Cold. Minus six degrees. The ground is rock hard and the plants are showing a crust of white ice. The sunrise cast a rather golden light.
I am enjoying the golden tones of the grasses and the backdrop form of the Horse Chestnut trees. This weather is I understand the coldest snap for six years. It looks rather beautiful but boy it is cold. My neighbours are sporting their thick woolly jumpers.
Cathy at https://wordsandherbs.wordpress.com hosts the Tuesday View meme. Do take a look at her lovely blog.
Today is unusually hot at about 32 degrees. Lovely if you have the sea to look at, less so elsewhere. My view is not of the sea but of the garden border. To help cool you down I have decided to share the pictures I took yesterday morning as they are soft and hazy and misty.
The flower heads are forming on the Eupatorium but I have noticed that the leaves are drooping today in the heat, better give him a can of water later. (Must be a him? joe pie weed).
The golden oats of Stipa gigantea are really golden now, such a great plant if space allows.
Calamagrostis Karl Foerster is also looking good, upright with burgundy seed heads. I have had to stake a couple of them this year as they took a battering by the high winds a couple of weeks ago.
Whatever your garden view today you can pop along to Cathys blog and share it with us. https://wordsandherbs.wordpress.com as she is hosting the ‘Tuesday View’
Breakthrough Breast Cancer, Chelsea Flower Show 15, Chris Beardshaw, Emma Bridgewater, James Basson, L'Occitane Garden, Morgan Stanley Healthy Cities Garden, Perch Hill, Rosa Albertine, Ruth Willmott, sarah Raven, Stipa gigantea, Winslow in Bloom
I may not have been able to do as much gardening as I would like in recent months but I have been busy on the garden front in other ways. I have been to look at other gardens. I had planned to write about all of them in detail and yet the time got away from me, so here I am, finally putting finger tip to key (the modern day version of ‘pen-to-paper’).
In May there was the joy that is Chelsea Flower Show. This years visit was on a cool grey afternoon yet the planting was far from grey, as to be expected it was a visual feast with joyful colour combinations everywhere you looked, including some of the visitors. There were lots of the usual purples and blue tones but this year more of these seemed to be interrupted by a splash of orange. In the grey light of the day in question you can see how good this combination is, even with lower light levels.
White is also good at lifting itself and shining out against our pale grey skies. The trunk of the Birches stride out against the dark green backdrop of Yew and accents the rather dreamy looks of the softest pink Astrantias and Japanese anemones.
For pure escapism I was rather taken by the beauty of these olive trees; it brought to mind holidays in the Mediterranean. This might work in a sheltered urban garden but alas not in my exposed rural situation.
In June I visited Winslow in Bloom which comprised a number of gardens open in the Town. It is always interesting to see what has been done in other peoples gardens and they each had at least one plant or idea to take away. A couple of the gardens stood out as being quintessentially English and I thought you might to take a look.
Later in the month I took a couple of days in East Sussex to visit Perch Hill and Great Dixter.
Perch Hill is the garden and cookery school of Sarah Raven. For those who are not familiar with Sarah Raven, she has an inspirational mail order company for seeds and bulbs, and other garden items. She is the author of numerous books including my favourite ‘Wild Flowers’. She writes for The Telegraph and is a guest presenter on BBC Gardeners World. She is married to Adam Nicholson the grandson of Vita Sackville-West.
Liz and I headed off bright and early to arrive in good time for the Perch Hill Open Day. Once we found the garden, no easy task due to a dearth of signs, we parked up in a field and headed in. We were greeted with a wonderful sight:
So what can I tell you about the garden at Perch Hill? Well it is a feast for the eyes, of that there is no doubt. Each and every which way that you turn your eye is greeted to an abundance of plant life. The buildings themselves are a delightful collection of barns, outbuildings, Shepherds hut and a huge glasshouse located on a high point outside the village of Brightling. Each area is tastefully done, with an extravagant display of planting. Pots are filled to overflowing, combinations and varieties of the flowers are interesting and unusual.
Even the cafe set up in the glasshouse is of the best possible taste. Food is served on crockery by Emma Bridgewater, the shelves are crammed with a wonderful selection of scented leaf geraniums, succulents and vegetables. There are interesting pots, vases and candlesticks on display some of which are for sale. The large table we sat at was adorned with a collection of succulents, cacti, seed heads, stones and vessels.
An interesting screening between diners.
The visit was very enjoyable day and both Liz and I came away with some ideas for our own gardens. Our one disappointment was the lack of plants for sale. I had thought that as Sarah Raven runs a mail order company there would be stock available to buy. Wrong. Clearly my mistake, Perch Hill is the cutting garden and school for Sarah Raven as well as her family home. The mail order business is from another venue.
I would recommend a visit to one of the open days at Perch Hill, the website has all the details https://www.sarahraven.com/perch-hill-calendar
Just don’t go hoping to fill your car with plants.
Allium Nectaroscordum bulgarium, Angelica archangelica, Artisan Garden, Astrantia 'Roma', Charlotte Rowe, Chelsea flower show 2014, Chelsea Lighting Design, Clematis 'Westerplatte', Cleve West, Contemporary Paradise Garden, del Buono Gazerwitz, Drointon Nurseries Ltd, Iris Sibirica, Jekka mcVicar, Kazuyuki Design, Knoll, Luciano Giubbillei, M&G, No Man's Garden, Olivia Kirk, Stipa gigantea, Telegraph Garden, Tiliax europea 'Pallida', Wellchild garden
Tuesday afternoon I got the chance to visit the Flower Show with my friend Rosie. We had tickets for the late 3.30pm slot and edged our way through the crowds to see the gardens. This is the gardening show for me, I love the London location, the sight of those super smart, scarlet clad Chelsea pensioners, the floral window displays of the shops on the Kings Road. Even the Estate agents get in the spirit, filling their (colourful) boots with……
flowers. The morning ticket visitors throng the pavements clutching their wierd and wonderful purchases, threatening to take out passers-by not paying enough attention to the protruding items. The secret whispers of the ticket touts lining the route add to the excitement as you approach the gates.
Once through the gates, we made our way along the avenue towards the Show gardens. 2014 has seen the introduction of some young new designers so I was hoping for some new interesting ideas. There seemed to be more colour in general this year and a much more naturalistic, fluffy loose style of planting. Nothing new in that perhaps but certainly a different style overall for Chelsea. In previous years there has been Purple Sensation Alliums and Bearded Iris everywhere; this year however I either failed to notice them or perhaps there were just less of the beardy types. There were lots of the rather elegant Iris sibirica in many of the gardens, including at the ‘No Man’s Land’ Garden by Charlotte Rowe.
There were Allium Nectaroscordum bulgarium as seen in the opening image which I love. There was also an abundance of Anthriscus sylvestris ‘ Ravenswing’ with Astrantia, in this case Astrantia major ‘Roma’.
The Cottage garden staple Aquilegia vulgaris in dark bruised colours such as Aquilegia vulgaris ‘Ruby Port’ popped up in a number of gardens, almost as if they had self seeded themselves around the Show.
There were lots of grasses, including the fabulous Stipa gigantea but seemingly less of the designer favourite Stipa tenumissima, instead there seemed to be regular use of Briza media.
Another Cottage garden staple, the Lupin, was used by many of the designers including the Best in Show garden. I have always thought them to be rather old fashioned and perhaps even a little brash, tending to associate them with the bright colours displayed in the floral pavilion. This is Lupinus ‘Chandelier’ (Band of Nobles Series) mixed with Lupinus ‘Cashmere Cream’ as used by designer Luciano Giubbilei for his Best in Show Laurent-Perrier garden. Anything but brash, the planting of this garden looked effortless, relaxed and very beautiful and it contrasted and complimented the hard landscaping which was a mix of limestone and some of the smartest vertical concrete I have ever seen.
The Telegraph Garden was for me a very corporate looking garden, suited perhaps to a boutique hotel, created by design partnership del Buono Gazerwitz. Unusually the design included a large lawn area, seemingly pinned in to place by huge cushion shape Box mounds. The favourite part of the garden for me was an area of seating in the form of white metal 50s styled table and chairs by Knoll, under an area of ten clipped Lime trees, Tilia x europea ‘Pallida’. I could imagine this area in Italy, on a hot Summer’s afternoon, chilled glass of something waiting…..
I thought that the Show seemed less frantic and slightly less congested this year, able to get close to the Show Gardens without waiting too long, if at all in some places. The gardens were all wonderful and there were lots of lovely ideas: How about growing your Clematis as a trailer out of a pot for a change?
This was in the M&G garden designed by Cleve West and the Clematis is Clematis ‘Westerplatte’.
Elsewhere there were some rather neat lights spotted amongst the foliage which I thought would suit a Town or country setting:These were spotted in The Wellchild Garden designed by Olivia Kirk and the bronze lights are by Chelsea Lighting Design.
Jekka mcVicar had a beautiful stand displaying a snapshot of her organic herbs. The stand has packets and packets of different seeds to buy as well as some rather attractive art, pictures of herbs, of course. Look at the magnificant flower head of Angelica archangelica, how on earth did they manage to transport that in one piece?
The Great Pavilion was a feast for the eyes and I was drawn this year to the Hostas and Auriculas. Drointon Nurseries Ltd got Gold for their beautiful display of Auricula and the owners, Robin and Annabel Graham were charming, happy to converse with us while the camera crews blocked their stand pending an article with Joe Swift. So taken with them and their display we returned later to each purchase a set of plug plants to take home.
The best Artisan garden was by Kazuyuki Design. The design was said to be created “to take the memory of the scenery away with you, to recall and be comforted by, when feeling troubled”. Well I am pleased to say that I am not feeling troubled however I do take pleasure in the memory of Chelsea 2014. I will share my shot of the beautiful trees in the Kazuyuki’s garden. How extraordinary to think that they will be ripped up and taken away in a few days time.