Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Backwards and forwards

Back in Dorset and it's pouring after a few beautiful days. But rather a relief as I returned with another vanload of plants which were looking rather exhausted but today all are happy as could be, even unplanted. I'm toying with the idea of another large vehicle full of plants to come down from the Herefordshire gardens as there is just so much in the field still. It is quite interesting seeing what is going to beat the weeds as no one is tending the plants now. I was picking centaurea, aquilegia, alchemilla, nepeta, penstemon and lysimachia rocket foliage, solomon's, astrantias, trollius, ranunculus and the utterly gorgeous little R Flore pleno, a darling little bloom, tiny, white, double, delicate and arching. Also peonies, brunnera, campanula, nectorascordum, sage, stachys byzantina, libertia, artemisias, bistort, sweet rocket.......the list could go on and on and there is just so much to come! And thousands of scillas still in the top gardens and huge patches of Solomon's, now fully established and thriving, and euphorbias large and small. It was actually rather hard to leave and I felt awfully profligate leaving so much behind. I think I may have to go back very soon.

People thought I was nuts putting in so much alchemilla as a whole long crop in one strip of the field, but the year before last we picked almost 100 buckets full for June and July weddings, this year one could probably get at least 200 buckets full. When grown like that it is tall, long and strong stemmed and utterly superb. I like it best at this early stage before it goes very frothy when I think it just becomes rather a lazy cliche.

Another thing that is lovely in those gardens now is the Sorbus Joseph Rock, gorgeous pinkish white berries in absolute profusion. It looks as though everything is going to fruit heavily this year, so much blossom everywhere. Iris sibirica don't look so good though, probably just overcrowded after six years in the same place without division.

It is very strange leaving a garden that I have loved so much and put so much energy into. The cottage gardens is looking really quite lovely now, yes it is going wild and there is quite a lot of couch creeping in but it doesn't really affect the look as the garden is so full. Clumps of white and pink love lies bleeding seem to have trebled in size, nectaroscordum are colonising different areas, Anthriscus Ravenswing is appearing all over the place, brunneras have completely lined one bed, and euphorbias flowering in huge clumps. There seem to be a lot of different scabious appearing where they fancy, self sown seedlings from a lovely dark mauve knautia I originally got from Charis Stockton at Abbeydore, and I think other seedlings from the large yellow one and probably also from the little dark K macedonica. I didn't bring any back, but may yet do so! Astrantias are doing well, and campanula Anna Loddon has clumped up hugely in the top garden and the field. I'm too late to move any of my lilies (I forgot about them earlier on) but it looks as though it's going to be a good year.

So the garden here felt very bare in comparison when I got back. A day later, when the comparison is not so fresh in my mind it feels a lot better. And it will fill out in time, with a whole different palette as well as some of the same. I'm particularly looking forward to my long line of agapanthus under shrub roses as aggies didn't do so well at Hay. Roses are beginning to flower here, not just the R lutea which covers the east wall of the house, but white shrub roses that I don't know the name of (how I wish I'd listened!), dark red shrub roses ditto and all the main season ones are budding up well. The tree peonies are fabulous, there's a bright yellow one but also two deep deep red trees, completely covered in flowers. And I've counted at least 15 clematis at various stages. And the iris are beginning...So it's not all bad.

But I can't believe I carefully moved several good clumps of self seeded poppies as I had such beautiful colour combinations in the field, and each clump seems to be dark red. None of those delicious double frilly white and pink numbers, or the delectable mauve and white. Just red. I have sown lots more though, so let's hope there will be some lovely colour combinations as I do love their delicacy.

On the annual front cornflowers are about to flower here, dill is doing well, ammi is nearly there and nigella is bursting. And there are rows and rows of germinated seedlings of all sorts of others. I think it's going to be OK!

Friday, 24 May 2013

Hay time

I'm really enjoying being at the Herefordshire gardens for a few days..... and being in the cottage looking out at the cottage garden when it is just soooooo windy on the field!

But it is time someone bought the cottage now and enjoyed the joys themselves.  http://www.mccartneys.co.uk/Property/Property_Details/3-bedroom-property-for-sale-in-Clifford-HR3-mccrps-HAY120196-1369384229

Monday, 20 May 2013

My Latest Helper

It's official, the puppy is into arranging.....
I'm getting happily wild in the flower shed . Outside Maddy is gathering her materials, making them into a bed, and going to sleep. 

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Chelsea already beckons

How does time pass so fast? Could it be because we're still planting as well as picking and organising flowers to come down from the other gardens and going up to the other gardens this week and weddings and mail orders.....? And we've planted 18 trees in the field this week which is a great joy - perhaps my favourite specimen tree of all, a tulip tree, takes sort of centre stage among beautiful special birches, sorbus, malus and a walnut. One of the reasons I planted them fairly near this end of the field is to try to prevent myself expanding the flower plot too far into the field. Then I realised I can always go the other side of the trees.

Rosa banksia lutea is blooming all over the front of the house, Thursday began with my leaning out of my bedroom window to pick for a bouquet. Heavenly way to start a day.

Chelsea this week, always mixed feelings, I will trip around and see if anything new is going on but I found last year's many rather wild gardens rather uninspiring and the mad tower not quite my thing. I'm taking flowers up for the Gardens Illustrated/RHS lecture at the RGS again, this year it's Piet Oudolf and Jinny Blom, I think I"m going to go completely wildstyle  with lots of trailing foliages and wildflowers, and maybe find a spot for a smallish display majoring on wonderful field grasses, I always think that PO and friends are trying to recreate a large scale posh meadow with their swathes of natural planting so I think I'd like to use ordinary traditional meadow as inspiration, and bring stems and blooms from the field and nowhere else.

Meanwhile 4 pallets of mushroom compost with manure arrived and the only place the driver could drop them was in the yard where they are rather smelly and blocking everything. Do I have the energy to get barrowing? And I also have hundreds of herbs to plant, some shrubs, the house to clean and clear before the housesitter/dogsitter's arrival, dogs to walk, dog to take to the vet, people for lunch, van to pack with everything I need for Chelsea and for the Hay Festival gig (apart from the flowers) and for a wedding on Wednesday in London. Why am I sitting here?.......

Friday, 10 May 2013

to love a tulip

It seems to me there are many reasons to love a tulip - biweekly bucketsful just arrived from Hay to go with those I have here - some a little too far open but that means my house will be filled tomorrow and luckily it's a sociable weekend so lots to share around.....

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

May already?

I can scarcely believe I haven't got on to the blog for a month, I guess it's been busy! So, in the last month, there was a wedding in Kent in the most amazing church ever with a whole set of Marc Chagall windows, and a wedding in Worcestershire in another stunning church now owned by the Church Preservation/Conservation body and not available for ordinary services so the couple had to get a special license from the Archbish of Canterbury in order to get married there. Lydia desperately wanted beech leaves in the arrangements, her bouquet and her hair, and two weeks ago there just weren't any around, the trees had not burst into leaf. So I drove west until I came across the first beech tree that was on the point of opening... all was well. She was the first bride I have ever done flowers for who requested a headdress including guinea fowl feathers!

Meanwhile, things are finally moving in the gardens here and another week will see sweet rocket, astrantia, centaurea, campanula, a very few cornflowers and maybe even the first peonies along with the end of the tulips and the already abundant tiarella, solomon's seal, lily of the valley - which have moved very happily and seem to love it here, hurrah - and shrubby offerings. And Rosa Banksia Lutea is about to bloom, there are literally thousands of buds. Akebia is so vigorous it has climbed right up the house and on to the gutters towards the chimneys, and I need to chop back clematis armandii and passionflower that have literally strangled the wisteria which is hanging on by a thread and flowering already.

I finally got all the perennials that I moved into the ground, or at least heeled in where there simply isn't space. I've lost some roses that were bare root too long when the frosts were very bad a month or so back, so have put about half the others rather too closely planted into one bed by the main lawn and others at the top of the old veg garden and in pots, (I haven't been able to cultivate the area I wanted to use in the field as it was too wet for too long) but otherwise I think all is well although some things will obviously be checked. 

But what I am really loving at the moment are the wildflowers. Even in the orchard there are runs of bluebells - especially under the magnolia which is now fading and pear blossom taking over behind with apple blossoms about to burst. The field is a sea of lady's smock among a huge array of grasses, the wild garden is about to be turned completely blue with a huge swathe of bluebells, following beautiful circles of wood anemones around the trees and abundant primroses. And I saw my first orchid there yesterday. When I also saw the most wonderful ancient collection of wildflowers I have seen in many a year when I went for a long walk circling back through a holloway a mile or two distant - there were spurges, wild parsleys and lovage, primroses, ladys smock, bluebells, whitebells, orchids, wild garlic, marigolds, celandines, stitchwort, campions..... When I was a child I could name so very many flowers and grasses growing in the wild, at school there was a competition each year and we were allowed to pick and bring back anything we could name. One year I named 91 separate flowers and grasses. Now I am hard put to get a couple of dozen which is shameful and I am determining to improve again.

There is now a new entrance/car parking area, very necessary, I've turned the old single garage into a useful workshop, and the builders have left the house. Sanding, filling and painting will have to wait a while. It's been all go!