So it’s the start of the new month and it is has definitely shifted to autumn. Not that we will experience many of the joys of autumn in my garden this year. The leaves fell without changing colour as a result of the drought.
Delphinium dwarf blue
I picked up two of these delphiniums at Tesco’s a few weeks ago. They had been reduced as they had a good few yellowed leaves but I was confident enough they would recover. After a good soak they were planted in the border a few weeks back and they are flowering nicely now. It’s good to still provide as many flowers as possible to cater for the insects still on the wing.
I saw this going on Facebook for a fiver and thought it was worth getting at that price. I don’t have a set idea in mind for it. I may use it in the border for a bird bath to sit on. It’s not the largest or prettiest but at that price, it seemed worth getting.
Geum ‘Mrs Bradshaw’
I’ve been on the lookout for Geum totally tangerine but to no avail. I may end up ordering some online. I did however find this Geum ‘Mrs Bradshaw’ on discount. It was a very large pot and when I took it out of the pot I decided it was good for dividing as it was quite root bound. I split it three ways and still had decent-sized pots. Mrs Bradshaw is a double scarlet flowered variety. I would prefer the orange single flowers of totally tangerine as they would be better for insects but I believe this still forms open enough flowers insects can still make use of them. They’ve been dotted midway into the hot border. This will hopefully give some good repetition.
I also picked up this dwarf geum discounted. It’s gone in a pot for the patio so that it repeats some of the plants in the border. They remain roughy evergreen through winter and flower with small bright orange flowers over a good period. Garden media seems to be increasingly focusing on plants that flower over longer periods such as salvias. With most people having limited space you need plants that stay interesting for a long period. I’m hopeful the geums should contribute to this. I have lots of astrantias that keep going in the shade through summer and autumn. I need more workhorse plants for the sunny spots.
Meconopsis are known for being a little tricky to keep going. They are part of the poppy family and are similar to the yellow Welsh poppy commonly seen but with a bright blue flower. This one is a short-lived perennial, though longer lived than some other Meconopsis. I reckon my front garden should provide it the conditions it needs. It will get damp clay soil with partial shade. I’m hoping it will flower and then self seed in future years. The blue flowers are very striking and also popular with the bees.
I had got fed up with these seed-grown dwarf dahlias not doing much so had bunged them all together in a trough. They put out a lot of leafy growth all summer and have finally realised they need to get on with flowering. They’ve come out in a good range of colours. I would grow them again, but maybe look at starting them off earlier so they get to flower. I think I started these at the beginning of May and maybe need to begin in April.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s six and you all get a chance to get out and enjoy yours this week.
Having done so well completing my RHS Level 2 in Horticulture I felt entitled to a few treats. We headed off to Skirlaugh Garden Centre. Of our local garden centres, I think this one has one of the best range of perennials at the best price. A few others have more choice but you pay for it. I was hoping for a few plants for what I’ve designated as the hot border. The other borders are looking like they’ll be fairly cohesive but this one isn’t looking so good. I had Geum totally tangerine in mind for decent bright flowers over a reasonable period. They had a lot of yellow Geums I wasn’t bothered for and one short red one I was tempted with but didn’t have a place in mind for. I was also looking for more Ophiopogon to go edging the arch on either side but it was very expensive for small pots so I’ll just divide my existing plants. It’ll take longer but it was looking to cost the better part of £50 to get enough to fill the space. But, let’s take a look at what I did buy.
It turned out they had all plants reduced. I assume they are clearing stock ahead of winter. So, all of this came to £30 which is pretty good for some decent perennials. I got 5 Kniphofia uvaria Flamenco. I have a lot of plants forming low mounds of foliage. I wanted a few plants that have more of an upright shape like these to vary things up. While I didn’t find the geum I wanted I did find Potentilla nepalensis Miss Wilmott. This has small pink flowers with a dark centre. Alice picked a potentilla a few years ago that I wasn’t sure about. However, it has proved a good plant and as this one has Miss Wilmott’s name to it, I’m willing to try it. I got 3 Agapanthus purple clouds that I’m planning to put together in a pot. I am trying to reduce my pot watering and the agapanthus have been great in the heat this year. I let Alice choose a number of plants from the alpine section for her alpine garden. She picked: Sempervivum arachnoideum bryoides, Erodium reichardii Album, Chaenorhinum origanifolium ‘blue dream’, Rhodiola pachyclados and Lilium formosanum var. Pricei. Amy choose a Rhodohypoxis Tetra Pink.
Agapanthus ‘purple cloud’
This is supposedly one of the darkest purple Agapnathus. Currently, I have various shades of blue, from very pale to a more royal blue. They have been reliable plants in the pots. They require minimal effort in terms of watering and they bring colour in late summer when there is a bit of a lull between some of the early summer plants fading. The bees seem to love them. This seems like a good enough reason for them to exist in my garden. I think the purple will complement nicely with my blousy pink hydrangeas.
Potentilla ‘Miss Wilmott’
I had envisioned this in a spot mid-border but when I looked up the details it is shorter than the label suggests. It should form a dense clump of strawberry-like leaves and flower through summer and possibly even into autumn. I’ve been listening to the audiobook of Miss Wilmott’s life and it is a fascinating story. An amazing plantswoman, though a bit of a controversial figure in her time, and I’m willing to give any plant with her name assigned a try. I’m going to have to reconsider my positioning though and look for a spot front of the border.
Kniphofia uvaria Flamenco
These are heading into the border I have assigned the hot border. As I said I wanted some plants with more upright shapes. There are a lot of clump-forming perennials with broader leaves like geraniums so these will make a contrast. They form the bottle brush flowers in shades of red, to orange, to yellow. Kniphofia are native to Africa and as such like it on the dryer side. I’m not sure what they’ll make of my soil which is much-improved clay soil. I think I’ve improved it enough over the last few years that these should survive and fit with my plans for more drought tolerance to reduce the need to water.
Alice helped me plant up her choices in her fairy garden. We had the one sempervivum that didn’t fit that I’ll probably use in a pot sometime and Amy’s choice of the Rhodohypoxis Tetra Pink which went in the border. I’m not sure it will suit the border soil but Alice was definite it belonged there. A lot of what Alice selected are spreaders so we’ll see how they colonise the space of which suit the conditions well and which don’t. The lilies were new to me. They are a dwarf form that still forms a large flower but on short sturdy stem apparently. They look pretty on the label, but we’ll see. Lily beetle have been around a lot this year though I have still had most lilies make it to flower.
Acanthus ‘morning candle’
I like acanthus. They have nice deep cut leaves and the contrasting flowers are very attractive. I tried Acanthus whitewater last year but this year’s growth has been very weak. Whitewater is a highly variegated one and I wonder if this has weakened it. Morning candle has attractive veining but it is still a dark green so hopefully, this will grow strong. They form tap roots and regrow from small root sections so once placed they can keep coming back even if you move so I need to consider its position well.
I still want to track down the geum I failed to get but I feel this was a pretty good plant haul as a reward for my RHS results. A few people have asked if I plan to continue my studies. I’m not carrying on with any RHS courses currently. I am however aiming for a National Collection of Iris foetidissima. I’m also attending the British Cactus and Succulent society meetings. So between working on the National Collection for plant heritage, reading information from the British Iris Society and building my cactus knowledge I have plenty to keep me busy as I continue to develop my plant knowledge.
It has been a busy week for me as I returned to work after the school holiday. It’s been a good week back but I also had more significant gardening news. I passed my final two RHS exams and to top it off I received commendations for both exams. So, I finished the course with 6 out of 8 as commendations. Very pleased to have made it through so I think a few gardening treats are in order.
Work continues on the seating area. I got the weed matting down and started on the stones. It is gradually taking shape. It should be done by next week.
Burton Agnes Purchases
We went to Burton Agnes Hall last week and made a few purchases. Alice picked the Armeria which I reckon we can add to her fairy garden we started last week. Amy picked Euphorbia x martini ‘Ascot Rainbow’. She liked the contrast of the stem and leaf. I’ve put this one in a pot to give it the drainage it needs. I went for Penstemon ‘Pensham Plum Jerkum’. I fancied something forming towers of flowers that flower over a decent period. The gardens are still filled with lots of plants looking great but it is feeling a bit run down in areas. It’s gradually looking in need of a designer to come and bring some cohesion back to the individual garden sections.
Clematis Montana Warickshire rose
I picked up a cheap Clematis from Morrisons for one side of the arch. Their cheap climbers have grown well for me in the past and Montana are vigorous anyway. They have pale pink flowers in late spring or early summer. I planted an unnamed Montana for the other side of the arch. They should cover the arch nicely but without being spiky for walking through.
After receiving my RHS results I figured I deserved a little treat on the day. I got a little Sansiveria. Nothing particularly special, but it isn’t one I’ve got. Then a Crassula Rhapsody in pink. That’s the strange one that looks like little tails. Both of these are barely rooted cuttings so will need a bit of care to keep going. They were cheap but still probably shouldn’t be sent out from their nurseries like this. But the demand for houseplants is outstripping supply I reckon. Then I got a Chamaelobivia, the peanut cactus. It can be grown as a houseplant or in the garden. This one has bright red flowers. It is marketed as a hardy garden cactus. It is reckoned to hardy to -7 though it may be killed by winter wet, so I may put it in the mini greenhouse to shelter it from rain and then it’ll be a garden plant as the weather warms up. They grow easily from offsets so I may pluck out a few to keep inside as an insurance policy.
I saw this cactus for sale on Facebook for £7. I’ve been after a nice big specimen and this is fulfilling that role. The big column is a decent two foot. I’m going to need to work out the best way to deal with the browned off stems. I think I will probably divide it and cut out the browned sections leaving me with the tall column and a shorter one. It’s not necessarily a plant you see for sale very often though it is used within a number of well-known gardens planting schemes. Jimi Blake uses it within his garden, Hunting Brook Garden, in Ireland. Looking online these are selling at £100 to £200 so hopefully I can divide this successfully and have a spectacular specimen for the cactus display. Not bad since it included the pot.
I got this Astrantia from Scampston a few years ago and it has proved a reliable plant. It has flowered well through summer and it’s still going strong.
I have the rest of the stone to get on with moving to finish the seating area. We may have ordered too much so the passage around the back of the house may get a fresh layer of stone too. I’d like to try and make it to the garden centre some point this weekend for a few treats for my exam result. I’ve got a few gaps in the border from moving things around that I’d like filled but have to see what’s available. We’ve had a lot of rain this week so the plants that have been moved are largely settling well and the water butts are looking full again. Hope you all enjoy your weekends whatever you are up to.
This week has been a busy week in the garden. We’ve talked about making a new seating area for a good while but haven’t we got around to it. With this being the last week of the school holiday I’ve got started before I run out of time. Half the lawn has been lifted to make the seating area. The turf has been bagged and hopefully will rot down over autumn and winter to form some good compost to use as a mulch. The back half of the garden will have the seating and the front half still has Alice’s slide. This is going to compartmentalize the areas and hopefully make them more usable for all the family and give us a spot to sit out for a cuppa.
To mark the divide, I thought an arch would help really mark the areas. It also helps change the view from the house. Looking from the kitchen the eye is drawn across the garden and down to the gate. The aim here is that the arch breaks up the sightline and draws the eyeliner through the arch. Currently from the kitchen, that gives you a view through to the Hydrangea limelight making for something more likely to draw you out into the garden. I have one spare Clematis Montana for one side of the arch but could do with another to climb the other side.
The seating area
The seating area will have weed matting put down and then we are travelling. It would be nice to have it paved or something more robust but for now, we are going with the cheaper option. Both the table and the arch were reduced at the garden centre as they are clearing ready to transform the garden furniture ready for Christmas. The table is eucalyptus wood and resin. The resin is made with recycled fisherman rope, which feels quite fitting with us being by the coast. Quite a bright choice but it’s Amy’s favourite colour and they are more comfortable than the wooden fold-out ones we had before.
Around the seating area is a mix of foliage plants with the Hydrangea limelight bringing the main colour. This area has more shade than the rest of the garden with the black cherry and lilac on one side. Then the other side has a holly, Ilex golden king. This is still small but after a couple of years of settling, it’s put on a good bit of growth this year. The fences are gradually getting claimed by climbing hydrangeas. So hopefully you will be surrounded by green when sat here. This area has most of Iris foetidissima plants. I am currently in the process of building up towards a National Collection so this will house them in a more attractive and unified border than it was before.
The slide has been turned around so Alice doesn’t have to slide into the border. I’ve moved some of the turf lifted to repair a few patches. I’ll probably end up seeding the lawn to as it’s had a hard year.
Underneath I have set up Alice’s fairy garden. I thought she’d use the underneath as a den area when we built it but she rarely did. It just ended up being a scruffy patch of grass underneath. We had the fairy garden in a pot previously but this is a bit more accessible. She helped set it all up and has made stories around each landmark already. The frame above provides some rain cover. A bit still gets through but not as much. It gets quite a bit of morning sun and then the frame will shade it for midday before the sun goes around and it will get some more. We’ve planted in a number from pots where they had spread well and needed dividing. It keeps all her fairy bits together and allows me to have a mini rock garden to play with.
We are a good few years into starting the garden and some plants have outgrown their spaces and others haven’t performed as expected. I have a better knowledge of where gets more sun and more shade and where wind directs. Some of the planting combinations were working and some weren’t. So, I made the decision to do a big shift around. It’s not the ideal time to do it as it’s a bit too hot still so I am having to water it all in well. We do have a week ahead of rain though which should help. The border to the side of the slide has largely worked but there were a few colour combinations that weren’t working and a few plants receiving too much sun. The Acer has been potted up for now and the candelabra primulas have been moved to more shaded areas around the seating area. The remaining plants were largely shades of blue and purple with a number of white Aster family members. I figured I might as well make this the unifying colour scheme and make this a cool border. There is a tall Symphyotrichum novi-belgii (formally aster) that flowers in late summer. The frothy Erigeron karvinskianus provides little daisy flowers at the front of the border. Next to that is wood asters which are a slightly taller white daisy. The Echinops (globe thistles) have done well this year. They suffered with aphids early on in the year but it hasn’t stopped them flowering well. Behind and out of sight is the Eryngium (Sea holly). I have moved all the Eryngium that was dotted along the border together to see if it can make more of an impact as a group. Hopefully these will all work better together. Many of the flowers made up our wedding flowers so it should work nicely together. A lot of the planting flowers mid to late summer so I’ll maybe need to get a few bulbs into add some spring interest. But as this border is completely obscured from the house by evergreen planting I’m not too concerned if this only has summer interest as there won’t be many people looking at it any other time beyond me.
The hot border
Opposite the cool border I’ve decided we’ll have a hot border. It’s a bit tired at the moment with a lot of the plants finished flowering. The salvias are still going strong and the gladioli are coming into flower one by one. The crocosmia are bringing a little colour but it won’t really be until next year where it comes into its own. The front of the border is largely made up of different short hardy geraniums that flower late spring. Interspaced along the front are several short Iris sibericas that offer a different leaf shape to the geraniums. I’ve placed Salvia hot lips at both ends of the border as this has done well for a long period bringing in lots of bees. I could probably do with a few taller plants mid border. There are a few salvias and monarda. Lupins will come up for early spring but this border still isn’t quite right. More thought needed.
And that’s your six. The patio is getting a tidy too. I’m trying to reduce the pots to a couple of neat displays as it has got too full this year. I’ve got a number of drought-resistant plants for the full sun positions but I need to repot a few things. I think what I’ve worked on this week should make a nicer garden long-term. It’ll be a little while settling in but it should be a more unified garden and a lot of what I’ve moved should be happier in their new positions. I think it will help with the drought tolerance if summers carry on like this year. We are forecast showers for the next week so have to see how much I can get done this week. Come back to see progress next week. Check out the propagator’s blog for how to take part in six on Saturday if you fancy getting involved.
We’ll get the all-important update out of the way first. We had rain starting with showers at the start of the week and then pretty much a full day of rain on Thursday. Here in the UK, that is all any gardeners are interested in right now. So it seems off that my area is now entering a hose pipe ban when it’s the first time in the last month I haven’t needed to get out and water obsessively. With the wetter weather, I’ve moved a few bits in the border that weren’t quite working. I had little clumps of crocosmia that were looking a bit thin and whispy spread out across the border. I’ve bulked these into one large clump. Then I’ve done the same with the sea holly. I’ve grouped them together to see if they have more impact as a group. With the dry weather, they have been one of my reliable plants this year. This week I’m looking at a few plants that are coping well and a few plants I’m testing for winter hardiness and to make the garden more drought tolerant.
The gladiolus seem to thrive in the heat. They’ve grown up tall and flowered well. They were a cheap purchase a few years ago. I don’t massively like the blousyness of these but they provide late summer colour each year so I didn’t remove all them.
I don’t think I saw this clematis flower last year. It grows around the same area as the Clematis Montana so it may well have been pruned back at the wrong time. So it’s nice to see it return. The Montana has suffered a bit in the heat while the other clematis seem to be enjoying it.
Salvia kisses and wishes
I picked up three of these salvias on a 5 for £11 pound deal. They are small pots so it needed 3 really to make up one decent clump. They’ve been planted in a rough triangle front of the border for now. They are half hardy. I had this one last year and it made it through the winter but got eaten to pieces by slugs. So these will stay in the ground but be given some frost protection. Then I’ll take a few cuttings to keep in case it does suffer from frost or slugs again. The tall dark stems and pink flowers will make a nice contrast against the surrounding hardy geraniums and Erigeron.
Mangave blazing saddles
Mangaves are a cross between Agaves and Manfreda. They go back as far as 2005 though are finding more popularity now. I’m seeing them mentioned more regularly as the mad about Mangave collection has found its way to supermarkets and garden centres. They have developed around 30 cultivars with some wonderful variations in colours and patterns as well as some fabulous wavy leaves. In theory they have gained positive characteristics of their parents. They have fast growth from the Manfreda but grow bigger with the Agave genetics. They retain the drought tolerance of both. They can tolerate full sun though they actually like a little shade. They look spikey but don’t have quite as nasty spines as the agaves. They are reckoned to be hardy down to about -5 but my guess is winter wetness is probably going to be a bigger issue so this has been repotted in a sandy-gritty compost mix to allow it to free drain. Then the pot will be raised on legs through autumn and winter to ensure it drains. This was actually a plant Alice choose a while back after we’d seen the cactus and succulents at Wassand Hall. She saw these in Morrisons and fancied one. I’m willing to give them a try. They are interesting architectural plants and should stay looking interesting over winter so I can keep some form of pot display.
This is one of their smaller more ground-hugging cultivars. I reckon it should do well in a pot where it will contrast to my other spiky plants which are largely shades of lighter green. This one has a nice speckled pattern to it. I’ll be interested to see how it holds up through winter. I quite fancy one of the wavy ones so I may need to try and stop at Morrisons to see if they have any more.
Yukka gloriosa ‘citrus twist’
This is another drought-dolerant purchase for the pots. After Alice chose the Mangave I saw this cheap outside the florists. I thought the brighter yellow and green leaves would make a good contrast to the Mangave while still having the pointed leaves.
It’s a tough plant capable of handling full sun and drought. They can survive frosts down to quite low levels but their appearance will suffer. They originate from Texas so they are used to extremes of weather. Looking up close the leaf has shades of cream and yellow with an inner stripe of almost blue-green.
Then for the final choice for this week’s six I’m going for a cactus. I decided I would try the ultimate in drought tolerance. Opuntia humifusa is reckoned to be one of the hardiest but also able to survive some winter wet. It originates from Northeastern USA and even grows in Canada. Not necessarily reckoned to be the most attractive Opuntia form but it seems a good place to test out hardiness and what can survive in my conditions. It forms yellow flowers around June and these become the prickly pears which are edible as are the pads if times get hard. I’m planning to leave it out over winter but close to one of the walls to avoid a bit of rain. Too much rain is more likely to cause loss than death by frost.
It’s been a productive week in the garden. I’ve got through several big pruning jobs. The lilac and cherry have been cut back a lot for this year. I’ve pruned a lot of honeysuckle hard back as it’s finished flowering and suffered badly in the heat. The roots are hard to get to for watering as it’s right at the back of a thick border. But I’m fairly confident it will return. I’m hoping to get a bit more down before I go back to work. Hope you all enjoy your weekends.
For the first time in a while I’m going to write about my own garden. Our trip to the Cotswolds has inspired me, but there is nothing like the joy of your own garden. If you want to see the first part of our holiday to Kiftsgate Court Gardens check the blog out. I have been fortunate recently to end up with a number of free plants locally that I’m going to be writing about. Then a few successes and a failure.
The first of the freebies was a Drosera, commonly known as sundew. This was an odd plant to see offered for free on the local Facebook group.
These are carnivorous plants and are supposedly one of the easier to look after. I wanted it for the summer room where I figure it might stop the odd pest on the cactus and succulent collection. Currently, it seems to have managed a few pollen beetles that aren’t really any major harm.
My local houseplant shop, Botany Boutique, is now selling plant rescue bags. I bought one previously (previous blog) and did pretty well out of it. The bags contain less than perfect plants that the shop can’t justify selling at full price. By selling them this way the shop avoids a loss and cuts their environmental waste and the buyer potentially gets a good plant if they can nurse it back. Botany Boutique had a bag that had been reserved and then left unclaimed. As I had bought the other she offered it to me for free while I was in buying something else. This included 2 Boston Ferns, a peace lily, Oxalis triangularis, Tradescantia and a parlour palm. I already own each of these except the Boston ferns so had a pretty good idea of what each needed. The parlour palm and peace lily just needed a few browned stems and yellowed leaves cut out and they now look presentable. I cut back the dead growth on the Tradescantia and stuck a few cuttings of one I already owned into the soil to bulk it out. The Oxalis has had a trim and a water. These can grow inside or outside so I’ve left it outside, for now, to get more sun to help it recover. Oxalis triangularis spreads by rhizomes so even if appears that all the top growth has died it’s worth waiting a while to see if new growth comes. By coincidence, I had ordered several self-watering pots to help my maidenhair fern. The maidenhair fern is bad for dropping leaves and browning. The self-watering pots have a reservoir of water at the bottom. A wick runs from the reservoir into the soil to keep the soil moist without waterlogging the plant and causing rot. I potted both of the rescue Boston ferns up in these. We’ll see if it makes any difference. They’d lost quite a lot of fronds and it may be too much of a time investment to get them looking good again. But I’m grateful for a bunch of freebies.
Now for a casualty of the heatwave. Acer palmatum ‘Osakazuki’ has been gradually crisping but with our week away and the heat it is looking worse by the day. Our neighbours did a good job watering the garden but this has been going downhill for a few weeks. I’m going to pot it up and move it to a more shaded place. I should wait until dormancy to move it but it may be too late by then. I have a suspicion this may be past the point of saving. I have planted a tetrapanax nearby that can take over. The tetrapanax is happier with sun and should hopefully thrive there and add to the exotic feel of the garden. As it is, the Acer is one of the few plants that looks to have expired in the heatwave which in comparison with those of you down south I am getting off lightly so far. A hosepipe ban is coming into effect but not until the end of the month. I’m getting by on the water butts currently but we have had a few bursts of rain this week.
Now for something that is still thriving. Throughout or holiday we have seen hydrangeas looking very miserable but ours are all doing well. The best of the bunch is Hyrangea paniculata ‘limelight. Panculata seem to have a bit more drought tolerance than some of the other hydrangeas. This is in the shaded front garden where we have clay soil. It has still needed watering a good deal but it is worth the time as it makes a great centerpiece to the front garden.
I bought this back in 2020 from the plant bench at Wassand Hall. It has sat not really doing anything since then. I had considered composting it. This year it has rewarded me with three of the pineapple-like flower spikes. The purple edging and inner triangles is quite pretty so it can stay another year.
Japanese anemone honouring jobert
This clump has been in a few years now and is producing a better number of flowers. With any luck these will keep producing through to autumn.
While it has cooled down a lot in my area watering is still the main job to get on with. We have rain forecast for Monday but we’ll see how much actually materialises. Hope you are all coping with your gardens. We have our linen wedding anniversary to celebrate though we have nothing planned to mark the occasion.
We have returned from our holiday in the Cotswolds, which is pretty much a paradise for garden visits. I asked Twitter where they recommended and Kiftsgate Court Gardens was suggested. I looked it up and found we got two for one with our Gardeners World card so even better. The garden is the result of three successive female gardeners starting with Heather Muir in the 1920’s. She was aided by Lawrence Johnson of Hidcote Manor. We didn’t make it to Hidcote. Hidcote is arguably one of the most famous of the arts and crafts movement gardens. It is currently under National Trust stewardship and I don’t totally trust the National Trust for several of their environmental stances and the excessive price they charge for visiting their properties. As it was, it has been so hot the last week we have chosen gardens with shade. We may manage Hidcote in future. After Heather, Diany Binny took over and developed the white sunk garden and began to open the garden to the public. Anne Chambers took over and carried on the evolution of the garden with the tennis court becoming a water garden. The staff were very welcoming on entry explaining the layout and they were friendly to Alice. Not every garden we visit is happy to see children.
The banks and pool
We began our visit heading down the winding bank paths. These looked to have been replanted recently with a few areas of hardy geraniums and ferns that haven’t been established yet. It will look nice as it spreads if it can survive the current heatwave. As we got down the planting was more established. The paths wind down to the summer house which has a lovely view across the pool and Cotswolds. Then coming down from the summer house the steps lead to a little pond.
The pool at the bottom has a sunken ha-ha giving you another view out to the rolling hills.
In the heat, all seating was appreciated. If it was cooler we might have stayed down here longer to admire the view but we needed shade.
The lilies were the standout flower all over the garden. While many plants have suffered with the heat these were loving it.
Amy was very determined to get a photo of Alice by the pool with her reflection but Alice quickly lost interest and got fed up of squinting.
The walk back up was hot work with multiple stops on the way. The route took us under the towering Scots pines. Their shade was much appreciated. By the end of this holiday, I have become convinced that these should be planted everywhere as they have saved us from heat exhaustion, again and again, the last week.
I rather liked this statue that you find located part of the way back up. Statues are often placed badly in gardens or they are out of proportion with their surroundings but this fitted beautifully. There was also a stone bench to sit on which was needed for us to stop and drink more water.
The yellow border was more of an orange border currently with crocosmia and lilies dominating the colour.
Though no less beautiful for being orange rather than yellow.
At the end of this border, there were a number of topiary animals creating a mini farm.
And a stone which in my mind has a face.
The water garden
As already mentioned the water garden was previously a tennis court. It has kept the strong straight lines of the court. The dragonflies were skimming the surface enjoying hunting the other insects on the water.
The water pleasantly trickles over the leaves. On a cooler day this would be a nice serene place to stop and wander. But in the heat of our visit we mainly stayed in the shelter.
Luckily to the side there was a much appreciated shelter.
The rose garden
The rose garden was a bit lacking in roses in flower. I assume they are either over or the next flush hasn’t come through yet. Most of the photos I took here were badly over exposed so I don’t have any of the few roses that were looking good.
One end of the rose garden leads back towards the house while the other takes you through to the wild garden and orchard. I really liked how the smaller leaves of the formal yew hedge had been combined with the larger leaves to make the arch.
And a statue seat drawing the eye up the path.
Wild garden and orchard
The wild garden was not full of much activity. Much of the plants had finished flowering and gone to seed ready for next year. There will have been lots of life hidden away amongst the stems but not much moving in the heat.
The orchard had some fine-looking fruit forming. The grass has gone very parched but will still be providing habitats for lots of insects and other life. Many of their old apple trees had died and have been replaced but all looks to be settling in well. Underneath is planted with Camassias and the tulip Jan Reus which are well over now but would make a spring visit worthwhile with the fruit trees blossom.
The avenue is made up of a formal seating arrangement with gravel arranged to make the diamond shape.
Then the avenue stretches out, lined by tulip trees, to a sculpture at the end by Pete Moorhouse. Looking at it as a photo the sculpture doesn’t look quite proportioned right to the length of the avenue and the size of the trees.
I can’t say I was that bothered for walking down to see it in the heat but Alice insisted. I’m not interested in formal layouts like this. They leave me feeling a bit cold, combined with the heat I can’t say I liked this area. The water garden was formal but that was all done with a bit more panache. This still feels like a work in progress. It extends the garden but I didn’t feel it fitted with the more intimate feel of the other garden rooms.
Alice on the other hand enjoyed running up and down the banks.
White sunk garden and four squares
By this point, legs were getting tired so we started heading back to the house. We stopped to have a look in the white sunk garden on the way.
There was a lot flowering around this area doing well in the heat. Roses and agapanthus were thriving.
Then the wide border and four squares were filled with lots of colourful beauties.
Then a well-earned ice cream for Alice. We’d given her legs a good workout and nice cake for us in the cafe.
We appreciated the shade and breeze that filtered through the plants around the window after our hot exploration of the garden.
Even in the heat, this was a lovely garden to visit. There were a lot of plants suffering in the heat but the dahlias and lilies were looking fabulous. I particularly like the yellow and wide borders. Lots of perennials looking good. The fern garden I didn’t photograph much but that had a lovely mix of ferns. The banks were a nice stroll down and back up through the pines. Hard work in the heat but well worth it. Sadly I couldn’t make plant purchases as we wouldn’t be able to fit them for the journey home but the selection on offer looked very good. I’d like to return again at another time of year to see it in a different season or at least a few degrees cooler. I would recommend it for a visit though you may struggle if you have mobility issues as the bank is steep and many of the garden rooms are on different levels. It made a good start to our stay in Moreton In Marsh.
I’ve fancied an epiphyllum cactus for a little while. Also known as orchid cactus, these are native to Central and South America. They are epiphytes and would naturally be found in crevices of trees or rocks where enough humus has formed to capture water. It’s a forest cactus rather than the more usual desert cactus that comes to mind with the word cactus. They live in the understory so like a little more shade than desert cactus making them good houseplants. Epiphyllum look good hanging over the edge of pots and suit hanging pots well so they can hang as they would in the wild from tree branches.
1. The plant
I found a large one growing in one of the local garden centres. It is not looking the best currently but it was cheap for the size. This has suffered in just about every way a plant can. It has been sat on a waterlogged bench in a boiling hot greenhouse. The greenhouse has no vents beyond opening the doors so it has been fried and drowned. Not ideal for a cactus. It also appears to have been nibbled on by something and had a good A-Z of weeds including two varieties of Oxalis. On the face of it a plant not worth getting but it was cheap for a decent-sized plant. It may turn out I can’t fix the issues and then it will be used as a large amount of cutting material to propagate more.
2. The weeds
The first step was removing as much of the weeds as possible. I took it out of the pot. A lot of it peeled off the outer layer in big sections leaving the plant behind.
3. Soil removing
The soil it had been potted in was less than ideal and it was rather sodden so I removed much of the existing soil. This left the plant which only has a small root network. I imagine this is pretty normal though going off its epiphytic nature.
4. Potting mix
I mixed a more suitable potting mix made up of part sand, part grit and part compost. This will have some moisture retention but free enough draining that it doesn’t sit in water like it has been.
5. Potting up
I potted it back up in a smaller pot. having removed the weeds and probably losing some of the roots in the process the root ball was much smaller and generally, you want a plant growing in a pot that is just slightly bigger than the root ball. I’ve potted it slightly higher than it was previously as by my reckoning it had been buried a bit low. This has left a bit of unsightly damaged stem but this will be hidden as it grows. But I think the stem may suffer with rot left as it was.
6. Finishing touches
I then top-dressed it with some grit and found it a cache pot. It doesn’t suit the plant that well but it will do for now. There are two rather grand flowers so I get a taste of what it may be like in future years. It’s got quite a bad lean to it that I’m trying to rectify by facing it away from the light. Though to be fair I don’t mind it on a plant like this where I think it looks a bit more natural having a sense of direction.
Hopefully, now it’s out of the direct sun it should darken a bit. It is more yellow than the photos appear. This is probably a mix of the watering and the sun. We’ll see if it sorts itself out over the next few months. I’d still quite like an Epiphyllum anguliger, the fishbone cactus, but this will do for now. It still has signs of its mistreatment but if I can keep it going it will be a plant with a bit more of a story and character.
Wassand Hall is one of our closest gardens to visit. We went a few months back and Alice enjoyed it so much she has been pestering to go back each time we drive past the turn off. I think this may be because she gets a bag of sweets for completing the woodland trail more than an interest in plants. But it is one of my favourite local gardens. The Wassand estate manages a lot for wildlife and the walled gardens are as nice as any gardens we visit. It’s a bit rough around the edges as it’s primarily run by volunteers but it is small enough it can be maintained with exciting plants.
The tropical corner is one of my favourite areas of the walled garden. The mix of large-leaved plants with bright flowers is fabulous. The bananas and tetrapanax are a bit crisped this year but it’s still great seeing the big leaves.
Alice is still at an age where she’s excited by the idea of banana trees in the UK.
Each time we visit I end up with envy of the greenhouse. It’s a lovely structure and heated with a humifier. It is a perfect environment for a whole host of tropical plants including this bench of colocasia. I’ve tried one before but didn’t get it to anywhere near these levels and mine suffered with disease and pests by the end of the season. I have got my own aroid in the form of a little caladium on the go from my plant rescue box I wrote about earlier in the week. The variegated leaves on this are bringing me some pleasure but have to see if I can bring it back to health to keep through winter.
Also in the greenhouse is the collection of carnivorous plants. The different adaptations to trap insects is endlessly fascinating. I have just ended up with a Drosera for free from the local gardeners Facebook group so I was interested to check theirs out.
The Sarracenia are my favourite with their veined leaves. These form pitchers filled with liquid. The insects are attracted to the liquid which they drown in and then they are absorbed by the plant gradually.
Each time we visit at this time of year the hydrangeas have been covered with butterflies. They normally get listed as low benefit for wildlife but I find they are quite popular with butterflies.
There were a good few dahlias but I think this shocking pink was one of the best. I’m not a fan of the muted washed out dahlias like cafe au lait. Dahlias should be bright and in your face not something that looks like weak tea.
There are normally some interesting plants for sale on their sales bench. I normally find something not readily available at the garden centres. For some reason, I was attracted to the drought-tolerant plants. I went with a dark-leaved purple emperor and a little alpine succulent, Chiastophyllum oppositifolium. Then the day lilly was a cheap purchase they were clearing out.
Well, that’s your six for the week. Back to the watering. We have had a few short bursts of rain but it isn’t having much impact on the garden but it has helped refill the water butts. I’m trying to keep the garden well-watered ready for being away. Enjoy your weekends.