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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

 

End of Month View – September 2015

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What a stroke of luck I booked this week off work!  The weather has been glorious, although with a marked nip in the air at night, during the day it’s been warm and sunny.  I love September.  Some people groan “oh it’s climate change”, but I remember going to school in September dressed in a summer dress, pullover and blazer, by lunchtime we would be sitting in the sun on the school fields having discarded our pullovers and jumpers.  50 years ago no one used the expression climate change – it was just the norm.

I am writing this on the 2nd October, a few days late for the EOMV, and it’s still warm and sunny.  The only bugbear I have at this time of year is fighting my way through the spiders and the many webs they have managed to weave around the garden, trapping me at every turn.
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I do think that the plants are a little confused, and have been lulled into believing it’s still time to be flowering.  My Compassion Rose is still in bloom, and today I noticed a lot of greenfly.

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I am still cutting sweet peas, but I suspect this may be the last lot which is sad as I have had an excellent supply for my mum, who loves sweet peas.

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I also noticed that Penstemon ‘Sour Grapes’ , whilst looking a little leggy is producing new flowers.

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In the middle of the garden, Penstemon ‘Garnet’ and Salvia ‘Hot Lips’ are not ready to close down for autumn yet.

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I tried to get away from the pink theme in my garden this year but by default and not design it would seem that pink is still the predominant  colour, after green.  However, I am really proud of the Cosmos ‘Pied Piper’ grown from seed, as long as I keep remembering to deadhead them on a regular basis they are providing lots of colour in the bottom border.

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The side patio was becoming a bit of a jungle and in need of a serious tidy up.  It is now looking a little better and the garden wheelie bin is almost full. Here, again, the spiders lay their traps for me, stringing their webs from one side to the other, which makes it a bit like running the gauntlet when I go to the bins.  I now carry refuse bags in front of me, face high but still get caught sometimes.

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As I was photographing the garden this morning, I noticed that the Fatsia Japonica is throwing up their peculiar spikes of what I suppose could be called flowers.

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At this time of the year the hydrangeas slowly move into their autumn shades.  The Madame Emile Mouilliere is turning from a pure white to a pale green tinged with pink.

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Still on the side patio. I am not sure what happened but a few months ago half of the choysia died.  I lopped off all the dead parts and am happy to say that it has recovered and is healthy again.  It did me a favour as it was really rather large and it now a lot neater.

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Regular followers of my blog will know that I have been reviewing an online 4 week container gardening course run by MyGardenSchool.  It has made me take stock of the odd assortment of containers and plants that I have dotted around  and  I am slowly having a sort out and rethink.  Looking after pots of plants requires a lot more thought than I usually give them which is probably why they always look so neglected by the end of the summer.

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Moving on to the back garden again.  The north facing side of the garden will not see anymore sun now until next year.  It gets very damp and boggy, fortunately the hydrangea and astilbe live very happily in these conditions.

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On this trip around the garden, a quick visit to the front garden, which doesn’t often get a look in. The Cotoneaster is glowing red in the sunshine and always amazes me, it grows in the wall and I can’t think where it gets its goodness from.

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That almost ends my EOMV tour of the garden for the end of September, well two days into October! Before I go, let me share the Sedum which is looking magnificent, as usual, and the nasturtiums that always appear about this time of the year and brighten up a dark corner.
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Thank you Helen from Patient Gardener at http://www.patientgardener.wordpress.com for hosting the End of Month View. Please hop over to her blog and take a look at all the other EOMV’s from a whole load of other garden bloggers from around the world as well as the UK.

A Mid September Show of Flowers

The secret to good warm weather in September is to clear out your summer wardrobe and air the heavier tog duvet.  Once you have done all this you will then have an Indian Summer.   Yesterday and today have been glorious gardening days.   I have sorted out some pots that were looking tatty and this afternoon I mowed the lawn.   The garden looks spruced up and shipshape.   Although there is a lot of green, some colour remains in the garden and, armed with my camera, I fought my way through the plethora of spiders webs…my head is still itching… to take photos of the flowers gracing the flowerbeds.

Some of the pics were sadly out of focus so I have ditched the white Gaura, the Fuchsia and the Cleome along with a couple of others.  Oh, the Sweet Peas ‘Beaujolais’ were picked yesterday to take to my Mum so there were none left to photograph, I am hoping for one more picking.

Below are the flowers left adorning my garden in the middle of September.

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Dahlia – Paula
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Hardy Geranium – variety unknown
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Japanese Amenome
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Hydrangea – madame-emile-mouillere
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Gerbera
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A fading Zinnia – it was really bright at the height of summer – but still pretty
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Phlox Lady – strawberry
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The last of the Compassion Rose
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Cosmos – ‘Pied Piper’ from Higgledy Garden
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Amaranthus ‘Caudatus Red’ – Love Lies Bleeding. Also from Higgledy Garden
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Yellow Dahlia – no idea of the variety, the tubers were given to me a few years ago and I don’t dig them up.
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Scabiosa ‘Back in Black’ – Another successful seed from Higgledy Garden
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Caryopteris – ‘Heavenly Blue’

I am busy now looking at bulb catalogues and planning my winter and spring planting which is always exciting.

End of Month View – August 2015

I am very lax in writing an End of Month View (EOMV) on the blog but I am sure you will forgive me if at least I do post an occasional update.

When reading the majority of the EOMV posts from gardeners in the UK you will probably find mention the abysmal summer weather.  We have been unlucky in being subjected to an inordinate and unfair number of wet weekends, and those rare good weekends we have been  blessed with I have not been at home.  I work most of the week and get home late and am tired so my poor garden has become overgrown and now is beaten down by heavy rain.  However, I think it still looks lovely, lush and slightly wild.

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When going through the garden at the side of the house I feel I need a machete.  This year the white Agapanthus honoured me with two enormous flowers which are still in bloom and the Japanese Anemones are standing tall, whilst  as usual the Clematis “Jouiniana Praecox,” is madly scrambling through the climbing rose and along the wall.

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Earlier this year I cut the Elder Sambucus Nigra right down to about 3 foot and in just  a few months it has shot up to over 12 foot, however there were sadly no blooms on it as it flowers on last years growth.  So I have to decide each year whether to go for the height and have blooms or cut it down annually.

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The tomatoes are slow to ripen but getting there.  This year I have grown Sweet Million and they are so sweet and an ideal size just to pop into my mouth as I pass by.   I had a couple of plants left over and for the sake of somewhere to put them I planted them in the raised border and to an extent have let them grow wild just to see what happens.

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I had an idea that I would go for a colour palette of burgundy to lilac in the garden this year and I ordered a selection of seeds from Higgledy Garden.  There have been a few failures but I think that was down to me and not the seeds.  The Sweet Peas ‘Burgundy’ were beautiful although not very prolific and are now over.   Below are those that were successful:

Cosmos ‘Pied Piper’ (with a Cleome muscling in)

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Scabiosa ‘Back in Black’

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Cerinthe ‘Major Purpurascns’

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Amaranthus ‘Caudatus Red – Love Lies Bleeding’

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The other plant that has suffered from neglect and the rain are the raspberries, I have not been picking them quickly enough and many have gone mouldy

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I love peonies in the spring and it is such a shame their leaves go so manky for the rest of the summer.   I had hoped the Guara would hide them but they have gone very straggly and again that is down to me not staking them properly.

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Just in front of the obelisk the sweet peas were growing up there is a very pretty shrub that has interesting blue flowers, I can never remember what it is called, can you help me please?
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The last part of the garden is the on the right hand side, which gets little sun and is full of Astilbe which have turned brown now.  The Alchemilla Mollis are spilling out on to the lawn and I need to get out there and cut it back otherwise I will have bald patches.
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There you go that’s my contribution this month and now I will take a tour of the other EOMV’s for August. Thank you Helen from Patient Gardener for hosting this long running and very popular meme.

Penstemons and Roses

Long before I became interested in gardening, my first introduction to Penstemons was via my father in law.  He grew all sorts of varieties, but I was young and paid little notice.  I had no idea how easy they are to grow and they are slug and snail proof!  A couple of years ago I bought Penstemon ‘Garnet’, I give it a hardy prune early Spring and it rewards me with an abundance of flowers.  It has made its way through the Salvia ‘Hot Lips’ which blends in well with Garnet.

 

Last year I bought three more Penstemons, ‘Sour Grapes’ which is an almost florescent bluish purple, the pretty pink and white ‘Vocano Fujiyama’ and a similar colored ‘Apple Blossom’ which had not flowered yet, hence only pics of the first two.


  

  In keeping with an Enlish country garden in June, the roses are looking magnificent.    The ‘Compassion’ rose never fails and was the first to flower earlier this month. 

   

 I love the ‘Peace’ rose, bought for me on my 60th by a friend as a ‘Silver Jubilee’ rose, it was clearly mislabeled but turned out to be a gem for the garden.

 This year the ‘Ballerina’ is doing particularly well, adding much needed color at the bottom of the garden.  This is always necessary at this time of year when the spring plants have died down and the summer flowers are yet to make a show.

 I have one rose without a label and can’t for the life of me remember it’s name.  However it’s vibrant color is a joy, although once it’s fully flowered, unlike the ‘Peace’, it doesn’t hold its blooms for long and the petals fall quickly. 

  

Not one to be deterred or beaten by the technology it has taken me a week to get this post correctly loaded.  For some reason the WordPress app on my iPad has been very unforgiving and has sorely tried my patience.  A bit of Googling and setting readjustments, along with a friend suggesting I upload the photos first and then add the writing I finally succeeded.