden, and the purple variety looks good in front of the Euphorbia. 

At the back of the spring flower bed, the lime green Euphorbia is giving a splendid backdrop to the tulips, and as I said above, the purple Honesty.  It’s looking a little unruly so may be the next thing on my list to give a bit of a tidy up.


The Choysia on the side patio is in flower and a lovely sight from the kitchen door.  I chop it back regularly to keep it tidy and in retaliation it continues to grow and if left to its own devises would take over the side flower bed. 

Even one of the best plants this time of year can disappoint, the Euphorbia ‘Fireglow’  in past years has always been so good, but this year it hasn’t spread its shoots about and there are only two or three stems.  The flower is not as vivid either. 

Another shrub I didn’t prune last year was the Flowering Currant Ribes.  It is a mass of pink flowers which the bees are loving.

The Bay Tree (Laurus) has lots of little greenish-yellow flowers.  This poor tree is usually ignored by me, but I have moved it to the edge of the back patio and another job for me is to repot it.  This is going to be quite some job, I have read it should be done every two years, and this tree has been in its same pot for over ten! 

I have always wanted a Tree Peony and last month I bought a spindly plant from a garden centre, deliberately choosing a pink flower and the only one that had a bud on it.   After deliberation as to whether it should live in a pot, or go in the flowerbed, I chose the later and this week it delivered the most enormous, beautiful pink flower. 

Under the spring bulbs, I planted a number of violas – the vivid colours are quite breathtaking.  I love these little plants, they have such smiley happy faces.

I have bombarded Twitter and Instagram with photos of my most favourite tulip and make no apology for including  Tulip ‘Bastia’ in Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.   It may not to be everyone’s taste, but this double fringed tulip will appear in my garden again next year.

Thank you Carolyn at May Dreams Garden for hosting Garden Bloggers Bloom Day monthly on the 15th.   Jump over to her blog and take a look at all the other blooms in contributors garcens from around the world. 

Gravetye Manor Garden – A Dream of a Garden

Special occasions need to be celebrated in special places.

It was my good, long term friend’s 50th birthday on 18 July and it didn’t take much thinking about somewhere nice to go on that day.   We are very lucky to have Gravetye Manor about a 50 minute drive away, near East Grinstead.   It is an impressive country house hotel with a beautiful William Robinson garden.

image

William Robinson, a professional gardener and author of The English Flower Garden moved to Gravetye in 1844 where he started to put his garden design idea into place.  He lived at Gravetye until his death in 1935.   In 2010 it was bought by Jeremy Hoskin who has turned it into the beautiful hotel it is today.    Tom Coward joined as head gardener in 2011 having previously worked with Fergus Garrett at Great Dixter.

image

The garden is not open to the public unless you are eating or sleeping at Gravetye.   I have visited the garden on several occasions and booked in with friends for a rather splendid afternoon tea at £25 per head, and it goes to show the popularity of the garden that when trying to arrange tea, they were fully booked for many weeks ahead.   We pushed the boat out and booked a table in the Michelin Star restaurant for lunch, it was a milestone birthday after all.

We were met at the top of the steps, welcomed to Gravetye and taken through to the garden where we had pre-lunch non-alcoholic cocktails and, perused the delicious menu.   The meal was everything you would expect, starting with small amuse bouche of a warm pea veloute and roasted sesame seeds, ending with coffee and petit fours.  Each course was explained to us when it was brought to the table and we were not fussed over, although well looked after.  There is nothing more annoying than being asked every few moments if everything was alright.   Once well fed and watered, including a rather nice Picpoul de Pinet, (a Languedoc French white) we headed off to the garden, which was the main reason we were there.

image

It was an exceptionally hot afternoon and we purposely planned not to visit the whole garden, the above map gives you a good idea of  its size.   We did manage most of it though.

image

You can book a garden tour which includes a talk by Tom Coward as he takes you around the garden followed by lunch.  The small group above were enjoying being guided by Tom, and although we seemed to be following them a around we were keen not to look as though we were tagging on.  This long border faces over the wild grass meadow down to the lake.

image

The garden is full of exciting plants, including a creamy white hydrangea with blooms the size of your head.  I particularly liked the creamy verbascum growing through the hydrangea.

image

Gravetye is one of those gardens full of photographic opportunities, such as the larkspur, rudbeckia and poppy heads, with the stone walls of the house as a backdrop.

image

The kitchen garden is a sheer delight and full of interesting and varied produce which supplies the restuarant.   Apparently in July 30 punnets a day of strawberries are harvested.  We were told that the head chef very much dictates what is grown.  He will make suggestions which are trialed and if successful then given more planting space the next year.   It is at the top of the hill and in the heat of the afternoon we didn’t linger too long and set off to the orchard and the greenhouses.

image

As you can imagine a greenhouse on a hot day is not somewhere you want to stay for long but we were blown away by the size of the peaches and their sweet, tropical, aromatic, aroma hit you as you entered.  Such temptation!

DSC_0105 (800x525)

We didn’t have the afternoon tea but I wanted to leave you with a photo of the tea I had with my friend Sandra in September 2014.  We sat in the patio part of the garden at the side of the house which overlooks the lake.  This is the link to that particular post, you will see the garden is still beautiful in September.

https://hurtledto60.com/2014/09/25/chilling-out-in-the-gravetye-manor-gardens/

If you have the opportunity to visit Gravetye Manor either for tea, lunch or staying as a special occasion, it is somewhere not to be missed and really should go on your ‘To Do’ list.

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.