A walk around the garden in Lock-down

We continue to be in lock-down with no apparent end in sight. The weather has been stunning which has enabled us to get many jobs in the garden done. We have created a routine for these days. Following breakfast we take a slow walk around the garden. As we go we discuss what needs to change and what is working well. Then we start work on the garden however, very soon after, it is time for a morning coffee! As the day progresses I guess we do four to five hours of gardening. On May 8th I took photographs as we went around. Here is our record of the walk:

By the back door is one the the early roses, Rosa ‘Old Blush China’. Not really a climber but it does a good job of trying.

Next is an old wisteria. This was here when we brought the house and fills the air with its scent.
Please note that the seats have been arranged 2 metres apart for social distancing.

Towards the front of the house is a real climber Rosa ‘Madame Gregoire Staechlin’ situated above some out-buildings. This is normally the first rose to come out however as we shall see there has been lots of competition this year. It does not repeat. We have tried to grow clematis up it to extend the season but so far only with limited success.

Coming through the little gate that you can see, with the green house on our left, we have our largest pond. There was a very large (over one metre) grass snake swimming here yesterday, trying to catch the fish and newts. On the right is Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’ and the tall pillar is Carpinus betulus ‘Frans Fontaine.

The pond from the green house end.

The green house is rapidly filling up with plants waiting until the last of the overnight frosts. The photograph on the left was taken on April 5th.

The borders at the end of the large pond will look great in mid summer. Just now they need extensive hand weeding and some planting out with annuals.

Continuing on round is our fruit cage. Raspberries and strawberries. These have just been weeded, tidied up and watered. I thought I had fixed all the gaps in the netting but within 10 mins of closing the gate a blackbird was flying around in the cage!

Next is a small nature pond. The irises have just flowered and are looking stunning.

Further on the air is filled with the honey scent from Berberis Koreana ‘Red Tears’. This is a great shrub for a large garden and I wrote up a full description of it as an excellent plant with four seasons.

At this corner of the garden there is a very old apple tree. The blossom has been terrific this year but as it is more or less hollow I am concerned that the weight of apples may cause another branch to break away.

From here you can see into our wild flower meadow. One of the mature trees, Fagus sylvatica ‘Tricolour’, that was planted at the end of last year is now coming into leaf. The leaves are showing the red margins that give the tree it’s name.

Back to the walk, we can see into the main garden under the rose arch with the wisteria in the distance.

This border is looking very empty. The area should be full of Hakonechloa macra to create a sea of rippling grasses surrounding the yew balls. Unfortunately we lost a lot in the very dry and hot weather last year. Currently we are waiting for replacements to be delivered.

Another small circular flower bed with peonies coming into flower.

Next to the circular bed is a small vegetable area. Currently only lettuce, spring onions, radish, beetroot, coriander and cannellino beans but it will soon fill up when the frosts are over. Beyond the rose hedge on the left is the wild flower meadow.

And from the same spot looking back towards the house.

And to our right is the bottom corner of the main garden with the wild flower meadow further to our right. This corner has been trial and error for some years but is beginning to come right now. The Osteospermums seem to come through our winter okay with the trees under planted with Epimedium  x versicolor ‘Sulphureum’ and Epimedium ‘Akebono’. There are many spring bulbs flowering here earlier on.

These photographs are of the borders along one side of the main garden. The tulips are Red Impression and always look good against the new green leaves and purple Honesty. The Hostas suffered with the dry weather last year and we have some replacements on order. The pink flowering shrub is a Deutzia but we do not know its name.

This border had been over run with Alliums and we are in the process of removing thousands of Allium bulbs. I shall leave the Alliumns towards the back of the bed. The herbaceous plants here grow to 1.5metres which will hide any dry allium foliage.

The rose on the wall is Rosa ‘Shot Silk’ and you can also see that we have got Clematis ‘Comtesse de Bouchaud’ climbing through the rose to extend the season.

We decided it was time to replant our pots of Agapanthus. They had been infested with couch grass. It meant separating the roots etc and replanting. So far it seems to have worked.

Elsewhere Rosa ‘Mutabilis’ is starting to flower. Again not a climber but no one told it and it seems very happy climbing up to 3metres.

Another example of where Alliums have got too much and need sorting out. Maybe next week!

It is tempting to sit here all day.

and sometimes we do.

I hope you have enjoyed this short tour of our garden. Please keep safe.

End of the Month View – January 2018

Its the end of January and for one reason and another I have hardly done any gardening this year. We were away for five weeks travelling in Laos in December which was great but while we were away lots of little admin jobs seem to stack up waiting to be done. I will do some travel blogs on Laos shortly now that I have got the list of jobs done.

Before we went away we had a concentrated tidy up of the garden. Thank goodness we did as the weather has not been great since we got back with snow, frosts and rain and even more rain! As a result there are lots of gardening jobs waiting to be done and February is going to be very busy!18_01_29_8456This was one of the rare bits of sunshine looking across the garden and I will be honest in this photo it looks almost identical to the November EoMV18_01_29_8458But looking a little closer we can see many alliums and tulips already making considerable growth.18_01_29_8459Similarly in this bed but it also highlights the climbing roses that will need to be tamed in February. (I know it is a bit late but I am sure they will survive.)18_01_29_8457Elsewhere spring bulbs are starting to put on a show. This bed is largely snowdrops and aconites.  18_01_29_8464Here the snowdrops and aconites mingle with some really beautiful Cyclamens (variety not known) and an Iris Histrioides Katherine Hodgkin. This really is the essence of spring.18_01_29_8461This bed is more designed with Yew balls under planted with Hakonechloa macra. In spring clumps of snowdrops come up to extend the interest in the bed.18_01_29_8462Aconites and Iris Reticualata bring real colour to the spring beds.18_01_29_8463As I said we have had some very hard frosts, -7 c at times and the Euphorbia ‘Mellifera’, a plant that has marginal hardiness in this area has not enjoyed the cold. I think it will be OK but has certainly been knocked back a bit.

17_03_23_5108Other jobs completed have been the potting up of around 80 dahlia tubers. These had been drying out in our garage but have now been potted up in potting compost and are crowding into the green house. The above photograph is from 2017 but you get the idea. Around the end of February I will start watering them and with any luck they will produce great plants for planting out around the end of May when the frosts should have finished. In addition there has been more clearing some of the dried herbaceous plants from last year.

17_05_31_5882For those of you who remember this huge Crambe Cordifolia we said at the time that although it looks spectacular it was crowding everything out and we planned to move it. Well that was one of the jobs we have done so we can cross it off the list! The roots were over 60cm but I have replanted it elsewhere and I expect it to sulk for a year and then take off again.

18_01_29_8460The five new trees of Sorbus aucuparia ‘Autumn Spire’ also arrived and needed planting in the area behind the high wall. This almost completes the Design Challenge I mention last year and I will do a blog on this later in the year.

2018 Gardening Hours
Week beginning Jan 20th Total 2018 to-date Average per week
12 30 10

Given that last year we did on average 19 hours a week you can see we are well down on that!

Some of you will know that I took on the EoMV blog from Helen Johnstone last year. Helen is now back from her break from blogging and would like to take back the hosting of the EoMV which she had been doing since March 2009. So, if you would like to join in with the End of Month View please do. I suggest you add a link to your post in the comments below and also visit Helen and do the same there. Thank you for supporting the EoMV while I “baby sat” it and please come back to Glebe House Garden as often as you wish.

Planting schemes we have borrowed!

Where do we get our garden design ideas from? Although I look a gardening books and receive a number of gardening magazines I seldom take ideas directly from them. However, when we visit gardens we often get inspired to borrow the idea. These get jotted down in our garden visits note book. For example many of you will have seen this planting scheme at Sissinghurst Castle.

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Sissinghurst Castle from Steve Reed’s blog

We have a wall (much smaller) with a similar aspect which for many years we had struggled to find a suitable planting scheme. When we saw this it was a eureka moment! The planting was  Vitis vinifera purpurea and Clematis Perle d’Azur under planted with Belladonna Lilies. I even had an email correspondence with the head gardener at Sissinghurst to check out the exact varieties!

Not quite as impressive but it works and apart from a little pruning once a year is more or less maintenance free. This was planted up about ten years ago so you can imagine our surprise and delight when this came out this year.

Only one so far but a start. I suspect the bed does not get enough sun but now they have started flowering maybe more next year.

One of our favorite places to stay in Devon is Lewtrenchard Manor; a great location for visiting Devon gardens

lewtrenchard-manor-houseAlthough not an ideal photograph, in the center of the picture is a raised water feature which is surrounded by a small wall. The wall is covered by a small climbing roses and once again Clematis Perle d’Azur. Very simple and we had the ideal spot to repeat this idea.16_07_23_2939Here it is around a well near our front door. This time with Rosa May Queen and Rosa Phyllis Bide and you can also just see the Sissinghurst scheme in the background.

Visiting  a fantastic private garden in Norfolk designed by Tom Stuart Smith we came on this planting scheme.visit_20110712_999_33Box balls with Hakonechloa macra under trees. This is the green Hakonechloa not the more common golden varieties which would have been too much.  We had an area of the garden where I had tried to imitate the Japanese tightly pruned azelas plantings. However as azelas do not do well in our area I had used a range of hebes. It worked well but the hebes did not like too much pruning and got too big. We needed a rethink and in our garden we now have20_06_16_2690although the box has been replaced with yew balls due to a scare with box blight. In spring we have snowdrops and Anemone Nemerosa before the grass comes through. The trees are Robinia pseudoacacia ‘Lace Lady’ a unique small tree worth considering in any garden. Again very little maintenance required and the scheme gives year round interest.

Actually at the back of this bed the stone pillar is the base of a granite Japanese lantern which fell over recently and is waiting to be put together again. Not so easy as it needs four strong men to lift the top! Any wind tends to come across the field at the back and the grass then moves like a river.10_07_16_2857

Gardening Hours
This week Total since June 19th Average per week
20 333 20

Yew balls,cobbles and creepers

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This part of the gardens is called the japanese garden mainly because of the granite Japanese lantern that you can see in the centre although we have planted it to give a Japanese look and feel. Originally area between the box hedging was planted with a  a variety of hebe bushes which were pruned to shape but over time they became woody and tended to lean too much on the box. So a few years ago we took the hebes out and replaced them with box balls and Hakonechloa macra. Alas the balls suffered from blight and so they were rapidly removed and replaced by yew balls. Now they are all due their annual clip. This will be followed by a fungicide spray as a precaution against the blight.

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Job done!

Cobbles

The garden is situated on what must have been an old river bed. There is no shortage of river cobbles that seem to come up where ever you dig. These have been used  to good effect to make hard landscaping around the garden as can be seen above. The courtyard at the front of the house is also cobbled. This dates back to when the house was the stabling and coach house to the rectory next door. IMG_7748
Overtime the moss between the cobbles starts to take over. Every ten years it’s down on your hands and knees to remove the moss; a job that can take hours!

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Half done!

Clematis of the week:

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Clematis ‘Elsa Path’

Summer pruning
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By the side of an old pig sty there are three double-U pear trees and some step over apples. July is the time to prune them. Strong laterals are cut back to three good leaves and sub-laterals to 1 inch.

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Job done

Creepers

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Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) is one of those plants that behaves for most of the year and then suddenly it explodes into growth and action is required to prevent the house disappearing.  A ladder and secateurs does the job but maybe it will need doing one more time before the end of the year.
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The date 1977 on the side of the house which is now visible is the date an extension was added to the old part of the house. Old materials were used and it looks like it was always there.

Despite the rather strange summer weather the flower beds are looking very full. Interestingly the dahlias are only just coming into flower, a good four weeks later than normal.

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Main garden looking towards the pergola

Gardening hours
This week Since June 19th
31 47