Wednesday 14 November 2012

Echeveria golden towers

Looking around the pots, I noticed how well this echeveria is doing.  It was tiny when I got it and I wasn't sure it would survive, then it got mealy bug, so it is nice to finally see it healthy.

It has a little flower stalk forming, you can just make it out, but sadly I think this will most likely get frosted off.  A clump of these in a nice bowl style pot would probably look stunning.

Sunday 11 November 2012

A bit of protection for the bigger plants

Having been dug up in the summer and as I actually have space, almost everything is getting protection this year.  I started to move the bigger plants into the greenhouse today as I would be very upset to loose the after three years planted outside unprotected.

First in were the yucca rostratas.  They are totally hardy for me, but have a very annoying habit of dropping all their roots if disturbed, so are having to be re-rotted.  This should in theory be easy, but it is a worrying time as if they are ever going to suffer from rot it would be now.

They are two of the stars of by old dry bed, with the larger one being a perfect blue colour (not that you can tell from this early evening photo). The other one has had more shade for a lot of the time it was planted as is greener. 

The middle sized cycad was also brought in. It flushed over the summer, and for once I would like it to stay pristine and not have to cope with snow. The smaller one will go in another cold frame and the largest will get a fleece cover. 

The large agaves will mainly be in the other cold frame as it means I don't have to move them; I don't fancy having to carry them through the very narrow greenhouse door.  A few more may make into here along with some more of the aloes, but ideally I want to keep space to potter in there over winter and not totally fill it. 

I'm not sure what all the plants that are usually left totally unprotected are going to make of this special care.  They had better not get used to it, it will be a return to the tough life again as soon as the new dry bed is designed and built.

Thursday 8 November 2012

Crete Lodge garden

I have been meaning to do a post on this garden for ages.  It belongs to Keith and Melissa and is a real labour of love.  I have posted about it before but not shown the main garden, so it is about time I rectified this.   I first met them in 2008 and have been lucky enough to be allowed to visit a couple of times every year since. Melissa is responsible for me going on the cactus field trips every year (here is the post on the last one) and is a very bad influence when it come to buying plants. I don't think she has worked out the difference in size of our gardens. This post is a mixture of my photos (both old and recent) and some supplied by Melissa where I do not feel mine do the garden justice.

The first obstacle to overcome are the guard dogs

If you do manage to somehow sneak past them you come out of the house onto the terrace. This photo is a bit old now and they re-modelled it last year.

The edge of the terrace looks over the top of their arid bank which is one of the main reasons for visiting.  I say "one" as the garden has so many areas that stand out, this is their little swimming pond with the lovely telegraph pole hut built by Keith. Sadly the last couple of bad winters have not been kind to the tree ferns or some of the palms around this areas, but like his this older photo.

I never stop being amazed at how much they manage to do,  it's not just things like digging the pond out, but all the beds have low walls made from bricks and objects they have been given or found.

So the arid bank. It forms a sweeping curve around the back of the house and is spectacular.

Photo by Melissa
The rocks are local, either from where they have excavated or from a local gravel pit.

Photo by Melissa
The bank is mainly planted with a mixture of agaves, cacti, yuccas, with other xeric planting filling in the gaps.

As if that lot wasn't enough, for the last couple of years they have been extending the bank, moving the greenhouses and adding a water storage tank. This is the size of green house I want, it looks even better now it is filled.

Photo by Melissa
Mind you their little lean-to isn't bad either.

Photo by Melissa
The other side of the end wall is going to be a cactus house with all the plants in the ground, which I can't wait to see when it is finished. This was the area between the new greenhouses and the bank at the tart of the year.

I haven't managed to get back since it has been fully planted up, but Mel has kindly let me see photos of it recently and I can not wait to see it in person:

Getting some of the plants in looked fun.

Photo by Melissa
But it was really worth it. Again it is the little details that make the garden stand out. Remember the telegaph pole hut? There were some left, so they have been used to form rasied edging to some parts of the garden.

Photo by Melissa
One section of the new bit is a massive water storage tank which is hidden by a green roof.

Photo by Melissa
At first I thought it was strange not to have added more plants, believe me Mel has no shortage,  until you see it from the terrace, or should that be don't see it for the terrace.

Photo by Melissa
The only problem I have with their garden is that I always leave feeling very inadequate in how much I manage to get done in my tiny little garden.  They do everything themselves including all the brick work. I still believe that Melissa has managed to clone Keith and has a garage full of him somewhere, can two people really manage to do this all on their own! It really is a beautiful garden, and visiting is always one of the highlight of my year.  They except visitors by appointment and if you are ever going to be near Norwich I highly recommend arranging to drop in.  (Here are links to their facebook page, and their web page).

Sadly the dogs have been trained to follow me around and bark if I go near the greenhouses unsupervised, but I always come away with at least one gift and a head full of ideas. I wonder if Melissa would hire Keith out when I come to do the hard landscaping in my garden.

Wednesday 7 November 2012

Must find more time for the plants.

The clocks changing, trips to visit the in-laws, decorating, and being busy at work mean that I'm not spending any time in the garden at the moment. This is particularly frustrating as my other final treat of the year turned up in the form some staging for the greenhouse.

I am planning on making most of the staging for the planned final greenhouse, but thought it wouldn't hurt to have one little bit set up for this winter.  It looks sadly underused at the moment which is partly due to not having time to move the plants in.  As the greenhouse is unheated and has large gaps, it is more of a rain shelter than anything else, but that is fine for me, as these plants were pretty much the left overs or those that were planted in the dry bed until we moved.

It feels a bit strange to have all this space and not to have to cram everything in on top of each other. It almost looks like I don't have that many plants, maybe I need to buy some more after all. It definitely makes placing the cacti a lot easier!

The top has become a little echeveria nursery and assuming there are no problems this winter they should get a really good start to the year here. 

Next to go in are all the big agaves and the yuccas that I am re-rotting after being dug up.  Even with all the space something tells me that is still going a painful process.

Friday 2 November 2012

Ok just one more

Echeveria 'Rainbow'
Spontaneous end of year purchase. Echeveria Rainbow one of few variegated echeverias you will actually find for sale. Still not widely available, but you will at least be able to find this one if you look.

No one is exactly sure where it came from, it could be a variegated form of e. perle von nurnburg, and I can see definite similarities. A lovely little plant, although annoyingly it has a tendency to loose the lower leaves very easily, as proved when mine turned up with a few loose in the box.

Echeveria 'Compton Carousel'
Normally I wouldn't buy this late in the year, but I have been after variegated echeverias for a while with little luck and when I saw this one I though why not.  Given how easy it is to propagate echeverias I am amazed they are not more widely available. Instead there are only three that you may find readily: e. 'compton carousel', e. 'Bess Bates' and this one. There are others but these demand really high prices and you almost never find them for sale. 

Echeveria ' Black River'
One issue is that many are not stable, so even if you start off with a variegated plant it may not stay that way.  I had it recently when a friend finally managed to get a variegated plant from leaves on his e. 'black river' (another e. black prince variegate). Within a few months the plant had reverted to normal, much to my frustration.  The result is that instead of using leaves, you have to grow them form offsets and few people will risk their valuable plants to top cut them to produce more. 

This leaves the market wanting for more; very frustrating when you're looking, but very rewarding when you do finally manage to get hold of one.  It also makes for a lot of envy when other collectors turn up to see your plants.