Thursday, June 23, 2016

And so we embrace Instagram!

And we finally embraced  Instagram! If you use it do follow us @aegarden for more photos of our garden and garden adventures.

We're rather late to the Instagram party I know but do we really need another social media to be preoccupied with? But after having a look and seeing the simple format of basically sharing photos I thought why not? Seems simple and fun, what's not to like I suppose!

Photos we've posted there so far (we haven't been there long just to show a 'sample'):

On other updates, we've had a double whammy that affected our blogging recently: our internet connection went down and our camera broke eh! Both sorted out now thankfully, with a new router and a new camera. Our old router must have been overheating for quite some time before it gave up the ghost. Its white casing has noticeably took on a brown-ish tinge in the middle when we spotted it after inspecting all the connections. But of course it was the last one we checked which added to the delay of it all. Anyway, I'm glad it's just the router and we didn't have to resort to getting a different provider and new set of connections.

As for the camera, it took a lot of abuse from us as we used it in the garden rain, soil, and shine. Hopefully this new 'weatherproof' one will prove tougher and last much longer. We shall wait and see...

And back to Instagram, hopefully see you there!

Mark :-)

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Yay! and Yikes!

Yay that our Kumara plicatilis (syn. Aloe plicatilis) is the summer!

It's not much and the display isn't spectacular by no means but still very pretty, considering that this is the first time it has flowered for us during the warmer months, not during the winter.

Love its coral colour!
It's one of the few remaining original plants we bought in Cornwall the first time we went there almost ten years ago. It used to live in our lounge during the winter wherein it flowered then, in tune with the inverse season in the Southern Hemisphere. It started off as a single fan with no visible trunk and grew slowly to how it is now by virtue of being kept in a pot. The last two winters however it lived in the minimally heated greenhouse during the winter, hence experiencing some relative chill when before it was warm and cosy in the the house at the same period. This has obviously re-set its rhythm and now it is flowering when it is supposed to be, in the summer.

Yikes!! This Yucca linearifolia is about to flower and the spike is growing really fast. So fast that I only spotted this a couple of hours ago and we both go past this plant at least twice a day, and so many times during the weekend.

Nothing bad with it flowering as such but blue yuccas tend to look worse for wear afterwards, for an entire season as it recovers from its floral display after putting so much energy to it. 

As this yucca is already well rooted and established in its spot I'll leave the flower spike be and enjoy the spectacle. Had if it's just been planted I'll cut the spike off so it can put its energy in re-establishing itself.

Hopefully none of the other blue yuccas will follow suit and flower this year, or in the near future. I much prefer then with perfect heads with blue spheres of leaves.

But I think I spoke too soon...

Oh no!
Yikes again!

Mark :-)

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Rain Didn't Stop Play

The weather forecast here over the weekend was adverse. A little disheartening last Friday especially as we were both really keen to start sorting both sides of the top patio, where the fences are that demarcates the boundaries of our property. The top patio is the last area of our garden needing a makeover, from its original state anyway. I suppose the conservatory built two years ago was a major change but it needed more than that.

Plan B was already in place in case the weather was too wet but we were hoping Plan A would still be feasible. Fortunately that was the case and the weather turned out to be good enough to get a lot done especially last Saturday. Phew!

From the house facing the garden to the left is a border that already contains some plants in the ground. They are on the whole effective already in screening and framing the garden. However, the planting is in a straight line, lacked depth, and you can walk from the side entrance down to the garden in straight line. A little bend on the pathway would make for a better journey. So we lifted more flagstones in the centre to create the bend and add depth in the middle of the border.

As it was, before we got started
First in was one of the four tall trunked Trachycarpus fortunei we bought earlier in the year to improve the screening.

The palms, subjected to bondage when delivered earlier in the year
Slabs were lifted
First palm in
A few more slabs out to reveal the new layout of the border
Then next would be the fibre stripped Trachycarpus wagnerianus at the front but that will have to wait until next week or so as it will be a big hole to dig. The palm would be a nice plant focal point in this border. Both palms are the two definite plants on our plans, we haven't figured out what else to put in the new spaces we created, apart from 'decorations' (to feature on a separate post).

The fibre stripped palm will be planted on that bare spot beside it, jutting out of the border

To the other side of the garden, opposite the border/fences above almost nothing is planted apart from a clump of bamboo near the house. This area usually is the home of some of our potted palms during the summer until the area finally gets planted up. That time has come finally. 

We've always wanted a row of trunked palms here so the next two of the trunked T. fortunei went here as well as a T. wagnerianus that's been languishing in a pot for years, finally liberated. Our largest Jubaea chilensis was also planted out, so no more lugging it in and out under cover as the seasons change! J. chilensis, the Chilean Wine Palm has a big girth of a trunk and grows gigantic however is very slow so I don't think we'll have to worry about it destroying the brick wall anytime soon. The tough trachies will also provide it some extra shelter during the colder month.

Again we lifted paving slabs, loosened and fortified the soil underneath them then positioned the palms as they will be planted before removing their pots which had to be cut off in situ. Blocks were then started to be built in front of them to form a low raised bed.

The raised bed will have grey sandstone coping, rendered then painted white which will tie in the top patio to the raised beds in the koi area. The palms will have better root run, all within the raised bed and underneath from where the paving slabs were removed.

Saturday was cloudy, humid, but dry enough to cement on the base blocks of the raised bed. Sunday was much more damp but there was enough interval in between light showers to put on the second layer of blocks. They had to be covered by the end of the day to let them set even if did rain during the night.

Next weekend we can put on the coping stones and do the rendering, weather permitting again hopefully!

Mark :-)

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Table is Set

I didn't get to finish the planting of the succulent table the other evening so the following evening I finally managed to and here it is now...

And it was oiled too! Until I saw again what it looked like last year did I realise how much the wood has aged to grey. Nothing wrong with that and such a finish is nice in its own right too but I much prefer it in a deeper sheen like how it was before. Two coats of Danish oil later and that deep sheen was restored.

If you notice on the background that the area by the fence is still in disarray. The pot display on the patio is as good as finished already but both areas where the fences are still needed some extra attention, which it got this weekend...

Mark :-)

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Come Dine With Me Again

As summer is looming the time has come to plant up the succulent table again. 

It was exactly a year when we featured it on our blog and a year on it beckons a new display of bedding succulents. Before we proceed, a reminder on how it looked like last year...

Which also reminds me that we need to oil the surface again once we're finished replanting it and when dry weather comes, to get that nice sheen on the hardwood back. Exposure to the elements and one winter and the wood has now gone grey, which is also nice in its own right.

The succulents we put in did well during the course of the summer and stayed out all winter. To our pleasant surprise half of them sailed through winter fine and survived well...except that they all got nibbled by vine weevil larvae in early spring! I treated all pots with anti vine weevil last year, except for the succulent table. Lo and behold,  the succulent table got infested. That'll teach me to treat the table planting too next time I do my treating rounds. Anyway the survivors of winter and vine weevil onslaught are now repotted in a couple of dishes, one of which is below:

Back to the table, it is relined with landscape fabric, filled in with some styrofoam and plastic pots are put in position to mark where the succulents will be planted and to leave gaps as I backfill the space with compost.

Four echeverias will go in and a clump of Aloe aristata

They are nice, big clumps of succulents already, almost a shame to just treat them as bedding only. But who knows, they might also sail through winter. I just need to make sure the succulent table is treated this year against vine weevil.

Finished product coming up soon! I need some warm and dry weather soon though so I can re oil the table.

Mark :-)

Monday, June 06, 2016

Cool Living Wall

Living walls are a 'thing' of the moment (i.e. now and in recent years) and seems set to continue for awhile. I like the concept of it although I must confess I don't always like the finished product, from both professionals and amateurs, even if at first they look impeccable. Plus I still have lots of doubts on the longevity of most of them.

This living wall however, I liked a lot...

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Tropical Treat

I suppose it's time to bump off our Chelsea coverage from the top of our blog posts with another look into the Geneva Botanical Garden, focusing this time on their Tropical Glasshouse.