Saturday, 28 September 2013

A Cornish valley garden

One of the joys of going to Cornwall are the ups and downs and the quintessential Cornish garden has to involve in valley in some way. There are countless to choose from, but for me one of the best has to be Trebah. It pretty much grabs you form the moment you enter the gardens, this is what greats you.

If you can drag your eyes of the view of the valley, you'll notice that the start of the lush foliage is an amazing line of tree ferns.  I believe most of these have been hear since the since and are not recently imported. They are some of the finest specimens you will find in the UK.

It doesn't matter how often I see them they always take my breath away, they are simply stunning.  The brave can run, or roll depending on your age, down to them and start exploring straight away.  The more reserved, can follow one of the winding paths at a more leisurely pace. You are provided with a map that shows all the different paths which you will need to see everything, or you can simply walk down until you come to the beach and then up until you reach the lawn.

There are so many different plants to see, with the garden being split into sections. After the tree ferns, don't worry more photos of them later, if you follow the left hand set of paths you come to the bamboo glen.

There are far to many forms to show them all and the size of the clumps make it impossible to get photos of them. I am going to have to include one of the blue forms in the new garden, being tight clump forming varieties they are perfect for smaller gardens.  I dream of having space for one of the really big ones though.  The one the right had culms the size of my arm. 

Now the stream is a little larger and forms a series of ponds.  You never know what wild life you will come across in these.

The banks of the pools are filled with gunnera. It was hard to get a photo that does them justice, especially when the entire group you are with all hate having their photo taken so you don't have someone to stand under a leaf.

Just beyond these were the hydrangeas, which were had just started to flower when we were there. I hadn't realised there were so many forms and colours.

Then as suddenly as the jungle starts, it opens up and a few steps over a flood defence wall and you are on the beach.  We were there as the gardens opened, and had made our way straight down to the beach where we found 3 generations of a family swimming.  I couldn't help feel how good a way it was to start the day, it was only as they left, that I wondered where they had come from and figure they must be the owners, enjoying their garden before they loose it to the public.

I'm not sure if I had a garden like this and a beach at the bottom, that I would be so generous as to let it be taken over so I couldn't enjoy it myself. But I am glad they do, and at least it seems the manage to sneak some time on their own to enjoy it.

Back up over the wall and up this time the view is up to the house.

There are so many views on the botht he way up and down, if you can stop looking at individual plants that is.

Back up the top of the valley again, and you are back with the tree ferns. There is a large grove of them, with single, double and even a triple trunked specimen. By the look of them, it is so mild that the winter does not finish off the previous years fronds.

The last section is a little stepped section up the side of a sort of water garden. There are some fun neon fish jumping up the waterfalls at the moment.

Finally back up by the lawn it may be the first time you notice that it is covered in succulents and on top of it there is a succulent bank.  Again if I had more space this would be something I had in my garden, a sort of succulent jungle.  It is something I will be trying to replicate on a slightly smaller scale.

With valley gardens like this it is no wonder Cornwall is such a popular place to retire to, when you get fed up with urban living. 

Friday, 27 September 2013

It's that time of year

Although it feels too early, the plants all look great, there are still lots of flowers and I'm not sure about you, but I'm still holding on to the idea it's not yet Autumn. So as a break from the holiday photos, a few photos form the garden.  The pots are basking in the sun.

I've been trying different plants in the hippo and buffalo pots

The alpine trench is still going strong.

Sadly the weather is due to break this weekend; with two weeks of rain forecast.  I am a firm believer in the idea that succulents can take more cold when totally dry. This means it's time for the rain shelters to start going up. As the garden is on hold until next year, it is not too upsetting to pack things up.

This years winter protection will take the form of: inside the house (for the pampered), two cold frames, and an unheated greenhouse (which strangely is the coldest of the options). Having had many of the plants for a while, it is a fairly straight forward deciding what goes where. The problem is finding the inside space for delicate plants. I have to start sneaking them past my OH and onto the windowsills before she noticed the house has filled up. This year is not helped by the fact the big build is about to start, so most of the ground floor of the house will be building site with no space for plants.  There may have to be some more creative storage of the delicate plants, I have put in for written permission to store more around the upstairs rooms. The pampered group tend to be the last to be moved, in the hope that they will have stopped growing to avoid leggy growth. So there is time to work something out.

The first group to be packed up are those going into the warmer cold frame.  These tend to be the ones I am really pushing to their very limits. Some of the aloes and most of the echeverias tend to fit into this group. Some of the very slow moving agaves are stored under the echeverias, to make the most of the space.  The best group being my set of agave utahensis which are very cold tolerant if kept dry.

With a second cold frame this year, I am not packing this one as full as usual, in the hope that I can get to main plants easily to check on their progress through winter.

The front can stay off until colder weather is forecast with the roof going on when rain is due.  This allows me to still enjoy the plants and know they are drying out at the same time.

One section down 3 to go.

I know it's sad, but look on the bright side, it means at some point soon I will be able to bring back your favourite game show "Pamper or Freeze" (for those that have wiped the horror from their memory, last years game can be found here).

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Tresco part 2: The plants

Or some of them anyway.  It would be impossible to include photos of more than a fraction of the plants,  I must have a couple of hundred photos from my one day, so these are the edited highlights. I know many people have broader interests than me, so here are some of the more fluffy plants.

Starting with the proteas, there were a surprising number still in flower.

I particularly liked this one called "Red Embers"

Just a couple of one of the best ferns. The trunk was over 2 meters tall.

There are some amazing trees in the gardens,  I overheard a tour guide saying that with the storms they often loose trees as they are such shallow soil. When this happens it wipes out whole sections of the gardens. I'm pleased to say that like all good gardeners, he went on to say that while sad this means they have more space to play with and can design something new.

Getting into palms and cordylines

There were quite a few cordyline indivisa planted around the gardens.  They are stunning, but SO fussy.  One day I will cave and try one, despite knowing full well I will kill it, as everyone else does.

The most common succulent in the gardens are aeoniums, in fact you will find them everywhere in the Scillys.

My favourite of the aeoniums, a. nobile.

 There were a fair few aloes as well, the most common being a. arborescens

I particularly like the fact that some have great variegated heads.

 There were a few a. plicatilis dotted around

Strangely their aloe polyphylla were not spiralling as well as many do.  I thought this may be just one plant, but it was the same with almost all of them in the gardens.  It doesn't stop them being great plants though.

Aloe barberae on the left was getting to a decent size, as was the A. speciosa on the right

Then the agaves, I wont bother naming them all, just enjoy the pure sceptical these plants create.

I liked this variegated americana.

I am guessing this a. filifera is about to flower, the central leaves are getting smaller and the core is starting to swell.

A nice a. Nigra, they do look good when they get to this size.

A few a. parryi poking out from between the other plants.

This a. salmiana has to be one of the show stopper plants in the gardens. 

Some of the larger agaves were on the edge of paths, and had been carefully trimmed to remove any spines which may cause injury.  Even without the terminal spines the marginal teeth are something special.

So a small selection of the plants.  Nothing too unusual, but then these are planted out all year and it is the UK after all.