A disaster called Doris

The weather in the UK is generally rather benign. However, on Thursday a storm described as a weather bomb was predicted to cross the country. The storm was called “Doris”.

A weather bomb is an intense low-pressure system with a central pressure that falls by 24 millibars in a 24-hour period. There are around 60 weather bombs globally each year, although they are infrequent in the UK.

The Met Office extended its amber – be prepared – warning covering Wales and much of England to London, where winds were expected to reach 60-70mph. It said damage to structures, interruptions to power supplies and widespread disruption to travel networks were likely, and there was a danger of injury from flying debris. Trees were likely to be damaged or blown over, it said.215842Glebe House is just into area one and we were expecting high winds. The garden is very exposed to the south west, the direction we would expect the wind to come from.

17_02_24_4998The predictions were right with an old apple tree losing a significant branch.17_02_24_4992On inspection it is probably worse with a second branch being split and almost certain to be lost.The tree is an old apple tree and had a splendid Rosa Rambling Rector growing up it. 17_02_24_4993Actually the rambling Rector was part of the issue as it made the tree too top heavy.

This is a significant loss to the garden.2010_20100624_505This is the tree in June with Rambling Rector looking incredible.16_12_29_4619And in winter the tree was a real focal point.

So, out with the chain saw this weekend and we will see what it looks like with the broken branches removed. The apple tree was old and dying off in places so I suspect it is going to have to be removed completely. There then remains the question of what to do next!

17_02_21_4966On a much happier note we had two other annual visitors.Each year Mallard Ducks turn up in the garden looking for good nest sites. Some years they have been successful and reared a batch of chicks. They then disappear from the garden only to be back the following year.

She is going to have to decide which of the men she likes best!

Gardening Hours
This week Total since June 19th Average per week
8 558 16

In a vase on Monday – Mumbai


Just returned form India and stayed a couple of nights at the Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai. As is typical of hotels in Asia the floral displays in their reception are outstanding and this was no exception.

With my thanks to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for hosting this meme.  Do visit her to see masses of other vases to fill you with joy on Monday.

Neeleshwar Hermitage Garden

17_02_07_4838For the last three weeks we have been away from Glebe House staying in the Neeleshwar Hermitage Hotel in Kerala, South India. Neeleshwar Hermitage is hybrid of a boutique hotel and an Ayurvedic wellness centre. Its 18 palm roofed villas are scattered across the garden, their porches cooled by spinning ceiling fans, and at the rear of each is a large outdoor bathroom with a tub set in a small walled garden. At the seafood restaurant, tables spill out into the beach.17_02_06_4823 I often think that a the percentage of guests who have stayed before is a good measure of how good a hotel is. This was our third visit and I would estimate that 50%of the guests had been before. This is despite the fact that it is not an easy hotel to get to. We flow from London Heathrow to Mumbai, then from Mumbai to Mangaluru and finally a two and a half hour car ride!17_02_10_4901We first stayed about six years ago when the Hermitage was relatively new. Since then the gardens surrounding the villas has grown significantly and are still being developed.17_02_10_4886Being next to the beach the soil is very sandy and unless watered plants soon dry out. At this time of year the temperature is typically 33c with no rainfall.17_02_10_4904The gardener explained that they plan to clear this area of dried up plants and plant the area with pineapple plants which would then provide fruit for the restaurant. Needless to say in this temperature I did not volunteer to help him.17_02_09_4870The garden is kept alive watering and the cattle egrets love it as the water brings the insects out.17_02_10_4903Around the garden  there are a number of small pools which as well as providing attractive features bring more wildlife to the garden.17_02_07_484117_02_10_488917_02_12_4921This part of the Kerala coast is very underdeveloped and the wildlife is stunning.17_02_12_491717_02_09_4859

The garden is by its location a tropical garden and the following is a selection of plants flowering when we were there.

The other feature worth mentioning is the swimming pool.17_02_15_4952The pool has become part of the garden as well as providing a fantastic amenity for guests.17_02_15_4954At 7 o’clock in the morning the air temperature was around 26c and the water was perfect for a swim looking out over the infinity edge to the beach.

We have now had 13 holidays in India and have traveled over much of the sub-continent. This trip was purly for winter sun and relaxation and the Neeleshwar Hermitage delivered 100%.

Glebe House Garden

No work on the garden for the last few weeks. We arrived home late last night. However, I was very pleased to see a bed full of snowdrops this morning.

Gardening Hours
This week Total since June 19th Average per week
0 550 16

Itea ilicifolia “holly-leaved sweet spire”: a shrub for all seasons

As spring progresses I thought I would profile a plant seldom seen but definitely worth considering,  Itea ilicifolia also called “Holly-leaved sweet spire”.16_08_07_3126Itea belongs to the Grossulariaceae to which Escallonia and Ribes also belong. There are fifteen species of Itea – fourteen from East Asia and one deciduous species from North America – Itea virginica. They are useful shade loving shrubs or small trees.


Itea on 7th August

Itea ilicifolia as its name suggests has holly-like leaves. They are dark glossy green. The flowers are produced in abundance in narrow, pendulous, catkin-like racemes, up to 12″ (30cm) long. The flowers are tiny and densely packed; greenish-white in colour; and fragrant – a hint of honey scent. Flowering starts in mid summer and will continue well into autumn.


Itea on July 16th prior to flowering

Itea ilicifolia was introduced by Augustine Henry from Yichang on the Yangtze in central China, in a package to Lord Kesteven who flowered it first in 1895. Bean mentions that the earlier introductions needed wall shelter at Kew. Whether more recent acquisitions such as the Ernest Wilson’s collection, are from a higher altitude, or whether global warming is being demonstrated here, as Itea ilicifolia is becoming a plant more of borders than needing wall protection nowadays. Wall shelter is nevertheless advised in colder and/or exposed situations in eastern counties. 16_08_07_3121Rather lax in habit, Itea ilicifolia is most often grown and trained against a wall where the reflected heat encourages more flowers and better growth, although in warmer parts of the U.K., Itea ilicifolia grows to be a striking standalone plant.


Itea on 25th January 2017

Summer cuttings of the current years shoots can be taken about July or early August and placed in a sandy open compost in a cool frame – minimum 5° (40°F), damp, and in a well lit atmosphere, should root overwinter. It is widely available from nurseries.

An alternative would be Garrya elliptica the silk tassel bush17_01_25_4682There is no doubt that Garrya can make a striking small bush and also has similar tassels.17_01_25_4683However when grown against a wall and requiring pruning to shape I fine the tassels are considerably reduced in numbers.17_01_25_4684Furthermore the leaves are not as clean and glossy. The main advantage of Garrya elliptica over Itea ilicifolia is that it will cope with north facing walls.

End of the Month View – January 2017

The following view across the garden is often central to my End of the Month View. See AugustSeptember, and  October .


End of the Month View – October

Now it looks totally different as the winter tidy up takes place and old herbaceous material is removed and some plants completely removed where we have decided a change is due. 17_01_30_4712It  looks completely empty of plants but as my last blog said spring is on its way. You will just have to come back later in the year to see it transformed with tulips and alliums.

17_01_30_4713The rose on the wall has been rehung. Each year they always out grow their space and I find the best solution is often to more or less take them off the wires and try to hang them in a way that their new growth is horizontal. Not always possible!  At the same time and dead growth can be pruned out. If you look at the view in October  you can see the extent of the new growth that had to be tamed. We have also removed some Cephalaria Gigentea.

Cephalaria Gigentea is quite nice when it is flowering but this happens early in the summer and then the plant looks a mess and it seeds everywhere. I will be honest we are still thinking about how to replace it. The bed has been mulched with our compost so the spring bulbs will just have to push through this.

17_01_30_4714To the right of the pond there are two roses against the wall Rosa Alister Stella Grey and Rosa Crown Princess Margareta. There is not really enough space here for them but with a bit of help they have been squeezed in. Eventually Alister Stella Grey will grow to the top of the wall.17_01_30_4715Looking back to the pergola the roses Rosa Gloire de Dijon and Rosa Souvenir de la Malmaison growing up the pergola legs have been pruned and generally tidied up. The plastic sheet on the right is where we have a small peach tree and it is to prevent peach leaf curl. It will be covered until May. On the right the roses have yet to be sorted out although they do not look too bad.17_01_30_4716 This is a shot taken in a direction I have often shown:16_09_28_3505It is hard to believe this is the same border!17_01_30_4717Another piece of pruning that has been done can be seen here. The Pyracantha Orange Glow is in the process of being trained horizontally. It is straight forward to do but just takes time. There are three Rosa Jacques Cartier in front of the Pyracantha so later in the year it is not very visible but right now it looks great.

Do have a look at Helen The Patient Gardener’s blog where you fill find links to other gardens at the end of January. Thank you to Helen for hosting this meme.

The weather continues to be foggy and damp restricting the time in the garden. Main activity continues to be cleaning up dead herbaceous leaves etc.

Gardening Hours
This week Total since June 19th Average per week
12 550 17

Signs of Spring

17_01_27_4696Everywhere there are signs that spring is on its way. Snowdrops are beginning to come through all over the garden. The Hakonechloa macra (above) has been cut back to make way for the spring bulbs; snowdrops, crocus and Anemone Nemerosa. Elsewhere the new growth is emerging.

Spring always arrives before we have done all those nagging jobs. The last week the weather has been against us. Either wet or bitterly cold. Nevertheless we did mange 18 hours in the garden; removing dead foliage, pruning roses on the walls and generally tiding things up.

Gardening Hours
This week Total since June 19th Average per week
18 538 17

A trip up the River Chindwin, Myanmar

the-chindwin-7-nightsAt the end of last year we had a long holiday travelling in Myanmar and Thailand. Part of this trip involved travelling by boat up the Chindwin River from Monywa to Homalin which is very close to the Indian border. In order to get as far as Homalin you need to travel during or just after the rainy season. We went in November and by December the water level would have dropped too far for the boat to get up the river. The boat takes you to places that are very remote and away from the normal tourist trail.

With little change in Glebe House Garden this week I thought I would share with you some images from the trip.

Buddha images are everywhere in Myanmar. These ones are in the Moe Hnyin Than Boaddhai Temple which has over five thousand Buddha statues. In fact the walls are lined with little images.

Nearby are the longest (over 100m) reclining and the tallest (125m) standing Buddha in Myanmar.16_11_20_3732The Chindwin River and the boats we traveled on. On this particular trip there were two boats, the nearer one with 8 guests and the further one with 16 guests. The river floods every rainy season (April to October) but even in November the water level had dropped significantly as you can see along the banks.

We were travelling in very rural areas of Myanmar and almost all the women used Thanaka cream. The cream is made from the bark of Thanaka trees which are often being sold in the markets. The bark is then ground into a paste and applied. It has a fragrant scent somewhat similar to sandalwood. The creamy paste is applied to the face in attractive designs, the most common form being a circular patch on each cheek, nose, sometimes made stripey with the fingers known as thanaka bè gya, or patterned in the shape of a leaf, often also highlighting the bridge of the nose with it at the same time. Apart from cosmetic beauty, thanaka also gives a cooling sensation and provides protection from sunburn. It is believed to help remove acne and promote smooth skin.

Many of the villages we visited had there own markets. For me the markets always provide a huge interest as you can see the range and quality of the vegetables and fruit that is being sold. Visiting at the end of that rainy season the range of produce was very different from when we were last here during February.

The river is very important to the local people and provides the main transport for moving produce and people and for everyday living.

The rainy season flood provides new river banks each year that are immediately planted up with crops by the farmers. The crop is often Pigeon peas, both a food crop (dried peas, flour, or green vegetable peas) and a forage/cover crop. In combination with cereals, Pigeon peas make a well-balanced human food. 16_11_25_3981Each village has its own school which we would visit. The schools are often basic but it appears that all the children attend school and many have extra tuition after school hours.16_11_22_3866As tourists were not often visiting we quickly became the centre of attraction whenever we went ashore. 16_11_23_3889Travelling along the river you could never forget you were in Myanmar with temples and stupas along the banks and on the hills.  16_11_26_402416_11_26_4022The markets sold everything for living. Many of the tools were clearly locally made and who would not want a watering can like these!16_11_24_3921I would recommend this trip to anyone who wants to see a bit more of Myanmar than the classic tourist route. The company who run the boats are Pandaw.

Glebe House Garden

The weather this week has not been good for gardening. There is still plenty of tiding to do ready for spring which hopefully will start appearing soon.

Gardening Hours
This week Total since June 19th Average per week
8 530 17

Looking forward to spring and summer

IMG_8263It has been a cold, wet and windy week so I thought I would share with you some of the delights from spring and summer.

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There is lots to look forward to and spring is on its way.

Glebe House Garden

A couple of days in the garden this week. Turned one of the compost bins. An ideal job to keep you warm. The dahlia tubers have been upside down and drying out in the garage. Have potted them up in dry potting compost ready to start them off at the end of February.

Gardening Hours
This week Total since June 19th Average per week
14 512 17

Creating and maintaining a pleached lime hedge

img_1907The pleached lime hedge in full summer splendor and below a week ago. 16_12_29_4654

The hedge was planted about 17 years ago as we were developing the structure of the garden.img060If you get the leaflet from the RHS on pleaching hedges then they suggest putting in metal posts with wires to train the horizontals as they grow. At the time I certainly did not have the time or inclination to set up the wires so I created a  frame using bamboo fixed to the trees themselves. img059Each year the hedge was tied in and, as the trees grow, new bamboo layers were fixed in place to train in the new growth.

The lime trees are Tila platyphyllos rubra and are under-planted with Rosa Alfred de Dalmas and Lavandula augustifolia Hidcote together with alliums and lilies. The alliums have been a great success but the lilies are no longer present.img061 The photograph above is about the third summer after planting.

27_05_16_2436The hedge above is at the height we have had it for many years. The bamboo frame has more or less rotted away and we think the hedge looks great.  .In spring the alliums stand out against the new leaves of the hedge and roses.2010_20100624_509And in summer the roses come into their own. In this photograph there are a lot of allium seed heads which I remove as I have found that leaving them results in far too many alliums the following year.2010_20100624_511Rosa Alfred de Dalmas is a Mossy Damask shrub rose with creamy pink, semi-double cupped flowers with yellow stamens, and a delicate sweet scent that attracts pollinators. It flowers from mid-June to November and benefits from lush foliage and tidy manageable growth. Its moss is greeny pink, turning to russet red on older shoots.

Hedge maintenance

17_01_04_4659Once a year there is a significant job to be done to keep the border looking good. 17_01_04_4660First the roses are cut back and any dead wood is removed. The vertical bamboo are a relatively new addition. I have planted a range of clematis that are designed to grow into the hedge to give late summer interest. It is early days but it seems to work. The clematis are Clematis Blue AngelClematis Perle d’Azur and Clematis Ville de Lyon.
17_01_07_4661The side of the hedge facing the lawn together with the top is then cut. I find it is best to do this with secateurs either reducing the shoots to a single bud or weaving the shoot into the structure as required.17_01_08_4665Almost complete, just the cuttings to shred ready for the compost!17_01_08_4662The finished hedge. A once a year job but it is worth it giving a unique pleached lime hedge.17_01_08_4664Technically the hedge is not a traditional pleached lime hedge which would have very distinct horizontals. 17_01_08_4663However, take a look at the pruned hedge and you can see that it creates an enormous amount of winter interest and makes an effective hedge.

Gardening Hours
This week Total since June 19th Average per week
15 498 17

End of the month view – December 2016

16_12_29_4657This End of the Month View (and End of the Year) I am going to take you all on a frosty walk through the garden. Over the last six months you have seen many parts of the garden but this walk will try to bring the parts together. You may find the garden map helpful.

The above picture is taken from our conservatory and shows the main lawn and, on the right, the wall which was originally part of the walled garden for the Rectory next door. The wall was built in 1704 and is a significant feature within the garden. The garden extends beyond this wall and we will take a route that goes behind the wall and round to the bottom of this photograph.

But first lets start at the front of the house.16_12_29_4652From the lane the drive area is mostly cobbled with some tubs and beds around the edges.16_12_29_4653Entering the drive we can see the well near the front door surrounded by roses and clematis. The part of the house on the left was built in 1724 with the extension added in 1977.

Walking to the right of the house16_12_29_4654there is a small courtyard area . On the right is a row of pleached limes under planted with roses and lavender. The doorway, at the end of the path, is the entrance to the main garden and to the right of this is a small gate through which we will go. On the left of this courtyard area 16_12_29_4655is a very shady bed which is mainly planted with ferns, rodgersia and hostas most of which have died down now. In the spring there are a lot of Erythronium dens-canis (Dogs Tooth violet) and snowdrops here.

Going through the little gate is16_12_29_4632the area we called the Italianate garden with the large formal pond. The seat on the right is one of many ‘gin & tonics’ seats! From the other side of the pond16_12_29_4633we reach a small area known as Ivy’s garden. (Ivy lives in the house on the right!) On the right, beyond the yew hedge, there are some fruit cages and the compost area. 16_12_29_4634Looking back from here across the pond we can see our only green-house and the end of our house. Although rather small the green-house is very productive throughout the year.

Continuing around the garden, through the yew hedge, 16_12_29_4636is the area waiting for a design to be finalised. See Planning for the future – a design challenge . 16_12_29_4638This needs to go on my New year’s resolutions list if it is to get done!

Passing through the second yew hedge there is a small pond. This pond is under a large sycamore tree and is netted to keep the leaves out. The pond is a favorite for the grass snakes that live around the compost area. The garden around here is know as Elise’s garden. Elise is the name of the statue standing in the water.

Beyond the end of the wall we can then see across the bottom of the garden.16_12_29_464116_12_29_4642In the bottom right-hand corner of the garden is an area of shrubs which are under planted with tulips. The shrubs were planted to help protect from the winds that comes across the field.

To the left of this shrubbery is a five barred gate   16_12_29_4643with a view across our borrowed landscape. The lake in the middle distance is the original fish ponds for the rectory and may date back to medieval times.

Further to the left16_12_29_4644is the Japanese bed named mainly because of the Japanese stone lantern (which is still waiting for me to erect again after it fell over!) The Hakonechloa macra is under planted with snowdrops and crocuses and will be cut down soon.

Looking back from here16_12_29_4649we can see into the main garden area.

The area on the bottom left-hand corner of the garden16_12_29_4625used to contain a very large walnut tree which unfortunately died. This has been replaced with some multi-stemmed silver birch under planted with a variety of flowering plants to simulate wild flowers. You can see that the fence stops and there is apparently no fence to the garden. This is part of the ha-ha which was part of the original rectory garden. Looking back, from the field, we can see this better 16_12_29_4647The ditch and wall stop the farm animals in the field getting into the garden and give us the perfect borrowed landscape.

Looking towards the house we can now see into the main garden16_12_29_4627with a circular rose bed on the left and a rose on the right at the end of a low wall that forms the edge of a higher part of the lawn.16_12_29_4619Looking towards the ha-ha at the bottom, the wall and higher lawn can be seen.

16_12_29_4621Standing on this higher lawn, this is the photograph I normally start my End of the Month View with. See September 2016. Much of the herbaceous growth has been cut back ready for the spring bulbs etc.

16_12_29_4618Looking back towards the house there is a patio area surrounded by small beds and climbing roses. From this area we see across the main garden.16_12_29_4616

On the right is the entrance we saw as we entered the garden16_12_29_4656with the gate on the right of this photograph.

I hope you have enjoyed this walk around the garden. In a few weeks time the spring bulbs will be pushing up and the cycle will begin again.

Happy New Year to you all.

Gardening Hours
This week Total since June 19th Average per week
5 483 17

Thanks for looking around our garden, and do pop over to Helen’s blog to look at what’s happening in other people’s gardens today.