Friday, April 27, 2018

Yorkshire Break

As mentioned earlier in the week we had a trip up to Yorkshire last weekend catching up with friends and exploring a little part of this county.

The first stop was the village of Saltaire. Saltaire is a Victorian model village built by mill owner Titus Salt. Salt moved his factories out of the nearby industrial city of Bradford, he wanted a healthier life for his employees and built a huge new factory, homes, schools and other facilities for the people that moved there. The village is now a UNESCO world heritage site. The name of the village is a combination of the founder's surname and the name of the river


Thursday, April 26, 2018

Is it Safe to Say Spring is Here?

This time of the year everything is bursting back into life. Its been another slow year for Spring to arrive, looking back into the archives we have complained about late springs before, so maybe its not really late and we are just impatient!

Now we are a few weeks past the clocks going forward the evenings are also light and bright, and we can actually spend some time in the garden after work. Although usually tempted to find a job to do it is an enjoyable way to just wind down after three quarters of an hour on the train.

So whats looking good in the garden now...

Pieris japonica
The bright pink flush on this Pieris appears on a few other plants and to the casual observer looks like flowers. Almost like the flowers on this potted Rhododendron, (potted to give it the soil conditions it likes, our garden is just a little too alkaline for rhododendrons to do well).

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Treeferns Awaking

With spring feeling like it has arrived here in the UK the garden is breaking its winter slumber. Admittedly its a little delayed on a typical year, but at least its finally here!
My favourite new growth is nearly always are the tree ferns, with Dicksonia antarctica being the most showy at the moment. The other less hardy tree ferns are waking, but are still in the greenhouse, although they really should come out soon.

Dicksonia antarctica
Dicksonia antarctica
Dicksonia antarctica
Dicksonia antarctica

As regular readers will know we have a tree fern patch in the jungle area of the garden, and this area is bursting with the new life. Currently the area is easy to navigate as we have tidied up and removed last years fronds, the snow and frosts had browned them off this year. With the fronds removed we can actually walk down the pathways, which will soon be tricky when the crosiers are fully extended. Still for now it makes enjoying the new knuckles an easy and rewarding task!


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Yorkshire Revisited

Almost five years ago we wrote about friends garden in Yorkshire. Well last weekend we went "up North" for a visit and although the garden is only just waking up in April it was a delight to revisit this gem.

An old beach tree that was removed due to disease lives on as these characters

As you enter the garden a greenhouse that most of us would be very proud of greats you. full of tempting exotics tucked away for winter periods. Bananas were just starting to wake up. Unfortunately I go carried away in talking about the plants to actually remember to take a photo inside.


The stone cottage would typically be surrounded by cottage style plantings, however a backbone of hardy yuccas and tetrapanax and an understory of far more interesting plants provide a much more interesting feel.

A brave cat surveys her territory

The garden has a great addition with a valley style portion to the side of the house, with a covering of large deciduous natives, the exotics give a Cornish feel to this garden. Something we remarked on in our previous blog.

 The dappled spring sunlight filtering through a stand of bamboo.

One of the other garden kitties "helping out" by stripping the bark
Once again we were delighted to visit our friends garden, and we promise not to leave it quite so long for a follow up.


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

April in the Garden

Well Spring seems to have finally turned up after what seems like a much longer break so last weekend we finally got some time in the garden. I can't just blame the weather as we have been away quite a lot recently too, but it has felt too miserable to do much even when we were at home.
The patio area almost looks like summer is here, most of the plants have done ok this winter, although the agave in the bottom right hand corner is showing some damage. Hopefully it will just be marked rather than anything more serious.
Feeling like summer on the top patio

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Seeds everywhere!

Last year must have been a good year for Trachycarpus as many of the palms in our garden are laden down with seeds.

Trachycarpus fortune seeds
Trachycarpus fortune seeds

Trachycarpus fortune seeds
Trachycarpus fortune seeds

We tend to ignore the palm seeds, usually cutting off any the birds, mice or squirrels haven't taken once we get round to tidying up palms later in spring. In the past few years this has meant a small number of seedlings appearing under the palms each year. However given the abundance of seeds on them this year I think we may end up with a whole forest of them.

Still that makes a change from weeding out sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) seedlings that turn up in their thousands every year!


Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Marché aux fleurs revisited

Having only just returned from Japan, we had another short break last weekend, with two days in Paris to celebrate our anniversary.
Paris in the Springtime! We are fortunate that Paris is a short journey for us either via Luton airport or train (just one change from the station five minutes walk from home).
With only a short stay planned we decided not to have too much of a plan and just enjoyed being there. A favourite haunt of us both is Marché aux fleurs, a flower market on Île de la Cité (one of the two islands in the Seine in central Paris), close to Notre Dame.

Its quite an eclectic market, with produce aimed at both tourists and locals alike. After all there's not many tourists that could take home a large bamboo or yucca as a souvenir.

Although most of the weekend was bright and sunny, we did seem to manage to visit the market during the only overcast period in the whole weekend!

Notre Dame
Notre Dame
Shortly after we had left the market the sun was back!



Friday, April 06, 2018

Japan 2018 - Part 2

Following on from yesterdays post on Japan we continued our trip with an organised tour to Mount Fuji. We tend to avoid organised tours, usually preferring to organise ourselves and be able to flex how long we visit somewhere, or change our plans mid way through a day. However for Mount Fuji we decided we would be better joining a tour group and leave all the planning to them. This worked well, and having a local guide definitely was an advantage, although I think I would be tempted to hire a car for such a trip next time we are in Japan.
Mount Fuji

Fuji is a couple of hours coach drive from central Tokyo, and we were given tempting glimpses on the journey there - its such a large mountain that even from Tokyo you can get a reasonable view if elevated.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Japan 2018 - Part 1

Cherry Blossom
As mentioned yesterday we had a return visit to Tokyo at the end of March. This trip was planned for some time and we had hoped to see the cherry blossoms, it was always a risk with only one week as to whether we would be there at the peak but fortunately we were very lucky!

On our first morning, we had a tempting glimpse of what may be ahead with a small park outside our hotel full of blossom.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Meguro River Cherry Blossoms

We are just back from a trip to Tokyo to see the Cherry Blossoms. As many people will know Japan has a love for the flowering cherry and the annual flowering is a time for celebration. Signalling in the new season in spectacular fashion.

One of the highlights of the trip was an evening at Meguro River in Tokyo, this is a fairly small tributary river lined with trees on both sides. At night the trees are illuminated which made for a magical experience. With food and drink stalls and a party atmosphere this felt more like we were at a music festival than a botanic event!