RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

I’ve been enjoying watching the BBC’s coverage of RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show this week. If you haven’t managed to see any of it click the link if you want to see some lovely plants and gardens.

In my own garden this week I’ve not been doing an awful lot, just dead-heading really as it has been too hot here to do anything much more taxing – and I never thought I’d say that as I really thought that our summer weather had disappeared forever!

I’ve been spending a lot of time reading, so this week I decided to begin reading King Hereafter by Dorothy Dunnett. It’s 720 pages long with quite small print and I hate reading books over a long period of time so I planned to read around 100 pages a day, and I managed that although some days I could hardly put it down so read even more. With the World Cup football on TV and Jack watching three matches a day – a great read was the perfect distraction for me – and it was a great read. But more about that next week.

Threave Gardens, Dumfries and Galloway

Back to Threave Gardens again and the photo below is close to the entrance, it looks like a newly planted area and the sphere is made up of slate, very trendy at the moment I think. I’m sure they’re also very expensive as there’s obviously a lot of skill and time involved in sculpting something like that.

spherical sculpture

Giant Gunneras seem to grow well in Scotland, there are quite a lot growing in the Edinburgh Botanical Gardens too. They always remind me of a Beatrix Potter illustration.
Gunnera

There are some really lovely trees growing at Threave and in the distance below there’s a large carved wooden fir cone.
Conifers + cone

I love walled gardens, they always have a feeling of safety and comfort and of course the walls offer great protection for the plants, the one at Threave is beautiful.
Path in walled Garden

Threave really has a wonderful variety of plants and different types of gardens.

Acer and  Arched Hedge

I was quite surprised by the rockery below though as it doesn’t have much in the way of rocks. I thought my rockery was a bit lacking in rocks but it has more than this one at Threave.
Rockery

Below is another sculpture which is a big lump of rock with carvings of animals on it. I prefer big rocks to be left au naturel as to me you can never improve on the beauty of a natural rock face, but that’s just my opinion. The trees look fantastic though – don’t they?
Sculpture and Plants, Threave Gardens

Threave Gardens, Dumfries and Galloway

azalea walkway

We visited Threave Gardens during our recent four day trip to Dumfries and Galloway and we got there at the perfect time, just as the rhododendrons and azaleas were looking their best. The nearest town to Threave is Castle Douglas.

azalea walkway

It’s very weird but when I was there I didn’t even notice the electricity wires in this photo, or the shadow, too busy looking at the plants I suppose.
azalea walkway
This was originally a private estate but I believe it is now used as a horticultural training centre and the students have accommodation in what was the estate house – very nice I’m sure. The house is of course in the Scots Baronial style.
Threave House

There’s a wee burn running through the gardens in the Japanese section.
Burn at Threave Gardens
It wouldn’t be a Japanese Garden without a bridge and acers of course.
Japanese Bridge + Pond

Japanese Bridge

And a wee bit of a waterfall too. It was a boiling hot and very bright day, in fact too bright – not that I’m moaning.
cascade at Threave Gardens

If you’re into gardening you should definitely visit Threave. They have a great plant nursery there with lots of plant varieties that feature in the gardens for sale, so of course I just had to purchase some. In my experience it’s rare to be able to buy plants that you’ve actually seen growing in gardens like this one and it drives me nuts that they don’t bother to make the most of the commercial possibilities. Whoever runs Threave has got it right!

I took lots more photos but I’ll save the rest for another time.

Logan Botanic Garden, Dumfries and Galloway

Australasian area

For years I’ve been reading about Logan Botanic Garden in Dumfries and Galloway, that part of Scotland has a milder climate than the rest of the country, being in the south west the weather is most influenced by the Gulf Stream so is usually frost free, hence tree ferns can safely be grown there as you can see. I must admit that they’re not my favourite sort of plants but there were plenty of others to admire.

Australasian area

Logan Botanic Gardens

The Mecanopsis obviously enjoy the growing conditions there. This must be the most often manslaughtered plant in the UK. I’ve tried it several times in various gardens and I’m trying it yet again, so far so good although it hasn’t flowered yet.
Meconopsis

There was a shy and retiring big orange bird wandering about in the Australasian section, I hope there are more of its kind to keep it company.
Orange Bird

You might find it hard to believe but neither of us had seen newts before, this pond was full of them.
Newts

Newts

These ‘palm’ trees are often grown in coastal places around Scotland but they’re usually a lot more scruffy looking.
Palms

It seems that wherever you wander in Scotland there’s a castle or tower ruin nearby and the same goes for Logan Botanic Garden which has Balzieland Castle in the middle of it, it isn’t open to the public but if you’re interested in its history have a look here..

Old Tower Castle Balzieland

It was a gorgeous afternoon and I had a lovely time but I must admit that I much prefer native plants to exotic plants which are quite likely to need mollycoddling to get through the winter, although maybe that’s not really necessary at this location.

The Garden of Ignorance by Mrs. Marion Cran

The Garden of Ignorance cover

The Garden of Ignorance by Mrs. Marion Cran is one of several books that she wrote about gardening, she was born in 1879 and died in 1942 and apparently she was the first female to broadcast about gardening on radio in the 1930s. This book is undated but the foreword was written in 1924, and in it Marion Cran mentions that the book was written nearly a dozen years earlier. Elsewhere she says that it’s the third year of World War 1 which of course began in 1914. I haven’t been able to find out much about the author but within the book she does mention that she opened her house up to convalescent soldiers. I’m sure they were all officers though. She also mentions that she did some nursing during the war, I suspect it was of the very genteel variety though – no blood and guts involved. She was the daughter of a Church of England vicar and had a fairly grim upbringing I think, but she must have married a wealthy man as the amount of land that she’s able to use for her garden designs seems massive. She claims to be frugal and to rein in her plant orders at nurseries but in reality she’s ordering rose bushes by the hundreds.

This book was obviously inspired by Elizabeth von Arnim’s Elizabeth and her German Garden, although Cran calls her husband the Master, not The Man of Wrath. It was a steep learning curve for her as at the beginning she’s a very inexperienced gardener but by the end of the book she has realised that it’s important to put a plant where it will be happiest, rather than where she thinks it will look best.

She mentions lots of plants but I think there were only one or two rose varieties that I recognised, I suspect they’re now unavailable. Cats feature too. There are eight black and white photos of bits of her garden and cats. She tries hard to be a bit whimsical and amusing but she isn’t as successful at it as some other garden writers, but I’ll definitely keep a lookout for her other books.

The Chelsea Flower Show 2018

Yes it’s that time of the year again, The Chelsea Flower Show, and yet again I’m not there. Every year I say I’ll go next year instead of just sitting at home and watching it on TV but this year I’ve been so busy I even missed some of the TV programmes, I hope I can catch up with them.

I didn’t even vote on which garden was my favourite, but only because I just couldn’t make up my mind. I really hated the one called Skin Deep though. Lots of concrete blocks of differing heights don’t make up a garden as far as I’m concerned.

If you want to see the gardens you can look here

One of my favourites is the Welcome to Yorkshire garden. It’s old fashioned, maybe a bit twee but it looks like a great place to relax in.

Gardening as an aid to mental health has been a theme this year. This is something that professionals in mental health seem to have just discovered, but if they had only asked hands-on gardeners we could have told them years ago that even just looking at plants and gardens will make you feel good. Actually getting stuck into the work can be a life-saver for some people though. It’s always a thrill to see a plant growing and thriving, especially if you have planted it or grown it from seed. I’m just going to gloss over the failures though, all gardeners have them, but I was so relieved to hear both Monty Don and Joe Swift admitting that they had struggled to grow Meconopsis – blue poppies. I know I’ve inadvertently killed at least three of them, but I’m still trying!

My garden in Fife, Scotland

After suffering a winter which was about seven months long featuring several large dumps of snow, it seemed like we were never going to get to Spring, but when we got a few good days of weather everything began to come to life again, well almost everything, there were a few fatalities.

The result was that everything seemed to be flowering at once, as soon as the snowdrops stopped flowering the tulips began, and normally there would be about four months in between those varieties being in bloom. So below are a few photos that I took of my garden over the last week or so.

I’ve been amazed that the harsh winter doesn’t seem to have been a problem for the insect life. I think I’ve already seen more butterflies and bees than I saw all of last summer. These red admirals (I think that’s what they are anyway) have been enjoying the heather in my garden.
heather  + Butterflies

The ornamental cherry below is a recent purchase so I can’t claim any of the kudos for its lovely flowers, it’s called Brilliant and is a slow growing one. I’ve put some seeds in the bare ground in the photo, eventually I hope that all of the soil will be covered with plants, apart from anything else that should stop so many weed seeds from germinating!

cherry blossom

The ‘rockery’ area is filling up quite well.
rockery
The primulas below are seeding themselves around the place.
primulas

The area around the bench/pergola is still a work in progress, hopefully this will be the last of the grass that I have to dig up, it’s hard work.
sink and bench

I’ll do another garden post next week – tulips and quince blossom will feature.

My sink garden

I had an old Belfast/butler’s sink in my old garden but I had to leave it behind when we moved so when I saw another old one in a particularly eclectic shop that I enjoy having a rake around in I just had to buy it. It was a bargain too!
Belfast  sink

I sited it close to the bench/pergola so that you can either rest your weary feet on it or rest your cup/glass on the handy soap indentations. The photo above was taken in early April 2017 when I started this project. I’ve filled the sink with some sedums, miniature viola, thrift, a miniature willow is in the top right hand corner and a miniature cotoneaster to the left.

Belfast sink

The photo above was taken a week or so later when I had more or less finished planting it up.

The photo below is how it looked in August 2017 I think.

Belfast sink

This week I’ve been working hard in the garden digging up the grass around the sink, it’s very difficult to mow around it, so I’m busy putting a tile edging around the area and plan to fill it with small hardy plants and slate shards. I’ve actually planted some box plants around the bottom of the sink, eventually it’ll look like a box of box I hope, when I get around to clipping it all.

I plan to get the ground around it sorted out next week – weather permitting.

This and that

Today it was actually quite mild and sunny – at times anyway and I spent most of the day in the garden , still ‘redding up’ (tidying up) weeding and cutting back the dead bits. In fact after the brutal cold weather and snow we had a fortnight ago there are now quite a few fatalities. My rosemary bushes had gone all through the winter fairly happily, but the Easter weather was just too much for them and they’ve had to be chopped right back, I hope they re-grow. It was only today that I realised that my lovely ceanothus (Californian lilac) now has brown leaves instead of the lovely glossy dark green leaves it has had all through the winter. More chopping back required, I find it painful. A few roses have succumbed to the cold weather, but I’m hopeful that they might survive – eventually. Strangely the lavender bushes are all very happy looking, so much for them being tender Mediterranean plants, but my Alpine edelweiss plant looks like it has had it. I’ll leave it in though just in case there’s life in the roots yet.

Over the weekend we were up north in Inverness on a football related jaunt. Friday was freezing and grey, a disappointment as the weather forecast said it would be nice up there. But the sun arrived on Saturday – and there was warmth with it, amazing! When I say warmth it was probably just in double figures celsius, but not long ago it was -5 so I was happy. Can you believe I actually had to put the car window down? Inverness was heaving with people, there were so many tourists, and it being a Friday night we couldn’t get into any of the restaurants that we tried as we hadn’t booked. There was one restaurant that had only four people in it, not a good sign considering how jam packed everywhere else was, but we had no alternative so we gave it a go. It was a Mediterranean eatery (allegedly). It was expensive and it was possibly the worst meal I’ve ever had in a restaurant – AND I came out feeling hungrier than I had been when I went in! Why oh why didn’t I check out the Tripadvisor reviews first?!

The book pile has grown by seven books, I bought some in the Pitlochry bookshops on the way up to Inverness. Then some more in a Dingwall bookshop. Dingwall actually has two secondhand bookshops, amazing. I think maybe the long dark winters in the Scottish Highlands lead to a lot of people picking up books to take themselves to pastures new, for a wee while anyway.

One of the books that I bought was by Rose Tremain. I’ve never read anything by her, but I enjoyed reading this Guardian article last week. Have you read any of her books?

I didn’t take any photos of Inverness itself, but you can see some images here.

Winter garden and trees

Winter garden 2

As you can see the snow is back, luckily it has been coming and going, just hanging around for a couple of days and returning after a few weeks, I can cope with that – and so can the garden.

Winter garden 1

Just a couple of days after this lot melted I was able to get out there and plant some spring bulbs. I’m itching for the spring to come – as usual I have so many garden projects I want to get stuck into, a garden is never finished, and I have to move a tree or two to make way for – more exciting trees. But as I type the snow is back, mustn’t grumble though as it is January after all.

Winter garden 8

The trees in the photo above though – I get for free as they’re the woodland just beyond my back garden. My favourite is the larch which is just left of centre, but I love them all.

Winter garden 9

There are two birds flying in the centre of the photo above, I think they might just be magpies but they may be buzzards, we get a lot of birds of prey around here.

As a bit of a tree-hugger I was interested in watching a recent BBC programme about Judi Dench and her love for trees, she has a six acre garden which is mainly woodland and commemorates deceased family and friends by planting trees in memory of them, such a lovely thing to do. If you get a chance to you should watch Passion for Trees, there’s a wee taster of it below.