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.

Fire!

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, January 21, 2015

Wordless Wednesday


Monday, January 19, 2015

Respite from the Cold

At first I wasn't sure whether the title of this post would refer to me or the Tillandsias I've moved in to the shed last week but with the stretch of cold weather we're currently having it's safe to say it would be both.


The temperatures in our area have been hovering between +2 to -2C so the mild warmth and shelter of the new shed makes spending more time there than outside extra appealing. We haven't finished moving plants in there yet (we ran out of those coloured bowls) but the Tillandsias that were previously in the jungle hut are already in and enjoying the respite from the cold. Assuming that they are all actually alive still...

Sunday, January 18, 2015

A Winters Trip to Wisley

RHS Wisley is a garden that we seem to visit far more frequently in winter than in the summer. When ever we go we always comment that we must visit in Spring and Summer as well as the colder months. But as its still January we will have to wait and see if we can manage to take advantage of our membership.

Anyway ignoring our musings, we visited recently.

When you first enter the garden the long pond stretches out before you, although cold the skies were very clear blue.

Henry Moore sculpture by the house

Monday, January 12, 2015

Breath of Life

Amazing how putting plants in any space suddenly gives the area an instant breath of life. You put life, you get life back. That's how it felt when we moved plants in to our newly built shed and suddenly it's become a very nice place to hang out in.



Our Shed O'Fun is almost finished with just the final connections for the electrics still needs doing as well as some painting on the door and exterior wood. Both can wait for awhile when weather is much more favourable. It is however finished enough that we have put in some fish over a week ago (to also help kick start the filtration) as well as moved in some plants last weekend.

Before I proceed further a quick recap on how we got there starting from where we left off from our last update:

Sunday, January 11, 2015

How Not to Treat a Tree Fern

Poor tree fern, this one has had a tough life so far....


First it got harvested from its habitat in Australia then exported all the way here. Then just imagine what sort of handling it has received from the shipping container and all throughout its stay in the nursery where it came from (it won't be delicate that's for sure).

Then it had it's own saga on it's way to where it is now.


This was a replacement for one of the tree ferns we bought as a batch last spring that didn't send out any growth last summer. We had to wait till autumn for their new batch of import to arrive to get a replacement one. It's delivery didn't go exactly smoothly.

My understanding was that they will collect the old one as they delivery the new one. What they arranged instead was that the new one will be delivered first then a separate courier will collect the old.

So we had the old one wrapped up ready for collection and positioned by the side of the house.

The new tree fern, the one on the photo was delivered as expected but the delivery man put it upside down with the crown on the ground with it's heavy weight resting on it. Big no-no but fortunately it didn't stay that long before I had him turn it right side up.

As it was so heavy and I was on my own I left it at the front of the house, to wait for Gaz's arrival so we can shift it at the back together. I have very little worries about leaving anything at the front as our street is very quiet and nothing gets stolen (touch wood). So I went back into the garden and carried on with my usual business. Half an hour later I went to the front to put things in the rubbish bin when I saw that the tree fern was missing!!!

Upset, I knocked on our neighbours to check if they have seen anything and they said no. A couple of guys doing gas work a few houses away said they weren't paying attention. So much for 'nothing gets stolen'. Then I noticed the old tree fern was still there. Could it be??

Then I rang the nursery and explained what had happened. They then checked their couriers and confirmed what I suspected later on: the separate courier collected the new tree fern instead of the old one!! They didn't even bother the consignment papers still attached on the newly delivered tree fern.

An hour later the courier that collected the new tree fern came back to return it and swap for the real old one. And guess what, the tree fern was upside down on the van!! Too tired to argue I just let him do his thing and making sure he puts it down the right way up, trying not to get upset at the sight of crushed new fronds about to unfurl and the thought that the crown was mashed and damaged. I'm just glad that it has finally arrived.

We later shifted it on to the side passage and hoped to get it planted over the weekend. The planting didn't happen and it has stayed there since, unplanted and sat on a concrete slab.

As for the crown, the crushed fronds eventually fell off and fortunately it has sent out more fronds since indicating that the crown was fine despite being weighed on by it's own heavy trunk. Though unplanted, we had at least kept it hydrated as much as we could. And it seemed sturdy and secure standing where it was initially.

Then on Thursday, with the storms and gails arriving I found it blown over and lying on its side in the evening. That must have been a heavy fall. Thankfully it didn't snap another plant nearby but how many times must a tree fern fall? Our fault.


And I was about to take a photo of it lying down but by the time I was about to Gaz has propped it up again. Hopefully the bag of slate will make it less likely to fall again.

It hasn't received a good treatment so far but we promise to get it planted in the spring and give it lots of TLC. But for now talk about how not to treat a tree fern!

But how should you treat a tree fern (Dicksonia antarctica)? In a gist:

The crown is the most sensitive part, don't weight it down or stand upside down for a start!

Keep the crown and the rest of the trunk well hydrated and never let dry out.

Protect the crown with a bit of mulch or fleece during the winter (more when it gets colder and prolonged cold spells).

Plant out as soon as possible.  If bare rooted or an unrooted trunk bury a decent length (half a foot to a foot or even more depending on the size) so it reroots and reestablishes much quicker.


Hopefully it will forgive us and reestablish quickly as soon as it gets planted, cross fingers!

Mark :-)

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Old Couple, Old Sweater

Do you ever find yourself wanting to go back to the same holiday destination over and over again? Or variety and new places to see each time you travel much more your thing?


Time and other resources generously permitting, most of us would probably want a good mix of both but the reality is that one resource would be shorter than the other hence preferences should be made.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Twitter Behaviour

Gardens of the World with Audrey Hepburn - a DVD containing all eight episodes of the programme that I received last Christmas based on the premise that since I like the actress and gardening I'm likely to enjoy it.


You know what, the gift giver was right, I really enjoyed it! Terribly dated of course complete with not so great cinematography however it was nice to see the lovely actress alive, looking elegant as ever, eloquent, and talking about gardens. She was entertaining to watch as she presented the show and was fascinating to get a glimpse of gardens in what is, or at least strangely now considered a bygone era (I feel old now but yes I acknowledge that 1990 is indeed a long time ago). I may or may not watch them again but while I did it was...loverly!



After watching the last episode, my phone buzzed a notification from Twitter. I checked it out then looked at the latest feeds and lo and behold I saw another unnecessary selfie (is it ever necessary?) from a notorious selfie poster. Harmless and usually easy enough to ignore but not the sort that one would think Audrey Hepburn would approve of. Which made me think further, if Audrey Hepburn were still alive or of relative youth in this era what would she think of social media, especially Twitter?

Audrey Hepburn - being the epitome of ultimate elegance and grace. The poster lady of style and class. The legend is probably much bigger than the truth but such a mystique is now likely to stay with her name and image for all eternity (which in turn makes her 'alive' forever).

Would she use Twitter, and what of her opinion on those that use it?

Let's talk Twitter Behaviour! And yes we have an account and we use it.

But first of all, how do we use it ourselves and what is our usual Twitter behaviour?

Mostly accessed on the train on our way to and from work, on our mobile phones, and at other times too of course especially when the need to 'fiddle with a gadget' arises.


There is an auto feed that puts up a tweet every time there is a new post on this blog and occasionally from our other photo only blog -Alternative Eden 365.

If our phone buzzes due to notification when we are tagged in conversations, or from a message we engage and respond as soon as we could.

Mostly used via our mobile phones, much less frequent via a desktop PC or a laptop unless when sharing photos which we occasionally find the time to do

There are days that we don't access it at all.

We're not very good at following stories and updates from people who use it very regularly due to periods that we don't use it all, plus the streaming of the feed is very quick and statuses can quickly disappear.

Although we tried during the early days to tweet random status updates (naively thinking that it is and should be the done thing) it is unlikely or rather infrequently that we do so now. Even rarer are posting of selfies.

When invoked we do enjoy interacting and engaging in conversations. Occasionally we even start it.



Twitter is a very powerful form of social media and seems to be going from strength to strength. Some people love it, and on the other end of the spectrum loathe and detest even the very idea of using it. 

It is a very useful tool to use to communicate and interact with others, almost like a telephone. But like a telephone it's all up to the owner how to use it, as often or as little, and how much to reveal and divulge about oneself to whoever is on the other end of the line, which can be thousands depending on the amount of followers.

Do we like it or loathe it? Neither. It is a tool, we use it when necessary and when impulse arises. A product of contemporary times. 

It is however the noisiest social media at the moment and going through the feed can often feel like wading through a vibrant and at the same time chaotic marketplace. But again it's up to the user when to shut out the noise and distance oneself for some refreshing solitude and peace.

We may not use it relatively as often as others but we have met and interacted with so many lovely people through it and fortunately have rarely encountered anything or anyone untoward. The thing that we appreciate most though is that it makes us very accessible. That we can be contacted and spoken to easily through it without having to divulge our numbers and personal details. A tag with a tweet and our phone buzzes!

Going back to Audrey Hepburn and Twitter behaviour, what is the connection between them both? A matter of elegance!


Twitter has a reputation for being a portal for heated conversations but what amuses, and occasionally bemuses is how some avid users can quickly lose guard and tweet out things that are...let's just say the sort that Ms. Hepburn (or at least her mystique) would not even think of doing. Yes, even the usually mild mannered and gentle plant crowd can slip up and tweet about things like: their divorce and bitter sentiments towards the other party, contraception choices and past STD's, intimate anatomical problems, family issues that are really best kept private, excrement and body fluids, the extreme obvious, ego massaging (certain book authors are notorious for this), the endless selfies even at times when dignity is compromised...

But there you go, that's free speech for you. Not elegant yes but generally harmless apart for ones reputation. And why should one care about what potentially Ms. Hepburn, the queen of elegance could think of it all anyway?

Because in reality I bet a lot do care, even if subconsciously. 

Just bear in mind that whatever you put out there reflects on you. And that what may be about being open, venting out and sharing a problem can quickly turn into an unsavoury personal association that lingers. What one may think as trendy and fun to do often can quickly be regarded as nothing more than just plain narcissism. And that what one may think as a good way to demonstrate sociability and popularity can end up highlighting loneliness instead.

Speaking of unsavoury association, I remember going to a party once and a friend pointed out to a guy in the crowd and said that he had a botched vasectomy. How did my friend know? From Twitter of course, from himself seeking sympathy then. Fair play but very silly. Fast forward a year later and with the same friend we bumped into a guy I didn't recognise at first, but was instantly reminded when my companion leaned and whispered to me 'The Botched Vasectomy Guy'... One of the reasons why elegant and careful Twitter behaviour does matter.

Back to Audrey Hepburn, will she personally use Twitter had if she is still alive today? She was very protective of her privacy then and kept away from the public as much as she could so probably not. Her PA will probably do on her behalf as well as her management firm, albeit very carefully. She might be coaxed to use Facebook though, albeit with a strictly curated group of friends only!



And I end this post by saying that I am chuffed that somehow I am able to tie in an old TV gardening programme presented by a legendary actress with the oh so now social media that is Twitter!

Mark :-)

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Wake Up, It's New Year!

Just as I'm getting used to the holiday season it's over. It took me awhile to get the hang of the festive season and once I did every moment within the period was thoroughly enjoyed and relished. From tomorrow onwards though it's back to usual and the world goes back to its usual, not so festive business.


That's good though, back to normal, just need to readjust again, like going back to your usual routines at home (and work) after a long holiday.

Saying that there are so many things to look forward to, like spring for a start. Another fabulous gardening year potentially lies ahead and there are so many possibilities!

Anything new for 2015 gardening wise? I made a quick a short list the other day and in it are the following tasks:

Paint the jungle area bench - after having a year of brown bench as a post fire replacement of the old one in the jungle area we both concluded that we miss having a coloured one in this very leafy and shady part of the garden, especially every time we see the photo that Loree took of that area when she visited. It's nice to have a shot of light colour in that spot and we'll reinstate that.


More large vases and urns in the garden
Custom make a table for top patio
Irrigation - been on our list for a long time and it's still outstanding! Will this be the year it gets ticked off? We'll see...
Clad top patio fences
Paint top patio bench
Hang more ornaments

That's it for now. I'm sure more will creep on to the list as days and weeks go by.

What about you, any grand plans for 2015?

Looking back on our activities in the past that we usually blog about there may be a few changes this year like: a little cut back on the events and plant fairs that we usually cover, perhaps lesser nursery visits or at least on those that we've covered so many times before, more focus on individual plants, more focus on garden accessories and 'quirkiness', and hopefully...more travel!

Not too idle during the festive season...
So the holiday season is over and back to work tomorrow. It's not so bad though, with tinsel, trees, and Santa Claus out of the way there are no obstructions anymore, we can see spring on the horizon now!

Wishing you all a fabulous New Year and a fun filled 2015 ahead!

Mark :-)

Monday, December 29, 2014

December in the Garden

It is easy to think that an Exotic Garden in winter may not be the most exotic of places, tropical plants and winter don't mix well after all... or do they?

As we have said in the past we want the garden to look good in winter, not wanting to have lots of shelters and plastic all over the place. As a result we grow the more tender plants in pots and move them into the greenhouses. However what remains, pretty much has to cope with everything a British Winter has to through at it. We do of course have some protection on things like tree ferns, and if exceptionally cold weather is forecast then some fleece will go over plants that need it, to be removed once the risk has passed.

I took a walk though the garden armed with a camera...

The fish are fine with winter, if its too cold they will go down to the bottom of the pond to conserve energy and keep away from the surface, but if some food is on offer they soon re-appear!

Around the pond the raised beds are looking good for the time of the year, some of the herbaceous plants have died back or look a little scruffy but with plants such as the Schefflera below, it still has an exotic feel. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Objets d'Art at Wisley Shop

It's been a relatively long time since we've been to any garden attraction as of recent but we've finally remedied that by a quick visit to RHS Wisley today. However before we post any photos of the plants and the garden itself I thought of posting some of the knick knacks we saw at their gift shop first.

Nelumbo seed pod vase, oh la la!
Taking inspiration from some of the posts Peter makes in his blog Outlaw Gardener of his regular visits to nurseries and garden centres and the notable accessories he spots there, I'll be doing something very similar.

We don't often feature garden knick knacks we spot at gift shops of garden attractions as it's not often we spot anything unique and unusual to do so (or personally find attractive). Besides most gift shops tend to stock tacky accessories and the tendency is to have low expectations whenever we peruse this section but this time it is an exception as I actually found several items that I really, really liked and I was pleasantly surprised....

I have a thing for vases and potteries that have organic shapes, textured, and have interesting forms so when I spotted these my immediate response was to give them a good once over:


Objets d'Art


Even their other accessories from the range I found rather attractive, yes even the bird vase!


And the big urns, I'm always on the look out for big urns for a reasonable price to put in the garden.



I'm not sure about the large urns and vases but the textured, organic inspired potteries came from a Dutch company called Des Pots and a quick look at their range online as got me well impressed and rather hooked. A few stockists are listed on their site but will keep my eyes open for where else their range can be found. Suddenly visiting gift shops of public gardens has become extra interesting.

This kitsch lemon bowl really caught my eye and I love it! It's out of my price range though so had to leave it behind.


So what did I go home with? Three of those lotus seed pod vases did. The unique shape, colour, and reasonable price all ticked the boxes for instant purchase. The large one would have been great but the smaller ones would be easier to integrate either in the house or out in the garden during the summer.



I'm really pleased with my purchase but part of my mind is still on that lemon bowl!!! Wish I spotted that before Christmas...

Mark :-)