Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Magical Music in May

Saturday saw the lovely Magical Music in May event at Polgwynne in Feock. The garden is always gorgeous and opens each year for the NGS, but this year Amanda and Graham did it differently. They had areas within the gardens as musical stages to showcase the work of the Cornwall Music Service Trust for which they were raising money.

As we approached strains of music floated out to meet us and, although the weather wasn't as brilliant as it could have been, the scene was set.

The Pond Garden had glorious combinations of plant colour and texture (above - Maple and Hosta and Candelabra Primula) and drifting piano and brass music (I honestly wasn't trying to cover the horn player with a tree, but I did a great job of it - sorry!)

The new terraced bank creates a perfect performance space for, on this occasion, a great Jazz ensemble...

which accompanied us all the way to the cutting garden...

full of Peonies, delicate Alliums and silvery Nepeta and vibrant Ranunculus.
How I wish those Peonies had been a bit further on - there were hundreds of buds in different shades and they are one of my all time favourites.

Again the textures were fabulous - strappy leaves with vibrant pompoms of Marigolds' and green patchworks of House Leek rosettes, feathery Santolina and Gold Oregano.

Greenhouse envy!

The beautifully tended vegetable beds with their recycled roof slate paths and sunflower edging.

Then on up the lane to the next part of the garden, glancing back at the entertainment through doors in the great grey granite walls.

Double, no triple rill envy!

Oh for a garden that is not so sloping that any sort of rill would be more of a waterfall. Amanda's rill meanders around the garden and out across the lawn in a way that makes my heart sing. The pools were also full of tadpoles.

The borders surrounding the lawns were stunning, layer upon layer of gorgeous plants and shrubs.

On the upper lawn was more music, although the band were having a break as I wandered past.
Pimms, tea and cakes were available on the terrace - we sadly didn't have time to partake.

Some of my favourite combinations?

Stands of tall Geranium Maderense underplanted with more Geraniums and Purple Aquilegia with purple Heuchera.

A dark Cotinus with a golden Euonymous(?) in front.

Pops of stunning magenta against the green with Clematis (possibly Ernest Markham?) and Gladioli byzantium.

A tree covered in the most amazing Lichen and Moss with a delicate Clematis twining up through it. The tree showed no sign of growth or life, but even as a structural feature it was amazing, the perfect foil for the Clematis.

A delicate and whimsical combination of Aquilegia and Geum that reminded me of the Flower Fairies books by Cicely Mary Barker from my childhood.

From the delicate details to the more solid and sweeping.
The wonderfully trimmed rounds of hedging in the cottage garden, stretching down to the view of the river, and yes that is just a hint of blue at the top of the picture, better late than never.

Our visit was sadly short this time as it was also the day of a celebration in Falmouth that we had to attend, but even the hour that we managed was memorable. It would have been heavenly to sit on a blanket and listen to more of the lovely music, sipping a Pimms and eating cake *sigh*. 

Could you do it all again next year please Amanda and I'll get better organised and spend the whole afternoon, and get to buy plants, cake, Pimms and EVERYTHING!

Well done and congratulations on a great afternoon.


Friday, 12 May 2017

A Cornish recommendation

The beautiful Polgwynne Garden in Feock, just outside Truro, is having an open day, and this time it's an open day with a difference!

Not only do you get to feast your eyes on stunning gardens and gorgeous plants, you get to feast your ears (if that's a thing) on a whole variety of music too.

Click here to go to their Facebook event

This is how they describe it:

"Polgwynne Garden is hosting an Open Gardens event to raise funds for The Cornwall Music Service Trust. There will be performances by many pupils from CMST and ensembles of a really high quality and diversity such as Sax Is Our Business and Cornwall Youth Jazz Orchestra. You can wander round this gorgeous 4 acre garden which is part of The National Garden Scheme. Bring a rug to sit and listen to fabulous music playing in many different areas. Enjoy a Pimms, tea and homemade cakes which will be for sale! CMST is a wonderful organisation, supporting many talented young musicians in Cornwall, do come along and support them. Sunday 21st, fallback wet weather plan! Watch this page for up to date information.

Entry £5.00 on the gate. Children free."

To see the open days we've been to in the past click here and here and see just why we'll be there - there's so much to see, and May is the perfect month with everything at its best.

Do come along, fingers crossed for the weather

I can feel the garden envy starting already!

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

On the up...

Another triumph!

I've managed to get a Dahlia through the winter - wonders never cease!

This is a Dahlia that I bought form the National Collection at Varfell Farm last autumn, you can see our trip here. You will notice that I bought two Dahlias, don't ask about the other - it is invisible - like all the Dahlias I've owned before. This is Mount Noddy, a lovely flower but not such a good name

I'm not sure what I did differently this time - I left it in the pot and stacked it with the other one in my mini greenhouse and kept it dryish but not too dry. In other words I by and large forgot about it!

So now it needs watering and a little feeding (although not too much nitrogen otherwise I'll get tonnes of leaves and less flower), plenty of sun and protection from slugs,snails and aphids. Then in late summer I'll have a stunning display. Easy then - what could possibly go wrong!!

Right, now I'm off to bury my Dahlia shoots in slug pellets whilst stroking them and humming a happy tune.

(Don't worry the novelty will wear off and I'll get back to normal soon).

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Big news - small flower!


The first big success of my gardening year - my new Banksia Rose is flowering!

I only planted it last year and thought it would take at least a couple of years to settle. I also thought I had checked it thoroughly for buds but obviously not!

This is what it looked like this time last year, and now it is up to the top of the arch and FLOWERING.

The arch is at the back of the garden, by the garage and the rose has its feet in the awful compacted hardcore-heavy ground that is our parking area, but even so it seems very happy.

This is it from the bathroom which is where I first noticed the flowers.

(apologies for the fuzzy images - they were taken yesterday in a very gusty wind. Trying to co-ordinate the photo with a calm moment was challenging!)

Bearing in mind it was bought as an end of season bargain it's not doing badly at all. I can't claim that it's covered in flowers but there are enough to make me very happy.

The inspiration for planting it was in Florence here, and it'll look like that in no time!!!

Right, enough borderline hysterical excitement and back to work. It's raining again today and the planting out is seriously backing up now.

The 'urgent' list (there's more than 1 list!!) now reads:
Astrantia x3, Hollyhocks x2 , Verbena Bonariensis x2, Lychnis x2, Foxgloves x3, Geraniums x2, a Candelabra Primula (which is already flowering), a Cornus, a white Iris and something that has been waiting so long I have completely forgotten what it is!

That's a busy Sunday!

Friday, 5 May 2017

Tiny wonders

Over the Easter weekend we ventured forth to the north coast to Wheal Coates above Chapel Porth. The weather was stunning but really quite cold and the South West Path which you can see above was quite busy with keen walkers.

The cliff tops are covered in Heather and Gorse that has been blasted low and compact by the constant wind...

it's like a rippling sea of browns and muddy greens as far as the eye can see.

Usually visitors are so blown away by the huge views...

that they miss the tiny flowers at their feet, so I thought I would try and document them and see how many of them I could identify. I'm not great on wild flowers so I photographed everything I could and searched out my Wildflowers of Cornwall book (by David Chapman £5.95) when I got home. 

So here goes, I may need your help.

Drifts of lovely Violets, this one I knew, but is it a Dog Violet or a Sweet Violet? Well I'm leaning towards Dog, but I may be wrong. They were so pretty pushing up through the grasses and heather roots and loving the sun.

I'm going to stick to the common names for my tiny wonders, it seems apt somehow and they do make me smile. They are so very no nonsense - positively uncomplimentary in the most part and certainly not over effusive or wordy. As with this one - Common Scurvy-grass! (Perhaps paint manufacturers could take note, instead of spring whisper green they could go for Scurvy-grass green)
Anyway, I digress, the Scurvy-grass was tucked away in little turns in the path and dips in the ground.

This is Lousewort, apparently semi-parasitic which sounds nasty for such a sweet looking plant, but perhaps again the name tells a tale!

Sun Spurge, a splurge of lively lime green amongst the rather tired and faded greens of the clifftops. This was in a sunny spot behind a wall, sheltered from the harshest of the wind.

The lovely dark buds of Thrift, and the first paler flowers. This grows all over the Cornish Coast as well as in gardens and hedgerows and it's thought this is at the root of its name - it thrives! Folklore says that if you have Thrift in your garden you will never be poor - needless to say I haven't got any, even worse I actually managed to kill some!

Tormentil - this was creeping around amongst the roots and we've had it in our lawns in the past. I prefer it on the coast, far too many things grow in my lawn - none of them grass!

I think the next two are different colours of the same plant, although they were the trickiest to identify. I think they are Milkwort but please do correct me if I'm wrong. The leaves were so completely buried that I couldn't use those for identification at all. It does come in pink...

but more usually purple and sometimes even white.

In sheltered spots where the grass had grown up and the wind prevented from blasting things flat, the not so tiny Three Cornered Leeks were thriving...

and mounds of Sea Campion were already forming although the flowers will be much more plentiful in a month or so.

Lastly I think my favourite, such a delicate blue and such a beautiful flower...

the Spring Squill.
It's a Scilla and will flower until June. They were sprinkled like little silvery stars across the cliff tops and took my breath away - I don't think I've ever come across them before (or perhaps I just wasn't paying attention)

So the Coast was awash with tiny specks of colour and in some places even this early in the year they had massed together to create a big splash...

and no trip to the coast can go by without the obligatory Gorse photograph (if only there was smellivision - I do love its coconut fragrance).

I even saw my first Foxglove. In the couple of weeks since Easter they have come out in other places, but this was my first one this year.


Monday, 1 May 2017

Tulips for Easter

This time of year is always difficult blog-wise, there is so much to talk about and look at and report back but there is also SO MUCH TO DO!!!

So the posts stack up and moments get missed. Sadly the work stacks up too, the garden is so dry that the planting out of various things as been postponed because it's easier to make sure they get sufficiently watered if they are all together.

But then a Bank Holiday weekend comes along and the heavens open endlessly. The garden is watered thoroughly and I can't get out into it to do anything so the blog posts can be bought up to date-ish.

The Easter weekend was pretty glorious down here in Cornwall - a really cold wind, but largely clear and sunny with the ridiculously blue skies that we are known for.

As if to celebrate all my Tulips appeared en-masse!
I didn't plant any new ones for this year so these are all 2, 3 and 4 years old.

My glorious, jagged Black Parrot Tulips which really are almost black at their centre...

my ridiculous Florence inspired Flaming Parrot Tulips (do not focus on the colour scheme - what was I thinking!)...

...they are just so joyous,

and at four or five years old, fairly unstoppable. I just wish they weren't surrounded by purple things!

and my streaky, twisty Virichic Tulips which hurl themselves in all directions and come out almost completely green and get pinker by the day, and twirl themselves in ever tighter contortions.

Having mentioned the blue skies I have failed to show any evidence of it so I will end on a picture of the tree that is stunning at the moment..

Koelreuteria Paniculata (thanks Mum) also known as the Golden Rain Tree or the Pride of India. 
At this time of year its pinky gold new leaves and dark twigs are stunning against the blue sky, so light and feathery, ethereal even! The fact that it is next to the Magnolia grandiflora ferruginea with its solid, dark, shiny, leaves creates an amazing contrast. 

Sadly the Koelreuteria isn't a particularly healthy tree. We inherited it and over the years it had been squashed by the Magnolia and a huge Myrtle that we removed a while ago. It is tall and spindly and, as you can see rather twiggy, and I'm unsure what to do to help the situation. Most of the advice says it needs minimal pruning to retain the shape. That ship has sadly sailed so I will just have to keep my fingers crossed, it's unlikely to survive the sort of radical prune needed to re-instate its 'small but elegant, branching form'.

Any advice on a way ahead do please message me - personal experience trumps the world wide web every day!