Monday, 21 July 2014

Postcard from the Pacific North West

Mount Rainier seemingly floats in the air - as seen from the Bainbridge Island to Seattle ferry
I've just got back from an amazing holiday in the Pacific North West aka the Washington and Oregon states in the USA.

The main purpose of the holiday was to join the Garden Bloggers Fling in Portland, but a long journey across the pond deserves to be made into a road trip, which is precisely what Victoria, Charlotte and I did.

We flew into Seattle, where our friend Marty Wingate had arranged an amazing pre-fling garden tour for us, including another visit to the Bloedel Reserve, plus the company of Dan Hinkley to show us around the legendary Heronswood.

We then drove down the coast to Portland for the Fling. Here the organisers managed to squeeze us into an itinerary that included 13 gardens, 3 nurseries and one publisher (Timber Press) in a mere 3 days.

Our final stop was in the heart of Oregon, where Victoria found the wonderful Airlie Farm B&B for us to have some well deserved R&R. This included a couple more nurseries, a trip to the coast, plus horse riding Western style.

I'll be telling you more about our adventures over the coming weeks...

Friday, 18 July 2014

Impromptu Harvest

I've been hacking away at an enormous bramble up at the plot to try to get rid of it at long last.

An unexpected side effect was uncovering lots of ripe gooseberries which had yet to be discovered by the birds. Therefore it was important to harvest these straight away before the pesky critters realised what was there.

However, I hadn't expected to be harvesting anything and so hadn't bought any of my containers. My solution to the problem? An extra use for the gauntlets I did have with me. One gauntlet = half a kilo of berries, ready for making some delicious gooseberry fool later on.

I discovered the next day I should have checked the fingers for stray berries before putting them on again ;)

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

GBBD: Off-Piste Plant Buying and Planting

My plant buying is governed currently by a wants list for the terrace borders and front garden makeovers planned for this year. It's interesting to see how my tastes have changed since I started this blog and now show up in the list.

The pictured Astrantia 'Star of Royals' wasn't on there, but I couldn't resist it when I went to my local garden centre to claim my half price plant offer. I'd decided Trachelospermum jasminoides was the plant of choice for my claim, but then found that was on special offer anyway.

I had planned to plant the Astrantia in the shady part of the terrace to replace the prickly Osmanthus heterophyllus 'Tricolor'*, where Victoria and I agreed the flowers would do a marvellous job of lighting up the gloom. However, it was so gloomy when I removed the Osmanthus, I didn't have the heart to plant it there.

Instead, I've given it a starring centre stage role in the top terrace bed, where I see it waving at me every time we sit down to eat in the kitchen. I'm happy with its new position and I'm now having a rethink of what will go in the deeply shaded part of the terrace beds.

Egglestone Hall Gardens - where it's often hard to separate gardens from nursery :)

On the whole I've been very disciplined with my plant buying list, but I was tempted to go off-piste again whilst on holiday. We visited Egglestone Hall Gardens in Teesdale on our last day and found a delightful nursery bursting with healthy plants and displayed to perfection.

I managed to restrict myself to a Helianthemum 'Fireball' and a Geranium 'Sandrine'. Both remind me of a delightful afternoon spent with Victoria at Iford Manor last month, where we saw a massive orange variety of the Helianthemum spilling over a wall. 'Fireball' fits in better with the other reds I've planted and is also poised to drape itself over a wall. Of course, these purchases also make a delightful holiday souvenir **.

The geranium is also to remind me to return to the delights of Downside Nurseries, a local nursery which we discovered after our Iford visit and has only taken me 30 years to realise it's there. They have a marvellous range of geraniums which I'm planning to use to knit the taller plants in my terrace beds together.

Whilst I'm enjoying having the discipline of a planting list, it's also a delicious feeling to go off-piste a little and buy a few extras to plant in unexpected places on my planting plan.

I'll return at a later date to tell you more about all the new plants in my terrace beds.

* = planted for year-round interest, but far too prickly for placing next to our garden steps!

** = well, that's what I'm telling myself ;)

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

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Sloane Square Showstoppers

Sloane Square has a fab new planting which was turning heads when I made my way to Chelsea Flower Show last month.

Plenty of people were crossing the road for a closer look and then taking photographs, just like I did.

It may have had a flashier, tropical themed cousin around the corner, but unlike this Chelsea in Bloom winner...

... it forms a longer lasting feature on the Square (at least until the store opens in September) and is designed to help save the bees :)

I hope it'll be a permanent feature - watch this space.

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