Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Fabulous Foliage

Whilst we do have colour and flowers in our garden we are very much foliage fans, the combination of leaf shapes sizes and colours are what gives the garden its character.

Its always hard to select a favourite plant, but the following are looking particularly good at the moment.

The Szechuan pepper - Zanthoxylum schinifolium which as well as being used for spice also has edible 
young leaves
Rhodiola fastigiata, another lovely ground cover plant.
Rubus lineatus,with very distinctive leaves. This has really taken off this year.
Euodia fargesii, a rare deciduous shrub, we have had this for a couple of years.
Ensete ventricosum 'Maurelii', known as the Abyssinian Banana, we are growing on several small plug 
plants this year in pots, which should reach quite a large size next year. We haven't grown this 
particular banana for a couple of years, so it has made a welcome return to the middle patio area this summer.
Ficus carica 'Adam' famed for its huge leaves, supposedly the fig used by Adam to hide his modesty in 
the bible. Judging by the size of the leaf he obviously had something to hide!
This one almost needs no introduction, Schefflera rhododendrifolia. 
Personally i prefer the name it used to go under - S. impressa as I think it suits the plant well. This one has been with us for about 5 years and is now over 6 feet tall. Lower down it has numerous small buds and side shoots, so we may well find it ends up a bushy plant. Although I may take some of them off the preserve the shape, and have a try at taking some of the shoots off as cuttings and see it I can increase our plants, (I'm sure you will agree we need more plants :) !!)

Quite a mix of different plants, Persicaria sp. kunming, Euphorbia, Sedum and  a Lysimachia all jostling 
for space. We featured a number of Persicarias in a dedicated post earlier this year, worth a look if you 
are not familiar with the various forms.
Even this little fella was enjoying the foliage of Mahonia trifoliolata, although I must confess he didn't get to have his desert.
The summer this year has given many plants a real boost with them having so much water, and we have had a boost too with some more sunshine recently.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Higher at Lower Kenneggy Nurseries

Our frequent trips to Cornwall are never complete without a visit to the Lower Kenneggy Nurseries. For us, and for every plant lover for that matter, it is an absolute must to check out this place if you are in the area for it is a treasure trove of exotic, unusual, and rare plants from all over the world. And mostly grown from seed too by its lovely and enthusiastic owner Steve Mules.

As you arrive and enter the nursery the first stop will have to be its signature turquoise blue greenhouse, a greenhouse full of exciting plants...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sultry, Sunny, and Summery

Sultry, Sunny, Summery - three words that perfectly sums up the feeling at the moment now that summer has finally descended upon us. After weeks and weeks of rain it's nice to have such fine weather which has long been overdue. Unusually overdue yes for I haven't seen so much rain before that went on and on and seemed neverending.

Glorious sun and blue skies! And yes noggins are now in!
But that seems a distant past already now that it feels warm outside, dry, bright, and warm enough to feel sultry. Albeit it looks like it's going to be a short spell though which started last Sunday and might be interrupted again with the predicted return of the rain next week. Nevermind, enjoy it while it lasts and you always live in hope that the interruption will be short lived (and besides, bouts of rain in between dry weather is good for the plants).

Even roof battens have to be painted, one by one, all sides, and twice too!
And with good weather it also means lots of catching up to do with the project. Suddenly we are able to do a lot of things again, especially weather dependent ones like more painting. And as an extra bonus we are able to continue doing a bit more after work (which we need to anyway as there's loads of catching up to do!).

Let there be shade! The first of the semi opaque polycarbonate roof panels are now up.
If things were more quiet it would have been a perfect week to simply just laze around and enjoy the surroundings, or do gardening and pottering which we find relaxing in their own right. But a project is a project and things needs to get done otherwise we'll never finish this.

Al fresco dining...
with Twinkles keeping me company
Saying that, I look forward to going home and getting stuck in, doing what we're doing and seeing the results just before the sun sets. And with lots of nibbles to keep us going and soft music from the radio, I just find everything so...relaxing!

Divine assistance. Our local Methodist church has lent us this very tall ladder to help us with the project. Heaven sent!
Painting, concreting, or gardening, at the moment it doesn't matter. With such fine weather, whatever we may be doing it's just nice to be outside. Wonderful!

Mark :-)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Not Another Plant Fair!!

Oh no, another plant fair?? Oh yes!!

I did mention on my previous post that last weekend was a free weekend but the Chenies Manor Plant Fair last Sunday was etched on our diary anyway. It is a big fair but the best bit about it for us is that it is within our area and only half an hour drive away. Quite convenient!

So we agreed that if it's nice and sunny we'll stay put and not go but if it's rainy again then we'll pop round for a quick visit. Well, it turned out to be a sunny day anyway and we still went! It is a pleasant fair (we went last year) and thought it would be nice to start the day by visiting and checking out whatever goodies the nurseries have bought with them.

Queue! Ten minutes early...
but twenty minutes to get in!
So off we went, nice and early at the very start of the fair. And of course everyone was thinking the same as there were long queues forming already, and to think we were ten minutes early! I suppose all regular plant fair attendees have the same mental wavelength with regards to arriving early (especially if you're after rarer plants).

For a one day fair it is rather large and the nearly all of the nurseries we saw this year were in the exact same spot as they were last year, de ja vu! But at least it made navigation quicker and we went straight to the stands of the nurseries we are likely to buy plants from like Edulis Nursery and Roseland House Nursery (which specialises on Clematis and other climbers).

Kniphofia rufa
Veratrum album - First time I've ever seen some being sold whilst in flower!
I quite like those wooden flowers! Maybe next time
After that special climber? Then this nursery is for you - Roseland House
Love the foliage of this one - Salvia argentea
Fatsia japonica 'Spider's Web' - looks like tissue culture has been very successful!
But saying that we didn't buy any climbers this time and came home with just four select plants. Plant buying for us wanes as the season progresses but possibly peaks again if there are good sales around in the autumn (and then almost none in the winter).

We stayed at the fair for an hour and a half before heading home, back by noon and spent the rest of the day gardening. The highlight of our visit though was this large wooden spider, we had to have this beast the moment we saw it.

This beauty (or should I say beast) came home with us
Now, I wonder if there will be any more fairs we'll go to before the end of the summer?? Maybe...

Mark :-)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Nice Weather for Ducks

All the ducks are swimming in the water
Fal de ral de ral do
Fal de ral de ral do.....

Why on earth do you keep singing that this weekend? I've been asked. Is it because of the weather? Nope. I just think it's a fun, lovely song and I'm feeling upbeat that weekend, much like the song itself.

Nice weather for ducks, and plants! They've been enjoying the rain from the looks of it!
I'm of course referring to the song Nice Weather for Ducks by Lemon Jelly, which is a happy, upbeat electro track that has a nice, almost psychedelic video too. Funny enough, I never really thought how appropriate the song was to the mainly rainy weekend we just had, only by coincidence was I humming it on that particular weekend. The song was just a reflection of my happy mood and the fact that it was largely a free weekend of doing not much else but gardening, rain or shine!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Exotic Seed Competition from Seed Parade

The lovely people at Seed Parade are offering one lucky reader the chance to win 30 packets of seed each (The selection will include exotic ornamentals as well as unusual edibles).

With Seed Parades garden seeds, you could have strong, healthy growing plants with high yields of delicious fruits, vegetables and herbs. They only choose the finest quality seeds from around the world which are then sent to you in a padded envelope, so they arrive fresh and ready to sow. As well as providing affordable seed, Seed Parade offer first class royal mail postage for only £1.29, by keeping packaging and other costs to a minimum. We have had seed in the past and they were delivered fast and were a great quality, often with very high numbers of seed per packet.

To top it off, they also have a range of thousands of heirloom, traditional and rare varieties of every seed for mere pennies, so you can find your usual choice or try something new!

As well as selling top quality seed, Seed Parade also have an interesting blog and forum that are well worth checking out.

To enter simply follow Alternative Eden and then visit the Seed Parade website and tell us which variety of seed is your favourite. Extra entries can be made by sharing this competition on Twitter (include #AlternativeEden) or facebook (by sharing the post from the Alternative Eden Facebook page).

Terms and conditions: This competition closes at 23.59 on 30 July 2012. 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 and will be announced here on the blog. Please make sure we are able to contact you if you do win.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Look Back at 2012 RHS Hampton Court Flower Show

We had such a fantastic, action packed time last Saturday at the recently concluded RHS Hampton Court Flower Show, so much so that it took us almost all Sunday to recover from our visit!

It is such a colossal show, there's so much to see and do in such a grand setting that if you're well into plants and want to see everything at a leisurely pace then a one day visit is not enough, it's more like a two day affair. We could have easily spent the entire day just in the Floral Marquee alone (where the stands of most of the specialist nurseries are, and where you can do most of your plant shopping). It's do-able with just one day of course, even just one afternoon but be prepared to whizz through some of the sections (which we did) or even bypass them altogether.

The Floral Marquee - this section is huge and could easily spend the day just browsing here. I think I took this photo a third of the way down, so just imagine the scale of it...
An outstanding display of Eremurus inside the Floral Marquee (by Jacques Amand - Silver Gilt)
Inside the much smaller Rose Marquee, which is about...Roses!
This 'floral arrangement' won gold, which is deserving especially compared to the others in the Rose Marquee!
A moment of naffness....
Garlic mania! One of the stands inside the Growing for Taste Marquee

Monday, July 09, 2012

The Big Joke

The big joke is finally over now that the remaining four water companies that have kept the hose pipe ban for much longer have finally lifted it. The joke wasn't about the reason why the hose pipe ban was imposed to begin with: drought. Drought is a serious matter and definitely not just something you can easily wash away to one side, it had to be dealt with seriously hence the ban.

The joke however was the irony of it all, that as soon as they have announced the ban we've had so much rain, lots of it and almost continuously over the past few weeks (hold on, months even!). A proverbial dark cloud hovering above everyone here when we're supposed to be in the middle of a drought....the wettest drought ever.

It was only this morning when I was thinking to myself that we won't have good weather until the remaining ban has been lifted. Then an hour later I hear the announcement on the radio. Eerie coincidence?

Now that the joke is over I'm hoping that mother nature will soon stop wetting herself laughing all over us, and start smiling instead with rays of well deserved sun. And of course dry weather, but not too dry either as to cause proper drought....

Humans, such difficult creatures to please eh! Here's hoping anyway, crossed fingers!!

Mark :-)

Friday, July 06, 2012

It is July... Honest

The breakfast host on our local radio station the other day started the show by saying what a lovely autumnal morning it was, great for September... Although he then had to spoil it by reminding us that its early July, and not autumn yet! The summer so far this year seems to be a bit of a wash out, with regular reports of a months rain being dropped in 24 hours in various places around the country, with devastating results in some towns.

So whilst the wet weather is annoying for us, at least it hasn't caused any damage. That said it has caused some delays with the pond project, rain and cement don't mix well, rain and painting don't mix well, rain and... well you get the picture.

However the garden itself is looking great, lush growth all over and fantastic new culms on the bamboos. There has been enough warm spells recently to get things moving. With that in mind its a good opportunity to check whats looking good at the moment in the garden.

I'm glad to see some of the small statues in the garden finally going green!

Monday, July 02, 2012

Bright and White

Never underestimate how long it takes to think things through, especially if it's something you're not used to doing on a regular basis.  And yes I was reminded of that when we were figuring out how to build the pond pergola. Lots of thinking, planning, sketching, calculating, thinking again, etc. And then you pause and realise how much time it has taken going through the process without actually having something in front of you to see.

But as they say, half the work is in the planning and a well planned project makes for an easier task of getting the other half done.