My Garden in May

For most of May I was wondering what had happened to the weather as it seemed very reluctant to warm up and the swifts/swallows were nowhere to be seen. They were obviously hanging back and not flying to the UK until it heated up a bit. They arrived at last but I’m sure that they were up to two months later than in previous years. We happened to be in Holland when they arrived there and by the time we got back home they were here too, although not in great numbers.
physocarpus and forget-me-nots
When we got back – the garden had exploded into growth! and this week the first rose appeared. It’s a climber called Golden Showers – can you believe? and I’m growing it in a large pot. I had it growing up the front of the old house that we moved from three years ago and when I saw one for sale at the Scottish Garden Show in Edinburgh last summer I decided to buy it again as it has a lovely scent too, something that seems to be difficult to come by nowadays.
yellow rose 1

This dwarf acer dissectum atropurpurea is a great colour and I like it even better combined with this Euphorbia Fireglow. I never worry about colours clashing in the garden as in general the various shades of green always save the day and tone it all down.
acer and euphorbia fireglow

Yet more red in the shape of planta genista or in other words broom, as they used to tie bits of it to a stick and use it for sweeping purposes back in the year dot. It’s the plant that was the emblem of the Plantagenets.
red broom

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2017

Yes it’s that time of the year again RHS Chelsea Flower Show and I’ve been watching it all on TV, a bit disappointed that this year it seems to be much smaller than previous years with only eight of the huge and wildly expensive commercially sponsored show gardens this year instead of the more usual number, such as the twenty seven there were last year. Yet another down-side of Brexit according to the organisers. If you want to see what has been going on this year have a look here.

The smaller gardens are always my favourites though as so often the big show gardens sponsored by insurers/newspapers/banks are too cold looking for my liking with massive chunks of hard landscaping and not a lot in the way of planting.

Chris Beardshaw’s Morgan Stanley garden only got a silver gilt medal, apparently because it is too densely planted!! Is that even possible? It’s definitely my favourite of the large show gardens. You can see more of it here.

Chris Beardshaw

The World Horse Welfare garden is a lovely overgrown natural looking wild space, but it’s the horse made from old horseshoes that I love.

horse welfare

Mr Ishihara has done it again and got another gold medal for his Gosho No Niwa No Wall, No War garden, based on a Japanese temple. His wee waterfall is beautiful and as usual the planting is gorgeous.

Mr Ishihara

I really dislike the garden which won the ‘best in show award’. As far as I’m concerned it isn’t a garden, apparently it was inspired by an abandoned Maltese quarry. What do you think of it?

M&G garden

Our summer weather has turned up and according to the weather forecast it’s to be good for at least the next few days, this might be the whole length of our summer – you just never know, so I’m staying at home and I’ll be enjoying life in my own garden and having the odd potter around in it, tweaking plants. It’s supposed to be 25 celsius, that’s 77 F in the east of Scotland tomorrow. Just as well I bought ice lollies at the weekend!

More of my spring garden in Fife, Scotland

<clematis alpina

I had clematis alpina in my old garden, the one I worked in and planned for 26 years, and since moving to the new and at first very empty garden I’ve been planting a lot of my old favourites again, this one was a must have. I love everything about it, the shape, size, colour and the fluffy seedheads when the flowers have finished.

Amelanchier canadenis

Amelanchier canadensis (above) is one of the several trees I’ve planted, in fact I probably have too many trees, if that’s ever a possibilty. The flowers don’t last very long but they’re worth having, very delicate looking and pretty, I’ve planted another specimen by the back fence but I think I might grow that one as a large shrub, hoping it’ll become nice and bushy.

apple blossom

I’m fairly sure that the blossom in the photo above is apple, but then again it might be plum. Whatever, I’m just chuffed that several of my fruit trees are flowering for the first time since I planted them three years ago.

quince flowers

The photo of the ornamental quince above is a bit blurry, sadly this one doesn’t have the fab scent that the apricot coloured one in the old garden had. I’m still trying to track down a specimen of that one.

Below is a wee anemone, it survived the winter well and I’ve bought some more of them for the front garden.
anemone

Fritillaries, I love them, but quite a few of the flowers have got holes right in the middle of the petals, it looks like something has chomped its way out of the buds. These ones are fine though.

fritillary

The auriculas below are plants that I’ve never grown before, I had always thought they wre too delicate and tender to be left out over winter in Scotland but these ones are thriving and will need to be split up when they stop flowering, which won’t be for ages. There was quite a craze for these plants, especially amongst the French Protestant Huguenots who fled to Britain to avoid persecution from the Catholics in France.
auricula

If you want to know a bit more about the plants and the Huguenots have a look here.

My spring garden

Although I say it myself, my garden is looking very colourful at the moment. I especially love the pansies in the photo below, but in reality they look more purple than they are here.
pansies

My so-called rockery, which isn’t very rocky – is full of primulas and the aubretia is just beginning to bloom too. There’s always work going on so buckets and tools are likely to be lurking in the background as you can see.

rockery

rockery

I wasn’t going to bother planting any daffodil bulbs as there are so many wild ones growing around where I live but I couldn’t resist planting some miniature ones.

miniature  daffodils

Below are some of the wild daffodils just outside my back gate.

daffodils

Or are these ones narcissi, I’m never quite sure? As you can see – some of the trees have really started to green up now, it seemed along time a-coming!

daffodils

daffodils

The Pursuit of Paradise by Jane Brown

The Pursuit of Paradise cover

I think it must be a few years since I bought The Pursuit of Paradise – A Social History of Gardens and Gardening by Jane Brown. I wasn’t really too sure what to expect of it. Sometimes gardening books are a bit like ‘teaching granny to suck eggs’, not that I think I know everything about the subject, but as I’ve been gardening since I was a wee girl, over fifty years!! – it’s inevitable that you pick up a lot of information one way and another.

But this book was informative, it has eleven chapters:
1. The Purest of Human Pleasure
2. The Secret Garden
3. The Military Garden
4. Emancipated Gardeners
5. The Rise of the Small Garden
6. Acquiring Eden
7. Science Lends a Hand
8. It’s Clever, but is it Art?
9. Labour of Love
10. The Formative Garden
11. Future Gardens

I found The Military Garden most interesting as it hadn’t dawned on me that so many gardening terms come from the arts of warfare – cordon, earthing-up, trench, bastion, palisade, covered way and more. It seems that when generals were at a loose end after wars were won, they went home and started to plan gardens where they could keep everything under control, just as they had commanded their men. All that topiary stood in for regiments of men!

This one is definitely worth reading if you enjoy social history and gardening.

Spring garden in Fife, Scotland

It seemed like Spring arrived early this year with everything beginning to bloom sooner than expected. Well it has mainly been a very mild winter with very little in the way of snow, and what we did get melted very quickly.

crocuses

The crocuses above are multiplying each year, but they only look their best when the sun is shining on them. Typically we got the heaviest of snow after everything began to flower and I thought that the delicate snowdrops, aconites and primulas would be flattened, but they’re not as fragile as they look.
snowdrops

When warmish weather appeared after that I had intended to get stuck into the garden and clear away the winter debris, but suddenly the wind seemed to be coming from Siberia again and it was just too cold to brave it. I can’t wait to start gardening again though.

The winter aconites below are already seeding themslves around the garden, I always feel so lucky when that happens, flowers for free, just because they’re happy.

aconite
The clump of primulas below really needs to be split up, I must remember to do it when they stop flowering, which probably won’t be for another month or two. They’re such good value.

primula

I’m never sure if my hellebores below are Christmas roses or Lenten roses as they always flower in between the two festivals.
hellebores

Isn’t the snowdrop below a beauty? They’re clumping up nicely but this one below seems to be a bit of a loner, splendid in its isolation. It reminds me of a wind turbine, and I mean that in the nicest possible way, as I happen to think that wind turbines look elegant.

snowdrop

Last week I received my free tree and dog rose seeds from The Woodland Trust in the post, and they’re germinating already. Exciting times! I’ll keep you posted on their development.

Audley End near Saffron Walden in Essex

I was looking through some photos recently and I realised that I had never got around to doing a blogpost about Audley End. We went there on our way back from our trip to Holland last May. We had actually driven past the place the year before but as it was after 4 pm we weren’t able to go into it.

Audley End

Audley End

Audley End

It’s a very large 17th century Jacobean house not far from Saffron Walden in Essex. It’s apparently a third of its original size which is quite amazing, over the years the rest of it has been demolished, but it still seems a complete house now. The parkland was designed by Capability Brown – as so many of them were.
Audley End

Audley End
The house has had a very checkered career over the years but nowadays Audley End is owned by English Heritage and if you are a member of Historic Scotland you get in free. It’s definitely worth a visit if you are interested in historic houses and gardens and you find yourself in East Anglia.

Below is a photograph of the nursery.

Audley End

A sitting room.
Audley End

A doll’s hosue.
aAudley End 11

Tulip beds.
Audley End

The photo below is of a wee bridge and much smaller house which I think is/was used to house staff.

Audley End

You can see more images of Audley End here.

Ferrera Park Aviles, Asturias in Spain part 3

After walking up a fairly steep road, admiring the marble all the way, we got to the park which is quite a busy place, very well used by joggers and all sorts, like most parks. Duck ponds are always popular with the kids and they have two rather exotic black swans in residence there.

aswan 1

Unfortunately this one had a limp.
Swan in Ferrera Park, Aviles

Ferrera Park is 80,000 square metres in area and it was the private park of the Ferrera Marquesses’ family until it was finally bought by the Town Hall for public use. King Juan Carlos I inaugurated it in May 1976. It is an English/British style park.

There’s a separate area through a gateway leading into this topiary garden which made me feel very much at home, all clipped box hedges, roses, pelargoniums and lavender.

a garden in park 1

agarden in Ferrera  park 2

In fact I think that the large stone building in the background was a convent and this would have been a medicinal garden in earlier times.

agarden in Ferrera park 3

It’s a really beautiful part of the park and we had it all to ourselves, there was a sign at the entrance and from a distance we could only read a large NO so we thought maybe you weren’t allowed in but as we got closer we saw that it said NO DOGS, but maybe it put people off going in. I’d have hated to have missed it, and I must admit it was nice to be able to take photos with no people around.

garden in park 7 fountain

Early September Garden in Fife

Some trees are beginning to get their autumn togs on already, but there’s still quite a lot of flower colour going on in my garden. The sweetpeas haven’t been great this year, I grew them from seed and they took ages to get going.

garden 3

The rudbeckia below has been flowering for a long time, it’s definitely good value, especially if you get it dirt cheap from Morrisons as I did. The bees love it.

garden 4

Every Scottish/Celtic garden should have a rowan tree (mountain ash) in it, to keep the witches away of course!

garden 5

The striped grassy plant at the front of this photo is gardeners’ garters, so called because old gardeners used to use it to tie around their trouser legs to stop anything from shooting up there – like a rat! It grows very rampant, so I’m keeping an eye on it in case it decides to mount a take-over bid.

garden 9

There’s a plethora of plants in the photo below, a rose, fuchsia, pieris, lychnis and all sorts.

garden 6

Although I’m not crazy on exotic plants (the kind you have to tie blankets around to get them through the winter) – I do love acers, they’re hardy here in the east of Scotland and grow well despite being so delicate looking.

garden 11

Peggy yells rainbow every time she sees one, that was quite often when she was in Scotland anyway, and she had to get a photo of them. Apparently they’re quite rare where she lives in the US, I thought I would copy her and take a photo of this one from my house, they are not rare here of course!

rainbow 2

It’s about ten days since I took those photos and since then I’ve had to have a bit of a garden tidy up and cut things back, but it’s still looking fairly decent.

I’ve been having a battle with ajuga, another plant from Morrisons, it cost me all of 99p and before I knew what was happening it had covered a third of my rockery having crossed over the grass to get there. What a monster of a wee plant it is, worse than mint! Don’t plant it whatever you do.

Dwarf Pansies – a bonus

Some of my neighbours are very keen on using those power-washer thingies on their driveways, and it has always annoyed me that so much water is wasted on just cleaning up the bits in between the paviours, or whatever it is you call those slim bricks they use for driveways and paths. It’s at times like that that I wish we had water meters, then they might think twice about doing it, but then maybe not, those power-washer wielders have obviously never grown up.

Anyway, I was really chuffed to see that my lack of driveway maintenance had resulted in lovely wee pansy seedlings germinating around the area beneath where I had planted them in a container last year. I think Peggy said these are called Johnnie Jump Ups in the US.

pansies

Just ignore the grassy weeds though!