Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Sciadopitys verticillata

Garden conifers for me still conjure up images of the 1970s, a conifer bed, surrounded by heathers and in front of a house with stone cladding. Maybe I need to move on, forget the past, after all I was only there (in the 70s) for the latter few years.

One conifer that breaks that mould is Sciadopitys verticillata, the umbrella pine, a fabulous looking conifer that really is at home in an exotic theme.

Sciadopitys verticillata
Sciadopitys verticillata

We have one in a pot on the steps just as you leave the conservatory, and it never fails to capture my gaze as I step out of the house.  It has been remarkably unfussy for us, and perhaps at some point we will need to consider finding it a more permanent home in the ground, but for now a pot in a prime spot allows us to enjoy it. 

Hailing from Japan, it should be perfectly hardy for most of the UK, however it is famously slow growing and usually relatively expensive as a result. But worth tracking down a nice specimen.

So with out a heather or stone clad house in sight, perhaps I should re-evaluate how I think of conifers!


Monday, March 15, 2021

May we Bore you with our Foetid Hellebore?

 One plant that has been quite an unsung favourite in our garden for its fairly unfussy yet interesting ground cover has been the Foetid Hellebore (Helleborus foetidus), we initially planted one on the edge of a gravel pathway in the middle of the garden many years ago, and have been rewarded with a constant supply of young plants growing in the gravel every year. 

We have transplanted these with mixed successes, finding it prefers a brighter spot than we often give the young plants. But in the brighter locations it thrives.

One such place is the raised bed by the koi pond filters, where conditions have been a little harsh, a neighbouring conifer in next doors garden provides a rain shelter keeping it much dryer than we had anticipated, most of the woodland plants we had previously tried had failed, however Helleborus foetidus has been a success, filling the edge of the bed and giving the lush feel we were after.

Foetid Hellebore (Helleborus foetidus)

Foetid Hellebore (Helleborus foetidus)

The lime green flowers might not be to everyones taste, and as the name suggests, they are rather pungent when disturbed.


Sunday, March 14, 2021

Our Own Hanami


With travel currently off the agenda we are appreciating our own garden and the changing of the seasons even more than usual.

Today I was reminded that Spring is very much on its way with the cherry blossom on the small tree in our front garden. Planted 5 years ago, the Prunus cerasifera 'Nigra' is starting to put on a show. For us this tree is something of a departure to our usual more tropical selection, but it was picked to echo the 1930s era of our home, when similar trees were often planted en-masse as street trees. Sadly most people in our road have paved over their front gardens for parking, so there are limited trees remaining.

Three years ago we were lucky enough to see the Hanami Festivals in full swing on a trip to Tokyo. We were incredibly fortunate to arrive at the peak of the cherry blossoms. 

Sensoji Temple
Sensoji Temple

Perhaps our little tree has some way to go, compared to Tokyo, but those little pink flowers in our own garden brought back some fantastic memories. 


Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Digging and Deconstruction

The goldfish pond makeover saw a large advance in the project today, thanks to Craig and his team at Akahana Koi. We had opted to get the professionals in for this phase, cutting through the concrete on which the existing pond was built, removing part of the old walls and then digging down to increase the volume of the pond.

The concrete base was something we inherited with the garden and as a result had no idea how thick it was, we assumed it was fairly thick as it has been very stable despite trees being planted pretty close to it. 

Monday, March 08, 2021

Pining for Lost Plants

One of the advantages of having a blog is that it becomes a diary of our garden progress through the years that we can reference to from time to time. It's been a handy resource for us for various reasons, and will continue to be so for as long as we keep updating it.

Butia archeri to the right, photo in 2014

Saying that however, I tend to hover more over the photos and rarely read through the old posts thoroughly for the fear of cringing at what and how I had written things before.

As much as it's nice to look back, one aspect I don't enjoy though is getting to see some of the plants we have lost through the years.

Losing plants is part of the process of gardening. And losses happen for a myriad of reasons, sometimes even deliberately so especially if you've decided to move on from them. And I don't always understand why I did that looking back at photos a few years later but at that time it seemed a good thing to do. 

Same Butia archeri above, taken in 2012

Then there are the plants that despite all the extra care you've given them, you still lost them. Like the Butia archeri featured in this post. To me it looked very pretty, graceful, petite for a palm, and very rare that I opted to keep it indoors for that extra protection.

It lived well under glass for awhile but when it started to show distress, it went into terminal decline pretty rapidly. We've lost Butias before (especially with winter 2010 here) but this one I lost indoors, sigh! And it's not exactly easy to replace...

As you can tell, when I looked back at old photos recently and spotted this palm, I found myself pining for it again. Oh how I wish I can get hold of one again. And this is just one example of a plant I still pine for, as the title suggests there are many and looking back at old photos doesn't always help.

I spotted this old photo of our greenhouse full of plants and again found myself focusing on those not with us anymore. But I do try not to dwell on those too much. There are also many plants in there still with us, doing very well and giving us joy by thriving in the care we give them.

What about you, have you lost any particular plant before that you still miss and somehow can't get hold of again?

Mark :-)

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.