January 2022: Anne Barnard on Dahlias

Anne Barnard from Rose Cottage Plants nursery in Essex has many years experience of and is a specialist in growing dahlias, as well as exhibiting widely including at RHS shows. Dahlias, which originate in Mexico and Central America, come in a wide variety of colours from pastel to rich reds and mahogany.

Anne described how planting dahlias in summer beds can transform them and suggested how to choose and use them to best effect. Anne said they provide an outlet for personal creativity, style and artistic expression. She used her own garden, field displays in Holland and Chenies Manor as illustrations.

Dahlias had gone out of fashion, but in recent years there had been a revival of interest in them.  Their rich colours were particularly attractive and ‘jewel’ gardens had become common.  Many new and more popular and often exotic looking varieties had been developed. Many originate in Holland and she visited several important and influential growers. She said after bulbs, tulips and alliums have flowered by June/July,  gardens begin to look tired and dahlias wide variety and rich colours give life to the garden and make a good display right up to the first frosts.

Anne went on to describe a wide variety of dahlias:

Continue reading January 2022: Anne Barnard on Dahlias

Coincidences

In a fit of New Year zeal, we started (note that I said ‘started’) a bit of a clear-up of what for want of a better word you might call ‘stuff’.  Out of this stuff emerged some old family photographs, reminding me that I should organise them a bit better and finally get around to finding out more about the people featured in them, adding to sometimes unreliable family tales.  Those with subscriptions to Ancestry or other genealogical databases will know immediately what’s coming:  I was soon addicted. 

What might this sorry story have to do with horticulture? Bear with me, please.

Amongst the stuff were box-loads of index cards recording research material that we had produced literally decades ago in pre-Google times.  The purpose of the research was to compile a database of British and Irish Journalists – at least that task was accomplished and published!-  and my Ancestry  addiction offered the chance to do a bit of editing. 

Here we reach the point of this post.  Among the information gleaned from the records of the Society of Women Journalists at the British Library and other sources was a biographical sketch of Helen Colt, a fellow of the RHS.  In the 1911 census Helen Ann Mary Colt, of 4 Priory Court Mansions, Mazenod Avenue, West Hampstead, gave her occupation as ‘jobbing gardener’.  Indeed the project had already noted one of her appearances in print on the subject:

Woman’s Platform, interviewed on jobbing gardening as a career for women, March 1912.

Continue reading Coincidences

Trispen

I have just come across The Meaning of Liff, a satirical dictionary by Douglas Adams and John Lloyd, published in 1983. In it is listed:

Trispen, n., A form of intelligent grass. It grows a single tough stalk and makes its home on lawns. When it sees the lawnmower coming, it lies down and pops up again after it has gone by.

The Meaning of Liff, by Douglas Adams and John Lloyd

I wonder what this might look like?

The New Gardening Year

Yes, it’s that time of year again, when everyone asks you what your New Year resolutions are. The magazines and papers are full of good ideas, here are some I’m going to copy:

Don’t fence me in:

There are 22 million gardens in the UK, so they are very important for our wildlife – as long as they can get in and out! Fences are a barrier to many mammals, reptiles and even some insects, but if all those gardens had little gaps between the fences (or better still fences replaced with hedges) wildlife could move freely between them all and biodiversity would increase.

Kick the peat habit for good:

Continue reading The New Gardening Year

OPG diary – November 2021

Winter is coming, it’s all still very beautiful!

Central bed, Old Pond Garden (Charlton House), November 2022

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Removing the green hazel, making an enormous hole and then replanting with a bronze one! It will all be worth it.  

Removing the ivy on the walls is going to be more of a long term project. Look at that wonderful brick work though.

CABAHS volunteers removing ivy from a wall in the Charlton House gardens, November 2021