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Showing posts from June, 2012

And on to RHS Hyde Hall

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So after the upheaval of Beth Chatto's garden, would Hyde Hall be the disappointment instead?  I am a westerly and northerly living person.  London is familiar territory but outside the city I feel at home in Devon and Wales and the North West of England.  East is a bit alien to me.  I have been to Rosemoor in Devon a number of times and to Harlow Carr in Yorkshire.  I liked Harlow Carr, loved parts of Rosemoor, and made a rushed and disappointing trip to Wisley.  I don't know whether the disappointment was a result of the rush and I won't find out until I have the opportunity to go again.

So Hyde Hall was off my patch.  I knew very little about it.  I had no real expectations.  I remembered something about the garden specialising in plants for drier conditions and I thought Matthew Wilson had been curator of the garden in the early 2000s but that was about it.  Both of those things made me inclined to be interested in it but I came with an open, even vacant, mind.

The gar…

Visiting Beth Chatto's garden

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Some people won't go back to a place they loved as a child.  What if the cavernous green darkness with a warren of tunnels in which you built a den and spent all day hidden from view is just a gap in a rather scrubby  patch of rhododendron?  What if the apple tree you climbed and watched the world from has been taken down and the field turned into a carpark?  I felt a bit the same about going to Beth Chatto's garden.  Might it  be better not to risk disappointment?

I seem to have been reading Beth Chatto's books all my serious gardening life, from the time when the children were old enough for swings and footballs to be banned from the garden and the children sent to the park.  What an innocent time that seems now.  I suppose they must have been about nine years old, the same sort of age they were when they started going to school and the local shops by themselves.  Would that happen now or would they be kept close to home with trampolines in the garden and computer games …

Garden obsessing

Tomorrow I am having a few days away with Karen and Linda going garden visiting.  We did this last year in Devon.  We went to The Garden House, Rosemoor, Glebe Cottage and Wildside.  We talked gardens, walked gardens and were cheerfully obsessive.  There was no need to worry about boring a non-gardening friend by taking too long or taking too many pictures.  It was bliss.

This year we are going to see Beth Chatto's garden and the RHS garden at Hyde Hall.  I can't wait!  I have been reading Beth Chatto's books all my gardening  life and she has shaped the way I approach the challenges of my soil and my site in a way which no one else has.  My obsession with growing what wants to be here is fed by frequent references to her "Gravel Garden" and "Woodland Garden" books.  I am fascinated to see what grows without watering in her dry Essex garden.  We must have more rain here in Wales but plants that do best for me put down long roots (docks for example!) in …

My herb garden

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Growing herbs is one of life's great unsung pleasures: it is easy, it fills your garden with bees and pollinating  insects, it transforms your cooking.  Once your herb garden is established it doesn't need a lot of your time either.  I have been giving my herb garden a bit of attention today, pulling out the odd weed, discouraging the mint from world domination, potting up new seedlings to give to friends and family.  The chives in flower are as lovely as any border plant.


Here they are jostling with culinary mint.  I grow all sorts of mints: lime, lavender, apple and spearmint as well basil mint.  You would hardly believe that the leaves really smell of anything other than menthol but they do.  The basil mint in particular has taken off.


Some are more vigorous than others.  In our garden it is the culinary mint and the basil mint which are romping all over the place while the others sit more decorously in their slate lined boxes.


Sweet marjoram is a favourite with bees and b…

End of month view for May

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In May the weather took off and with it my garden: weeds, flowers, grass, everything suddenly galloping for the sky.


Suddenly everything is lush and full.  I looked back to last year's end of month view for May (this is one of the great things about this idea!) to see if my sense of an extra richness this year is borne out.


It is perhaps harder to tell in comparison with a smaller picture and enlarging the photo to the size I am using this year makes it lose focus.  The hardy geraniums were further on last year (the faithful Johnson's blue is at the front) but the biggest difference this year is the alliums.



Last autumn I planted fifty allium Purple Sensation from Peter Nyssen in the side garden, split between the two beds.  And they are a sensation and even fifty is not enough.   In the autumn I will put some more in.

This is a good time of year in the side garden.  The day lilies are just about to open and the oriental poppies are ready to flower. For a couple of weeks they …