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, April 16, 2014

Foliage Follow-Up April 2014

First it was the flowers and now it's the turn of the foliage as we join Pam Penick of Digging as she hosts the Foliage Follow-Up, a celebration of foliage plants that fascinates this month in the garden.

Here's a few of ours...

Like butterflies rising from the ground - Jeffersonia diphylla

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day April 2014

I was looking through the photos I took of the garden last weekend when I realised I took enough photos of what's currently in bloom in the garden to participate in this month's Garden Blogger's Bloom Day.

Here are just a few of what's currently in bloom in our garden, in this beautiful spring month of April...

Podophyllum hexandrum has flowered for us for the first time this year and I was pleasantly surprised how delicate the blooms are. The blooms close during the night
We grow Staphylea holocarpa 'Rosea' for its foliage and form but the flowers in the spring are a bonus. 
The Chocolate Vine, Akebia quinata is in full force flowering in our garden at the moment.
It took awhile but we love the way it is now starting to wrap up on the big tree at the bottom of our garden, as well as the fences behind it.
Magnolia stellata - a common garden plant here but it is popular for a very good reason...
How could one not love this plant when it produces such a display in the spring?
Another plant we grow for the foliage but the dainty blooms in the spring look rather sweet - Mukdenia rossii

We join Bloom Day for the first time and is hosted by May Dreams Gardens where all the links to blooming posts are to be found.

Mark :-)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Five Trees for a Fiver

We do love a bargain, especially if it's this ridiculously good...
Five trees for a fiver! Even Twinkles was impressed!
Yep, that's £1 a tree (US$1.67).

We spotted this fantastic bargain last Saturday in Poplars Garden Centre when we visited to buy some compost. They wanted to clear out some old stock to make way for new ones and several trees that didn't look perfect last year simply had to go this year. And when they want plants gone, they don't mess around with price reductions!

Hardy, deciduous trees that are and look exotic! If you like the look of Albizia julibrissin 'Summer Chocolate' then you're likely to like this one
At £1 a tree, how could we go home with just one? We never did manage to get some compost but instead we went home with five trees instead.

If you like the look of Cercidiphyllum japonicum f. pendulum then you're likely to find this attractive too (just ignore the pink flowers in the spring)
A tree with relatively big leaves and purple too!
Cercis canadensis 'Forest Pansy' when in leaf

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Spring Scenes in the Garden

Ahh spring, it's finally here, bliss! And the garden is actively showing so many signs of new growth and promises of a beautiful growing season that is just beginning...

New frond of Cyathea cooperi unfurling
Last weekend was a mixed bag of weather, sunny and warm on Saturday then grey and drizzly on Sunday. But despite the cloudy weather of the latter it was still on the whole bright and dry enough to be still conducive to gardening. In fact we both found such weather quite nice, a break from the wall to wall bright sunshine and dry weather we've been having lately, with the dampness in the air casting a sense of freshness everywhere. Don't get us wrong, we love and adore sunny weather but you appreciate it even more if it is interspersed with cooler, damp weather and some rain.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Win a Blagdon Water feature

The beautiful sights and sounds of a water feature can now be enjoyed anytime and anywhere! The unique Liberty range from Blagdon is powered by a revolutionary rechargeable Lithium battery system, meaning set up is instant and hassle-free. When the battery runs down, you can simply remove the battery pack and charge it indoors for three hours in the same way you would a laptop or a mobile phone. The Liberty water features come in five different styles to suit all tastes and types of outdoor space so there’s something for everyone! 

Nathan Ring, from Blagdon explains “Having to dig up gardens, patios and paths to lay cables needed to run power to water feature pumps often puts people off having a fountain. Our Liberty range makes innovative use of the latest Lithium technology to create beautiful water features quickly and hassle-free. As no mains power is needed, the Liberty range also gives people the freedom to position their water feature wherever they want to make the most of their space available.”

Liberty water features can run for a week without additional charging (based on two hours of use per day). The removable Lithium battery system can, however, be taken indoors to recharge, needing just three hours to fully recharge using mains power in the same way you would a mobile phone or laptop. To help make the most of the battery life, a remote control allows you to programme the water feature to run on either 2/3/4 hour basis or continuously. The range retails between £120 and £229.99 depending on the model.

We’re giving one lucky reader the chance to win a Liberty water feature of their choice to enjoy in their garden this summer. We’re also throwing in a solar panel upgrade that runs & recharges the battery at the same time.

To enter tell us which water feature in the range you would want to win and what you like best about it.

Extra entries can be made by following us and sharing this competition on Twitter or by liking our page and sharing the competition on Facebook. An additional entry can be made by "following" this blog via Google Friend Connect

Terms and conditions: This competition closes at 23.59 on 21 April 2014. Any entries received after this time will not be counted. Entrants must be UK residents aged 18 years or older to enter. By entering this competition you agree and consent to your name being published and by taking part in the competition, entrants are deemed to have read, understood and accepted all of the Terms and Conditions and agreed to be bound by them. The winner will be selected at random from the correct entries and will be announced here on the blog. Please make sure we are able to contact you if you do win, as we will need to provide your name and address to Blagdon to arrange for your prize to be sent to you. 

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Synful Duo

Always a delight these Synful duo, odd looking yet pretty woodland perennials every spring...

Syneleisis aconitifolia
Syneleisis aconitifolia

Syneleisis palmata
Syneleisis palmata
The former is more advanced in growth than the latter but the leaves of both will get bigger and bigger as the growing season progress. They thrive in a shady, moisture retentive soil and fully hardy in our location. 

Mark :-)

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Red Pergola Restoration Begins

The red pergola, a signature piece in our garden that featured in countless of photos on our blog finally succumbed to old age and decay last year. It had been ailing for awhile, receiving patchwork repair as and when it was needed so it could keep its appearance but it's been needing a full on restoration for quite some time now.

And we thought it would only be a restoration job when we started to dismantle it early last year, thinking that at least the four posts would still be fine for use. No sooner though that we discovered that they were better off replaced as well, and the restoration job then become a full on replacement one.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Aurea, Aurea!

Phyllostachys aurea, more commonly known as the Golden Bamboo and less so as the Fishpole Bamboo is possibly the most popular and readily available Phyllostachys bamboo for sale in the UK. You're likely to see it in any garden centre and even DIY sheds tend to stock them in their outdoor plants and gardening section.

Phyllostachys aurea
Phyllostachys aurea and their characteristic compressed lower nodes
We have several 'clumps' (it's a running bamboo and doesn't always remain a clump) of these in the garden and last weekend I spent some time tidying up a few of them. Some of them are meant to screen off something or look dense hence they on the whole left to do their thing. Others however are stripped to highlight their culms and their characteristic compressed nodes as well as impart a more airy feel to them and let light filter through the culms. The former are lesser maintenance while the latter requires more and will need regular pruning through the growing season.

Phyllostachys aurea can be dense growing and have branches all the way down and through the entire length of the culms (good for
screening). To appreciate it's nodes you may need to strip off the lower branches
I have been productive and managed to tackle a few of them and whilst admiring my work at the end of the day I was reminded how misleading the common name 'Golden Bamboo' really is. The culms never actually become golden in a bright yellow sort of way but. The closest to it becoming one is more like pale yellow on older culms a few years down the line when they become mature and nearing the end of their life (just for those culms that is, not the entire plant).

Most of the culms remain green for most of the time. Still a nice colour though but really it should be sold more with the common name Fishpole Bamboo rather than Golden Bamboo. Although admittedly the latter sounds more appealing than the former.

Saying that, there is actually a genuine golden form of the Golden Bamboo called Phyllostachys aurea 'Holochrysa' or it's synonym Phyllostachys aurea 'All Gold'

Phyllostachys aurea 'Holochrysa'
Phyllostachys aurea 'Holochrysa' - youngest culms start out green but can quickly turn bright/golden yellow.
Unlike the other one...
So why is the real golden form of the Golden Bamboo not sold readily as such, and instead the green form is?

Well the green form is more vigorous, more rewarding, propagates easily, and grows much quicker. The golden form doesn't,  it bulks up much slower...

Phyllostachys aurea 'Holochrysa'
Phyllostachys aurea 'Holochrysa'
Too slow to be commercially viable and for mass production. And besides, the species name aurea in latin means gold, hence the common stuck with it. And I don't think that can be shaken of.

But if you really want a really golden, bright yellow culmed Golden Bamboo, it is out there, just look for the right name.

Mark :-)

Monday, March 31, 2014

Chelsea 2014: Cleve West and the M&G Garden

With just 7 weeks until the 2014 RHS Chelsea Flower show we have been speaking with Cleve West, who returns to Chelsea with a design for the M&G Garden. Cleves Garden is a contemporary version of an Islamic Paradise Garden.

M&G  Chelsea Flower Show Design for 2014
What was behind the idea and inspiration for an Islamic Garden?
The basic ingredients of the early paradise gardens (shade, water, food, scent) continue to influence our gardens today two thousand years and more since the first gardens were built.  I thought it was something worth celebrating. 

Do you think there may be more interest in Islamic gardens from the British public?
Perhaps, but I don’t think this will spark a trend for Islamic gardens in the UK.  English gardens have certainly been influenced by many cultures including those early Islamic enclosures but the current trends are more towards naturalistic gardens where nature is occasionally allowed to look as though it has the upper hand. The point of the garden is to celebrate something that has stood the test of time.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Pot Ghetto Surprise

Most of our Veratrum collection are currently in our 'pot ghetto' - a place where empty pots and a few plants are stashed away until we've figured out what to do to them. It's not usually an area you'd want to show people around but I'm sure most gardens of reasonable size have this sort of space allocated somewhere.

This 'pot ghetto' of ours will need some serious tackling in the near future for sure but I decided to start and do a bit today and that's when I spotted this, tucked right on the edge and on the corner looking...perfect!

Veratrum lobelianum
Veratrum lobelianum
What a pleasant surprise! It looked absolutely pristine and perfect, not a hole or a nibble on any of its leaves!

As you can see it is racing ahead in growth from the other potted Veratrums. These plants are prone to slug and snail damage, and it's not exactly living in the best of spots which made me admire this plant even more that it looked pristine.

I had to take it out of there of course, I can't just leave a gorgeous looking plant like that there. I weeded the pot and placed it somewhere that we can appreciate its perfection while it lasts.

Mark :-)