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.

 

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Happy Christmas to you all

The following amazing Christmas tree was in the lobby of Mandarin Oriental Hotel Bangkok.

dsc01563I have never seen one with so many flowersdsc01564The above close up gives you some idea of the range of flowers making up the tree. Else where in the lobby were many other spectacular flower arrangements:dsc01558and more!dsc01559

The flower market in Bangkok is huge and certainly a place of sensory overload. They almost seem to sell flowers by weight and the prices are incredible low.16_12_08_4531

No wonder they can achieve such fantastic displays.

Glebe House Garden

The days are very short at the moment which limits the time to spend in the garden. Cutting back herbaceous plants and planting the last few tulip bulbs is the main task.

I have been doing this garden blog for six months now. I hope you have enjoyed reading it and many thanks for all your comments and likes.

Happy Christmas and happy gardening through 2017.

Gardening Hours
This week Total since June 19th Average per week
18 478 18

An unexpected formal garden

16_12_05_4421We have been travelling in Myanmar and a little bit of Thailand. When we left home I thought there would be plenty of interesting gardens to photograph and write about. How wrong was that! In the part of Myanmar we were in, for most of the trip, the ground around the houses is flooded each rainy season and as such was not kept as a garden. Further more as the house owners were frequently farmers there was no requirement for vegetables etc around their houses and the ground around the house was often used for pigs and chickens etc.

In Thailand  we were travelling along a rather obscure route from Kanchanaburi to Ayutthaya when I spotted a very tall Buddha  in the distance. Our guide had no idea what it was so we had to investigate.

Phra Buddha Metta Pracha Thai Trai Lokanat Gandhara Anusorn

16_12_05_4428Phra Buddha Metta Pracha Thai Trai Lokanat Gandhara Anusorn, is the largest and most beautiful standing bronze Buddha image in Thailand. It consists of a 32 meter high bronze statue standing on an 8 meter high base. The statue was cast in 2014 under Royal Patronage of Her Majesty the Queen of Thailand. 16_12_05_4422The standing Buddha is surrounded by a very large landscaped park, at Wat Thipsukhontharam, Don Salaep subdistrict, Huai Krachao District, Kanchanaburi Province. The modern temple also has an excellent exhibition concerning history of Buddhism, life of the Buddha and information on the casting of Phra Buddha Metta Pracha Thai Trai Lokanat Gandhara Anusorn.

The whole park and setting are outstanding and the following pictures should explain why we spent a couple of unexpected hours here.16_12_05_442416_12_05_441816_12_05_4426

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Some amazing topiary

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Clever use of bricks to create an interesting path

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Classic temple guardian

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Keeping the whole park immaculate

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This is part of the less formal area. (5 on the map above). The pathways here are lined with rough cut blocks of stone with Buddhist history.

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An interesting bridge with upright metal rods forming the fence on either side

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Looking back to the Buddha statue from the bridge with some of the Buddhist history blocks of stone

As you can see an exceptional park around an amazing bronze Buddha. When you consider it was only opened two years ago the planting was looking great. Oddly enough there is very little about this park on the internet and none of the tourist guides seem to mention it. We were there on a national holiday and there were very few people there.  If you are travelling in this part of the world then make a visit, I am sure you will not be disappointed.

Glebe House Garden

Three weeks holiday and the garden is not in too much mess. There had been some very cold weather, while we were away, which has finished off most of the herbaceous plants and the final leaf drop has happened. Yet-lag and dull weather have meant only 4 hours in the garden this week. A quick lawn cut to pick up the leaves and some cutting back of the herbaceous borders.

Gardening Hours
This week Total since June 19th Average per week
4 460 18

Gardens of Rememberance

We have been travelling in Myanmar (previously known as Burma) and Thailand for the pass three weeks. Our itinerary included visits to some of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries. The first of these was the Taukkyan War Cemetery in Yangon (Rangoon). Before we left England  a chance finding in Diane’s deceased father’s papers had given us the name of her Auntie Joan’s fiancée who had gone missing in Burma during the Second World War. His name was Cyril Lambert and further research indicated that he was remembered on face 11 on the Rangoon Memorial in the Taukkyan War Cemetery.

War memorials may seem a strange topic for a garden blog but these are gardens in their own right. I have been impressed by both the beauty and sadness of these memorials and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission need to be congratulated on their work. Much of the historical text below has been taken from the CWGC website.

Taukkyan War Cemetery16_11_27_4032

Taukkyan War Cemetery is the largest of the three war cemeteries in Burma (now Myanmar). It was begun in 1951 for the reception of graves from four battlefield cemeteries at Akyab, Mandalay, Meiktila and Sahmaw which were difficult to access and could not be maintained. The last was an original ‘Chindit’ cemetery containing many of those who died in the battle for Myitkyina. The graves have been grouped together at Taukkyan to preserve the individuality of these battlefield cemeteries

Burials were also transferred from civil and cantonment cemeteries, and from a number of isolated jungle and roadside sites. Because of prolonged post-war unrest, considerable delay occurred before the Army Graves Service were able to complete their work, and in the meantime many such graves had disappeared. However, when the task was resumed, several hundred more graves were retrieved from scattered positions throughout the country and brought together here.

The cemetery now contains 6,374 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War, 867 of them unidentified.

In the 1950s, the graves of 52 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War were brought into the cemetery from the following cemeteries where permanent maintenance was not possible: Henzada (1); Meiktila Cantonment (8); Thayetmyo New (5); Thamakan (4); Mandalay Military (12) and Maymyo Cantonment (22).

Taukkyan War Cemetery also contains:

  • The Rangoon Memorial, which bears the names of almost 27,000 men of the Commonwealth land forces who died during the campaigns in Burma and who have no known grave. The memorial was designed by Mr. H.J. Brown, ARIBA and unveiled by General Sir Francis Festing, GCB, KBE, DSO on 9 February 1958.
  • The Taukkyan Cremation Memorial, commemorating more than 1,000 Second World War casualties whose remains were cremated in accordance with their faith.
  • The Taukkyan Memorial, which commemorates 46 servicemen of both wars who died and were buried elsewhere in Burma but whose graves could not be maintained.

16_11_27_4034Each grave is marked with a headstone giving, where available, name, regiment, and a personalised inscription. Many could not be identified.

In every direction there are rows and rows of the headstones each separated by some flowering plants and all immaculately kept surrounded by lawns.

The Rangoon Memorial

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The Rangoon Memorial

16_11_27_4047It is in the form of two long open garden courts, flanked by covered walks and joined by an open rotunda. The names of the fallen are carved on the inner faces of broad rectangular piers placed at intervals to form the sides of the covered walks. Through these colonnades can be seen the green lawns of the cemetery and the colourful garden courts.

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Detail from face 11 remembering Cyril Lambert

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Detail from the Memorial Register

The Death Railway

16_12_04_4338The Death Railway (Burma-Siam railway) stretched for 415 km from Thanbyuzayat in Burma to Nong Pladuk in Bangpong District in Ratchaburi province in Thailand. 304 km of the railway was located in Thailand and the remaining 111 km in Burma.

The notorious railway, built by Commonwealth, Dutch and American prisoners of war, was a Japanese project driven by the need for improved communications to support the large Japanese army in Burma. During its construction, approximately 13,000 prisoners of war died and were buried along the railway. An estimated 80,000 to 100,000 civilians also died in the course of the project, chiefly forced labour brought from Malaya and the Dutch East Indies, or conscripted in Siam (Thailand) and Burma (Myanmar).

Two labour forces, one based in Siam and the other in Burma worked from opposite ends of the line towards the centre. The Japanese aimed at completing the railway in 14 months and work began in October 1942. The line, 424 kilometres long, was completed by December 1943.

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The notorious Hellfire Pass

The cutting know as Hellfire Pass is the longest and deepest along the entire length of the railway.It was also notorious as one of the worst places of suffering on the railway. The cutting was planned by Japanese engineers and was to be cut using manual labour.16_12_04_4359In fact there were two cuttings , a short one of 73 metres length and 25 metres deep and a longer cutting about 450 metres long and 8 metres deep.16_12_04_433916_12_04_4345These were typical tools now in the Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum. If you get the chance this museum is well worth a visit.

The cutting was known by several names, originally Konyu cutting and then later variously ‘Hammer and Tap’ because of the constant sound of ‘hammer and tap’ crews drilling holes for explosives and now better known as Hellfire Pass, so named after the prisoners of war were kept working long into the night by the light of fires and torches.

The prisoners died because of sickness, malnutrition and exhaustion. There was very little or no medical treatment available and many prisoners suffered horribly before they died. The prisoner’s diet consisted of rice and salted vegetables served twice a day. Sometimes they were forced to work up to sixteen hours a day under atrocious conditions. Many prisoners were tortured for the smallest offenses. The Japanese commander’s motto was “if you work hard you will be treated well, but if you do not work hard you will be punished.” Punishments included savage beatings, being made to kneel on sharp sticks while holding a boulder for one to three hours at a time and being tied to a tree with barbed wire and left there for two to three days without any food or water.

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The Thanpyuzayat end of the railway

Thanbyuzayat War Cemetery16_12_02_4296

The graves of those who died during the construction and maintenance of the Burma-Siam railway (except for the Americans, whose remains were repatriated) were transferred from camp burial grounds and isolated sites along the railway into three cemeteries at Chungkai and Kanchanaburi in Thailand and Thanbyuzayat in Myanmar.

Thanbyuzayat became a prisoner of war administration headquarters and base camp in September 1942 and in January 1943 a base hospital was organised for the sick. The camp was close to a railway marshalling yard and workshops, and heavy casualties were sustained among the prisoners during Allied bombing raids in March and June 1943. The camp was then evacuated and the prisoners, including the sick, were marched to camps further along the line where camp hospitals were set up. For some time, however, Thanbyuzayat continued to be used as a reception centre for the groups of prisoners arriving at frequent intervals to reinforce the parties working on the line up to the Burma-Siam border.

Thanbyuzayat War Cemetery was created by the Army Graves Service who transferred to it all graves along the northern section of the railway, between Moulmein and Nieke.

There are now 3,149 Commonwealth and 621 Dutch burials of the Second World war in the cemetery.16_12_02_429816_12_02_4299

Kanchanaburi War Cemetery16_12_04_4379

Kanchanaburi War Cemetery is only a short distance from the site of the former ‘Kanburi’, the prisoner of war base camp through which most of the prisoners passed on their way to other camps. It was created by the Army Graves Service who transferred to it all graves along the southern section of railway, from Bangkok to Nieke.

16_12_04_4374Some 300 men who died (most from a Cholera epidemic in May/June 1943) at Nieke camp were cremated and their ashes now lie in two graves in the cemetery. The names of these men are inscribed on panels in the shelter pavilion.

There are now 5,085 Commonwealth casualties of the Second World War buried or commemorated in this cemetery. There are also 1,896 Dutch war graves and 1 non-war grave. 16_12_04_4377
Within the entrance building to the cemetery will be found the Kanchanaburi Memorial, recording the names of 11 men of the army of undivided India buried in Muslim cemeteries in Thailand, where their graves could not be maintained.

The cemetery was designed by Colin St Clair Oakes.

Postscript

We spent at least one hour in each of these cemeteries. Walking along the rows, reading the inscriptions and thinking about the history behind each grave. You would need to be a very hard person not to come away with a tear in your eyes.

Lawns, lawns,Lawns!

06_07_16_2770As is often the case in Britain, a lawn plays a fundamental part of the design and structure of our garden. The various shapes of lawn we have have developed over the years are designed to keep their maintenance to a minimum. 16_08_08_3140 For example we plan to extend the stone step across the lawn to make it much easier to mow along the edge of the yew hedge.16_08_04_2974However, there is no such thing as a maintenance free lawn. Through the year our lawns are cut (approximately once a week taking two hours to cut) and in addition scarified, aerated, fed and edged.08_07_16_2796As well as providing open spaces in a garden, lawns also provide a way of leading the eye into the garden. This is improved if the lawn edges are sharp and tidy.20_06_16_2693Our soil is a sandy loam which means that the edges of lawns were always disintegrating and crumbling away. Over the years some edges had moved up a foot from their original line. Last year we decided it was time to invest in metal edges. Metal edging is not cheap to do and our garden required 250 metres of edging.  There are contractors that will provide bespoke edging usually using 4 millimeter thick steel plus a lot of on site welding. Curves again create extra difficulties. In my experience they are also very expensive.

We decided to do it ourselves and used a product called EverEdge They have a range of products which would be suitable for small lawns as well as larger lawns. The product we used was ProEdge which is 2.5mm thick and comes in 2.5m lengths. I feel that the longer length is a real asset as it makes getting smooth curves easier and straight lines straighter.16_08_29_3313The product arrives in packs of five lengths.  Each length is designed to interlock to form a continuous edge. 16_08_29_3312I have ended up using a variety of tools to install the edging. The ideal edge to the lawn will need to be defined and where this is not adjacent to the existing lawn I use wooden stakes as a guide. In theory EverEdge  can be hammered into position using a mallet. However, any stone will make it impossible to hammer it home. I have found it best to use a spade and work along the edge down to the depth of the edging before the EverEdge is inserted. Any stones will  be located and can be removed before inserting the EverEdge. (There is one such stone near the small hand fork) Once this is done EverEdge can be easily fitted. 16_08_29_3314It is possible to bend EverEdge to form an an angle by hand although there will be a small radius on the corner. Unless you already have a perfect lawn there will be considerable work after fitting the EverEdge.  This involves sorting out dips in the lawn and back filling gaps where the original lawn did not run true to the line. 16_08_29_3311We have a number of walls adjacent to the lawn. We have always left a gap so that we could mow up to the walls. With the metal edge in place we have put down a weed membrane and gravel to give a very tidy finish. This photograph also demonstrates that with a little bit of persuasion 2.5m lengths of EverEdge can be made to  give a continuous edge that changes level and and the same time goes round a corner!

Overall, once installed the metal edge has made the whole process of lawn edge maintenance much easier.

The one job in the garden that we have contacted out is feeding, moss killing, weed killing scarification and solid-tine aeration. We currently use a company called LawnMaster.

The solid-tine aeration leaves small holes across the whole lawn.

Basically there are four treatments a year with the fertilizers designed for each season and moss and weed killing where required.

So lawns are not a way of avoiding maintenance but they can be a great asset to the overall garden._mg_1322