End of the Month View- February 2017

Spring is bursting out all over the garden but my attention has been on Doris! A disaster called Doris This End of the Month View I plan to update you on last week’s post.17_02_24_4998You will recall that storm “Doris” had caused considerable damage to an old apple tree. Despite the very poor weather this week we did manage to start the process of clearing up.17_02_26_4999Removing the mass of Rosa Rambling Rector  was not very pleasant and needed very good gloves and protection.17_02_26_5000A few logs will be added to our log pile17_02_28_5006and a large amount of rose and apple twigs destined for the shredder in the potting shed. Actually this is what was left after about five hours of shredding.17_02_28_5001So looking at the tree from the house it does not look too bad.17_02_28_5002From the east side it not great but probably will fill out a bit.17_02_28_5003From the south looking towards the house it is not bad.17_02_28_5004But from the main garden looking east we can really see the damage done.17_02_28_5005You can see on this photograph where the branch came from. Also you can see that the tree is showing signs of aging and rotting from the inside. Given that the tree is probably around 100 years old this is not surprising.

What next?

We are not going to rush into removing it completely but will live with it for a while and see how it developed.  In the meanwhile we will be looking for mature apple trees to be a possible replacement. So the future is yet to be determined. Its very sad but gardening has never been totally predictable. I guess that is part of the enjoyment.

End of the Month View

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


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.