Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Project Update

We haven't shared an update on our latest project for a while so I thought it was time to put that right. We are making over the first pond, the one that started it all and led to building the large koi pond.

The major task has been to get the cladding on the walls, we have worked out a good routine with Mark cutting each piece to length with me fastening on. Getting a good rhythm going we have now completed everything that can be done at this stage.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Happy Caturday

Nick sitting on the desk

Knickers has been enjoying lockdown, with me working from home each day either he or Twinkles sits on an old towel behind my laptop.


Thursday, February 25, 2021

Garden Schefflera

Schefflera taiwaniana
Schefflera taiwaniana
We have long been fascinated by the beauty of the hardy Scheffleras that will grow in our location. Over the years this group of plants have regularly featured in the blog and even now as they are far more widely available (and to some extend more affordable) they have a fascination with many. 

There is much debate currently as to the correct nomenclature for much of the genus - Heptapleurum being the suggested correct name. For the purpose of this post we will stick with Schefflera, but feel free to shout at the screen that we are incorrect!


Monday, February 22, 2021

The Garden in Late February

After a tricky first half of February when we've had snow and freezing temperatures for days on end, we finally had a much needed thaw on the second half. Last week the temperatures were high enough to feel spring like and last weekend was no exception. So how did our garden fare after the 'Beast from the East' that was the first half of February (why does everything have to have a name these day)? 


Not much different thankfully. A few frazzled fronds here and there but so far so good. Temperatures are very good now and hopefully this will be a nice coast to spring...


Fingers crossed! There's a bit of wishful thinking there as it's only February after all...

Pardon the lack of staging. Our garden project is entering the mess stage so potted plants are all over the place, like these palms temporarily relocated to our middle patio

Our lancewood path, Pseudopanax ferox and crassifolius

Mark :-)

Monday, February 08, 2021

The Jungle Before the Snow Returns

There are two things going on here before I took the photos on this post. First, we're rarely up and out in the garden early enough to capture snaps of the garden basking in early morning light. But whenever those moments happen, we both remember how flattering morning light is, giving soft glow rather than just illuminating. 


Second, we knew that there was an impending cold snap and snow showers forecast for Sunday so on Friday and Saturday we both got up nice and early, to get on with as much as we could before the weather turned.



And as we got on I took the time to stop for a few moments, to admire the 'jungle' basking in the morning light, and to capture the moment by taking these snaps.

It was almost hard to believe that Saturday was such good weather for a winter's day that Sunday would the complete opposite of it. Well having one day is better than having no good day at all. 



The cold weather and snow did arrive as predicted but I'm glad enough I managed to capture moments of that fine Saturday morning.

Mark :-)

Friday, February 05, 2021

Greening my Workspace

Like many people I have been mostly working from home over the last year, trying different parts of the house to find the spot that worked best. Eventually opting for what had become the cats room.

The smallest bedroom in our home had at one time been set up as a home office, back in the days when a computer took up a lot more space than a laptop now does. But sharing a room with the cats things did mean it wasn't really set up properly, a clear out and a tidy up later and the space was suitable to work. 

We tend not to have many house plants, except in the conservatory, however more have been creeping in over the last year or so, and the home office, sorry cats room was no exception.

Earlier in the year we had repotted the variegated Monstera that came home with us from a trip to Madeira and have been rewarded with some lush new growth.

Variegated Monstera
Variegated Monstera


variegated Monstera
Variegated Monstera


Variegated Monstera
Variegated Monstera

The larger of the two had been struggling a little before repotting, which we discovered was down to over watering - i think we were both "looking after" the house plants in this room and hadnt spotted the problem. Now with a new watering regime and fresh compost it is flourishing again.

sansevieria sp
sansevieria sp

With this being my base for much of every working day, a few additional plants and other objects have found their way in to the room. An as yet unnamed houseplant from a local nursery (Rhaphidophora  perhaps?) finds its way onto my desk in a pot we already had tucked away in the attic. The green rabbit was came home with us from a trip to Amsterdam 



Finally another unnamed addition from the same nursery (perhaps Monstera adansonii), sits on top of the book case.

monstera adansonii
Monstera adansonii (?)

Following the latest addition a colleague remarked via a Teams call that I appeared to be disappearing into the undergrowth. I'm quite pleased the new additions were noticed!

Have you been working from home more, and if so how have you accessorised your workspace?

Gaz




Wednesday, February 03, 2021

Fearless Gardening by Loree Bohl

Many of you may follow Loree Bohl's fabulous plant blog Danger Garden already and are familiar with her writing style and favourite subjects. Through the years she has treated us with her insights and adventures in the world of gardening which we can perhaps treat as a prelude to her wonderful new book Fearless Gardening.


We finally got hold of a hard copy of her book recently and it was such a wonderful treat to read through it. Page after page of words of wisdom, tips, and fascinating insight into the plants that she has grown through the years and the gardens she has visited. And more than just words, the book is richly filled with photos that reinforce her writing and at the same time resource of inspiration.

The book starts with a concise insight into her own personal journey, how it all began for her and an overview on how she got to where she is now, able to impart wisdom and guidance that is the basis of this published work of hers.



She then profiles maverick gardening characters who went on to create amazing gardens against the odds of their situation then to pave the way for others to be 'fearless' too in creating their own outdoor space with plants. And to further guide the reader into this way of thinking, commandments are outlined that is meant to richly encourage the reader to go ahead with this approach to gardening.

The journey of gardening is fraught with so many lessons to be learned and questions to be answered along the way that can often bring doubts to ones abilities, even among the most seasoned of gardeners. And this is more so for those who choose to go for less traditional styles of gardening and exciting architectural plants that are usually not associated with ones area. There are so many facets to consider and in the main body of the book these are all explored with ease and eloquence. Not only are you presented with practical information and resources, but alongside that you are treated with fine writing and witty anecdotes that make reading this book a source of entertainment and pleasure.


Loree, with ease will take you through several featured inspirational garden visits, practical aspects of bold and 'fearless' gardening and plant cultivation, aesthetics, and anything else in between to make the book totally cohesive.

A note for UK readers, most of the plants featured are in the Pacific Northwest of the United States whose climate are very similar to most parts of the UK. Hence most of the plants Loree features has a very good chance of thriving in British and of similar climate gardens.

A familiar view

If there's one gardening book we'd recommend you read for 2021, this would be the one to go for. And even if your choice of planting would only be marginally similar or completely different to the ones featured on the book, the philosophy and mindset of taking courage, having self belief, and being empowered to garden in a way that brings pleasure and adventure over set conventions will certainly not go amiss.

Lorees book and gardening approach can be summed up in one short statement.


Mark :)


Monday, February 01, 2021

Little Problem Areas

 It was a fine enough Sunday that I was able to venture out and spend some time in the garden and admire the plants, like this Mahonia oiwakensis below (although I'm a little suspect with its ID...)


Pretty isn't it??

Now for the not so pretty bits...

A couple of small areas in our garden that I want to sort out by spring are the small frog pond and vase corner right at the very end of the garden.


The small frog pond above has seen better days when it used to covered on all sides with 'Mind Your Own Business' plant Soleirolia soleirolii, softly hugging the stones and growing on top of the plastic lip effectively concealing it. However, as our garden grew and this area became more densely shaded they don't thrive here anymore despite repeated attempts. 

There's always the option of removing it and gaining a planting space but it has its merit of being a breeding space for frogs which in turn helps the garden by keeping some pests at bay. The merit alone is strong enough reason to let it stay, it just needs sprucing up.

Plan is to remove all the existing stones surrounding it and the dead tree fern log. Then relay the stones but adding more to have a bit of layering, with the stone edges going over the plastic rim on all sides to hide the plastic edges better.

I'm also toying the idea of doing a mini brook water feature with it, putting in a pump that will let the water back in to the pool via a few rounded stones to one side. Will mull over this, watch this space...


The pergola above was the first garden structure Gaz built in the garden with the help of our dear friend Kevin who is now no longer with us. This makes it all the more important that we keep it. This is right at the end of our garden, in an area that is densely shaded almost all year round being under the canopy of a large tree. Behind the bamboo slat screening you can see our neighbour's cream painted shed. 

This shouldn't take long to tidy up, keeping the big urn where it is but  replacing the bamboo canes (because it's currently used as bamboo cane store, too functional!) with fatter ones. We'll have to sort out the planting and get that metal bird properly secured upright as it has a habit of falling down and breaking plants along its way (naughty bird!). I won't repaint the pergola, I quite like it's patina.

Hopefully by early summer I can post some after pics!

Other highlight of last Sunday was that we managed to do more on our new garden shed/filter house. Gaz had to do a lot of limbo dancing that day...


Mark :-)

Monday, January 25, 2021

A New Project

At the end of the garden we have our first pond, built in the summer of 2008, and featured in this post. That pond was originally planned to be a goldfish pond, but soon upgraded filtration allowed the birth of our love for koi, resulting in the large pond many of you are familiar with.

As it looked in 2008
Roll forward to 2020 and with lockdown limiting travel we decided that it was time to upgrade the pond and give the area a makeover.

How it looked last summer

The initial focus was on replacing the old fences and clearing the somewhat ramshackle old shed adjacent to the pond. The shed was inherited when we moved into our home in 2005 and has had various repairs over the years. Sadly it was beyond saving, with woodworm and rot overtaking the timbers. 

Sunday, January 24, 2021

After Snow Falls

Yesterday Mark wrote about the garden being before the snow falls, well this morning like much of the country it fell, so I guess the title of this blog wrote itself.


Looking out of the front of our house, and the world is now all white, being on a side road we tend not to see much through traffic so the road usually remains fairly snowy and then icy in cold weather.

The view from the back of the house is pretty much the same!

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Before Snow Falls

We're now on the latter stage of January and so far we have remained unscathed without having some snow fall. That may be about to change this weekend so before we get covered with the white stuff, I'd like to share some of our 'spikies' permanently outside all year round, with no extra protection (we don't do rain shelters in our garden).

Agave gentryi 'Jaws'

Agave gentryi 'Jaws' - can be a tad sensitive to winter wet and on particularly wet winters it can mark substantially but still recovers and looks really good again come summer

Agave geminiflora

Agave geminiflora (?) - I had to put a question mark on this one as I'm a tad suspect as to whther it really is something else. However all my attempts to get it identified, points to species Geminiflora. It doesn't have discernible filaments but the best thing about it is it's been remarkably hardy, being out unprotected all year round for many years now. Geminiflora tends to be on the tender side.

Yucca  schottii

Yucca schotti - the photo doesn't do it it justice when it comes to how blue those leaves are in person. And also how architectural it is with its long and rigid leaves. The sharp tips that can cause quite an injury with one miscalculated move near it, hence they get snipped off regularly.

Yucca thompsoniana

Yucca thompsoniana - we nearly lost this one after it flowered and looked really worse for wear many years ago. It has since recovered but being pot grown is perhaps holding it back from forming a spherical head.

Yucca rostrata (tallest), Yucca linearifolia (centre), and Yucca linearifolia 'Galeana' (right)

This clump of Yucca continues to looks good all year round, perfectly hardy in our location planted on a raised bed.

Yucca recurvifolia

Yucca recurvifolia - one of the hardiest and underrated Yuccas out there that glides through wet British winters gracefully. 

Sedum NOID

Sedum - planted on a large and tall planted, rather generous for it but love the way it just cascades down.

And last but not the least, a not so spiky vignette...


And this marks my soft return to the world of garden blogging.

Mark :-)