Pale and interesting ?! 

20 Sep

I’ve noticed a bit of a floral shift over the last year – the well established trend for bold, dark florals seems to be facing a bit of competition from the pale end of the spectrum. 

For many years, the dahlias that you’d see everywhere were the dark, moody ‘Chat Noir’ and ‘Arabian Night’.

  
But this autumn, you’d have to have been going round with your eyes closed not to have spotted this years ‘must-have’ dahlia – ‘Cafe au Lait’ – a completely different kind of colour – pale, subtle, even maybe a little insipid ? 

Photo below courtesy of Cherfold Cottage Flowers – more beautiful homegrown flowers. 

  
I think some of this love for paler flowers has come from another trend I’ve spotted on Instagram – a very theatrical setting for floral arrangements, reminisant of Dutch Masters paintings. And with a dark background, the paler flowers really pop out ! 

  
   
 
The photos above are from the beautiful The Garden Gate Flower Company who specialise in homegrown British flowers – and who also take beautiful photographs ! 

Obviously these paler flowers also suit the bridal flowers market. 

So it is no surprise to see that this years bulb catalogues are also full of new paler varieties. 

I’ve always grown plenty of bright and bold tulips that look equally fabulous in the garden as they do in the house. 

  
But this autumn I’m keen to try a new palette of softer, subtler colours. 

The ones that have caught my eye include ‘La Belle Epoque‘, ‘Bruine Wimpel‘, and ‘Purple Tower’.

   
   
This last one , above, isn’t really pale and interesting but so unusual ! 

I’ll report back in May to see if pale is really interesting ! 

Attadale Gardens, Lochcarron, Scotland

14 Sep

I hesitate to recommend this garden – not because it wasn’t lovely or worth a visit but because I very much doubt many of you will be passing within 100 miles of it soon !

Attadale Gardens has to be the most northerly garden I have ever visited, although it was only 20 mins away from where we spent our summer holidays every year.

It’s over 629 miles from London and still 225 miles or 4 hours drive from Glasgow.

It is on a similar latitude to the southern tip of Greenland !

This all makes for an interesting climate! The garden is at sea level , on the banks of Loch Carron and enjoys a relatively warm and temperate climate. The Gulf Stream keeps the frost and snow at bay most winters. The summers are not quite as warm as further south, and the rainfall is approximately 70% higher than the UK average

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Unsurprisingly the first impression you get on entering this garden, is just how lush everything is. Plants that I was familiar with were almost twice the size as they’d grow down south and there was no sign of the parched slow down that gardens often have in August.

The clean, damp climate has led to some amazing lichen growing on trees.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Attadale Gardens was first established in the elate 19th century by a Baron Schroeder ( of the banking family ) and still consists of 20 acres of conifers and rhododendrons. It was substantially replanted after 1980 storms and now includes pools, bridges, sculpture and beautiful views of Skye and the Applecross hills.

Obviously the best time to visit this garden must be late May for the rhododendrons but even in August there was plenty to see.

The woodland areas were lush with ferns, and the martagon lilies were fabulous, nodding above the undergrowth.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Some of the  rhododendrons were still attracting attention even without flowers – the bark of this Rhododendron rex  arizelum were fabulous with the sunlight glancing off them.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The vegetable garden was really quite demoralising ! The size of the cabbages !

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And a hedge of broad beans !

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The house is tucked in away from strong winter winds and because of that probably doesn’t have much of a view sadly but you only have to explore a few paths to admire the views across the loch.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There are plenty of craggy rocks covered in mosses and fabulous roots twisting themselves to find a little thin soil.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Overall, this garden has plenty of interest throughout the year and after the endless, wild splendour of heather covered mountains that we’d been exploring locally, it was a pleasant adventure into a more cultivated landscape.

ps. Apologies for the silence over the last month but I’ve been having issues uploading posts from my ipad, where I always store my photos and write my posts, on to WordPress. I’ve contacted WordPress without much joy but have heard other people have similar problems. If anybody knows how to overcome this bug please let me know !

The garden in July

20 Jul

July is a tricky time in the garden. The roses are nearly over, especially if it’s been as wet and windy as we’ve had it recently. The peonies are finished , the early hardy geraniums- e g Johnson’s Blue – have done their bit.

Yet the late summer flowers – dahlias, daisies, fuchsias etc – are yet to flower.

IMG_7147.JPG

I visited a friend a few months ago to give her some advice on how to get her garden looking perfect for her daughter’s wedding at the end of July. My first suggestion of moving the wedding forward to June was not accepted ! So this is what I suggested instead-

1. Deadhead everything as often as possible – this will keep your repeat flowering roses flowering and many perennials will put up a second flush of flowers – delphiniums, lupins.

IMG_1606.JPG

2. Cutting many perennials down to the ground will prompt fresh foliage rather than more flowers but at least they’ll look fresh and healthy rather than dry and spent. This works well for many geraniums, alchemilla mollis, nepeta, hesperis. Remember to water well and feed to get them going again.

3. Plan in advance, to delay the flowering of some of your May/June flowering perennials. This method is sometimes known as the Chelsea chop – not because they do it at Chelsea, but because that’s the best week to do it. It involves chopping off the flower heads on selected perennials so that they effectively have to start again producing flower heads, thus delaying their flowering by several weeks. I know this sounds very radical, but it does work. You may get slightly smaller flowers but your plants will be sturdier for it. You can also just do it to a portion of a clump so that you get a longer flowering period. It works for many plants including geraniums, daisies, echinacea, phlox, sedum, helenium, solidago, nepeta, asters.

4. If you have a greenhouse, pot up lilies which will flower in July, dahlia tubers potted up in large 10l pots in a Greenhouse in March also have good chance of flowering in July. These pots can easily be slotted in amongst existing planting.

IMG_1609.JPG

5. Grow some annuals from seed to fill any gaps. By this I don’t mean small bedding plants like petunias as these will just get lost amongst your perennials. I grow a couple of dozen nicotiana langsdorffii every year – they grow to about 2ft high and their lime green bells flower from July through to the first frosts. Similar annuals that would work are nicotiana mutabilis , Malva trifida, snapdragons, cosmos. Find one that grows easily for you and grow lots – that way you get good repetition throughout your beds.

IMG_1608.JPG

I know I really should’ve told you all this in May but better late than never ! I’ll try and remember to re-post this in May next year !

Can you ever have too many raspberries ???

17 Jul

IMG_1602.JPG

I’ve picked over 2kg of raspberries this week !

They really are the best value for money crop I grow on my allotment. At almost £2 for 100g in the supermarket that’s £40 worth !

IMG_1598.JPG

IMG_1597.JPG

And they’re organic and practically carbon free !
All I do is cut out the old canes over the winter, then I just leave them to do their own thing.

I’ll make jam, pavlovas, summer pudding and just eat them straight out of the bowl !

IMG_1601.JPG

What’s not to like ?!!

Warwickshire Open Studios – a sneak peak into the county’s makers spaces.

13 Jul

A wonderful thing happens in Warwickshire every summer – all over the county painters, sculptors, potters, stitchers and photographers open up their homes and studios to the general public, as part of the Warwickshire Open Studios programme.  We are encouraged to visit, meet the artists and enjoy their spaces. There are over 120 venues exhibiting work by 239 artists and makers. In fact you’d have to visit 4 a day to see them all !

I sadly only had one day to squeeze a few in. Having studied the catalogue, I highlighted 3 or 4 venues that were all quite close together – all a short drive from the centre of Leamington.

One of the added bonuses of visiting Open Studios is that you get to have a sneak peak of other peoples houses and gardens and being of an artistic bent, they are very often quite special !

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This secluded spot is home to Nicky Richards – talented ceramicist. After many years working in the garage,  she has relocated to a beautiful studio in the garden where she has space and light and access to all her tools and inspiration to produce many beautiful ceramic pieces.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Her studio is located at the end of the garden alongside a sheltered terrace with dining table and chiminea. The ‘off the shelf’ wood cabin has been customised with a coat of dark grey paint and tucked in amongst the planting. It is hardly visible from the house and blends in perfectly.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Nicky specialises in coiled or slabbed pots ( for those of us who know little about pots – this means she doesn’t throw them on a wheel) and after an initial kiln firing she smoke fires them in a garden incinerator before plunging them into a bucket of sawdust – plenty of heat and flame involved ! This gives her pots their trademark smoke colours. much polishing and buffing follows, resulting in smooth perfect curves.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This year Nicky has branched out into garden pots and they are fabulous ! They still have her distinctive curves and polish but are stoneware suitable for outdoor use in earthy and verdant tones.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

They are like smooth beach pebbles and with small openings lend them selves to small succulents.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There are also hanging versions which look fabulous on this piece of driftwood.

Nicky has a real artists eye for detail and her garden and studio are full of amazing little touches

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A shelf of inspirational pieces!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A thriving sedum.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A shelf of glazes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Its the same in the garden, where Nicky has placed the perfect plant in the perfect pot against the grey of the studio.

Pieces of drift wood and rusted, twisted metal add interest to every corner.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

On a hot afternoon, this little spot is a real haven and has clearly inspired Nicky to branch out into garden friendly pots.

Is it just me…..? 

3 Jul

Is it just me…? .. Or do you , too , head out into the garden for a potter and a bit of light deadheading, in your summer dress and sandals……..
….. And before you know it , you’re knee deep in itchy,  scratchy, stingy things and you’ve cleared a whole corner of the garden !!!  
   
 

Take time to sit and stare …….

29 Jun

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

By W.H.Davies

One of the most important elements of a good garden, for me , is somewhere to sit and enjoy the garden.

I see too many gardens where there’s almost no provision for sitting outside other than perhaps a dining table by the French windows. But without various destinations throughout the garden, you never really get to appreciate a space.

And I may have taken this mantra to a new level – within my, really quite compact, town centre garden I have five separate sitting areas.

IMG_1578.JPG

Above , these chairs are located just outside the kitchen door and serves as fragrant spot to sip a mid morning coffee, or a snack lunch or a well deserved cup of tea.. The pots are planted up with scented geraniums and nicotiana.

IMG_1577.JPG

Above, I have to admit nobody has ever sat at this table and chairs. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t earn it’s space in the garden. It is in a very tricky spot, getting very little sun yet being looked out on from the dining room windows and sitting room French window. So really it is a staged tableau that adds interest to a very dead space.

IMG_1580.JPG

Above, this is where we all sit together to linger over good food , usually cooked by the chief barbecuer ! The umbrella keeps it cool all day – I’m not one to enjoy sitting in full sun for hours while we eat.

IMG_1581.JPG

Above, this is where I wish I could spend longer ! It’s tucked right in amongst the border and is in the shade by mid afternoon – again I’d rather hide from the sun. All I need is a cup of earl grey and a good book and I could happily doze ! The smell from the philadelphus behind is indescribable !

IMG_1582.JPG

And finally, above, is the place we watch the sun set with a beer or gin & tonic – room for friends – a fire bowl to stave off the chills – a spot to watch the swans and ducks on the river.

Sat in any of these spots, I see different angles of the garden and the house, I am more aware of which bits get the sun when, and notice where I need to plant more scented flowers.

So if you’re giving some thought to your garden layout, I think you can safely assume you can squeeze one more seating area in somewhere !

Heaven Scent Gardens

garden inspiration & design

Garlic & Sapphire

beautiful and productive gardens & kitchens in action, from the Sarah Raven team

Wild Honey Blog

garden inspiration & design

Plantsmans Blog

garden inspiration & design

purple podded peas

garden inspiration & design

Lobster and Swan

garden inspiration & design

GARDENISTA

garden inspiration & design

Lottie Land Girl

Living the 'Good Life' the Brown way!

Decorator's Notebook

Decorating ideas and lifestyle inspiration from Decorator's Notebook

WordPress.com News

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

The Daily Post

The Art and Craft of Blogging