A couple of photo sessions

We went to see Mum today, so I took some pictures of our garden for her to see and some of her garden to share here. Both are looking good at the moment, though Mum’s is neater (and has a lawn!).

Mum’s first – the front:

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And the back:

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Fruit and veg corner:

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Looks like there’ll be lots of redcurrants this year!

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And the most important inhabitant:

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Now ours – the front (barely-controlled chaos!) :

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And the troughs – the pelargoniums were planted out yesterday. This year I’ve just gone for two varieties; the red is Samelia and the white is Iceberg.

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And the back. Yesterday J painted the shed with woodstain and mended one of the benches while I planted out the rest of the bedding (asters, rudbeckias and clary) and moved a few things round a bit. The layout is now pretty much how we want it but there will be lots of tweaking. The patio is still an issue but we have the beginnings of a plan, involving taking up some of the edges to create more planting space then once it’s the size we want, getting it replaced – and possibly having some raised beds built at the same time.

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The last allium still flowering.

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Mum asked us when we’ll be opening to the public!

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A photo a week – week 3

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Holiday garden visits: Heligan

Final holiday post! And only a month after we got home! Well, there were lots of photos to get through.

On the Wednesday of our holiday week we went to Heligan, choosing our day carefully to avoid rain. Our holiday cottage was less than 20 minutes’ drive from the gardens so we were able to have a nice long day out without having to travel very far.

Interestingly, one of the commenters in the visitors’ book at the cottage said they had been disappointed in Heligan, and when I got back to work one of my colleagues said the same thing. I was amazed by this but then perhaps it depends on your expectations and on what you do when you get there. One thing I will say is that it was extremely busy and it’s probably difficult to find a day when it isn’t (we had to queue for a while to buy our lunch) but once you’re wandering around the gardens it’s easy enough to find the bits that are quieter and more off the beaten track. Everyone does the more formal “designed” areas and the walled gardens, and most people make it to the Jungle garden and parts of the Lost Valley but there are some more far-flung woodland walks where we saw hardly anyone. Just be aware than some of the paths are on the steep side!

On the woodland walks you have to look out for the Giant and the Mud Maid, of course.

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But did you know they now also have a Grey Lady, in reference to a reported haunting?

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Lots of bluebells in the woods, of course.

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And in one corner, tucked away, is this mound – possibly the remains of a medieval site.

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From the upper gardens you can see the top of the Jungle.

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Though nothing really prepares you for actually walking through it.

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I couldn’t resist a bit of artiness with a tree fern!

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The Lost Valley is a lovely walk and includes more sculpture, this time relating to the charcoal burning which they have started to carry out here again since restoring the gardens.

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One of the fascinating aspects for me is the rediscovery and reconstruction of so many “rooms” and buildings. One of the first to be uncovered was the Italian garden. They went to some trouble to get a reconstruction of the statue in the middle of the pond.

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And there’s the Sundial garden

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And any number of glasshouses which have been brought back into use.

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The Northern Summerhouse is very pretty, with its sea view through a shaped hedge, but on this visit I was more taken with the texture of its carefully reconstructed floor.

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In the New Zealand garden we found more sculpture and some much-needed shade.

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The walled gardens – for various produce, edible and decorative – are a focal point.

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We were amused to hear someone confidently telling their companion that the pineapple pits were full of “aloe veras in pots”! They were looking at the ones that didn’t have fruit on, of course…

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A few other eye-catching plants:

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And in one of the gardeners’ sheds, someone has made themselves at home.

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Not the best photo in the world but I hope you can spot the swallow. There were a few but they didn’t really want to pose for me!

So if you’ve never been to Heligan, I hope you’ll visit and not be disappointed. If I lived down there I’d probably get a season ticket!

 

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What we did this weekend

Because I’ve nearly finished “What we did on our holidays”!

Last weekend we started taking out the last few bits of lawn, and if you’ve seen today’s “A photo a week” post you’ll have noticed that there’s no grass left at all now – much to J’s relief, as he never has to mow it again!

Yesterday morning we went to B&Q and stocked up on gravel, edging and membrane ready to finish the task. Last week the lawn J dug up just became flowerbed but this week we had other plans. We needed gravel around the setting for the washing whirligig, and wanted gravel around the apple tree and to create a new path to join up with the concrete one. After B&Q, I left J to dig up the last bit of grass while I went to Mum’s, to pick up our tomato plants and some bedding plants, and also to pay a visit to her local nurseries – Cramden – which I can thoroughly recommend if you’re in or near Northampton. They specialise in some of our favourite plants, which is very handy!

The main item on the shopping list was pelargoniums, as I wanted some for the troughs at the front and Mum wanted some for her raised beds. We also acquired some penstemons and erodiums.

The afternoon was a busy one. I sorted out the tomato plants – a Nimbus and two Gardener’s Delights – so they’re now snug in a growbag in their plant halos. Then I started moving plants into the new bits of flowerbed. A lot of things were getting crowded out so the new planting space means we can give them a bit more light and air and room to stretch their legs. I also planted up some of the new purchases and some of the bedding plants. Eventually we’d worked ourselves to a standstill with some things still not moved or planted out, so I did a bit more this afternoon until rain stopped play. There’s still some bedding (clary, asters and rudbeckias) to go in the ground but they’ll wait till next week.

Rescued and moved plants include a hydrangea, a sambucca and a mountain pepper (Tasmannia lanceolata) from the middle of the bed by the greenhouse, and from nearby a dwarf rhododendron which we had in a pot for years, and which I assumed had died because I hadn’t seen it for so long. There’s still some moving of bits to do from that bed as there are lots of pulmonaria and hellebore seedlings under all the other plants. I also moved a geum and the geranium Himalayense which was getting very straggly. It’s looking sorry for itself so I hope it bounces back.

Further down the garden, three cornus got moved out from under various other things and nearer to the edge of the new bed. I also moved some vinca, a hebe and the nemesia “Easter Bonnet” which on closer inspection is an annual so getting a second year’s flowering out of it is fairly impressive. A pink scabious has come out from under the gooseberry, and two of the aubretias I planted a few weeks ago have moved too. They’re in a very poor state for some reason and the third one has vanished altogether.

So, mostly general photos today, but a few close-ups because it wouldn’t be one of my blogs without close-ups. It’s pleasing that there isn’t a lot of empty space, really, and we’ve achieved a good deal by moving round what we already had.

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The hydrangea, sambucca and mountain pepper, which should be able to do their thing a bit more enthusiatically now.

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I didn’t plant this

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or this, but they seem quite happy so it would be a shame to disturb them.

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One of the new erodiums – related to hardy geraniums, good ground cover and tolerate poor soils. I’m hoping they’ll spread and help to soften the edge of the flower bed.

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And a few gratuitous close-ups – geum and hypericum, an allium just starting to go over, and pittosporum Tom Thumb settling in well and putting on new growth.

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We’ll probably still need to go in search of a few plants to fill in some gaps, but I’m hoping that a lot of the space will be filled by what we already have. Next weekend I’ll be planting up the troughs at the front with the new pelargoniums, and adding in the rest of the bedding.

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A few more holiday garden visits

Our jaunt around bits of Cornwall continues… We went to the lovely National Trust property of Trerice, near Newquay, which is a gorgeous Tudor house with some later alterations, and was Winston Graham’s inspiration for the Poldark estate of Trenwith. We last visited Trerice in 1999 – somethings haven’t changed much, but we’re a bit more garden-inclined than we were then. We didn’t have our own garden until 2001 so didn’t pay a lot of attention!

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The garden is small but full of character and colour. NT have recreated an Elizabethan knot garden:

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Which helped to remind me that we were probably missing our own alliums in flower!

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At the end of the knot garden were fruit trees covered in blossom.

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And beside it were herbaceous borders

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And as you go through to the house, a gorgeous wisteria.

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Behind the house is a kitchen garden and a small turf maze.

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And the flower beds above the house were filled with lovely colour combinations (I just love blue and orange together in a flower bed!)

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After Trerice we went to the Pine Lodge garden in St Austell. We last visited this garden in 2005 and remembered some bits of it better than others, but there was a new Winter Garden to admire as well. (And we had another very nice cream tea!)

There’s a lovely tranquil Japanese garden:

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where a family of ducks was happily splashing around!

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The Winter Garden was looking beautiful:

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And acacias were flowering.

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The Pinetum is a focal point of the garden, and something we remembered well from our previous visit.

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A very sculptural cedar:

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And a monkey puzzle tree of manageable size!

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I didn’t know you got raspberries on pine trees…

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Back towards the hub of the garden, a woodland walk with water features. Not sure what was causing the foam here but it makes the water look like something from a Van Gogh painting.

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More feathered friends, in a flower bed this time.

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And the obligatory enormous gunnera.

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The day after Trerice and Pine Lodge was Heligan so I’ll come back to that. On our last full day we went to Trelissick, another NT property, dodging the rain as we did so. The house has only recently been opened to the public though the property has been with the NT for some time.

The first thing to greet you is the most glorious wisteria.

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The garden has views of the River Fal:

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A millennium standing stone:

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And beautiful woodland walks, as well as more manicured lawns and beds.

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Colletia Hystrix, apparently. That presumably translates as “alien spiny thing”.

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There’s an orchard with all sorts of apple varieties I’ve never heard of, covered in blossom, which was very pleasing.

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And I was unable to resist this perfect camellia.

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The final short garden visit of the holiday was to Kingston Lacy, in Dorset, on our way to Gosport at the end of the week. Another NT property, and another cream tea… we had a quick turn around the gardens but like Knightshayes it’s one I would like to return to another time and do it justice.

The house has a mini-Versailles look to it:

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Some formal planting close to the house:

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And woodland areas nearby.

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We were particularly taken with the lime avenue.

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Definitely one to revisit.

And there’s still Heligan to go!

 

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A photo a week – week 2

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A big change from last week, but from now on it should all be much more subtle.

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Holiday visits: The Eden Project

This one is photo-heavy, folks. The largest number of photos taken in a single day and the sort of thing that makes me forever grateful for the advent of digital cameras. I’m going to say very little and let the photos speak for themselves, just grouping them by Outside, Mediterranean Biome and Rainforest Biome.

Outside:

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Mediterranean biome:

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Note husband for scale.

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I may need to have some of those flower photos printed on to canvas – they look like they should be paintings.

And the Rainforest biome:

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Special effects due to camera lens steaming up.

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This is one of those flowers that takes ages to open then smells terrible. Very glad it wasn’t open when we were there!

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If you’ve never been the the Eden Project it is definitely worth seeing. (I can also recommend the restaurant in the Mediterranean biome!)

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