Thursday, July 30, 2015

Fresh From the Oven!

There was a point that I actually had more succulents that needed a pot than I had...pots. Plus I wanted to beef up our display with more splashes of bright colours. It's amazing how difficult that can be (at least here) especially when you go out there and deliberately look out for them.

On one of our trips out to the shops I had a mission to buy a few more pots that were colourful but still within our taste and scheme (if that makes sense). But on that day I didn't find any. Then an idea spurned, what if those 'things' are not in the garden and decor section? They could be in the kitchen! And so why not add a touch of kitchenalia into the collection. And so we did!

So back into several shops and out I came with things not for the kitchen, but for the garden...

Like baking dishes...

Bottle caddies...

Mixing bowls...

Water jug...

Did I say mixing bowls?

Bottle caddy again... (plus the colour picks on the chairs)

And back to jugs, as some of you may have noticed I have a thing for brightly coloured jugs (the one you pour drinks from, not 'that' jug). The yellow one below I spotted in an antique/bric-a-brac shop in Cambridge last year and instantly fell in love with its bright colour and angular shape. Trouble was, it had a sin. It was a jug that had the logo of a cigarette brand, harking back to a bygone era when smoking was so common and legal in public spaces. Fortunately I still found a way to hide that sin.

Oh, and there were the Japanese soup/rice bowls too. Gotta have them and I love the patterns!

Funny enough, the jugs below were actually meant for the garden. Go figure...

Anyway, the only thing with using kitchenalia is that they rarely come with drainage holes, unless it's a colander. So you'll have to have some drilling to do. And those that were meant to go in the oven have very thick bases and can be difficult to drill holes in. So my suggestion is to use a quality masonry drill bit in the first place and the job will be done nicely.

Have to say I'm loving all the colours, patterns, and shapes on some of these kitchen items. A sharp contrast to what we actually use in our kitchen which are either clear glass, stainless steel, or pure white!

Mark :-)

Monday, July 27, 2015

Fresh and Refresh

After having days and days of sunny and dry weather we finally had a good dose of rain again. Starting last Friday when it was pouring it down almost all day and night, and once again for most of Sunday. I have to say that such generous amounts of rain were rather welcome and gave us a respite from watering the garden on a regular basis.

The sun shone brightly last Saturday, in between a very wet Friday and Sunday
Plus you get a sense of freshness from the atmosphere. Nothing like rain to make everything look and smell fresh especially in the summer. It was nice to go out there briefly in between downpours to just breathe in the freshness in the air.

Speaking of freshness, a few people have commented to us recently that it's noticeable that we haven't been as out and about this year as much as we did in previous years. That's fine with us and it's deliberate.

In the blogosphere and in social media there are groups and prominent individuals out there in horticultural that are very active and who are constantly giving updates about plants and new gardening places/events to see. We too benefit from what they share even if it means just being aware although not actually visiting places or attending events. There's always the future to do them. A majority of these informative people are horticulturists by trade or profession.

We are horticulturists by heart as Sean Hogan of Cistus Nursery told us last year, a rather nice way of putting things to which we totally agree. We are professionals in other fields and plant related matters are dealt with only during spare or down time. It is a source of pleasure and leisure after work.

Work has been extra demanding this year, which ironically has made us appreciate our garden even more. Most of the time, rather than going to different places and events all over, it's just nice to stay where we are and enjoy the garden.

Otherwise, what's the point of creating the space that we have now if we don't enjoy staying in it as often as we could?

Plus, having been all to the same places and events several times previous years, things can get pretty repetitive. You get a sense of 'same same' and that's not always a good thing. So to freshen and refresh things up it's best to take a break from routines, be temporarily choosy in what and where we go to. And instead do other things or just simply stay and 'chillax' in the very heart of this blog - our garden.

And it's summer, a fabulous season to be lazy!

We were around but our friend Don did stay with us over the weekend
Even on those rainy days I'm glad we were mostly around and had the time to breathe in the freshness in the air. That feeling is wonderful, and no plant fair can substitute that.

Mark :-)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Succulent Spotlight

So we've been pot crazy this year. And we've just featured lots of overall and combination shots on a couple of our more recent posts. Now let's take a closer at some of the occupants of those pots, the succulents. And as I focus the spotlight on them, once again feel free to be distracted by the pots...

Dyckia 'Morris Hobbs'

Monday, July 20, 2015

Pots, Prints, and Patterns

They say I have two passions in life (excluding matters of the heart of course): gardening and shoes. And with last weekend being my birthday one I received items that belonged to both categories and I couldn't be happier. It's nice to embrace superficiality at times!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Ones That Didn't Make It Out

Ahh summer, and the days of it that it's just nice not to do much out in the garden but laze around, drink lots of cold drinks, and have a barbecue...

Time for a little update on some of the ones who didn't make it out for display

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Pot Crazy (Avant Garde or Whimsy?)

Someone remarked to us last week that Europeans don't do whimsy, but do avant garde instead. Or is it it's just not called whimsy here but avant garde instead?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Joy of Whimsy

One of the the lessons, or rather inspiration that I treasure and brought home from our trip to Portland last year was so many gardens had the flair to display whimsy and illogical fun in their gardens without compromising aesthetics. 

Whimsy - something that is still virtually unheard of and a rarity in British gardens wherein most gardeners are still fixated with norm and conformity. Brits don't do whimsy naturally it seems, apart from the realms of garden gnomes and wellington boots planted with bedding plants. There are exceptions of course, and I say all of this with affection.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Leaves and a Cat Curiosity

A few days ago I featured a few blooms. This time it will be a few leaves and a cat interlude in between...

I love it when Schefflera taiwaniana throws out leaves that is arranged almost in 360 degrees, well almost. Like this one. And the good thing about this particular plant is that almost all of the leaves it produces are like this. Nice clone...

When we saw the mother of this plant a few years ago at a private garden in Cornwall the leaves were almost a meter wide. Yes, a meter! Hopefully its offspring will do the same eventually. The large leaf form of Fatsia polycarpa (this may turn out to be a different species altogether but time and botanists will tell).

A curiosity rather than a thing of beauty, the weedy looking Cordyline 'Karo Kiri'. Ours makes for a comfy home for a spider at the moment.

Now for the cat interlude...

It was a lovely, lazy Saturday and Twinkles had a wonderful day sleeping...

Yawn again
Then groom
Back to leaves...

Schefflera kornasii with a nice set of new leaves that seems to reach out to the sun.

This one is planted right at the back of a border and I couldn't get a decent photo of it but the leaves are huge and looks so exotic and tropical! The Mexican big leaf Magnolia, Magnolia macrophylla var. dealbata.

A shrubby Euphorbia that gets really tall and has plenty of oomph! Euphorbia x pasteurii

Last but not the least is this Schefflera macrophylla. Shame it's not that hardy but still well worth growing in a for those gorgeous large leaves.

Hope you all had a wonderful, plant filled weekend!

Mark :-)

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Wisley Getting Arty

We are regular visitors to RHS Wisley for the gardens and in particular the tropical glass house.
The waterfall in the glasshouse
However on the weekend of the 18 and 19th July there is another reason to visit, the RHS are holding a weekend Arts Festival, snappily named "Arts Fest". The RHS promise a weekend of artistic fun and festivity. With live music in the garden, as well as  theatre performances, an abundance of craft stands and demonstrations plus a programme of poetry and literary talks. Throughout the weekend there will be aerial acrobatic performances in the Glasshouse, Hedgemen wandering around to greet you and workshops to create giant-gardeners.

Event times: 
Saturday 18 July 
11–12pm The Cabinet of Curiosities 
12.15–1.15pm Poetry to Go and Dan Simpson’s Crowdsourced Poetry 
1.30–2.30pm Dominic Berry’s The Dragon Who Hates Poetry 
2.45–3.45pm An afternoon with John Hegley, featuring Jane Ireland 
4.00–5.00pm The Cabinet of Curiosities 

Sunday 19 July 
11–12pm The Cabinet of Curiosities 
12.15–1.15pm Poetry to Go and Dan Simpson’s Crowdsourced Poetry 
1.30–2.30pm Joshua Seigal presents My Grandpa's Beard (And Lots of Other Poems) 
2.45–3.45pm An afternoon with AF Harrold 
4.00–5.00pm The Cabinet of Curiosities

The RHS have held this event before although we have been unable to attend previously.
For more information see the RHS Website. Normal garden entry rates apply and RHS members can enter using their membership card. 

Written in collaboration with IHG

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Blooms and a Few Curiosities

Okay, it's not quite bloom day meme time yet but I couldn't resist posting a few pics of plants currently in bloom in the garden, plus a few curiosities as well.

The Zantedeschia 'Hercules' is going strong and is mainly grown for its tropical looking, relatively gigantic leaves. The bloods aren't too bad either though.

Kniphofia thomsonii is putting up a good and long lasting floral show as always. The first photo was how it was last week. The second pics was how it was last weekend.

They remind me of flames
Speaking of flames, the trees that were on the area where the garden fire we had a couple of years ago had started is still standing. I don't think our neighbour where those trees are will ever remove them so we'll just have to get used to their sight on our horizon (we are already). But at least the pineapple bush, Cytisus battandieri is doing a good job for now in distracting from it.

Now on to the curiosities, I can't remember at the moment which ones are Cyclamen hederifolium or Cyclamen coum but at the moment they are just weird looking (but oddly nice too) displays. Quite cool aren't they?

Back on to blooms there's the hardy tree tomato Cyphomandra corymbiflora doing it's usual annual bloom display...

Our well behaved (so far) Acanthus mollis is not far off now to a full floral display...

In our working area/pot ghetto this Isoplexis canariensis in bloom was a nice surprise...

A plant that we highly recommend for being rather undemanding and gets better every year. And it's evergreen too when it looks like it shouldn't, the evergreen Solomon's Seal Disporopsis pernyi.

And finally, a squashed Magnolia macrophylla bloom...

Just shows how many things are happening in the garden at the moment!

Mark :-)

Monday, July 06, 2015

In the Morning Light

The other day I was muttering to myself that as much as I love summer, one thing that I do miss about the spring over it is the softer lighting. Sunny summer days can mean harsh brightness that make it difficult to take photos with the contrast, and you may have to wait till sunset to get softer tone of lighting. Also looking around can be harsh on the eyes too (I suppose that's what sunglasses were made for).

Love the views of the garden especially on sunny mornings
Then the other day I was reminded that there are the mornings too, that even on a sunny day you get that narrow gap that it is bright but still soft enough to just illuminate but not too glaring.

As I prepared breakfast that morning I caught glimpse of the garden and appreciated how lovely it looked outside. Before I carried on preparing food I went out for a quick and took a few snaps...

The top patio is home to lots of extra pots this year (more about this later) and this 'lush' side is almost done. The Schefflera macrophylla is glowing in the morning sunshine.

Agave geminiflora, a new purchase this year is looking extra nice that morning too.

The succulents on the the succulent table are bulking up nicely.

On to the koi pond area...

Great display as always from Kniphofia thomsonii, with the bloom spikes looking like flames in a cluster like that.

Cytisus battandieri is extra floriferous this year, so many yellow blooms! Beyond it you can see the burnt trees from the garden fire we had a couple of years ago. They are in our neighbours garden so it's not up to us to remove them.

Chamaerops humilis var. cerifera and Yucca linearifolia getting more blue as the warmer months progress.

And so is this Yucca rostrata.

The Yucca faxoniana in the second raised bed is pushing out even longer leaves and is looking even more imposing, we love it!!

Altogether now!

This Aloe polyphylla has had four winters outside already, receiving no extra protection during the colder months. I wonder when it will reward us with flowers? Even so we are pleased that it is doing really well.

Schefflera delavayi in the third raised bed.

Love the golden glow of this Schefflera rhododendrifolia under the soft morning sun.

So is this Schefflera aff. myriocarpa that is towering above us already.

Once again the first raised bed.

Finally, on my way back to the house to finish preparing breakfast I caught glimpse of the top patio from the koi pond area. Just had to take a photo as for some reason I never really paid attention to this particular view before, and it was looking good in the morning light.

Must do this more often, get up early on a sunny morning and appreciate the garden in the morning light.

Mark :-)