The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies. Gertrude Jekyll

Annie's Little Plot

Annie's Little Plot

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Bees a buzzin'

My front garden has been awash with alliums, its 'Purple Sensation' and is a real star for me at this time of the year. I feel like this garden has been getting better each year as its gets tweaked a little bit each time, its also got masses of purple and white aquilegia, white sweet rocket, Persicaria bistorta, the frothy pink 'London Pride' and alchemilla mollis. I've added some dark purple leaved shrubs which are getting bigger each year and add further contrast, I've a dark leaved elderflower, a weigela and a purple cotinus. It was originally dark pinks and purples and I was encouraging the orange variety of the welsh poppy to seed around as a contrast but the pale pinks of the London pride and the Persicaria are taking over a bit now and maybe the orange doesn't work so that may have to go or maybe I'm being too tasteful!
I was sat on the grass in my back garden in the sun the other day and it was all a buzz with bees. How fortunate that some of my favourite plants are also loved by bees. The bees were fighting over the pendulous bell-like flowers of the Nectaroscordum siculum. If you look closely you can see a bee just entering the flower.
I blogged about a self-seeded cotoneaster last year which has tiny really inconspicuous flowers but is completely covered in bees.
They also love the Persicaria bistorta.
Another plant that self-seeds in my garden is Phacelia, a delightful flower which looks like a big hairy caterpillar.
Other bee-loved flowers out at the moment are some foxgloves, perennial wallflower which never stops flowering and some Sweet William which I grew from small plugs.
 So my bouquet this week has been...
Finally a curiosity, why and more importantly how did these snails get up here (if you look closely there are 3 here), this is the top of a holly bush which is about a metre and a half high, the only thing I think is they could be after is the bird food which is close by in the apple tree. But very odd!

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Chelsea Flower Show 2013 - The Show gardens

Like most of you who commented on my tour of the small gardens, its the small garden that I tend to get the most ideas from. But if you look carefully you can get some nice planting ideas or small design ideas from the bigger show gardens but they tend to be flamboyant and often seem a bit out of reach for the average gardener. These are also the gardens that get most of the focus from the media, though frustratingly every year the coverage seems to be focused on some gardens and not others. I can't say there were any really innovative gardens this year or any really bonkers one (maybe thats because Diarmuid Gavin didn't have a garden here this year). Some traditional ones, some highlighting important causes and some highlighting particular places.
The first one on our tour was the garden highlighting Stoke-on-Trent including a skeleton of a bottle kiln, once a familiar sight in the Potteries region.
 There was some interesting wall planting which is a common feature at flower shows this year. I like the colour scheme of peach, dark reds, terracotta, lime green and creams.
Kate Gould's garden showed how some former industrial waste ground can be transformed into a modern garden reusing concrete, old timber, crazy paving and steel panels. The quirky feature was the seat made out of an old bath.
The SeeAbility garden was designed to raise awareness on sight loss. It is split into segments by three slate paths with a large Robinia tree in the centre. The tree is shielded from the rest of the garden by what on closer inspection reveals it self as a nice water feature. A wall of metal balls which drip with water..There is a nice oak structure that also divides the garden and finally a copper feature with circles some containing some planting of that lovely daisy Erigeron. I really liked this, it added a sculptural feature to the garden, not sure how I could copy that one though. There are some contrasting planting colours such as the bright yellow grass nexzt to dark purple Heucheras and white Irises and alliums rising from the dark foliage.
Next to a garden which is sponsored by Arthritis Research UK, the charity which funds the research that I'm involved with at the University of Manchester. So always of interest to me and I had wanted to volunteer for the garden but with everything else that has been going on this year I didn't get chance to but maybe another year if they do a garden. This one was designed by one of my favourite designers, Chris Beardshaw who in making the garden has revealed himself to be an arthritis sufferer. Its good to highlight this disease, a disease of which there are many misconceptions, not least the difficulty in diagnosis.
 There are a number of aspects that I loved about this garden, the first were the inspiring sculptures, the divisions of the garden and the planting. This was a lovely flower and I need to find out what it was.
The amazing Echiums.
 The best view is from the front, though you have to be patient!
You then look across main avenue and another gorgeous garden, again not ground-breaking but just something that you can imagine having yourself in your own garden and thats the garden designed by Roger Platt. This garden represents gardening through the years the Chelsea Flower Show has been running. Some lovely planting with a bit for everyone.
The garden by royal appointment got lots of TV coverage, it was designed for Prince Harry and the charity Sentebale by Jinny Blom to highlight the African country of Lesotho which tragically is severely afflicted by both poverty and AIDS. A great cause but I didn't take to the garden, I could sort of see what she was trying to show but wasn't sure about the clay circle in the middle of the garden or patterned patio?
I was really pleased to see that one of my gardening heroes, Nigel Dunnett had at last won a gold medal, he always designs innovative wildlife gardens. This time he'd designed a roof garden with lots of habitats for wildlife.
I particularly liked the plant wall painting above. The dark purple Verbascum's were very striking.
The Laurent-Perrier Garden this year was designed by Ulf Nordfjell and was a very tasteful, but dare I say it a bit boring. I did like the Iris's though.

Next to this was a similar garden, the Telegraph Garden, this is more of a landscape piece rather than a garden and has inspiration from both Japanese gardens with their calm green gardens and also from the English landscape so lots of cow parsley.
The Olympic Games inspired Great Britain last year and I still have amazing memories of those few weeks and one of the gardens here was inspired by the Athletes village at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
I guess the most off the wall garden of the show was the Stockton Drilling's "As Nature Intended" garden featuring plants which have been proven to be extremely useful for man over the years, willow, yew, hornbeam and hazel.
Another of my favourite garden of the show was The Homebase Garden designed by Adam Frost, again its one I can see myself with, its a family garden helping to connect children with growing their own food and with nature, but still room to play and an ornamental garden.
The Brewin Dolphin Garden was a more modern garden I loved the bright pink wall, the pebbles were wonderful and the frothy planting.
The spread of plant diseases and alien pest invaders have been much in the press this last few years and was the focus of a thought-provoking garden designed by Jo Thompson, a garden of two halves, one with lush green natural planting and one side with a row of dead trees, with a seedling oak tree floating in an island.
The garden which won best in show was the show-stopping Trailfinders Australian garden by Flemings Nursery. Some lush native planting with a natural billabong and waterfall.Not really something that I can copy in Huddersfield!
The nursery owner, Wes Fleming, has been a strong presence at the last few Chelsea shows and he was obviously really proud of his gold medal and best in show award that he was showing off to everyone who passed the garden with a brief stand-up comedy routine that kept the audience enthralled.
So their is my tour of the show, its close but I think my favourite garden was the Roger Platt garden with Chris Beardshaw and Adam Frost's gardens close behind. I'm not apologising for being a traditional girl.