Our New Koi Pond

Regular readers will have followed the progress of our Koi Bond build, heres the finished result

Bright White and full of Light

As well as rebuilding in the garden we had plenty going on inside as well, one aspect was the new conservatory.

Singapore Botanic Garden

Whilst in Singapore we visited the botanic gardens, a fantastic explosion of tropical and exotic plants.


One of the key events of 2013 in our garden was an unfortunate fire coming from a neighbours garden.

Phoenix from the Flames

After the fire came rebuilding and our new Jungle Hut is better than ever!

Singapore SuperTrees

On our trip to Singapore in 2013 one of the highlights was visiting the Gardens by the Bay, with the magnificent SuperTrees

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Will Giles Exotic Garden Norwich

Anyone with even a passing interest in growing exotic plants will be aware of Will Giles, gardener, author, tv personality who has over the last 30 odd years created The Exotic Garden in the centre of Norwich. The garden is a blend of very tender plants and hardy plants with an exotic feel, and does transport you to another place. The garden to us has a very Caribbean feel, with extremely bright colours combined with lush large leaves.

Hard to believe this photo is taken in the centre of Norwich. The house, which appears to be a fairly traditional looking British home, has a balcony and verandah added to the front, which when festooned with jungly climbers and curios transforms the feel of the home.

Tetrapanax 'Rex'

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Plant Haul from Urban Jungle

In our post yesterday we featured our visit to Urban Jungle last Saturday. As with any nursery visit, it was inevitable that we brought a few goodies home with us.

First, the pots. For the first time ever we brought home more pots than plants! I'm pot crazy at the moment and they have a wonderful selection there of pots with interesting texture and patterns. Here's just a few of them....

Now on to the plants. First of the lot is plain green Aloe arborescens as I didn't have one prior to this. The only one I had before was its variegated version.

Then a Ficus carica 'Ice Crystal'. Now this fig we have already growing in front of the jungle hut for many years now but the beautiful leaves were calling out to us so just had to get another one.

Next is the Chinese Virginia Creeper, Parthenocissus henryana. A climber that we had before but lost during the garden fire a couple of years ago. The leaves remind me of Impatiens omeiana or a climbing version of it.

A hydrangea with large and purple coloured leaves, Hydrangea aspera 'Hot Chocolate'.

But my favourite of the lot is this variegated fern. It's not usual to see variegated ferns, (one of which is Arachnoides simplicior) beyond the Japanese painted types so when I spotted this I just had to bring home two. The lovely Coniogramme japonica 'Flavomaculata'.

Nice fern isn't it?

Mark :-)

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Urban Jungle

Last weekend Mark and I along with our friend Don, paid a visit to Urban Jungle over near Norwich in Norfolk. Although a couple of hours away we tend to visit every summer and usually make an occasion of it. We tied this trip in with an over night stay at the coast and then a trip to Will Giles Exotic Garden in Norwich, but more of the garden visit soon.

Urban Jungle has a great selection of the exotic and tender plants as well as hardy unusual trees, shrubs and perennials. After the poor winter in 2010 we added a number of hardier plants from Urban Jungle to our garden and I suspect many other exotic gardeners also had the same plans.

One of the thoughts that always crosses our mind when we visit is just how clean and tidy everything is at Urban Jungle, not just the plants, but the pathways, beds and display areas. Somebody puts a lot of effort into making sure the nursery is just perfect every time.

In amongst the plants are lots of places to sit, relax or take a cup of coffee (and cake, as they now do the most fabulous cakes!)

  A tranquil place to relax, and not a leaf out of place.

Ficus Carica 'Ice Crystal' - we already have this in out garden but this was too good a plant not to take home.

I did mention the cakes, right? well it would be rude not to enjoy a drink and cake sat in the greenhouse with all the exotics around us.

A great selection of yucca, palms and agaves. I suspect the canna may be an interloper.

Within the large greenhouse is also a koi pond, crystal clear water and healthy looking fish. We spent quite a while just watching the fish.

So what did we buy.... well you may have to wait and see, but the fig above does now have a new home!

Gaz :)

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Jazz Up the Jungle Hut

How we decorated the jungle hut, or more appropriately jungle verandah this year hadn't changed much at all from last year. A few items were moved about to different places and that it when it came to those few changes. 

However, much I liked how I felt about the garden a few weeks ago I thought it was looking relatively sparse. The space was fine by us as it made it easier to move around as we do use the space a lot but when it came to taking photos of the space it needed more 'oomph'.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

One Two Three

Early this year I said 'Don't worry, it'll only be temporary. No commitments. Let's not spend too much so it won't be much of a loss if we decide to do something else next year'.

Let us take you on a tour of the top patio this year. First, the view you see when you enter the garden from the street through the side passage...

The photo above is my favourite point of view when looking at the display. You can almost see the full breadth of the succulent display, framed by lush greenery courtesy of not so warm yet comfortable British summers. And you get a glimpse of the 'flying fish tree' from here too.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

I Love August

Simply for being a summer month!

And at the latter part too, when most of big work have been done and it's just a case of maintaining the growth spurt that happened on previous months.

And most of the spring perennials have already gone dormant and you safely cut away all the dead growth still remaining. Not much putting up to do with green/brown combo that is usually the case with June and July.

The only thing is that in UK, warmth is not guaranteed either. I remember last year we even had a frost scare! However, I'm not that fussed with too much warmth. Moderate is fine, it's more comfy to garden at such temperatures, as long as it's sunny.

Cutting back all of the dead growth from spring perennials has exposed some ground space that disappeared for awhile. The garden felt sparse initially...

Did I just say sparse?

Of course it's not. The other thing is that a lot of plants that were previously squat are much taller now. Taller than us and creating a canopy. And we can walk underneath their foliage.

Means more visibility of what's underneath the canopy. Which also means planting space.

But must not forget the perennials that will be back next spring! Just probably need to look for some evergreen to keep those summer dormant ones company.

Hmmm...reasons to plant shop!

I love August!

Mark :-)

Sunday, August 02, 2015

How Tidy Should a Jungle Garden Be?

We had a lovely, surprisingly very chilled out weekend giving the garden some extra preening and pruning.

Whilst sorting out the jungle area in particular we were once again asking ourselves the question, how tidy should a jungle garden be?

Should it be immaculate seeming as it will be in a domestic garden setting ? Or should it be leaning towards being wild and unkempt as what a real jungle is?

Too tidy and spotless seems odd and rigid. Too unkempt, well it is a 'garden' after all...

I suppose it all depends on what overall look you want to achieve. Like a lot of things there are happy compromises and in betweens. Personally, we'll go for that.

What about you, how tidy should a jungle garden be?

Mark :-)

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Fresh From the Oven!

There was a point that I actually had more succulents that needed a pot than I had...pots. Plus I wanted to beef up our display with more splashes of bright colours. It's amazing how difficult that can be (at least here) especially when you go out there and deliberately look out for them.

On one of our trips out to the shops I had a mission to buy a few more pots that were colourful but still within our taste and scheme (if that makes sense). But on that day I didn't find any. Then an idea spurned, what if those 'things' are not in the garden and decor section? They could be in the kitchen! And so why not add a touch of kitchenalia into the collection. And so we did!

So back into several shops and out I came with things not for the kitchen, but for the garden...

Like baking dishes...

Bottle caddies...

Mixing bowls...

Water jug...

Did I say mixing bowls?

Bottle caddy again... (plus the colour picks on the chairs)

And back to jugs, as some of you may have noticed I have a thing for brightly coloured jugs (the one you pour drinks from, not 'that' jug). The yellow one below I spotted in an antique/bric-a-brac shop in Cambridge last year and instantly fell in love with its bright colour and angular shape. Trouble was, it had a sin. It was a jug that had the logo of a cigarette brand, harking back to a bygone era when smoking was so common and legal in public spaces. Fortunately I still found a way to hide that sin.

Oh, and there were the Japanese soup/rice bowls too. Gotta have them and I love the patterns!

Funny enough, the jugs below were actually meant for the garden. Go figure...

Anyway, the only thing with using kitchenalia is that they rarely come with drainage holes, unless it's a colander. So you'll have to have some drilling to do. And those that were meant to go in the oven have very thick bases and can be difficult to drill holes in. So my suggestion is to use a quality masonry drill bit in the first place and the job will be done nicely.

Have to say I'm loving all the colours, patterns, and shapes on some of these kitchen items. A sharp contrast to what we actually use in our kitchen which are either clear glass, stainless steel, or pure white!

Mark :-)

Monday, July 27, 2015

Fresh and Refresh

After having days and days of sunny and dry weather we finally had a good dose of rain again. Starting last Friday when it was pouring it down almost all day and night, and once again for most of Sunday. I have to say that such generous amounts of rain were rather welcome and gave us a respite from watering the garden on a regular basis.

The sun shone brightly last Saturday, in between a very wet Friday and Sunday
Plus you get a sense of freshness from the atmosphere. Nothing like rain to make everything look and smell fresh especially in the summer. It was nice to go out there briefly in between downpours to just breathe in the freshness in the air.

Speaking of freshness, a few people have commented to us recently that it's noticeable that we haven't been as out and about this year as much as we did in previous years. That's fine with us and it's deliberate.

In the blogosphere and in social media there are groups and prominent individuals out there in horticultural that are very active and who are constantly giving updates about plants and new gardening places/events to see. We too benefit from what they share even if it means just being aware although not actually visiting places or attending events. There's always the future to do them. A majority of these informative people are horticulturists by trade or profession.

We are horticulturists by heart as Sean Hogan of Cistus Nursery told us last year, a rather nice way of putting things to which we totally agree. We are professionals in other fields and plant related matters are dealt with only during spare or down time. It is a source of pleasure and leisure after work.

Work has been extra demanding this year, which ironically has made us appreciate our garden even more. Most of the time, rather than going to different places and events all over, it's just nice to stay where we are and enjoy the garden.

Otherwise, what's the point of creating the space that we have now if we don't enjoy staying in it as often as we could?

Plus, having been all to the same places and events several times previous years, things can get pretty repetitive. You get a sense of 'same same' and that's not always a good thing. So to freshen and refresh things up it's best to take a break from routines, be temporarily choosy in what and where we go to. And instead do other things or just simply stay and 'chillax' in the very heart of this blog - our garden.

And it's summer, a fabulous season to be lazy!

We were around but our friend Don did stay with us over the weekend
Even on those rainy days I'm glad we were mostly around and had the time to breathe in the freshness in the air. That feeling is wonderful, and no plant fair can substitute that.

Mark :-)