Garden blogging

Plant Identifier App, Dahlias and West Dean Gardens.

Yesterday (Sunday) was one of those glorious early autumn days, warm in the sun and chilly in the shade. I met up with an old friend who I haven’t seen for several months and we had a wonderful walk and talk afternoon at West Dean Gardens near Chichester.

My friend, a professional gardener, and old time cynic, scoffed at my PlantSnap app and was determined to test it and prove it was rubbish! I was determined to prove it worked, at least the 92% of the time which it claims to be right.

We headed towards the glasshouses (as we always do first) and entered the walled garden. I loved purple and yellow colour schemes and these borders didn’t fail to impress. Here we put the app through its paces.

Gardener friend (GF) identified these as Symphyotrichum ‘Little Carlow’, Saying with glee, “This will test its metal!”. Whilst the app didn’t name it as ‘Little Carlow’ it correctly recognised it as Symphyotrichum, naming it as a Rice Button Aster. A lot of the accuracy is down to taking a clear photo, also there are so many similar asters it would be a big ask to expect it to name it correctly.

The above was recognised as Helianthus Verticillatus common name Whorled Sunflower. At the time of writing I can’t remember what GF called it but he was slowly beginning to be a bit of a convert, begrudgingly admitting it was quite good but not excellent – he is a purist!

It did, however, correctly name the Salvia ‘Amistad’. GF finally got tired of the Gardener’s Knowledge v PlantSnap app game.

We moved on to the cutting garden, where a kaleidoscope of colour met us. The dahlias were magnificent.

There were so many beautiful blooms and West Dean can always be relied on for their labelling. There is nothing so infuriating to see a plant you like and not know what it is – call in PlantSnap!

Apps and labels don’t always help. When I got home I Googled ‘Merrow Clement Andres’ dahlia and nothing came up, so I’m puzzled at this dahlia’s name. Anyone recognise it?The app just identified it as a Dahlia. There were so many I wants to make a note of for next year but the two I particularly liked were easier to find out more info on.

With frost lingering, sadly one morning in the not to distant future the dahlias will be finished. We were lucky to catch them in their last throws of blooming.

Just to clarify, I have not been paid or approached to review PlantSnap, it is just a personal view of the app I downloaded recently and thought it fun to share with you in case you, like me, often wander around a garden looking for a non existent label on an admired plant.

Garden blogging, Garden Visits, Saga Holiday

Summer Gardens of Dorset – Day Three

A coach tour of six gardens in three days is just enough, I feel all gardens-out now. It has been a really wonderful holiday, meeting interesting people, eating lots of cake, drinking copious cups of tea and coffee as well as a lot of laughs playing impomtu very silly games in the evening.  The last two gardens of the  Saga Summer Gardens of Dorset tour were Compton Acres and Cranborne.

  • Compton Acres, Poole, Dorset

ce75448f-fdef-49c0-b2de-69fc142920d0.jpeg

Built into the side of the Poole cliffside, Compton Acres  has five area, an Italianate Garden  consisting of a Roman Courtyard, a Grotto and a Grand Italian Garden pictured above.  Here you will find the traditional topiary, statues and pond, all giving the balance and symmetry required to create a peaceful and calm atmosphere.  Water is also hugely important in the garden design creating a relaxing mood.   I wasn’t sure about the bright red begonias, I find them too bold and certainly not conjusive to a calm feeling.  However, the experts know best, although I do wonder if the original Italian gardens had bright flowers, and if so maybe they used pelargoniums rather than begonias?

8A12BE27-8096-4F41-B0E6-A4673FA08ED3

The Japanese Garden has lots lush greenery and water. It seemed that wood painted red was a recurring theme of this garden tour, found on the Monet style bridges in Abbotsbury and Bennett’s Water Gardens (Summer Gardens of Dorset – Day Two) and today at The Japanese Tea House.

Apart from the Italian Garden, if you are not expecting lots of colour and flowers and are happy with woodland areas, waterfalls and a sub-tropical style garden then Compton Acres is just for you.  Personally, I was getting weary of all the green and longed to see flowers other than rhododendrons and azaleas.    I was therefore looking forward to our last garden, Cranborne Manor Garden.

  • Cranborne Manor Garden, Cranborne, Dorset

Although usually only open to the public on a Wednesday, we were granted the privilege of being able to visit when closed.

Cranborne Manor Garden surrounds the old Manor House (not open to the public) and has a number of different areas managed by two gardeners.

The kitchen garden, as expected, had a cutting flower patch with a fabulous border of roses underplanted with dianthus, making for a wispy effect.

The garden is not regimentated, all the planting was soft and gentle, giving a natural effect – just my type of garden.   Walking around you will come across a Sundial Garden, North Garden, Cottage Garden as well as several others.  As with touring holidays you are quite time restricted : “…you need to be back in the coach by xx o’clock..” so sadly the chance to have a good old amble and see everything is lost.

A couple of us tried a plant finder app PlantSnap.  Once I got the hang of the correct way to snap and upload a photo it worked fairly well. An internet connection is important and a lot of the gardens didn’t have any reception which was a bit frustrating.  The above were correctly identified as Philadelphus, Sweet Pea and Penstemon. I had hoped it would tell me the varieties but it wasn’t always that sophisticated, although it did correctly identify a salvia as ‘Amistad’.   With an iPhone and a good clear photo it is a very useful app and fun to use.

  • Saga Special Interests Holidays

I really enjoyed this tour and going on my own wasn’t a problem at all, everyone was so friendly, but then we did all had a common love of the garden.  The age group was mixed from about late 60 to late 80 and it didn’t matter at all, the more able helped the less able and everyone joined in.  Our Saga Rep, Sue, was a bundle of fun from beginning to end, hurding us up and skilfully dealing with any issues.  We had a most enthusiastic and knowledgeable host, a horticulturalist of 35+ year experience, who walked and talked us around the gardens.  I will certainly go on another one – maybe Gardens of North Wales next year.