Scampston Hall-Autumn

We have returned from a family trip out to Scampston Hall. Scampston has two great attractions. The grounds were designed by Capability Brown, the great landscape designer of the 18th century. Then the walled gardens contain the Dutch designer Piet Oudolf’s largest private commission in the UK. We had chosen to go there so we could meet up with my parents. It feels more comfortable meeting somewhere outside currently.

Scampston is free for one visit to RHS members, but only on Fridays. So far I’m not managing to get any free visits out of my membership. I visited Burnby too late in the year. Glad I’m paying student membership. I am enjoying the RHS magazine though which has been excellent.

We began with the walk around the grounds. There is a short walk through part of the grounds and woodland or a longer walk taking in more of the area. With Alice’s shorter legs we only did the shorter walk but it was a nice stretch taking in parts of the Capability Brown design. Alice was very keen to check the map each step of the way.

It took us through the rock garden which currently looks like it’s a work in progress. Several gunneras have been cut to the ground and the river was dry.

It took us down to the waterside and bridge-building.

Several swans and geese about.

Then we went through a stretch of trees with a pleasing trio of Acers.

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Six on Saturday: 26.9.20

It’s been a week of contrasts. The first half of the week was glorious sunshine. The second half of the week has been hailstones, torrential rain and strong winds. This has put a halt to the building work. They made a good start but they can’t do the render until there are a few dry days together. The wind has crushed a few plants but hopefully most will recover alright.

1. Tulip pot

Alice bought her tulips last week but she wanted a really nice pot. She won a garden centre voucher back in May for National Children’s Gardening Week that we hadn’t spent yet. So, we went to the local garden centre and she chose this bee pot and we got the tulips planted last Sunday before the weather turned.

2. Wild about weeds competition

I also had some good news this week that I came 2nd place in a competition! I entered Jack Wallington’s wild about weeds competition. The aim of the competition was to show a weed within a plantings scheme. This was the photo I entered showing Asplenium within the front garden.

3. Sambucus racemosa

I planted this earlier in the year. It’s still only small but the lovely bright foliage is stunning right now. The foliage is working well against the darker dahlias foliage.

It is looking particularly nice against the Fuschia next to it.

4. Hanging basket

The hanging basket was replaced with a few fuschias I grew from cuttings. They’ve been slow to get going but they have finally realised I am growing them for their flowers.

5. Leptinella squalida and Acer palmatum ‘seiryu’

I have combined this Acer with Leptinella squalida ‘Platt’s black’.

‘Platt’s black seems to be getting marketed as black moss. It isn’t really a moss but it does act as a ground cover plant. The foliage is small and fern-like in appearance. It’s actually part of the Asteraceae family, the daisies. It does flower with small brown flowers. Hopefully, it will spread to fill the base of the pot.

I wanted to see if the finer filigree leaves hold up better to my drying sea winds. It will still need a sheltered spot. But in theory, small leaves of this nature should lose less water and be more tolerant of the winds though it will still need a sheltered spot.

6. The dry garden

I have volunteered to tidy several of the planters at work. They have got a bit worn over the last year and just need a bit of a spruce up. They are outside the nursery and have a compost mix of sand and soil in. They are in full sun and will not see much watering for periods. Currently, there are a few lavenders healthy enough and a few sempervivums, a broom and a patch of Festuca grass. So I figure it makes sense to plan for dry garden conditions. The existing plants are mainly silver as many drought-tolerant plants have silver foliage. I have started reading Beth Chatto’s book, “The dry garden” to gain better knowledge. I largely garden on clay and my favourite area to work is my shaded front garden. So these planters are pretty much the extreme opposite of what I normally work with. I grow a few alpines and succulents in pots. I think it would look nice to find the handful of darker options to contrast with the existing silver plants. I’ve got a few stonecrops and sempervivums that can be split to use. It does feel a bit ironic to be planning a dry garden during the wettest week in months.

We are planning a visit to Scampston Walled gardens tomorrow so hopefully, the weather will hold off long enough for us to have a nice day. The gardens include both Capability Brown designed areas and Piet Oudolf designed areas so a bit of a contrast. I’m sure I will end up reporting back on it if we do go. Enjoy your weekends whatever you are up to.

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Six on Saturday: 19.9.20

The building work has started properly now. We have stacks of materials around the garden. It is difficult getting to a few areas but they reckon they will be done by the end of next week so that seems hopeful. I’d mentioned in my blog on Burnby Hall that I think my RHS exam went well. I need to get the next assignment done. This unit is around compost and plant nutrients so it is quite a useful unit with plenty of chances to apply the knowledge practically.

1. Air plant

I’ve had two air plants in the spare room that have survived a good while yet and saw this one at the garden centre. They have gone from being a speciality purchase to being sold on the counter as an extra like a novelty cactus. An improvement on the googly-eyed cactus though. This one has gone in the bathroom where it will get a burst of humidity each day to keep it going and then the odd spray.

2. Tulips

Taking Alice to school she noticed the florist have their tulip bulbs for sale now. She had asked a few weeks back about getting a few new ones. I hadn’t really planned to add any more tulips as I have quite a lot that seem to be returning. She choose Giuseppe Verdi, a short yellow and red Kaufmann tulip that flowers in early spring. Then Chopin which is yellow with a red streak. It is supposedly perennial but we’ll see. She has requested that they go in a pot, but a nice one. We’ll look at getting them in today. Not the most exciting photo I have featured within my six. But, if I don’t record what goes in the ground I won’t be able to look back to work out what they are.

3. Watering can

I’ve been after a new watering can for a while. My larger watering can doesn’t fit up to the water butt tap and the smaller watering can is cracking. This new one feels nice and solid and should last a good while.

4. Hydrangea libele

I moved this hydrangea into the ground back in February. It suffered a bit with frost but it bounced back and seems alright. Last year a lot of the flowers were hidden in the foliage whereas it seems to be sorting itself out with a handful of the lacecap heads opening up.

The white bracts are pretty with a centre made up of a mixture of blue and pink.

5. Japanese anemome ‘honorine jobert’

This was planted as a reduced bargain last year and didn’t do very much. It is planted in a spot where a line of hebes used to grow. I think this has meant it has struggled a bit to establish but it is hanging on in there and has flowered. In late autumn or spring, I’ll add a bit more mulch around it to improve the soil conditions.

6. Iris unguicularis

A few people featured these irises last winter and I liked the fact that they flower during winter when little else is. I’ve managed to get hold of two cultivars. Mary Barnard is a velvety blue flower that will flower in February or March. It has an RHS award of merit for being reliable. Then Walter Butt has lavender coloured flowers that flower in December or January. It is apparently the most scented of the unguicularis so that should make it a nice treat for by the back door in the winter months. They are currently placed out of the way while the building work goes on.

I’ve got a few jobs to get started on now. I’ve given the front garden a good weed over but I need to try and work around the builder’s materials to check over the back garden. There are a few bulbs to get in the ground. But, I reckon I should have time to get back up to date after focusing on exam revision. Time to get cracking.

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Burnby Hall

Today I sat my first RHS exam. I think it went well. I was able to answer everything. Just a few questions I think I may have lost marks on. In order to break up the journey home from Skipton I stopped off at Burnby Hall Gardens. I enjoyed my lunch and did a quick loop of the gardens. The garden contains a large man made lake and contains the National Collection of hardy water lillies.

It was a glorious day to visit with the sunlight reflecting on the water.

The pond is filled with ornamental roach and carp that are used to being fed by visitors. They come to snap at anyone near the edge of the water.

The water lillies were looking spectacular. Though I can’t say I can distinguish that many differences in the collection beyond colour.

The water was attracting many dragonflies. They were skimming all over the water hunting for smaller insects.

Off the edge of the lake are various garden areas. With Covid they have put a one way system in which takes you to the Victorian garden first. This is made of a walkway, pavilion and formal beds.

The beds were looking good but I think they probably peak earlier in the year. But some pretty Japanese anemones and Asters.

After the Victorian garden you come to the rock garden along the edge of the lake. Ferns fill many of the crevices. but there were a few more autumn favourites. The nerines looking particularly good.

The butterflies were enjoying what is possibly plumbago.

Though I did have the urge to take the labels off many of the plants. Here one slightly spoiling this otherwise beautiful Acer palmatum ‘dissectum’.

The stumpery was probably my favourite area. The shade was appreciated today. The mass green of foliage from ferns was very peaceful. A serene area scattered with totem like sculptures. The hobbit house is a nice playful touch.

They seem to be in the process of establishing a hydrangea walk. Only small specimens at the moment but theis will look great in a few years.

A well filled dovcote.

I enjoyed my trip today. A pleasant stop off for food on the way home and to bring my blood pressure down after my exam and the drive through Harrogate and the Wolds. I could happily return again to see it through the seasons. Thank you for all the well wishes today and support people have given me for my first RHS exam. I won’t get the results until December 2nd but I’m feeling fairly confident of at least a pass. I’m still getting to grips with the new blog editor so apologies for mistakes and poor formatting.

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Six on Saturday: 12.9.20

I have made it through my first week at work. It’s been lovely. I have the first of the RHS exams next week. I am feeling confident of passing but I’d like to get the commendation but we’ll see. WordPress has made the update to the new editor for writing my blogs. So far it is very clunky, sections I’ve written keep vanishing so I’m hoping I can change it back or it improves rapidly as this was a pain to write. I hope you all appreciate it.


1. Scaffolding

The builders are returning to finish our rendering. This has been an ongoing problems since last year. The builders did the job poorly putting internal insulation on the outside of the house and then rendering over. This all has to come off and then another team of builders who seem to know what they are doing are fixing it. It means the garden is going to be a bit of a mess for a while as a lot had to come off the patio ready for the work.

2. Front planters

I have two planters either side of the front door. Into these I placed hydrangea runaway brides. One has thrived. The other has shrivelled. Not sure exactly why. They were both suffering slightly with chlorosis but they’ve both had the same feed. They both get watered at the same time and have similar conditions.

I have cut back the one that has shrivelled. It may return next year but I’m not holding out much hope soI have moved some cylamen in to fill the gap for now. The foliage of the cyclamen being one of my favourite autumn plants.

Only one is flowering currently but they look to be a red and a white one.

3. Pot Rose

Alice has been going past the florist each day on her way to school and has been asking if we can get one of these little pot roses. As we’d made it through a week of work and school I indulged her.

Not necessarily a colour I’d choose but it looks nice enough. We’ll keep it inside to flower and then try transferring it outside to see if it can come back again.

4. Mouse

I went looking in the shed for a potlast Sunday and knocked this little mouse into the bird feed box. I kept it in a box so Alice could have a look and then released it back. They don’t do any harm in the shed. The bird food is all in metal tins and I’d rather they were out in the shed than coming in the house.

5. Bishop’s Children dahlia

This was another of the Bishop’s Children dahlia grown from seed this year. There has been a variety of colours from bright red, through pink and orange and yellow. This one seems to have developed as a partial double form.

6. Asters

The asters are coming into flower now. This is a tall variety that is wedged behind a hebe and sambucus.


And now they’re flowering the insects are happy.

Well, this was painful to write in the new editor. There is no spell checker and trying to read back through it leaps around so I expect complaints from my mother about mistake. I will be getting on with my last burst of exam revision this weekend so I may not get around to reading everyone else’s six blogs until after Monday. Enjoy your weekends.

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Six on Saturday: 5.9.20 Monocots & Dicots

For this weeks six I thought I would do a blog to aid with revision for my first RHS exam in a few weeks. Having had a look through past exam papers the differences between monocts and dicots is a regular exam question. Flowering plants (Angiosperms) are divided into two key groups moncots and discots. The course never really explains why this is important to know but it does give you a good idea of how a plant will grow, what leaves it will have. Some diseases may affect dicots but not monocots so it can be useful to be able to categorise the two.

1. Leaves

The leaves of monocotyledonous plants have parallel veins. They are usually strap-like in shape and have the stomata (where oxygen exits and carbon dioxide enters) are spread evenly between the top and bottom of the leaves. Grasses would be a good example of this. Here we have a hosta showing the parallel veins.

Whereas, dicotyledonous plants have spreading, reticulate (net-like) and branching veins. Here on the heuchera you can see the veins spreading out like a web. The stomata are located on the underside of the leaves.

2. Stems

Monocot stems have vascular bundles scattered around the stem with an epidermis one layer thick. They cannot undergo secondary thickening so they do not form woody stems. There are some exceptions such as palm trees and bananas that can form larger stems but these are exceptions that have developed different strategies than dicot stems for growing larger. So while something like a hosta may grow large leaves it does not develop a large stem. Here the agapanthus has the strap like leaves with a long stem but it cannot undergo secondary thickening to make it more stable.

Dicot stems have vascular bundles arranged in circles around the pith acting as a starch store. They can undergo secondary thickening. So, in general, most trees will be dicots.

3. Flowers

Monocot flower parts are arranged in multiples of 3. Irises and lilies are good examples of this.

Whereas, dicot flowers have parts arranged in multiples of 4 or 5.

4. Seeds

Monocot seeds have one cotyledon, thus the name monocot. The cotyledon is the embryonic leaf that the plant initially grows when first germinated. As it grows larger it forms the true leaves. In the case of monocots, as already said, strap-like.

In dicot seeds, they have two cotyledons. Here we have the two seed leaves of the dicot coneflowers, Echinacea purpurea.

5. Roots

In monocot roots are usually fibrous. They sometimes have an initial taproot that dies off quickly to be replaced by the adventitious fibrous roots. Whereas dicots can form a tap root system with a central thicker root growing down with roots branching off this. Then from the secondary roots smaller taproots may form. Here we have the fibrous roots coming off an onion.

6. Pollen grains

Monocot pollen is monosulcate. This means it has a single pore through the outer layer.

Whereas dicot pollen is tricolpate meaning it has 3 ridges through the outer layer.

I hope you have enjoyed me sharing some of my course knowledge. Hopefully, some of it may be accurate. One more weekend to go before the test so I have a bit more time to cram. Sorry if I don’t get around to reading everyone else’s sixes this week. Between starting my new job on Monday and preparing for my exam I am a bit busy. But it should settle into a nice routine after the exam. Enjoy your weekends.

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