Tuesday 22 October 2013

What are the signs of your plant addiction?

At this time of year there is no hiding it, every windowsill is covered in plants, with a few of the larger ones on tables or by doors and generally scattered around the house.  The other common symptom is watching out for nurseries when visiting new locations.  This was in full flow at the weekend, it was too much when a sign appeared at the side of the road saying "Largest selection of alpines in the UK". Permission was granted for a QUICK stop and I left with 4 little pots and a big smile.

Sometimes it the signs are more subtle, on seeing these my first thought what great planters, drainage holes and everything.  Why can't we find troughs like this in London.

It took me a while to realise they were coffins.

Being in a grave yard at the time, should probably have been a clue.

I still think they would make great troughs, a definite talking point in the garden. I am obviously not alone. When I told this to a friend he sent me a link to a story about a couple who had planted up a trough they found in their new garden. Only to find out it was a unique roman  coffin worth £100000! (Here is a link to the story).

This is not unusual for me, I have notice that I tend to look at objects thinking about their potential as planters.  A big log that could be hollowed out, an old bird bath, or that toy dumper trunk that is crying out to be planted up.

So do you have any less obvious symptoms of your plant addiction?

Monday 7 October 2013

Packing up: part 2.

The good weather has continued and it has been lovely out in the garden for the last few days.  It would be easy to forget things need to be packed up.

I have been mixing my days between enjoying the sun in the garden and local parks and slowly moving plants into the other rain shelters.

The second cold frame is up. This one contains the plants that just need the rain keeping off and will benefit from a little bit of extra warmth. Many of the plants in here were in the old dry bed and will be planted in the new one. Until it is ready they are getting pampered.

Next up was starting on the greenhouse.  This is my first summer with a greenhouse and I have spent a lot of time pampering the plants in there, ensuring I remember to water (a first for me) and generally watching their progress.

It has been a very good year for aloe flowers, I think they have all flowered which is a first.  Sadly the flowers confirm that the plant bought as aloe firebird, is in fact aloe lizard lips.  Not one I wanted, although it does flower profusely so good for some colour.

The echeverias don't want to be outdone, so are still flowering as well.  We are into the late flowering varieties now, especially some of the white forms.

It's strange, starting to move some of these plants into the house felt much more definite than the rest of the packing up.  These are the plants that will be damaged by frost, so I guess it means I know they are on the way.

The first windowsill is full and plants have started appearing on the other one that is not being ripped out.  A few of the bigger aloes have moved in as well, I've yet to figure out where they are going to end up. They are sitting by a glass door at the moment and will be moved when the building works starts. It gives me time to find somewhere to put them.

Thursday 3 October 2013

Spot the dalmatian

Ok so that one was a bit easy.

I have posted about Keith and Mel's garden before , usually I end up visiting at the end of spring, before the covers are off.  Like this post.

Mel is the remaining bad influence in my plant buying, so visits usually revolve around some shopping trip.  If it's not plants it's dalmations and they have just picked up two new puppies.  Both are deaf, which makes life interesting when they are charging around and you can not shout at them to stop.

I am sure the dogs will make an appearance in the post, so keep your eyes open.

So the sunken garden is finished and even after only a couple of months looks fantastic.

You can literally walk around and want to take a photo of every plant, which of I did, but a few highlights.

Agave ovatifolia, with dalmatian

aloe polyphylla & agave parryi

The cycad corner
Keith does most of the hard landscaping, and Mel then decorates and plants it.  Each section has a different panel.

 There are lots of fun things hidden in the walls when you look closely


This is the view from their kitchen door

Mel tends to worry about me left alone in the green houses, so she sets guards to protect them.

The boards are to stop the puppies going inside, as they started to show too much interested in some of the plants.

Both the tall cacti were rescued, but seem very happy now.

 I love the low coloured wall.  The light doesn't tend to be bright enough for much colour like this, but it really works here.  If nothing else I will be steeling the idea a similar type of wall in the new garden.  

Anyone who tries growing succulents outside in the UK will loose plants every now and then, but it's always worth keeping solid sections of trunk as you never know what will happen.

Outside again and a tour of the different parts to the garden. The right hand side is a bamboo forest, not a bad place to sit.

This swimming pond was their project a few years back. The hut the other side is made out of a set of electricity poles Keith found got from recycling site.

The fireplace is another of Mels creations.  If you get bored of sitting by the pond, you can move up to the summer house, just visible on the left hand side of this picture.

Continuing around you get to the succulent bank.

Sadly they lost a couple of large yuccas over the last bad winters, the problems of trying to really push what you can grow. It is slowly filling out again and there is always something ready to fill an empty spot.

The bank curves around to run down the side of the house to the newer bits.  It has been so tough weather wise, there are several casualties.

Did you spot the dalmatians?

I mentioned that everywhere you look there are fun bits, a fish on a electricity pole. I love that they have left the warning sign on the pole.

Some of the agaves are getting big now, I've not seen an agave mitis this large in the UK.

No agave likes being in the ground as much as agave montana.  There are quite a few dotted around.

Then into the new bit, which was only finished last year.

Every time I see an agave potatorum it strikes me how good a plant they really are.  Another of the overlooked plants I think.  They are marginal in the UK, getting through in the warmer parts, but do best with rain covers.

This echeveria has formed nice clumps. The colour contrasts really well with the other plants in the bed.

On the way up to the greenhouses the green roof, well sort of green roof, is doing well.

It is funny seeing it at the end of summer, the plants shining are different from those in spring when it was the alpines strutting their stuff.

Finally looking back down the garden.

For the first time, I didn't really need to go in the greenhouses as everything had been moved into the garden. Being the end of summer also meant the more jungle sections of the garden were worth photos.  Going down the other side of the house are two walled gardens. Looking into the first one.

With another bench to relax on.

Then the jungle garden.  it is so lush, the photo doesn't do it justice. There is a jungle hut in there, but you will do well to spot it.

As you can tell, they garden takes a huge amount of work, and everyone helps out.

Don't be fooled though, The second you take your eyes off them, they are off looking for trouble again.

During all the times I have visited I have never seen Keith relaxing during the day.  There is always a new project, so I will end with the rarest photo of all.

I asked if the garden was now finished, and although there may be a short rest, I think Keith has his eye on a fernery. Well I guess not everything can be spiky.

Tuesday 1 October 2013

Back to Cornwall and some horti-culture

In the last post on Cornwall, I mentioned that it is up and down.  This leads to some good cliffs, especially as the main rock is granite.  Combined with a little, sorry a lot of imagination and you end up with Minack Theatre.  It was created by Rowena Cade, who from 1931 until she died in 1983  planned, built and financed it pretty much single handedly. It is not your average person who see their cliff edge rocky garden as an ideal place to literally carve out theatre. Let alone then have the determination and skills to build it themselves. But her efforts resulted in this:

Not a bad place to watch a play, and when you get to the bottom you really see how much work was put into carving it all out.

Even the natural outcrops of cliff have been used

The setting is stunning, rocky cliffs above a series of stunning sandy beaches

But what makes it a must see, on-top of all that, is that since 1998 the free space has been planted up as a sub-tropical garden. Most importantly mainly containing succulents.

It was badly hit by the bad winter a couple of years back, but seems to have recovered and the plants now looking very natural.

lots of very nice plants

No space is wasted, even the flat roof is planted up.

Once you have exhausted the views in the theatre you can walk down (the very steep stepped path) to the beach.

Then to reward you after the walk back up you can have another peak in the gardens on the way to the car park.  There is always something hiding that you didn't notice last time.

The question is, if you went to see a play there, would you be watching the play or the plants?