Saturday, 31 December 2016

Thought for 2017

                                                                Life engenders life
                                                             Energy creates energy.
                                                            It is by spending oneself
                                                             That one becomes rich  
                                                                           Sarah Bernhardt

Mad Hatter water feature in situ in Pablo's Garden

                                                  Good Gardening in 2017  

Autumn Colour

Glorious grasses - even in decline

I usually cut these grasses down severely in late autumn as they start to look untidy, but this year I've left  them to die back of their own accord to provide extra cover for insects over the winter.

magnolia stellata in autumn colour

This magnolia stellata is a delight in the early part of the year. It has both beautiful flowers and stunning perfume.

But it also has beauty in its decline. Witness the glory of the leaves which contribute so well to the colour palette of the rest of Pablo's garden in the autumn.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
quince tree and rose Tess of the D''Urbervilles

This quince tree complements the colour of the magnolia wonderfully, placed as it is behind the summer house. Last year it produced no fruit at all. This year it fared better and I picked a large bowl full of the golden fruit - said to be the actual fated 'apple' from the Garden of Eden.

Quinces are terribly difficult fruit as they take forever to cook  but they do smell delicious so this year I merely left them in a bowl with cinnamon sticks and dried oranges studded with cloves - Christmas personified!

Acer preparing for winter


Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Even less time to stand and stare...

Turn around and it's Friday again - turn around and autumn's almost here!

My garden good intentions seem to have evaporated into thin air. I begin each year with an imaginary list of garden good intent which gets whittled down from the 'if I only could I would' to 'need to do just to keep on top of...' actual list.

Even more true of the allotment.
Having moved from a very poor site, riddled with roots from the nearby ash tree (which remains remarkably healthy, I'm sorry to say) to a much improved and better designed allotment I have allowed the weeds to envelop some areas and had to spend lots of time hand weeding just to allow the poor beetroot room to breathe.

Hey ho - next year...

I have managed quite a few garden-related jaunts - to the Malvern and Tatton Park Shows, to Littlethorpe Manor Garden, to a 4-day holiday to view gardens of the Welsh Borders - including the highlight, Sir Roy Strong's garden - amongst many others.

Despite this, here are a few photographs showing various aspects of the garden.

Top of the left hand border in May

The left hand border on 11th May

- showing the gorgeous aubergine-coloured acer near the
french window area, together with some of the tulips which I
planted in November. I love the lily-flowered form of
tulip and buy a selection each year from the Daily Telegraph.
Then I struggle to find space for them in the borders.

I guess a better solution is to plant tulips in layers in tubs as is done in Durham's Botanic Garden. That way I could place the tubs wherever I wanted in the borders.

Must make a note for this coming tulip planting season!

A bit further down the same border showing euphorbia fireglow
and one of  last year's birthday presents - a roof finial.

Here we have a magnolia - forgotten which one - in glorious close-up. It has very little room to grown, poor thing, as it's squashed in the right-hand border so it tends to lean towards the lawn.
     Even so, it has begun to produce flowers with the most exquisite perfume.

The glory of the magnolia

Small stumpery with mill wheel 

Both stumperies are beginning to establish well.
I acquired a small mill wheel last year and it has
pride of place in the smaller of the two. I have
morelogs which I need to position before the winter
sets in which will give insects etc an opportunity to
survive until spring. There is a hedgehog house nearby
but, sadly, as in many gardens this year, no sightings of hedgehogs as yet. We often see the young during the summer months but not so far.

Fingers crossed that some appear.

It has been such a strange year in both the garden and the allotment. I do have the makings of a
superb pumpkin - in time for hallowe'en -  but only two peas germinated out of a packet of a few
hundred. Similarly, in the greenhouse tomatoes refuse to ripen - not enough sun until the last few days - yet the cucumbers are doing OK and we have to give many away.

However, the roses have been splendid and my favourite gardener, Chris Beardshaw, has excelled himself after a slow start in the small front garden. A particularly handsome twosome has been a pink climber intertwined amongst the philadelphus - and the combined perfume was especially memorable - Jo Malone couldn't have done better!

Philadelphus and  intertwined rose

Saturday, 4 June 2016

High Days and Holidays

A1liums in George Smith's garden
This is but a a small part of the border in flower arranger extraordinaire  George Smith's garden last summer. The garden is a floral delight and is immaculate both in design and attention to detail - a perfect example of how an eminent floral artist plans his garden to accommodate his passion for flowers.

More alliums - this time at Newby Hall on my birthday visit there last June
I'm very fond of the flower and planted lots of Purple Sensation in Pablo's garden last year. As I write they are just beginning to show in the borders but have yet to unfurl and reveal their stunning lollipop heads.

Time for tea at Bradley Walled Garden

This charming table, set with teacups full of flowers, was a  delightful addition to this Victorian walled garden situated not far from Prudhoe.

New owners have done little alter the layout of the garden. The borders are full of colouful plants that mirror those for sale. In addition to tasteful garden sundries, Bradley Walled Garden boasts a fine restaurant - booking ahead is to be recommended as its  reputation grows.

Stunning display of foxgloves at Harrogate Show in 2015

Nearer home - gunnera at Durham University's Botanic Gardens

Monday, 21 March 2016

Just rulers and bits of paper


A short holiday visiting gardens in Kent  in 2015 and Sissinghurst was a must-see. I was last there in the 1980s while staying in Dorset and was inspired to create my own white garden on my return- not very successfully  I might add.The return visit didn't disappoint.

It was interesting to see the exhibition detailing the development of the garden and in particular the relationship between Vita and Harold, poignantly told in this quote from Harold

Nor did Great Dixter, which I saw in the height of summer some years ago, disappoint. Christopher Lloyd is still very much a presence and one of my favourite gardening books of all time features correspondence between him and the doyenne of dry gardening, Beth Chatto.

Autumn border at Great Dixter

It was interesting to see the autumn colour on this occasion. The subtle placing of plants to show each to advantage, none taking centre stage but each playing its part in the overall scheme of things. The borders remain an inspiration.

Christopher Lloyd had an artist's eye, witness  his use of colour, form and texture. The border shown here is full of faded and subdued shades, all placed with a painterly eye  and utilising an autumnal palette.

This border is in direct contrast with the glories of the rudbekia in another part of the garden.

 As Van Gogh wrote ' How lovely yellow is. It stands for the sun.'

Rudbekia at Great Dixter

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

I will make even more good resolutions... fill my brain with remote books and habits

Snowdrops in Egglestone Hall churchyard

I suppose the first and most important resolution has to be to maintain A Garden for Pablo.

To this end I propose to whizz through 2015, beginning with an image taken at Egglestone Hall in early January. The snowdrops here in Pablo's Garden are just beginning to peep through whereas I suspect that in friend Wendy's garden they are in full bloom already.

A Mad Hatter garden fountain

Determining to concentrate on sourcing plants with a literary connection in an attempt to create a garden suitable for a book lover, I was delighted, whilst visiting Harrogate Spring Fair, to find a company specialising in characters from Alice in Wonderland - it being 150 years since the book was published.

Sadly, the prices were prohibitive so I'll have to continue to buy my weekly lottery tickets and  live in hope.

The Jubilee Park in Spennymoor is always a joy to behold.
I go there regularly to check on the two park benches we placed there, near the bowling green, one for my Aunt  and Uncle who loved this park where I spent hundreds of happy hours when small and one in memory of The Seven Law sisters - especially Frances, my mother - who was brought up in a small stone house in Park Street, just outside the boundary wall of Jubilee Park.

Tulips in Jubilee Park in May

May beats April in Pablo's Garden for colour and vitality.
The bluebell and forget-me-not paint vast sweeps of the left hand border a most delightful azure blue but it is the acid green of the euphorbia robbiae that shimmers and dazzles.

May border with euphorbia

It is the spectacular light  in May, however, that transforms even the most  mundane of plants
into a shimmering wonderland of colour.
May tulips

The garden must first be prepared in the soul
or else it will not flourish
English proverb

Review of 2015 to be continued...