Saturday, March 8, 2014

Sudden understanding

Note: why has Blogger made it so virtually impossible to write in paragraphs now? I assure this piece was written in them. Sorry it appears such a horrible chunk here. Just finished a short piece in a book called Vista about criticism of gardens -in the sense of reviews, rather than negativity. The author doesn't pull punches. . Yesterday afternoon in the library I looked through a book by Alan Titchmarsh about his current private garden. . I've been mulling over these two and trying to get my thoughts in order. Something was bubbling at the back of my mind. I didn't like AT's garden, but it contained so many elements that I have loved elsewhere that I couldn't figure out why. Anne Wareham's article emphasises aesthetic standards which seem daunting and even irrelevant - but it also piqued me into seeing our garden radically differently. How do these two interact? . I called to mind my favourite gardens: Horsham Museum's, and Leonardslee. So utterly different that at first it's hard to discren any common factor, but still it quickly came to me that they are places of overwhelming individual identity. When inside, you could never be anywhere else. Horsham's stone court is domestic and self-contained, on a small scale; I've never been there and wished the time of year to be different: the intensity of the scale forces a concentration of effort and attention that makes every square inch tell and relate to the whole. It knows who it is, what it is, what it's about. Leonardslee is all hammer-ponds, mature trees and rhododendrons, but its steep valley is just as enclosed, as rich, as comfortable in what it is. . My taste is for a garden to be sui generis. For a tea-break a quick flick through a magazine is pleasant; for a day out, a stroll around other people's rolling acres is refreshing. But I don't want a garden of exquisitely rendered elements lifted from around the horticultural world. It must be its own world. . I don't know how this relates to more formalised aesthetic ideas. My notion of such is blurry to say the least. But this hard thinking about what I'm about is effecting me radically. It is not about making the best of what we have, or tidying up, or putting in colour. I've been distracted from our ideas and our space. No more scrap-book gardening. It's about what it's about.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A tour

Please do click on the first one, which takes you to a different view where I think the pictures look much better:

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


I remember picking the pretty white flowers on a walk and how they wilted before I gave them to my grandmother. Ha.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Out and about

Yesterday on my way back from climbing at Bowles Rocks I went to see an NGS garden in West Hoathly called Duckyls Holt. I enjoyed it very much. I won't post pictures of the garden because it doesn't seem right (since I didn't ask). The site stretched along a busy narrow road and it was interesting to see how they'd managed this. The garden was above the road and ascended a little in a terrace. It seemed very well-established - big flowering shrubs and very solid topiary. I went in through a little wooden gate in a wall, to a courtyard area. There was a small conservatory and patio, and beyond that a formal area of box and perennials (some loveley poppies) with wisteria trained over the centre. Beyond that was a lawn, with statues. Continuing past some sad ruined greenhouses and cold-frames I came to a rose-garden, not quite in bloom yet and with little other planting. Nice structure though. I turned back and went to the upper terrace. This consisted mainly of a covered swimming pool and a very posh greenhouse. There was a series of big mature shrubs in flower - very beautiful - and a small enclosed area with a water-feature of a terracotta sphere. On the other side of the house is a further area of lawn, perennials, and some ferns. The garden had a settled and accomplished feel about it. A lot of work had clearly been put into it over many years. I loved the feeling of someone growing to love and understand their spot. I felt a bit sad about the ruined greenhouses - perhaps there's a story behind that - and I wondered whether the road had been quieter when the owners had moved there. I had the feeling they'd been there many years. The thee ladies I spoke to were all very friendly and the eldest exceptionally so, despite being very tired from doing a lot of work in the heat. I hope the little euphorbias she gave me take, as a lasting souvenir of their garden.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Presents for the garden

Today I went shopping and I bought... (when I was a child I knew a game that began like that, and each person added something to the list. It was more fun than it sounds, if you made up disgusting or silly or rude things). Anyway, I bought what you can see on the table. A chicken planter, a dog hanging basket, two wire cups and saucers, and some plants (odd things, why did I buy those?). I think they're all rather sweet - particularly the dog! I wasn't a great one for novelty things in the garden until a few days ago. Very reluctantly I'd taken some rubbish to the tip, and as I drew up there I saw the staff carrying some metal items from the general household (landfill) section over to the metal recycling skip. I pounced immediately, and became the proud possessor of four metal frogs, just over 2 feet high, each playing a musical instrument. It helps if you know that my husband plays in several bands. And now they are all arranged round our pond, with stones on their feet until we sort out a better arrangement:
Just in case you can't see them, here they are again:
I think they're great! Something to look at if there's not much in flower just around there. So I treated myself to a few more fun things. Here are some more snaps of the garden over the last week. First here we are having the first barbecue for a while (you can see the chiminea lit too)
The smallest apple tree and the bluebells:
Tulips and friends:
And the oval bed about a week ago:
I have a friend coming for lunch and to see the garden on Tuesday so I'm using that as a focus to get it looking as good as it can at the moment. If we have some sunshine just before then, I'll take some pictures and put them here - otherwise I'll wait until we do, it seems to make all the difference. But at the moment I'm happy with it. Today I planted some late summer bubs and corms (I've never grown gladioli before) and the first of the summer containers. Lots of things to look forward to!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

So exciting!

I must write this post now, and get these pictures from yesterday up, because last night it rained properly for the first time in weeks and I'm going to want to take dozens more. I don't suppose they'll look all that different to anyone else but never mind.

So, this is how the garden looks overall - or did until last night.

This is the house from the front:

This is the first bit of the back garden:

This is in the next bit of garden. I'm going to do lots of pruning here this year to let more light in and make more space. The hypericum to the left has already been done; the spirea will be next. But just now I'm enjoying it:

This stretch of hedge was cut back the day before yesterday. It's only a few meters but it took me ages - reducing the height by nearly half, with loppers and a secateurs. All the trees in it are different. I chose them from a thing called the Plant Postcode Database: they're all very local. As a result they grow like there's no tomorrow and several of them sucker a lot into the beds on either side. Not terribly intelligent planting but we live and learn. At least they're healthy!

The path leads on:

To the next bit of garden. The right hand apple tree will be in blossom in about a week I think. They're old and tend to flower and fruit in alternate years, but since we have 5 apple trees in total this hardly seems a problem:

In our rather broken down greenhouse some tomato plants are waiting:

Near the back of this area, a ribes and kerria are some of the few plants apart from the trees which were here when we moved in, 9 years ago:

The main veg beds at the moment:

The view back up the garden towards the house:

And the back of the house:

I think the grass will be quite a bit greener in the next photos I post (though no doubt it won't stay that way forever - can't have everything). More soon!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Did a lot more stuff

Well since that post I've been out in the garden every day that I'm at home, for 3-4 hours. So I've got a lot done.

I haven't posted about it, as you've spotted by now. I'm very anxious about my tendency to give up and wander off after a few months, and I feel self-concsious about making any kind of assertion about the garden.

I've been thinking about this a lot. Part of the problem, as well as my being basically a lazy sack of the proverbial, is that the garden just isn't planted or planned to major on summer, or indeed on flowers and colour in general. So even if I work very hard at it, as things stand now, there's never very much to show for it other than a relative absence of weeds and mess. When we first began the garden this wasn't so. I've been looking back at old photos. The snag is that the maturity and seclusion of each of the separate areas that I so much wanted, has come about through shrubs and small trees getting far bigger, and they've shaded out and no doubt gobbled the ground's goodness from the borders in front of them.

Clearly this needs to be addressed. It's all very well saying that I don't garden to please others etc etc but I do want to be able to say, "Would you like to see the garden?" and know that there's something or other in it that will blow their socks off, ideally without recourse to flower-pouches and ornamental wishing-wells. In March the front garden does that - an 8 foot high camellia on one side, a clematis alpina that nearly strangles you as you try to reach the front door, and loads of hellebores, pulmonaria, miniature daffodils -and the whole thing isn't more than 8 feet from pavement to house. It does go a bit quiet the rest of the year, apart from the climbing roses, but I think that's OK.

So I'm going to be doing some pretty savage pruning this year, and beefing up the compost and grit in the clayier of the beds, and we'll see what I can manage. I'm fed up with working my bottom off to look after a tasteful and refined shrubbery.

Bring on the gladioli!