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Beginnings and Endings

MrK and I have successfully moved our lives to the Midlands and I have already found a job! On the Friday before we moved house I was interviewed for the Head Gardener position at a private garden. Virtually a zombie from all the moving house malarky, I managed to be late despite three backup route finding methods (always a great time to find the relevant pages are missing from a paper map!) and I’m not sure I could coherently say my own name, let alone latin plant names but somehow they liked me enough to give me the job, which is lucky because I had fallen in love with the place. It’s a historic house and the gardens are just my style with formal outlines and pretty plantings. There’s more topiary than I’m used to and there’s a sizeable veg patch which I’m very enthusiastic about. My colleagues are lovely and the place has a close-knit and friendly atmosphere.

The Parade of Hornbeams

The Parade of Hornbeams

However, as it’s a private house and garden I’m going to refrain from blogging about it. The garden closely surrounds the house and I could take very few pictures without including my employers’ house and so it would be very hard to avoid invading their privacy. So I’m hanging up my garden blogging pen. However, once I get settled in to work and the new house I do intend to polish off Libby Scribbles and try to do more blog reading and commenting than I have done lately so you’ll still find me lurking about on the internet. So ta-ta for now – I’ll see you around and about!

Japanese anenome on the terrace

Japanese anenome on the terrace


Plant of the Month – March 2012

Please give a big hand for my favourite March plant…

Anemone blanda ‘Atrocaerulea’

Anemone blanda atrocaerulea

Its beautiful blue flowers associate so well with other Spring bulbs, especially dwarf narcissus such as ‘Tete a Tete’ (sorry I don’t have a picture of it – you’ll have to take my word for it!). I like the fact that the undersides of the leaves are a beautiful burgundy red. Even the seedlings have this, and so, despite looking very similar to other seedlings that pop up all over the place, they can easily be distinguished and left to grow.

Anemone blanda atrocaerulea

You can buy them in Autumn as little tubers that look like a chunk of dirt. I followed advice to soak them before planting, and mine all emerged happily the next Spring. The leaves come out with the flower and then fall into dormancy after the seeds have sown themselves and so this little plant is very useful in the gaps between perennials which can seem a bit yawning in the Spring, but you know will be chock full by Summer. Ours run along the front of the borders where the Nepeta et al will be sprawling, come June.

And for something a little different… whilst googling (sigh, yes, I still have to check the spelling of ‘anemone’, not to mention ‘atrocaerulea’) I came across this amazing YouTube video of them opening and closing an a time lapse video:

Confession time – I don’t like Nerines

Sorry but I don’t. I think it’s because they just seem out of time. At the point the leaves are turning and we’re slipping on wooly jumpers and thinking about casseroles and soups they’re out there jangling their spangly bikinis.

Pink Nerine

If they flowered in July I’d be there waving a little flag that said ‘Yay! Nerines!’ but I just can’t get over the wrongness. Also I’m not a fan of Barbie pink generally. The garden is about the only place I can stand it but Barbie pink + frilliness + being the wrong time of year just finishes them off for me I’m afraid.

Is there a plant you hate that everyone else seems to love?

Plant of the Month: August 2011

This year there haven’t been enough blue skies here in Essex, in fact it feels distinctly autumnal. The haws are ripening rapidly, the leaves have that deep green that means they’ll be browning shortly and there’s the tannin tang in the air which I love so much, except that it feels a little early this year. So Plant of the Month will bring a little Summer back into this dreary August:

Ipomoea ‘Heavenly Blue’

Every year I grow Morning Glories up cane tripods in pots. They bring blue sky cheer to even the dullest spot and their pretty heart shaped leaves and pointed flower buds reward those who take a closer look.

I start them off two or three seeds per 3″ pot in our unheated greenhouse quite late in the Spring as they’re really quite tender. I usually come to plant them up into the large pots and tripods a little too late and have to gently untangle a mess of twisting , twining shoots. They go three pots per large eighteen inch teracotta pot and  the base gets weighed down with plenty of crocks, which also help to jam the canes into place.

Ipomoeas are quite hungry and thirsty and this year the slow release pellets are proving a bit feeble for their hefty appetites so next year I’ll use liquid feed from earlier in their growth and also mix in some swell gel with the compost. Once they’re in their final pot I leave them in the greenhouse until the first flower opens when I wheel them out to their final positions.

I like to pair them with pots of red leaved Cannas because the leaf shapes and colours work nicely together. They look great with the warm red brick and daiperwork of the walls here:

They’re a little susceptible to being knocked over by the wind and charging children, so I will look for a way to secure them more firmly next year. One of the pots is sitting back round by the greenhouse broken thanks to a windy day. It’s still flowering well despite half its rootball being open to the air!

Have I convinced you these beauties should be in your seed order for next year? Or do you already grow them? There’s also a beautiful rich purple variety  called ‘Grandpa Ott’  which deserves a mention but for summery skies you really can’t beat ‘Heavenly Blue’.

The Good, the Bad and the Beautiful – April 2011

The Good

My Dahlias survived that winter!

They live in the south facing border which runs the length of the Long Gallery and got a good thick mulch of compost in the late autumn. It is a very mild and sheltered spot, so if they’re going to make it through a hard winter anywhere, it will be there but still, after that winter I had my doubts.

The Bad

The drought.

I looked in my diary a few days back and we’ve had no significant rain since a wet week in late February. So we’re sprinkling alot and MsV and I are getting massive muscles from lugging watering cans. Fortunately the water for the garden is well water, not mains and at least the temperature has returned to more seasonal levels than the July-like feel of a week ago. We prefer to take a low-water approach but with some high traffic events incoming, the lawns need to be nice and strong to stand up to the battering they’ll get.

The Beautiful

Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’

Flowering a little early thanks to the weather, but beautiful none the less!