Take a deep breath

We’re heading into holiday snaps territory. I have been trying to think of the best way to present everything (we visited So.Many.Gardens) and on balance I’m going to go with one post each for Eden and Heligan, and one or two to cover the other gardens – where, in fairness, we spent less time and took fewer photographs.

Firstly, though, a shout out to our money-saving friends. There is still time, just, to get the BBC Gardeners’ World magazine with the 2-for-1 card. This gets you into loads of gardens all over the country, and without it we wouldn’t have gone to Eden at all because of the cost.

So we had our first holiday in two years, and went to Cornwall. We stayed in a lovely converted barn down one of those narrow winding lanes with deceptively soft-looking banks of grass and wildflowers either side that you just know are hiding unyielding granite walls, with gnarled trees growing out of the tops that reach over the lane to hold hands with the trees opposite like a guard of honour as you pass beneath them. Pheasants scooting up the banks as we drove past, a deer wandering up the field behind the house, a baby rabbit dashing across the patio in the twilight. Gorgeous.

Spring in Cornwall does, of course, mean rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias by the score so I apologise now if you hate them. Cornish gardens at pretty much any time of year mean the most enormous gunneras and more tree ferns than any sane person could possibly want, but I’ve never claimed sanity.

First on the visit list was Knightshayes Court and the observant amongst you will immediately say “That’s in Devon!” Yes, yes it is. We stopped of there for lunch on the way down. National Trust, 19th century Gothic revival house which is best described as utterly bonkers, so much so that the family gave up trying to make the house liveable-in and turned their attentions to the gardens instead. (Seriously, though, the house is amazingly bizarre.)

There’s a walled garden:

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With some lovely flowers being grown for cutting:

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And a lot of rhubarb. Serious quantities of rhubarb. There was even a sign explaining that they have so much demand for the rhubarb that they’ve had to grow ever larger quantities.

In the formal gardens you get some lovely flowers, impressive views and the obligatory strange topiary:

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I think they’re meant to be dogs.

Knightshayes didn’t divert us for long as we had to press on, but it would be nice to go back and have a proper go round the gardens and the woodland walks at some point.

On the Saturday we went to Eden so I’ll come back to that in another post. Sunday we had arranged to meet some friends of mine from University who now live in Falmouth, and they’d suggested Trebah gardens as it’s one of their favourites. It’s a classic south coast of Cornwall garden – on a ravine running down to a beach, lots of dramatic views of cliffs and coves, and plenty of scope for the enormous gunnera.

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We were early enough for bluebells to be still hanging on, pretty much everywhere we visited:

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And there’s bamboo everywhere as well – how could I forget the bamboo?!

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Centre left, looking like Sideshow Bob’s hair.

An abundance of water features:

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Some plants that weren’t azaleas, rhodies or camellias:

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An agave, getting ready to flower

And these. Of course.

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Almost next door to Trebah is Glendurgan, a National Trust garden which is again on a ravine running down to a beach but is very different from Trebah. One of their standout plants is a tulip tree, one of the oldest in the country, now roped off to prevent footfall damaging its roots. There’s also a maze – amaze-ing… (sorry) and more of those pesky seasonal blooms.

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The tulip tree

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On the Monday, after a visit to one of Henry VIII’s coastal forts (St Mawes Castle, on the Roseland Peninsula) we stopped off at Trewithen, just a few minutes from our holiday cottage. We can thoroughly recommend the cafe, the cream teas were excellent! And the garden was a lovely place for a wander – winding, intersecting paths, clearings, the odd bit of interesting sculpture. There is a historic house but we didn’t go inside (though it is open), and the garden has obviously been adapted over the centuries. There’s an enclosure housing red squirrels but they were all hiding, much to my disappointment – I have never seen one in Britain, only in Germany.

Anyway, a few plants clinging to stone walls at St Mawes:

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And a flavour of Trewithen:

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The fallen flowers looked like drifting snow

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That’ll do for now, I think. Just one last thing: last week I mentioned a new photography project. It’s inspired by Trewithen, where they have taken a photo a week for a year from the same spot using the same camera settings, showing the West Lawn over the course of the year – the most representative for each month is on display in the cafe. So I’m going to do the same here, though I haven’t decided yet when to start, but it’ll be a photo a week of our back garden and I shall post them here, then review after the year is up.

More holiday snaps soon!

 

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Before we get to the holiday photos

No doubt you’re all eagerly anticipating the hundreds of holiday snaps I’m planning to unleash. Well, maybe not hundreds, but there’s definitely over a hundred ready to post up here. But before we get to that, I just took a few photos on the mobile here to show you what’s been bursting into flower in our absence – and has thankfully hung on long enough for us to appreciate.

The peony – of course:

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An assortment of aquilegia (is that the right collective noun?):

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Viburnum:

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Centaurea montana:

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Snow-in-Summer:

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The alliums are starting to get in on the act (bit out of focus, sorry):

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Cornus:

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Variegated alyssum – how zingy is that yellow?!

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Ceanothus – the one at the back; the one at the front has buds, but no flowers yet:

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Weigela:

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And a pink scabious, and behind it you can just see a small gooseberry:

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Plans are afoot for this year, involving removal of the remaining strips of grass. Also I have a photographic project, but more of that in another post, as it relates to one of the gardens we visited in Cornwall.

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Brace yourselves

There’s a whole load of photo-heavy posts in the works. Here’s an appetite-whetter:

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And another:

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And one last one:

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We’re on holiday… more soon!

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And still they come

The sycamore seedlings, that is. I am still pulling the wretched things up – not to mention finding quite a few that my earlier efforts missed, now getting rather substantial and sprouting several pairs of leaves. The warmer weather also heralds the resumption of the continued war of attrition against the bindweed, and renewed efforts against rosebay willowherb – the latter usually accompanied by me muttering “Where do these come from? I pulled them all up last year too, surely I got them all before they flowered?”

Anyway, it’s not all bad news. Generally things are looking good, and a few plants I thought had succumbed during the autumn and winter have been putting in an appearance. Special mention here to the Houttuynia cordata “Chameleon” which vanished worryingly early last year but has returned, and has spread out by about a foot in all directions from its original starting point. (I’m not complaining.)

The veg seem to be doing well, and I’ve been picking salad leaves for my lunches for the last week.

Azaleas and rhododendrons are starting to do their thing – this is a white dwarf azalea, the memorial for one of our rat boys:

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And a dwarf rhodie, for two rat girls:

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Meanwhile in the flower beds, the velvety buds of the deciduous azalea are starting to show some colour:

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Rosemary is covered with flowers and full of bees (it took several attempts to get a decent photo, though):

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As one viburnum starts to wind down after flowering for weeks,

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another is stepping up to take over.

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Blue phlox is brightening a shady corner of the front garden:

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This spiraea japonica is called Firelight, with good reason:

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And alchemilla leaves with water droplets? We’ve got ’em.

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This week’s oddity – a couple of years back I noticed that a lychnis had self-sown in one of the monkey puzzle stumps. Expecting it not to survive long, I decided to leave it and only rescue it if it looked like it was struggling (we have lots of lychnis anyway).

It’s not struggling, is it?

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It looks like it’s getting ready to flower. It should probably get some kind of medal for determination!

 

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Blossoms and blooms

This morning I made a quick visit to Mum to take her a few things (including a large bag of compost) and of course I took a few photos of her garden. Lots of things are doing well and there’s a good deal of colour about. This heuchera caught my eye, not surprisingly!

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The retaining wall behind the greenhouse and raised beds is already looking good, with snow-in-summer spilling over and flowering already:

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And the forget-me-nots looking lovely too:

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The flowering cherry we bought last year has put on a couple of feet and has a good covering of blossom:

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A clematis Montana “Elizabeth” has made itself at home and is covered in flowers:

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And while a lot of Mum’s tulips have faded (as have mine) she has some slightly later ones which are so dark they’re almost black – I didn’t get any of these, and am slightly jealous!

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In other news, I bought myself a little early birthday treat:

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Pretty, isn’t it? They do a range with various different flowers, and I chose bluebells as they’re usually flowering around the time of my birthday.

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Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day 2017

Something I have only just found out about – this meme is hosted by May Dreams Gardens and links garden bloggers on 15th April. Not that I ever need much of an excuse to post photos of flowers!

Today I got arty with a Dicentra (though I learned from the Guardian gardening column that we are meant to call them Lamprocapnos, which is the new Latin name. We can still use the old common name of Bleeding Heart, of course).

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And because I failed to get a good picture of the gentian flowering yesterday, I had another go today.

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For the rest of my Bloom Day pics I tried to get at least a few that I didn’t photograph yesterday, but inevitably there’s some repetition.

Some of the tulips are going over but there’s still a fair amount of colour, especially combined with their pot-mates, the wallflowers and winter pansies.

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The yellow tulip I posted yesterday is just beginning to go over, but I had to include it as I’ve only just realised it has black inside as well as the reddish edging:

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This is a Pretty Sure It’s A Berberis (I have several in the “Pretty Sure It’s A”¬†range)

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And nearby is a purple vinca:

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And the seasonally apt Nemesia “Easter Bonnet”:

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The pulmonaria continues to do very well and is full of bees:

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And the perennial wallflower seems to have been flowering for ages (must get some cuttings):

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If you prefer a bit of white, we have a lovely spiraea:

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And a choisya:

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Back to red with Heuchera Paris, a little earlier than last year:

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And in blue, a self-sown forget-me-not – actually one of my favourite flowers:

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Finally, not really a bloom but the (more or less) inevitable outcome – my glorious hellebores are forming seed pods, so I’m crossing my fingers for seedlings:

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Happy Bloom Day, and Happy Easter.

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Busy Friday morning

This morning J is busy with the rat room, which needs redecorating, so I spent a bit of time doing some gardening tasks – nothing major, as we’re in a bit of a lull before the summer annuals are ready. So there was a bit of deadheading of daffs and tulips, and some sorting out of the veg trugs, plus I have started off some begonia corms, though without too much optimism.

The veg trugs have moved to the patio, and I’ve rigged up some netting over them. Everything’s growing well, though there will need to be a bit of thinning out soon. The netting looks a bit Heath Robinson and I’m not entirely sure it’s an approved method, so we’ll see if it actually works.

Lettuces and radishes in this one:

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We’ll be harvesting lettuce soon.

Beetroot and strawberries in this one:

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I’ll be adding the beetroot leaves to salads too.

One of the things about ordering plants from catalogues is that you get freebies, and I’ve had two lots of lilies and one of cascading begonias. One lot of lilies is already in a pot and starting to sprout but the others are still waiting for a suitable container – I have a pot, but it needs a bit of patching as it’s plastic and has a few cracks in it. The begonias are a bit more of a challenge, I’ve never grown any from corms so had to resort to Google to check what to do, but they are now in pots. I’m not overly optimistic that it’ll work but we’ll see.

Otherwise a lot of things are doing well at the moment. The back garden is looking colourful:

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Had to get a photo of this tulip before it goes over – I love the delicate reddish edges to the petals:

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The alpine containers are looking respectable, and the gentian and black viola are starting to flower.

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I might think about splitting some of the low spreading alpines to create a bit of space.

Dicentra are both looking good, in pink:

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And white:

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The nemesia is flowering:

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Dwarf rhododendron:

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Heucheras all looking lovely, just a taster here but I might do a full survey of all of them soon:

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And the fruits and herbs are all looking good – rosemary:

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Apple blossom:

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Gooseberry:

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And raspberry:

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And I need to apologise to the goldfinch who keeps trying to have a feed of nyger seeds but flies off every time I open the back door! Maybe I’ll get a photo at some point.

 

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