Monday, 24 March 2014

Another discovery

On another of our walks around York I discovered a wonderful little garden,
completely new to me. Tucked away behind a high wall and backing onto the ancient city walls it looks absolutely amazing.

Not the best time of year to visit and closed on Sundays I managed to get a great view from the walls. It lies outside St Anthony's Hall on Peasholme Green.

The entrance is through a metal gate on the far side of the photo.

It does not appear to have a designated website so this is the best link I could find.

I think the impact comes from its size, which is unbelievable given the central site.
I viewed it from the walls and could not believe how, from the far side, it is totally hidden from passers by. It's a little oasis in what is a very busy routeway into and out of the city centre.

There's plenty of colour, even at this time of year and a terrific collection of hellebores which looked fantastic in the woodland area.

Designed and planted as a sensory garden by students from Bishop Burton college in 2010 you really need to get down there and in amongst the plants.

I'm sure its success lies not only in the appeal to those who are visually impaired but to those of us who occasionally need a refuge from everyday hustle and bustle. Just looking at it gave me a sense of calm and peace. And I wasn't even in it.
Excellent job; good design and well executed.

Although it is next to the Quilt Museum it gets only a passing mention on their website.
So if you would like to visit, the directions are here:-

I wonder how many people scurry past this on their way to or from the car parks or shops.

                     Needless to say this is on my "Return visit " list. 

  Preferably when it's open next time!

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Pots and Seeds and Things

So guess what I've got on my window ledge.


So pleased with these and can't wait to use them.

It's been a good garden related week so far. 

Last night was the gardening club with a fantastic turnout for the talk given by

Kim and Rob talked about their gardening achievements of the past 38 years and showed wonderful images of their home and nursery. 

I love the concept of cottage gardening, mixing flowers, herbs and aromatics together.

It was some time after I first started gardening that I realised that what I was doing in my own garden came under this heading.

There is nothing better, or more satisfying, than seeing fantastic plants you've planted, giving of their best and being able to breathe in their scent. 

For me, it's a total fix.

Last night's plants for sale were all organically and ethically produced and absolutely beautiful. Sadly I had to pass on them as I still have no outside space, which should be remedied next month. 

I did however weaken and buy some seeds for sowing later this year.

One packet was the wild blue chicory (Cichorium intybus)  

This reminds me of France, near where we lived. Can you imagine a field full of these glowing in the bright sunshine? Just stunning. 

My other purchases were:- 

An unusual Nasturtium called "Indian Ruby"
exclusive to this nursery.

Image taken from
This I shall have in hanging baskets where it will look great. No doubt some of the flower heads will find their way into my salads. The colour is terrific and I think so much better than the normal orange hued ones.

Together with Lathyrus odorata 'Cuprani' otherwise known as the Italian Wild Sweet Pea.

This I chose because I adore sweet peas. I particularly love these dense deep purple tones contrasting with the lighter mauve. A classic and essential in any cottage garden. 

Such a positive presence and a real show stopper in scent terms.

Another of my favourite cottage garden plants is Alcea Rosea.

The ones on offer last night were Charters Double hollyhocks so a packet of those went in the basket too.

It always annoyed me that, in France especially, these would grow outside gardens, in rubble, in gravel against walls and without any apparent care.

And what annoyed me even more was that they would be rust free. In my garden, that was always problematic - but I'm afraid in spite of all that they remain on my "must have" list. I can forgive them most things!

Maybe a bit of an eclectic collection but they'll all look stunning and smell great.

Our new home has no garden but a small courtyard. Currently this is completely paved apart from a narrow strip of sorry looking soil - all of which will clearly have to change.

So this summer I shall be limited to Nasturtiums in hanging baskets - and maybe the others grown on in pots. 

If I can surround myself with flowers and scents, I shall be very happy.

The makeover will have to wait.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Green is the theme

I think it's about time I made good my promise and wrote about green walls, especially since I now see that M&S have taken this idea on board.

This kind of planting is simply spectacular and I just love it. I think it's one of the greatest gardening achievements since the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. 

M&S are dedicated to incorporating green walls (and roofs) on all new buildings, not just for ecological reasons but on the basis of sound economic sense. 

Both green roofs and walls are instrumental in controlling the climate inside the building and in the greater outdoors  - with reduced internal heating and air conditioning costs, not to mention externally reducing rain runoff and mitigating flooding. 

All this and looking pretty damn good too. Definitely a win win situation.

This is the new Sheffield store. Not just walls but trolley and bike shelters have had the green treatment too.

If you want to read the M&S mission statement on sustainability go to:-

It has a foreword written by the wonderful and wonderfully named Dusty Gedge.

A highly commended strategy. Maybe more stores will follow where M&S lead.

Although not a new idea (the concept dates from 1938) it came to prominence in the late 1980's, in France, being showcased by Patrick Blanc.

For a potted history of the great man himself go to:-

Trained as a botanist, he created a garden at Chaumont sur Loire (the French version of the Chelsea Flower show) in 1994 having first built a trial green wall at the Museum of Science and Industry in Paris in 1988. 

Still experimenting, he went on to refine his ideas and patent his systems.

This is the green wall inside the Hotel Pershing in Paris, built in 2001 and photographed in 2005.

My camera could not capture the sheer size and impact of Blanc's creation

but it still manages to

convey the complexity and scale of 

the planting


impart the magical feel of the space.

His wall still looked good in 2010.

For better imagery and to be totally amazed and impressed look at the hotel's website:

You have to admire the sheer technical skill involved in creating a green wall. The actual mechanics of watering, feeding and maintaining of plants on the vertical is just mind blowing. 

Imagine having to choose the plants for a specific site, designing what will go where and complement its companion and then actually doing the planting.

Not a career for someone who is easily intimidated or suffers from acrophobia. 

When you look at the sheer size of some of his later creations they are just 
logistical nightmares. 

This is the newest 

Aboukir wall Paris

Just look at his planting design

How fantastic. 

And how clever.