Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Working Area

Beyond the koi filter house in a land far far away... Oops wrong story! I'll start again. Beyond the koi filter house is an area that has been featured in the blog only occasionally...

This area is going to be what we refer to as the "working area"; a general place to store and propagate plants, do some potting on and other garden related work, and storage of various tools and equipment. This will become home to two greenhouses as well. One of which has featured on the blog before - once when we moved it and a few more times before for the plants it has contained. This greenhouse was taken down again a couple of weeks ago to move into its final position and will be the smaller of the two greenhouses. It will eventually contain a small pond/quarantine tank for checking the health of any new fish before they are added to the main pond, and as a treatment tank if we need to treat any of our fish for illness. Having this quarantine tank will give the benefit of not needing to put in more chemicals into the main pond. And keeping it in an enclosed space like a greenhouse will help keep the temperature of the water up and stable, as well as clean. 

Out goes the glass again
Heaps of old bubble insulation and rusting staging were taken to the recycling centre

The second greenhouse is the larger of the two and we blogged about this quite some time ago when we collected this purchase two years ago (I can't believe it has been that long!!). This larger one will be dedicated to plants. Hopefully if the weather is kind, we will finally be putting this one back together next weekend.

Clearing up once the greenhouse had been moved.

Perfect for a coffee..
As well as having the space under glass, we will also have some space to place pots whilst we grow plants on. Hopefully this will help us keep the rest of the garden tidy and organised, time will tell if we manage to do this and avoid having small pots dotted about the garden!

I also want to create a small space for somewhere to sit, after all, potting on plants can be a tiring job and a nice place to sit with a coffee and the paper may well be high on my list of wants!

We do seem to have quite a number of areas to sit in the garden, something that is often commented upon by visitors or our neighbours, however it doesn't feel that there are too many to us, there is simply a place to sit where we may want to have drink and relax within the garden.

Now the first and smaller greenhouse has been moved I was able to complete the wall next to the filter house and add steps down into the working area.

And we also reached another mini-landmark this weekend...

The final small pile of clay/chalk was removed - here being put into small buckets to take to the local tip. This is something of a cause for celebration as the chalk has been such a pain in the garden during the pond built especially with the cats moving it about the place and bringing it into the house on their paws. But now, at long last, it is all gone - Hurrah!!


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The May Garden

Spring was a long time in coming this year and some plants still seem a long way behind. But despite all that the garden is really coming into its own now. With the various perennials back up and all knitting together to create a thick lush carpet under the taller plants.

But before I get all poetic (!) here are a few photos of what's currently looking good in the garden.

Illicium griffithii in flower

Monday, May 27, 2013

Sinful Syneilesis

Year after year I continue to be impressed by this genus of woodland perennial. Not that we have lots of them, we only have two in the garden but they reliably come back in the spring (as you'd expect from a hardy perennial) and they get bigger and better each year.

We've referred to this plant as 'Cousin It' before on a previous blog post but once it has fully leafed it has no resemblance to this nickname whatsoever.

Sinfully lovely and leafy Syneilesis...

Syneilesis palmata
Syneilesis aconitifolia
Of the two which one is your favourite? Or do you equally like them both (or perhaps not at all)?

Cultural requirements? Dappled shade to shade, in a moisture retentive spot that doesn't get waterlogged either. 

Anyway, as an aside I just realised neither of us have posted anything about our garden for three weeks now, yikes!! The last post we made about our own garden was the one on the fourth of May, oops!

It's been such a hectic, incredibly busy, but fantastic past three weeks I must say. With the Cornwall trip and spending a few days covering the recently concluded Chelsea Flower Show, both events within close range between each other too (plus our own garden to sort out), there's so much material to write about. And although we have written some coverage already about both topics, there is still a backlog of subjects about them that I'd prefer to feature as separate posts. No doubt they will get featured eventually, gradually and interspersed between other subjects, no longer chronological but it will still happen...

But I thought it would be nice to bring it back again to the very root of this blog which is about our garden, even if it's just a short one (for now anyway).

Mark :-)

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Chelsea 2013: Plant Sell Off

The 2013 edition and the centenary year of the RHS Chelsea Flower show drew to a close yesterday and one of the highlights of the last day of this week long even is the plant sell off that happens late in the afternoon. At 4 PM a bell rings and various display gardens and nursery exhibits can sell off their plants if they wish.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Chelsea 2013: Great Pavillion

Whilst the show gardens grab most of the attention and headlines, the Great Pavilion is home to a far wider range of plants and smaller displays.

The displays covering a full range of interests from the bright and colourful flowers...
Binny Plants won a silver Gilt for their display

To the Bright and Colourful furniture!

Hilliers large garden won them another Gold medal this year, making it 68 in a row!

Many of the nursery stands have interesting displays like this from Lydiate Barn nurseries
Lydiate Barn nurseries
Trewidden are getting a reputation for interesting succulents, last year they had a large Aloe polyphylla in flower, this year its just a little bit behind.
Claire with another Chelsea Gold for Trewidden
Crug Farm were also back, winning a Gold for their second Chelsea appearance. (The previous one being in 2011).

It can be a long day as this exhibitor shows...

2013 is not just the centenary of the Chelsea Flower show, but also the Garden Club of America who were represented in the Great Pavilion.

For more photos see our Gallery on Facebook

Monday, May 20, 2013

Chelsea 2013

We have had quite a busy, and enjoyable day at the 2013 RHS Chelsea Flower Show. As mentioned in our preview post we will be covering this in more detail over the coming few days (especially once we have been able to sort through the many photos we both took.
M&G Garden

Today was judging day, with the results being announced tomorrow morning, we had a go at guessing how some of the gardens and exhibitors would do, so it will be good to compare our estimates to the actual results tomorrow. 

The celebrities were also out in force today, and we spotted quite a number, ranging from ex-Beatle Ringo Starr, actresses Joanna Lumley and  Helen Mirren, TV presenters such as Anneka Rice, Tommy Walsh and Nick Knowles, Singer Kim Wilde and a whole bunch of other personalities from TV, the arts, sport etc.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Chelsea at 100

This year sees the centenary of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show which, although not the biggest, is certainly one of the most famous gardening shows in the world. The show has been held almost every year since 1913, with only the two world wars causing a break. At
one time the show was the biggest in the UK, although that honour now goes to Hampton Court which will be in July. We will be going along this year and will provide our view on the show, and the gardens here on the blog.

Like many similar shows there are essentially three key elements; the show gardens (of differing size, scale, and themes), floral marquee, and then stands and stalls of garden accessories.

Ahead of the show here is our handy guide to the Chelsea Flower Show 2013.

This year the show gardens are divided into four categories: the main Show Gardens, the Artisan Gardens, Fresh Gardens and Generation Gardens.

Designs for the main show gardens have been released in advance, we will aim to take photos from similar angles to the illustrations (where possible) to compare. Here are some of them:
B&Q Sentebale 'Forget Me Not' Garden
Exhibitor: B&Q Sentebale 
Designer: Jinny Blom
Prince Harry is exhibiting this year in association with B&Q with a garden reflecting the loss of his mother. The Prince's Charity is dedicated to helping vulnerable children in Lesotho, Africa, many of whom have been orphaned as a result of the loss of parents to HIV/AIDS. His charity was launched in 2006 in memory of his Princess Diana, after Harry had spent part of his gap year working at an orphanage in the Lesotho

The Fera Garden: Stop the Spread
Exhibitor: The Food and Environment Agency
Designer: Jo Thompson
A sunken garden that will feature dead trees as part of the design, as well as a single sapling in the middle of an island within a pool as its water feature. This garden symbolizes the threat of invasive species, pests, and diseases towards British trees and other plants

The Arthritis Research UK Garden
Exhibitor: Arthritis Research
Designer: Chris Beardshaw
Chris Beardshaw returns to Chelsea with The Arthritis Research UK Garden, his garden last year (Furzey Gardens) won gold, so no doubt he will be hoping for good things in 2013. Furzey was one of our favourites last year, the 2013 garden has a very different style so it will be interesting to see how it compares.

Chris Beardshaw's Furzey Gardens won gold for this garden in 2012

RBC Blue Water Roof Garden
Exhibitor: Royal Bank of Canada
Designer: Professor Nigel Dunnett and the Landscape Agency

The Royal Bank of Canada, with its Blue Water Project that aims to help protect fresh water will feature an urban rooftop garden that supports biodiversity and protects natural resources.

East Village Garden
Exhibitor: Delancey 
Designer: Michael Balston and Marie-Louise Agius
Following on from the Olympics last year the former athletes village has been transformed into a new residential area, known as Olympic East Village. This garden reflects on that transformation and will be using a selection of herbs and other plants not usually displayed at Chelsea.

The Brewin Dolphin Garden 
Exhibitor: Brewin Dolphin 
Designer: Robert Myers 
This years Brewin Dolphin garden makes heavy use of hard landscaping with stone, timber and water. The designers intend for this garden to be a calm private space to relax in, using a number of traditional British plants.

The Daily Telegraph Garden
Exhibitor: The Daily Telegraph
Designer: Christopher Bradley-Hole
East meets west as the English landscape and the Japanese approach to gardens and modern abstract art are the influences in the design of this garden.

Exhibitor: Stoke-on-Trent Garden Partnership
Designer: The Landscape Team, Stoke-on-Trent City Council
A garden design that will give a glimpse of Stoke-on-Trent's journey from an industrial power to a present day contemporary city, as well as its ties with the village of Lidice in the Czech Republic. Take note of the seating area shaped like one of the iconic pottery buildings.
Trailfinders Australian Garden presented by Flemings 
Exhibitor: Fleming's Nurseries 
Designer: Phillip Johnson
Fleming’s Nurseries have now exhibited eight Australian Show Gardens at Chelsea. For this years show, the garden is a showcase of Australia’s enviable natural beauty and Mother Nature’s timeless design. Designed by Phillip Johnson, this garden reminds us that nature is the perfect reference for sustainable design, imperative in the twenty first century.

Stockton Drilling as Nature Intended Garden

Exhibitor: Stockton Drilling Ltd
Designer: Jamie Dunstan
A garden promoting the use of natural materials and traditional craft, and featuring plants such as taxus and winter barley.

The SeeAbility Garden
Exhibitor: SeeAbility and Coutts
Designer: Jamie Dunstan
A garden that will feature bright and clearly contrasting plants that can be distinguished easily by partially sighted people. It aims to show how the world can still be enjoyed by people with limited vision.

The Homebase Garden
Exhibitor: Homebase 
Designer: Adam Frost
After the very modern looking garden last year from Joe Swift, Homebase have opted for a more traditional looking garden this year, designed to be a modern family garden.

M&G Centenary Garden
Exhibitor: M&G Investments
Designer: Roger Platts
A garden designed to mark the Chelsea Flower Show's centenary anniversary which will evoke both current trends as well as nostalgia for Chelsea gardens of the past.

When it comes to the exhibitors in the great marquee there are a wide range of nurseries attending again this year. Ranging from the exotic, the unusual, to the bright and blousy. The numbers have increased over the years but three who were there back in 1913 will be there again this year. These are McBean's Orchids, Kelways and Blackmore & Langdon

McBean's have an old stalwart to assist them, Cymbidium lowianum var. magnificum that is 113 years old and may well have been on that first stand one hundred years ago. McBean's are intending to replicate their display from 1913 with a row of palm trees acting as a backdrop to their orchid display.

Kelways is another well known name in the nursery trade, with the nursery being around since at least 1851, and are well known for a number of plants including irises, roses, and gladioli,

Blackmore & Langdon is still owned by the original Langdon family,specialise in delphiniums and begonias. Growing hundreds each year for Chelsea before selecting the plants that are good enough for the display.

Personal highlights for us will be seeing the Crug Farm and Burncoose displays. As many of our readers will know Crug specialise in the unusual, in particular Scheffleras and other gems. 

Crug display at this years London Plant and Design show.
By far the easiest way to get to Chelsea for most people will be by using public transport, and the nearest Tube station is at Sloane Square. Its a fairly short walk of about 10 minutes, when we went last year it was easy enough to find the entrance as so many other people from the Tube were also heading to the show. There is also a shuttle bus service available if you prefer.

If you are coming from further afield then it may well be worth staying over, especially if you have an early morning ticket and want to take full advantage of the day staying until the close at 8pm. London is well catered for hotels with accommodation available in pretty much every price range. With the convenience of the underground you would not need to stay in the immediate vicinity of the Royal Hospital. If you are visiting for a couple of days then taking in some of the other sites of London would make sense. Whether that's shopping in the West End, or a trip to Kew Gardens, there is plenty more to experience.  

You are allowed to take refreshments in with you, and there is also a wide range of catering available, from burgers to fine dining.When we went last year we took drinks with us and also some snacks and then had lunch in one of the food courts provided on site.

If you are going along have a great time but if not then stay tuned into our blog for our coverage. We are attending on Monday prior to the show opening to the public on Tuesday, so keep an eye on the blog for some advanced photos from our visit!

For our coverage from last year see:
A Day at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2012Chelsea 2012: Show GardensChelsea 2012: Plants in a WarzoneChelsea 2012: Exotic Australian Garden

Mark and Gaz

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Encore! Encore!

Time flies so quick when you're having fun. And certainly that was the case with our week long stay in Cornwall.

Scilla peruviana
Come Friday afternoon of that week it was time to go home. But to end the holiday in a falsetto high we did a flying visit to one of our favourite places in Cornwall (for me personally, the world), the Minack Theatre.

We featured this dramatic place before, and certainly will do so many times more in the future for we absolutely love this place. Encore! Encore!

A lovely place to sit just just before you enter the theatre itself
Gorgeous backdrop, a place oozing with character and artistic flair, stunning views and scenery from almost every angle seen from within, and for plant lovers a beautiful garden that complements the place well, what's not to love about it? Okay, perhaps not the exposure during windy days but as long as you keep an eye on the weather forecast and wrap up accordingly before visiting then you should be fine.

The beautiful views out into the sea immediately hits you as you enter the theatre
And the descent to the stage begins

And fortunately that afternoon the weather remained on the relatively pleasant side. Largely overcast yes but was still bright enough and more importantly dry to make our short visit this year pleasant and comfortable.