Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Didn't we have a luvverly time...

I promised you some pics of our weekend at the Great Gardening Show at Loseley House - so here they are...

Our humble little corner - that's my hubby and dog looking rather lugubrious (or is that just embarrassed?). We sold quite a few of those nice oak boxes and got lots of interest in the garden storage solutions. Quite a hot topic at the moment, it would seem (all the better for our bank account, then).

Then I set off to have a look around. Got very excited about these "hanging bamboos" - finally, I thought, I've found a way of using bamboos that keeps them in their place. But then I found out they're not bamboo at all but a grass - Agrostis stolonifera. I suppose bamboo is a grass, strictly speaking, but I think my campaign to outlaw the stuff continues unabated.

Loads and loads and loads of flowers everywhere - I thought this display was a riot...

...and so did the bee, which took absolutely not a jot of notice of me while I took this photo. Far too busy. As you would expect, from a bee.

This fig tree was on the rather wonderful stall from Plants On Line. They had some fabby citrus and olives too (I'm a bit obsessed by exotic-ish edibles at the moment as I'm cooking up a scheme for my garden - literally...) And a few pomegranates, which is another tree I hanker for. Apart from their rather regrettable predilection for bamboos, this is a seriously good nursery which I hadn't come across before.

Further indulging my edible exotics fetish, this is my must-have plant for this year: I spotted loads of colocasia at Hampton Court and this one was a beaut. Just look at those leaves... the edible bit is the tuber, which tastes a bit like potatoes so they tell me. I'd like to know who digs up £20 tubers to eat, mind you...

Last but not least, on the same stall as the colocasia (that's Athelas Plants - another fantastic exotics nursery) was this gorgeous Anizoganthus in full flower. It's called 'Gold' (can you tell why?): don't know the plant well but apparently it's not that easy to get it to flower like this. The label tells me it needs sun and well-drained soil - might do well in my acid sand, then...

My "must-grow-before-I-die" list is getting longer and longer. Better make it to my Queen's telegram otherwise I'll never get through it at this rate.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

It's showtime!

I'm seeing life on the other side of the garden show stand this weekend - I'm actually an Official Exhibitor for the first time ever!

Here's a rather gratuitous pic of my pass to prove it:

As I've never done anything like this before it's probably more exciting than it ought to be but I don't care, I'm really enjoying myself. It's at the Loseley House Great Gardening Show, which is an annual event that's become a local fixture round here - though I must admit it hasn't been as packed as in previous years, no doubt something to do with the impending recession.

Anyway, this is all thanks to my rather talented hubby who's just jacked in his job and turned a 20-year hobby into a business, making all sorts of garden carpentry (shameless plug for business via his website here). He booked a stand some months ago - it started out as a stand for a wendy house but then he got into all sorts of other things woody as well so we've got quite an eclectic mix. And a few plants of course - I schlepped off to my local nursery, Spring Reach (another shameless plug there) to scrounge some pretty roses and rather nifty standard-trained cotoneasters on last-minute loan to tart the whole thing up a bit. Business has been pretty good so far, and we've still got a day to go - hopefully will get around to a few proper pictures tomorrow.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

End of term

I thought you might like to see my model...

No, it's not a random collection of toilet paper, cotton wool and lollysticks, but a state-of-the-art 3-D representation of a town garden. Oh, all right then, it is a random collection of the bits other people throw out, but I had a fabby time putting it together.

This was the grand finale of the Capel Manor Drawing & Graphics course, which finished today - or rather, today was the deadline for handing in the coursework, which I managed by the skin of my teeth (was frantically cutting up chopsticks with my Felco no 9s over breakfast to make the pergola legs). It wouldn't win any prizes, but it's such a long time since I made anything like this that I just had a blast.

The whole course has been a bit of an eye-opener, in fact: can't believe it's finished already, it's gone so quickly. I discovered that I'm not all that good at drawing, though can turn out a passable stab at something recognisable if coerced: but much to my surprise, I do really like graphics, especially the pen work which is fiddly but very satisfying. I think it had a lot to do with being able to see the point of things - being a very prosaic sort of person, I could happily sit for hours drawing Very Precise Circles for planting plans whereas I got a bit impatient with all that painstaking shading and "just let yourself free" arty-farty stuff.

I was reading a recent issue of Gardens Illustrated (one of my favourite magazines) which has a column by the novelist Frank Ronan in the back (ashamed to say I've never read any of his novels, but he can sure can write about gardening). One of his last bon mots on the subject of "what is a garden" was "The gardener starts with a plant, not a pencil."


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

July flowers

I decided to join in with the Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day this month - this is the first time I've ever created a slide show, so be gentle with me!

You can see everyone else's spectacularly gorgeous gardens at May Dreams - go check them out, it's a real celebration of summer.

Monday, July 14, 2008

All change

I'm having to say goodbye to my weekly gardens at the end of the month. I've been offered a peach of a writing job which I can't really say no to - but something has to give, and it's the gardens that must go, sadly.

Not that I'm giving up gardening - no sir. I'm still doing my "big" gardens - those projects I'm working on involving an element of design or re-working. And then there's my own garden, which I'm cooking up a scheme for - involving more exotic plants than I strictly speaking ought to give houseroom for (but I just want to have a go at growing them).

It's a great opportunity for me, but I must admit to a bit of sadness as I trim hedges and weed borders for probably the last time. You get to know gardens intimately when you spend hours every week there - and you kind of forget they're not yours. So it's a wrench to leave them (and I keep thinking things like "I hope whoever comes after me keeps up with the mulching..." or "I must do that overgrown Philadelphus before I go or it'll never get done".

It's hard to let go.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Plant of the month - June

Geranium 'Ann Folkard'

Well... actually, this might be G. psilostemon, but I don't think so. I've lost the label (as with so many of my plants) and my memory of writing 'Ann Folkard' somewhere is hazy, but extant.

Anyway, this gorgeous floozy has taken a while to get into her finery, suffering as she has from far too much competition in previous years while she was trying to establish herself. I belatedly realised this last year so she got a nice year free of anyone else trying to outdo her, and has rewarded me this summer with the most unbelievably spectacular fireworks of in-yer-face magenta pink. She's forgiven her thuggish neighbours to such an extent, in fact, that she's now clambering among them lovingly, brightening them up no end with her lipsticky kisses. It's brought some eye-popping combinations - magenta and orange anyone? (this one when she wrapped herself around a neighbouring Californian poppy. It looked sensational).

Magenta pink isn't usually my thing, but Ann does it so well, and somehow it just looks right, giving the border real pizazz week after week. Hardy geraniums are generally good do-ers, and the fact that this one has managed to survive three years of suffocation and still come through it smiling her head off is testament to just how tough she is. I haven't watered, cut back, or in any way given her the attention she so clearly deserves - yet she rewards me with this. I think it means she's forgiven me, so I'll make it up to her with lots of TLC from now on.

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