Saturday, 28 July 2012

Jamica meets Clapham

The fabulous Wayne looking quite the garden gent!
Last weekend I had the pleasure of visiting Waynes garden, someone I know through work and who has been on that rollercoaster ride of opening for NGS for the first time. Seeing his  journey was very reminiscent of last year with a very familiar panic of ‘will anyone come, will they hate it’

He had also spoken a lot about how all his friends hated it, however I began to wonder how ‘terrible’ his garden was when he said a few weeks ago how ‘some person’ had been to write a story for the Independent on Saturday. This person turned out to be Anna Pavord (the famous garden journalist and author) and he ended up getting quite a write up! See his story.
So we went, and his garden was absolutely fabulous and not at all what I was expecting. The aspect was special as it was on quite a hill with a big height difference between him and his neighbour. I have also never seen a garden so full of plants..... the ground was all planted, however between plants were a lot of pots, with stands nearer the fence to have even more pots. It really shows how much you can fit into a small garden. Fabulous tropical plants with a grove of bananas and a stately tree fern, and tall cylindrical trees.
Design wise, although the garden was a typical long and thin London garden it also headed towards a circular lawn at the back which acted like a kind of amphitheatre, making the garden feel very open and airy.
Watering wise I don’t envy the article is says how he gets up at 4:30 every day to do the watering before going to the gym for an hour...well dedication is what you need if you want to be a record breaker!

After some fabulous cake (we couldn’t decide what was best so had one of each ) I headed to East Street to look at the fabled plant man who everyone seems to rave about ‘oooh I got these 10 trays of geraniums for £1.50 and he delivered’ Getting there at 2 there was only the dregs (and apparently the ‘good  person’ wasnt there. However it is a great place for cheap plants as I picked up trays of New Guinea Busy Lizzies (£2 for 6 plants) clematis for £2.50 and other fillers for the empty front garden. Do visit if you are local....
We then headed over to Janine’s open garden...... Janine is the fabulous lady who is our volunteer NGS coordinator and who has the difficult job of making sure we all behave whilst finding new people who want to open.
Last year hers was the most organised garden opening I went to (how could it not be) with the end of the garden filled with beautiful arty types, and the house end a well oiled machine of refreshments...she even had someone making sushi all night. However, the gods weren’t smiling and it rained all afternoon... this was ok as I was ensconced under an umbrella with some lovely ladies eating a lot of cake (again couldn’t decide what to have so had one of each).
This year all was sun and wonder and it was great to see things how they should be...Janines garden is a joy to see as it has a great structure with things like regular balls of clipped Pittisporums. I also always like a bit of bunting, bravo!

The sun has of course been shining on us this week after months of rain and cold misery.... I have even worn some shorts, twice! The plants have responded by getting a bit bigger and things are actually looking nice. There is also not loads of work to do and yesterday I came home thinking mmm I will not do any heavy work, but tie up a few things and sit in my hammock admiring the view. Well.....they say its the thought that counts, and although I could do nice potterying things I didn’t quite yet find to sit and enjoy it. Even when I do you notice things...I was sitting by the pond and I slowly noticed a 3ft flowering nettle stem (how did I miss that?!) then next to it was a 4ft sow thistle?! Ug!
Anyway, lots to do, and its almost only a month till my 2nd September opening  (deep breaths). Some other quick things I wanted to talk about
Hops: ug, after tying them up over an arch it looks like I have been self harming as my arms are so scratched/reacting to their evilness. Long sleeves in the hot weather isn’t fun
Guerrilla gardening: I had the great pleasure to properly meet one of Camberwell’s Guerrilla gardeners, one of my new local heroes, although I was disappointed by the lack of hair/gorilla suit
Garden History: I have been entranced by this blog covering historical garden stuff...I especially liked the blogs about giant cabbages.
Fossil Plants: I also love this one too....great primordial looking garden tour
Giant squirrel head feeder..... to be seen to be believed!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Bees and the garden in July

The rain continues to stop play, although there is a promise of warmer and drier weather from the jet stream which is migrating north. On one hand everything is quite lush, however the annuals and more tropical things are sulking.... I am trying to get them to grow faster and have just spread my fourth box of blood, fish and bone in order to make sure when there are good conditions they are super pepped!

I'm a big fan of using blood fish and bone as a fertiliser, although I never really knew was and when I used to go to my Grandmas I was always a little perturbed to see large containers labelled 'blood' and 'bone' but now I know!

Anyway, time for a bit of a garden wander, and advance apologies about plant name spelling....

Banana rising tall above Canna musifolia which are the only ones of my cannas to be growing well. Also the foliage of Iris confusa with Persicaria red dragon in the foreground with a magenta spot of Geranium Red Admiral.

Arundodonax above the Clerodenron. Creeping Jenny as groundcover taking over with Knipfolia caulescens making a stand before it is enveloped by Tithonia and Dahlias...

Behind the pond....the brick edge merging into the garden as creeping jenny invades and water forget-me-not's fill in the gaps. Physygelius flowering away and the background very lush from all the rain

This is a new project as Steven pointed out how I was putting the wood everywhere and it was loosing impact, so I created a screen which I hope will be covered with Ipomea rising above a sea of pumpkins, however the slugs/pigeons have other plans...

Now i am an expert builder and can do concrete and other butch stuff I have cemented the top of my mound/lookout post/neolithic burial mound and am attempting to plant it with succulents, and the Pitcairn bromeliad which I remember seeing a picture of growing on Chritopher Lloyds roof, so I figure it doesn't need much soil. Fingers crossed....
This was a bit of a plastic looking Physygelius which I bought in Brum last year and has survived, but doesn't seem to be the rampant beast the others are. Quite a remarkable colour

 Nigelica hispanica...currently self seeding all over with an eye to garden domination

 Every one likes a red hot poker?!
Crocosmia lucifer.... common but fabulous. so vibrant, and the leaves look good too

The advantage of still being a bad vegetable grower is that I can see things flower....this is chicory which threw out wonderfully odd architectural flower spikes followed by these blue flowers
Clary sage which has happily self seeded all around...I like it as it is a little unusual, but struggle using it as a cut flower, which I bought the seeds for as the stems are a little small
 Bees fighting for the opium poppy's...there are 4 of them in Victorian sailors looking for Opium in London's East end!
 C'est moi! modelling all the latest in bee wear and holding up a good frame of bees.... you can see the brood (babys waiting to hatch) in the middle and lower bit with capped honey all round the edge
  a better look at the brood...if only the other hives were behaving like this. Don't even ask about honey, it ain't happening this year and is far cheaper if you get it hand delivered from Fortnums.....

 And this is the problem at the mo...evil slugs and snails. This is a dahlia that they seem to love, and can hardly get out the ground despite organic pellets, patrolling and trying to catch them overnight in dustbin lids.

The shoo fly plant below is a victim of an overnight hit and run....

Happy gardening!

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Hampton Court Flower Show

On Tuesday I went to the Hampton Court Flower Show. I didn’t quite know what to expect as I had never been on an RHS members day (usually I go with the rest of the hoi polloi on the weekend). It was also rather wet, and as I left the flat with my pink trolly and umbrella Steven did suggest I also take my pink poncho in case of torrents...
I was going with Peter, as we are developing a civilised habit of visiting plant shows together...the last one being Brum last year where we both encouraged each other to buy everything! This year was similar although whenever I turned my back Peter seemed to have grabbed an armful of plants and have his card out to buy...
We didn’t get in until 4, as we had 3pm tickets and traffic was grim, however I had managed to get into Hampton Court Palace for a wander which was very civilised.....the gardens at the palace are well worth checking out in themselves, although it’s not quite as big as I remember as a 10yr old on school trips....
I always like Hampton Court as it is big, the show gardens have improved year on year, and it is a great buying opportunity (you can’t buy plants at Chelsea).
I think I need my sunglasses...
The theme seemed to be all about relaxing in a sunken/naturalistic surround with a green and white colour palate as this is what a lot of the show gardens seemed to be like. Being more of a foliage person I was happy as there was lots of green everywhere, however I don’t think it had the same impact as last year as there were some really memorable gardens like the fabulous Thai Klong one.  The show also seemed a bit smaller, with less exhibitors, however this could just have been me.
Everyone needs a conceptual garden

I liked these bottles,an easy thing to do....just try and avoid your neighbours thinking you are a wino

Green walls are still the in vogue thing to have

Have a volcanic vent in your garden? now you know what to do!

The highlight for me is always the floral marquee and it didn’t disappoint. Loads of different nurseries with a very high spec. I felt quite controlled and didn’t buy that much stuff (well beyond a trolley full including a tropical looking water lily, another Dahlia Imperialis to pad things out, a giant Crocosmia, Aralia elator, a quirky persicaria and saxifrage, and Physygelius ‘devils tears’)
Gorgeous Cannas *swoon*

The Dahlias are appealing to my inner Barbara Cartland..... huge blooms and solves the problem of flower arranging as you just put one in a vase!
So a good day and chance to be inspired, buy buy, buy and drink the most expensive Pimms in the world. Now I just need to find a home for the plants!

The other bit of the show, such as the flower arranging and roses was not particulalrly to my taste, but it did fill me with merriment 


I thought this was a giant cat from a distance but it was a wedding dress!

Something for your front lawn?

Finally a few pictures from my own garden taken by the fabulous Sue who is a very talented designer and photographer!