Sunday, May 30, 2010

Flashing the frills

Just under two years ago, SomeBeans dug me a new bed. well, you know how it is - so many gorgeous plants in the world, and how much lawn does a girl need?

I planted it with alliums, achillea, stipa and two types of iris. Only Dutch Chocolate flowered for me last year, and I was worried that the wet summer followed by the wet, cold winter would cause both types to give up the ghost. They didn't really have the chance to enjoy having their rhizomes baked in the hot summer sun. But this year, Iris 'Good Show' has made her debut. And what a debut.

I've been watching her over the past week, from a tiny flash of orange at the tip of the bud last sunday, to the petals pushing upwards out of their papery shroud. And today she has revealed herself in all her glory. In the shade, she's quite a subtle old gold, but when the sun fall on her she flashes her orange frills.

Dutch Chocolate is a week behind - she's summing herself up to flash more frills.

Late May - irises, peonies, alliums. Gardens don't get much better than this. To walk around the garden is to grin from ear to ear. What more could you ask for?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Is it a date? See you there...

For those of you who have been watching Gardener’s World for some time, you will remember the wonderful Geoff Hamilton, at his Barnsdale Gardens. Sadly, Geoff died in 1996, but Barnsdale Gardens has been maintained and developed by the Hamilton family since then, with Nick Hamilton, Geoff’s son, running them.

I was lucky enough to visit Barnsdale in 2001, and I can vouch for the fact that there are so many fascinating gardens to look around and great ideas to take home with you, as well as a wonderful nursery.

This is a gorgeous veg plot (taken in 2001) at Barnsdale. The gardens are run organically, and the veg were looking very healthy.

I loved the statues in this new garden so much, I bought Myrtle a couple of years later.

Anyway, to the point of this blog post:
Nick Hamilton will be taking part in a Twitter chat on Thursday (27th May), between 8pm and 9pm. Anyone can sign up to Twitter and have the chance to ask Nick a question about any gardening problems that are currently keeping you awake at night. The event is sponsored by Lands End, and they have given me some freebies to pass on to you if you take part in the event.
I’ve got 50 packs of Nasturtium Jewel Mixed seeds to give away to any Twitterers who let me know that they have posted a question to Nick. I will also choose the best 5 questions to each receive a £25 Land’s End voucher.

To take part in the Twitter chat, just follow the instructions on their Facebook page:
A quick Twitter guide:

1. Twitter Account - If you haven't already signed up for your free Twitter account then go to and follow the instructions.

2. Follow Lands’ End UK:

3. During the chat to address Lands' End UK directly, be sure to use @LandsEnd_UK in your tweet along with your question/topic of discussion.

4. Hashtag # – A hashtag is a code used to mark a specific topic. The hashtag for Lands’ End UK session with Nick is #Barnsdale. You can search for #Barnsdale to participate and see all the relevant tweets.
To win some free goodies:
Just leave a comment on this blog post with the question that you asked Nick, and also email the question you asked to happymouffetard at gmail dot com (email solely so that I can contact you to pass on your freebies if you win, it will not be passed on to Land's End or anyone else!). Open to UK residents only, I'm afraid, for posting reasons. The judge's decision is final.

Don’t forget to keep refreshing the Twitter feed – the questions will be fast and furious. Look forward to seeing you on Twitter on Thursday at 8pm!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day May 2010

It's the middle of May, and quite possibly the best time of year in the garden (though I am open to persuasion). So here's what's happening in the garden. Apologies for so many photos, but the flowers are beautiful and I wanted to capture something of them for when winter comes around again.

This perennial cornflower isn't quite out, but it's the best time to admire the feathered edges of the buds.I've written about my love for lilac before. I can put up with it not looking very exciting for most of the year, just for the couple of weeks of its scent.

Alliums aren't quite out here yet, but it won't be long before they burst out of their casings. Light the blue touchpaper and stand well back.

And now for the tulips. Shirl has been having a tulip photo fest, to which this is a late addition. The cold, mostly dry, weather has meant that the tulips have lasted quite some time this year. Hoorah!

My new, absolute favourite tulip - Angelique. I'm not normally a fan of flouncy, girly pink flowers (peonies being an exception) but Angelique is a beauty. Wow.

Antreciet is another beauty, with a gorgeous sheen to its petals. My photo just doesn't do its colour justice.

'Wendy Love' - grown in memory. This tulip brightens up the darker side of the back garden.

This mix of tulips is in the front garden.

Recreado is a nice dark colour and has come up year after year, despite being in wet Cheshire on not very nice soil. Not dug up, not given much attention - a real trooper.

Not sure what this one is - it looks quite like some bulbs that I know are 'Ballerina' but I can't remember what it is. (Note to self: make a note of the bulbs you buy and where you plant them!)
So, enough of the tulips, there are a fair few flowers in the shady border. The hellebores keep soldiering on but aren't at their best any more. But new stars are starting to shine...
I bought this sweetie at the Malvern Spring Show - Epimedium x youngianum 'Niveum'.

Still just about flowering is Epimedium x warleyense. Beautiful - its flowers cleverly colour co-ordinate with its foliage.

Ahhh, I saw some lovely Polygonatum at Malvern Show, which were sold out. Here's the 'bog standard' one, yet to be ravaged by sawfly.

I bought this little beauty (Cornus canadensis) at Arley Hall last year. It's so fresh.

I can't imagine that Dutchmen really have trousers like this, but perhaps Yolanda could comment on that?

And finally, my lawn isn't quite a perfect sward. But it is quite pretty...
Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day is hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens, and she has some beautiful flowers out this May - the peony is gorgeous.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Lovely things for the garden*

As well as plants, the Malvern Show is also an opportunity to spend money on many other nice things. Like this reptile head. I'm not sure how it would be integrated into a garden, but I like it. Perhaps it could poke out from behind a Fatsia, looking angry.

Detail of a ceramic snail

A whole wooden snail. Perhaps it would put the fear of god into lesser snails, leaving my Ligularias as something more attractive than a few stumps of stems.

Detail of a rusty flower
If the sun had been out, the light glowing through the glass would have been amazing. As it happens, it wasn't. But the sculpture still looked good.

I know that the world is a big place, and different people like different things, but are some people really attracted to 'hedgehogs' with Matrix style plug things and suffering what appears to be near terminal constipation?

* As Sarah Raven likes to describe things.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Plant, plant, plant yourself dizzy...

Ahhh, the smell of soil, of plants, of marquee. The sight of hundereds of near perfect flowers. The Malvern Floral marquee was a delight to the senses. I can't imagine what pinnacle of perfection the Chelsea plant marquee must reach (a lot more crowded, I suppose), as Malvern is exciting enough.

By some coincidence, I had happened to have disposed of a few plants in the garden which weren't, I felt, pulling their weight. So I was on the lookout for a few replacements. Lots of plants caught my eye...

25th anniversary display by Grange Farm Nursery, a local nursery based in Guarlford. Wonderful wisterias.

Peony 'Yachiyo Tsubaki' - I think Patient Gardener bought this gorgeous peony. I bought two Peony 'Buckeye Belle', to keep the company of the one I bought last summer.

Not sure what this peony is, but it looked as though it was floating in a starry sky.

Sarracenia alata (Pale Pitcher) - so unusual

I did buy Epimedium x youngianum Niveum (above), as well as some Digitalis mertonensis, which were both on my shopping list. Heliopsis helianthoides var. scabra 'Summer Nights' also found its way home with me - I wanted to buy this when I was at Tatton Park Show in July last year, but it was sold out. As it's not in flower at the moment, people weren't in a rush to buy it at Malvern, so I got some :)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Malvern show gardens - little details

Planting of geums artfully spilling over into the gravel in the Morgan Garden.

Stone balls, echoed in the alliums (Bravura garden?)

Interesting - colour nicely picked up in the foliage (bottom left of photo) - Bravura garden

An old lamp in the Trackbed Garden.

A houseleek-decorated owl in the Owl and the Pussycat garden.

same view, different focus (Owl & Pussycat garden?)

Ahhh - Teddy takes a rest in Deb Bird's The Nature of Nurture garden

Alliums and warthogs - not normally natural bedfellows

Scarecrow: "Can you smell carrots?"

Monday, May 10, 2010

Gardens - Malvern 2010

OK, so the main memories of Malvern 2010 for me will be the people I met, the hugs and laughter we shared. But there were show gardens as well. Two golds this year, but also a whole host of silver gilts and silvers. There were lots of little details I liked (post to follow). And the planting at this time of year is so fresh. I'm not a garden designer or critic, so couldn't tell you if the gardens were technically good, but here's some photos if you weren't able to make it to Malvern. (Apologies if any are mis-labelled).

The Woodland Edge garden, complete with frilly-knickered aquilegias

My favourite (I'm a sucker for alliums) - Juggling for Balance

Lovely bright planting - a real fresh, Spring feel in the Illusions of Man(?) garden

The Hansel & Gretel Fairytale Garden

Trackbed - I loved this. So many small details to spot.

Water feature in The Youth of Old Age garden

ReSource garden

The Nature of Nurture by the lovely Deb Bird. I would love to sit and do homework at the desk in the greenhouse (if I was a little bit younger...). Lots of lovely details.

Not sure which garden this came from but I liked the grasses and allium heads, with the bright acid colour of the euphorbia.

The Morgan garden - a mixture of James Bond and garden sheddery.

The 25th Anniversary garden - I liked the vertical panels with their horizontal stripes, and the Stipa grasses softening them.

Roman Gifthorses garden, based on a Roman hippodrome.

For many more blog posts on all aspects of the Malvern Spring Gardening Show, visit the MalvernMeet blog.