A peek at my week. What I’ve seen- where I’ve been

Took Mum to Norfolk to see East Ruston Old Vicarage. A feast for the eyes. Loved this sunny wild flower meadow.


Got lots of container planting inspiration. Much scribbling down of names and taking of photos went on. Just look at the size of that brugmansia! You can see why it is called angel’s trumpets. The scent is out of this world. It’s underplanted with yellow argyranthemum, purple verbena, and lobelia. There’s even a grey-leaved melianthus squeezed in. Such an enticing entrance to an archway. 


Every second word we used had “exotic” in front of it! Loved this avenue of cannas planted with blue verbena bonariensis and orange tagetes. 

Saw two sumptuous deep red dahlias. Sadly no labels so we don’t know the names. I’m searching books though, so will post an update when I know for certain. 


I grow this tender purple-leaved Aeonium plant in the greenhouse at home. I might set it outdoors for the summer, now I’ve seen how lovely it looks. 

Also have this blue-tinged echeveria in a pot in my greenhouse. And I’ve got this Stewart Garden low planter which looks like stone, but is actually plastic. Much lighter to carry in and out of the greenhouse. 


Should NOT  have looked at the plant sales area. Fell in love with these two dahlias. Can’t wait to get home to plant them in my cut flower patch. 


Here’s a quick look at the barn we stayed in. It gets a five star rating from us. More information to follow. 


Do get in touch and let me know what you have been up to this week. It’s been sunny and hot in Norfolk and I’m expecting to arrive home to a lot of weeding and dead heading on the plot! 

#wordlesswednesday

Transporting you to California. For anyone who needs a little sunshine…


Known as California Glory, Fremontodendron Californicum, is looking stunning at the moment. It’s an evergreen shrub best grown against a warm south-facing wall. It flowers from May to September. Prune back side shoots to between two and four buds after flowering to control growth.  I’ll probably never travel to California, but I can enjoy a little of its sunshine here. Plant one and just bask in its sunny glow. 

A Peek at my week. What I’ve seen, where I’ve been….

What I’ve Seen:

This glorious sunset from the lane where I live. We can see these trees from our field gate. 



VISITED  some fabulous gardens at Smeeton Westerby near Market Harborough, open in aid of GEMS Charity. GEMS was founded in June 2012 by Sally and Andy Anderson after they had accompanied four close friends on weekly visits to the Osbourne Chemotherapy Suite at Leicester Royal Infirmary.
  Inspired by the hard work and dedication of the nurses, and the courage of their four friends, they set out to raise funds to make patients and supporters more comfortable during their treatment. The  funds have been used to buy specialist treatment chairs and refurbishing the waiting room. 

This is the view from one of the open gardens, Highfields. Green undulating countryside in the distance. 


Chocolate box thatched cottage, overlooking the allotments in the village. Full of colourful plants including this wine-coloured hollyhock. 


Mooched around the allotments. Got lots of ideas for companion planting.


Mum and I sat in this pretty summerhouse, enjoying the peaceful scene.




Sat on a bench encircled by water, under a shady tree. Heavenly.


Saw this beautiful late summer-flowering Clematis recta. A floppy, sprawling variety which looks good amongst perennials and wild flowers. Bees love it too.


Laughed at this cheerful sight. Even the scarecrows in Smeeton Westerby are posh. This one is wearing Le Chameau welly boots!


Back home to spot two fledgling tawny owls in the wild garden. Made our day to find them in the cherry trees around the horseshoe pond. Watched them until dusk as they bumbled from one branch to another, flexing unfamiliar wings.  

More info on GEMS charity at www.gemscharity.com  

Donate online at virginmoneygiving.com

Email: gemscharity@gmail.com. 0116 279 3814 

#wordlesswednesday  Frilled. 


Cut flowers from my garden today. Carnations, sweet peas, dahlias and alstroemerias. Have a listen at 2.08.20 on the timeline for the gardeners’ phone in programme. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p056qg0d. Regular readers will know that I joined the BBC’s Down to Earth programme about a year ago. The programme has been running for 50 years. I’m not a natural speaker. Much happier listening to be honest. But I’ve been given this opportunity to encourage others to grow flowers, food, fruit. So I push myself out of my comfort zone. Today I did my second weekday gardeners’ phonin programme. Sadly there was only one caller – right at the end. So if I sound a bit nervous, that is the reason why. A whole hour to fill is rather a daunting  prospect! Somehow, I survived. But I feel as if I’ve lost a stone in weight! 


Brownfield Metamorphosis at Hampton Court Flower Show

We are all captivated by projects such as the High Line in New York  where  former industrial spaces are transformed into havens for wildlife.
Martyn Wilson’s garden at Hampton Court this year is all about nature taking over. Rubble and decay is replaced by trees and self-seeded plants amongst the rusting monolithic steel structures. 

“Inspiration came from places such as the High Line in New York and the Landschaft Park in Druisburg, Germany, and also the regeneration of the former MG Rover site in Longbridge, Birmingham.  The High Line is an example of a successful project, turning  a derelict brownfield site into a thriving contemporary space. The  public is invited into what was a forbidden and dangerous space.  

“For the Hampton Court garden, sculpted  steel and  concrete blocks form the structure. I wanted to soften the urban features by introducing grasses, ferns, perennials, self-seeded annuals and shrubs such as buddleja.” 


In amongst the silver birches – multi-stemmed Betula pendula are Buddleja davidii Wisteria Lane and white-stemmed Rubus cockburnianus. The perennial plant list features golden Achillea Walther Funcke, Terracota and softer yellow moonshine. 


Herbs thyme, fennel and origanum  mix in with verbena bonariensis, scabious, leucanthmums and umbellifers.  Grasses such as the quaking grass Briza media mingle with Deschampsia cespitosa and flexuosa and Festuca amethystina. 


Annuals featured in the garden are Dauca carota Dara, Californian poppies, eschscholzia Sun Shades and Red Chief, poppy Peshawar White and albiflora, and poppy rhoeas.


Wild flower orange Hawkweed, Pilosella aurantiaca- also known as fox and cubs- stands out against the crushed concrete scree and monolithic steel structures which were designed by Ledbury-based sculptor Simon Probyn.



Martyn Wilson’s garden shows a new approach to weaving our industrial heritage into new landscapes for the benefit of wildlife and people. He wants us to see the beauty in these spaces-  not just walk on by without a second thought. 

For me, I understood his “beauty in decay and regeneration,” theme. With some show gardens, the ideas behind them can be puzzling to say the least. But this one was obvious. A new approach which celebrates the relics of our past, to create flower-filled spaces for wildlife, insects and people. 




The garden, which was awarded a gold medal, was sponsored by St Modwen Properties PLC and raises awareness for UCARE  urology cancer charity  www.ucare-oxford.org.uk.

Simon Probyn http://www.simonprobyn.co.uk    sculptures

The Pot Company http://www.thepotcompany.com

Easymix http://www.easymixconcrete.com

Smiths of Bletchington http://www.smithsbletchington.co.uk

Louis Masai- London-based artist outdoor murals for the hoardings http://www.louismasai.com

hortus Loci plants http://www.hortusloci.co.uk

Cotswold gardening School http://www.cotswoldgardeningschool.co.uk

Keyscapes Ltd http://www.keyscapes-easigrass.co.uk

If you visited Hampton Court  this year, or watched the television coverage, which gardens caught your eye? Have any of you visited the High Line garden? It’s on my must-visit list. Thank you for reading, and for taking the time to comment. 

#wordlesswednesday- RHS Hampton Court

I wish you could smell these Malmaison carnations. They are old fashioned glorious! 


More like a rose than a carnation, these historic flowers were displayed by Jim Marshall at RHS Hampton Court this week. They rightly  won Gold and Best in Show in the plant heritage section of the floral marquee.


They remind me of buttonholes, Floris soap, and country house glasshouses. Such a romantic clove-like scent, and a story of rescue and revival. The Malmaison carnation originated in France as a chance seedling. It was named Souvenir de la Malmaison after the rose grown in the Empress Josephine’s garden and quickly became fashionable. Nurserymen started to breed new forms in a sumptuous range of colours. Favourites of English country houses until the Second World War,  they gradually died out due to disease and labour intensive requirements. Malmaison carnations are prone to damping off disease and red spider and need constant renewal by cuttings and layering. 

Grower Jim Marshall has made it his life’s work to save the carnation and now uses micro-propagation to improve vigour and disease resistance. Plant supplies for sale are still in relatively short supply and favourite colours soon sell out. They are a bit of a challenge, but well worth the effort for the beautiful colours and unforgettable scent.

For more information contact Plant Heritage,  jim@malmaisons.plus.com. 01473822400 Hullwood Barn, Bolton Lane,Shelley, Ipswich IP75RE. 

#RHSHampton – Perennial Charity Sanctuary Garden

You can’t fail to be drawn in to Tom Massey’s vibrant garden at RHS Hampton Court. The colourful planting is like a magnet,  and who can resist a spiral path which leads to an oasis of calm. 


Tom’s Sanctuary Garden – for the charity Perennial- is all about the emotional journey a person makes from crisis to safety. Perennial is the only charity dedicated  to supporting everyone in the horticulture industry- and is therefore a cause close to my heart. I have made a living from horticulture for the last 25 years in one way or another. So a charity which helps the people I work with, is something I’m going to shout about. 


Tom’s garden is a colour wheel, 18 metres in diameter. The changing palette  poignantly symbolises the journey people face with difficulties such as illness, injury, poverty and debt.  At its outer edge, the plants are hot colours, representing the chaos of being at crisis point. Following the winding gravel path, plants fade to calmer colours of blue and green. It’s a representation of what happens when Perennial steps in to offer a helping hand- guiding people from tough times to safety. 


Hemerocallis Crimson Pirate, Helenium Moerheim Beauty, Crocosmia Lucifer and Dahlia Mystic Enchantment feature in the hot colour scheme.

 

As you walk though the garden, the planting becomes taller and more immersive with the colour scheme moving to stimulating yellows and oranges, representing hope.


Achillea millefolium Terracotta, Helenium Mardi Gras and Geum Totally Tangerine  are woven with grasses Molinia caerulea Poul Peterson and stipa  to form the orange swathe. The yellow planting band includes Kniphofia Lemon Popsicle and varieties of helianthus and helenium. 


I don’t think anyone could miss the message of hope in the sunflowers. They sing out amongst the grasses. 



Moving through the spiral of colours,  you come to restful purples and blues. It has a calming influence after the whirlpool of emotions you feel as you walk though this garden. I found it hard not to cry. 


Purple plants are  Veronicastrum virginicum Fascination (above) Nepeta Six Hills Giant and Verbena bonariensis. Blue shades feature Agapanthus Navy Blue (below) Agastache Black Adder and Blue Fortune, and Centurea cyanus Blue Boy.


Grasses in the blue section are Calamagrostis x acutiflora Karl Foerster.


And finally as you follow the spiral path you reach the sanctuary of a green oasis. The sounds of the outside garden fade and it feels like a place of safety. 


Tom’s design highlights the difference Perennial makes to thousands of horticulturalists each year. It’s humbling to read the case studies. Heartbreaking accidents leaving families in dire circumstances. Perennial – a charity many people may not have heard of before- helps with financial arrangements, navigating the benefits system and being there as emotion support. A lifeline for anyone in need. 

Find out more about Perennial here . Click on the highlighted words or on http://www.perennial.org.uk 

Buy Products to support the charity at shop.perennial.org.uk

Get involved. Raise money at www.hortaid.org.uk

More about Tom Massey here. http://www.tommassey.co.uk

The garden was built by www.landformconsultants.co.uk 

Plants supplied by www.hortusloci.co.uk 

Stone bench www.londonstone.co.uk

Additional suppliers : Linden Turf, water feature The Pot Company, self binding gravel and steel edging AllGreen Group

More about RHS Hampton Court 

In a Vase on Monday 

I’m cheating this week- as I’m on a train to London to visit the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show. So I haven’t even got a jam jar with me. But, as always, I’ve picked a bunch of flowers from home to keep me company on my journey. There’s a comfort in a reminder from home.


The scent of my sweetpeas is an antidote to diesel fumes and the ever -louder tannoy announcements. I enjoyed wandering around the veg plot at dawn picking  these flowers.
This year I’m growing a variety of new and heritage varieties. My favourites are High Scent, Albutt Blue and Mrs Collier white. I love the small flowered heirloom type. They seem to have the strongest scent. Here’s a slideshow from my garden this morning.

img_8417

img_8107





I wish you could smell the sweet peas. It’s the scent of summer. As always i’m grateful to Cathy from Rambling in the Garden for hosting this meme. Go and have a look at what Cathy’s growing and showcasing in a Vase this week.
Meanwhile…. I’ve made it to Hampton Court. What a trek! ….here’s a taster of the gardens …..



#wordlesswednesday- wild geraniums on the march.

Wild geraniums billow in the long grass on the lane outside my house. Back lit, they look like mini- stained glass windows. This pretty white seedling turned up on its own- probably a hybrid with one of my garden plants. I am thanking the bees for this little beauty. 


The common name, cranesbill, comes from the shape of the seedhead which resembles the long tapering beak of a bird. Meadow cranesbill, or Geranium pratense, comes in a range of colours from white to deep blue. I love the violet-blue veins and the dark plum anthers. The flowers glisten in the sun as if they’ve been coated in sugar.


A favourite of mine is this pale violet flower with delicate silver veins. I ought to be getting on with my work, but I spend more time than I should just gazing at these beauties, comparing their hues and pondering on the wonders of nature.


And luckily for me, these gorgeous plants have drifted in through the front gate and settled in the garden- all along the path to my front door. It’s a wonderful welcome home- and I haven’t done a thing to create it. It’s happened all on its own. Isn’t nature grand. 

I’ve found a beautiful violet form called Beth Chatto  on the RHS website. Click on the highlighted word to find out more. Geraniums can be grown from seed. Flowers appear from June to September and plants grow to about 70cm in sun or slight shade. Perfect for grass meadows- or you can plant in drifts in amongst shrubs and perennials. Highlighted in the RHS Perfect for Pollinators list. Bees and butterflies will certainly thank you for planting geraniums.

In a Vase on Monday….er…Friday 

Having tried and failed to upload this from home, I’ve finally given up on our dodgy internet connection and decamped to Mum’s house. We haven’t got fibre optic cables to our village yet. And we live a mile down a single track lane. So there’s really no hope for us. The only up-side to this story is that mum made a cake. And regular readers know how much I love cake! As I’ve said before, I grow and pick flowers for my MIL Joan as a way of keeping her connected with me and my garden- showing her what’s in flower 52 weeks of the year. But this time I also picked a bouquet for a friend who is having an operation today. Hopefully the sweet williams, alstroemeria and first sweet peas of the season will brighten her day. Flowers do have the power to calm and reassure. 


Pink alstroemeria -from Viv Marsh Postal Plants, flowers virtually all year round in my unheated poly tunnel. I grow them in 60cm pots, as the roots have a reputation for spreading. Growing them under cover protects them from the weather and also from snail and slug damage. Flowers last  for about three weeks in a vase. Easy to grow, repeat flowering, and long lasting. They are no trouble at all. Please excuse the state of my poly tunnel, which needs a good clean. I’ve bought some special detergent from LBS Horticulture, which apparently just needs spraying on. Will report back when I’ve tried it. The one problem with poly tunnels is the algae. It’s not like having glass which can easily be washed down. And it builds up on the inside and outside surfaces. Still, it was cheap to put up and gives me a dry working area in the winter. 

I planted these sweet williams last summer. They arrived in a parcel as a twitter plant swop. I love free plants, and always have loads of my own to spare. I’m quite often posting margarine containers full of little seedlings all around the country. You can see my rather rickety hazel A-frame structure for sweet peas in the background. I just hope it doesn’t blow over in a storm. 

I love the jewel-like colours of these sweet williams. They last for ages in a vase and produce large quantities of flower in a small space. I’ve just sown some more to plant out in the autumn. The seeds germinated in two days in all the hot weather we’ve been having, and there are hundreds of little seedlings to prick out.

My sweet peas have just started flowering. I had a disaster with the autumn-sown seed. A mouse got in the propagator and snaffled the lot in one night. There was just a sea of snapped off stems. Not to be deterred, I planted the stems as if they were cuttings, and amazingly they carried on growing. Another tip if you are growing sweet peas is to use the pinched-out tips as cuttings. They will produce plants that will flower right up until November. I discovered this by accident when I left the pinched-out tips on a tray of moist compost and they rooted down and planted themselves.  Aren’t plants just amazing.

I’m growing High Scent, a good reliable sweet pea variety- and it really does have a wonderful old fashioned scent. It was raised by Keith Hammett and introduced in 2003. It has a creamy  ruffled flower with a delicate lilac edge. I’m also growing Albutt Blue, a very pretty pale blue flower with a deeper blue picotee rim.  It was raised by Harvey Albutt and introduced by Eagle Seeds in 1999. It’s been a favourite of mine ever since. I buy seed from Easton Walled Gardens, Roger Parsons and Eagles. If you don’t have  facilities to grow your own, you can buy mail order plants in the spring from Easton. Also, Mum and I spotted some really great sweet pea plants at Coton Manor garden nursery in Northampton in May, for just a few pounds each.  It’s good to have a back up plan. 

I always put lemon balm and mint in my cut flower bouquets. It goes so well with the sweet peas and roses. And for my friend, who’s spending the day in hospital, it will be a lovely scent to come home to. 

My potting shed, where I’m sowing seeds and making cut flower posies, overlooks a horseshoe pond and tall willows. On the other side of the trees is this view of surrounding countryside. I’ve cut holes in the hedge to make viewing points through. And all my hedgerows are woven with scented roses and honeysuckle. It’s a peaceful place….just don’t look at the weeds! 

Are you growing any cut flowers for friends and family this year? I’d love to hear  what’s  growing in your garden. And thanks, as always, to Cathy at https://ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com  for hosting In a Vase on Monday.  You can join in even if you have jamjars like me.  And if anyone knows any miracle cures for low internet speeds in the countryside…..please, please let me know! Sigh 🙂 x