A New Project

During the latter part of 2020 we started a new project, making over the bottom patio pond.

Snow !

Snow may look pretty but we would prefer to see it from afar.

Will Giles Garden in Norwich

Fondly remembering the great garden of the late Will Giles.

Our Koi Pond

Regular readers will have followed the progress of our Koi Bond build, heres the finished result

Trip to Tokyo for the Cherry Blossom

In April 2018 we were back in Tokyo to see the fantastic cherry blossoms.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Scheffleras from Taiwan

Let's have a quick look at a special group of Scheffleras with no ID growing in our utility/propagation area. Their background is explained below.

A few years ago we visited Taiwan and had the chance to look around a few towns just outside the capital Taipei. The island is very accessible by car via their excellent road network but you can easily get a glimpse of rural life from nearby towns just outside the capital using their metro system. Taiwan has an amazing array of flora that has provided the world with so many interesting plants for the garden. The genus Schefflera (or now known as Heptapleurum) is just one of the multitude of beautiful group of plants that originated there.

And Scheffleras are abundant indeed all over the island. You don't even need to venture out of the capital to spot them but of course more interesting and potentially hardy ones are best seen outside of it. 

I don't remember exactly where we got the seeds from (from different plants), it could be Jiufen area but I do recall a mental note that they were sourced around 200 meters above sea level. On the scheme of things when it comes to hardiness, that is relatively low elevation so unlikely to be hardy but interesting nevertheless. The seeds germinated like cress but getting them past this stage is very tricky as they are notoriously prone to dampening off which was the case. Of that batch only five remain which are fortunately rather vigorous and seems to be doing well. They seem to grow pretty quick and spend winters in an unheated greenhouse.

The seeds came from different plants and although one or two will look identical to each (those coming from the same parent plant) there are still subtle variation from each other at least. For now their exact identity remains a mystery and I haven't taken the proper time yet to investigate to find out. In a way, they are treated as novelty plants and make great part of our plant collection. And a prelude that maybe one day we'll do this plant collecting thing in a more organised fashion one day!

Mark :-)

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Fixing What Ain't Broken

The hard landscaping of our top patio has pretty much been unchanged since we moved into our place back in 2005. The paving is composed of mainly thick concrete paving slabs and bricks arranged to a pattern. It's not the most elegant nor impressive of materials but they were laid solidly, aged well, and served the purpose.  Having just moved into this property then, the priority for both budget and time was to sort out the house rather than the hard landscaping of the top patio. It wasn’t broke so why fix it?

As it was until last weekend

Through the years it had been playing in our heads to eventually upgrade the paving to real stone. But as it wasn’t changed early on, the patio has since filled with plants and pots as we also carried on sorting the rest of the garden. 

It would be wonderful if we were to change the paving to all stone now (a herringbone pattern would be nice!). But the idea of shifting all those pots to one side and having to deal with the mess and disruption for months on end didn't sound appealing either. Plus you put all that stone down only to cover more than half of it in pots seemed counterproductive. So we decided on a compromise...

Instead of lifting and changing everything, we'll concentrate on the pathway of the existing layout instead. With a little dose of creativity, we opted to use mix shades of sandstone to replace concrete paving slabs along the pathway, laid out to look random and planned at the same time.

We already have a plan for the old slabs but that will be revealed in due course :)

It'll be a relatively easier job to do this way, with only having to lift a few paving slabs at a time and not having to shift so many pots along the way. It should give the patio a bit of an upgrade and provide extra interest.

It's a work in progress at the moment and we’ll post photos once the work is finished, fixing what ain’t broken.

Mark :-)

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Palm House at the Garfield Park Conservatory

Continuing on from our previous post regarding the Fern House at Garfield Park Conservatory is a feature on the first section you'll see when you go in the conservatory: the Palm House.

The vignette of palms and related complementary understory planting that greets you is a fantastic preview of what else is in store...

Palm House at Garfield Park Conservatory

Much like the Fern House, the path divides into two that will lead you into the other portions of the conservatory. The Palm House, as it's namesake suggests consists of a collection of tropical and subtropical palms of great architectural merit. Under the care of their horticultural team, they are all looking very healthy and for most towering with huge leaves.

In contrast to the Fern House however, the understory planting is less naturalistic but more manicured and formal, much like what you'll see in private gardens, parks, and show gardens. They have generously used bromeliads and other colourful planting in a more coordinated fashion, to a stunning effect.

You can clearly see that this is a well maintained and taken cared of conservatory that is open to the public to enjoy.

Mark :-)

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Aroid House at the Garfield Park Conservatory

 The Garfield Park Conservatory has several botanical sections with the Palm House and Fern House occupying the largest spaces. The smaller ones are no less remarkable and the best of the smaller sections is the Aroid House. Let's have a look:

Aroid House at Garfield Park Conservatory

As the name suggests, this section is all about different kinds of aroids, planted together for a beautifully naturalistic and cohesive display. It is a showcase of different leaf sizes of aroids, from the minute to the largest, together creating a lush, jungle feel.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Favourite Plant of the Week - Cyphomandra corymbiflora

Cyphomandra corymbiflora, sometimes called a hardy tree tomato, has been growing in our garden for well over a decade, going through the poor winter of 2010.  We have found it pretty tough, although a very late frost last year did it some damage. Fortunately it recovered - fairly late in the season - and a mild winter for 2021-22 has helped it on its recovery. 

At this time of year it starts to put on its display of blooms, one of just a handful of plants flowering in the garden despite the season, we missed this display last year as it was in recovery mode but its back.

Cyphomandra corymbiflora

We grew this one from seed, i think we had a fairly good germinations rate but only kept one plant for ourselves. Where its been planted in a relatively shady spot, with quite a lot of competition.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Side Passage Makeover

Last weekend we took on a mini project by making over the side passage of the house that leads on to the garden. It had a partial makeover before, when we sorted out the planting halfway through this narrow passageway nearest to the house. But the area adjacent to the conservatory leading towards the top patio only received further attention in the last few days.

New planting on the garden side passage

Existing planting on the side passage, done many years ago

Thursday, June 09, 2022

Fern House at the Garfield Park Conservatory

A glimpse of what Illinois may have looked like 300 million years ago. That was the vision of landscape architect Jens Jensen when he conceptualised the Fern House within Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago, Illinois. The plans were made in 1906 and opened to the public in 1908 much to the delight of locals and visitors alike. It was reported to have been a sensation...

Fern House at Garfield Park Conservatory