Monday, July 29, 2013

Life After Fire

With just over a week after the fire some of the plants that were severely burnt are already showing signs of life and start of their recovery....

Agapanthus sp.
Amicia zygomeris
Trachycarpus fortunei pushing out new spear
Dryopteris sp.
As it is still summer and an active growing season this is a big influence as to why  some of the affected plants have pushed out new growth relatively quick after the event. Had if we were in the colder months signs of life would have taken much longer to show up. In a few weeks we will have better ideas which plants are worth saving and keeping, and which ones will have to well and truly go....

Ligularia japonica
Bergenia ciliata
Fallopia japonica 'Variegata'
Musa basjoo

Phyllostachys vivax f. aureocaulis
Trachycarpus wagnerianus pushing out new spear
Ginkgo biloba 'Variegata'
Pulmonaria sp.
Phyllostachys bambusoides

Isn't nature amazing?

Mark :-)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Fiery Twist

Our garden blog has just taken a very unexpected twist....

Last Friday at around 2pm I received a phone call saying that the fire brigade are in our garden putting out a fire that started in one of our neighbours garden. Rushing back home, what I found, of what were once very lush and leafy parts of our garden, with a well built outbuilding and a jungle veranda, were these....

The fire started from one of the neighbours, quickly spreading to adjacent properties including ours

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Other Blue Yucca

Whenever you mention the words 'Blue Yucca' within the exotic gardening circle, everyone immediately thinks about Yucca rostrata. Rightfully so, it is a very blue leafed yucca and a specimen grown well is a spectacular sight to behold with its inherently architectural habit and form. Most especially once it has developed a perfectly spherical head, with leaves gracefully billowing with even the slightest of breeze, on top of a trunk of which the taller it is the better, commanding more presence within its surroundings. Mind you, even young specimens without a visible trunk already looks good, and as it slowly develops one you know you have something good to look forward to.

The Blue Bed enjoying some summer sun
But it has its own set backs: it is slow growing, unrooted trunked specimens can be finicky to re-root and re-establish, the roots are so delicate and brittle that a well rooted specimen in a pot is prone to being damaged upon transplantation, and flowering sets it back and can ruin its 'perfect head' for quite a reasonable amount of time (although flowering triggers it to split its head, resulting in a multi headed specimen which can make it look even more architectural than it is already).

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Exotic Hampton Court

Hampton Court Flower Show certainly lives up to its name with the majority of the plants on display very much of the flowering variety. However that doesn't mean there is limited choice for those with more of an interest in exotics or foliage. In many ways we were spoilt this year with show gardens and nursery displays catering for the tropical look.

Of the show gardens  A Valley Garden was the one that stood out from the crowd for exotic interest. Packed full of unusual plants, many of which were Crug Farm introductions this was one of my favourite gardens this year (my other favourites were less exotic so will feature in a future post no doubt). Designed by Sophie Walker,  A Valley Garden is designed as a 'pop-up' installation, to be assembled and dismantled with ease and reinstalled with different planting schemes. Construction is entirely above ground, which makes the garden ideal for use on ‘no-dig’ urban sites such as car parks.  
A Valley Garden featured many plants from Crug Farm

I loved the piercing spear of a pathway that sliced into the water, this was reminiscent of a boat pushing aside the water as it would travel along a river. When we chatted with Sophie on Monday Press Day she explained that the garden style was influenced by a trip she had taken to the Amazon, and whilst much of the plants are from elsewhere in the world the garden did have this feel.  A Valley Garden won a very well deserved Silver Gilt Medal.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

RHS Hampton Court 2013 - The Floral Marquee

It's not all outdoor attractions at the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show, there are of course the marquees with individual themes like Plant Heritage, Rose and Floristry, Growing for Taste, and several others. Then there's the main one called the Floral Marquee wherein the display stands (that are up for judging and medals) and plant sales stalls of participating specialist nurseries can be found. 
As floral as can be!
This marquee is a plantmans paradise; a showcase of a huge variety of plants creatively displayed, ready to be admired by anyone who ventures in it. And even better, you'll have the chance to indulge in plant retail therapy too via the plant sales stalls, with the ones on display more likely they have some available for sale too. In there you are bound to spot so many rare and unusual plants to excite and tickle your fancy. It is also a great place to hunt for new plants or others that you may not be familiar with before but could potentially interest you.

Monday, July 08, 2013

RHS Hampton Court 2013 - The Show Gardens

What a fabulous day it was at the RHS Hampton Court Flower! The sun was shining, it was warm, the atmosphere was superb, grand setting, it was perfect!

Glorious setting (and was tempting to dip in!)
And as a taster to the show that is about to open to the public tomorrow, here are photos of the show gardens at this years show...

Sunday, July 07, 2013

The Summer Sun

The summer sun, finally it has descended upon us as we just had the first weekend here that actually felt...well summery! It is July after all and it is supposed to feel summery but as most of you know that's not always the case in the UK (remember the washout that was July last year?). Fortunately it's looking like July is set to be a sunny and warm one, just for a change, and this weekend was a wonderful taster of things to come.

Eremurus and Yucca rostrata basking under the warm July sun
T-shirt, shorts, BBQ's, ice cream, washing drying in no time under the sun, bliss! And of course, lots and lots of gardening.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Will it, or Won't it...

There is something of a suggestion from the met office that we may be about to get a longer warm spell, the BBC weather forecast for the next couple of weeks looks promising, with sunshine and warm temperatures predicted. There's no guarantee of course and we have had false hope before, I remember a couple of years back when the met office promised a BBQ summer and then we got a wash out. Although to be fair I think much of that was media hype rather than the Met office itself.

Last year there was no such promise, and the weather lived up to the lack of hype.... we had a wet cool summer that never really got going. This year we have seized the opportunity when the weather has presented itself with better opportunity for actually lighting up the BBQ and enjoying the garden.

Why use the kitchen when you can smoke out the neighbours? :)

Monday, July 01, 2013

Empty and Temporary

Well almost anyway, considering what was there before....

y last Saturday (the first few were taken last week as Gaz had previously blogged about), as well as a few not so hardy palms and other bits and bobs and I'm currently relishing the openness of the top patio as a result of it.

First one in...
Going (you can squeeze them all in)....

Gone (and all in)! Ready to be taken to their lovely new home!
Only a few potted bamboos remain, the one or two that were reserved by Gaz's parents as well as a couple of the smaller ones that were reserved by another friend. Three pots were saved from the cull as they will serve as screening from the neighbours. Two small pots of bamboos however will have to be taken to the nearby recycling centre for destruction as they are far too invasive to be planted out and no one that has approached has expressed interest in having them (due to their invasiveness). Plus I also don't immediately know anyone who has masses of land that are happy to let go of these two bamboos. We really need to let go of as much as we could as space is needed, as soon as possible....

Ahh space!
Did you know that at one point I had over a hundred bamboos in my collection? I love bamboos, obviously but in such a relatively small garden I could only accommodate a fraction of them to go in the ground. The rest had to be kept in pots. I enjoyed having them, I really did even when my interest in them started to dwindle as part of my 'personal evolution' when it came to this exotic gardening lark. They were in the garden and I took delight in taking care of them as much as I could even when I stopped purchasing any new ones at least for the last couple of years. Gradually my collection dwindled as I lost some of the 'not so hardy' in previous harsh winters as well letting go of the ones that are not garden worth at all. But still most of them remained.

Until a much needed and welcome change beckoned and nearly all of the potted bamboos had to go. 

The list of bamboos that I had to let go:

Chimonobambusa tumidissinoda

Fargesia murielae (seed grown)
Fargesia robusta
Fargesia robusta ‘Pingwu’
Fargesia robusta ‘Wolong’
Fargesia rufa
Fargesia scabrida

Pleioblastus simonii

Phyllostachys arcana f. luteosulcata
Phyllostachys aurea
Phyllostachys aurea ‘Flavescens Inversa’
Phyllostachys aureosulcata f. aureocaulis
Phyllostachys humilis
Phyllostachys iridescens
Phyllostachys nigra
Phyllostachys praecox f. viridisulcata
Phyllostachys vivax

Pseudosasa japonica ‘Tsutsumiana’

Sasa kurilensis
Sasa kurilensis ‘Shimofuri’
Sasa palmata f. nebulosa

Semiarundinaria fastuosa
Semiarundinaria kagamiana
Semiarundinaria makinoi

Shibataea kumasasa

X Hibanobambusa tranquillans ‘Shiroshima’

Speaking of bamboos, I was informed many weeks ago about the sad closure of Hardy Bamboo nursery which is owned by Paul Whittaker, author of the book Hardy Bamboo. As soon as I was told I checked out his website which confirmed that they have indeed called it a day and ceased trading. I personally don't what had happened but I do know that his book became very popular and became a definitive guide to growing bamboos in temperate to colder climates, as well as making bamboos very 'fashionable' in the nineties and noughties. Through him bamboos became more popular and well known more than ever before, to be used in exotic gardening schemes and landscaping. It is sad that his nursery has now closed and it will be interesting to see if another bamboo nursery will rise up to the gap it has left, and if the popularity of bamboos will remain high (which I suspect it will).

Speaking of gaps, what's happening here??
We need some hardcore to form the base of the currently being built quarantine pond so we've chipped away some of the already loose bricks on the top patio to be recycled here...
Anyway, back to the bamboos on our patio, much to my delight several good friends came forward and were happy enough to give them new homes. So we may be letting go of much cherished plants but we're happy enough that at least they were going to good homes who will be more than able enough to give them better condition than we ever did confined in pots.

So there you go, nearly all of the potted bamboos are gone now and suddenly the area feels so spacious...

I like it, liking the openness and spaciousness. But also not liking the fact that it has exposed unflattering parts like the ugly fence panels and the chicken wire above it, as well as the horrible concrete paving, ugh!

That red fence, ugh! And the concrete paving, ugh!!
But overall, I'm loving the potential of the space and it's something we are both excited about.

There's a sense of ordered randomness going on in this patio at the moment, with whatever's left (and mostly to be kept) grouped together to form a temporary display of some sort. A one week only affair as some rearranging will have to be done again soon.

Change is good and we're excited!

Mark :-)