Monday, 5 June 2023

In a Vase on Monday

Icebergs would melt if they came into the garden, and they would shed a whole lot of water too....

A simple arrangement of white Iceberg Roses, and Phlomis fruticosa 'Bourgaei'.  There was a delightful scent from the Phlomis but one which affected my eyes. I was moving the vase from the living room to the utility when I could hear my neighbour in hers.  The posy was soon passed over and hopefully the roses will last a couple of days and the Phlomis should last longer.

I could not get the rose heads to stay where I wanted them as the oblong  vase top was a little wide, so I twirled some raffia around the stems, and used my 'souvenir stones' from Tresco to anchor them. Here is a link to the first of my posts about Tresco Gardens. There are earlier posts about other parts of the Island too.

I am feeling a lot better, and wonder now what sort of affliction could have reached out and grabbed me, sometimes feel tired, but I am getting there.

I'm joining in with Cathy and others with this offering for In a Vase on Monday from their gardens.  I heard that Cathy had been poorly, but as well as being busy with the garden is baking in readiness for her open day.  Cathy has unusually not posted yet, so I shall make this post live and check later in the day when I return from a visit to Bristol Botanical Gardens, and make the link live then.

Sunday, 4 June 2023

A Week in Tresco Gardens at the end of May - Part 1.

I'm  very lucky to have been able to holiday onTresco in the Isles of Scilly.  We had extended our visit at both ends of a three day break organised by a few members from the Henton Gardening Club. As we had not had an overseas holiday for several years, and had missed out on South Africa, this would be a great treat for us.  We had the most wonderful clear, warm and dry weather. A few years back I was really getting myself ready for a trip to South Africa to view plants, but with rising costs etc, regretfully have left it too late.  

Viewing all the plants in Tresco, it was as if the best of plants from various continents had been brought together and I was delighted that with our New Inn Hotel, we had a card covering us for entry for the duration of our stay. 

What follows is a few of the best pictures. They are by no means comprehensive nor of all the plants I spent my time admiring. As there are so many pictures and memories I wish to share, this will be the first of two posts on the garden.

Yellow Pin Cushion or Leucospermum Plant

Red and Orange within the Leucospermum Bloom

These closeup don't quite show the expanse and size of the plants, of which I would not want to hazard a guess at the numbers of flowers per plant.

Another flower which I felt a compunction to look closer at were the gazanias. I remember my father going off plant hunting in Africa during the 1960s and returning with a selection which then went on to be grown in the Municipal Gardens in Mauritius.

From the leaves this may be an Arctotis.

My favourite Gazania in the gardens

My Mauritian friends will understand my pleasure in seeing the Agaves, which grew around the island in large botanic gardens as well as in gardens.  A different form was grown and harvested by hand in areas of the island that may have been too dry for sugar cultivation or other crops.  Furcraea foetidawas introduced to Mauritius, and grown in plantations to be harvested and manufactured into cloth, which they were made into bags for exporting raw sugar.  This production ended when raw sugar handling was exported through bulk sugar transfer facilities. 

Also known as the century plant several Agave Americana were in flower.

Dotted around there were also the variegated forms again a great form often found in Mauritian gardens.

I was delighted that a number of the Protea were in flower.

The King Protea, Protea cynaroides from South Africa

'The Tufty Bract Protea' or some such Protea.

As it was so sunny, we often had to look for a shaded spot to rest, or at least Mr S to sit whilst I went looking around the garden or at a particular grouping of plants, the bench by the Water Sculpture of an Agave by artist Tom Leaper, was just perfect.

As we sat, several birds came to drink or cool down in the water spouts, and we wondered what this usual bird may have been. In certain lights it was a golden yellow, cap.  Later in the week when we were being shown round by Alasdair Moore, he said these were just the usual Blackcaps that had been feeding on the nectar of the flowering Puya berteroniana

For one of the days we were joined by Alasdair Moore Head of Gardens and Estate at the Lost Gardens of Heligan, who was spending a few days at his island home. He led us on a guided tour of the wilder natural north of the island. 

Alasdair Moore outside Tresco Gardens

The following day Alasdair walked up with us to the gardens, pausing at various locations even before we went through the entrance he regaled us with various details about the history of different buildings, the gardens and plants.  Here Alasdair is standing before a male Leucadendron argenteum, of which several are planted along the grass verge on Carn Near Road. 

Alasdair then went on to show us around the garden where he had been Assistant Head Gardener for 10 years, and still has a great fondness for it, pointing  out with great pride various plants which he had planted, or nurtured.  Another member of our group, Rosie had worked with and knew Alasdair well on promoting Tresco, so dinner together at the New Inn on Tuesday evening was a splendid affair with great conversations. Rosie had had the idea for the competition which led to the creation of the Mediterranean garden when the Agave fountain is situated. 

For a good descriptions of the Tresco Gardens read

Kew without a Roof, Mediterranean Society

The Ox Magazine

Saturday, 3 June 2023

Six on Saturday

We had had hot days(for early June), sunny days and dry days all week, often with gusts from the East.  Come to think of it it has been dry for some weeks now.  The water butt is dry, but I am sure those of some of the other SOSs including our leader Jim will be reaping the benefit of their expanding installations.  For maybe far happier items do join the boat, or look on,  and find out what other contributors have to add this week. Also I am pleased that Jim has called us his 'Motley Crew', I was fearing I would need to just slip overboard, but with a bit of bailing out of my own ship I promise to stay afloat. 

For my part I am working on my state of mind, and I do believe that my memes do benefit so after a hiccup and a holiday, here I am with this week's six: 

1. I was never really a buyer and eater of many sweeties, but I can't say the same for plants.  Visitors in the know often arrived with little offerings, as yesterday when my fifth visitor arrived to share in with some divisions of Iris, came bearing a few little treasures to add to the garden. This year I am working on filling tubs with plants I carried on from last year, cuttings etc.  

However, this week when I was at the Bishop's Palace for coffee with friends, I picked up two little seedlings with just Gomphrena on the label, a plant I have never grown before and they went into the top from which I removed the tulips. 

Then on the same day doing a little shopping whilst the car was being washed, I found a little Fuchsia: La Campanella for sale for the very modest price of £1.30 in Morrisons.  That will add the trailing bit.

The taller bits will consist of lovely blue flowering Salvia African Sky, thanks to cuttings taken last summer, and carried on in the unheated shed with just the one window on the south side. This will be my £3.30 pot for the summer.

It is amazing how doing a little arrangement like this can take my mind off the piles of leaves that have to be cleared and are yet to fall with more clearing following on. This is what the pot looks like now, in my imagination it will be wonderful.  I'll come back to it in a couple of months time and assess the results.

2. I am trying to focus on the positive.  On our return after just over a week in Tresco, the garden here was looking in a sorry state, covered in  hard brown leaves that constitute the discarded older leaves from the Holm Oak, with sticky green pollen, lots of green fly, ants farming them, and now the spent catkins are adding to the mess which I will spend most of the week clearing. I am clutching at straws making up that tub, but it was a respite from my fed up feeling.  Then I found my cousin's wife posted a saying which has somewhat helped me: 

"In case no one has said this to you today, you are doing your best, and you are going to be O.K." Thanks Sue, to whom I am dedicating this week's SOS who relentlessly offers support with shares of excellent sayings on her Facebook Page.

Also my dearly beloved is helping each morning for an hour or so and picking the leaves, using a kneeling to remove the debris from the gravel paths.

3. In the small vegetable garden an even smaller patch has now been planted up Dwarf French Bean Annabelle

I suppose my 'narky mood' is not helped by the feeling that the new composts are not up to grade, and that I didn't plant some of the seeds quite at the right time as I knew I would not be around to care and look after them, plant them on, and then transplant them.  Am I sounding peevish?  Anyway, I decided to soak the beans till they were plump and plant them straight into the ground behind the lettuces.  And yes on a more positive note, I have started to pick the Mangetout Norli which are delicious. Yes and the lettuce are yielding delicious leaves that I am removing from the base, rather than cutting the whole head.  That way the fridge is not over stuffed, and the lettuce keeps on growing.

4. Rosa Grace is looking a little better after a hosing down to clear some of the oak leaves and pollen. And for those wondering that is Rosa Open Arms along the fence in the background.

5. I was reading my WI Life and an article called 'The Peace of Radical Acceptance' seemed to be 'of the moment' helpful. Often gardening is written about in terms of being ever so good for one's mental health, has anything been written about problems that gardeners can feel, ie their ' challenged mental health' resulting from over idealistic views of their own garden.

I'm going to try to use these to help me with my current 'troubles' and mood and see if I can turn this around.  My garden, which as my friends know is as vital to me as my right arm, is causing me to feel less content that I ought to.  

'Accept the things you can't control and focus on changing the things you can.' is one of words of wisdom from Heidi Scrimgeour

10 Tips: 

1. Accept yourself  your garden. (yes and myself and my limitations and my overidealised view of the world)

2. Observe-rather than fight-reality. (ie take time to look around the whole garden: there are still some good bits. Accept that each June is there is an easterly wind the leaves that are shed by the Holm Oaks will be all over the garden)

3. Welcome discovery. (Clear the leaves and find special plants happy for their release.)

4 Expect some pain.(...too true! It is normal for some plants to disappoint, after all the weather and soil is not within your control.)

5 Let yourself be lazy...really? Well after a morning's work in the garden, you deserve a rest. There will only be more leaves to clear tomorrow. Got to work on this bit, as I went out again after a rest.

6. Face the fantasy of control. (It only result is feeling flattened and crushed by the size of the job and must face my limitations.)


Three steps towards Radical Acceptance: Speak to yourself in an accepting way, Visualise how you will feel, Picture a fork in the road.  The last was too deep for me, or at least the ground is too hard to take that analogy any further.

Thanks to Heidi Scrimgeour and apologies for extracting bits of the article written for Mental Health Awareness for WI's Make Time for Mental Health Campaign.

6. The front 'Mediterranean' garden which is amazingly hot and dry for early June and unwatered so far, is in the lee as regards leaf litter is concerned, and some of the Mediterranean Plants are doing rather well, without any recent intervention, and even with a severe cut down last year Phlomis fruticosa 'Bourgaei' is rising to the occasion this June.

Phlomis fruticosa 'Bourgaei'

Thanks the lot for this week, except if you want something before next week I am hoping to post about Tresco Gardens which was a short walk from our Inn, and was visited each day...


Friday, 2 June 2023

Tresco Island East and Southern fringes

One of our first walks was across the 'waist' of Tresco from our base at The New Inn in New Grimsby to Old Grimsby.

 Not surprisingly we had to make the detour to The Old Blockhouse, and the views from the high points across to smaller islands  were breathtaking. With steps within to take one higher to be amazed by the bright white beaches on this side of the island.

Some more pebbly parts were equally interesting and finding some worn pebbles I tried balancing a few to try to emulate the blocks of granite standing up above the beach further along. 

The Sand dunes were interesting, and many plants looking like Tresco garden escapees flourished amongst the grasses.

There weren't any rock pools to explore but none the less a little walk along the seas edge was interesting, and I understand that these are just sun bleached seaweed. They looked in all other ways healthy, pliable and attached to rocks undamed and intact.

Yes this  is a truly wonderful island with excellent uncrowded, dare I say it 'deserted' beaches.

Tuesday, 30 May 2023

Tresco Island - The North and North West

 After time on the delightful island, one of several inhabited and the second largest of islands in the group called The Isles of Scilly, it is time to post a few pictures before I launch into the delights of the Tresco Abbey Gardens, for which other posts will follow.

Tresco is a small island, measuring just over 2 by 1 miles, and a saunter out each day means that most paths can be taken very easily in every direction.  The north of the island has a completely different feel to the luxuriant semi-tropical gardens which are on the southern side of the island.  The waved maritime heath at the northern end of the island grows on shallow soil on top of the coarse granite, of which there are some dramatic exposures.  

The area is strewn with the remains left behind by the last retreating ice sheet some eighteen thousand years ago,  and the strong northerly salt wind leads to tight undulating heathers, through which from time to time tell tale stones from Bronze aged cairns, flint works etc stand out above the vegetation.

Here Plantago coronopus, a plantain commonly known as the Stag's-Horn Plantain, is growing in the shelter afforded between two lichen rich granite boulders, together with Rock Samphire which grows more prolifically near the sea along edges of cottages and walls. 

For any lover of lichens there is plenty to see both on stones or any wood that happens to be even just a few years old. 

If you want to see lichen encrusted benches then Tresco will delight you.

I believe this to be Teloschistes flavicans,  this intricately branched golden yellow lichen is very sensitive to sulphur dioxide, so its existence here growing on the north west of the island about 20 metres above sea level.

Teloschistes flavicans growing on Tresco

Lower down the wild flowers such as gorse, honey suckle and on more open sites thrift were in full early summer bloom.

At low tide one distinct type of thickly growing sea weed rings the coast and here looking towards Cromwell Tower you can see its tops floating sideways on the retreating tide. I know virtually nothing about sea weed but their different forms and colours are fascinating and there were many different ones to amuse me in particular during walks on rocks or the more sandy beaches. 

Sea Thrift carpeting the slopes facing Bryher