Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Wordless Wednesday - Tree

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - January 2015

It's been quite some time since I've written a GBBD post. Strolling (struggling in the bitterly cold wind) around the garden, there are a fair few flowers in bloom at the moment. A couple of the snowdrops I planted after Thomas was born are in flower, though the snails love to chew their delicate petals off. The violas in containers continue to point their eager faces to the fickle sun. Sarcococca and Viburnum in the front garden greet you with a double whammy of perfume. Because of the mild winter to date, there are even very pregnant buds on the Scabious.

The one winter performer which consistently flowers this early for me, however, is the one which heralds in the rush of the spring flowers - my fresh, speckled green hellebore. It's the first of the hellebores to flower, and its sturdy petals will keep looking good right through to the end of March.

We may not yet have had a proper winter, but spring is most definitely on its way.

Thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting GBBD.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Sunday, January 04, 2015

All about the space

It's cold. The days are short. But when the sun shines in winter, it can turn a well-structured garden into a shifting theatre of light and space.

When there's little else to distract the eye (those pesky pretty flowers), you can more easily absorb the importance of space in a garden.

Sadly, this doesn't hold true for most areas of our garden - I have a tendency to poke too many plants in, and there are large herbaceous/shrub borders which aren't very structured. However, on a trip to Erdigg today, I had the chance to admire good use of space and structure. In the low winter light, highlighted by frost, space provides a range of uses: it gives the eye a chance to rest; draws the eye to a view, and allows shadows to play their own dramatic role within the garden.

The low hedge below uses spaces to create a chequerboard effect, further accentuated by the frost.

 The pleached trees look more dramatic with their tortured skeletons exposed.

Ordered spacing of the cones draws the eyes onwards, through the gap in the hedge, to more shaped repetitions.

Spaces between the evergreens allow the low sun to cast shadows which separate each fruit tree by a frosted grassy finger.

More mundanely, spaces between branches and fruiting spurs on this 'Pitmaston Pine Apple' apple tree allow fruit to mature and air to circulate.

Not many of us have this much space, but the visit today has made me think about how I can make better use of space to allow the eye to rest within my own garden. A sunny winter's day is also a great opportunity to see how I can better use shadows as ephemeral art.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

End of month view - December 2014

This is the first time I've taken part in Patient Gardener's End of Month View meme. I suppose I should have started in the summer, when the lush growth hides a myriad of mistakes, but it's nearly a new year, and so a time to look back with brutal honesty about where the garden is at the moment. The general dreariness of the garden was nicely complemented by the dull weather this afternoon, after several days of picturesque frost and blue skies.

The photo below shows the one bit of colour in the back garden at the moment, and one of the few plants we kept when we moved in -  Choisya (probably 'Sundance'). It's not a subtle shrub, but it just keeps on doing its thing. You can see that I have cleared a lot of dead herbaceous material, which I know is not the done thing nowadays, as the minibeasts need somewhere to overwinter. However, since Thomas came along I just can't keep up with the seasons, so need to get ahead of myself with a bit of autumnal and winter clearing and tidying. If the minibeasts can't make do with the extensive evergreen trees, shrubs and huge amount of ivy cladding the fences in which to make their homes, then I'm not going to lose too much sleep about it at the moment.

This shows the new pergola, which went up in July. It's looking bare at the moment, but there is a well-established Clematis 'Black Prince' at the back which will hopefully scramble over much of it in the Spring.

The optimistically named 'Spring border' (below). It contains an Amelanchier 'Robin Hill' which has been in for nearly three years now; the herbaceous plants in there have been in there for just over two years. I tried to put Pachysandra in as ground cover (yes, it's boring, but I thought it would be an indestructible evergreen carpet), but it appears to be slug and snail caviar. It looks better in spring. Honest. Prior to the Amelanchier, there were two large cherry trees that had been regularly 'lollipopped' into round heads by the previous owners. They did hide the houses behind, but were ugly.

The greenhouse is pretty empty, apart from endless empty pots, some over-wintering dahlias and a ravening horde of spiders.

The 'twigloo' is looking a little worse for wear after a few strong winds, but it won't take long to weave and tie back together in early spring.
Another border which looks best in Spring. The Acer 'Sango Kaku' looks good all year round, but this photo doesn't do justice to its beautiful red stems. The new fence panels are yet to be covered by a climber - I need to do a bit of planting in this area.

The tree ferns are doing well so far, as it has been such a mild winter.

The Stipa tenuissima planted along the bottom of the patio don't look their best after rain, then snow, then frost. Thomas is rather keen on jumping and rolling on top of them, which doesn't help either.
A view from one corner across to the greenhouse. We took the island bed out this autumn and put it down to grass seed. It divided the garden up nicely, hiding the far end of the garden from view, but it made the garden less useable for Thomas.

From the other side of the conservatory, looking down to the pergola. Adorned with a distant cat.
Perhaps the most ephemeral item in the garden at the moment - the remains of Thomas' first snowman.

So, not very exciting, no 'must see' plants. Just a whole lot of potential, waiting for spring.
Thanks to Helen at Patient Gardener for hosting End of Month View.

Monday, December 29, 2014


I'm not so good at this blogging thing any more, am I?

Perhaps the golden age of garden blogging has passed, or perhaps it is going on now, and it has passed me by. Perhaps it is still to come. So many questions, all of them a bit reflective and, therefore, somewhat pointless.

So, back to the title of this blog post. Promises. Besides encouraging me to listen to this, I thought I'd get in early with the New Year's Resolutions. I don't normally do them (see New Year posts passim) but had so much fun just reading through some of my past posts that I promise to myself to post at least once a fortnight on this blog in 2015. Hardly in the league of veteran bloggers such as VP and Patient Gardener, but maybe I can get back on track a little and find both my blogging and my gardening vibes again.

A pre-emptive happy new year to you all. Here's to a writerly and floriferous 2015.

Friday, September 05, 2014

What is a garden?

The student's first port of call for a definition, Wikipedia, describes a garden as "... a planned space, usually outdoors, set aside for the display, cultivation, and enjoyment of plants and other forms of nature. The garden can incorporate both natural and man-made materials".

Some argue that gardens can be art, and should be criticised as such. Well, some gardens, anyway. Hopefully not ours. Our garden is to art as a toddler's playdough man with head toppling off is to the beauty of Rodin's 'The Kiss'.

Others subscribe to the view of the garden as an outdoor room, for relaxing and socialising.

However, over this summer, I have discovered that our garden is so much, much  more than any of these views of a garden.

It has been:
- a scooter track
- a pirate ship
- the home of the 'shadow monster'
- a minibeast safari
- a steam train track
- a diesel train track
- an electric train track
- a monorail train track (do you see a recurring theme...?)
- a zoo
- an aquarium
- the sea
- a bus route
- somewhere to feed and identify birds
- a place to dig for buried treasure (potatoes, carrots)
- a place to dig for worms
- a place to build a worm house from mud
- a place to plant a bulb and watch it grow and flower and go over
- a place to mop and hoover (don't ask..)
- a place to help Daddy drill and saw
- a place to pick an apple and eat it, and admire the little worm inside it
- a place to throw yourself into the grasses again and again, until the grasses are flat and it's bed time

So, what is our garden?

An outdoor room? Maybe.
A work of art? Definitely not.

An imaginarium? Most certainly.

That's what our garden is. What's yours?

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - Framed