Friday 24 June 2016

Small gardens

City living usually means that the size of your garden, if, indeed you have one, is small. When I visit friends and family I admire the neatness of these little spaces, no sign of weeds, nothing out of control and I think (for a moment) how nice it must be to be so completely on top of things. A member of our book group lives in an old weaver's cottage, approached from the street through a door set into a high wall. It feels like entering 'The Secret Garden.'

Inside is a small courtyard, complete with tin bath on the wall!
It was too wet to sit out the last time we were there.
Our daughters both live in cities and their tiny gardens have received much care and attention over the years. Wee One and her partner are avid gardeners and their plot has been the cause of both pleasure and frustration. When the property was bought the outside space was nothing more than a dumping ground of broken toys and rubbish. They cleared away, put up a fence and gate 
a bike shed
and created a veritable jungle!

But yesterday was moving day and today they woke up in their new home and could wander out to explore the large, overgrown garden. Great plans are afoot.
I've been potting up plants from my garden for weeks!
(I'm not going to mention the EU result, too depressing for words.)

Wednesday 22 June 2016

Oh dear!

Looking out of the bedroom window first thing in the morning for the last few weeks I have seen this young deer foraging in the orchard. I think it has been attracted by the apple drop. It spends a fair bit of time nibbling its own hide and that reminds me of the problems of deer ticks. My smooth fox-terrier was always very downcast during her post-walk tick inspection! Because she liked to poke her nose into everything she was susceptible to getting ticks attached to her head and ears. Horrid things! Today I found incriminating hoof marks in my vegetable beds, the deer has obviously jumped the fence. Oh dear, trouble ahead.
The hedges are growing like mad in all this rain. My efforts at topiary were in need of attention.
Himself was amused and went to get the camera.
The pheasant was getting out of control. (So is my hair!)
When I had finished Himself made some improvements.
That's men for you!

Monday 20 June 2016


The vegetable garden is under attack with pigeons eating their way through the emerging crops. I've got a motley arrangement of defences in place, but today, whilst the rain kept me inside, I've been looking online at crop cages.

The chard is starting to outgrow the confined space provided by the old secondary glazing panels and it all looks so ugly.
The pigeons found a small hole in my netting and almost demolished the young broccoli plants. They've nibbled away at the sprout leaves. Some vegetables they don't, thankfully, seem to like, the leeks and early peas are untouched.
We are enjoying the first of this season's offerings, "Rocket' potatoes, asparagus and peas.
There is so much rain that everything looks incredibly green.
The walnut tree is the last one to come into leaf. It's a huge specimen now and we are discussing how to treat it come the winter. Do we remove the lower branches to bring more light into the garden or crown the top? Perhaps we need to do both! It crops wonderfully (and the squirrels carry off quantities of nuts!) Any advice would be welcome.

Friday 17 June 2016

Friday Skywatch

Today we've had thunder, lightning, torrential rain
a wonderful sunset!

Viewed from the window for  Skywatch Friday.

Tuesday 14 June 2016

Talking about roses

We went to friends for supper at the weekend. There had been torrential rain throughout the day but by early evening all was calm and, being of sturdy British stock, we ate outside.
Our hostess, Janet, grows the beautiful rose, Blairi No. 2 up the front of their house. I took a cutting a couple of years ago which is doing well. (Alban, centre with the beard, and Angela, will be opening their garden for charity on July 3rd - I'll be there with my camera!)
We sat outside until gone eleven, eating, talking, laughing, long after the sun had disappeared into the water.
Most of the roses in my garden have been grown from small sprigs from my previous home and from friends' gardens or holidays. Here is Janet's Blairi cutting.
It's a China hybrid from 1845, with one good display now and a few random flowers following throughout the summer. It is perfumed and, as you see, can withstand a bit of weather.
Not so 'Cinderella'. Ironically, she is one of the few roses in the garden that I've actually bought! The grower told me she was delightful and I dare say she is, given better conditions than this country can provide. My Cinderella is obviously still waiting for her prince to come and take her away from the wet weather that causes her head to droop and her petals to ball into a soggy lump.

Other roses are far more resilient. Charles de Mills is a very sturdy fellow (and a bit of a thug, he suckers like mad.)
Although many petalled, Rosa Mundi also stands up quite well to rain and wind. I think it wonderful to have a rose in my garden that has been on record since the the sixteenth century. 

Some roses leave me cold. This stiff, thorny, scentless character couldn't care less about rain and storms.
It's banished to the studio wall outside the gate!
Favourites grow close by the house.
'Iceberg' has no perfume but is a constant flowerer throughout the summer and such a clean, clear white that I grow her both as a floribunda and a climber. 
And she doesn't mind a soaking!
For one great, glorious show 'Paul's Himalayan Musk' takes some beating. As soon as it's finished flowering I cut mine hard back.
But it's back the next year, just as prolific as ever.
I love roses!

Friday 10 June 2016

Hartwell House grounds

Hartwell House has a long and fascinating history spanning almost a thousand years. It has been the home of, among others, the natural son of William the Conqueror and Louis XVIII, the exiled King of France.
In 1938 there was a sale of the contents of the house. Queen Mary and the Dukes and Duchesses of Gloucester and Kent came to view. They brought a picnic which they ate in the dining room, served by liveried footmen. During the Second World War it was an army billet and in the '50's let out as a finishing school and secretarial college. It has survived many changes of circumstance and architectural alterations and has been a hotel since the summer of 1989.
The landscaping of the park began around 1757 and it contains a varied collection  of 18th century buildings; pavilions, towers and turrets. 
We started our exploration with a walk to the obelisk, pointing dramatically skywards and surely a good subject for Friday Skywatch. Sunshine adds such drama to the landscape, I love the lines of light and dark that have been created by the shadows of the trees.

Extensive use has been made of the ha-ha, a garden device used since the18th century to separate pasture from garden by means of a ditch which is hidden from the eye. 
Cattle are contained and the view is uninterrupted.

There were little buildings to discover all over the place.

This one inside what had formerly been the walled kitchen garden.
Paths had been mown through the meadow. My daughter walked to inspect the bee hives. ( I ate home-produced honey at breakfast!)
Hidden in a corner of the grounds was this delightful folly arch.
We bent our heads and walked through the low passageway to see where it would lead.
When my daughter returned to London I went to Oxford and met up with Himself. The weather was far too glorious to be spent indoors. We walked through the covered market
on our way
to the Botanic Garden
where I admired the staking in the perennial borders,
punting skills on the river

and the glass houses.

And then it was time to go home.