Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Whilst we are in a state of flux

Since my back "garden" is a scene of devastation and currently not accessible

over the Bank Holiday weekend I took myself out for a garden fix to Breezy Knees, a nearby garden and nursery.

 Breezy Knees

Based near the unedifyingly named village of Warthill just outside York I was amazed at the size of the site, which covers a massive 15 acres.

As the blurb says, if you were here in January you would know how it got its name. As it was, our visit was blessed with sunshine, just enough to keep us warm, whilst the wind certainly found its way around the tree and shrub screening which was started in 1999.

High summer and autumn perennials

The site is very flat, being in the vale of York, and has sandy soil. The nursery swears by a deep mulch of bark to help retain moisture and there is ample evidence that this works brilliantly. 

Hard to believe the oldest flower borders date from 2006.

A policy of not watering established plants, essentially following the dictum of Beth Chatto is practiced and one which I heartily endorse.

September garden

Each space has its own particular attraction, either plant or water, or sometimes both

Pond and shade garden

which gives an individual and distinctive ambience.
Perennial Meadow

It is a maze of interconnecting rooms and scenes, with seats conveniently placed to sit and enjoy the sights of early flowerers, meadows, and autumn bloomers. 

There are plenty of plants to tempt both nectar lovers and humans.

 And some perennials I had never come across.

Chelone obliqua
Amsonia Blue Ice 

Surely the piece de resistance of any garden visit is tea and cake - and this wins on that score too.

Happy garden visiting!

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

This is a brilliant place to go on a sunny summer's day. Or any other day for that matter.

Reclining Figure Arch Leg Henry Moore 1979

It's the kind of place where the adults can have a culture fix in an informal and outdoor setting and where young children can run around, let off steam and upset no-one but the sheep.

Draped Seated Woman Henry Moore 1957-1958

Most of the exhibits here are begging for a response: to be touched, stroked and peeped through. 

Part of the Family of Man by Dame Barbara Hepworth

Fascinating to watch the interaction of adult and child alike.

Black Mound David Nash 2013

One and Other Antony Gormley 2000

This is just amazing.

Stand back, look skywards and admire.

Simply sublime.

The scale of the works is so in tune with the rolling Yorkshire landscape that it was a stroke of sheer genius to choose this site as an open air gallery.

No boundaries, other than the earth, sky and elements fetter these pieces.

So many stunning pieces, created from a wide range of materiels.

Molecule Man 1+1+1 Jonathan Borofsky

"Ha-Ha Bridge" Brian Fell

Iron Tree sculpture Ai Weiwei

123454321 Sol LeWitt

Galloping Horse Julian Opie

Peter Liversidge


 Take a picnic - but beware of the sheep.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

What to do when it rains?

Well, it seems as though our lovely long run of sunny weather has at last broken.

Friday lunchtime in the centre of York saw a downpour of epic proportions. 

At the time I was in the garden where I volunteer and at first thought the cloud burst would blow over.

Not so. 

Visibility decreased to the extent I could not see the end of the garden and by the time I got indoors I was absolutely drenched to the skin, despite wearing a waterproof. Not much fun going home on the bus!

York Press:
Local photos give some idea of the scale of the rain.

Then Saturday arrived, and departed, all bright and sunny, which was lovely.

Today is the monsoon again, dark and raining like mad, so indoors, curled up with my gardening mags.

Time to read, make lists of interesting plants and places to go.

Wonder if the builder will turn up tomorrow?


Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Update on seeds

The seeds which I bought from Cottage Herbery in March

all germinated beautifully and as one may expect I had not enough planting space for them all.

trayful of small gorgeous wild blue chicory (Cichoricum Intybus) plants became part of a birthday gift to one of my friends for her to sow in her meadow area.

I know the sowing instructions said to set seed in situ but hey ho, some rules are just meant to be broken.

Besides, I wouldn't have had the enjoyment of raising them. 
My treat too!

She is however an expert plantswoman so they are in safe hands. I'm sure they'll all take and give a superb display. 

 The other plant she wanted was Lathyrus odorata 'Cuprani' so a small pot of these accompanied the wild chicory. 

Finally, a copy of Beth Chatto's Gravel Garden book 

Beth Chatto's Gravel Garden

completed the gift which I think will see her through for another year.

In my own garden the rest of the new plantings has taken a beating from aphid and caterpillar infestation.

Although the sweet peas and Nasturtium 'Indian Red'

 have resisted the ravages I'm particularly worried about Mrs Cholmondeley who I think has come down with the dreaded clematis wilt.

Having taken the RHS advice to remove all infected foliage and destroy I have cut it back to the ground and hope it will recover. 

Counselling has been offered to my husband who chose the plant. 

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Tatton Park

Not been to Tatton Park for some years so decided this year to take a look.

Last Sunday was a super summer's day and with my planty minded friends we were determined to have a good day out.

For the first time I invested in a privileged parking ticket which at £5 was money well spent. We arrived, having left home at 7am, at 9.30am on the third row of cars just outside the Deer Park entrance. Magic!

There was plenty of staff to speed our way in and off we went.

My target was the show gardens all of which I managed to see by lunchtime.
A bit disappointing really with only one, Maggies Forest Garden, looking how I felt an RHS show garden should look. It had a strong design, good use of the space and a cohesive planting scheme.

It was well executed and planted and deserved the Best Show Garden.

Although surrounded by lots of people you could feel the calmness and comfort exuding from this space and joy of joys, it included a green roof.

Staged planting in raised beds and a window to look out of or in through gave this garden great flexibility of use.

 The soothing notes of the water course added to the ambience.

Really liked this garden.

The rest I found a little uninspiring and on occasion downright mediocre.

But a great carnival atmosphere prevailed and with the sunshine ensured that everyone had a good day out.

Especially the folk who staggered out with plants at the sell off!

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Getting there

Been busy doing brick wall and fencing for back yard at home. Not finished yet but getting there. 
All of the wall finished and two thirds of the fence.

Five extra courses of bricks to give the plants a fighting chance. Although this may all change when the courtyard is dug up to route the new drain.

But why does every job always seem to take longer than you think it will?
Notwithstanding the peculiar weather - our efforts have been intermittent. 

Rain and then hot sun, the yard faces south east and gets plenty of everything. 

Here's the fencing above for the climbers - plants (a Rambling Rector rose, a Mrs Cholmondeley and a Warszawska Nike clematis) are in. I do think next door's cat currently uses it as an assault course but with a little luck next year we shall have a green barrier too dense to scale.

I've protected and painted the fencing with a coloured preservative to match the brickwork so the fence and the bricks tone in and the effect is visually co-ordinated.

In small areas it's important not to get too many different colours or materials or the area looks even tinier.

Use the KISS rule - "Keep It Simple Stupid".

Some new plants (Echinacea Purpurea 'Bressingham hybrids') now flowering and giving life to the space.

With the usual potted violas, pelargoniums, bacopa, trailing lobelia and ivy moved around to suit the mood.

We have cut and come again lettuce (in a window box) 

and spinach in a bucket/basket with other vegetables ready to harvest. 

The potatoes are in a dustbin,

 the tomatoes in a recycling box, 

the courgettes, peppers and chillies in growbags. 

Small space but good to sit in, relax and enjoy the fruits of one's labours.

And maybe have a glass of wine?

Thursday, 3 July 2014

You can garden anywhere

To prove this statement take a look at 

What can be more challenging or difficult than to grow organic vegetables in the middle of Kings Cross?

Skip Garden Project 12-b
Image credit http://www.globalgeneration.org.uk/

Involve young people?

Run a small cafe on site?

Skip Garden Cafe hatch-b
Image credit http://www.globalgeneration.org.uk/

And sell some of the produce to a nearby restaurant, the Caravan?

The Skip Garden is housed in the area marked "Under construction" and is moved according to work requirements.

The ethos of this garden is as ambitious as the mix of mature volunteers and youngsters aged from 14 - 19 years old. 

Inner city kids are hard pushed to get to grips with "Nature" let alone try gardening. 

The fact that Global Generation seems to have found a key to attracting youth interest and then linking their involvement and commitment to an end academic qualification is genius.

A Business and Sustainability BTEC is not all the participants come away with.

The joy of growing one's own organic salads and vegetables from seed, and then eating eating them is a real achievement which needs commitment, consistency and patience. 

Quintessential gardening.

Fresh from the Kitchen 4
Image credit http://www.globalgeneration.org.uk/

Add to this the knowledge that a career can be made from selling the fruits of your labour and that is one very valuable lesson.

Doing something you love and feel passionate about for a living is a joy.


Monday, 23 June 2014

Gresgarth Hall

I've been on a bit of a garden treat fest so far this year so brace yourself for another ecstatic post of a stunning garden.

Gresgarth Hall in Lancashire is the home of Arabella Lennox-Boyd, a many times award winning garden designer.

Not perhaps one of the better known gardens and still a private home it has Artle Beck running through the grounds, which is used to great effect.

Where to begin with this garden?

Stunning vistas, superb planting, artfully created focal points, magnificent garden rooms - and that's just for starters. Every design artifice known to garden designers has been employed - and to enviable effect.

Beautifully crafted and executed it is simply a dream.

On a small scale the detail given to plant choices - ensuring compatibility with the site, its neighbour, colour, form and texture is just mind blowingly brilliant.

Just look at these combinations and counterpoints.

   And how about this for a display of candelabra primulas.

 A fantastic Abutilon vitifolium "Tennants White" which can only be described at best half hardy stood 5m tall near the lake.

In a very wet Lancashire, in May, it defied description.

This is not a "Go if you can Garden".

It's a Must. 

Go and see - and marvel.