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

Annie's Little Plot

Annie's Little Plot

Monday 30 May 2011

Chelsea Flower Show - The small gardens

I love to see the Show gardens and especially the madness of some of the stage sets, but I tend to be only able to get inspiration for my garden at home from small parts of the gardens. The swimming pools and expensive paving materials are out of reach for most people. There is often exquisite planting schemes that can be copied and small features that can be used such as the idea of a green roof, or creating habitats for wildlife both of which were found in a number of the show gardens. But overall it tends to be the small gardens that give the most ideas to me. I'm a sucker for the more cottage-type gardens rather than the more modern designs but I liked some of both of these categories this year.
Firstly the Artisan gardens which used to be called the courtyard gardens. These are situated in Ranelagh gardens which has a woodland feel being along a pathway under the trees.
It was a bit wet when we were viewing these but that meant it was a bit quieter and we could get to see the gardens better so some advantages of the rain.
The first garden on the path was the Fever-Tree's Tree House Garden.
The cutest little tree house, taking up most of the garden.

The Art of Yorkshire, celebrates the famous artists from Yorkshire, so it features an original sculpture from Barbara Hepworth which I love. There is a picture frame in the centre of the plot which brilliantly frames a beautiful planting scheme.

The shapes of the wall reflect the hills of yorkshire. A very lovely garden.
Next was the garden called A postcard from Wales. This garden evokes a old fashioned garden in Wales close to Dylan Thomas's home town of Laugharne.
This won a gold medal but the garden which won best in show was a garden whose main attraction was a loo!
The Garden was called Hae-woo-so (Emptying One's mind), it is the Korean word for the traditional Korean toilet located in the back-yard.
A very tranquil garden with mostly wild planting.
The next was the Literary Garden, intended as a poets retreat, with verses and poems inscribed onto or used in many of the garden features. The planting is very cottage-like with foxgloves, Nepeta, Delphiniums and Astillbe's.

With a beautiful Dogwood in the garden, also seen in a few other gardens this year. A lovely tree.
The next garden was commissioned for the 100th anniversary of Basildon Bond. Designed to inspire people to rediscover the art of the hand-written letter which is a lovely idea.
It is the walls that are the most striking, which are decorated with waterproof paper and they curl up and have a lot of movement in the wind. I really like this idea and to match this is the Paperbark Maple (Acer griseum) which has peeling red-brown bark.

Finally A Child's Garden in Wales, set in 1947, with grow your own in the garden. Very nostalgic but a tad cheesy!
The Urban Gardens are mainly on Royal Hospital Way.
One is designed for the Doncaster Deaf Trust, to stimulate the senses, in this case hearing. I like the planting in this garden.

In fact there were a number of sensory gardens, the other was the RNIB garden using mostly textural plants.
One of my favourites of the Urban gardens was The Magistrates' Garden.
I particularly like the Plane trees grown as umbrellas giving shade and structure. I also like the back wall and the water feature. Overall I think this is my favourite small garden.

The Power of Nature garden was featured quite a lot and I did like the slate wall and the contrasting plants grown in the big container.
The Chilstone Garden is a bit mad, the first garden apparantly to use an outdoor carpet in the garden. Not my cup of tea but I quite like the silver, grey and purple planting scheme.
The Winds of Change garden won the best Urban Garden. I definitely like certain parts of it but I think its more of a masculine garden though people may disagree.
I do really like the fence panels and the trees complement that completely. The bark looks like its been polished along with the fence.

I also liked the path and the planting.

The final garden is The Lands' End Across the Pond garden which is inspired by the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

I love the water in this garden and the polished concrete paving slabs. The planting is also very delicate too. I guess any garden that has foxgloves in works for me!

Chelsea Flower Show - The Show Gardens

My friend Tracy and I visited the Chelsea Flower Show again this year. We have been before but the last time was in 2006, its a bit expensive to go every year. This year we decided to just get a half day ticket for the thursday. We got the train down in the morning and having dropped our bags off at the hotel on the way headed on the tube to Sloane Square. Past the lovely red brick villas to the grounds of the Royal Hospital. It was a bit grey but we were just walking up to get in the queue when there were a few drops of rain and before we even had chance to get coats on and umbrellas up the heavens opened. It was unbelievable heavy rain bouncing up from the pavements so that we were drenched before we had even got in! Our jeans were soaked to our knees!
Luckily it wasn't cold and it stopped raining enough for us to get in and start looking at the Show gardens.
Much as I love the BBC coverage they do seem to have their favourite gardens which they show alot of and others which don't get any coverage at all. So of course the garden designed by Diarmuid Gavin was featured nearly every night, whilst the garden by Bunny Guinness was hardly shown.
As it was thursday we knew who had what medals and best in show, but we decided to look at them with an open mind and make our own decisions on our favourite gardens. It was drizzling a bit when we were looking round but sometimes I think you can get better pictures than if it was bright sunshine which can washout your photos.
There are three types of gardens to view. There are the main show garden which are the largest and most varied. There are the Artisan gardens, which are in Ranelagh Gardens, for these designers have been asked to use an artisan approach to designing, building and choosing materials for the gardens. Then there are the urban gardens where the designers are asked to find solutions to restrictions in space found in urban gardens.
The first garden that you get to on Main avenue is the M&G garden by Bunny Guinness. This is a modern vegetable garden, with a mixture of vegetables and flowers all very colour coordinated.

Surprisingly for me this garden only got a silver-gilt medal, they said that it got knocked down due to the practicality of the garden in that it was all packed a bit too tightly and not much space between the beds.
The Monaco Garden by Sarah Eberle.
Bit too sleek for me!
I loved the RBC New Wild Garden by Nigel Dunnett.


I love the orange geums in this garden which are in lots of gardens and displays across Chelsea.
In fact there were quite a few gardens which had these shelters for insects, but I think they look very structural in this garden.
The Laurent-Perrier Garden designed by Luciano Giubbilei was my favourite garden in terms of the planting.
It was gorgeous, romantic and very frothy in muted colours of maroon, bronze and soft pinks.

This is definitely a colour scheme that I'm going to try out in my back garden. I already have lots of foxgloves and the Nectaroscordum, allium like bulbs. But I loved the Verbascums and the Anthriscus sylvestris 'Ravenswing', I've made a note of these for the future. the overall garden though, I didn't really take to. I didn't really like the garden house or the pool so overall didn't love the whole garden. But I think that was the same for me for most of the gardens, there wasn't one garden which I loved all the elements of. It was little bits of each one that I liked.
The garden which won best in show was the Daily Telegraph garden designed by Cleve West.

Again this was a lovely garden and I can see why it won best in show, the planting was lovely and I liked the yellow walls and the colours all complimented each other.
A garden which again didn't get much coverage was the Tourism Malaysia Garden designed by David Cubero and James Wong. This was an amazing garden, very different from the other gardens with dense foliage and tropical planting. The sunken seated area was lush and next to a waterfall. A garden of another place but expertly created at Chelsea.
The B&Q garden was a totally edible garden with a very tall structure with planting and integrated watering system. Here again were the insect habitats, this time all created by school children. I really liked the pleached lime trees. But is was more like a garden space rather than a garden, which I guess was the plan.
The Trailfinders Australian Garden by Flemings nursery was inspired by the plant hunters who travelled to the Southern hemisphere in search of new plants.

 So these were my favourites of the Show gardens, there were others which I liked like Ann-Marie Powell's green and red garden for the British Heart Foundation which actually I felt was the most innovative of the gardens and I was surprised that she only got a silver medal. I didn't take a picture but it was a very lush green foliage garden with red arching structures and red oval blocks as a path. It wasn't a garden which I'd like at home but it was a great show garden and very vibrant. I just thought maybe there whould have been a few more splashes of red in the planting scheme rather than just the green foliage.
I again didn't get a picture of Diarmuid Gavin's garden as it was a garden which I think probably looked its best within the garden rather than looking at it from the outside. Or from above in the floating pod called the Wonkavator. Bit too gimmicky for me but he got his gold medal at last.
I think overall my favourite garden was the modern potager by Bunny Guinness, I guess this is the garden I'd most like at home. But I often prefer the smaller gardens which I'll talk about in my next blog.

Sunday 29 May 2011

Catching up!

Time is flying I can't believe we are nearly into June. After a lovely April, May has not been quite so nice but at least we had some rain but the problem has been the wind which has been very strong at times. I've been a bit lax at keeping up with my blog recently but lots of things have been happening so I'm trying to catch up. So I'll try and post a few blogs over the next few days, one to catch up with what has been going on at the allotment and also my garden. Then I've also been to visit a few gardens so I'd like to talk about them and show some pictures. This week I've been down to the Chelsea Flower Show, the last time we went was in 2006 so I was really looking forward to it. As always I love the fact that we get at least an hours coverage on TV every night. Alan Titchmarsh back on TV doing what he does best talking about gardening.
Anyway I'll talk about that in a later blog, but first things first. My allotment. There has been a few disasters but some things are doing OK.
We had a frost at the beginning of May which damaged the tops of the potatoes.
There has also been a problem with flea beetle on the radishes that I sown.
On a stormy night in May I planted two rows of Calabrese.

I didn't manage to get up to the allotment again for a week and this is what I found when I next got there!

Bl.oody slugs! Luckily I didn't plant all the seedlings and have some back at home which I'm now going to grow into bigger plants which will hopefully survive some slug attack. This has been the first sign of slugs since I  got the plot but I guess that is due to the dry April. Will be much more vigilant now.
I had a long day on the plot on the 25th, there has been an explosion of weed seedlings, they seem to be some form of annual Euphorbia. They have ruined my sowing of carrots and parsnips, but the radishes have survived, despite the weeds and also the flea beetle.
 My strawberry beds are starting to fruit.

The runner beans have germinated and are coming through well.

The potatoes have recovered and growing well now.
The Broad beans are starting to develop pods.

The shallots are doing OK but the onions not so good, only just really starting to grow now and not the best growth.
I had a thorough weed and then carried on digging over one of the new beds.

 I need to get the strimmer up there soon though as I'm getting a great crop of buttercups!
So thats where I'm up to with the allotment. I've also planted some more peas tonight and some flowers, some Ammi majus, Cerinthe major, sunflowers, Campanula persicifolia and Alchemilla mollis, plus the sweet peas.