Thursday, 28 May 2009

Thursdays favourite plant

The orange ball tree (Buddleia globosa)

Image via flickr

I have a enormous one that grows out of a tiny patch of dirt between the paving stones and the road at the front of the cottage it forms this huge arch other the gate that leads to no-where but compost and wheelie bins.

How can you not love this shrub, its covered with little balls of sunshine, that the bees and butterflies can't get enough of.

I love oranges and yellows this time of year so bright and cheerful after the winter or on days when its still cold and miserable (by summer I prefer cooler pinks and purples).

This rather different buddleia flowers earlier than the commoner "Davidii" type buddleia you see everywhere mid summer (love those too), So it needs to be treated a bit differently. This cheerful chappie should be pruned just after its finished flowering, not late winter like you would normally do with the usual buddleias ( you'll chop the flower buds off, and that would be terrible)

One word of warning though, globosa's can grow to monstrously epic proportions. Mine is bigger than my cherry tree!, so it will be getting hacked back a bit soon. You can be quite ruthless if they get straggly looking.

Monday, 25 May 2009

bye bye babies

Just a quick post to say that my sparrow chicks have gone, they fledged on Friday.

It's now very quite in the wall no more cheeping.

Although they were getting very loud in the last few days I kinda miss their chatter.

Good luck babies


Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Awaken me with a kiss

This is another favourite plant of mine, (maybe I should do a favourite rose) I have a serious problem with rose's, I'm addicted to them. If i could only have one type of plant in my garden it would be rose's, anyway back to the point.

This is rosa sericea ptericantha

image via flickr

I came across this rose a few years ago whilst visiting an NGS garden and fell head over heels in love with it. Its just so beautiful and unusual. The thorns are it main focal point although it does flower quite early on in the season (about now)with small creamy yellow flowers. But it's the thorns that are so amazing, I mean just look at them.

This is the kind of thing you'd imagine growing rampantly around sleeping beautys castle. It's pure brothers Grimm.

It's best to prune these in the late winter/early spring to get a flush of new growth which has the deep red translucent thorns although you'll end up cutting off the flowering stems (it flowers on the pervious seasons growth) like I seem to have. And make sure it gets planted somewhere it catchs the light, to show of the thorns.

Garden heroines

Gardening especially vegetable growing can often seem to be a male dominated world, images of old men in waistcoats, smoking pipes up the allotment, discussing spuds and tomato plants is often how a lot of first time female gardeners can perceive it to be.
Gardening legends such as Percy Thrower, Geoff Hamilton and the housewives favourite Alan Titchmarsh are all amazing champions of the green thumb but there are some wonderful garden ladies out there.

last night I was watching the coverage of Chelsea and saw the lovely Christine Walkden, I absolutely love her. She's such a no-nonsense plants women, she has an amazingly infectious passion for plants. A few years back now she had a TV show called Christine'garden and it was so lovely and refreshing, her garden is just stacked with plants, she doesn't appear to be interested in design or planting combinations so much, as just planting her garden full of everything she loves. It made me laugh how during the winter months she turns her dining room table over to all her tender plants, to keep them protected from the cold. I just love her enthusiasm, I find it so inspiring.

Another favourite of mine is Rachel de Thame, totally chalk and cheese with Christine. I love her for different reasons entirely, She's such a glamour-puss and I love that about her. She got quite a bit of stick when she presented Gardeners world, for being seen to be too pretty, and wearing gloves and not getting her hands dirty. But she has a real passion for beautiful plants and made a stunning garden last year at Chelsea.

Carol klein, (I really think she was robbed, she should have been the main presenter of Gardeners world) is an another wonderfully enthusiastic plants women, I adore her love of growing and nurturing plants. I really need to take a trip down to her nursery Glebe Cottage, I think she has a few open days left with the NGS. (I also love Carol because she looks a bit like my mum)

Another Gardeners world presenter again. Alys Fowler. I think Alys is great because she's young (and she has a love of vintage clothes like me). I think she's really accessible for younger women (and girls) to relate to, and that's important to make gardening a cool hobby to get into and not just something older folks with time and money can do. Gardening can be seen as a old fashioned dull pastime, but its not and I really feel Alys is promoting that.

Finally Gertrude Jekyll, who for me is one of the most important women to ever pick up a trowel. Without her influence and use of colour and texture maybe todays gardens wouldn't be as beautiful.

Just don't mention that charlie dimmock.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Chelsea girl

My love affair with Chelsea began 4 years ago,
I've always been passionate about plants,from when I was a tiny little thing I've know the names of most wildflowers and trees and I've been gardening since I was in my teens, a window box here a hanging basket there, borrowing a small corner of a neighbours allotment and pottering about in my mums garden.
But it was 4 years ago that it become more than just a hobby. At the time I was working for a company who were sponsoring a show garden (along with the wildlife trust).My head office department thought it would be a good P.R thing to send a few shop staff up to the showground to "help out" with the gardens construction the week before Chelsea opened. My manager knowing I had a bit of green finger put my name down and off I went to London.

I think all the other staff that had turned up over the week had hung about for an hour or so, had a few photos taken holding a spade and then, disappeared to go shopping on the kings road. I on the other hand fell in love as soon as I arrived I just found the whole thing incredible, the plants, the people, the whole atmosphere. I got stuck in straight away chatting to all the builders, quizzing the designer about everything, swooning over all the plants. I was in heaven.
After proving my mettle I was given a 2ft by 2ft corner to finish planting all on my own, helped clean out the pond and helped to lay turf in the meadow area. I ended up staying on till 10pm (I was meant to go home at 4pm) and had one of the best days of my life.

I think it was when I was standing knee deep in sludgy water helping to drain the pond for the second time that I realized this was exactly what I wanted to do with my life.
I wanted to be a gardener.

So within a few days after my Chelsea Epiphany, I'd enrolled at college and began devouring every Plant, garden and design book our local library stocked. I went out to the scrappy backyard behind my little flat and pulled up all the weeds and designed and created my very first attempt at a cottage garden all of my own.

And now here I am 4 years later working as a horticulturist, living the good life in the country with my dream (still work in progress)cottage garden and still being madly and passionately in love with plants and gardens.

So the Chelsea flower show has an important place in my heart, and one day you'll see me there with my own show garden.

(my garden 2005 image via giles landscaping)

Saturday, 16 May 2009

veg tables

How have I never heard this before?

Friday, 15 May 2009

Live life off the wall

Vertical gardening has been around for a while now and is a brilliant way to garden if you don't have any space or if you want to cover a big expanse of wall or fencing.
I recently came across the work of Flora Grubb and have fallen in love with her use of succulents and air plants

(image via Flora Grubb gardens)

I'd love to find a way of replicating this in my garden, although my style is more along the lines of cottagey, and all the walls and fences have climbers on them already.


Thursdays favourite plant (on a friday)

Ok so a day late but here we go;

This little cutie is Viola sororia "Freckles"

Isn't she pretty,

This is a spring flowering perennial violet and it's almost finished flowering in my garden, I love violets and when I saw this one a few years ago I just had to have it, I choose the plant with the most seedlings around the edge of the pot (serious self seeder) and was able to raise loads more of them to plant around the garden.

I love polka dots and spots and they look extra cute on flowers.
I've got my eye on another viola at the moment is Viola odorata sulphurea
But I'm not sure if I have any space!!!!

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Sometimes words just fail me........

and then as soon as I put it down...

He's just lucky he's such a cutie.

I might also add he has a bit of a fetish for plant labels too, I end up with countless seed trays of unknown plants because someones pulled out the labels.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Thursdays favourite plant

Choosing just 1 plant is proving to be difficult so at times I might be indulgent and have a few.
So I have a bit of a woodland feel here today.

First up I have the gorgeous English bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta)

I'm really lucky to live near woods that are absolutely carpeted with bluebells in the spring, to me they epitomise an english spring. I don't think I need to say how lovely they are. Obviously they are protected by law in the wild but you can buy seed and nursery grown bulbs here and here
One thing with bluebells is to watch out for the Spanish ones (Hyacinthoides hispanica). These invaders cross pollinate with the natives and take over. It's quite easy to tell the difference the spanish bluebell is larger with a straight stem, bigger paler flowers, and no scent.

Solomon seal (polygonatum x hybridum)

I adore these plants, they're so graceful with their aching stems and green tipped white bells dangling under the leaves. It related to lily-of-the-valley and grows in woodlands (another native wood lander). There are a few different varieties of these(the "multiflorum" being the native)such as a variegated one and a bronze one that I saw at the chelsea flower show last year called "bethberg" that I'd love but have never been able to find. The name Solomon seal comes from notion that if you slice the rhizomes (thick root stock) you can see shapes and markings that resemble Hebrew script.
Polygonatums are really easy to grow but watch out for Solomon seal sawfly.These little swines will strip the leaves bare if they can, I pick the caterpillars of as soon as I see them and feed them to the chickens.

Bleeding hearts / dutchmens breeches (Dicentra spectabilis)

These babies originate from china and like a bit of shade and nice rich soil. They have such pretty heart shaped flowers, I love the pink ones but there's also a white variety as well.

All three of these plants look really good all planted together, and as a bonus they all like the same conditions.

One last thing don't forget to keep feeding the birds, It used to be said that birds only needed feeding in the winter months when food is scarce, but with all the rushing around they're doing catching bugs and flys for the babies, having a nice fat ball to grab a quick snack from will keep their energy up, but don't put whole peanuts out in case they try to feed them to the little ones, it'll make them choke.

jess x

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

More seed sowing

So I'm busy busy busy in the garden right now, I'm pleased to say that I've pricked out and potted on all the baby seedlings, only for the flipping slugs (or snails) to come along and nibble all the lettuce and basil seedlings, thankfully that's all they seem to have eaten so far (fingers crossed x).
So I've sown more of the above and started on the may seed sowing. I try to be organised with my seeds I have an old small drawer that they live in with dividers for each month, anything that needs repeat sowing like beetroot or rocket can be moved up the drawer for it's next sowing.
Today I've sown courgette seeds I've chosen a yellow and a green one, a small tricolor ball shaped one, and a climber called black forest. I've also sown some pumpkin (jack be little), Marrow (not quite sure why I've sown that) and some gherkins. On the flower front I've sown some nasturtiums and moulin rouge sunflowers.
Because of lack of space and the fact that the courtyard looks like a seedlings waiting room I tend not to worry about later sowings, they all seem to catch up.
Next week I'll start on beans.

Talking of beans (and peas) so far I seem to having bad luck with them, first all the broad beans I did last autumn all rotted off at the base in February, then my spring sowing got eaten my mice so I've succumbed to buying baby beans from the garden centre, something I don't like to do but they were only 20p each I also had to buy some peas for my raised bed only a few though as only 6 have germinated and I need to plug the gaps.

I'm also getting excited for two of my favourite events coming up in a few weeks, firstly It's the chelsea flower show , and for something closer to home, the wonderful Devon county show, I love the county show can't wait.

Ohh some breaking news, so the swallows arrived about a month ago (summers here almost?!)and yesterday not only did I see a swift but I also heard a cuckoo.
And an update on the sparrows, well as I type I can hear the chicks squeaking in the wall behind me.

love jess xx

Friday, 1 May 2009

I want to live in this house

How much do I love this advert.


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