Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Weekend in Stockholm

With Christmas just around the corner we decided to start embracing it. And what better way than to visit one of those cities that looks extra charming in the run up to the festive season - Stockholm.

We first visited this charming city twelve years ago, Scandinavia's biggest city, so fairly familiar with the area. And superficially it seemed that very little has changed since then which made it easier for us to navigate on a rather impromptu visit.

With only the weekend to spend there, we opted to concentrate on the old town - Gamla Stan - browsing the quaint shops along the cobbled roads and visiting the Royal Palace which we didn't get to do back in 2005. And if we had spare time, which was the case, also include a browse on their modern shopping district adjacent to the old town.

First and foremost, a look at the very pretty Gamla Stan, with its winding and cobbled narrow streets lined with craft (and souvenir) shops, coffee shops, and restaurants...

Stockholm is composed of fourteen islands connected with over fifty bridges like this one

Gamla Stan is well known for having mostly ochre tone buildings

The cobbled streets are lined with both charming craft and tacky souvenir shops. This one is an example of the former.

Scandinavians seems to have the knack for creating beautiful window displays so effortlessly
And within Gamla Stan is the Kungliga Slottet Royal Palace which is worth a few hours visit when you're in the area.

Changing of the guards ceremony?
And since the more modern shopping district is just adjacent to the old town Gamla Stan we also had a good browse in the area, picking up a gift or two in preparation for Christmas.

Stockholm has so much more to offer than just shopping and dining of course and you can easily spend many days there with a myriad of activities and sights to see. It is one of the coolest cities in Europe and laden with great vibes and culture.

A little word of warning though, as with all Scandinavian cities prices of food, services, and other consumer items can be exceptionally high. So plan and budget carefully before you start your day. Just to give you an idea, two tiny cakes and small coffees as seen below in an independent coffee shop has cost us a £28 (US$37). Of course some places are more reasonably priced than others but the lowest levels we've seen are akin to Central London prices (which are already high as it is). So look around and compare first before you commit and flash the cash.

Mark :-)

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Danger Garden Revisited!

We were fortunate enough to join the Garden Bloggers Fling in Portland in 2014 and part of it's itinerary was a visit to the famous Danger Garden. Fast forward to just over three years later we were fortunate once again to see it in the flesh last September.

And it was looking great as always, if not better as it evolved and matured further since our last visit.

Now let's start at the front:

And now to the side...

On to the even more glorious back garden...

Loree from Danger Garden, Gerhard from Succulents and More and Gaz hiding in the background.

We love the grill on the wall, simple but very effective.

I've opted to let the photos do most of the talking but if you have any questions especially with plant identification then feel free to ask, hopefully I'll know the answer.

Beautiful and inspiring isn't it? 


Sunday, July 02, 2017

Our Garden in Gardeners' World Magazine

Exotic Gardening takes centre stage in this months edition of Gardeners' World magazine, which includes a six page feature of our garden.

The article contains several garden photos and an interview with us by Annie Gatti. Preview of the article is seen above.
Cover of July 2017 edition

Together with our garden feature are other articles focusing on Exotic Gardening like Tough Tropicals amongst others.

Preview on the June 2017 edition

If you do get the chance grab a copy for a further insight into our garden. Gardeners World gives some tips and relevant advice on adding a touch of exotica into your garden, or perhaps turning your entire garden into one like we did!

Mark :-)

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Go Grow Glow!

The yuccas in the second raised bed are enjoying the summer and growing away nicely, except for one that is...

The Yucca rostrata right in the middle of this bed has sadly popped its head off a couple of weeks ago. It was already looking peaky by the end of winter however I was hoping it would pull through and grow robust once the weather warmed up. Alas that was not the case as when we had a very windy period a few weeks ago, with the gusts off came its head. It's a shame to lose this one as it was the first Yucca rostrata I had bought and from a nursery too that no longer exists but was ahead of its game then. This yucca has always had a slight gash near the crown which I presumed had fully healed as it seemed in the last few years but perhaps last winter it became a site for rot to develop and spread to eventually finish it off.

Shame it had to GO but it is a dead plant in a very prominent spot. I'm still considering what to replace it with, whether another Yucca rostrata or a large glazed urn, or perhaps a different plant altogether. Watch this space...

As for GROW, a few notable ones are:

Chamaerops humilis
This Chamaerops humilis growing in a pot which had strangely spear pulled last winter even though it was a relatively mild one. The good thing is it is clearly recovering but pushing out new growth. Oddly though, it has also pushed out an inflorescence albeit a small one at the same time. Silly palm, couldn't make up its mind.

Gunnera tinctoria
Near the palm above is our Gunnera tinctoria growing robustly and has already rooted over the pond coping stone to dip its feet directly on to the water, helping it grow even bigger and remain upright.

Schefflera rhododendrifolia
And back on to the second raised bed, the Schefflera rhododendrifolia is looking extra good with it's new growth and flush of leaves.

Trachycarpus princeps hybrid
And jumping on to the middle patio, I spotted this Trachycarpus princeps hybrid positively GLOWing as it catches the morning light. Lovely!

Mark :-)

Monday, June 26, 2017

Tale of Two Agaves

Herein lies the tale of two agaves and how their different treatment through the years have made a difference on their growth rate. 

I bought two small Agave ovatifolias in 2013, grown from the same batch of seeds, they were exactly the same size when I acquired them. Repotted into identical pots, they both grew at exactly the same size until in 2015 when one of them was transferred on to a blue glazed pot and placed at the front of the house. Since the makeover all the plants there were given extra attention, to keep the front garden looking smart (prior to that the front of the house was genuinely neglected and often a dumping ground for building materials for the back garden). So plants were regularly watered, fed, and kept weed free.

The second one was placed by the edge of the koi pond in a plastic white pot. It was a prominent spot but not a conducive one for the health and growth of the agave. Under the eaves of a pergola, it remained dry whenever rain fell, and by being on the edge of a koi pond it was rarely watered to minimise the risk of soil (and more bacteria) running into the pond.

So the first one got watered regularly and was placed in a bigger pot, the second one kept on the dry side and remained in a small pot for years. The result is going to be obvious, two years on the former is more than double the size of the latter.

Feeling guilty that I have grossly neglected the latter, it was time to treat it right by giving it a much bigger pot. It has then been placed away from the shelter of the pergola  in the open to bask in the sun and get watered much more regularly. So two weeks ago it was given a new home.

Where it is now gets sun all year round, sheltered but will get rained on, and much more likely to get watered when we have the hosepipe out and the entire garden gets supplemental watering.

Hopefully it will catch up in size with its front garden brother relatively quickly. With both being in a pot neither of them are likely to attain the size they can potentially do when planted out. But they can still attain a very good size even in a pot if watered regularly during the summer and given a sufficient sized container.

Mark :-)