Monday, June 25, 2012

RHS Hampton Court Flower Show 2012: Preview

Last Sunday was predicted to be another deluge of a day (surprise, surprise) with the Saturday being the better of the two so decided to do all our weekend gardening on the latter and visit the ongoing build for the coming RHS Hampton Court Flower Show on the former. Much to our delight Sunday turned out to be a mostly fantastically sunny day after all, which was a genuine surprise! And a bonus of course, not only do we get to have a sneak peek of the build of the show gardens but also bask in the warm sunshine in a fab location too.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Cottesbrooke Gardeners' Fair 2012

That time of the year has arrived once again for the wonderful Cottesbrooke Gardeners' Fair which is one of the biggest plant fairs in the country, and up there as one of the best. I was really looking forward to this and was rather quietly excited about going again this year, so much so that the predicted adverse weather conditions on the days of the event were not enough to dampen my spirits about this fair.

For our readers outside the country, most of you are aware by now that we are not having the best of weather recently, and the weather on the day we went (Friday) was no exception. In fact it was typical of what we've been having recently. Bearing this in mind we came prepared for the worst, so out were the aspirations of light cotton clothing for promenading at the fair and in were plastic macs and wellington boots!

Fabulous weather....not!
And boy was I glad we wore wellington boots! Mud, glorious was everywhere! It's not entirely surprising though that this was the case, considering all the rain we've been having and the plant stalls are on the open, grassy grounds. And with the high traffic this fair generates, it was inevitable that mud, lots of it, would turn up.

Seemingly the only patch of green left is the one under the sign!
Mud, mud....
and more mud!
Nevermind, it was all part of the fun and charm of this year's event. Of course I would have preferred if it was sunny and warm, much like last year. If that was the case it would have been a perfect place to have a picnic too, in between plant shopping (which was exactly what we did last year). But to be honest this fair is so good that no rain or mud would be enough to deter any plant lover from attending and browsing at all the nursery stands. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Garden in June

With such a nice and warm afternoon I managed to spend some time in the garden just having a walk around with the camera on hand. Sun and damp soil from previous rainy days does lead to an explosion in growth!

Still in the process of arranging the pots on the patio...
The Trachycarpus in the centre was a very small plant when it went in the ground 7 years ago,
it has taken off in the the last year or so, and still has many leaves down to the ground.

View down the long garden path

Schefflera aff. chapana
The canopy has started to fill in quite nicely along this pathway.

Aesculus parviflora

Ground cover plants finally filling the space and covering the ground in many parts of the garden.

Mixed planting in front of the jungle hut

Fatsia japonica 'Spiders Web' has loved the wet weather this year and really done well.
View across the existing pond (hidden by foliage)

Astilboides tabularis the leaves are bigger than we have had before, it has loved having much damper soil this year with all the rain, despite the hose pipe ban.
The fernery

Small frog pond in the foreground is home to several breeding frogs again this year.

Tetrapanax papyrifera 'Rex'
Cyphomandra corymbiflora, the hardy tree tomato. This has proved a reliable plant in our garden.

Fatsia japonica 'Annelise'
Aralia elata 'Variegata'
It's only a quick and rather impromptu tour of the garden but hopefully you have enjoyed it. No doubt more photos to follow in the next few days! :)


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Omlet Hungry Bin Worm Composter

Those lovely people at Omlet have sent us a Hungry Bin to try out. The Hungry Bin is a new worm based composter designed to quickly and efficiently produce compost and a liquid plant food, from kitchen scraps as well as weeds and other organic waste. The worms can apparantly get through 2kg of scraps every day (nom nom nom)!

According to the makers, the Hungry Bin has a larger surface area than other wormeries in the market, resulting in a greater population of worms. This reduces the time it takes to convert food waste into compost. The tapered shape of the bin compresses the compost as it forms, encouraging the worms to the surface, which makes the hungry bin more efficient than other systems. This also ensures that worms don't have to be separated from the finished castings, which are then collected in an easily removable container.

Ours arrived last week and with the nice weather returning I got it set up in the garden.

Unpacking reminded me of the Russian Dolls, each part fitted neatly in the one before.
Twinkles in the background keeping an eye on proceedings.
The instuctions were clear to follow, and unlike me I actually read them rather than just dive in and hope for the best!

And there it is!
 After assembly the next thing was to add the inhibitants, the worms!!
A kilo of worms in bedding arrived to get the bin started, once they get established they breed, and breed and breed!
And there they are, in their new home, ready to eat!
This is our first foray into having a worm composter, so we will see how we get on, and report back on how the process works for us. Mark is keen to make his own "worm tea" for use in the garden. We now have to get used to saving scraps for them, my first few scraps were placed carefully on a plate in the kitchen, only to be tidied into the trash by Mark, we will have to get used to recycling our scraps rather than throwing them out!


Hungry Bin can be ordered directly from the Omlet Website -

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Un Bel Di

Agave parryi
An Italian friend recently asked me when will the new pond build be finished, and I made her smile when I replied 'Un Bel Di'.

Un bel di, one beautiful day. The only thing is we need lots of beautiful days to get it finished and we haven't had many beautiful days, weather wise over the past few weeks. But today was different...

Un bel di. And suddenly there were so many possibilities. So we decided to do a bit of it all. 

The middle patio border
We did some more planting in the third raised bed (The planting scheme of the entire new garden I will feature at some point soon):

A very pot bound climber..
And a bit of this...

And I even had the chance to take a few more photos of the garden...

Kniphofia thomsonii

Butia archeri

I also gave our greenhouses a quick once over, to make sure the residents there are doing fine and not drying up (it never gets rainy inside our greenhouses after all!).

My 'meager' succulent collection, I ought to blog about my select collection separately.

Still undecided about the fate of this greenhouse, whether to keep it for plants, or use it to house a quarantine pond. But even if it did house a pond, I'm sure one or two plants will creep back in!
I've come to terms that some of the plants still in the greenhouse that usually go out in the summer will have to stay there this year. At least they won't be in the way in the working area which we are utilising now in getting wood work done for the pond built. There is a bigger greenhouse that is due to be erected but that is not a priority, not until we've finished the pond at least.

I quite like having our greenhouses almost full of plants in the summer for a change, to find interest in there rather than just empty shells in the warmer months. For a gardener, having a greenhouse, big or small is a wonderful thing to have. I couldn't recommend having one enough and wouldn't be without any of them.

And back to the pond, there's still lots to do but we'll get there.

So when will it be finished? Un bel di.

One beautiful day. It can be a test of patience and perseverance at times but it will happen, very soon. And I'll make sure of that.

Mark :-)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Hot Plants in a Cold Summer

It's been raining almost endlessly here over the past few days, and temperatures are on the cool side, feeling more like very early spring or autumn rather than early summer. We had a bit of a respite over the weekend though so I was able to take photos of some plants currently looking good in our garden.

Canna 'Cleopatra'

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Sunny Day at Hardy Exotics

As mentioned in my previous post it was sunny most of the time when we were in Cornwall, and sunny it was when we started our holiday by visiting one of the 'must visit' nurseries if you're into exotic and unusual plants - Hardy Exotics
The Canary Islands? Nope, Cornwall!

Friday, June 08, 2012

Makeover a Mountain

St. Michael's Mount seen from Marazion
Whilst in Cornwall a month ago we were told by several people, "You must visit the garden of St. Michael's Mount, it's had a makeover!". Fortunately it was on our itinerary to visit anyway, right at the end of our stay there and hearing comments about the place made us even more excited in seeing the changes.

And it didn't disappoint, lots of changes indeed since we last visited a couple of years ago. The plantings are obviously very new and you can see that so many old plants have been cleared out to make way for the new layout and plantings. Despite the newness I think it looks great and the removal of some of the old specimens has just enhanced the fantastic feel of the garden rather that detract from it.