Friday, February 27, 2009

Perfect partners #2

Cornus alba 'Sibirica' and Hamamelis x intermedia 'Pallida' lighting up a corner on a gloomy February day at Capel Manor's gardens in Enfield, London, underplanted with Erica x darleyensis 'Silberschmelze'.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Identity parade #4

Right, that's enough holidaying. Back to school.

(and I'll try to post about something else in between times otherwise this is going to become the plant ident blog....)

A word of warning - there's no theme this time and the examples we were given were utter pants, especially since most were bulbs and had mostly turned into sad little droops of slime long before we got to look at them. So one or two I've had to re-photograph from my own garden :D






Have fun!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Identity parade #3: the answers!

There were only two you didn't get in the end, so congrats to VP, Alice and Anna for your stalwart efforts. Here are the ones that foxed you to the last:

No. 1 was the diminutive Cornus sericea 'Kelseyi' - it often seems to be named as 'Kelsey Dwarf' (as it was at this nursery), wrongly I believe. Anyway, it's a twiggy shrub about 60cm high and though not as colourful as its cousins in the dogwood family, it has an almost grass-like effect planted en masse and is quite lovely.

No. 5 many of you realised was a Phormium - but I needed the cultivar. It is in fact Phormium 'Sundowner' - a heady mix of purple, pink and slate-green but one of the nicer of the pinkish phormiums and not quite as garish as many of them seem to be.

That's it for now, and you get a holiday this week as it's half-term! Back next week with some more fiendish foliage for you to ponder over :D

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Tagging along with VP

Couldn't resist this one - VP has invited everyone to join in with a great meme where you get to fish about in your photo folders and post whatever photo is the fourth photo in the fourth folder that comes up.

So here it is. Funnily enough, it's a garden....

To be more precise, it's The Old Croft, a rather lovely garden on Holmwood Common near Dorking which opens under the National Gardens Scheme. We go there every year because they have a fabby swing hanging on very long ropes from their very large and venerable oak (I think) tree which if you get it going fast enough soars thrillingly over the lake. So the girls have a great time and so do I (not on the swing, I hasten to add - far too vertiginous for me). This is the planting in a boggy bit by the lake - they do a lot of this pink-and-orange colour scheme in that bit of the garden, which sounds horrific but is actually stunning in the sunshine. There's a bamboo maze and a hosta garden and... oh... all sorts of things.

I took the photo as part of an attempt to get a magazine to publish an article on it when I first started writing, back in 2006 (my photo folders really need clearing out). Encouraging noises to begin with but then the ed said no in the end. Not sure if it was me or my photos that put her off!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Identity parade #3

You got all the answers last week, so very well done to all who guessed right. We've been at a wholesale nursery, Rochfords, this week looking through their winter stock (generally a fine place, and I was particularly impressed that they do fruit bushes and trees as well as the usual suspects): so our plant idents came from container-grown plants waiting for sale.

Here goes:


(it's only about 2ft high and has a lot in common with the answers to (2) and (3))


3. (it's not the obvious cultivar - look closely at the stem colour)

4. (this shrub was inside the polytunnels and those flower buds open yellow)

5. You should be able to take a stab at nos 2 and 5 without any help from me. Enjoy!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Little rays of sunshine

Amid all the misery of slush and cold, and now torrential rain and flooding, this is what's keeping me going.

I was given these lovely things at the Garden Press Day in London last week by those nice people at Taylor's Bulbs. They started opening the very next day and are now flooding my dining room with perfume. The variety is 'Jack the Lad' - and they're cheering me up no end.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Wrestling wisteria

Look what I took on this week...

Actually I shouldn't have taken it on at all, being as I'm hopelessly overloaded with work already, but when you're offered the chance to garden at a 16th-century house which happens to contain the village museum, and it's got a wisteria on the front that's at least 60 years old, probably older, then I ask you - how can you possibly resist?

The owner told me she hadn't been able to see out of her bedroom windows for a while, and I'll admit to being a little nervous.

Four hours later... this is how it looked. In the end it wasn't too difficult, just time-consuming: I worked my way along all those main branches and took back every side shoot to about 2-3 buds, though I went easy on those which were obviously about to flower so the owner would have a little bit to look forward to this spring. As I said to her, once I've given it its summer pruning too, it'll be back under control, and with luck and a following wind, it'll be smothered in flowers next year. And she'll be able to see out of her windows, too!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Identity parade #2

Well you could have been a little bit braver last week. Just one of you had a go at (correctly) guessing just one of the plants. Well done Anna. Here, for the rest of you, are the answers:

1. Hedera helix 'Congesta': upright form of ivy that grows like a shrub, to about 60cm high. Forms a very neat bush of dark green arrowhead-shaped leaves - but it's quite hard to get hold of.

2. Hedera helix 'Parsley Crested', which used to be called H. h. 'Cristata', just to be annoying (that's the name I knew it by). Lovely crinkly-edged margins to the leaves, and grows to about 2m.

3. Hedera colchica 'Sulphur Heart', which again went by another name once upon a time: this was H. c. 'Paddy's Pride'. This is a young shoot: the mature leaves are about 8" long plus and big, floppy, ungainly things.

4. As Anna correctly guessed, this is Chimonanthus praecox - aka wintersweet.

5. And the last ivy: Hedera helix 'Oro di Bogliasco', an eye-catching if not eye-boggling combination of red stem, and yellow-and-green leaves. It's got a neat habit but it's a bit ... erm... bright.

On to this week's, and we got away from the twigs-on-desktops vibe and actually got outside for once. They aren't quite so difficult this time, either, so I'm not giving you a clue apart from the last one which I hadn't even heard of before, let alone grown. As a general clue: just remember all these plants are flowering now.

1. 2.
5. (clue: it's evergreen, it has those little yellow flowers all winter, and it's a neat little shrub about 2ft tall. )

Enjoy :D

Monday, February 02, 2009

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow....

It's no good - I can't resist. Gotta show you my snow pictures.

Wisley up the road recorded 12" last night, and I think we're up to about 16-18" now. It's the most snow we've had in 18 years (which explains, to you Yanks who regularly hit the two-metre line, why we're getting so excited about it).

All the cardoon seedheads are wearing white bearskins.

Underneath here somewhere are my patio pots.

And Bob (our resident Roman Emperor) is wearing some very natty headgear.

The pond has stayed clear - just.

And as you can see, it's still snowing. Hard. Allotment Dog is not impressed, though he does keep trying to eat it (just in case, you understand) and has a good line in snow somersaults.

Butterflies at Wisley

It's snowing (again) outside as I write, but I'm still basking in the glow of a day spent in the toasty warm glasshouse at Wisley. It wasn't just any old day, either: they've released 3,500 butterflies into the Tropical Zone, where they're fluttering around among the plants and landing on peoples' heads. It's absolutely magical: the girls were captivated, as was I. I took far too many photos than I should - here are a few of them:

We couldn't drag the children away, and had a hard job leaving ourselves (a man comes round at about 4pm ringing his bell and shouting "Time, ladies and gentlemen, please!" No beer on offer, sadly.) The event runs until 22nd February, so get yourselves down there before they've all fluttered away to a better place.

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