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Blotanical Awards 2009

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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?



“Kate, are you there?” I yelled into her answerphone, “Come round for a cup of tea, the garden is looking fab”

Kate returned my call I told her the garden was looking wonderful and she duly came round for a cup of tea and to examine the garden after my claims of it looking fab and perfect.

roses and peonies in the June garden

Obviously it did not look perfect;- as no weeding, or rather very little has been done this year, no lawn edging, and no staking, no cutting back and there are some rather big planting gaps. The top pond has been removed, but the new patio has not been made, some things have got rather out of hand and the cutting garden is a disaster area ….. but apart from that it was “fab and perfect”

I am not in the habit of announcing that my garden is looking “fab and perfect” but recently I have been keeping a close eye on it, as next year I want to open it twice! (gulp). I am trying to judge “that moment” I know we all have “that moment” and for me at this time of year it is the moment when the peonies start opening, the iris sibirica are still around and the roses are blooming. A new addition to the June garden is phlomis russeliana, which is flowering for the first time and was given to me by Patient Gardener a couple of years ago.

Yellow flowers of phlomis russelina in June

My dilemma of course, is when will “that moment” occur next year …..

In 2011 that moment occurred in the week of the 11th June and looking back at the images, the garden was further on than it was the same week this year. In 2012 I was photographing the peony and astrantia combination and muttering about rain and gales.

dark astrantia with pink peony in the june garden

Anyway Kate came for tea, we went around the garden with a fine tooth-comb teacups in hand and decided that yes it did (or rather would) look good enough to open in June as well as September, so I am thinking that I will open it on the 8th June 2014 …… or would the 15th be better? That is my dilemma!

When does your garden have “that moment” where (albeit with the aid of rose tinted spectacles) everything looks fab and perfect?