Seen at the Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Gardeners Question Time: In which "Dog's bottom" may be said

My third visit to a recording of Gardeners' Question Time last week didn't disappoint. Eric Robson was in the chair (hurrah!), with Matthew Biggs, Anne Swithinbank and Chris Beardshaw ready to answer our questions.

I went on my own this time, but that didn't matter as there were plenty of people to chat to during coffee beforehand and whilst we took our seats. I met a mother and daughter celebrating their birthdays that day, plus I sat next to a couple who were at the same recording I went to three years ago.

All manner of plants and photographs were clutched by prospective questioners, all hoping to be called down to the front row of seats reserved for those chosen to pose their query. Producer Dan reassured everyone,  'If you're not chosen, it doesn't mean you're a bad gardener'.

Our powers of clapping were tested, and a few gardening jokes told to make sure we were in good humour, whilst Hester posed with her enormous recording boom, and Pete and Pete (or was it Paul and Paul, or a combination of the two?) twiddled their knobs both inside the theatre and in the van outside, to make sure everything was ready for the recording.

GQT question paper and apple trees

Did I get to ask a question? Well, yes I did, and there are several clues to what it's about in the collage above. The program airs tomorrow (30th September) at 3pm, with a shortened repeat at 2pm on Sunday (2nd October). Here's the link to the program on the GQT website - I'm the 5th questioner, about 24 minutes in, after Matthew Biggs's report about a mysterious building in London.

You may get to hear me say "Dog's bottom", if they haven't edited it out...

Gardeners' Question Time Tweet
The mysterious building in London, which I puzzled over when I went Pell-mell to the Mall,
but for some reason I failed to photograph at the time

Update 19th October: I had a lovely message from My Tiny Plot today to say how much she enjoyed listening to my question. It's great we're still in touch after her move from Bath to Portland, USA. It shows how the internet can shrink the world as well as expand it.

You may also like

Gardeners' Question Time Live - my question recorded at Bradford on Avon in 2013
The Curse of Gardeners' Question Time - what happened to my garden after questions were asked at GQT in Chippenham in 2004

PS In Chis Beardshaw's answer on the best aspect to have for a garden, he said Victorian gardeners reckoned for every 5 degrees of slope, the garden's climate may 'move' up to a hundred miles south. With a 10 degree slope, that places my garden in the delightful Loire valley. No wonder my patio gets so hot ;)

Monday, 26 September 2016

Review: Stihl Compact Cordless Blower BGA 56

Autumn leaves at the front of our house
A tiny part of the job - 1 day's worth of leaves at the end of our side garden and part of the public land

With autumn comes new seasonal tasks, especially the collection and disposal of leaves. This usually causes a moderately tense time here at VP Gardens as NAH likes things to be neat and tidy with not a fallen leaf in sight. I prefer the leaves to gather over time, so the task is completed in one go.

It doesn't help that our neighbour puts us to shame most weekends by blowing the fallen leaves at the front of our properties onto the public land next door. I used to have a blower-come-collector-come-shredder for gathering the leaves up ready to make leaf mould, but I found it far too heavy to use.

Since those days I've adopted a Compost Direct approach to autumn leaves, where I sweep them up into useful piles and then apply them directly to borders. It's easier, yet still hard work, best left for a cooler day when I need a good work out to keep warm.

Blower + accessories collage
Main picture: The overall view
Top left to right: Blower + battery charger (which can be wall mounted); The battery end
Bottom left to right: Battery release button; Check how much charge is left at the touch of a button

This year is different, as I'm now the proud owner of a battery powered leaf blower courtesy of the kind people at STIHL. I collected it from my local dealer, who were most helpful and showed me how to use it properly. This is a relatively simple piece of kit, though the first time I used it I still managed to forget the battery needs to be clicked twice into place for it to work. Silly me!

The blower is light (the battery is the only noticeable weight), quiet (much quieter than my neighbour's one) and powerful. NAH - who's an engineer with exacting standards - says the build quality is good.

The job out front, plus our side garden and patio was completed in 10 minutes with plenty of juice to spare (the battery lasts about 20 minutes per charge). I loved blowing out the leaves from behind my patio pots without having to move them - a chore I tend to avoid. It also cleared out the leaves stuck fast around the drains in the road, which is good as these are at the bottom of a slope.

A job which used to be a chore just got so much easier. It also means I've future proofed my gardening, and we can do our share for our neighbourhood. As for NAH and me, marital harmony has been restored now we have the right gadget.

This blower retails at around £199. There are cheaper ones on the market, but the ones I've researched are less powerful and/or have a shorter running time per battery charge.

The blower in action
The blower in action - my thanks to NAH who agreed to pose and use the blower for this post  

Friday, 23 September 2016

Unusual Front Gardens #25: Keep it simple

I don't usually go for coleus, but these three simple pots round the corner catch my eye every time I go past them.

They're placed below a window at the end of a drab drive, with colours that blend with each other well and also complement the brickwork of the house. This photo was taken on a dreary day and their fieriness helps to lift the gloom.

I think they're fabulous, how about you?

Update October 4th 2016: It looks like the outer coleus are a new cultivar called 'Campfire', spotted amongst 56,000 seedlings at the University of Florida in 2012, or possibly 'Redhead'. It depends whether the orange of 'Campfire' has intensified, like the blurb in this month's HTA News says it does.

This is a tender perennial of hardiness H1C which means it can be grown outdoors in the summer.

Update same day: Ball Colegrave introduced these onto the UK market this year, so I was able to get their American company to confirm the cultivar via Twitter.

Ball Colegrave Plant ID conversation on Twitter

Latin without tears

Coleus is another plant which has undergone a name change recently, though like aster it remains as the common name and is considered to be a synonym of the genus Plectranthus

Most of the coleus we grow as ornamental plants are classified as Plectranthus scutellarioides. I haven't found the meaning of Plectranthus yet, and scutellarioides means it resembles the genus Scutellaria. This genus name is derived from the Latin scutella, which means a small dish or bowl and describes the appearance of the fruit's calyx.

Update September 24th: Diana left a comment which illustrates the joy of blogging. She's found the meaning of Plectranthus for me:

Plectron = spur and anthos = flower. From: Plantzafrica website
The website adds the words plectron and anthos are Greek in origin.

Update October 2016: Confusingly the RHS lists both 'Campfire' and 'Redhead' online as Solenostemon scutellerioides. Looks like the debate Diana and I have had in the comments is set to run and run...

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

My garlic's having a bad hair day

Sprouted bulbils on a garlic scape

This scene makes me smile every time I step out onto the patio. A couple of the spare trial garlic cloves I planted for green garlic developed a scape, then from these little miniature garlic cloves called bulbils formed.

Now these have started to sprout and they look like they're having a bad hair day. I love them for it. I'm not sure which of the varieties they're from as I planted the spares in a random fashion in their pots.

I suspect the humid weather over the past few weeks has encouraged the bulbils to sprout and their obvious viability means I'm having a go at bulking them up into garlic suitable for cropping. Bulbils are usually dried and stored much earlier in the year, but seeing we're close to autumn garlic planting time, I see no harm in a little experimentation right now.

Usually I'd save some of my garlic from my main crop for next year, but even the resistant varieties eventually succumbed to rust* up at the plot. Therefore it'll be better if I start afresh next year instead of using saved cloves. The bulbils take about 3 years to bulk up and should be clear of the disease**, so I'll buy some new-to-me varieties to try until they're ready.

I've planted them into a couple of large pots of Dalefoot*** wool compost for vegetable and salads, which I've trialled this year with good results. I've left them in a quiet corner of the garden where I can keep an eye on their development over the coming years.

I'll let you know how I get on.

* = though not as badly as the non-rust resistant varieties my allotment neighbour grew
** = propagation from bulbils is a good way of providing disease-free garlic, or revitalising a strain
*** = I received some free bags to evaluate, courtesy of Dalefoot. Spent compost mixed 50:50 with their Double Strength option also works well and is more economical too.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Weekend Wandering: Wyndcliffe Court Sculpture Garden

View from the top terrace at Wyndcliffe Court Sculpture Garden
View from our table on the terrace overlooking the garden
There's just over a week left to visit Wyndcliffe Court before it closes to the public for good and I'm pleased NAH and I took some much needed time out to hop over the Severn Bridge to see it earlier this week. I find a trip over water - no matter how brief - always feels like a holiday, especially as we went 'abroad' into Wales this time.

We arrived just as a group of artists were finishing their morning of sketching and painting, and we enjoyed our view of one of them beavering away whilst we relaxed over our lunch.

The sunken garden and summerhouse at Wyndcliffe Court

Much of the summer floral colour had finished and autumn was just beginning to show its hand, but Wyndcliffe Court is an Arts and Crafts house and garden, with plenty of structure and garden rooms to provide lots of interest for our visit. This is the sunken garden and summerhouse.

Sculpture views
The material and placement of this sculpture reminded me of a similar scene at Special Plants

The garden lived up to its name with plenty of sculpture to admire. I was particularly taken with this one, which provided a viewpoint from a number of vantage points. NAH being the engineer and former welding student he is, was more concerned with the quality of the steel's cut surface. 'It's not finished', was his remark. I liked the added texture, but my comment fell on deaf ears.

Garden and sculpture views at Wyndcliffe Court

Here are some more scenes and vignettes which caught my eye. There's a woodland and wilderness area to explore too, with superb views over the Severn Estuary and both Severn Bridges. The early mist cleared just enough for us to enjoy them, but alas not for my camera.

A beautiful wall colonised by nature

I was especially pleased to find this wall with my Great Green Wall Hunt in mind. With simply an old wall plus moss, ferns and self-sown foxgloves, nature proves it's equal to the task of providing something which fits well with its surroundings.

Fern sculpture

I fell in love with this fern and now regret I didn't buy it. One of my observations from Garden Bloggers Fling visits is our US cousins are much better at marrying art with their gardens. Wyndcliffe Court proves it can be done well in the UK too.

The garden is open Wednesday through Sunday, from 11am to 6pm until September 25th. It's a last chance to see - do catch it if you can.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

GBBD: Flower Trials 2016

Petunia 'Night Sky' outside our front door
There are 5 plants in my hanging basket by our front door 

I'm pleased with the performance of the Petunia 'Night Sky' plants I've trialled this year. It was my pick of the bunch when I visited Thompson & Morgan in 2015, and that early promise hasn't disappointed up close and personal back at home.

Plants were quick to bloom and they've come back from some gross neglect on my part as I left them to flounder in 9cm pots for far too long. I finally got round to planting up my hanging basket in mid July, cutting back my stringy, yellowing plants to the first leaf (some of which were extremely scrappy) and as you can see, they've revived spectacularly.

Some experts I've spoken to have questioned stability as the flowers are so variable. Graham Rice has tackled this with aplomb in his article linked to above. Apparently temperature is a factor which determines the form the flowers take, and if you look carefully in the above picture I have evidence of the high temperatures he talks about, which turns flowers completely purple.

Petunias are notorious for not liking wet weather. I've found 'Night Sky' is much better than most, shrugging off the periods of heavy rain we've had a few times over the summer. The most noticeable - and quite pleasing effect in my view - is any settled rain or dew drops seem to expand the flower's white patches into more of a splash than a pin point. Flowers are easy to dead head and we've enjoyed a fragrant welcome home over the past few weeks.

Cosmos 'Xanthos'
Sadly I can't say the same of the Cosmos 'Xanthos' I've trialled for a potted display. It's the first time I've grown cosmos and they looked persuasively great at Jimmy's Farm last year.

As you can see they flower prolifically, but I've found this variety disappointing to look after as the flowers go over very quickly. Sadly many of the spent flowers are not separate enough from the buds, so I end up removing both when I dead head the display.

I've also found the yellow colouring is short lived and flowers quickly fade to white. This might be temperature related again, as most of the pots are on our south facing patio, though Graham Rice doesn't mention it in his article for this plant. Sally over at the The Constant Gardener thought they looked good at the RHS trials field recently, and I await their results with interest.

Update: Flighty left a comment to say he's grown 'Xanthos' before and is planning to grow it next year. A classic case of what doesn't work for me, does for others :)

And in the fruit corner (ahem)...

I know they're not flowers, but seeing I'm talking about this year's trials I'm going to say something about my tomatoes and my first ever aubergine *proud moment*. Besides, both need flowers before they fruit ;)

I'm impressed with the 'Mountain Magic' tomatoes I've grown in pots outdoors this year. They've shrugged off the cold June we had, and so far are not showing any signs of blight, despite the alarming Blightwatch emails I've had from time to time. They started to crop mid August and I'm sure they'd be much earlier for those of you who can grow them under glass.

This is a blight resistant tomato, bred as part of *nominative determinism alert* Dr Randolph Gardner's Multiple Disease Resistance programme at North Carolina State University. I've not been that impressed with F1 blight resistant tomatoes like Ferline before; what they gain in resistance seems to be lost in flavour.

'Mountain Magic' is the exception I've found so far, though to be fair I've not tried them all. I've got a decent crop of sweet orange-red medium sized fruit, which even NAH remarked upon as 'good' without prompting when I presented them in a salad. An added bonus is the lack of split fruit.

If you're looking to grow blight resistant tomatoes yourself, (the only way for me to get a decent crop as I can only grow outdoors) then this useful summary from Grow Veg is a good place to start for both F1 and heirloom possibilities. I've grown 'Matt's Wild Cherry' previously - prolific, lovely flavoured teeny tiny toms - and I like the sound of 'Lemon Drop'.

I gave Thompson & Morgan's Michael Perry a hard time over the ethos behind the new 'Egg & Chips' grafted plant earlier this year, but being the garden tart I am, I couldn't resist the offer of one to trial.

I've never succeeded growing an aubergine outdoors, so you can imagine my excitement when I first saw flowers, followed by one fruit. It's still flowering, though I'm sure these will wither and die like most of the others have. I think the temperature fluctuations we've had this summer haven't helped with pollination.

Whether the 'chip' part of the partnership is successful has yet to be seen. I was sent a shockingly bad plant (dealt with amicably behind the scenes and I didn't take the offered replacement), so anything from this trial is set to be a bonus.

I'm encouraged to research aubergine varieties suitable for outdoor growing without a potato partner. NAH's impressed too, so suggestions are welcome for potential varieties to consider, plus a suitably swish aubergine recipe to celebrate our first ever home grown one. This baby deserves more than the usual Moussaka treatment.

Garden Bloggers' Blooms Day is hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

Update: I had no potatoes in my pot, so similar results to last year's 'Tomtato' trial, where I obtained tomatoes but no spuds.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Weekend Wandering: Georgia O'Keeffe at Tate Modern

The view from the third floor balcony of the Tate Modern
The view from the third floor balcony of the Tate Modern - with a clue to the exhibition I'd just seen. 
There's an amazing opportunity to see the works of seldom-seen-in-the-UK American artist Georgia O'Keeffe at the Tate Modern until 30th October.

I first came across her work when I studied photography A Level, as she was one of the iconic '291' group who surrounded pioneer photographer Alfred Stieglitz. She became his muse, then his wife. Much of this modernist group's work e.g. Paul Strand and Ansel Adams, as well as Stieglitz himself is on show too, so this is pretty much two exhibitions for the price of one.

That doesn't mean the display of O'Keeffe's work has been stinted, as there are over 100 of her paintings and drawings on show, as well as notebooks, supporting documentation, and even a rare example of her sculpture.

Photograph by Alfred Stieglitz of Georgia O'Keeffe in 1918
Alfred Stieglitz 1864-1946
Georgia O'Keeffe 1918
Photograph, palladium print on paper
243 x 192 mm
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© The J. Paul Getty Trust
Here's one of Stieglitz's photographs of her. Despite being nearly a century old, it's a striking, modern looking photograph.

She comes across as a fiercely independent woman, who held her own in the (mainly) world of men.

She hated being categorised or claimed; Stieglitz's attempted psychoanalysis of her work irritated her (and must have made for a stormy relationship), as did later claims by feminist groups she was a feminist artist.

She reacted to claims her work was erotic (mainly by Stieglitz) by saying:

"When people read erotic symbols into my paintings, they're really talking about their own affairs."

In the years prior to that statement, she was fascinated by synaesthesia and how e.g. sounds could be interpreted on paper as abstract forms. Her early work was exploratory and initially she worked in charcoal - "I...decided not to use any other colour until it was impossible to do what I wanted to do in black and white."

Tate banner for Georgia O'Keeffe exhibition
One of the pictures which drew me in:
Jimson Weed/White Flower Number 1
The exhibition explores these themes and the development of her work over seven decades. I'd gone especially to see her famous floral pictures and the scenes she painted in New Mexico. The latter landscapes we'd seen for real 20 years ago, and her paintings brought back memories of two wonderful holidays.

There's so much more to see and learn from this exhibition. Like my Painting the Modern Garden visit earlier this year, I was struck by the intense discussion and ideas that flowed from and between O'Keeffe and Stieglitz's other group members.

Before I went I'd tended to think of O'Keeffe's work as being a bit "flat", but having examined her paintings up close, I'm in awe of how she managed to create the subtle changes in colour on her canvases. There is no clue I can see from her brushwork on how it's been achieved.

My favourite discoveries from the exhibition include her early cityscapes of New York and her later abstract skyscapes. Clouds and sky are a theme seen throughout the exhibition and are seen in both photographic and painted artworks. They're evidence of the intense cross fertilisation of ideas between the artists featured.

Disclosure: I was given a press pass to the event, which I more than made up for in the souvenir shop afterwards! My thanks to Tate Modern for the pass, for including my favourite Ansel Adams photograph (Moonrise Hernandez New Mexico 1948), and allowing me to use the Georgia O'Keeffe photograph above, with the correct accreditation.

Note: if you want to visit the exhibition, photography isn't allowed.

Coming up: I'm really looking forward to see the David Hockney exhibition at Tate Modern starting February 9th next year. I was blown away by his Bigger Trees Near Warter landscape when it was on show in York in 2012.

If you can't wait until then, you can see his portrait work now at the Royal Academy until October 12th. Sounds like the perfect excuse for a trip to London in the next few weeks and see two iconic art exhibitions.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Thinking Outside the Box

Thinking Outside the Box display at RHS Wisley

There's always something new to see at Wisley and I'm particularly taken with their 'Thinking outside the box' trial plot. As you can see, it was an interesting display, even though it was raining at the time.

Enquiries to the RHS concerning box blight and the box tree caterpillar have increased substantially in recent years, and Wisley itself has succumbed to both woes. As it says on one of the information boards for this display... "Sadly we suffer from both problems at Wisley and have only a small amount of box left."

The RHS has plenty of suggestions on its website for suitable small-leaved alternatives to box such as Lonicera nitada, Ilex crenata, yew and various berberis. I've pondered many of these as I'm thinking about replacing my front lawn with a small knot garden. I've decided not to use box because of the potential problems, and had Euonymus fortunei from their list as my front runner. It's being used successfully for this purpose in the herb garden at Barnsley House (scroll down to see the photo on Chatty Gardener's blog post).

Hebe 'Pascal'

Wisley's design is loosely based on a knot garden, so it immediately caught my interest for my own project. It also has a wealth of new possibilities to consider, and has the potential to expand the list of suitable box alternatives considerably. The information display says:

"We haven't found it [Ilex crenata] a strong or reliable shrub at Wisley, so we're looking for alternatives."... 'We are quite confident some of the Berberis, Lonicera and Podocarpus should perform well, and other genera are more of an experiment, so please watch our progress!"

I'm particularly taken with the hebe pictured above as these thrive in my garden. I also like the idea of a tidy and clippable evergreen that flowers in the summer and is attractive to bees. This one has an Award of Garden Merit and won't mind the north facing location of my front garden.

The other striking possibility from this display is that my new garden doesn't have to be just one type of plant. The layout shown in my top photo is attractive in its own right, with a surprising variety (to me anyway) of colours and textures. It also demonstrates how a looser feel can be introduced into what's usually a quite formal layout.

It's just a matter of working through which plants have potential for my garden. I'm keeping an interested eye open for how this trial develops in future.

Here's a list of the plants in the trial

I'm interested if you have any experience of growing these as a hedging or knot garden style plant.

  • Berberis darwinii 'Compacta'
  • Berberis thunbergii 'Atropurpurea', 'Golden Rocket', 'Golden Torch', 'Helmond Pillar', 'Orange Rocket' and 'Rose Glow'
  • Corokia x virgata 'Yellow Wonder' 'Red Wonder' 'Frosted Chocolate' and 'Sunsplash'
  • Eleagnus 'Quicksilver'
  • Eleagnus x ebbingei 'Compacta'
  • Euonymus japonicus 'Microphyllus Pulchellus' (NB its common name is Box-leaf Euonymus)
  • Hebe 'Pascal'
  • Leptospermum grandiflorium
  • Ligostrum sinense 'Sunshine'
  • Ligostrum undulatum 'Lemon Lime and Clippers' 
  • Lonicera nitada 'Maigrun'
  • Lophomyrtus x ralphii 'Kathryn'
  • Luma apiculata 'Glanleam Gold'
  • Pittosporum 'Arundel Green', 'Collaig Silver' and 'Oliver Twist'
  • Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Golf Ball', 'Irene Paterson', Tandara Gold', 'Warnham Gold' and 'Wrinkled Blue'
  • Podocarpus 'Chocolate Box', 'Country Park Fire' 'Guardsman' and 'Young Rusty'
  • Podocarpus cunninghamii 'Kiwi'
  • Podocarpus lawrencei 'Blue Gem'
  • Podocarpus nivalis 'Kilworth Cream'
  • Podocarpus totara 'Aureus'
  • Taxus baccata 'Repandens'
27/10 The above list has been checked and updated thanks to the list posted by Leila Benamer in the All Horts Group on Facebook. I wrote my list in the rain, so a couple of the names were hard to read.

Finally, here's an interesting discovery I made via Chris Young's (The Garden's editor) Instagram feed recently, which shows Pittosporum tobira has the potential for a spot of topiary. This has a H3 hardiness rating, so it's unsuitable for many places in the UK. It'll be interesting to see if any of the hardier Pittospurum listed above have similar potential.

Pittosporum tobira public planting as seen in France

Update: Karen added some extra ideas she's been using via the Comments:

"We are using Ilex 'Green Gem' this year instead of box, the plants come already trained and trimmed as ball shapes, or small sections of hedging for connecting together. I'm also using purple beech trained into pebble or dome shapes. Clients still ask for box, but it's not worth risking it."

Update: Looking great at the end of October, courtesy of Wisley curator Matthew Pottage on Twitter:

October sunset at RHS Wisley and progress with the box alternatives study

Update August 2017: Love this overhead shot I found on Twitter

Overhead view from a cherry picker

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Weekend Wandering: Return to Great Dixter

First sight of Great Dixter
The same opening view as my last visit; in summer this time

I can't believe it's taken me a couple of months to tell you about my return visit to Great Dixter. You may have guessed something was afoot because I referred to it in my Poppy Appeal post and The Secret of the Erigeron Steps.

That's the thing I find about Great Dixter; it needs more attention than I can write about having a wonderful time. Each visit informs my gardening like no other garden does, which takes more thinking about... which in turn takes time.

Today feels right for a more relaxed wander through the garden, so let's go...

Fergus Garrett introduces the garden
What a privilege to have Fergus Garrett and many of the Great Dixter team as our guides for the day
Colourful pots galore

Anyone who joins the team at Great Dixter is encouraged to experiment with the famous pot displays. These are refreshed every couple of weeks or so, and they may also give a clue to planting seen elsewhere in the garden.

Experiments with a mass planting of antirrhinums
For example, there are some antirrhinums in the above display which echo one of the borders closest to the house.

This is an experimental border, with some different colours added this year to previous plantings. There was some discussion between Fergus and Rachel on whether this variation was working, how it might change, and the relationship with the blue flowers at the back.

That's what I love about Great Dixter: the constant dialogue about what is and isn't working, the experimentation, and not being afraid to fail. The latter is seen as essential to learning and moving the garden on to greater things

As for us visitors, this border proved to be a marmite one. I was one of the ones who loved it, particularly when placed in contrast with that brooding sky.

Meadow and topiary

Meadows were much in evidence. Jonny told us this one's in its first few years of existence, yet you can see the yellow rattle they've sown is doing a good job, with lots of native of orchids showing themselves already. I particularly liked the pleasing shagginess of the meadow in contrast with the formal clipped hedges and topiary.

The famous Long Border at Great Dixter

A quick pause to swoon over the Long Border. Bamboo canes turn out to be the gardener's friend (here and elsewhere in the garden), either as an invisible staking aid, or as Michael showed us it's used to gently clear plants out of the way when tending the border. It can be quite tricky to move in to replace a plant when the border is so densely packed.

Part of the vegetable garden

Christopher Lloyd's 'Gardener Cook' ethos is still alive and well with Aaron proudly showing us around the area he looks after. We sampled some of the delicious produce for lunch too. You can read Aaron's blog over at Great Dixter Vegetable Garden.

Part of the Sunk Garden

I'll leave you with this view from the Sunk Garden, one of my favourite stops on the tour.

My thanks to Fergus and the rest of the team who were so welcoming and free with their knowledge and enthusiasm. Fergus invited us to share his reflections on the garden 10 years after Christopher Lloyd's death. It's good to see the garden's in good hands and looking to the future, whilst being mindful of keeping to the spirit of Great Dixter and its most famous inhabitant.

You may also like:

Naomi's yummy photos from the same day and Francine's profile of some of the great people we met.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

GBMD: The Point

Lilium pyrenaicum at Helmsley Walled Garden
Lilium pyrenaicum aka Pyrenean, Turk's-cap or Martagon Lily
This is another photo from our visit to Helmsley Walled Garden earlier this year. Fortunately, NAH was happy for me to have a wander round the garden and take plenty of time to stand and stare.

The quote was on one of the blackboards at the garden entrance (see July's Muse Day for another) and it seemed appropriate to transfer it to a photo of my first closer view of these lilies. I've only managed to see them at a distance previously.

Where's your favourite spot to stand and stare? I also like warm summer evenings here in the garden, watching the bats zoom around at dusk.
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