Showing posts from June, 2015

Beat the Heat at RHS Hampton Court

Phew what a scorcher! Temperatures were in the high 20s at RHS Hampton Court yesterday and are set to soar into the 30s today. Here are my tips to help you enjoy the show, instead of getting a bit grumpy in the heat like I did.

Go early and/or stay late - it means you can enjoy the show at the cooler times It was noticeably cooler under the arbour in Nilufa's garden at 1pm yesterday. There are a lot of trees at Hampton court, some with seats around them, so you can have a long sit down - including a picnic or siesta - in the really hot part of the dayWear your comfiest shoes - the show is huge, so there's a lot of walking involvedI hate wearing a hat because I get 'hat hair', but I did wear one yesterday. One with a wide brim will also protect your neck Wear comfortable, loose clothing including something to protect your neck if your hat doesn'tTake plenty of water and linger by the Long Water, where a delightful breeze blows in for the afternoon. The clever creato…

Things in Unusual Places #15: Turtles

Pity the poor gardener who kindly guided us around the wonderful iris collection in the Laking Garden at The Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) near Toronto. The star attraction at the time was a turtle laying her eggs in the garden's soft fertile earth, so he didn't stand a chance while a gaggle of garden bloggers tried to catch the moment when another egg plopped into the hole.

Apparently this is a regular occurrence in June, which merits a warning on the garden's page on the RBG website. Luckily the turtle was unfazed with her new found stardom and quietly carried on with her business.

Our quest for egg laying pictures sated, it was time to explore the collection of hundreds of irises on display, showcasing cultivars from this and the last century. As you can see, our timing was just right as there was a colourful tapestry of blooms on offer. Most of these are laid out in chronological order, so it's easy to see how breeding has affected the size of blooms, plant height…

Postcard From Canada

I've just got back from a fab holiday in Canada, where Victoria and I joined 70 other bloggers from the USA and Canada for several days of varied garden visits and fun during the Garden Bloggers Fling in Toronto. As well as catching up with lots of friends I met in Seattle and Portland, it was great to meet Amanda and Susan at last.

NAH came over with me and as you can see he whisked me up the CN Tower for a sunset visit, plus the opportunity to conquer my fear of heights by walking me across the glass floor in that big bulgy bit you can see in the picture. A further opportunity presented itself during the Fling... more on that later.

Post-Fling, NAH and I toured part of Ontario to the north of Toronto. The friendliness of the Canadians makes it a wonderful place to visit. We had so many interesting conversations with complete strangers and now we're back home it feels odd to no longer be greeting everyone with a smile, a hello and a how's it going?

I'll be telling yo…

Unusual Front Gardens #23: Cambridge Gate

Most building work is usually screened by an ordinary hoarding. However, when it's right opposite Regent's Park, something a little more in keeping with the neighbourhood is required. Cambridge Gate itself has an interesting entry in London Gardens Online.

GBBD: Garlic Mustard

I went to a fascinating talk on foraging with Liz Knight at Malvern last month. Most of it was about the possibilities using cultivated plants*, with a brief nod towards edible weeds like hairy bittercress** which also calls many a garden home.

One of the featured weeds was garlic mustard, which I've since found has taken up residence in a couple of shady spots in our front side garden. Its flowers show it's one of the brassica family and its leaves are a simpler form of the oriental mustards I grow for salad.

This is usually more of a plant to feature for May's Blooms Day, but our cooler weather this year means it's hung on into June.

First taste is of garlic and then the mustard kicks in. If you use it in salads, pick absolutely fresh as it wilts very quickly. It's a good candidate for my Universal Pesto recipe. Those seed pods pack quite a fiery punch and deserve to be made into a mayonnaise, so this weed doesn't spread too far in the garden.

American reade…

Love the Plot You've Got

I came across the Love the Plot You've Got initiative at the Edible Garden Show*  earlier this year. It's designed to inspire gardeners to make the most of their plot, no matter the size and vertical gardening is just one way to get more out of the tiniest of spaces.

It reminded me I'd failed to use the funky herb planter I bought last year and with the demise of the Clematis montana var. Rubens 'Elizabeth' which clothed the 'boring fence project', I decided it was time to put it to good use.  I also came home with three herbs plants from the show, so I already had everything I needed to put my small project into effect.

The pockets are fairly small, so I've used three herbs which hail from warmer climes (oregano, thyme and prostrate rosemary) which should stand up to the harsh treatment I tend to give my potted plants. I've also 'planted' a pierced yoghurt pot in the soil next to each plant, which should help with keeping them well watered…

Late Spring Surprises

I'd begun to think my Rodgersia pinnata 'Chocolate Wing' hadn't survived the winter, and had even planned its replacement, but then on the very last day of May there it was looking all green and perky. That greenness is a bit worrying as the foliage is meant to be brown (as indeed it was last year), but hey I'll take green foliage over no foliage any day.

I've decided to add a lot more interesting foliage to my garden this year, and I'm investigating the possibilities ferns might bring to the shady parts of VP Gardens courtesy of Richie Steffen and Sue Olsen's new Plant Lover's Guide.

Other plants raising themselves like Lazarus are my beloved Salvia 'Amistad' and loads of blowsy begonias. Keep your fingers crossed that the lovely Salvia 'Hadspen' isn't that far behind them.

What surprises has your plot brought you this year?

GBMD: The Life That I Have

For the peace of my years
In the long green grass
Will be yours and yours and yours.

Leo Marks - The Life That I Have (1943)

Can you see the man hiding? I missed him completely until I got home. I was concentrating on getting the light in the right place on the stained glass window when I took the photo.

The Evaders Garden was an evocative Artisan showpiece at Chelsea. It's based on the true story of the designer's RAF serving father, who was shot down over France in 1943 and evaded capture via the help of the local people.

My Muse Day piece shows the last 3 lines of the poem carved on the tablet you can see on the left. This was issued to Violette Szabo, whose WWII bravery formed the central story in Carve Her Name With Pride.

Helen Gazeley over at Weeding the Web has posed an interesting question re the Artisan category at Chelsea using this garden as an example. Must these gardens tell a story, or should we demand more gardening and plantsmanship as far as this category is con…