Planning for the future – a design challenge II

In November I discussed a design challenge in our garden. This is an update prior to contractors arriving to lay down the hard landscaping. 6-mock-upThe design challenge was to create a plan for the area of garden behind the wall which had been used as a general dumping area. Things have moved on and we now have a plan for the paths which were to follow the diagonal lines above.LayoutThe bricks will be laid in the form of a “knot”although we do need to think through how the corners work. There are two options, the right end or the left but this is probably best done when we have the bricks on site and have measured out the overall shapes.

The bricks took some time to identify. They needed to be suitable for paths but also not to look  wrong next to the old wall which was built in 1704. The bricks we have chosen are Old English clay pavers from Chelmer Valley.old-english-5This picture shows them when they have been laid flat. However, we have decided to lay them on their edge. This has the advantage of better matching the bricks in the wall and it makes it easier to haunch them without the mortar showing along their edges.Cotswold-Blend-on-edgeTo give an idea of how they will look these pavers (slightly different from the ones we have chosen) have been laid on their edge, so our paths will be similar to the diagonal run of bricks.

Between the paths will be gravel; up to a metal edge along the edge of the lawn, up to the wall and around the trees themselves.

Picture5To achieve a unified design the gaps through the yew hedge and by the fruit cage will have have the same pavers laid in a similar way. These changes will give a very strongly defined lawn area which will be a precise rectangle and be symmetrical around the opening in the far yew hedge. This will also make lawn maintenance easier.

Lastly we shall have the same pavers laid along the edge of the small lawn which is up a step from the new design area. Picture3This small lawn is adjacent to the large pond area  which is surrounded by similar pavers bringing a continuity to the design.17_04_25_5378

6-mock-upWe have also decided on the trees. These will be Sorbus ‘Autumn Spire‘ – narrow, upright small trees with excellent autumn colour once established. The final choice of tree was determined by the site which only gets limited sunshine and the need for a tree that would not undermine the wall. Many thanks to people who suggested alternatives.

Until now the area has been a dumping ground!

but during the last few weeks I have been sorting out the good stuff from the rubbish and has amassed many river cobbles and granite sets that I am sure I will find uses for elsewhere in the garden. (I just need to find somewhere to store them now)

The contractors should arrive on September 19th so there should be another blog later in the year to show the result. We have wanted to do something here for at least 15 years so at long last something is happening. This is the last significant are of our garden to be developed.

17_09_07_6941And if you were wondering how the pigeons were doing here they are! They have just about doubled in just over a week and really the nest is hardly big enough for both of them.

2017 Gardening Hours
Week beginning
September 2nd
Total 2017 to-date Average per week
33 771 21
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End of Month View – August 2017

I started doing an End of Month View in August 2016 having seen Helen Johnstone’s blog,  The Patient Gardener, on my reader. In August 2009 she invited bloggers to join her End of the Month View by adding a comment and link to their End of Month View.

This simple idea has certainly caught on with many bloggers contributing to a global End of Month View community each month. Recently demands on Helen’s time have meant she is reluctantly giving up her hosting of the End of Month View.

The idea is too good to let it disappear and I have offered to pick up the mantle of hosting the End of Month View. I am sure you will all join me in thanking Helen for hosting this over the last 8 years and wish her the very best for the future.

In the meantime please add your comments to my blog together with a link to your End of Month View. Also please add a link back to here at the end of your blog so that other readers can find their way to all the contributors to the End of Month View.
Thank you.

Glebe House Garden – End of the Month View – August 2017

The weather this August has very variable with lots of rain and grey overcast skies. Temperatures have ranged from very cool, cool enough to actually switch on the heating in our house, to record breaking temperatures at the end of the month. As always the best growing plants have been the weeds and the borders need to be patrolled frequently for specimen weeds which can suddenly appear!17_08_25_6898This is the view I often centre on in my EoMV, looking across our main lawn to the old kitchen garden wall.17_08_25_6899The same walls and border looking diagonally across the lawn. 17_08_27_6913 And looking along the other diagonal. Originally the kitchen garden wall extended across the lawn to form a kitchen garden enclosed on three sides and open on the fourth where there was probably a hedge. 17_08_25_6889The late summer border is starting to look very full with many of the herbaceous plants growing very tall and needing plenty of staking to prevent them falling across other smaller plants.17_08_25_6906At the corner of this bed is one of those lucky combinations of colour with the soft pink of Geranium sanguineum striatum, the dark red of Osteospermum ‘Tresco Purple’ and the red of Salvia ‘Cerro Potosi’. The white/pink osteospermum is a very hardy osteospermum my mother gave me but as we do not know the variety and so we call it Nancy’s osteospermum after my mother!17_08_27_6917The tall plant is Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’. This was only planted in April this year and has certainly grown well. However, “the jury is still out” on whether it stays. Yes the flowers are there but many are covered with the green leaves. Maybe the flowers will be more prominent later in September. We will have to wait to see.17_08_27_6918The star of the border continues to be Ricinus communis ‘Impala’ 17_08_27_6920The leaves of which are absolutely fantastic. These are grown from seed and as such are only a few pence each.

To the right of this corner before the pond are a couple of blue flowered plants. Clematis ‘Wyevale’ at the back and Salvia ‘Phyllis Fancy’ towards the front and in the detail picture (with a red salvia photo bombing!). Salvia ‘Phyllis Fancy’ has been relatively hardy although I do take cuttings each year.17_08_25_6904Coreopsis ‘Redshift’ a new plant this year at the front of the corner bed. Lots of flowers but seems to flop very easily.17_08_28_6923I found this caterpillar making great speed across the lawn. It was about 3 inches long with two pairs of false eyes and a small horn on its tail. At first I was fooled and thought it was a snake! A bit of research identified it as probably an elephant hawk moth caterpillar.17_08_27_6921The other corner of the wall has a green oak pergola to provide a seating area and some shade. The rose growing up the pergola is Rosa ‘Blush Noisette’

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Rosa ‘Blush Noisette’ 

The pergola has a number of grape vines that grow across the top to provide the shade. Grape vines grow at a rapid rate and in the summer some pruning of the new growth is require to achieve a dappled shade and also to encourage bunches of grapes to form.17_08_25_6895This year I could only prune half the vines back as a pigeon had decided to make a nest in the vine. 17_08_28_6925This week two chicks hatched out and are doing well but the vine remains un-pruned.

At this time of year the border to the left of the pergola contains mostly dahlias; Bishop of Llandaff and Bishop of Auckland. Although our dahlias started slowly the weather through August has given them all a real spurt of growth with Bishop of Llandaff  up to five feet high.17_08_25_6896Looking back from the pergola to the corner bed.17_08_25_6893

You can just see a rose on either side of the pond. These were planted this year and are Rosa Pink Gruss an Aachen, a small rose plant that seems to like the location.

To the right of the pergola the outstanding plant is Salvia involocruta bethellii. This has proved to be very hardy. We cut it down to the ground each year but it produces huge plants with many flowers.17_08_25_6900The end of the wall on the right has a very sad looking Cotinus ‘Nottcutts Variety’. Normally it has very attractive dark coloured foliage but this year it seems to be dying! The foliage has gone dry and brown and is spreading through the shrub. Looks like this will be coming out soon.

2017 Gardening Hours
Week beginning
August 19th
Total 2017 to-date Average per week
32 703 21

A busy week in the garden, cutting out some of the “autumn” in the border, a lot of hedging and of course weeding.

All are welcome to join in with the End of Month View community. You can use it how you like all I ask is that you add a link to your post in the comment box below and if possible it would be great if you could link to this post from your post.

Some stars in the August border

It is mid August already and the garden and weather is beginning to feel more like Autumn. July gave us some really nice summer weather but this August has been poor so far. We have had more than half the normal rainfall in the first two weeks and it seems that the jet stream is in the wrong place such that even when high pressure is in control the air is very humid and the sky is overcast. Never the less most plants are performing and here is a selection from the garden in August.17_08_19_6842Rudbeckia ‘Herbstone’ grows to almost two metres at the back of the border but does need staking to stop it falling on other plants.

Butterflies have been plentiful in the garden this year.  Here on a variety of plants. We do have a Butterfly bush Buddleja davidii which of course gets covered with butterflies too.17_08_06_6815This circular bed (stone edged bed on the garden map) was newly planted in 2016 and one of the things I was trying to achieve was a succession of plants forming a snake through the centre. Here Anemone ‘Wild Swan’ is achieving the snake with the leaves of Brunnera ‘Mr. Morse’ also snaking through.17_08_10_6823Rudbeckia fulgida sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’ should always have a place in the August border.17_08_19_6839At first this looked like a new plant formed when a Perovskia ‘Blue Spire’ decided to climb up a Foeniculum vulgare ‘purpureum’17_08_10_6824I always grow some Ricinus communis ‘Impala’ from seed each year starting them off in the greenhouse and planting out when the dahlias go in. The leaves are fantastic architectural additions to any border but note that they  donot overwinter here. 17_08_19_6837There are many different Dahlias in our garden This is one of my favorites, Dahlia ‘Bishop of Aukland’.17_08_10_6826This is Phlox paniculata Uspekh a plant I saw on a garden visit and just had to have for its strong colours.17_08_10_6830Colour combinations are important in the garden. Often it is the plants themselves which seem to combine in good ways. Here we have Achillea ‘Credo’ with Salvia greggii ‘Emperor’, as close to complementary colours as you can get.17_08_19_6836Here Helenium ‘Moerheim Beauty’ is absolutely stunning but look closely a Cerastostigma willmottianum ‘Forest Blue’ has got into the picture. Complementary colours again!

Hemerocallis ‘Lemon Bells’ has been a real success this year and has been flowering now for around 10 weeks.17_08_10_6832And other day lilies have also done well, here is Hemerocallis ‘Stafford’.17_08_19_6841A shrubby clematis, Clematis ‘Wyevale’, comes back every year and has a long flowering period.17_08_10_6831Cone flowers, Echinacea purpurea,  are loved by insects and look fantastic in the garden.

There is a huge range of salvias on the market. Recently I have been adding a couple each year. Here is Salvia x jamensis ‘Sierra san Antonio’ and Salvia microphylla ‘Icing Sugar’17_08_19_6848 Osteospermums have a long flowing period and look great. This is Osteospermum ‘Tresco Purple’ which is hardy in some places but so far not here so I take cuttings every year.17_08_19_6844Sowed a bit late but this Rudbeckia came from a packet of seed described as Rustic Dwarfs Mixed and has produced some stars. I will try getting Rudbeckia plants from seed every year now.17_08_19_6847Another plant from seed is Cosmos, this is Cosmos versailles tera and produces some very strongly coloured flowers.17_08_19_6851This is new to me, Maurandya ‘Magic Dragon’. Sue Turner at “from sewing room to potting shed” very kindly sent me some seed last year. 17_08_19_6850Another climber, Clematis ‘Jackmanii’, has been doing great things although this year has not produced the best from clematis which I suspect was due to lack of rain through the spring.17_08_19_6852Last but not least, Anemone ‘Honorine Joubert’, a great plant not least because it copes with shade well.

2017 Gardening Hours
Week beginning
August 12th
Total 2017 to-date Average per week
10 671 20

Spetchley Park Gardens

When you have had an interest in gardens all your life it comes as a surprise when you discover a little gem of a garden that you did not know. This happened on a trip arranged by the Leicestershire & Rutland Gardens Trust to Spetchley Park Gardens near Worcester.

Spetchley is a beautiful historic garden, surrounded by ancient parkland, deer park and lakes and is set in the wonderful Worcestershire countryside with far reaching views to the Malvern Hills.17_07_13_6716

A short history taken from displays in the information centre.

The Spetchley Estate was purchased in1606 by Rowland Berkeley, a wealthy wool merchant and banker, and has been in the family ever since.

In 1625 his son, Robert Berkeley, was granted a licence to impark (to enclose) by Charles I creating the Deer Park that we see today and carrying out an extensive campaign of planting and enclosure. Robert was a chief justice and was knighted by the King. By a sad accident his house was burnt down in 1651 by Scottish Covenanters staying there who also supported the King. Sir Robert lost a great deal of money through supporting the Monarchy and rather than rebuilding the house, converted the outbuildings which became the family home for the next 170 years.

However with the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660, Robert (grandson of Sir Robert to whom he left the estate) may have received compensation, and from 1673 when he became of age he embarked on a new campaign of tree planting advised by his friend the famous diarist and silviculturist John Evelyn

When another Robert Berkeley (1764-1845) inherited the estate in 1804 he embarked on the next major phase of alterations at Spetchley. 17_07_13_6717The new house, designed by John Tasker, was begun in 1811 with gardens and parks in the ‘romantic’ style of the time creating long vistas over the lake and sweeping lawns grazed by deer.17_07_13_6718

J. P. Neale 1822, in his book Views of Seats of noblemen and gentlemen, in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, wrote “The extensive grounds of this ancient place were crowded with timber, walls, and fences; judgement, skill, and taste, were absolutely necessary to give the whole a new appearance; and in this the present owner has succeeded with admirable effect… the eye now glides over the undulating green…”

17_07_13_6729The grounds were enlarged and improved for a third time from about 1897 by the celebrated gardener Ellen Willmott and her sister Rose. Robert Valentine Berkeley married Rose in 1891 and, together with her sister, she transformed the planting in the gardens with long borders densely packed with plants.

In 1925 Spetchley became one of the first gardens in the country to open its gates to visitors under the National Garden Scheme.

The garden

The gardens are having another improvement with the Spetchley Revival Project, a long term project designed to invest in securing the gardens for future generations to enjoy. Much of this has already happened.

Of particular interest is the complete dredging of the lake (garden pool on the map) which resulted in huge quantities of silt being removed, the banks reinforced and the puddling maintained. The lake is centre stage for many of the views from the grounds.17_07_13_6741

We had a guided tour around the garden with the head gardener. I think to get the most from this garden such a tour is essential as much of the interest is in the history. There are many trees of interest in the gardens that were planted by the family over the last 350 years with new specimen trees still being planted.17_07_13_6724This is a cork oak, Quercus suber, the primary source of cork for wine bottle stoppers and other uses, such as cork flooring and as the cores of cricket balls and an unusual tree in England.

Spetchley was earmarked as the headquarters for Churchill and his war cabinet during WWII however he decided to stay in London and so it became a recuperation home for the 9th USAAF.  On Churchill’s death 12 acorns that he had collected from his favourite oak at Blenheim were distributed to places that had a connection with Churchill. One came to Spetchley and the oak is growing on the Long Walk opposite the Cedar.

17_07_13_6722The bridge over the canal from the garden pool with the new rose garden in the background.

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The rose garden

Ellen Willmott, the renowned horticulturalist and plants woman, was instrumental in helping her sister, Rose Berkeley, design and plant the garden and so, heavily influencing the existing planting structures. She was the first lady recipient of the RHS’s Victorian Medal of Honour. This is the Miss Willmot of Eryngium giganteum ‘Miss Willmott’s ghost’

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‘Miss Willmott’sghost’ in Glebe House Garden

It is said she would always have some seed in her pocket so that when she visited other gardens she could scatter some in their borders , hence Miss Willmott’s ghost!

Ellen Willmott was also instrumental in the creation of the large herbaceous borders.17_07_13_672817_07_13_6708

Every garden needs at least one,17_07_13_6712and at Spetchley there is a very fine example, with room for two, located in a old brick built building in the garden.

Sculpture has been introduced into the garden creating many interesting focal points.

17_07_13_6732A corner of the walled garden now devoted to flowers.

Old melon and grape houses.

17_07_13_6737Some exotic planting in the melon yard.

Edward Elgar was a friend of the family, often staying and enjoying some fishing in the garden lake. He was so inspired by the garden that he penned part of his masterpiece, the Dream of Gerontius, whilst staying here.

17_07_13_6743No important house in England would be without a chapel and Spetchley is no exception with some very fine memorials to the Berkeley family in the nave.

Some areas have been redesigned in recent years. Of particular interest here is the creation of a covered walk way using Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’. This is probably unique and according to the head gardener is quite a challenge to keep looking good.

When to visit

The displays of spring bulbs in April and May, including drifts of Narcissi ‘Spetchley’, are some of the best in England and are complemented by a springtime shrub garden containing rhododendrons, camellias, magnolias and azaleas and include one of the largest private collections of peonies in the Country. I shall certainly revisit the gardens at this time.

In June there is a large selection of roses, whilst July, August and September reveal the great herbaceous borders in all their glory.

Do not expect manicured borders but do expect much variety in the planting.

Glebe House Garden

2017 Gardening Hours
Week beginning July 29th Total 2017 to-date Average per week
27 636 21

End of the Month View – July 2017

It is just over a year that I have been doing this blog. During that time I have done a number of EoMV which centred around one view across the main lawn.

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July 2017

To start with I am going to look back at this view as to how it has changed through the seasons. To do this I have put together a slide show in chronological order.

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Its is not perfect and how I wish I had taken this view every month. Never the less it is interesting how the colours change through the year with plants coming into bloom and then dying back and the angle of the sun making the shadows change.

Back to this July. So far the weather has been a tough this year with the first six months being very much drier then usual but then quite a heavy amount of rain in the last couple of weeks.  Plants that love rain have suffered from the lack. Dahlias are not as tall as this time last year. However there is much to look at.

17_07_27_6772This is the bed to the right of the view above. You can see one of the penalties of going on holiday….the box hedge has not been cut yet! 17_07_27_6772Behind the urn we planted some Artemesia. This is the first year it has looked the part with clouds of little white flowers.

Moving around the beds from the right of the classic view to the left, we have.17_07_27_6773 The dry heads of Kniphofia ‘Nancy’s Red’ needs to be removed as they make the border look like autumn. However the day lily Hemerocallis ‘Stafford’ looks good against the Cotinus ‘Nottcutts Variety’.17_07_27_6774The Echinops ritro ‘Veitch’s Blue’ beautiful lilac blue balls would look good any where but against the dark foliage of Dahlia Bishop of Auckland they look great. A self set Eryngium giganteum ‘Miss Willmott’s ghost’ was presumably planted by Miss Willmot!17_07_27_6775Phloxs have been grown well this year, this one is Phlox paniculata ‘David’.17_07_27_6776Agapanthus remind me of Tresco with the red Potentilla ‘Gibson’s Scarlet’ to the front. This Agapanthus is kept in the pot and left outside through the winter but always seems to comeback each year.17_07_27_6777This border is a bit disappointing. The dry weather seems to have resulted in the roses stopping earlier than normal and, as I said above, the dahlias have not been as good this year.17_07_27_6778The bright yellow flowers are Achillea filipendulina ‘Cloth of Gold’ and should continue to flower through the autumn.17_07_27_6779The nice Osteospermum is Osteospermum ‘Tresco hybrids’ but is not hardy in Leicestershire so I will take cuttings shortly.

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Miss Willmott’s ghost and Cloth of Gold

17_07_27_6781The large leaves are Ricinus communis impala with Clematis ‘Wyevale’, the blue flowers on the right.17_07_27_6782A very striking Ligularia ‘Britt-Marie Crawford’17_07_27_6783A Kniphofia ‘Nancy’s Red’ with some specimen weeds in the background.17_07_27_6784Looking back towards the pergola the border I was disappointed in does not look so bad after all!17_07_27_6785And this view caught my eye.

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

The rain has kept us out of the garden this week but there is lots to do, particularly removing the specimen weeds!

2017 Gardening Hours
Week beginning July 22nd Total 2017 to-date Average per week
22 609 20

Tresco Island a paradise of Wild Flowers, Beaches and walks.

28_06_16_2806So many of you were interested in Tresco Abbey garden I have decided to show a bit more of the island.

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Borough Beach

Tresco is unique  in that its habitat ranges from a windswept northern plateau with waved heath to sheltered bulb fields, wetland and lakes, to beautiful beaches backed by a sand dune system on the south coast.

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Tresco Island, Isles of Scilly

There are three Sites of Special Scientific Interest. They are the Castle Down , Great Pool  and Pentle Bay. Castle Down is a SSSI for its waved maritime heath, its lichen flora, a breeding colony of Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) and for its geology. Great Pool is a SSSI because it is the largest area of fresh water in the islands and important for its breeding birds, and as a sheltering and feeding area for migrants.

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Pentle Bay

Pentle Bay is designated for the transition from a flora–rich sand dune system to lichen–rich heath.wild flowersThe varied landscape means that there is a huge range of wild flowers everywhere on the island.wild flowers (5)It is more or less possible to walk all over the island and the wild flowers are one of the attractions of these walks.wild flowerIn places bracken has grown but this is often cut back to enable the wild flowers and wildlife to flourish.

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Pentle Bay

Many of the paths are either sand or grass which further gives opportunities for wild flowers.agapanthus 9In many paces Agapanthus and Yarrow have colonised the sand dunes creating natural prairie like planting.

2017 wild flower tally

This year I decided to take photographs of the wild flowers as we identified them. Some of them you will recognise as garden flowers. These will be garden escapes but as they then go on to grow naturally they all add to the flower paradise.

Hover over the picture for the identification of the flowers or click on any one to display a full size image on a carousel.

And there were lots more that I could not identify!

Thanks also to Fiona and Chris Smith who helped me identify some of the flowers.

Cottage gardens

17_07_03_6499As well as the wild flowers many of the cottages have fantastic gardens.IMG_1554Some impressive flowers for any front garden.IMG_1533What a garden wall should look like!

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Cromwell’s castle

There are many archaeological remains on the island which include neolithic burial mounds as well as recent history.

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Block House Beach

But the beaches are a main attraction even though I would consider the beach to be crowded with more than two people on it!

Glebe House Garden

2017 Gardening Hours
Week beginning May 27th Total 2017 to-date Average per week
16 587 20

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – July 2017

17_07_12_6705The weather this year has been a challenge. It has been dry and hot and we seem to be advancing into that gap between Summer and Autumn even so it is only the end of July. Many plants are dry and crispy and having been away for a couple of weeks we have not had time to remove those specimen weeds that always seem to grow the best! However, there is still much to show this month.

Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ is doing well and has picked up considerably since we gave it a good watering.

The dahlias have been slow to bloom probably lack of water. Here is Dahlia ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ with Hemerocallis ‘Catherine Woodbury’17_07_12_6662Helenium ‘Moerheim Beauty’ looking great as always.17_07_12_6663Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Purity’17_07_12_6695almost lost in the border with other perennials.17_07_12_6664Another day lily, Hemerocallis ‘Stafford’.17_07_12_6665A favorite with the bees and looking at its best Eryngium giganteum ‘Miss Willmott’s ghost’17_07_12_6666The blue globes of Echinops ritro ‘Veitch’s Blue’. This magnificent variety produces stiff silvery stems with dark green, silver-backed thistle-like leaves which terminate in brilliant dark, vivid blue globes the size of a spiky golf ball.

Dahlia Twyning’s After Eight the white flower offset by the dark foliage.17_07_12_6667Anthemis tinctoria ‘Sauce Hollandise’ need supporting as it grows but gives a real splash of colour.17_07_12_6672One for the back of the border. Achillea filipendulina ‘Cloth of Gold’ will grow to six feet.17_07_12_6673Another echinops, Echinops Humilis ‘Taplow Blue’ also grows to around six feet.17_07_12_6700And here they are together with Dahlia ‘Bishop of Llandaff’.17_07_12_6671A useful gap filler for the front of the border is Mesembryanthemum and it is easy to grow from seed.17_07_12_6668Potentilla ‘Gibson’s Scarlet’ another useful plant for the front of the border.17_07_12_6669One of my favorite dahlias, Dahlia Bishop of Auckland.  17_07_12_6670Always unexpected, Verbena bonariensis plants itself where it wants to grow but it is always a delight.

One of the best, Rosa ‘Bonica’ 17_07_12_6678Day lily, Hemerocallis ‘Lemon Bells’17_07_12_6681and in the same border Hemerocallis ‘Catherine Woodbery’

Eremurus White Beauty Favourite doing well as they were only planted last November.17_07_12_6679Achillea ‘Credo’ was planted in 2016 and is now looking much stronger.17_07_12_6706The bottom of the garden with Stipa gigantea and17_07_12_6684 Echinacea.17_07_12_6686Leucanthemum ‘Goldrausch’ a good strong  Shasta Daisy.17_07_12_6687Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ with17_07_12_6688Phlox paniculata Uspekh in the background.

By the large pond the seat is surrounded by lilies. Lilium Inuvik and Lilium Inuvik. Easy to do, just plant bulbs in pots November/ December and wait.17_07_12_6694Phoxs have done particularly well this year. In the foreground is Phlox paniculata ‘Bright Eyes’.17_07_12_6696Lavandula augustifolia ‘Hidcote’ is always hard to keep looking good and not woody.17_07_12_6697We only have one hanging basket and here it is!

A couple of clematis, Clematis ‘Perle d’Azur’ and Clematis ‘Jackmanii’.17_07_12_6699A great honeysuckle which we took as a cutting from another garden.17_07_12_6701Rosa ‘Meg’ a beautiful climbing rose that was in the garden 23 years ago when we brought the house and garden.

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day is hosted on the 15th of each month by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. Visit her blog to see what is blooming in gardens around the world.

2017 Gardening Hours
Week beginning July 8th Total 2017 to-date Average per week
13 571 20

Tresco Abbey Garden

For the last two weeks we have been away a staying on Tresco, one of the islands that make up the Isles of Scilly.

tresco_aerial

Tresco Island, Isles of Scilly

The above photograph shows what a beautiful island Tresco is. The garden this blog describes is located just between the first pool and the left hand side of the island. The Isles of Scilly are 28 miles south west of the British mainland

and benefits  from a temperate climate which enables many subtropical plants to survive there.

A brief history of Tresco Abbey Garden

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Augustus Smith (1804 – 1872)

In 1834 Augustus Smith leased all the Isles of Scilly. He set himself four goals: good education for children, to stamp out smuggling, to stop the practice of dividing family holdings and to ensure improvement of the land and buildings stock by islanders themselves.

He also started the Tresco Abbey Garden which were based around the ruined St Nicholas Abbey. He built walls and planted shelter belts, established a close connection with Kew and, because of the location of Tresco, many Scillonian mariners returned with seeds, plants and cutting from around the world.

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Thomas Algernon Dorrien-Smith(1846 – 1918)

In 1872 Thomas Algernon Dorrien-Smith, nephew of Augustus inherited the lease. He continued to support the economy of the islands and started the daffodil flower industry. Tresco Abbey Gardens went from strength to strength. The plants Augustus planted were reaching maturity and were flowering. Thomas identified the Monterey pine and Monterey cypress as successful in shelter belts and went on to plant thousands of trees. With links to the Truro Flower Show he effectively introduced many tender species to Cornish gardens.

“He devoted his life unselfishly to these islands and added greatly to their prosperity and beauty”

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Major Arthur Dorrien-Smith(1876 – 1955)

In 1918 Major Arthur Dorrien-Smith inherited the lease from his father. He was already a gardener and horticulturist and in 1903 set up the Botanic Gardens in Melbourne. He went on many plant hunting expeditions in New Zealand and on one expedition brought back 2000 plants to be divided between Kew, Edinburgh and Tresco. In 1922 financial constraints forced him to hand back control of the other Scilly islands to the Duchy of Cornwall

However, he continued to develop Tresco abbey gardens. In 1935 there were 3500 cultivated plants on Tresco and he continued to order new varieties from around the world. In 1950 the gardens were opened to the paying public. He was awarded the Victoria Medal of Honour by the RHS

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Lieutenant Commander Thomas Mervyn Dorrien-Smith

In 1955 Lieutenant Commander Thomas Mervyn Dorrien-Smith inherited the lease from his father. He was not a plants-man but soon established a management role. He made the transition from a purely agricultural community to one that also embraced tourism. He converted some of the island cottages for holiday lets and built the Island Hotel (now closed). He continued to introduce new varieties of plants to Tresco and in 1960 exhibited the full range of Tresco’s treasures at Chelsea Flower Show.

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Prince Charles and Robert Dorrien-Smith(1951 -)

In 1973 Robert Dorrien-Smith inherited the lease  from his father and in 1983 introduced a heliport on Tresco.

The garden was then hit by natural disasters:
In 1987 a very rare snow storm caused extensive damage to many of the plants and in 1990 a hurricane brought down many of the trees including ones in the shelter belts. Robert has since replanted 60,000 trees and restored plantings in the garden. He also introduced  various sculptures to the garden and created the “Mediterranean Garden”

Tresco Abbey Garden today

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St Nicholas Priory, the ruins of 12th century Benedictine abbey

St Nicholas Priory was founded in the early 12th century by Benedictine monks and it was where the first plants of the Abbey Garden were planted in the mid-nineteenth century.17_07_05_6595The garden is terraced against a sheltered south facing slope. This is the middle terrace. Each terrace effectively has its own micro climate getting drier as you go up enabling different ranges of plants at each level.IMG_1623Do not expect formal planting schemes or manicured borders. The garden is really about the plants.

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South African Watsonias

Watsonias flower in drifts through the gardens in the summer.

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King Protea

The King Protea is the national flower of South Africa and one of the most striking blooms on Tresco! No other garden in Britain can boast such a variety of beautiful South African Proteas on display.IMG_1588In the lower parts of the gardens tree ferns from New Zealand and Australia flourish.

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Norfolk Island Pine

This is one of the most iconic trees in the garden with its regular foliage. I often think it was planted upside down as the branches seem to hang upwards!Picture25‘Gia’ by sculptor David Wynne and made from a block of multi-coloured South African marble.

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Canary Island palms

The Canary Island palms on the Middle Terrace are the tallest in the British Isles. These steps are called Neptune Steps and they dissect the garden from top to bottom.Picture22Higher up the Neptune Steps.Tresco_20080703_2317The “Mediterranean Garden” with a water feature, based on an Agave, which was created by Cornish artist Tom Leaper in 1996. This is probably the most ‘designed’ part of the garden.

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The pincusion plant from South Africa, Leucospermum cordifolium

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A native of the Andes, Puya chiensis

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Furcraea longeava in flower

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Aloe arborescens

Each New Year on Tresco the gardeners have count the number of plants in flower. This year saw more species of plants than ever before in bloom – an astounding 289.

I have only touched he surface of this unique garden. The only way to really understand the garden is to spend a few days on the island. There are many places to stay owned by the Tresco Estate. 17_07_05_6593

Source of history:
‘Tresco Abbey Garden A Personal and Pictorial History’ by Mike Nelhams

Glebe House Garden

2017 Gardening Hours
Week beginning July 1st Total 2017 to-date Average per week
0 558 21

Roses, Roses, Roses

This year the roses have been particularly good and this week I have featured some of the roses that were out today.

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Rosa ‘Jacques Cartier’

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Rosa ‘Bonica’

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A Noname but looks like a David Austin rose so some research required

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Rosa ‘Anne Boleyn’

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Rosa Bobby James

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Rosa ‘Bonica’ as a standard rose

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Rosa ‘Sombreuil’

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Rosa Iceberg

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Rosa ‘Eglantyne’

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Rosa ‘Strawberry Hill’

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Rosa ‘Empress Josephine’

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Rosa ‘Strawberry Hill’

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Rosa ‘Strawberry Hill’

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Rosa ‘Sombreuil’

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Rosa ‘Sombreuil’

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Rosa ‘Alfred de Dalmas’

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Rosa ‘Awakening’

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Rosa ‘Anne Boleyn’

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Rosa ‘Crocus Rose’

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Rosa Felicite Perpetue

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Rosa Felicite Perpetue

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Rose Ballerina

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Rosa ‘Joseph’s Coat’

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Rosa ‘A Shropshire Lad’

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Rosa ‘Kent’

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Rosa ‘Phyllis Bide’

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Rosa ‘Phyllis Bide’

A photographic blog as we have been away and time is short.

2017 Gardening Hours
Week beginning June 17th Total 2017 to-date Average per week
0 558 22

How many hours do you spend in your garden?

I started doing this blog last year on June 19th. As well as the normal gardening related material I started to record each week the number of hours that we had spent working on the garden. This was partly out of interest but also because whenever we open the garden the number one question is “How long to you spend doing this? or other variations such as “This must be a full time job!” or “How many gardeners do you have?”.

To be honest I had very little idea apart from knowing we worked very hard in the run up to an opening day. So lets see what we did:

blog hoursThe chart shows hours by week with the red line a three week centered moving average to smooth out some of the peaks and troughs. The zero weeks reflect when we were away and no gardening was done.

Note that the hours are gardening hours not the many hours we spend enjoying the garden or indeed writing the blog!

I had always assumed that we spent long hours prior to an opening. This year it was on 14th June and this is reflected in the peak on the right of the chart. I had always assumed that after the opening the garden more or less looked after itself. Last year it was on June 20th and, apart from a holiday straight after, the hours continued around 20 hours a week up until the middle of November. So I have revised my assumptions.

December and January are relatively low at around 10 hours a week but given that the lawn does not need cutting then, typically 2 to 3 hours a week in summer, they remain quite high.

So, in summary we have:

Gardening Hours
Week beginning June 10th Total since June 19th 2016 Average per week
48 1011 19

an average of 19 hours a week.

The total size of our land is about 0.9 acres. 17_06_14_6203The garden consist mainly of flower beds with a small vegetable area and a soft fruit cage. Over the years we have tried to make our garden relatively efficient. For example the lawns have long sweeping edges and have metal edging which makes cutting the grass easier etc. However, we do try to achieve succession planting which must increase the work load. I would be interested to hear from anyone else who has recorded their hours.

And last but not least the hours for this week are:

2017 Gardening Hours
Week beginning June 17th Total 2017 to-date Average per week
30 558 22

From now on I shall report on a calendar year.