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 :-)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Fake but Non-committal

Better late than never! Although we deliberated whether to go for a real or fake tree this year we almost never bothered to put one up at all. We were both so tired by the weekend (ironically caused by the festive season) and still had to do a bit more shopping that at one point we resolved not to bother. But that all changed by Sunday afternoon and we had to dash out to look for a tree.

As you can imagine options were a bit sparse for real trees at such a last minute. But the good news was some of the shops have started to clear out their Christmas decorations for sale, offering massive discounts as they start tidying away stocks which includes fake trees. So we got a really good deal on a good fake tree that normally sells a lot more than what we paid for today.

Saying that I was also astonished at the seeming pessimism of some retailers, happy to hype and set up Christmas decorations early and yet a few days to the actual day almost in a rush to just get over it and remove as many traces of it as possible. Hmmmm...

Never mind, at least we got a tree, yay! And we're so pleased we made the effort. To be honest we would have regretted it anyway if we didn't.

It's a nice looking fake tree and we're pleased with the results. If we caught the Christmas mood earlier then we probably would have gone for a different theme and scheme altogether. But the tried and tested red and gold motif of our existing decor will do for now and they still look good.

We'll miss the fresh scent of a real tree but even if we bought a fake one which in theory will be re-used every Christmas it is still non-committal. With a bit more preparation we can go real again and the fake one can stay in the box. When we have had real trees before Gaz seems to forget the size of our house and gets something that fills the bay window, filling the entire space occupied by the sofa in the photograph above! Sometimes post festivities it seems like we would need to remove the dead tree in a skip! At least this year we don't have the fir tree to deal with and can carefully pack this one away to be used another year.

Or maybe not, who knows!

Mark :-)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What Can I Give You This Christmas?

If choosing what type of tree to go for this year is proving tricky at the moment, even more so are what presents do we give each other for Christmas. On paper and in theory that shouldn't be so difficult but in reality it is. As adults anything that is wanted tends to be acquired at any point of the year so figuring out something unique for each other for Christmas is always a baffle.
A shopping day in London
Especially this year when Gaz put in a restriction saying:

No gardening related Christmas presents this year. And it must look good under the tree.

Oh dear, the question just became more difficult to answer...

Thinking through possible options made me also reminisce some of the more unique, gardening related items that were wrapped and made it 'under the tree' in previous Christmas like:

Monday, December 15, 2014

Pre Christmas Tidbits

Time flies so fast, it'll be Christmas in ten days! Each year I tell colleagues at work that we should have our Christmas work party early in the month (which we did) as no matter how much preparation or psyching up one does, it always seems to get manic in the run up to the the big day.

Before I proceed further, first things first, many thanks again to the Telegraph for the little mention on their gardening section last Thursday!

Second, a couple of days late but lucky thirteen it was as we were featured on the thirteenth day of Cision's Advent Calendar, yay! There's a little q&a there so if you fancy a little glimpse of what we'll get up to during Christmas do check it out.

Now back to the preparation for Christmas, as an adult it was seems to take awhile for the season to sink in and it finally did last weekend which meant there are lots of preparation to do, which includes decorating and buying presents. We haven't even bought presents to each other yet. But there are the weekday evenings too to do things and I'm sure by end of the coming weekend we're all settled and fully ready for the day itself.

Relating this post to gardening, we still haven't made a decision yet whether to go for a real tree or a fake one this year. On previous years we go for a real one as the scent of it in the house is wonderful however they are so messy to get rid off after the festive season so practicality may reign supreme this time. Bringing up this topic in real life conversations, it still amazes me up to now how many people have strong feelings about using a real tree to decorate for Christmas,in that how unnecessary it is now to sacrifice a living tree just for decorative purposes that will only last for a few weeks. For that reason only fake ones are acceptable for those who feel that way. I understand the point and I'm still on two minds about it, seeming that trees coming from reputable sources are now farmed.

Real or not, that's the question...
I suppose a good fake tree is a one off purchase and will last for a long time. What about you, what are your thoughts about it?

Anyway, apart from Christmas the quarantine shed is finished (bar a few finishing touches) and the pond inside is now set up including the filtration. So it's something we're very excited about at the moment on top of everything else. Hopefully we'll move some fish in there soon!

How is your preparation for Christmas going? Whatever your plans are or what you're up to hopefully you're enjoying the process!

Mark :-)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Sweet Little Treats

December and in the run up to Christmas, a period of indulgence! And I have been indulging over the past few weeks (way before December actually) with lots sweet little personal treats, but not the calorific kind.

The earliest batch went into colourful containers...
I have been buying little succulents over the past few weeks and have continued to do so even when the weather has turned noticeably colder than before. Every week a little parcel arrives which I always open with excitement, like a kid opening a box of sweets! Ebay is where I look for these little succulents, usually on a Thursday night and check out the ones that will end on the Sunday. If the starting price is low I put on a bid and if I win it then it usually arrives on our doorstep by the latter part of the following week.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Fling 2014: Cistus Nursery

Before we went to Portland we already knew of the reputation of Cistus nursery, so getting to visit whist on the Fling was something we were particularly looking forward to. Cistus is a dream location for anyone interested in the usual, the unique and interesting with plants from all over the globe, such as these fabulous field grown yuccas.
Mark and I were fortunate to visit the nursery a couple of extra times whilst in Portland, so many of the photos in the post were taken when the nursery was quieter rather than packed with a coach load of fellow bloggers.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Fling 2014: Danger Garden

Several months have passed since our trip to West Coast USA for the Portland Bloggers Fling and we are still only part way though all the posts we wanted to write. However it time to have a virtual trip back to Portland and the summer of 2014, with a visit to Loree's Danger Garden.

Of all the gardens and attractions on the agenda, this was the one we were looking forward to the most. Danger Garden was one of the blogs we discovered in our first days of blogging so have followed the gardens evolution for several years. Loree also visited our garden back in 2012 and we promised to make the return visit, so it was extremely fortuitous when Portland was selected for the fling.

The front garden is given over to a gravel garden packed with succulents, a pathway cuts across the garden at an angle to the front door.