In praise of…greenery

May 17, 2009
That there Libertia

That there Libertia

During a week (the run up to Chelsea ’09, my thoughts go out to the poor souls out there…) of perpetual grey skies and a nasty niggling wind, a friend (called June, ironically) emailed from southern France, with words to the effect that her garden was looking good, but then if you can’t make your garden look good in May you must be a pretty poor gardener…and I suppose she is right.

To me, the first half of May can be a bit of a waiting game which I rather enjoy.  The in-your-face Spring  ‘stars’ are flagging:  the last of my tulips are now dog-eared, juicy Dicentras are leggy and buffeted by the wind.

Of course, there are flowers aplenty – the tree paeony is in top form and it is a particularly good time for Aquelegias.

Appreciated greenery

Appreciated greenery

I am particularly appreciative of my upstanding Euphorbias that seem to glow in the gloom, for that much-loved spikey, dusky-leafed Libertia ixioides (about which I wrote this time last year and which is even more fullsome now).

Almost above all though, I am enjoying the the splendid pristine  contrasts of the green foliage in my borders which I plant with leafy May in mind almost as much as for the eventual colour of its later blowsey performance.

I have a visiting group tomorrow…I hope they appreciate the greenery as much as I do.

Bumbling on…

June 28, 2008

Ho Humm. Here’s yet another reason why we should shun dizzy annual bedding plants – particularly those boring little red begonias and busy lizzies (or is that bizzy lusies?).

According to an email I recieved last week, bumblebees don’t like them because they have little nectar on offer. And did you know that the various bumblebee species differ in the lengths of their tongues, and as a result their flower preferences differ? 

Here’s another intriguing nugget – the native flower most attractive to most bumblebee species is Viper’s Bugloss (Echium vulgare).

All this fascinating information came, via my son (the Geek) – from his girlfriend. 

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National Garden Scheme: ‘Thorny Problems’

June 9, 2008

Saturday’s session in aid of the National Garden Scheme, held in the little hall across the road from my house in Wadhurst, and followed by a leisurely stroll around my garden, glass in hand, was a lovely low-key event, one that I am due to repeat this coming Saturday, June 14.

I decided (more or less at the last minute) to make it a problem-airing session on ‘downsizing’, using a PowerPoint presentation I had put together with pictures of my former gardens (mostly of Ketley’s) taken by Jonathan Buckley and by me, enhanced (I joke) by some ‘before-and-during’ pictures of my new place taken by me and Martin Pope from the Telegraph.

These included some mind-boggling shots of a giant pampas grass (thank goodness, now gone) a digger (manned by friend and landscaper Geoff) , piles of concrete and earth, tree removal, borders and paths and a pond under development and construction etc.

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Happy Snappers

June 6, 2008

I have had two or three in my time, and they hate doing it in the middle of the day. 

Garden photographers always prefer to hot-foot it to my door before dawn – or when sun, slanting over a sea of catmint and alliums, is definitely over the yard arm. 

The most dedicated was perhaps Jonathan Buckley.  When he lived in Dulwich, for one whole summer and beyond he would swoop down to my Sussex garden in a battered old white Citroen. 

At one point we agreed that I would phone him at some ungodly hour to let him know if there was hoar frost on my agapanthus. I had to trek down the garden en chemise de nuit , a muddy fleece and gardening clogs in pitch dark to find out, of course.  There was, and he was there like a shot, well before the crisply seed-heads thawed just after dawn. 

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Libertia – finally…

June 4, 2008

I don’t have a very elegant camera, so I am finding it really hard to get a picture (as promised) that does this wonderful plant justice.

However, you can see the dark buds and stems here – quite unlike L. grandiflora:

Libertia 'Helen Dillon'

(Click on it for a bigger picture…)

Wadhurst Open Gardens

June 2, 2008

My village, Wadhurst in East Sussex, has just had its charity Open Gardens weekend and – probably to quote a hundred local newspaper reports on similar events this month, ‘the rain held off’ – just. 

The lack of precipitation was indeed a mercy afer last year’s wash out – but for those of us who bravely opened our gates it was a bit sad that the flat, grey afternoon sky and only-just-shirt-sleeve temperatures hardly did our beloved gardens justice – so heavenly as they are, empty of all but us and the birds, particularly in the soft light and summer warmth at dusk and dawn.

Of course an event like this just doesn’t happen without considerable effort. 

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May 22, 2008

A starling taking a bath in the pond at EldenhurstIt is 7 a.m. and I was woken about two hours ago by a raucous cacophony – umpteen parent starlings sitting in the oak tree outside my bedroom, calling out to their fledgelings. We have quite a sizeable colony around here – presumably they like the accommodating construction of the eves of Edwardian houses or something.

Some youngsters came out yesterday, many more today. As I write there is a gang of clumsy little birds, gazing myopically, legs bent so that the seem to be crouching, massed around my pond.

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