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

Annie's Little Plot

Annie's Little Plot

Saturday 17 November 2012

Winter scent

If you want a flower to get you through the dark days of winter then you can't go far wrong with the Narcissus 'Paper White'. 
It is one of the easiest bulbs for forcing into growth as they do not require any chilling, all you do is pot them up and water and then they will start to grow. Though its better to start them off in a cooler place away from direct sunlight and then move them into a warmer area when ready to flower, this will keep them flowering for longer. From planting to flowering takes about 4-6 weeks. So if you want some flowers for Christmas then now is a good time to plant.
Paperwhites are cultivated varieties of the species Narcissus papyraeus (from papyrus and aceus; meaning paper-like), which is native to the eastern Mediterranean and so they thrive in the warmth of our homes in winter. Though they will flower for longer in slightly cooler temperatures of 50–65 °F (10–18°C). They produce multi-heads of delicate white daffodil flowers but the best thing about them is their scent which is very strong,
They can grow quite tall and do have the habit of toppling over so some sort of  support is often needed. Though Alys Fowler posted on her Guardian blog that " at Cornell University they found that if they gave the bulb some water with a shot of alcohol, this didn't happen; instead, you get the same size blooms on shorter, stouter stems. The consensus is that when the top growth is about 15-20cm tall, change the water so that it has a shot of vodka (or gin) mixed in and they'll learn to stand up straight". So maybe I could give a shot of vodka a try! 
You can grow them in soil or just in shallow bowls of water.
I've been quite organised this year and bought some bulbs in bulk and I've been planting them at 2-4 week intervals so that I'll always have some in flower through the winter. They have been scenting my living room with a delicious spicy aroma. Though I've just been googling Paperwhite daffs and the scent is definitely not to everyone's taste, with descriptions ranging from smelly socks to manure! Its seems like some people are sensitive to the chemicals in the scent and just don't like it.
I would suggest they make lovely Christmas presents, but if your friend or relative has an aversion to the smell they may not be very popular!

Sunday 11 November 2012

My local park

I want to share some pictures of my local park, Greenhead Park which is a lovely green space only a short walk from the centre of Huddersfield and where I walk through on my way into town. It was first opened in September 1884, and has seen many changes over the years. Now it contains the usual play park, has a bowling green, tennis courts and a small skate park. The main feature is the war memorial and there is a band stand and glasshouse. When I first moved to Huddersfield in 2006 it was a nice park but you could see that it had got a bit rundown, the conservatory/glasshouse was looking tatty and there were a problems with flooding in some areas. But I was always amazed by how many people used the park it was always packed in the summer, with a wide range of people. Huddersfield is a real ethnic mix and there were kids, students and old people all using this amazing park. Well it got better when in 2009 it was awarded multi-million pound funding by Kirklees Council and the National Lottery Heritage project to refurbish the park. The plans were to renovate the bandstand and the Glasshouse, to sort the drainage issues, to reinstate one of the original lakes in the park, to replace all the railings around the park and generally rejuvenate the whole area. The pictures below I've taken throughout the year.
The restoration, as it often does, took a bit longer than planned but it is all finished now. The Glasshouse has been restored and to the back of the building a small cafe has been added, but you can also sit, with your food and drinks, in the main conservatory with the scent of jasmine in the air.

One of the key factors in the parks development was the set up of the Friends of Greenhead Park. This voluntary group do amazing things to keep the park looking so great.
The park railings have all been replaced and new gates at the entrance to the park have been added. The original ones were removed in 1940, to be melted down for the war effort.
Coming into the park, the path leads up to the war memorial which is an impressive structure. This was a later addition to the park added in 1924.

There is a bowling green and tennis courts along this stretch with a new skate park at the end. A new small pavilion has been built for the bowling green (and for the Friends of Greenhead Park to meet) and there is also a small cafe and community room along here.

There is also a model steam train which operates in the park at weekends.
There were originally 5 lakes or ponds in the park, one of these has been recently restored, this is all a bit concretey (I think I've made up that word!) for my liking but it may become more natural as time progresses.
Its looking more settled now.
 There is also another pool which is now used as a childrens paddling pool. I know we didn't get too many nice days this summer but on some days it was packed with children and families. In this age of health and safety its nice to see these sorts of things still surviving and its popularity shows that it needs to be kept going. Not sure it looks very tempting on an autumn day.
The bandstand has been restored to its former glory too.
They have rejuvenated all the borders in the park as well. This used to be a straggly rose garden which now looks amazing and flowers for months on end.

 The planting was brilliant in the peak of summer.

Though now in autumn its almost over and some bits cut back.

This is near the conservatory and the mass planting of catmint which flowers for ages with a lovely delicate rose is gorgeous. 

Leading away from this area towards the restored formal fountain.

In this year of the Olympics and the Jubilee they were patriotic in their bedding schemes.
Even in the autumn and winter its looks beautiful.

I just wanted to show you some pictures of my park, I love it and I know its a really important part of Huddersfield. Its an example of how lottery money has done something positive and vital in this community. Some people will still complain that its a waste of money in these difficult times but if you see it on a weekend you will realise how much it is used by a wide range of people in Huddersfield.

Friday 2 November 2012

A tour of.....Hestercombe

We called off at Hestercombe before we got on the M5 for our long drive back from our recent holiday in Dorset and it was certainly worth the detour round Taunton. Joe Swift recently visited the gardens on Gardener's World (its still available to view on iPlayer if you are quick!) and it looked amazing so I kept it in mind for our holiday. The fact that it was designed in part by the doyenne of garden design, Gertrude Jekyll, also made me want to visit. It is a garden of three styles if you like, there are the 18th century pleasure grounds, there is the Victorian terrace with its formal bedding and the Arts and Crafts garden created in a collaboration between Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll. Edwin Lutyens (one of our most famous architects, he also designed the Cenotaph and part of New Delhi in India) was given the task of designing the gardens by E.W.B. Portman and it was carried out between 1904 and 1908. The architectural design and detail is a triumph and the design is enhanced by the planting of Gertrude Jekyll which softens the hard landscaping. It is said that this garden was one of their most successful collaborations.
Gertrude Jekyll appears to be a formidable woman she was an extremely talented artist and she loved crafts. She not only gardened but she designed gardens, wrote about gardens and created her own nursery where she selected and bred her own plants. What a life. She was also the first woman to be awarded the Victoria medal of Honour in 1897 by the Royal Horticultural Society. The fact that she is still talked about now shows what an influence she has been on the gardening world.
It was this part of the garden that attracted me to come to visit the gardens so this is where I headed for first. So we walked through the Victorian shrubbery and to the Mill pond with its lovely waterfall.
From here you get your first glimpse of the garden is through this door.

This is the Dutch garden, you walk round past the Mill room where you can watch a film which tells the history of the garden, past the Orangery lawn to the Orangery itself and here you can climb some steps into the Dutch garden.

This garden sparkled even on this fairly overcast day.
The garden planting has been restored to the original plans that Jekyll made and you can see the planting in here is quite muted colours and held together with a background of silvery grey foliage. The beds are edged with that lovely tactile plant, Stachys byzantina otherwise known as Lambs ears. The rest of the planting is a mixture of lavender, pink roses, snapdragons and catmint amongst others.
It is the steps here that you first see the lovely daisy Erigeron karvinskianus, which was the plant of my holiday, it was everywhere and it appears in all the nooks and crannies of this garden.

The orangery was also designed by Edwin Lutyens.

Looking down onto the rill with still lots in flower in the borders either side, mostly phlox and asters.
The rill from the other end
I love all the details in the hard landscaping.

 The classic Lutyens bench.
 The pergola is planted with roses, clematis, jasmine amongst others. The pergola, at 200 ft long, is said to be one of the longest in the UK.

From this end of the garden you get great views of the surrounding countryside.

The Great Plat is a large sunken garden which is divided by diagonal lawns crossing the garden with a sundial in the middle.

The planting within the Great Plat is a mixture of Canna's, salmon pink gladioli ('Ibadan'), phlox and delphiniums and all edged with Bergenia. Certainly a vibrant combination. When the gardens were first restored the original plans were not found but since been discovered and implemented. You can link to the original and current planting plans here.

Further information regarding the restoration of the gardens can be found here.
The Victorian Terrace contains the classic formal bedding planting, but this is quite an unusual colour scheme, quite tasteful and muted, very monochrome with the dark purple Coleus against the pale feverfew-like daisy and the grey green of the succulent, Echeveria.

Leaving the more formal gardens we had a walk round the Landscape garden with the classic view of the Temple Arbour.
You can do a circular walk past the pear pond and the Great Cascade.

 To the Chinese bridge and Box pond at the top of the garden.
And back past the Chinese seat and the Octagon summerhouse which is the most recent garden building.
Its certainly a contrast to the rest of the garden.
I was mesmerised by this garden of many styles but really drawn to the Edwardian garden of Lutyens and Jekyll, loving the formal lines but detailed and delightful colour schemes. No wonder I have been so inspired by Jekyll as her quote on my main page states "The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies".