Summer Holiday: Part 5-Peppa Pig world

Before we headed down we had checked out what was in the area and Paultons Park was high on our list of things we wanted to take Alice to. We wanted a few days we thought she’d really enjoy though I didn’t have high hopes of it being a great day but we knew she’d love it.

We had good fun on the rides. The park was busy but as there were quite a lot of rides we didn’t have massively long waits for anything. Even while waiting there was quite a lot for Alice to still look at. Alice was at just the right point where the rides were exciting but not too scary.

Alice enjoyed spinning Amy round on the Windy Castle balloons. Amy wasn’t as keen.

I don’t think life gets much better than riding a dinosaur.

We hired one of the buggies as we didn’t have our pram down on holiday with us. It came in use for piling the bags on and for Alice when she wanted a break from walking.

We did well with the weather. It rained for a short burst soaking everyone through. We’d brought our waterproof trousers which came in use and meant we had a period where the waiting time on rides dropped dramatically. Alice was miserable in the rain.

But quickly recovered.

The park also has animals dotted around. I enjoyed seeing them. Amy and Alice were too excited for Peppa.

Alice enjoyed meeting the characters.

She was most excited for George oddly.

The planting and gardens were excellent around the park. Almost worth the price of admission alone.

The hydrangeas were good though not up to Exbury Gardens level. But they have become the standard by which I am now judging all hydrangeas.

Dahlia love was strong.

And where else am I going to find Peppa topiary?

The main cafe and soft-play building had a spectacular green roof including vents on the roof that channelled the wind to cool inside.

I think Amy enjoyed the rides as much as Alice.

Alice sat with her souvenir of the day, Mr Dinosaur.

I didn’t have high hopes for Peppa Pig World, but we actually had a great day. The park was well organised. We didn’t have to pay for lots of hidden extras once we got in. The plants were fabulous. A lovely family day out.

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Six on Saturday: 17.8.19 Exbury Gardens Hydrangeas galore

We have returned from our holiday down in Dorset having seen some lovely gardens. It’s interesting travelling down South. The difference in climate makes a massive difference to what is grown. Cordylines tower over roundabouts. Camellias look healthy rather than windswept and it feels like everything grows that little neighbourhood taller with pines common across the county. Visiting gardens gives me a chance to see specimens I wouldn’t necessarily see locally.

This weeks six comes from Exbury Gardens which we visited earlier in the week. Exbury is located on the edges of the New Forest. It is owned by the Rothschild family famous for mass wealth made through banking. It is known for its rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias which I imagine were spectacular earlier in the year when the majority will be in flower. It holds two national collections: Tupelo and Oxydendrum. With a small steam railway and 200 acres, it has a lot to offer visitors. I may have gone overboard on the photos but believe me I could post a lot more.

1. Hydrangea paniculata

We enjoyed this spectacular walk, which I think was from the Jubilee Pond. My love of hydrangeas has been discussed a lot recently. This stretch was largely made up of hydrangea paniculatas of different varieties. They were clearly well positioned and well established as they were thriving. One of the great advantages of hydrangeas is the long season of interest and these I’m sure will be looking great for a good while to come.

I spotted this variety great star that was a bit different from any I’ve seen before. I was quite taken with it, but then I was quite taken by the whole row. Earlier today I saw a quote from Vita Sackville-West that seems relevant here.

“In some gardens the hydrangeas were making a great display, but they look their best in large clumps, I think, not as a single specimen for which a small garden has only room; and in any case they always remind me of coloured wigs” Vita Sackville-West

The hydrangea were massive. Here are photos with family for scale.

2. Hydrangea walk

Further round there was a dedicated hydrangea walk made up of lots of varieties but mainly the dome mopheads of macrophylla. In my neighborhood, the soil largely creates pink hydrangeas. It was interesting to see a mix of colours along one walk.

Alice wasn’t so taken with the Hydrangeas. She only allowed us to continue as we’d told her it was the route to ice cream. Though she did enjoy playing hide and seek.

3 Steam train

The little railway gave us a tour of the gardens Alice couldn’t manage on foot so we got glimpses of the rock garden and the dragonfly pond. At Halloween, it transforms into a ghost train and at Christmas offers Santa Steam Specials which sounds great fun. Alice enjoyed the train ride even though it wasn’t her favourite colour red.

4. Ferns

The sheltered conditions of the dense woodland and sheltered slopes combined with the milder Southern climate gives ideal tree fern conditions. I have given up on my tiny little specimen. It’s either been too cold or too dry and it’s going to be years to form a trunk.

5. Rhododendron

While the majority of the rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias, the gardens are famous for, are past their best there were odd flashes of colour. Alice liked this vibrant red.

6. Ice cream

Alice eventually got her promised reward. She enjoyed it lots. She did well walking good distances. She almost got ice cream for dogs before I realised what I’d got. There were a lot of options for dogs around the area with many of the pubs and restaurants we visited offering snacks and drinks for dogs. Quite a dog-friendly part of the world. Unusually Alice went for strawberry ice cream rather than her usual chocolate but she enjoyed it lots.

We barely covered a fraction of what Exbury has to offer but was more than satisfied with our day out. I could happily visit again at a different time of year or even the same season as there was so much ground we didn’t cover. If I lived close I’d be buying a pass.
We’ve had a great time away and I’ll be posting more about our trips out over the next few days. Check out other sixes through the propagator’s blog.

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Six on Saturday: 10.8.19-Summer colour

We have gone off for a breakaway this week, so this weeks six has been pre-written. The garden is reaching a zenith of full flowers with many of the finest flowers reaching their peaks. It’s a nice point of the year where I have to choose six rather than struggling to locate six things of any interest. Much of the time I choose plants for long-lasting foliage more than flowers but this week we have six bright choices.

1. Cosmos-double click cranberries

These were grown from seed purchased from Sarah Raven. I grew several varieties moving them inside and outside when it was still chilly. But unfortunately several of the seed trays were flooded by rain and many of the cosmos seedlings died off. These, however, have flourished into a wonderful thick patch.

2. Fuschia-Alice Hoffman

I’m not a big fan of fuschias but this one has proved hardy enough and I like the contrast in the flowers and the dark leaves. I’ve kept it confined to a pot and cut it back each year and it seems happy with this arrangement. It is flowering well.

3. Hydrangea paniculata-Limelight

I’ve featured lots of other peoples hydrangeas but haven’t shown my own off. I planted two of these in the back garden and one in the front garden. These came from Thompson & Morgan. I didn’t expect much from them in their first year but they are looking fabulous. They should only get better as they grow taller. I was worried about how the one in the front garden would do with the sea winds but so long as I keep it watered it should be fine. The combination of a shaded North facing garden and lots of heavy rain this SUmmer has helped it settle in well.

4. Solenostemon/coleus

Coleus changed name this year to Solenostemon but I’m sure it will still be known as coleus for many years to come. I grew a few varieties from seed. These have been used in the ground as filler in the front garden, as house plants, and a few in pots on the patio which had bulbs in before. The foliage comes in a wide variety of bright colours adding to the mix between the hostas and ferns.

5. Peacock butterflies

After the excitement of the influx of painted ladies, the garden has seen lots of peacock butterflies. Just as colourful as this week’s flowers.

6. Dahlia’s Bishops Children

These dahlia flowers have been the results of months of work and I am very happy with them. For people who have followed their progress through this blog and Twitter, you will have seen them grow through lots of stages. It is my first year growing dahlias and I am enjoying the bright bursts of flamboyant colour they offer. These were bought from Sarah Raven as seeds. Almost every seed germinated and I’ve kept most going to end up with just shy of 30 plants. I didn’t expect as high germination rate or to keep them all alive. I’ve passed lots on to friends and family with plenty to go in my own garden. Amy even passed one onto the window cleaner to clear the patio. Some have gone in the border, some in pots.

They flower in a range of colours. So far I’ve had deep pink, red, yellow and orange flowers. The foliage is lovely in itself. Dark, crimson foliage with pointed leaves contrasting well with the hosta fortuneii on the patio. I was concerned about these growing quickly enough up North to flower well. With colder temperatures, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get them outside with time for these to grow enough to flower from seed. But I didn’t need to worry. These have grown spectacularly. I will probably try saving some seed for next year.

The forecast for our week away is lots of light rain so while we might be having a wet time away at least the garden will be looked after. Hopefully, I will return from my break having visited one or two gardens to report on. We are potentially going to Peppa Pig World. Not somewhere you’d think I’d voluntarily go but Paulton’s park also has gardens including Japanese gardens so I might manage ten minutes seeing those. Enjoy your Sundays!

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Six on Saturday: 16.3.19 Anniversary

So it has been a year since I started contributing to six on a Saturday. It’s been great being part of such a lovely gardening community. I’ve learned a lot from reading everyone else’s posts and I’m developing a better seasonal spread from seeing what everyone else is growing. The last few months the garden has seen quite a lot of disruption with building work going on. The building work is coming on though and I am making plans for improving the front garden and making some serious changes to the back garden. This has already started, over the last few weeks, with a number of the shrubs and trees that gave the garden a lot of its framework removed. I’m taking it as a chance to remove plants I don’t like. With limited space I don’t want to waste it on plants I don’t like.

1. Hydrangea paniculata limelight

One plant I have come to love through writing my six on Saturday posts is the hydrangea. I have three pink mopheads in the garden that I didn’t care for much when we moved in. But I’ve come to enjoy them through their long lived seasonal interest. I’ve also admired this particular hydrangae in the in-laws garden and fancied one for the front garden and one of the little limes, a dwarf variety, for the patio. The little limes aren’t available until August and there wasn’t much difference between buying two or three so I now have three. The front garden is North facing and shaded for much of the time and I think it will thrive there. Then the other two I’ll try growing on the patio in large pots. I’m aiming for a few large statement plants on the patio with a few ferns, hostas and pots of bulbs that can be moved on and off the patio as they flower. Previously the patio was cluttered with lots of small pots. I’d like to make it more cohesive. We’ll see how long this lasts.

2. Ilex Crenata Stokes

I’ve bought these two to grow together on the patio to act as a low screen to stop Alice throwing herself off the patio into the roses. Ilex crenata is recommended as an alternative to box for giving domes that can be pruned into evergreen mounds. I’m on the look out for some square planters to put these in.

3. Slug gone

Slug gone are wool pellets to put round plants as a barrier to protect from slugs and snails. I tried it last year in small amounts to protect my lupins. The one surrounded by this survived. As I added more lupins again last week and have lots of hostas to go in I felt they should have some protection. It also adds some nutrients and acts as a mulch to keep water in the soil. So even if it is ineffective as a slug and snail deterrent it at least serves other purposes.

4. Beer traps

In addition to the slug gone, I’ve added a couple more ceramic beer traps. These snails are easy to fill. I use cheap supermarket brand beer and find these work well in keeping the mollusc numbers down. The plastic bottle is protecting and marking one of the hostas positions.

5. Window planters

I’d bought these with a vague idea of doing something for Jack Wallington’s window box competition. I don’t plan to attach them to the house I’ll raise them on a stone outside the front windows. I had an idea of doing a mini zen garden with a bonsai but I don’t think this is practical so I’m back to the drawing board. I would like something low maintenance with some year-round interest. So I’m probably looking at a number of structural evergreen plants with maybe bulbs for seasonal interest. It’s a shaded spot so that will limit choices too. There a bit shorter than I’d like at 50cm but it seems the price rapidly increases for any larger and I don’t want a plastic window box. This is clay fibre and still has a bit of weight to it.

6. Irises

I planted these minature iris back in December in pots hoping the building work would be done by the time they flowered and could go back on the patio. The building work isn’t done so they are currently sat on the edge of the lawn looking a bit untidy but the flowers themselves are lovely. I’ve seen some lovely varities this year and think it’s something I could happily plant more of next year. Though I think next year I’ll look at less pots but putting a bit more care into planning seasonal succession planting.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my six and watching the gardens progress over the last year. As mentioned there are a lot of changes ahead as I try to create a more cohesive garden rather than a series of individual plants. Enjoy your weekends and good gardening!

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