Monday 25 November 2019

A Fungi to be with, Banana Wrap, Wonder in the Mundane.

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'The Garden I Work In'  - an everyday  story of gardening folk.

This Acacia has been in its pot for three or four years  and usually gets  dragged into the greenhouse  about now  to make  sure it survives the winter. Last year we decided  it was too big to lug undercover so we left it out in this sheltered corner and it came through okay so this year it is being planted out in the garden. I can't  think   of a better way of  guaranteeing  a very harsh winter. 
We chose to do it last Friday despite a  rainy forecast which turned out to be wrong - we had far more rain than was forecast..

 By the careful appliance of science and lots of  shoving, levering, heaving and hauling on the rope we got it onto a small trolley

We wheeled it  round that garden to its new site and now we had to get it out of its  pot.

With more bashing, cursing, waggling and gentle pulling with the digger  we got it out. There is a  curious thing about  Dan, whenever we work in the rain he starts break dancing. He is a wizard at it and he is a wizard with the  mini digger too  - a gentle and deft  touch.

The 'ole.
There was  an almost rock like pan of compacted soil  about 800mm down where the contractors had tracked back and forth  when constructing  the  garden despite being  asked several time so ensure any compaction was  broken up. The  digger was a godsend  because  doing it by hand in the rain on a Friday afternoon  would have meant that the greenhouse would have  been  seriously  at risk from flung tools .

We had to lift  the  plant it into the hole with the digger using Dan's dexterity  and deftness  - Pardon ? I said deftness. 

Job done. Backslapping and break dancing all round. Rain on the lens explains some of the fuzziness in the picture .  

A nice  corner of winter interest  still looking okay. Fingers crossed for the Agave -  we have nowhere else  to put it 

Banana Wrap

Last year we managed get to get two plants of Ensete ventricosum 'Maurelii ' through the winter outdoors by this method so here goes again. 

We cut the plant  back  to about 800 mm and then covered the  open crown with a sheet of plastic just enough to keep out  the wet but not too much  to prevent all air flow. a circle of chicken wire stuffed with leaves will hopefully provide some insulation against the cold  for the growing  tip buried deep in the heart of the plant.

Anyone you know?
We 'thatched' it with Miscanthus that  we had cut from the garden. 
 It was just asking to have a face put on it. Fortunately it lines up with a purple Cordyline in a pot behind which gives it more of a witch doctor  appearance.
Hey, if you can't have fun in the garden where can you?

Win a shilling if you can  say what  plants the nose, eyes and mouth are. 


I planted these table top Parrotias  earlier this year.  They will  gradually  be extended to provide some shade for sitting under. 
I had  forgotten how good  their autumn colour is. 
Top quality plants and service from  Readyhedge when I bought these plants - thanks guys.


Wonder in the Mundane.

If you work,  or  are  simply out an about, in the outdoors  there is always something that will stir  your sense of curiosity or satisfy your need  for visual stimulation , sometimes to the point of satiation and sometimes even  to the point of tears 
 I went out with the chainsaw to get a pile of wood  cut into logs  to move into the dry and came across these beautiful lichens and fungi.  
Just keep your eyes and mind wide  open.
The wood was birch, beech, Leyland cypress, yew, iron hard laburnum - lovely chocolate centre  but like trying to cut through steel once it has  seasoned  -  and some cedar.

I am always on the look out for  the Face of Jesus  be it in my toast , coffee froth or  a pile of logs . I was  disappointed this time but I came across South America  from the times when it was still connected to Antarctica. ........ 

.....and Africa  with Madagascar missing  and a bit extra stuck on the west coast.


P.S in case you wanted to know the face parts  - Eyes, Rudbeckia maxima  -  Nose, Rostrincula dependens - Mouth an almost done for Dahlia. 

P.P. S  Please do all you can to support Extinction Rebellion.

Thursday 14 November 2019

The Garden I Work In , Roundup Red, Garden Radio.

The garden I work in.

What is the opposite of a Post Script or addendum? Whatever it is  this is one.
 I wrote the  words below on the twenty fifth  of October and now it is the fourteenth of  November . The frosts  I was worrying about have  come  and not really done much damage  but just  given a little bit more urgency to  lifting and  bringing in the tenders and making sure we have cuttings of those plants  too big  to lift.
What has also happened since is that  we have been given the go ahead  by the NGS to open the garden  one day next year. It is exciting news for us. It will be on the last Sunday of August. I will give you a reminder nearer the day. 
Rather than  give you a before and after  I am doing an after and before so here are a  couple of  November afters - after the first frost  that  is -  taken  yesterday and the  October befores are all the pictures  after. Got that?

 November Afters

 The bananas are a bit burnt  and  the dahlias are soggy.

Abutilons, Phytolacca, Alocasia and Tibouchina still holding up - just - though you can't really see them very well in this  picture.. 

The yellowing leaves of Vitis coignatiae make this after look better than the  before. 

The October Befores.

It is the morning of the twenty fifth of October . It is a time of year that  gets any one who grows  half hardy and tender plants  for summer display a bit twitchy .  You know  frost is inevitable sooner or later  but  you don't know just when  it will arrive and  you like  to keep the display running as long as possible.
 Mostly, unless some diabolically cold weather suddenly comes along,  you know the first one or two frosts  might brown things off a bit but don't usually kill them and that gives you  time to drag them indoors and to double check that you have cuttings  of all the things you are happy to lose to the cold  for the sake of a  slightly longer season.   

In this south facing corner of the garden  there is a nest of tender beauties snuggled in  trying to keep each other warm. Cold is not the only enemy of  many  tender plants. The wet can  also be a threat  so with the weather still holding up and no forecast of frost I decided the succulents  have suffered enough from  the recent downpours  and are not likely to dry out now so it is time to  bring them in and give their roots a chance to dry - a shame really because they are still looking good. 
The Tibouchinas are also still looking good along with Abutilon , Correa, Alocasia  and the big Acacia baileyana Purpurea or 'Songlines'  -   I don't know which - at the back ,

Any one grown  A. baileyana out doors? This one stayed out in its  pot  last year, it is too big to keep  shuffling it in and out of the greenhouse. Sometime in the next few weeks it is going to be planted out into the garden to takes its chance so any thought on its likely chance of survival would be welcome. It is in a sheltered garden  in north Gloucestershire. 

Succulents , don't you just love 'em. 
Middle back is a Euphorbia - the   African version of the New World cacti,


We tried  leaving some other  plants out last winter and they all came through with flying colours . Most impressive is the red banana  Ensete ventricosum 'Maurelii'. Free from the constraints of a pot  it has grown very big as you can see below.......

..... there is also Tetrapanax , a green banana ( I don't know which  species / variety.) Dahlia 'Blue Bayou', some self sown Bidens ferulifolia, Salvia involucrata , Phormium cookianum 'Tricolor' and right at the back  some of this plant   below....'s Rostrincula dependens . In all my years of gardening  how come I have only just found this plant?It has been out in the border for two years and always looks good at this time of year , September through to end October, a real treat. 

One plant that has been a real surprise regarding its toughness is  the variegated Tradescantia in the bottom left of this picture. ( There is a better picture below.) It makes a  lovely house plant but I never thought it would survive three winters outdoors and come up bigger and better each year . The Ricinus are self sown! honest! - gardening can be really good fun at times.

I have never quite understood why Eucomis bicolor is not grown more often. 
It is tough  as you like and  has  a very exotic and unusual as  well as slightly comical look to it.
This one  is seeding itself around to the point of becoming a nuisance.
 How can I grow the tall Eucomis without them falling over?  

Less exotic plants are still looking good around  the garden although with frosts on the way this week  it might all look very different in a few days time.
I have championed this Aster  before and I am going to again. It is just the best thing for this time of year. Aster lateriflorus 'Horizontalis' ( unfortunately it is now Symphotrichum lateriflorum var. Horizontalis - I have no chance of remembering that. ) It is on the  middle right of this picture . 
The  golden leaf is Cornus Midwinter  Fire, not necessarily the best winter stem colour Cornus  - but by no means bad -  and  I did not know that when I  planted the garden. 
It looks good behind the black  rods of Digitalis  parviflora.


Aster lateriflorus 'Horizontalis  with Hackonechloa  and Bergenia - colour shape and texture - text book stuff.

 This is all herbaceous planting so come late winter the ground is laid bare except the  Paulownia but even that will be cut back to within an inch of its life , well at least to 18 inches -  45 cms - in late winter

I have just checked out this plant on a few websites and  I can't believe this but no one mentions its scent - it is sweet, heady and one of the big treats of early autumn. You will catch the scent when working  elsewhere in the garden and  wonder just where that intoxicating perfume is coming from  - it is from  Persicaria polymorpha. 
One site remarks as if it is a major plus that it does not  self seed around - it doesn't need to because in good soil it  puts out some fairly hefty  runners  but please don't let that stop you  growing it  if you have the space.   

Any one else got  purple snakes in the garden?


'Roundup Red'

Soon the countryside will be flooded with  autumn  colour as leaves drain out their green and  take on their autumn hues but as a prelude we can warm our hearts  with  swathes of  glowing 'Roundup Red'  as the land is prepared for  cultivation.

Garden Radio
I end on a sad note.
No matter how keen you are an awful lot of  gardening is fairly tedious  so a radio should be part of your  garden kit. I don't like to cut myself off from outside sounds with earphones  so I carry around  a beaten up old Roberts  radio bought for me by my son what must be ten years ago . It finally gave out two days go but hey, guess what, they are still doing the same model. AM , FM and best of all Long Wave. Long Wave  suits me best  because you can't get FM ( nor DAB) everywhere I work but you can always get Long Wave, and therefore Radio 4. Down side is  you can't  avoid the daily service  but the upside is you can get the test cricket loud and clear and  I am learning to love the Shipping Forecast

Not surprising it eventually gave out with all the crud and grunge that had accumulated inside.

Whoo hoo! Look at my new radio, and get this  it was just £20  from Clarkes in Shipston on Stour - can't go wrong.


Coming soon
The Vineyards of Chipping Campden, fabulous foliage and fantastic fungi.

PS I last posted in March 2018 , It opened with a short piece on B***T  - who would have thought that that debacle would not be finished yet. 

PPS. Please do what you can to help Extinction Rebellion either financially or by other means of support.

Monday 12 March 2018

Brexit, Face of Jesus and a Spring Show

I found this very old draft blog post sitting in the draft box. It looked surprisingly relevant so here it is.

 Okay lets get politics  out of the way before we start. Brexit? In or out of the E.C?
I got up the other morning and even my breadboard was trying to tell me something other than  'Use your loaf '
Just remember, be cautious and  don't put all your aggs in one brexit

The face of baby Jesus.
Jesus's face turns up everywhere, on a piece of toast, on a corn-flake, in the froth on your latte, it is definitely omnipresent. 
When Barbara is sewing cotton gets traipsed all over the house, even the bathroom floor. 
Sorry it's not the face of Jesus or  may be it is but when he was young. 
This silhouette of a sleepy young  child's face was on the bathroom floor.  Excuse the pubic hair on the left. 


Berberis  darwinii

 Darwin was  a mighty guy if only for  the fact that  he discovered this plant, Berberis darwinii  in  Chile in 1835 when he was travelling as a naturalist  on the Beagle   . It was introduced here in the UK  in 1849 by William Lobb of Vietch's nursery
In fact I am not sure if  it is straight  B. darwinii or a hybrid with B. linearifolia called B. x lologensis  ( after Lake Lolog in Argentina)  variety Mystery Fire. Does anybody know?
Either way it is one of the best shrubs ever - my modest opinion!
I am changing the garden  at home so I am having to dig it up and move it and am crossing my fingers that it will survive the move. 
I cut some for indoors and it looks absolutely stunning. 
With no disrespect meant to recent clients but  when  designing plantings I  ask them if they have  any colour preference you  can guarantee that  90% will say no orange - well look what your are missing. Not just orange but shades of  apricot, yellow  and deep red all on a small leaved, evergreen shrub. It is fabulous. Maybe there is a god? 

Berberis darwinii in an Adam Keeling pot from Whichford pottery ( Adam is the muscly guy in the Pottery website intro video) . The flowers are  a much stronger  orange than this  picture shows


Ebrington Spring Show

I judged Ebrington spring show at the weekend, There was great support  with plenty of  top class exhibits in all classes. It was mighty close in the Narcissus classes so don't feel too miffed if you missed out on a prize it will only have been by a whisker.  

Daffs and tulips ...  and an official recorder.

Mixed stuff and Camellia  flowers, some were enormous.

Normally  the pay for my duties is a bottle or two  of wine or a box of chocolates but at Ebrington you get a  generous veg box  generously  donated by the Drinkwaters who are local growers  of veg and fruit  and who have a very good farm shop in Ebrington.