Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Few Steps Closer

Funny how sometimes things work themselves out to go in the right order even if you were not intending them to be that way.

Laying the sandstone stepping stones and putting in slate chippings along the pathway in the new area was something we thought we won't do until right at the very end of the pond build. So when we started burying the cables to give power supply to the filter house (which involved digging a narrow trench along the pathway) we realised that the best way to keep the cable secure in its position is to cement on the stepping stones that will go on top of it.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

David Nash at Kew

Kew Gardens are currently hosting an exhibition from David Nash, an artist who is well known for creating works with trees (both living and as timber). I have always quite enjoyed this style of art, where organic forms meet sculpture so have been waiting for a suitable time to visit. 

With the garden and pond taking up a lot of our time this year we have not been to Kew Gardens as often as  we have done in prior years. So although this exhibition has been on since July today was this first chance we got. This was something of a quick visit to Kew so we didn't look at all the sculptures in the garden but here are a selection of what we did see (mostly in the Temperate house and in the grounds).

We have spent many hours over the years in the Temperate house, and normally the plants take centre stage, but today the plants were very much part of the backdrop.

Crag and Cave 2007, Yew
These two pieces resemble large driftwood statues, something similar would add an interesting contrast to a garden even on a domestic scale. Perhaps a large piece of dead wood or drift wood standing on end would give a similar focal point at home.

Seed, 2007 Bronze

Plateau, 2011 Bronze
I'm less keen on this type of sculpture, for me Plateau doesn't really add anything to the plants, perhaps in a different setting I may have been more enamored by it.

Furrowed Oak, 1994, Oak
Throne, 1994, Beech
Mizunara Bowl, 1994 Oak
Overlap, 1994 Elm
Overlap was probably my personal favourite, I could imagine this fitting into our garden, although sadly i suspect it may be a little out of our price bracket!

Red Frame, 2008 Sequoia 
The Red Frame is another I really like and again I could see this in our own garden. I may play with the concept of creating viewing gaps in a solid wood wall, possibly as part of the divide between the pond area and the working area beyond.

Red and Black Dome, 2006 Yew
Pyramid, 2010 Bronze
Two Sliced Cedars, 2010 Cedar (and Mark 2012)
These two I really love (perhaps that should have read these three!). the black charred wood against the autumn leaves gives a nice contrast. They make me think of a forest after a fire has gone through, perhaps an Australian Eucalptus forest, when you see the jagged trunks jutting up into the air.

Cork Dome, 2012, Cork Oak
I wanted to play with the Cork Dome, to rearrange the pieces and make new shapes. Fortunately I resisted the temptation.

I guess they are worried the art work would be damaged, but it looks like they should have
asked people not to climb on the sign too!

Nash described the Temperate House as a curious place, and I have to agree it always has been, the exhibits currently in place may not be to everyone's taste but they are curious and I do generally enjoy them.

So what do you think, any that you like?


David Nash at Kew

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

As Darkness Falls

As darkness falls, it seems we are banished to being nothing more than weekend warriors in the garden....

Not quite, but it sounded dramatic anyway!

It's mostly true though. Now that we are in a period again that it's dark before and after work, there's very little we could do in the garden during the week and most tasks have to wait till the weekend. True that we could always put artificial lights on, or at least carry a flashlight with us along the way but nothing substitutes the illumination bought about by natural daylight. I find judgement better and precision work easier with natural light rather than artificial ones, in the garden a least.

At the moment there is still a small window of opportunity to do some gardening after work with natural daylight still present. But only if I manage to get home on time, and even so I only really have a half an hour or so (an hour tops, if it's not grey and overcast as well) before the sun has truly set and night time has totally crept. And it looks like I'll only have this chance this week, come the weekend we move our clocks back again. We may (falsely) gain an hour extra over the weekend but that would also mean that it's definitely dark already when we get home from work.

But half an hour of productivity is better than having none at all so every evening (bar last night) I have carried on shifting some 'not so hardy' potted plants under cover and indoors to their usual homes for the winter. Little and often soon adds up and avoids a massive mad dash once the biting cold weather finally arrives (which I hope won't be too soon, and if ever, never prolonged).

And so it is, it is the time of the year again when the work shop starts to become lush with ferns...

I started to tidy the 'leafy' greenhouse last Sunday, ready to jam in more 'leafy' plants in it the following days. I started to run out of time this evening and it was fast getting too dark to do such a potentially delicate procedure so only managed bring in a few tonight. This was how dark it was just before I finished...

But of course flash photography helps! I'm sure it's better to see the plants illuminated.

Ta-dah! There's still lots of space left!
Succulents were the first to be tucked in under cover in the 'spiky' greenhouse, which I mostly did a couple of weekends ago, to give them a longer time to dry out. I've shoved in a few more last weekend and the only ones left outside are the ones that are either hardy (in our garden anyway), to go in the house, or bedding ones treated as annuals and waiting for the first frosts to end their pretty existence (or at least until I tidy them away myself.)

I don't always wait for the first frosts to remove summer beddings, sometimes I do it manually. I ensure I have back ups though, propagated last summer and tucked safely in the greenhouse.
A peek into the spiky greenhouse early in the evening. I wouldn't even try doing anything here in the dark, as you can imagine why.
Ta-dah! Flash photography comes to the rescue!
One thing about succulents is that if you keep them on the dry side, with gentle heating as and when necessary, they remain pristine all year round. And pristine plants are a sight for sore eyes whilst leafy plants tend to look scruffy during the depths of winter.
So here we go, the long process of tucking the garden to sleep has well and truly begun. There was an initial forecast of cold weather arriving by the end of the week but that seems to have been lifted off now, or at least it won't be as cold as first predicted. Good as it buys as time. Slow, steady, and stress free, that's the way to go.

Mark :-)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

RHS Shades of Autumn Show 2012

The last RHS plant show for the year, how quick time flies! It seems only a few months since the show season started back in February at the Horticultural Halls in London, and now the season closes, once again in the same location. It has come full circle indeed and that's it now for this year.

And since I work in Central London I took the opportunity to visit this ongoing show after work today to see the exhibits as well as check out what plants are on offer. I'll let the photos do most of the talking from here on...
Dahlias galore! This display is the first one to greet you the moment you step inside Lawrence Hall

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Tour of the Glasshouse at Wisley

We blogged recently about visiting the Gardens at RHS Wisley, and that post concentrated on exploring the grounds. However as well as having fabulous landscaped gardens, Wisley is also home to a large glasshouse that was only opened in the summer of 2007 by her majesty the Queen. As we mentioned on that last blog we normally visit Wisley in the winter, usually to spend time in the tropical heat and humidity under cover rather than explore the grounds themselves. Don't get me wrong the grounds are lovely even in the depths of winter, but usually by then a little heat is just what's needed to escape the cold outside.

On that recent trip we spent a lot of time outside but also explored the glasshouse too, well it would be rude not too wouldn't it!

On approaching the entrance they have planted large beds of exotics, just a tempting preview of what's inside.

Ensetes and other exotics outside

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Feeling like Autumn

There is something about this time of year, the weather is damp and dank, the skies are grey and you know its ages until Spring.

With everything that's been going on the garden this year in relation to the koi pond, and the delays due to the wet damp summer we had its felt like the gardening year never really got going for us. Even to the point that a couple of weeks ago it sort of felt like spring. Not just the weather that weekend but the act of gardening and being excited. However that feeling is short lived with the cool damp weather here to stay.

Now before you think this is a post wallowing in misery (honest its not) I'll move on, rather than being miserable about the season we are embracing it, making plans and looking forward.

We are not usually ones for bedding plants, but despite that we bought a bunch of brightly coloured seasonable plants on Saturday from Crews Hill. Nothing at all exotic, but rather primulas, heathers, cyclamens, pansies (!) and even the rather strange looking ornamental cabbages. Nothing unusual, exotic or rare here, but bright and colourful. These have gone into tubs and baskets by the front door. Even in the depths of autumn and winter these will give a shot of colour by the front door as we leave for work and return home (it won't be long before we are doing both again in the dark). So we will be leaving with a cheery smile from a lovely selection of bright clashing colours as we head to work each day.

Not our usual sort of planting but what the heck...

Mark was looking back through some old photos of Paris in a recent blog, and so we though how nice it would be to have a mini break before Christmas, so we have that to look forward to, and then of course there is Christmas too. Of course these are non-gardening things (well mostly as we will include a visit to the Botanic gardens in Paris - especially to go into the Glasshouses we missed previously). Now its all planned I can't wait, and I promise to share photos of the glasshouses on our return.

Paris in the summer
But the best thing about this time of year are the bonfire colours in the trees, so we took a trip to local park near to us for an early morning walk round. The only other people there first thing on a Sunday morning were dog walkers and a few joggers. The colours are not quite there yet, perhaps next weekend will be truly stunning. 

However this tree is just on the corner near where we live, every year we comment on it, and every year we forget to take a photo (until this year!).

Autumn is a great time to reflect on the year as well as look forward to next year. Despite the cool weather, and the risk of frost just around the corner, I'm looking forward to the seasons ahead (especially Spring 2013!).


Thursday, October 18, 2012

That Stripe-y Aloe

I was warned not to plant it out

Too unusual they say

I say, why not? 

Just because it is variegated it doesn't deserve a free root run? 

Much like all the rest?

But it is rare, they say

How many variegated Aloe polyphyllas do you see?

Not many I say

And it's not really that variegated

A few faint stripes don't make it rare

But to the eyes of a few it's rare

Yet to my eyes it's not rare

It's just like the rest from a plant fair

And I'm sure more will turn up one day, and it won't be that rare

So here it is planted

Much like all the others

A gamble they say

A well deserved spot I say

So high hopes I put on it

That it will thrive and sail through winters

Much like all the others be it

But if it doesn't and is no longer here next year

At least I can say

I may not have heeded the warning

But at least I can rest in the thought

That at one point I did have one here

Mark :)

I enjoyed doing this post, playing with words as I conveyed my thoughts. And it's possibly the quickest blog I've ever done (apart from the Wordless Wednesdays ones). Truthfully I think the striping of this aloe is not distinct enough for it to merit any extra special reverence compared with the others we have. But that's just me. I'm more concerned on how it gets on in the garden, hoping that it performs and thrives just as well as the others.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Garden in October

Such a sunny Sunday it was. Saturday wasn't so sunny, but decent enough that we were able to finish the pathway (more on that later). But last Sunday was glorious here, not bad considering it is the middle of October already.
In the jungle...

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Yew Turn Me On

Last year we spent an afternoon cutting back a large Yew tree (Taxus baccata) that was on the boundary between the old garden and the newer koi pond area. Its one of the few plants that predates us in the garden but was quite a sprawling shape.  We wanted to tidy up the shape and let more light into the garden.

Some of the branches we took off were quite thick, upto 7 or 8 inches across, and before we had chance to chop them up into smaller sections our neighbour asked if he could have them. If someone wants your garden waste then it saves a trip to the tip, so we were only too glad to pass them over the fence. Roy explained to us that he wanted the wood so that he could turn it on a lathe. He teaches wood turning at a local club so we were only too happy to oblige.

Well this morning we were chatting over the garden fence and Roy mentioned that he had used some of that wood already, and went off to show us what he had made. He kindly gave some of the items to us, so the wood from that old tree will live on!

Comparing the goblet to the source.

We will have to save any other wood we cut to pass over the fence from now on!


Friday, October 12, 2012

Retro Paris!

Paris, Paris!

A trivial conversation I had earlier with a French colleague made me realise that it's been awhile since we've been to the beautiful and incredibly romantic capital of France. And considering that it's relatively easy for us to get to as well, being only one train change away from where we live, we don't really have an excuse not to go more often. A forty minute train ride to London St. Pancras from the train station near us, then from there take the Eurostar and in just two and half hours we are at Gare du Nord station in Central Paris. 

Notre Dame Cathedral Paris 
Although we've been several times before, much to my surprise I realised that the last time we had been was way back in summer 2007. How time flies! I've never consciously thought, until now, how long it's been since we were there. In fact every working day, twice a day, there is a huge reminder hovering all over me to go and visit this city again (I alight at St. Pancras station en route to work, where Eurostar departs and arrives, and announcements are made in both English and French).

A very recognizable landmark, in a green and lush city
So as I ponder on when exactly to go back again (soon) for a mini break, it made me look at some of the photos we took last time we were there. So this is something of a retro post, which I don't usually do but thought it might be nice to share some of these photos at the same time that I reminisce.

We times our last visit on Bastille Day. And it was hot that day too. The joys of continental summers!
Some friendly Parisian birds...
And I'll make it garden and green centric too! As some of you would have noticed we try and visit botanic gardens, if there is one, whenever we go on city breaks. I remember on this trip we tried to visit one of the botanic glasshouses (which one exactly I can't remember) but it was being renovated at that time so we couldn't go in. 

A 'garden centre' in very central Paris. This is where we got the iron bell that now hangs in our garden (which we featured here previously).
Nothing unusual but not a bad selection either.
Nice! And one for the Idea Bank!
Ravenea rivularis
Now I safely presume it'll be finished by now so we'll get in it this time around. And with careful planning we might be able to check out Jardin des Plantes too.

Retro Paris!

One of Patrick Blanc's living walls or vertical gardens...
This one we saw en route to where the Eiffel Tower stands.
The bananas were lost in the borders, could do with bigger specimens for a summer display.

Which also reminds me, we have a goldmine of (exotic) gardening related photos from our visits to other cities and countries through the years. I ought to feature them from time to time. It's nice for us to look back at them again, and equally nice to share them in future blog posts. Sometimes it's good to look back to the past!