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 15, 2015

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day April 2015

As a mainly foliage garden we never really have any moment wherein the garden has exuberant floriferous displays. And when I took photos the other days I wasn't surprised at all that our floral offerings this month are rather meagre. But upon walking around this afternoon I spotted that we actually have a lot more in flower than I previously gave the garden credit for!

Alas I didn't have the time to take more pictures, the chance may have to wait till the coming weekend. With today being very sunny and the warmest day of the year so far the priority till it started getting dark was to water the garden.

But better have a few to present than none!

Beschorneria septentrionalis about to bloom.
 The variegated Beschorneria septentrionalis remained outdoors all winter. Although it sailed through fine it's no longer looking as pristine as it ought to be. Blemished but very much alive. And now it's about to bloom. Hopefully it will send out offsets after.

Stachyurus sp.
Helleborus 'Anna's Red' still at it with its pretty blooms!
Think pink! Staphylea holocarpa 'Rosea'
These blooms are so hidden and so easy to miss - Asarum caudatum
We join Carol of May Dreams Gardens for this months Bloom Day! Click on the link to see what's blooming in the garden of other bloggers this month.

Mark :-)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Spring Catch Up

Although the past three weeks I have been mentally preoccupied with something else and spring 'happened' some time during that period it feels like there isn't much to catch up on. Nothing unusual but compared to some of the blogs we read from across the pond, spring growth here seems much later. But things will level up later on.

Two white variegated Aloe brevifolia and a baby Dyckia marnier-lapostollei
Two weekends ago the clocks moved forward signalling the start of British Summer Time, typically it was a rainy and blustery weekend hence we welcomed spring with indoor gardening.

Ahhhww! Baby frog taking shelter (or was it trapped?) from the winds
Then last spring bank holiday weekend it was only on the Monday that the weather was really good, most of it was rainy. Still at least it wasn't bad enough to deter gardening. Cutting back was the main activity.

Then pretty much the same last weekend, but this time mulching and fertilising came in to the equation. But at least new growth is much more visible.

Buds are just starting to enlarge on Daphniphyllum macropodum

Syneleisis aconitifolium
And shuttlecock ferns, Matteuccia struthiopteris nicely spreading out and sprouting....
Even through the dense fibrous trunk of a tree fern.
I was squeezing my brain thinking of any nursery near us worth visiting but it still feels too early in the season. Best to wait, otherwise a visit might just entail looking at pots of soil.

Come May, so many options!

Mark :-)

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Tale of Two Springs

The working title of this blog post was 'Testicles on My Head'. Gaz was daring me to go ahead with it, and usually I would oblige but at the last minute opted not to. But let me at least explain why which will also explain why I disappeared for almost two weeks.

I thought this Rheum bud would be appropriate. Just use your imagination...
Since the beginning of this year I had the task of writing an academic paper looming over me and although I was happy enough to ignore it for months the deadline was still fast approaching till it couldn't be set aside any longer. Typical me, nothing like the last minute to get me going! Although I specialise on haematologic (blood) cancers my task was to write about testicular cancer instead, so as to be both a challenge as well as refresh my knowledge seeming that the last time I got involved with anyone affected by it was back in 2008.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Three Climate Greenhouse

On the final instalment of our feature on Hortus Botanicus in Amsterdam we'll be sharing photos of our walk through their most interesting greenhouse attraction - the Three Climate Greenhouse.

When I first started preparing to blog about this greenhouse my initial idea was to divide it into three individual posts. But then again it might be over stretching a topic a bit too much hence now only one post. As the name suggests the greenhouse is divided into three climactic zones: temperate, tropical, and arid.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Palm Greenhouse at Hortus Botanicus

We continue our feature on Hortus Botanicus in Amsterdam with the second of their three greenhouse attractions - the Palm Greenhouse.

The building itself looks new so we were surprised to find out that it was built in 1912, making it just over a hundred years old. But it was renovated, and perhaps also restored in 2011 which probably explains why it is looking in very good condition.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Butterflies and Baja California

We continue our tour of Hortus Botanicus in Amsterdam by featuring the first of their three greenhouse attractions - The Butterfly Greenhouse. The other two being the The Palm Greenhouse and Three Climate Greenhouse.

Keeping in mind how small this botanic garden is, their greenhouses are relatively small too but all has sufficient interests in them to merit a visit. And of the three, The Butterfly Greenhouse is the smallest. 

And speaking of threes, the butterflies are just in one of three adjoining greenhouses. The middle one is used for propagation and not open to the public. The outer ones though are open to visitors.

Baja California to the left and Butterflies to the right
Before we proceed to see the butterflies let's check out the Baja California one first...

Even though we haven't been I'm pretty sure that this greenhouse doesn't do this part of Mexico any justice at all but the plants inside are interesting enough to check out. Gotta love a greenhouse laden with spikies!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Tiny, But Packs a Punch!

The Hortus Botanicus in Amsterdam is one of the oldest botanic gardens in the world and is located within the centre of the city which makes it very convenient to visit. And it is perhaps one of the smallest too, tiny even but it is relative to the size of the city rather than dominating it.

Tiny it may bet it certainly still packs a punch!

I'll let Wikipedia and it's own website do most of the talking when it comes to more information about it. For now let me share to you first some of the few photos we've taken outside before we give a tour of its three greenhouses on separate posts:

The entrance to the Three Climate Greenhouse
Winter still has its grip of the city and there's not much going on outside apart from the resilience of the evergreens. Phyllostachys to the left and Cortaderia to the right.
I thought it was a Schefflera at first but it was Daphniphyllum macropodum
Nice looking building but not open to the public, although parts of it can be hired for private parties. At other times I can imagine this is where most of their administration work is done.
Before we continue let's have a very quick look at their plant sales area first...

Hostas in leaf like it's late May already...
And Hydrangeas in bloom! This is Holland afterall...
Now on to other parts outside:

The Palm House, one of its three greenhouse attractions. The structure looks a lot newer than it's age of almost a hundred years old.
Winding paths with herbaceous beds in between
Carnivorous plants beds just outside the Three Climate Greenhouse. Hardy but scruffy!
Nice enough place to pause and sit. I wonder if next month the pansies will be replaced by tulips in bloom...
A small Wollemi Pine (Wollemia nobilis) still in a cage??? We can't believe this gimmick is still being done!
Perhaps an instruction is written on the tag when they bought it saying - must be placed in a cage if to be planted in a botanic garden. Ah well, a little plant drama never did harm.
We only took a few photos outside especially as it seems winter still has its grip on the place but I can imagine change is about to happen pretty rapidly in the next few days. The biggest highlights of our visit were a look a look into their three greenhouse attractions which we'll feature on upcoming posts!

Mark :-)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Droog Garden

Droog is a design company based in Amsterdam and their studio curates various modern objects for the home and other spaces. Since we're in the city we paid their studio a visit, to check out their items and perhaps take in some inspiration as well (we're into modern decorative objects and home furnishings too as some of you may have figured out already).

The studio had some very nice and cutting edge objects for the home but the biggest surprise was their courtyard, a surreal looking garden full of modern....art? Conceptual perhaps.

Some of you may shudder at the idea of art in the garden whilst some embrace it wholeheartedly. So depends on which camp you are you will either like or loathe this space. If you like it perhaps you like modern items too.

We liked it, it looked fun and quirky but we like it for what it is, a courtyard in a shop/studio used to demonstrate concepts and and modern pieces of garden/outdoor products. It was a fun surprise for sure!

No garden products went home with us though, but a few indoor light fittings did!

Mark :-)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy Face

After all the cutting back and scrubbing of last weekend it was time to let go of grumpiness and don a happy face. The best antidote sometimes is to get away from it all.

It's been tricky for the both of us recently to get some time off from work and I'm just glad that we managed to this time. With not much time to plan we headed off somewhere not too far away, in fact only a forty five minute plane ride - Amsterdam. 

I've been to this city several times before but it's been twelve years since my last visit and six years of so since Gaz last visited. Despite both being here before, Gaz and I have never visited together and I've almost forgotten how pretty this city is.

It's even prettier than how I remember it to be and it's almost a new experience all over again. This is something I can rarely say about other places.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Other People's Garden

It was a long, hard working week and with the weekend looming I was looking forward to our downtime which includes doing some gardening. Spring is just around the corner and increasingly there are things that needs doing in the garden and last weekend would have been a perfect opportunity to get some of them done.

I wonder what's the story behind this bird feeder?
Then Gaz drops a surprise...we have agreed to spend the weekend sorting out 'other people's garden' instead. That didn't go down well to say the least.