August blog 1

‘Rubens Peale with a Geranium’, painted by his brother, Rembrandt Peale, 1801. National Gallery of Art, Washington, USA – Patrons’ Permanent Fund
‘Rubens Peale with a Geranium’, painted by his brother, Rembrandt Peale, 1801. National Gallery of Art, Washington, USA – Credit: Patrons’ Permanent Fund

I found this photo posted on the blog of Garden History Girl. It’s one of the blogs I have at some stage signed up to and now get regular posts. It is worth checking out (overlook the name) and this one contains some fascinating information on pelargoniums / geraniums and snippets of plant history. If you have never been clear on what are pelargoniums or geraniums, this is the one to look at! And there are some lovely pictures too!

Vija

Bedding Plant dilemma

I love Greenwich Park Flower garden and am full of admiration for how their gardeners have gradually adapted, from growing all their plants on site to whatever combination of outsourcing they use nowadays. It usually looks wonderful.

I understand it is a public garden and has to cover those who like the bedding plant tradition, those who expect a wow factor and those who want a bit of modern style.

But the current drought has really highlighted the bedding plant issue!

Bedding plant beds

It is eye-catching for all the wrong reasons, little oases of green with the rest of the park straw-dry.

Even traditionalists must wonder what on earth the point is of pouring water on these beds of Impatiens. There are other beds containing tree ferns and perennials and it absolutely makes sense to water expensive plants that will come back and cope in a (hopefully) more normal future year.

This is a personal viewpoint, not necessarily representative of the CABAHS membership, it would be interesting to hear members views..? Perhaps it’s a debate we can have at the Gardeners Question Time meeting on August 15th!

Kathy A

Garden at the Garrison Church

This week I was delighted to attend a special Commonwealth & Gurkha Garden reception at St George’s Garrison Church in Woolwich. The event was to progress the funding and plans for a Commonwealth garden designed by Juliet Sargeant, and was also attended by their patron, HRH The Duke of Gloucester.

We were blessed with a lovely sunny day and entertained with music during the afternoon tea. After the speeches I was very interested to be shown around the garden site by Juliet (who is a multiple Chelsea Gold Medal winner, including this year’s Blue Peter garden with the theme “Don’t treat soil like dirt” and a fabulous green roof) https://www.julietsargeant.com/cfs/

Continue reading Garden at the Garrison Church

Thinking outside the box

One of the things I like best about RHS Wisley is how useful it is – beautiful to walk around, pleasant to visit, but also how just being there can answer a multitude of gardening questions: ‘Will this plant survive outside?’ ‘Just how big can an Indian Bean Tree get?’ or ‘How best can I display alpine plants in my small garden?’

But one of the most useful parts of RHS Wisley helps to answer a question that has become louder and more frequent with every passing year, especially here in the South East:

‘What can I use to replace my ravaged box hedges?’

'Thinking Outside the Box' garden at RHS Wisley May 2022
Continue reading Thinking outside the box

April blog Euphorbia 2

I know we have had posts on euphorbias already, but these plants are such a delight in the month of April that I am adding yet more. The little Euphorbia Chameleon, below, self -seeds happily, but in such a delicate and restrained way that it is welcome everywhere I find it. In addition to this, it politely dies back and allows summer flowering plants to take over.

 Euphorbia Chameleon

The Euphorbia below (amygdaloides purpurea) is a stunning contrast with the lime green flower head and the stems which are an intense dark red. It has seeded itself in the gravel path and I’m not entirely sure where it comes from.

 Euphorbia Amygdaloides Purpurea

In Euphorbia, flowers occur in a head, called the cyathium. Each male or female flower in the cyathium head has only its essential sexual part, in males the stamen and in females the pistil.  The flowers do not have sepals, petals or nectar to attract pollinators, although other nonflower parts of the plant have an appearance and nectar glands with similar roles. Euphorbias are the only plants known to have this kind of flower head. It should also be noted that, when the stems are cut, they exude a thick white substance which is extremely irritating to skin.

And, of course, there is the magnificent Euphorbia Mellifera (Honey Spurge) which rightfully deserves its common name and is a delight to be near at this time of year when the scent fills the air. Every garden should have one – it keeps its shape well or can be cut back. Mine originally came from the garden of Jillian Smith, CABAHS ex-Chair, who many remember fondly. Jillian, if you are reading this – thank you!

 Euphorbia Mellifera (Honey Spurge)

Vija

Did you ‘Follow the Carrots’ for Easter Bunnies, Plants and a Gorgeous Garden?

Thank you to everyone who came to last Sunday’s ‘Bunnies in the Beds’ and open garden at Charlton House. The ‘Follow the Carrots’ signs worked out a treat, and lots of small people arrived at the Peace Garden ready to find the Easter Bunnies and claim their prize. We gave it an International twist this year, after finding out how other countries celebrate Easter. So as well as Bunnies, the children had to find eg a Bilby from Australia, a Witch from Sweden, and some Willow sticks & feathers from Finland. No-one could really miss the kites (Bermuda) and we had a set of beautiful eggs from Ukraine to find too.

Here they come! Queues for the trail, and let the Hunt begin..

Ladies giving out Easter Egg prizes

The day included a successful plant sale too, and Blackheath Flower Arranging Club joined us for a bit of promotion. Not to mention the Producers Market and Frilly’s cafe open all day.

Thank you everyone, these are wonderful gardens in which to hold an event!

March blog

Euphorbia myrsinites

Spurred by Kathy’s post on Euphorbia in the Old Pond Garden I have taken this photo of E. myrsinites which sits outside my back door all year round. As Kathy points out, Euphorbia are a large and adaptable genus and at this time of year are a real treat. I have found they do particularly well in my gardening conditions and now have several varieties.

In my front garden (such as it is) Euphorbia characias s. wulfenii is usefully seeding itself in a way which looks like I have planted it deliberately, but is actually nothing to do with me at all.

Euphorbia characias s. wulfenii
Euphorbia characias s. wulfenii

Vija

We need to talk about the shed

Shed: noun. a small building or lean-to of light construction, used for storage, shelter, etc.

In times past, every garden path had a little wooden shed at the end of it, for keeping the boring bits to do with gardening – the lawn mower, spades, other tools and a few noxious chemicals for blitzing any insect daring to land on the beds.

So, in 2022, is your shed still just used for storing tools? Is it still small and wooden?  If so, you are in the minority. I have just had a fascinating browse on the Cuprinol SOTY (Shed Of The Year) website – which has been running for 16 years, I can’t imagine how I missed it! You have until April 19th to enter your shed by the way, but I recommend you check out previous winners to see what you are up against before you bother. My favourite is definitely the Roman Temple shed complete with colonnades and portico. It was entered in the ‘Unexpected’ category. You think?

Continue reading We need to talk about the shed

Snowdrop fever

As Anna writes in the latest Newsletter, January and February are the months for snowdrops.

Galanthus nivalis - common snowdrop
Galanthus nivalis – common snowdrop

Joe Sharman, the owner of Monksilver Nursery and who has come to be known as ‘Mr. Snowdrop’ has produced a variety called ‘Golden Tears’, described as ‘A narrow-flowered yellow pterugiform with a very large mark and bright yellow ovary. Very beautiful and distinct.’ The bulb apparently sold for £1,850.

A few years ago, I visited the Snowdrop Sensation weekend at Great Comp where a number of specialist snowdrop growers had stands. Some very beautiful varieties were selling for £100/£100 a bulb. I thought this a bit of a stretch and compromised, buying one for £10.00. I have watched this like a hawk each year, willing it to grow. There would be a great many tears and gnashing of teeth if I bought a more expensive bulb and lost it. I cannot imagine what one would do with a bulb worth £1,850.

Vija