Monday, 24 December 2012

12 days of Christmas (aka some things I would like next year please)

Season’s greetings, Happy Christmas happy winter equinox and all that stuff....apologies for being a bad blogger. I continue to wander the garden not much is going on beyond a balance of clearing/tidying and leaving enough debris for overwintering wildlife. I’m also peering at a lot of things as I seemingly want to move everything round as lots of stuff is quite close together. This isn’t quite on the same scale as my textile designer neighbor who plants so densely that his gardener used to despair, however I do need to move things. Any tips on how to move a 15ft Paulownia?
This sums up Christmas at Pankhurst towers...
So it’s the end of the year far I’m only half stuffed...this may be due to Lidl selling out of mini extra butter marzipan stollen, however the Xmas gluttony begins, and a big thank you to my cousin for hosting our family get together yesterday. It was particularly amusing watching his children immediately open their present of face paints from my brother...he had meant this as a time bomb to be opened when he was well clear of the house but he ended up being straight in the line of fire. Unfortunately Lottie’s attempts to make him look like a panda mainly involved smearing his face with black paints leaving him looking like a cross between a black and white minstrel and Diana Ross...

Anyway onto festive stuff and I thought I would come up with my own rendition of the 12 days of Christmas as a I figured Steven is probably still stressing about what to buy me so here is an aspirational list of things anyone can get me for the garden in 2013

On the first day of Christmas my true love bought for me

A parakeet in a Scheffera macrophylla tree: This is still the must have for all tropical garden enthusiasts as it is so tropical looking, unique and rare (I still think you can only get it from Crug for about £100+) I’ve only asked for 1 as I’m not convinced how easy they are to grow...I did have one and used to gaze at its large svelt leaves, however it suddenly died in may a couple of years ago. I also think Will Giles’s one died 1 will be enough, thank you! Parkeet wise I’m also doing ok as they are continuing to spread across the UK and how regular visitor in the garden

2 temple guardians (from Bali) I still swoon for Balinese sculpture and loved their guardians.....failing this I would also settle for a couple of Lions. I think everyone needs a grand entrance....

3 completely hardy Cyathea medularis....the love for tree ferns continues and I have a feeling that my heartbreak this winter will be for killing yet another Cyathea medualris. I think I mainly killed one last year from it drying out, so fingers crossed this year it will survive in the greenhouse. I was also inspired from posts from a Dutch gardener about his surviving outside.

4 huge stone water jars.... you see these all over Asia, huge pots where they would keep water for the house, now mainly decorative....sometimes about 3-6ft tall. I love!

5x 10ft plus Trachycarpus (mixed species) ok ok I already have about 2 large T. 5yrs in the ground one which seems to have suddenly found its stride and is growing 1ft a year, however the other 9 are still small and I am very impatient and need huge forests now! My T. Princepts, nova and others are also still in 2litre pots. Grow my pretties, grow....

6  meter square pond (like Mark and Gaz)....for people who don’t follow their blog they have had an epic project to build a Koi pond which seems almost finished after 18 months??? Of planning and creating....these 2 have the patience of saints, and what promises to be a fabulous pond! So yes if they want to come and build one here that would be great!

£7 (000!) of vouchers for Crug Plants. Still the most exciting nursery around for me, although this year I have also used, and liked, Hart Cannas and Cotswold garden flowers a great deal

8 (00) meters of irrigation system.....I think this could be the way forward as this is the one main thing that could make a huge difference to the garden. However I’m not actually a massive fan of gardens that need lots of water to survive and prefer a balance of plants that can fend for themselves and are just topped up if there is a very dry spell....but I have seen how good irrigation systems reduce the amount of water compared to using a hose. What I love is the work around rain gardens which is where you collect and store rain runoff to reuse with planting that copes with varying conditions. Writing this it looks very simple and sounds like you just need a water butt, but no, look it is exciting gardening developments

9 jars of honey: I had a total of 4.5 jars of honey this year, so 9 would be rather nice next year! This was a bad year for bee keepers and yields of honey in London are down by 80%... So doubling my yield and having my ladies get through winter would be rather nice

10 meters of mature bamboo screening....I saw something recently where someone said bamboos go through a cycle of sulking, rooting and shooting which I can believe as last year they began to look better and I have aspirations for the next year. However 10 more meters of mature 10ft plus screening would be good to hide the neighbors as how can you do nudey sunbathing with all your neighbors watching?

11 meters square of Thai style sala/pavilion complete with hot Thai massage guys and a gamelan orchestra: Well one can dream!
This kind of thing would do just nice...
12 shipping containers of Balinese stuff...and a trip back to Bali to supervise it. Ok so this was number 2, but there is so much stuff in Bali that I like that I need at least 12 shipping containers, the sculpture, carvings, umbrellas, pots, design stuff, banners, wall carvings..I want it all!

All these carvings are just waiting for me in Bali..I want I want I want!

So that is my dream for next year, Steven if you could arrange all that it would be great!

So a ho ho ho to everyone, and I hope your own wish lists come true!

Friday, 30 November 2012

First frosts

Its cold....I'm wearing woolly hats on the bus on the way home and have cravings for heavy hearty food. OK so its not exactly that cold, and I am a bit of a weed, but today was the day where we had the first frost that I actually noticed and which has damaged plants

I wandered into the garden where it was crisp underfoot with a bit of ice on the pond, with the Cannas I haven't yet got to looking rather blackened. Part of it was nice as I like the crispness of the morning and as the seasons turn you can feel the renewal and what is coming more.

I know the RHS says don't tread on frosty grass, but screw that I like the crunch! Everything was also looking rather special with its light frosting of ice..

The tree Dahlias are huge and about to flower, but I think the frosts will beat them. This one is still standing tall

However this one looks to be asking to be put out of its misery....the winds blew it over a few weeks ago but it continues to grow but looks rather sad

This is also it for the ricinus....adeiu! generally it has been a disappointing year for this lot as they are only about 5ft when they should be 8ft!

The salvias are still hanging on.....
 Hedychium densiflora does autumn well... about 7ft but days are numbered
 Lily grass....I have been a proper gardener and potted some up for next year where a new army will take over

 I feel sorry for the giant echiums which are still growing loads....I have about 12 spread around so I hope at least one will flower
 Rubus linifolia
 Clerodenron berrys....

and at least the salvia on the terrace is finally flowering!

Keep warm!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Bali: plants and jungle part 2

There is just so much fabulousness in Bali that it deserved two posts.......

The following is Tirta Gangga...a water palace in West Bali built around a holy spring. A very scenic series of lakes and fountains

i had no idea what these large plants were as they appeared to be some type of aroid pretending to be a banana tree...

If only lotus's could grow properly in the UK....

Scenic old gateway slowly decaying into the jungle

Meru at the mother temple.....the black thatch that they use for temples actually comes from a palm tree (sugar palm?). I just love the huge Cyathea? that is growing alongside it

 Lots of natural jungle alongside a sacred lake in the centre of Bali

There are lots of huge trees....check out the epiphytes which include a lot of birds nest ferns

Huge buttress roots and lots of banana trees...

Batukau in the middle of Bali....a so called garden temple as it is surrounded by plants and dense jungle....very atmospheric, even in the pouring rain!

more rice fields....swoon!

So I hope that there are things there to inspire....Bali is a fabulous place to visit, I just wish it was closer to the UK!

If you want to read more about Bali plants, design etc do check out a couple of books I like including Balinese gardens (Tettoni/Warren) and also Gathering Places (B Walker/J. Graham) which is more architecturey but rather good and also Architecture of Bali (M Wijaya)

Friday, 16 November 2012

Bali: plants and jungle part 1

I have just got back from a couple of weeks in Bali and this is the first of two posts with lots of pictures of plants and jungle.

It is such an amazing tropical paradise, a real Garden of Eden....everything just seems so fertile, with luscious growth wherever you look. For the tropical garden enthusiast there is lots of inspiration from the plants to sculpture and design as everywhere you look there is beauty.

It is also a very spiritual place with a very strong culture and traditions which is evident in the architecture and day to day life. The island is littered with temples, and each village will have three. Even each house will have shrines and temples with daily offerings being made to the gods, ancestors and demons.

I am also a massive fan of the distinctive sculpture. This is all mainly religious and connected to its own distinctive blend of Hinduism which came over from Java in the 16th Century.  Carvings adorn everything, and there are loads of statues everywhere. To give them power they dress them with sarongs; give them an umbrella and offerings to encourage the gods to visit.  

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the pictures...I will be off down the shops buying lottery tickets so that I can go back and start shipping containers of sculpture and goodies back!
Can I have one of these for above the front door please? These characters were above most temple doors
New ideas for a water feature?

These are durians......king of fruits, but not my cup of tea..they have a 'delightful' cold custard consistency and taste of cheese and onion crisps!


Durian tree flowers

The whole island is quite mountainous with two sacred such the land has these amazing rice terraces

Amazing natural ground cover....cyatheas also grew everywhere, and I saw a good few Amorphophalus (Charles that isn't me being rude, it is a real plant)

Large stone pot of water plantain

Temple in Oberoi hotel......temples are moated as it is about representing mount Meru, sacred home of the gods

Mother temple