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

Thursday, September 18, 2014

An Afternoon at East Ruston Old Vicarage

Our next stop after spending the morning at Urban Jungle was East Ruston Old Vicarage Garden, an iconic garden that is usually heralded as one the finest in the UK. 

For more information about the garden, it's background and history I'll just refer you to their website and wikipedia but chances are you may have heard of this garden before. It is frequently featured in various gardening books and magazines and generally receives ample publicity.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Wonderful Urban Jungle

On our post yesterday I mentioned that we had a weekend away in Norfolk in which we managed to visit a nursery and a couple of gardens. We were actually intending to visit a couple more to that didn't managed to as it quickly dawned on us that the time we allocated to see them all was simply not enough, hence only managed to see three places (plus the seaside town where we all stayed overnight).

Of the three places we visited our first stop was Urban Jungle, a nursery specialising in the rare and unusual as well as plants that can help give a garden an exotic feel. If you like exotic (and not so exotic) plants this a nursery that is a must to visit. They have a wide selection of plants available, from the staples to the more unusual ones, lush and leafy to the spiky, backbones to the bedding plants, and more importantly lots of plant options that are winter hardy for most parts of the UK.

Now let's take a look, first from the outside as we walk out from the parking area...

Monday, September 15, 2014

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day September 2014

We just came back from a fabulous weekend away in Norfolk and have managed to visit a couple of wonderful gardens and a nursery. Would have loved to have visited a few more and was intending to but alas a weekend was too short and we simply must just go back at a different.

But before we feature the places we visited it's the middle of the month and let's take a look first at some of the few plants that currently in bloom in our garden:

Kniphofia caulescens
Canna 'Cleopatra'
Canna 'Cleopatra'
We have a couple of potted Canna 'Cleopatra' side by side and one them has thrown out bi-coloured blooms while the other only red-orange ones which are past it's prime already.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

The Sweet and The Soft

Last Saturday we attended the monthly meet of our local HPS chapter and the guest speaker was Colin Ward, owner of Swines Meadow Farm Nursery which is not that far from us (but we have yet to visit, oops!) and we know sell many rare and unusual plants. We bump into him quite regularly through the many plant fairs that we attend so it was extra nice to see and hear him do a talk for our HPS chapter.

Now we were aware that he will be bringing plants with him during the day to sell. What we didn't expect though was that he will be bringing with him many unusual and beautiful plants that are already of a good size. That was a very nice surprise and with so many tempting goodies we had an unexpected plant shopping afternoon! More about our HPS purchases in a separate post but one of the plants we got from him is a very beautiful Mahonia that is new to me.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Exotic Plants and Exotic Fish

As most of you know by now our main hobby is exotic gardening with koi keeping secondary to that. Although both coexist in our garden, our external and social endeavours for both rarely mix together, and we pursue both disciplines on separate occasions. We are active members of Kangei Koi Club and we all meet quite regularly and have been visiting each others pond, as well as meeting up once a month.  And being a koi club we talk mainly about, as the name suggests koi and rarely about plants and gardening.

But one of koi club buddies, Paul Randall to our pleasant surprise is actually into exotic gardening as well. And last Sunday he hosted a picnic and pond visit for the koi club. His pond is stunning but as a fellow exotic gardener naturally we paid as much attention to his planting as much as we did to his pond. 

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

With Reluctance I go Terracotta

So I bought some new plants recently and a few more have since arrived since then. They came in small pots and are meant to be re-potted as soon as possible. However it still took me days to do so, not because of lack of time but rather I was mulling over which pots to use.

Aloe suprafoliata
It wasn't that we didn't have any empty pots, in fact we have loads of them stacked in the working area. It was more that I felt I didn't have any nice pots to put them in.

Also, with it being late summer already I was considering whether it would be worth it to put them in nice pots now for display. Or just pot them on into any pot on hand and let them grow more and keep them as pristine as possible during the winter. Then come early next year pot them on into nicer containers for display in the garden.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Fling 2014: Portland Japanese Garden

After a break from Fling posts, it felt like a good time to come back to our fabulous trip to Portland. Its hard to believe it that its almost two months since our trip. Looking back through the photos brings everything back to life again.
The garden is coming up to its 50th anniversary, having opened in 1967 on the former site of a zoo. When we arrived Mark and I, along with Gerhard took off in a slightly different direction to many of our fellow bloggers, which possibly allowed us a less hectic visit. As a garden I could have spent most of a day here, I really enjoyed the space, the tranquillity and verdant backdrop.

Monday, September 01, 2014

PlantSnapp Launch at Clifton Nurseries

Last week I attended the official launch of PlantSnapp, an iPhone and iPad based plant identification app. The premise of it is that you send a team of people working behind the scenes a photo of a plant you want identified using the app and within twenty four hours receive an answer, complete with care information and a list of suppliers. 

George Williams, CEO and Founder of PlantSnapp warmly welcoming us all
The event was relaxed, well organised, with lovely food and drinks, and I got the chance to know more about the app as I chatted to the team behind it. And they chose a perfect venue too for the launch, Clifton Nurseries which is a long running and well established garden centre right in the heart of London which somehow evaded my consciousness and have only heard of via the invitation to the event.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Bromeliad Surprise

Walking to and from the koi pond several times last Sunday (we were busy building something...) I suddenly spotted something unusual on the clump of bromeliad growing epiphytically on our yew tree.

I saw something red and I became suspicious...

Grabbing the camera and stooping down to look my suspicion was confirmed, it was flowering.

And what a nice sight it was, that after several years this clump has finally flowered.

Fascicularia bicolor subsp. canaliculata is possibly the hardiest bromeliad you can grow here in the UK and other areas of similar climate. It is largely a terrestrial bromeliad although it can be coaxed to grow as an epiphyte too on trees and large shrubs with hit or miss success. 

Fascicularia bicolor subsp. canaliculata
It will grow, bulk up, spread, and flowers much quicker and regularly when grown on the ground. As an epiphyte, with its roots having much more spartan access to nutrients and relying largely on humidity and rainfall for water the growth rate is much, much slower. And flowers very infrequently too, if at all.

We don't give it any extra care at all, with only nature giving it what it needs to live. So it was a nice bonus to finally see this clump flowering after living on this tree for years.

Pretty thing isn't it?

Mark :-)

Monday, August 25, 2014

An Infatuation to Remember

When I was fetching some old, ex rain shelters stored at the back of our smaller greenhouse right at the bottom of the garden I caught glimpse of a clump of bamboo at an angle that I very rarely see it from.

Looking beautiful and blue - Borinda papyrifera
It was looking great and I had to quickly grab the camera shortly after so I could take snaps of it from the same spot while the lighting was good too.

Seeing this specimen made me remember why I had an infatuation with bamboos before. I got so into them that at one point a few years ago I had over a hundred different species and forms of them.

Blue new culms...
Alas the infatuation was not meant to progress beyond that. Lacking the space to sustain them all as well as a decrease on the lustre of my affection towards them I let go of many of them.

Graceful cascading leaves
Perhaps in the future if we have more space to garden then I can rekindle this infatuation, and this time let it blossom to a full blown romance. Many of the rarer ones that I let go now reside in a friend's garden and I'm sure I can get a division again when,or rather if that time comes.

Meanwhile I shall continue to cherish the plants that are left in our garden, remnants of an infatuation.

What about you, have you ever been infatuated by a group of plants before to find yourself drifting away from it later on?

Mark :-)