Monday, 28 March 2011

The Year of the Garden

Herbs at Sheepdrove Organic Farm
I walked the long way home by the canal yesterday just because it was there, all narrow boats, sunlight and ducklings (ahhh!) and blackthorn blossom blowing into the water. Soon I am going to the official launch of the National Gardens Scheme Yellow book, a genteel and pleasant occasion and I am looking forward to seeing my NGS friends.

It is perverse. The more there is to blog about, the less time there is to do so and vice versa. On the work front there are places to go and people to see and on the garden front it is all getting going in a very exciting fashion.

My car has very rudely gone bang, which means that my garden centre list is starting to get slightly out of control. I try and exercise extreme restraint at all times, but right now I want to get pelletted chicken manure and two Lonicera fragrantissima and a cardoon and a small shrub rose and a couple of dark orange Erysimum and some candelabra primulas and an evergreen shrubby thing to go in front of the new dustbin-hide (up which I am going to grow a clematis) and another magnolia would be nice and I wonder if I dig a bigger, more composty hole if I could replace my hydrangea petiolaris which died because it was in too dry a spot and I would like a Solanum jasminoides but I don’t know where I am going to put it yet....and so on.

All of which sounds slightly Augustus Gloop-ish but we have spent four years getting the house up to scratch with the garden playing second fiddle. It started life as a jungle of head-high goldenrod and thistles and now, with the structure in place and the perennials starting to bulk up, it is time for some serious planting. This is going to be the year. Oh yes.

Last summer I visited Sheepdrove Farm in Berkshire where they grow lots of exciting herbs for Neal’s Yard cosmetics. There were some excellent ginger biscuits in the eco-conference centre and I had a lovely chat with Peter Kindersley (of Dorling Kindersley fame). One of the good things about this job is that one meets a lot of inspiring and dynamic people and Peter is one for the ‘when I grow up...’ list. I wrote all about it in Amateur Gardening (26 March issue), if you are interested.

Still on the subject of lotions and potions, I recently bought some Wise Woman hand cream. It may well be advantageous to be wise when choosing cosmetics and the higher the SPF the better, but I can’t help thinking that slightly rash women probably have more fun.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Making A Garden Good

A fluffy bud of Magnolia x loebneri 'Leonard Messel'
It has been an absolutely cracking weekend for gardening. Roses propped, check. Trees pruned, check. Seeds sown, yup. Little hide built for dustbin, uh huh.

As part of the plan to divide the back garden into different parts and create a sense of journey and surprise (TM), I have got a new garden arch to go across the path just the other side of the apple tree. When things dry up a bit I will paint it my regulation shade of soft aqua but I have got the plants in anyway – a box ball provides a punctuation point at the base of the arch and the beginning of the border and rose ‘Ena Harkness’ will romp up it, adding to the hot colour scheme in that particular bed. Next to that I put in the Hemerocallis ‘Burning Embers’ that I impulse bought, along with Magnolia x loebneri 'Leonard Messel', at Waddesdon Plant Centre the other night while attending the launch of the regional Berkshire and Buckinghamshire NGS booklet. Was good actually, but I hadn’t got half way home before I was asking myself why I hadn’t got a whole lot more new and exciting things while I was at it.

....Which is why I went on a clematis bender on Saturday. Ok, so I had also already got the little purple Clematis alpina ‘Frankie’, but then I passed a man in the market with lots of pretty things on a Dutch trolley, and Clematisisisis ‘Niobe’, montana ‘Rubens’, ‘Madame Julia Correvon’, Etoile de Violette’ and ‘Multi Blue’ (and a Jasmine Beesianum) just kind of fell into a bag (in a ‘crikey, better get back to the cashpoint’ sort of way).

So that’s the vertical gardening sorted for a bit....

Currently watching : Rastamouse. Makin' a Bad Ting Good is a fine rule for life, and  Da Easy Crew playing reggae when the work is through suits me. (Not so keen on Ice Popp though).

Thanks to the Rasta Rodent, Da Easy Crew and President Wensley Dale, things are pretty crucial round here. It probably has its applications in the garden too: ‘Hey Miss Jekyll, me lovin’ those crucial herbaceous borders’; ‘Chelsea Flower Show goin’ to be totally crucial this year’ etc. I think this may take a bit more work....but me gettin' there. Irie.