Tuesday, 24 May 2022

Bristol Botanic Gardens - A first Visit

 Bristol University Botanic Gardens are not too far away, but it takes an effort, we thought to go by public transport but I don't think we could have done it easily. My dearly beloved drove us there a few days ago and now we know the route down through Bristol Gorge avoiding the City Centre, I predict that this will be the first of many visits.  There is so much to take in and admire, from these well laid out gardens, including all the botanic and evolutionary information forming the basis of the their collections.  We were given a small plan however next time I must see if there is a more detailed guide or book. Meanwhile their website is worth spending some time reading. I found for example a great post on bluebells. We were so enthralled that I did not really focus on taking many pictures or notes, realising that there will be further visits and more opportunities for that.

On entry we couldn't be more amazed by the setting with the many mature oak trees on the periphery, but the large pool, where later the Marliac Hybrid waterlilies will be flowering, formed a central point around which many collections were grouped. 

We  spent quite some time looking at the rock garden with plants from close to us such as the Cheddar Pink, rockroses from Brean Down, Alliums and Whitebeams.  I realise I have probably been out looking for the Cheddar Pink far too late. 

The plant evolution walk starting with liverworts and mosses, ferns and horsetails, and trees ferns found Mr S captivated. We happened to do the walk in the wrong direction, going back in time as it were!

We ambled along the beds finding much to enthral, such as emerging dragon flies in the pool by the Angiosperm Phylogeny collection.

The Mediterranean section of the gardens as well as their website gives some valuable details on plants in those zones.  As well as having visited them, I am using the theme in the front garden to use plants that will tolerate that hot dry sloping aspect. I was delighted to come across a large clump of  Lathyrus aureus, to give me an idea of what the plant looks like.  A friend gave me a small piece of this plant a couple of weeks ago and it is destined to go in the front Mediterranean style front garden.

In the Tropical and Sub-tropical sections of the glasshouses and was delighted to recognize various plants from my childhood garden and also the Pamplemousse Botanic Gardens, which was the name of the gardens when I visited very frequently, I particularly liked working visiting when I was acting as my father's little field assistant during the school holidays.

A few names of interesting forms of succulents were noted of course.  I rather liked the form of this Aeonium goochiae which would contrast nicely with my other aeoniums! A few are on the wish list, but I may well have to wait but looking for suppliers or waiting to see them in the flesh and for sale that is the question!


A few of the blooms found on the floor from the Jade vine made their way home, reminding me of the pergola dripping with the flowers in my friends garden,  in the same way as people have wisteria growing in England.  There were and still are in my eyes such a strange and 'unnatural' colour with turquoise blooms and silver.

For those on a tight budget and can visit on a Wednesday there is an option of paying less than the current £9 or maybe like us have the Gardeners World two for one ticket.  Although the coffee was excellent, and I would buy a drink in their café, next time I would take a snack and spend more time in the gardens. 


Monday, 23 May 2022

In a Vase on Monday - Remembering and thinking

A little posy from garden flowers.  I had been catching up on my Facebook this morning, when I came across one of those shared posts with a saying.  I'm not always that happy to like these, as I wonder whether someone is looking at who knows who.  I am not paranoid, and of course respond when I feel like it to 'original' material.  Sometimes the sayings are rather apt and I do enjoy them.  I think it was one from my cousin what got me going, and I was thinking of her when I picked the flowers. It was something about if it takes only a few seconds to think of someone, it also doesn't take long to tell someone you are thinking of them, meaning it takes seconds to say like to someone on a Facebook message.

The French for being  pensée started me off, and so Viola which is almost a pansy was the first flower club, then I chose a few more to make up a little posy, and went round the garden thinking of all the people I really ought to take the effort to tell them I am thinking of them. I love the peace of the garden, with so many plants reminding me of friends.
Viola Tricolor - Wild Pansy grown from seed and planted in the garden.

Other Elements.....

Quaking Grass: Briza Maxima

 Phuopsis stylosa

White daisy

Achillea x lewisii 'King Edward',

Scabiosa columbaria 'Pink Mist

Fleur de pensée or Wild Pansy Viola 'Tricolor', Heartease

I'm joining in with Cathy and the gang to post a vase this Monday.


Saturday, 21 May 2022

Six on Saturday - 21 May 2022

 It has certainly rained this week.  I am sure we shall have weather reports as well as six things in the garden on The Propagator's weekly 'American Supper' of a gardening get together.  With all the rain forecast, I decided to move the succulents onto the shelf inside the shed from the shelf outside!  With no watering required one would think a little more time for the garden.  There was not much gardening in this garden, but I have enjoyed just looking at mine, and visiting other gardens this week: Bristol University Botanic Gardens with Mr S, and East Lambrook Manor and Avon Bulbs with the Somerset branch of the Alpine Garden Society.  

Here the plants in the garden has moved on visibly after the rain: 

1. Baptisia australis Exaltata is very slowly increasing; from two spikes, I have  six this year, though I did see ever such a big clump in the botanic gardens.  However there is no point comparing my new tiny garden to the likes of anything larger. It is still at the bud stage, but I just love that soft green and the promise of a blue pop of colour.

2.  Blue and gold: here a campanula is legging up the golden Lonicera nitida 'Baggensen's Gold.  

3.  What a disappointment: the ant sowed seedling of Linaria at the edge of the gravel turns out to a hybrid.  The bees on the Linaria 'Canon Went' last year must have been to other gardens, a sort of American Supper.  Maybe this is the wrong term but the sort of supper where you go from house to house for a course, enjoyed by many during the early seventies, sometimes driving some distance from house to house. These types of suppers with friends may well come back now that the tenner isn't what is used to be and restaurant prices rising, but maybe everyone will bring a dish to one house to share, cos the fuel is too expensive!  This blue Linaria may well be 'edited' this week, in the meantime I value it for the 'architectural' element'! 'Designer Speak!

4.  It was on the naughty step  having not flowered since its first season in 2018, the Iris sibirica 'Silver Edge has earnt a reprieve. Another week or so it would have been added to the 'To Be Edited' list.

5. Certainly on the to be edited list is the  Allium nectaroscordum Siculum.  This year instead of growing straight they are snaking their heads up from a recumbent position, with the leaves all long and chocking off some of my Origanum collections. For now I shall cut off all the leaves, and the leave the flowers if they don't look so weird.. Maybe it is a question of right plant for the garden, wrong place and it would be better suited to a position in the Mediterranean style front garden. Though with the origanums and bulbs I had tried to make a small Mediterranean bank along the gravel path.

6. Some seed can be viable for a long time, as I discovered with the rocket seed my son gave me a few years ago. Someone who I shall not name, told a group of us at a talk that one should keep seed in the fridge and throw it out after one year, and buy new.   I've never followed that: our fridge is too small, and I am always game to try old seed, and love going through my seed collection if only to dream about what I could grow.  The reality is that the garden wouldn't be large enough to accommodate all the plants. Thinking that germination would be low, you can see that it certainly wasn't and I sowed a little too thickly close to the peas.  

Even with a tiny garden it is possible to go out and pick some leaves minutes before lunch.

Ingredients: rocket,  tops of mangetout pea which I accidentally broke whilst tying up with string(Monty Don laughs out loud), thyme flowers, nasturtium leaves, chives, parsley and flowers from Tropaeolum tricolorum.  

Monday, 16 May 2022

In a Vase on Monday - Shine On

 Yesterday was a little too damp after lunch, and since the morning had been spent taking a walk along the lanes edged with the white froth of of blossom on elderflower, Queen Anne's lace and Hawthorne, I had to get up early.  Early to choose flowers from the Garden to join in with Cathy for this Vase this Monday.

Just as I thought the sun would shine on and on and on, we have at last had rain,  We have a good amount, with a rumble or two of thunder overnight.  The garden at six this morning has a completely different feel and the hem of my dress is wet from brushing against plants. 

When I first read about this rose Shine On, it reminded me of a rose my parents grew in Mauritius in the early Sixties.  That rose was called Super Star Brigitte Bardot.  I read that soon after introducing the name Brigitte Bardot was prohibited...not in our household! Under the tropical sun its orange was quite stunning.  My father had imported it from France, and we always used to tease him about it as his pinup was Brigitte Bardot, though of course I was too young to know what a pinup was.  He was extremely fond of cinema, and would often go on a Saturday to watch three blockbusters all on the trot!  Shine On is much smaller but with similar dark green foliage, which comes up with a strong bronze tint on new shoots.

It is mid May and the roses are out.  Iceberg for a fortnight, Deep red rose Munstead Rose if fully open as is Grace, but at this moment too heavy with rain.  Open Arms is waiting for the myriad of bees to visit and the little orange coloured rose Shine On *is the one for this morning.  

I sauntered round the garden trying to find just the right piece of greenery or even a couple of companions, however nothing pleased either myself or the rose, so here you have it, three little stems in a bottle.

 It seems far too early to have roses in bloom, I am not ready to say goodbye to the late spring feeling, time is slipping away far too fast.

* A good site listing rose cultivars currently available by form etc.

Saturday, 14 May 2022

Six on Saturday

Our weekly get-together with blogging gardeners starts early Saturday. He who started this SOS group is first off the blocks, and most of us haven't a hope of catching him up if running, and for long distances is concerned, but I am sure that with a little patch or a large estate, chats and sharing amongst gardeners is the most relaxing sort of thing. 

A few hours of rain earlier this week has broken the dry spell and refreshed the garden....but we can do with a little more, and I'm pleased to say that the forecast does not have a series of relentlessly dry days.  Mid May in an English Garden is a great time.

I've had a strange sort of week:  On Tuesday the plug plants arrived and it was all stations panic, and through a frenzy of emails, collection of the plugs were arranged for Wednesday and Thursday meaning  a series of Gardening Club members arrived to pick up most of plugs.  On Wednesday morning, I was able to distribute sell most of the 'surplus' amongst our newly formed group of WI gardening friends. 

Here are my Six on Saturday this week:

1. Double flowered Chamaemelum  nobile ' Flore Pleno' aka lovely scented green swath.

This is what the double-flowered Chamomile looks like at this time of the year before it flowers.  It is a lovely evergreen mat forming herb which has tiny aromatic leaves.  It begs to be stroked or gently crushed underfoot to release that gorgeous  calming scent.  I've showed it in flower with its creamy white pop-pom flowers before. It is probably encroaching a little too much around the rose!  I've prepared some pieces and set them to root nicely in pots to give to a friend to grow around a feature in some paving stones. Those were from another area.  I just love the scent of the crushed leaves, so soothing as I needed that element this week.

2. Corydalis  ochroleuca aka Pseudofumaria alba

Here in the garden it was heavy clay, which is gradually being improved with mulches. This plant is now nicely established and seeds itself lightly around.  I let it grow if it is not in the way of anything, and since it is a short-lived evergreen perennial and flowers for such a long period, and is good in vases both for the flower and ferny foliage, it is most welcome.  Where it encroaches, as it did here but has already been in flower for many weeks, I clear it away, having checked that there were some fresh seedlings somewhere else.

This corydalis thrives both in sun and lights up more shady spaces.  This is a plant I wouldn't be without, so thanks to Alison who supplied the original small seedlings from her garden. I had used the flowers on Monday on In a Vase on Monday and decided to show the plant on this post as I had a comment from someone who liked corydalis but had not seen this one. 

3. Visitors picking up plug plants and a friend dropping me off mentioned our 'Men'.  One person once described these as my Garden Gnomes, but this week Anne made me laugh when they said one was miffed because the other one had a taller geranium. The flowers are remarkably similar and separated as they are by the front door, looks like they are an exact match. 

The taller pelargonium was a cutting from a friend's plant which Eileen described as a good doer, and it has some dark patches in the middle of the green bits, and is most attractive.

The smaller Pelargonium Frank Headley has a naturally compact habit, are two cuttings from last year in this one pot.  I really ought to separate them, so that is another job for the coming week.

4. I thought it would be a nice idea to buy some plug plants to sell to members of our gardening group, both to raise funds and for us to compare later in the season, and a few months ago placed an order for Nemesia Wisley Vanilla.  

They arrived and I was somewhat disappointed by the size of the plugs, which had been described as large plugs. When I measured them the size of the cells was 2cm by 2cm,at the top of the soil, and at the bottom of the cell the measurement is 1.5 x 1.5cm.  My shoe size is 6.  The description on Brookside's website when ordering was 

From Brookside's Website.

The plants were good, don't take me as totally dissatisfied.  They were very quickly distributed with a member of the committee coming to my aid to help.

5. Visiting a friend's garden I was given a lovely plant a golden leaved Persicaria amplexicaulis 'Golden Arrow', and even in within the yellow there is an interesting marking.

6. On yes!  The Red Red Rose.....Still at the bud stage, her multiple petals yet to unfold, her sumptuous scent still be enjoyed.

Oh a little extra...so dainty:  deep mauve Chinese beauty

Semiaquilegia ecalcarata

More about this one maybe next week.

Monday, 9 May 2022

Late Spring Flowers in A Vase on Monday

Although I picked these yesterday and had them arranged and photographed this morning, I very nearly didn't join in.  My head feels muddled and upside down, and I couldn't remember the names of the plants.  Hey I searched my own blog and found them and did a cut and paste job of the names.  But then pals will have linked up with Cathy, so why let something so trivial get in the way of joining In a Vase on Monday.

I find that time has shrunk, things are taking me longer to do, and I seem to have jobs backing up.  I am sure it will seem better in a day or two. I may be over worrying about the state of affairs, and also the dry and parched ground and lack of rain.  I am as one with the garden, and sad that plants are suffering.  OK new plants are being tended to but it would be impossible or rather reckless to water the whole garden.

 White cornflower Centaurea Montana Alba,  mauve 
Polemonium reptans Lambrook Mauve, and 'scrambled egg' coloured 
Corydalis  ochroleuca aka Pseudofumaria alba, and some of the pink daisies which are still in full flower. These are plants that remind me of friends Anna who recommended the Polemonium, and Alison who gave me a few seedlings of the Corydalis.

Those Polemonium are really pretty, they are sterile and don't set seed, but not difficult to get a shoot to root, well I did it twice, once in December and again in January, not on purpose, but simply because I had accidentally broken off a basal rosette.  

I remember feeling quite upset when I damaged the plant, but trying to get it rooted, ended up in my having three plants: "Looking on the bright side of life".  Just looked up the song in my head got to cheer myself up, thanks to Monty Python.

Sunday, 8 May 2022

Dartington Hall and Gardens - A Short Stay

 I remember in some distant past, years ago dropping into Dartington and just looking at some glass, but being within just a couple of hours drive away, we planed a short stay.  Just after Christmas we booked a three night stay in one of their Courtyard rooms.  On arrival we were told that because there was an event there would be no evening meals served in their Inn called the White Hart, over two of the nights, as there would be 'street food' instead, and on the Friday there would be a limited offering. We worked round that by visiting a couple of local inns for our evening meal: The Cott Inn .  Those were good, but having enjoyed an excellent dinner on the first night, it would have been likely we would have wanted to have all three there.

What was most excellent for me was that we had full access to the gardens during our stay, which allowed for walks arounds during different times of the day.  The first full day when the weather was particularly fine, I had not taken the camera round with and therefore the pictures were taken on less favourable days, and I have yet to get to grips with its functions. I had thought to spend some time doing that on our break, but the countryside was so magical, we spent most of our time outside.

The Grade II* listed gardens, developed in the 20th Century by the owners  takes full advantage of the rolling terrain. There are some wonderful older trees as well as less mature ones.  For now I am posting the best of the pictures, and when inspiration returns I shall add 'words'.

Across the courtyard from our room, this magnificent Rosa Banksiae Lutea lured me across several times, as the roses opened over the few days.  The colour was beautifully set off by the pale grey stone.

For once we were in a garden at peak Azalea time

There were some great trees, and given the landscape and the cleverly situated long views and stone steps, every walk revealed the beauty of the planting and scenery.

The garden has a 'romantic' feel to it, 

Other sculptures were there to be discovered...

This one I used for our WI photography Black and White Challenge:

Or for views across the Tiltyard towards the Hall, how about this reclining beauty by Henry Moore..

We went to the Cinema for the first time in years.  The one on site in very comfortable and in a delightful barn to one side of the entrance to the courtyard, a mere hop and skip from our room.  We watched Downton Abbey: a new Era,  with the trip to France...

I do like a good breakfast, and the breakfasts were amongst the best I have had.  It was self service, the main hall had music, so we found a comfortable nook in an adjoining room. Mostly organic and locally sourced, lovely apple juice, etc....Breakfast was taken at the on site Inn The White Hart. 

The Cider Press just down the road is an excellent place to pick up and make up a picnic, as their deli carries many tats, pies etc.  They also have various outlets and interesting home interiors and kitchen sections. 

We walked both to and from Totnes on the Saturday, where there were too many people.  I ought to have thought: bank holiday weekend and Saturday market, so not surprising.  We were going to get the bus back, but had enjoyed the walk so much, so walked back.  Went up to the top of the Castle Keep from which the views were superb, walked around, found lunch behind the Mansion on the High Street at Pizza Pirates, we shared a pizza supplemented by a mezze sharing board from Edgy Veggie, also backing onto to the outside tables by Pizza Pirates.  What was particular memorable, was that we were looking for a nice sit down lunch, but the restaurants were either full or not what we wanted, and we came across the little courtyard as we were catching a shortcut round the back alleys back to the High Street. We are still talking about this lunch over a week later! And we had an ice-cream from Delphini's Gelato.  It is almost worth a trip to Totnes just for this!  Ouch the card payments just came in, but it was worth the nearly £10 for two double icecreams.  I had Cheery and Pistachio in a big big sugar cone, and he had Chocolate and Caramel.  This brought back memories of our grand tour of Italy, where I ate ice cream from the top of Italy right down to Sorrento over more than two weeks, and still he proposed! A truely Italian Lunch al fresco in the sunshine!

Nice car, nice owner, he came across from a shop and asked about my camera and wanted to see my pictures....yes it was his car, he waved to me as he got in and drove off. What a memorably number plate for an E Type soft top RRX990H, but then I love yellow cars or green ones of course!


Saturday, 7 May 2022

Six on Saturday - Pleasing border

After a week's break I am back, the garden has moved on, and I will enjoy catching up with SOS pals' contributions which like me are all linked in to The Propagator.

I've been watching the forecasts and rain patterns, with rain falling in the north, west and east, we must now be one of the lowest rainfall areas of GB so far this year, I want to smell and feel rain, and watch the plants sigh with relief.  Overnight to this morning there was a very slight precipitation, probably the god of the snails and slugs are relieved, but this continuing dry spell is leading me to seriously rethink some of my plantings and veer towards more resilient plants.  

1. This is a view over towards the shadier side of the garden and this is about half the border. It does get some sun morning and evening during the summer and filtered light through the fence and now through the growing shrubs.  It is the coolest and therefore less dry part of the garden, but at the moment still far too dry.  With only a slight shower over the last two weeks since I last posted on matters SOS, the lack of water continues to be a problem. Watering cans of water as we run to hot from the kitchen are being walked from the back door to precious plants.

2. One of the features of the garden that brings us the greatest of pleasure is the bird bath.  Birds:  the smallest being the gold-crests and the largest at present being magpies and the odd crow and jackdaw arrive to quench their thirst or bathe.  Of course this means topping up the water sometimes twice a day or more. We found the pedestal buried deep in decaying branches and foliage as we cleared our last garden, and the top an exact match for the broken one that came with the pedestal, from FIL's garden when we cleared that.

3. I like foliage, and even Mr S noticed that the area at present is all foliage...

Green and purples and creams if you count the Pittosporum Garnettii, the dark flowers so small, but yet the scent floats on the air and mingles with that of Rose Open Arms which is just coming into flower alongside.

4. With purple and green markings,  to match the purple of Loropetalum Firedance and the green of the Fern  Crytomium fortunei, is one of my favourite plants Saxifraga stolonifera, which given a couple of weeks will be in flower.  I moved a few plants here a couple of months ago and it has turned out just as I thought:  some attractive ground cover by the fern and Loropetalum. 

Is a garden ever made?  It keeps on changing and evolving.  I have a variety of plants, but I can suddenly be inspired by different combinations, and just sometimes instead of acquiring different plants, move or re-establish different clumps elsewhere.  It is like a director moving the actors around a scene and getting them to turn their heads to the right or left, or maybe rephasing/emphasise  their lines differently. It gives me a satisfaction of changing combinations, and a little more time spent 'gardening'.

5. Some ferns which were growing a little too large have been edited, but this I mean dug out and given away mostly to friends Tim and Lee Hooker who are pots about ferns and has a growing collection. This little beauty is lurking at the feet of the Pittosporum, asoft shield fern, of which I have lost the name. Its those little silvery ends unfurling what give me the awe moment. I know also that I am still young and supple enough to creep down below the foliage to admire it.  Could it be all the gardening is keeping me young and supple!

6. For flower power in the front garden this shrub is setting out its best 'petticoats':
Viburnum plicatum ‘Mariesii’.  Only two years ago it was still in its pot in the back garden.  2022 is its second season in flower in the front garden. It hasn't made much upward growth so it may need a good dollop of mulch and some fertilizer.  It gets no watering and is on very poor builders rubble soil, poor thing! It did however get a large planting hole with improved soil from the back at the time of planting. 

I waited till I had taken the picture, and then I went and removed all the bluebells which were going over and just setting seed.  These are not the native bluebells but some hybrids, which I had thought to have removed three years on the trot.  Since digging up the bulbs seemed to make little difference, I saved myself all the work, and simply removed all the above ground growth.  I didn't feel quite so young and supple after doing that job, at a faster rate than I normally work at, in order to catch the garden waste collection!

I have plants to plant this week, but with loads of bought in soil improver.  A bit too late in the season but better late than never, but the hose will have to work in order to get the ground in the right condition for planting courgettes et. al.