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Blotanical Awards 2009

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Hello Stranger!

Humm, after writing the title for this blog post, perhaps it was an unwise choice, I might get all sorts of spam!

So Hello world … How are you?  I feel as if I have been tied to the potting bench for 8 weeks. If last year I got worried because I nearly ran out of plants, this year my worry is that I have too many. Yep – the balance that I talked about in my last blog post does not seem to have materialised (yet). However, we have a poly-tunnel full of bedding plants and I am working my way through the rest of the plants ready for the June NGS open garden.

The garden is slightly neglected, although to fair, Dobby has been here the last two weekends and cracked on with the weeding. Dandelions, which made a bid for garden domination last year, may have succeeded in their total garden take-over this year.  I get very cross, and then I see all sorts of bees and hover-flies resting on them. Sadly, the favourite place for dandelions to put themselves is smack bang in the middle of a clump of ornamental grass, or perennial planting and I seem to be digging a lot of clumps up simply to get the weed out, and then putting them straight back – it seems the easiest way to do it. I would divide them, but I am slightly worried that there will be some big spaces in the garden if I do that … a lot of plants have “gone missing” this winter. Although it was mild, I think it was the wet and the grey not to mention the high winds that killed them off! The after-effects of the gales we had did not really make themselves known until some weeks later. All around the area established holly dropped all its leaves. Bamboo turned crispy brown. Rhododendrons and other tough evergreens dropped their leaves and gardens all about the area are looking rather frazzled. High winds full of salt and sand will do that.

The mild winter and spring has meant that the plants that have survived are coming on a treat.  I had words with the peonies and explained to them that if they could hold themselves back a bit until the 8th June I would really appreciate it.


My pasithea caerulea has started flowering this year. It really is an amazing shade of blue. The flowers are small and starry and they are quite difficult to place in the garden to be seen at their best. I am not sure I have found the “perfect spot” for them yet. Variegated white honesty has sprinkled itself through the key-hole garden in a very pleasing manor, which just goes to show, that sometimes, its quite good to leave the garden to its own devices ….. except where dandelions are concerned.

A Rude Awakening!

On Monday morning there was a large thump as the post hit the front door mat.  The Yellow Book had arrived. I thumbed through to find our entry.

I holler for Shedman “Sweetie” (Yes, that is what I call him when no-one is listening).

“The yellow book has arrived, our entry looks fine

“Oh cripes!” I muttered  ”It is 16 weeks until our first open garden!”

Now, I know that 16 weeks is a long time, I mean after all it’s 4 months, an absolute age, but here is the thing – the garden got a bit neglected last year and, at the beginning of September I lost heart all-together. The eagle eyed amongst you will probably have noticed that I haven’t been around the internet very much this Autumn and Winter. Lots of little bugs seemed to attack me repeatedly, leaving me rather flat and disinterested. Although we did have some fantastic high points, No3 sons handfasting, my brothers wedding and a huge family christmas.  All wonderful and joyous occasions. It was just the bits in between that were, well – dire.

But now its February, the hellebores and snowdrops are poking their way up between the marigolds, argyranthemum and gazania (What can I say, we haven’t had any frosts yet). So after doing nothing and I really do mean NOTHING in the garden, poly-tunnel, or greenhouse since the middle of August, yesterday I made a start in the garden. There is so much to do!

Every year and I am sure that I have probably mentioned it on more than one occasion I yearn for a bit more balance in my life, while I was “not gardening” all winter I was doing things in the studio, mostly making handbags and creating something really interesting for a textile related day school for next October. So my perennial question for myself will be how to achieve the studio / garden balance, who knows this year I might actually manage it!

Naturally, now that I have a sliver of gardening mojo back, I am sitting here amid high winds, with gusts of 96 mph being recorded locally. The plants like tumbleweed are flying about the blasted heath, swamp, garden, and all the fences will need replacing. However, compared to the devastation in other parts of the country, as long as the silver birch dangling over the poly-tunnel doesn’t decide to keel over, this is simply an inconvenience, that is a bit, well, actually a lot scary.

So back to the yellow book and a plea to make this year the year when you visit some open gardens. After the weather we have experienced, the garden owners need all the encouragement they can get, and you will be doing something marvellous by supporting the NGS, who give away over 2.5 million to charities.

Sorry about the lack of images in this post – I may have my gardening mojo back – but the photographic one is still on its holidays.


What happened to July and August?

I seem to have lost July and August this year, so if anyone finds them …. please could you pop them in the post to me!

Canna in pots behind ornamental grass

What a wonderful summer we have had – a proper summer, with lots of sunshine, some rain and thankfully very little wind. Of course, the gods love their little ironies;- earlier in the year I removed all the canna, banana, dahlias and eucomis plants from the “hot border”, stuck them in temporary pots behind the greenhouse and promptly forgot about them – they have loved this summer, and thriving on neglect have grown large and lush (behind the greenhouse) so they have now been moved to our “new terrace”. Although the one pictured above seems to be amongst the ornamental grasses and rudbeckia!

gravel and slate sitting area

For those of you that have visited the garden, this is where the “top pond” the one right outside the back door was. We have changed the flower bed to give a bigger area for seating, filled the pond, and created a gravel area with large slates around it. Shedman just wants to change the row of slates to the left of the picture and then it will be completed. While I may not have been on the computer much (far to nice to be indoors, not to mention far to tired in the evenings) Shedman and I have done a couple of other major things to the garden. Actually, mostly it was Shedman, my time has completely been taken up with our fledgling nursery. Although it does feel rather like we are “Open all hours” but that is part and parcel of village life, cut flowers for a funeral at 7 o’clock at night, the request for flowers not the funeral, that was 9.30 the following morning. Some colour because “Mum in law is coming later today and I need to plant the pots” at 8.30 in the morning! Oh and lots of phones thrust in front of me displaying blurry images of plants and the question asked “what is this?” (Hydrangea) and “Have you got it?” (No). It would seem that locally we are gaining a reputation for selling plants and having some knowledge.

The garden is thriving on neglect if you look at it through half closed eyes. The lovely weather has also brought out all those “lovely” pests. I have never seen so many cabbage white butterflies in the garden, one day I counted over 50 and I thought that was a little unfair, as we don’t have any cabbages. I think most leaves in the garden have had a caterpillar, slug or snail nibble chomp. Oh and the earwigs! gracious they are going for garden domination! Next year I am going to move my dahlias to another part of the garden – perhaps it will take a month or two for the earwigs to find them again.

Sadly, I have not done all those little tweaking tasks that I intended to do this year, so it looks like I will be in for a busy Autumn moving and planting the plants sitting in pots behind the greenhouse (not the “hot plants” but all the others that are lurking there) and sometime over the next few days I fully intend to take some time and simply sit and make notes of all the things that have flitted through my mind over the past couple of months. For example at some point I decided I absolutely had to have another peony (or three) for the keyhole garden. We had to remove the apple tree that was in this area, so there is a gap (yay) – you would think that the 6 peonies I all-ready have is enough for any garden, especially as they are so very fleeting – yet so very delicious.

table and chairs in the keyhole garden

So that was my summer … hard work but totally delicious. How is your summer going?