Garden blogging, Six on Saturday

Six on Saturday – 14 July 2018

I will subtitle this post “The Good, the Sad and the Ugly.

In reverse order (this may make your skin go funny) …

1. The Ugly – Social Pear SawflyThere is (was) a small hawthorn shrub on my allotment. A couple of days ago I discovered it absolutely covered in what looked liked cobwebs full of black eggs and orange caterpillars. I looked up ‘orange caterpillars’ and found they were Social Pear Sawfly and like to feed off hawthorn and cotoneaster, as well as pear and cherry trees. Once they have completed their feeding they go down into the soil where they pupate and emerge as adults in the following spring. The best way to eradicate them is to prune out the branches. As this was covered and the hawthorn in an odd place anyway, I carefully cut all the branches, bagged and binned them.

2. The Sad – Sweet Pea Bud DropI know I’m not alone this year with sweet pea problems, although I have never had much success with growing them in pots. They have always been prolific in the flowerbeds in my last garden and I grew them successfully for years. I started my sweet peas late this year, but they were doing ok, a little slow and short but ok. Then all of a sudden almost overnight all the buds turned brown and the bottom leaves died and it is called bud drop. There a numerous reasons for this apparently, (i) overwatering (ii) the wrong fertiliser, I used ordinary liquid fertiliser instead of a tomato feed, (iii) too hot, would you believe and (iv) watering with too cold water. I was tempted to pull them up but then read that they can recover if I cut them down to the base and don’t feed them, they might recover – we shall see!

Now for the good –

3. The allotment – Bee on Flower Just occasionally I manage to capture what I consider is a good ‘bee on flower’ photo. This little bee was totally oblivious of me as he clambered all over the pumpkin flowers.

4. Morning Glory ‘Grandpa Otts’I just love this plant, and there is no colour touching up on this photo. Morning Glory Ipomoea purpurea, usually an annual, is a close relation to Convolulous (bindweed) which is a perennial weed. My allotment is burgeoning with bindweed with its white flowers, so it seems strange to grow Grandpa Otts from seed yet spend most of my days pulling up the white stuff.

5. Ipomoea x sloteri ‘Cardinal Climber’This is another member of the Morning Glory family that I am growing on the allotment. It is looking good in contrast to Grandpa Otts growing next to it. It has totally different leaves to the usual Morning Glory, the bright green leaves are triangular, with deep, narrow lobes that give them a lacy appearance.

6. Roselily ‘corolla’I am hoping that I am going to get lots of photo miles from this flower. Until I was given 2 Roselily bulbs earlier this year, I had never heard of roselilies. They are in a pot on my patio and been in tight bud for weeks on end. I was almost beginning to despair and seriously thought of cutting them to place indoors in a vase. So pleased I didn’t, because this morning I could see they are about to burst. They are doubled flowered lilies with a light perfume and I am really looking forward to seeing them in full bloom, which I will share with you. That’s my Six for this week, don’t forget to pop over to The Propagator Blog for other Six on Saturdays.

Garden blogging

In a Vase on Monday – Perfect Peonies

Ok, I’m going to be very honest these are Waitrose bought peonies. They are so beautiful I couldn’t resist. Although peonies in a vase may not last long it is wonderful to be able to have a week or two enjoying them.

I found a vase I don’t often use because of the narrow neck and wide top – not all flowers lend themselves to this design because they need more support or maybe it’s my poor floral design technique! However the peonies seem to suit this shape.

What I found of interest was that although all the buds were the same size at point of sale, they have all developed at different times. This was of benefit which has been great for this short post because I managed to take a number of photos of peonies at various stages of development.

Please pay a visit to Rambling in the Garden where you will see some inspirational posts for In a Vase on Monday.

EOMV, Garden blogging

End of Month View – May 2018

They say better late than never! No longer the owner of a garden I was feeling a little melancholy, to say the least, when reading the links to the various blog posts for the End of Month View. Whilst looking at the photos of other gardeners flowers and plants I realised there is no reason why I can’t still join in even though I no longer have a garden.

I left my lovely garden in Worthing at the end of April, moved to Emsworth and now only have a patio, however I do have an overgrown bindweed choked allotment that I offered to look after whilst waiting for my own to come up.

It is only half a plot, owned by an elderly lady who is loathe to relinquish it (naughty!) and advertised for someone to look after it. Whilst not ideal, it is something to do until either I am offered another plot or I can persuade the lady to pass it on to me, which can be done apparently if we send joint letters to the council. It is so overgrown, but has lots of wonderful fruit bushes. I am making myself work on one area at a time and not spend any money!

The other gardening project I am involved with, (again not mine!) is helping my daughter and son in law renovate their large overgrown garden. I have written several blog posts on our progress titled Restoring a Hampshire Garden. They are both still learning and I have given them an idea of what to plant and in what positions. Also I brought a lot of plants from my old garden for transplanting into theirs. There were a number of precious plants with memories that I was not going to leave behind. Last week we planted the grasses, including a rather beautiful Pennisetum ‘Karley rose’, Penstemon ‘Husker Red’, Dahlia ‘Preference’ and a bright pink echinacea.

As for my own personal gardening, I am getting into container gardening in a big way! A couple of years ago I completed an online course for container gardening with Learning With Experts, and my tutor was the inspirational Harriet Rycroft. With extra words of advice from Harriet plus the likes via Instagram I have been busy planting my own container garden just outside my patio doors.

The patio faces south, and is bathed in sunshine from early morning to late afternoon. There are a lot of trees around and I have had an issue with squirrels digging up the pots. One morning I came out to find all my freesia bulbs missing. Magpies and pigeons are also a nuisance.

Turning to good old Google, I read that chilli flakes and especially Birds Eye chillies were an excellent deterrent. I added gravel around the base of all plants and gave them a liberal sprinkling of chillies and so far, fingers crossed, the squirrels have kept a wide birth.

Talking about trees, there is a fabulous Monterey Cyprus opposite the entrance drive which has a tree preservation order. It does block out the sun for a couple of hours mid day, but that’s no great loss, a little shade can be a good thing.

There you go, that is my End of Month View, and although I no longer have my own garden I am keeping very busy. It is very hot working on the allotment during the day so I am trying to go early evening and soon hope to be able to post some photos of it’s progress, but it’s a bit daunting and sometimes soul destroying. The bind weed grows overnight, apart from pulling it up daily I can’t really do anything constructive until the autumn and the slugs have eaten all my sunflowers – but that’s gardening for you!

Garden blogging, Garden Meme

Six on Saturday – 7th April 2018

I really should think carefully and plan when I’m going to blog to make sure that when I publish a post it doesn’t coincide with specific meme’s, such as ‘Six on Saturday’ hosted by The Propagator Blog. That is just what I have done – two posts in one day!

Nature has taken a bit of a battering this winter and is slow off the blocks. Not only is my heavy clay soil laying in water slow to drain, the snails are out in force and eating almost every young shoot in sight. There is life in the garden, apart from slimy critters and these are my Six on Saturday.

1. Ajuga ‘Chocolate Chip’ Planted last year as a very small plant, it has spread into a considerable sized clump and is going to look very pretty. Excellent ground cover!

2. Ribes – variety unknown I cut back what had become a large shrub dramatically last year to the point I thought I wasn’t going to see any flowers this year, but although it’s looking somewhat thin, there are some very pretty flowers – phew! I’m sure it is a darker pink than years before so maybe it has done the plant some good.

3. Peony I am so in love with the peony as it throws out spring shoots, almost to the point I prefer the dark burgundy to the actual flowers. Despite its age, about 7/8 years old, it only ever has a couple of blooms and for the rest of the year is always a disappointment.

4. Sambucus Nigra(Elderflower) Like the peony shoots, the elderflower at this time of the year fascinates me. From the gnarled old bare winter branches appear very dark maroon tiny leaves that in no time become long ranging branches. A magnificent tree to have in a garden.

5. Primroses I spied these right at the back of one of my borders, hidden in amongst the wood pile and ivy where they are at their happiest. So very pretty and along with daffodils and tulips are an iconic spring flower.

6. Chinodoxia (Glory of the Snow) Not sure why they have this name, mine are only just flowering and kept their heads well down during the snow. They are another delicate, delightful, spring flower. I’ve seen spectacular carpets of them at West Dean Gardens but mine are in containers nestled amongst the tulips and late narcissus all of which are about to flower and may well be ready for next week’s Six on Saturday.

Please take a look at the other contributions on The Propagator Blog it’s a great time of the year and a good yardstick as to how nature is behaving in other people’s gardens.

Garden blogging, Restoring a garden

Restoring a Hampshire Garden – Chapter 2

KEEPING IVY AND HER FRIEND HONEYSUCKLE IN THEIR PLACE

This latest task wasn’t so much a restoration job, but a ‘let’s see what we have here’ job. There are times when this is necessary to help see the bigger picture.

The garage, strangely built at the back of the house taking up some of the garden, is an ugly building. It is no surprise a trellis was built along the wall with climbers to camouflage it.

The planting here consisted of 3 climbing roses, believed to be ‘Albertine’, several ivies, a honeysuckle and a wisteria. The wisteria was well and truly dead so removing it was an easy task. Not surprising it had died, the raised bed was on top of the paving, so only about 6″ deep. I’m amazed anything grew, but ivy doesn’t care where she puts her roots as long as she is allowed to grow.

Everything had been allowed to run wild for a good few years and trying to untangle and remove twisted stems through the solid trellis proved impossible. We had to resort to taking it down, it had been built in situ nailed to batons and solidly made. It took three of us to remove it from the wall and it was extremely heavy, I can assure you! My Son in Law climbed on to the roof with trepidation to attack from above. The ivy and the honeysuckle had made its way across the garage roof and into and around the guttering, which made it a hard job to clear, a bit like untangling knitting wool. My daughter and I tackled the rampant plants from below, ducking at each shower of debris and dust that fell on us as we pulled stuff away from the wall – headscarves or hats should have been the order of the day. My head itched for hours afterwards.

As with all jobs, putting something back together again always proves much harder than dismantling. I mentioned earlier, this framework was very heavy and lining it up again to the correct batons was a feat. In view of its weight my back was beginning to complain so I was given the job of using the electric drill to screw it back into place. A much easier job and quite satisfying in a strange way.

With all the foot traffic and removal of roots, the weakened and somewhat rotting boards eventually collapsed, which is another job to sort out. This will be at a later date, there are other jobs taking priority on the garden to-do list.

We uncovered windows in the garage and the ivy had even crept its way through the window frames. However, at the end of what transpired to be a longer job than anticipated, there is now an area, a bit like a bare wall, asking to be filled up. The roses have been saved, despite not having a good dept of soil for their roots. They’ve been pruned and will be carefully trained to grow to splendid glory.

There are lots of planting ideas, but if any of you gardeners reading this have some suggestions, all ideas will be looked at. I have to remember I can only advise and help, it’s not my garden. Honeysuckle is always pretty as long as it is kept under control, a perfumed variety such as ‘Graham Thomas’ might be a possibility, you can never go wrong with clematis such as Montana ‘Elizabeth’ with its fabulous fragrance. I think ivy had her day, but we will have to keep an eye on any tiny roots left behind – we all know she is difficult to eradicate.

Book Review, Garden blogging

Book Review: Secret Gardens of East Anglia

Go West young man, go West. There is health in the country, and room away from our crowds of idlers and imbeciles.” – Josiah Bushell Grimmell

After being enthralled and inspired reading about 22 very different gardens in 4 counties, Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, it really is a case of “Go East”, a part of our country I rarely visit but am going to rectify.

The foreword is written by Beth Chatto who tells us she “…rarely had enough time to get out and visit other gardens, it is a pity since we can all learn from one another. Learning what to do is important, but learning what not to do is equally important.” How true that is!

Barbara Segall, a horticulturalist and garden writer visited each of the 22 gardens and has written about them so beautifully and enticingly it was a hard task to pick out just a few in this review, buying this book really is a must. The photographs taken by the late Marcus Harpur are a delight, he was a brilliant photographer who sadly died on the 6th August but not before he and Barbara were able to celebrate the arrival the first copies of the book in June.

The 22 gardens range from acres and acres of land to a very small town house garden – something for everyone. These are just four I have picked out, mainly because each one is so different in its own right.

Parsonage House, Helions Bumpstead, Essex


Photograph taken by Marcus Harpur

Annie Turner and her husband The Hon. Nigel Turner have lived at Parsonage House since 1990. It is an English country garden with mixed borders and a small kitchen garden. There are 3 acres of garden and then another 3 acres of wild flowers and woodland. A quote from Annie Turner in the book is something we should all try and follow but, if you are like me, you rarely do: “..having the discipline not to do too much too soon has it rewards.”


Photographs by Marcus Harpur

Above is an illustration of one of the borders at Parsonage Farm and a selection of the flowers grown there.

Silverstone Farm, North Elmham, Norfolk

Photograph by Marcus Harpur

Silverstone Farm is a very different garden. George Carter was inspired by 17th and early 18th century Dutch and English gardens. His garden is designed with hedges forming rooms, topiary and a fine array of structures around the garden as can be seen in the photograph above.

38 Norfolk Terrace, Cambridge


Photographed by Marcus Harpur

38 Norfolk Terrace is a tiny town house garden and goes to show that you don’t need a lot of space to create an enchanting garden. This garden is full of ideas for the use of space with raised beds, low growing shrubs and pots giving shape and height.

Ulting Wick, Ulting, Essex


Photographed by Marcus Harpur

I have to declare a personal interest with Ulting Wick. Although it is a garden I am yet to visit, it has been on my ‘must-visit’ list for a while. The owner Philippa Burroughs and I follow each other on Twitter and over the last few years I have seen some inviting photographs of her charming garden. Now I have read more about the history it is a MUST visit garden.


Photographs by Marcus Harpur

The tulips at Ulting Wick are a sight to behold, and Philippa told Barbara Segall that no plan is made on paper!

This review really is just a taster of this captivating book and I really recommend it. Some of the other gardens featured are:

COLUMBINE HALL – A moated garden with a series of green rooms
HELMINGHAM HALL GARDENS – A gem of a garden hidden in its own moated island
KIRTLING TOWER – A field of daffodils for a Tudor gatehouse
RAVENINGHAM HALL – Exquisite planting in the RHS president’s private garden
ULTING WICK – Thousands of tulips against a backdrop of black wooden barns
WYKEN HALL – Vines and roses around an Elizabethan Manor House

Just to finish off, I include a further quote from Barbara Segall’s introduction – “It’s only walking in a garden…you can really appreciate the picture that has been created.”


Secret Gardens of East Anglia A Private Tour of 22 Gardens
By Barbara Segall Photography by Marcus Harpur
Published by Frances Lincoln on 7th September 2017