Wednesday 31 July 2019

Postcards from our holiday: Cotswolds June 2019

June saw my BFF from Melbourne, Kerri, over in the UK with her sister Sharon. They hired a cottage in Broadway, the Cotswolds for three weeks, and we joined them for part of that time. In between ME resting, and Kevin being in The Hague part of the time for work, we visited a few places local to Broadway. But the best bit was of course spending time with Kerri. This is a collection of 'postcards' from our holiday.

This is a classic Cotswold village, i.e. ye olde Englande Cotswold stone buildings, and all a bit posh. Very lovely though. Unless noted, it's just random photos of pretty buildings.

Broadway Hotel area

 A wonderful old Pear Tree growing up the Lygon Arms Hotel.

 Kerri, Sharon and Kevin outside our cottage

 Looking towards the village from our bedroom

Hidcote Manor Garden
This is a kind of famous, in gardening circles at least, garden, and it has some connections to the Arts and Crafts movement. It was a very wet day when we visited, and unfortunately the ME took a bad turn and energy levels crashed after about an hour, so Kevin had to take me back to our cottage to rest. Therefore, this is just a partial view of the garden.

L-R: Sharon and Kerri

 The pond, which if it wasn't raining, I could have sat by for hours. So beautiful and peaceful.

I fell in love with this Verbascum, V. phoeniceum 'Violetta'.

This is a greenhouse to die for, with moving doors/windows that could be opened in summer
and closed in winter to protect tender plants. One can dream...

View towards the manor house from the greenhouse.

Also from the greenhouse, from a different angle.

I think this is the Long Border. I've lost the map of the layout...

That's all I got to see this time around. I'll have to return another time.

Snowshill Manor Garden
I visited Snowshill one afternoon for a couple of hours with Kerri and Sharon. They explored the house as well as the garden, whereas I just mooched around the plants.

Kerri (right) and I at the entrance to the Manor

 Looking from the pond up to the manor

 The Elder Court, in the process of being regenerated, with many plantings of the gorgeous
Sambucus nigra 'Purpurea'

Tiger Lily, unknown variety. I love the contrast of the pink of the petals to the orange of the pollen

The Well Court

Geum 'Prinses Juliana' - another one to get for my front garden
My favourite border in the Well Court.

 I adore the wonderful purple of the Lupins with the orange of the Geum.
It 'feels' like an impressionist painting.

Looking down at the Well Court and Cotswold countryside

The Well Court was my favourite part of the garden, the purples and oranges, and the lush planting, was both warm and peaceful.

Anne Hathaway's cottage
People visit Anne Hathaway's cottage for the Tudor cottage and connection to Shakespeare (her husband). However, I find getting around 400 year old cottages difficult with a walking stick and limited energy, so I again mooched around the garden on my mobility scooter whilst Kerri & Sharon explored the house as well.

It's very much a classic 'cottage garden' garden, including fruit and vegetables, and ornamentals. Whilst not a 'great' garden per se, it was a perfectly lovely way to spend a couple of hours.

They had a lovely annual wildflower meadow and it included two of my favourite wildflowers,
Cornflowers (blue) and Corncockles (pink).

Kiftsgate Garden
This was both the last day of our holiday, and the hottest. But this garden is worth the heat.

There was no accessibility to some areas, but the garden it is partially on a cliff, so that's understandable. However, some other areas could have been made easier with some very simple ramps. So I had to rely on Kevin to lift my scooter at times, which was frustrating.

Despite the accessibility issue, I loved this garden. The old Manor is an elegant backdrop to the different borders and areas of the garden.

Left to right: Sharon, Kerri, and I.

Looking from the top of the garden down to the swimming pool and the Vale of Evesham, beyond. I don't think the photo really shows how steep it was, so you'll have to trust me on that.

The Wide Border

I discovered a new 'must have' for my garden. This is Dictamnus albus var. purpureus, an evergreen shrub. It's also known as the 'gas plant' because you can set the seeds alight with a lighter and they will make a mini explosion. I can't wait to try that!

The White Garden

In the North Border I came across this gorgeous Cornus kousa 'Satomi'.

The Yellow Border with a beautiful Acer (I think it's A.shirasawanum 'Aureum') stretching over part of it.

A stunning blue Delphinium

The Water Garden.

Kevin playing/dancing to the gold leaved fountain

View from the Four Squares garden

Kiftsgate garden was fun, as well as including lots of interesting plants, many new to me. Accessibility issues aside, it's a garden which is worth a return.

* * * * *
So that's what I did on my holidays. The best part was being able to spend time and explore with Kerri.

Thursday 18 July 2019

Plant memories: Deschampsia cespitosa 'Goldtau' and Cat-Merlyn

This is Deschampsia cespitosa 'Goldtau', also known as 'Grass-Merlyn'.
The grass is still looking green now, but in late summer
it will turn golden, hence it's specific name is Goldtau

Merlyn was our previous cat, a wonderful cheeky bugger who has a penchant for eating my ornamental grasses, and this one in particular. When he sadly died, it seemed fitting to bury him with this grass.

The 'Grass-Merlyn' is a take on a friend who used to tell his child who loved our cat, stories of 'The Adventures of Cat-Merlyn'. So Cat-Merlyn was a nickname, and therefore he, resting with his favourite plant to chew on, he became Grass-Merlyn.

The plant was looking so good with it's new flowers this morning. It made me happy that I have this very special memory of a most wonderful cat companion.

Cat-Merlyn, who decided to have a snooze mid-harvest. Coz cat.

Wednesday 17 July 2019

New veg beds - aka finally making a decision on the final layout of my kitchen garden

The kitchen garden?

Not an inspiring photograph, is it? I mean, yes, you can see my slowly developing Forest Garden Border around the edges (the blueberries are nearly ready!), and some raised beds with garlic. But the lawn dominates. However, not for much longer.

I've always intended that this area of the garden would become my kitchen garden, as it gets the most sun all year around. I just hadn't been able to make a decision about the design layout. I've played around with a number of layouts over the last few months, and I've finally came to one that I both liked, and that I felt maximised the use of the space. And here's the plan:

Base map: showing the shape of the design clearly

I view it as a geometrically-shaped flower.

The design has been very carefully measured a few times, and I'm certain that it will work. And I must thank Andrea, my gardener, who helped me with the final measuring out and design tweeks.

 Final design with all the careful measurements

Once again, I'm going with straight lines. That's because straight lines are so much cheaper to build. I plan on adding some plants, such as creeping Thyme, along the paths, as well as some other low growing herbs and ornamental plants, which over time will help break up the lines.

The beds will be made sleepers again and will also be two levels high. As I've mentioned before, I have acid soil, so I need to build the soil level up with alkaline/neutral compost if I want to grow vegetables. For the paths, we will be putting down a permeable membrane, and will then add purple shale on top. I've used this method in the past and I know it works well and looks good. 

The obelisk sitting in the middle of another raised bed during last winter.

I'll be moving my Obelisk from it's temporary position (above) to the centre kitchen garden bed, which will add some height and year round interest. And of course, it will be good for growing climbing french beans and peas, with cut flowers, including sweet peas, on alternate years.

The landscapers will be here next week! And I've just ordered the nearly 5 tonnes of compost to fill the beds. So it's all go for my new kitchen garden borders.

Friday 12 July 2019

Wisteria border: before and after

A year ago, this is what the Wisteria border looked like.

What Wisteria border you ask?

Well, this is now.

It's always good to take before and after photos. You often get caught up in what work you still want to do in your garden, so it's good to be able to take stock to see how far you've come.

It's hard to point out where the actual Wisteria is, as it's still a young plant. Hopefully this time next year I'll be able to show you.