Monday, 30 May 2022

East Lambrook Manor and Avon Bulbs - Summer visit

Now that most zoom meetings have been replaced by in person meetings, and as it is too far for me to attend my local Alpine Garden Society Group meeting, I took the opportunity of meeting up and joining the summer visit to East Lambrook Manor and Avon Bulbs.

We started at East Lambrook Manor where Mike Werkmeister greeted us and gave us an outline of the development of the garden and how it is being looked after now.

Having visited just a short while ago when the snowdrops and other spring beauties were in full blow, it was a different scene with all the spring growth hidden with early Summer blooms and Shrubs catching ones attention at every turn.

The various Cistus looked particularly fine in the early summer sun

There were shrubs which gave height and would be suitable maybe for my small garden such as this Elaeagnus giving some height, and with the silvery leaves an ideal contender to offer height in the smaller garden. There are a few of them dotted around and the sun and warmth brought out the delightful scent.

The borders had generous planting and interesting plant associations, and a few statues or sculptures to anchor the beds, such as this fine one in the white garden.

As with many gardens, there is often a moment, whether it is the light, the season or just one's mood that varies, often a different area seems to shine out.  On this occasion the area behind the Malthouse in the area named the Lido along a  with its white wisteria.

After  lunch we then went onto to a visit of  Avon Bulbs for a visit to their growing areas. Chris Ireland-Jones greeted us and having greeted us all, took us through the sorting and packing areas. 

Out in the growing beds, we had a tour of the neat well tended growing  areas.

and their shade houses too.

There was much chatting and catching up on trends and their specialities over refreshments.  With Avon Bulbs being in my area, I often see Chris manning his sales bench and will now have a idea of how many of his plants are grown, though we did learn than he also sources plants from abroad. 

Saturday, 28 May 2022

Six on Saturday - Six things in my garden

 The sun is strong but the air is fairly cool, perfect weather.  Sixish things in my garden to join in with Jon, as do many other gardeners Worldwide. 

1. However small my garden, I just cannot resist growing a few veg.  For instance today we had a delicious cucumber the first of the season.  My friend grew on some seeds and shared the plants around.  They were such good plants, and as she has a green house, all the tomato and cucumber seeds are being passed along for growing on.  

Cucumber growing in the conservatory

Two tumbling tomatoes in a large ceramic pot have started to set fruit.

2. I opened my garden for 'paying' visitors for the first time this week.  Actually they were donating some money to have tea and cake to raise funds for our gardening club.  They also happened to have a tour of the gardens front and back.  I managed to find a spare Semiaquilegea for Maggie, and another plant is already promised for Anthony.  


One of the plants one the side in the conservatory was Crassula Falcata Buddha's Temple.  I received my original plant over ten years ago, and every few years I go in for some renewal in the form of cuttings, throwing the mother plant away.  Here is the bowl with some very long terminal leaders removed.  .

Usually I use the pups, but this time I am also trying some 'slices' of the main stem.  I'll report back with updated pictures later in the year.

Having already given Sally from our club a plant several years ago, I am hoping that other members will rush to get these at a future fund raising event.

3. The Nemesia plug plants repotted are putting on some growth...

4.  Kitchen window view early this morning, with the morning light catching the Allium seed heads.

5. Red roses in full bloom...

Rose Munstead Wood

The blooms are so heavy they weigh down the stems.  I would love some tips on growing stronger stems. I have probably been too heavy handed with the rose fertilizer!

6.  First year in bloom around five years after sowing: Tulipa Sprengeri.  These are in the front garden, I have another clump in the back garden.  I hope they will grow even stronger next year.

I had enough for several clumps, but sadly other plants overgrew, and I think they just gave up the will to live!

Oh to be able to garden in the lovely weather: a real treat! The garden is open again this week, so there is lots of dead heading of roses due, and I need to rehearse the words "The Roses were absolutely perfect for the group last week, now what can we find to thrill you? The tea and cake are just as good!"

Cheddar Pinks at Cheddar Gorge


Cheddar Pink  - Dianthus gratianopolitanus

Having seen the Cheddar pinks recently at Bristol Botanic Gardens, I realised that when I  had visited the Gorge previously, it would have been either too early or too late to even catch a glimpse of the flowers.  Yesterday I did, and I reckon they will be even better in a week's time as there were still many in bud. 


Half along the eastern edge of the gorge, we happened to come across a ranger whom I asked about the Cheddar Pinks.  I think he was a little wary of pointing them out and he did caution me to take extreme care as they are at the top of the very highest cliffs.  They are just over the lip of the cliff up to about one metre down. Mr S was panicking, but I advanced prostrate, crawling on my belly to spread my weight, and also to avoid the strong wind being funnelled up the side of the cliffs. 

I had taken my smaller camera a Canon IXUS 12x, but it is probably better at the macro pictures that the other camera.  It was extremely windy at the very edge of the cliff and these are the best I had.

On the way down towards Jacob's ladder, the rock roses were just starting to open.

In the shady damper areas there was an abundance of Valerian just coming up to flower, it is the pale flowering native Valerian Officinalis that is coming out.  In a week or two the scent will be all around.  On some of the cliffs Centranthus ruber has gained a foothold and again both pink and white flowers were out.

Coming down Jacob's Ladder, we got into conversation with a young man and soon the Creole was flowing...the second Mauritian I have met in a matter of days.  This young man who is an accountant in 'defiance' of his family's medical heritage, was born in England to Mauritian parents, but going to and fro to visit Grandparents and family, had picked up Creole! 


We walked back up to the car which was parked up at the top of the gorge, up the central road and as it was after five, the road was fairly quiet.   I did use my stick to wave down some cars that were being driven far too fast, certainly for the feral goats and Soay sheep who had their young with them and were crossing the road or even browsing the grass on the road side.

One gets more spectacular views of the Gorge from walking along the road, in either direction, far better  from either of the cliff top walks, but from those there are splendid views across the surrounding country, down onto Cheddar reservoir and beyond. It was amusing to see people driving down or up using their cameras to capture the changing cliff faces along the zig zagging road. If only they would get out of their car to enjoy the walk.

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.