Pond

pond

What was to be done on this wet and miserable day?   Why not head off to the woods?  Hero, OH and myself went to visit Rambling Ron.  Although we had heard tales of Ron’s few acres of woodland on the edge of the village, none of us had ever visited.  Rumours of a newly dug pond heralded a self-invite.  As arranged he was waiting in the road to direct us up the rough lane to the entrance of his land.  “I didn’t think you were going to come” he said.  “We are not fair weathers” we replied.   We wandered along the grassy way, fern flanked, cautiously made our way down a slippery slope, stepping over mossy fallen trees to the virgin pond.   It is fed by a spring that flows from a rocky outcrop higher in the wood.   Native planting has begun around the margins, there is more planned.  “Wildlife will come” we said, “It has already” he replied pointing out a deer print at the edge of the pond.  If we have a hot summer Ron may well find some other wildlife in this large pond.  Myself and Hero have already been planning our wild swimming forays.

Naturally we had packed provisions for our road trip.  We stood at the head of the lane supping warm tea and coffee and scoffing stollen, all the while listening to tales of these woods.  Promising to come again when the bluebells begin flowering, we headed home to warm up with home-made broccoli and stilton soup, buttered sourdough bread for dunking.

This pathway caught my eye and my imagination.  Next time, hopefully a little more sure on my feet, I will find out what lies beyond the fallen tree arch.

Walk

rosemary

This morning I went for a walk, slowly and carefully, around the gardens of Chambercombe Manor.  It was mizzling and muddy, but I placed each step with caution, and managed a much longer walk than I had first envisaged.  The camellia were full of fat buds, there was a lone flower on the hypericum, the cornus was laden with succulent baubles and the prostrate rosemary was heavy with dewy flowers.  As we walked I distributed our stale bread and soft apples under shrubs and in borders, an early Christmas present for the wild things.  Soon I will be running, that’s for sure.

Happy Christmas you lovelies!  Hope you have the best time possible.  I will see you on the other side.

Reminisces

crab apple

My yearly trawl through reams of digital photos, deleting and labelling as I go, has begun early.   Not only does this attempt to impose some kind of order into my life give the illusion that I am in control, it also gives me an opportunity to share some of these snaps and the reminisces they invoke.  And I don’t have to go outside.

This picture of brace of crab apples was taken on a December meander around the gardens of Chambercombe Manor, not far from where we live.  I do love a crab apple and often recommend them when asked for advice on a small tree for the garden.  Beautiful blossom, abundant fruit, good autumn colour, wildlife friendly with few pests or diseases to ruin the party.  Near perfect.

Curmudgeon

Kniphofia Happy Halloween

I am not a fan of Halloween. Quite the contrary.

However on this night, when my door bell rings, I attempt to go through the appropriate motions with at least a little feeling.  I pretend to be terrified by the little ghouls and ghosties, I offer hypo-inducing sweets to the adorables in their costumes, I encourage and praise.  But in truth I hate it.  There are several reasons.  When I get home after a hard day on the coal face I don’t want visitors however cutsie.  I want to lounge in my faux caribou negligee with matching mules and eat a giant-sized bag of maltesers without interruption.  And I am a scaredy cat, frightened of her own shadow half the time.  Coming from a city where a knock on the door on All Hallow’s Eve often meant being faced by a trio of pubescent youths, demanding in their crackling voices “Trick or Treat” which meant “Treat or beware”.  No less, there is all the wasteful tat sold for the event, the corporate marketing machine demanding the purchase of rubbish that will be no doubt be binned as soon as night is over.

But for fear of being thought an old curmudgeon, each year, instead of escaping to the pub, or perhaps sitting in darkness lain siege to in our own home, I buy half a hundred weight of treats and wait.  When no one comes, like today, I am offended.  Seriously, there is no way to win.

Sometimes I make things up, that is true.  In my defence it is more “getting carried away” than “bare face fabrication”.  This red hot poker is called Kniphofia ‘Happy Halloween’.  Just the kind of thing that I could have invented.  It is indeed fact, according to RHS Rosemoor.  On reflection, there is always the possibility that they invented the name for the occassion.  How could I suggest such a wicked thing!  Must be something in the air tonight.

Acer japonicum ‘Vitifolium’

Acer japonicum 'Vitifolium'

Hero and myself spent a wonderful day at RHS Rosemoor, successfully dodging heavy showers and small children dressed as gruffalos.   It has been very difficult to pick just one photo to sum up the day.  The magnificent cheese scone from the restaurant before we got going was a contender (had to build up my strength for the trek ahead and previous experience told me I wouldn’t be disappointed) as were callicarpa, kale and kniphofia.  After much deliberation this Acer japonicum ‘Vitifolium’ won the contest.  A vision indeed of autumn incarnate.

So Much More

hesperantha and sedum

Gardening is so much more than being able to identify a tree or know which way a plant goes in the ground.   Stating the bleeding obvious?  Perhaps.

After lunch today Lady Mantle whisked me off to visit a local garden, ostensively to admire some autumn colour.  Which is exactly what we did.  The on-cue afternoon sunshine highlighted the burning leaves of Cornus kousa, ivory fruit of Sorbus cashmiriana, and the fragrant Cercidiphyllum japonicum amongst many fine specimens.  Late flowers of hesperantha, Hylotelephium spectabile and verbena graced the borders.   Brash dahlias, potentillas and caryopteris are a few others that warrant a mention.  Except there was so much more.  People.  Yes, I’m talking about those often dastardly human creatures who seem to mess most things up in the world.  Not in this case though.  The aim of this group of rural friends is to create a mutually beneficial gardening society.  For novices, tinkerers, the encyclopedic, the easily distracted and those who just want to get out of the house.  To share and encourage and support and laugh and enjoy their gardens.  To gain all the benefits of exercise and learning and good companionship.  To grow.  To help others to do the same.

So much more than learning Latin names and which way is up.

Six on Saturday – Happy Holidays

osteospermum

After a week or more away, I have come home to builders, scaffolding, inaccessible plants and a really vicious cold.  For this reason (and I will continue to blame everything on the builders including my poor health, who in reality are rather nice chaps, until further notice) my Six on Saturday will dwell on holiday snaps.  Of course these consist, on the whole, pictures of plants.  This is probably just as well you wouldn’t want to see myself and OH in our “kiss me quick” hats, trousers rolled up daringly above the ankle, having a paddle.  If you would like to share in the experience of other SOSers, with or without builder input, pop on over to our Site Foreman to find out more.

First we have an osteospermum, growing in the recess of a wall overlooking St Ives.  Always a joy to visit, come torrential monsoon and high winds or shine.

bamboo

Next is a golden bamboo, possibly Phyllostachys aurea, but I’m not absolutely sure as I wandered off to admire it and I was reined back in.  Which happens unsurprisingly often. This photo was taken at The Leach Pottery, also in St Ives.  It is located about 100m from my childhood home and we always visit when we are down.  Incredible pots and wonderful memories.  Not that we were aware of it as kids, we were just kids.  In those days we were just interested in playing on the beach/woods/moors and eating Mr Kipling’s produce.  And yes we did buy more pots.  Very beautiful they are too.

Bidens

Then on to Penzance to catch up with old friends and continue our hedonistic adventures.  Our guest house had a rather amazing garden, which not only had sea views but was packed with colour.  These bidens were a treat, as was the Hummingbird Hawk Moth feasting on the Verbena bonariensis, which unfortunately avoided my lens.  You will have to trust me on that one.  On our last morning we were waiting for our taxi to take us to the train station, when a gentleman in a rather flamboyant shirt left the house.   He started a conversation, asking us where we going and the like.  He then dropped into the conversation, like a feather into a vat of oil, that he was returning from Kew Gardens to Tresco where he is the curator of Abbey Gardens.   I may have fainted.

Colquhounia coccinea

During our stay we visited the small-but-perfectly-formed Penlee Art Gallery and Museum, which is situated in Penlee Gardens.  I almost didn’t get in the door.  Waylaid variously by swathes of Tulbaghia violacea, a largeTrochodendron aralioides full of Sputnik fruit, white crinum and night scented Cestrum parqui.  The treasure which made me squeal with glee was this Colquhounia coccinea, unlike my own specimen, a strong and flower-full example.  When I got home I rushed to see if a miracle had happened.  No.

Fascicularia bicolor

I had a hunch when I saw the expanses of swordfish foliage that it might be something special.  A little poke about and I found what I was looking for, the outlandish flower head of Fascicularia bicolor .   Planted in a tiny garden, come seating area, just opposite the Jubilee Pool, this is another example of the exotic as ordinary.  Wonderful.

Peggy Pearlers

On our last day we had an itinerary.  We were having a day out with my good friend and jeweller to the stars (and me) Duibhne Gough, known to her pals as Div.  She would take us to The National Dahlia Collection, then lunch, then to a nursery, then to see her new workshop before home, tired but happy.  I have long wished to visit the dahlias at Varfell Farm, even more so since I named a dahlia after my Mum, read all about it here It Is All In The Name.  It was a fabulously sunny day with bloom after bloom after beautiful bloom.  But none were the special one.  Soon I was beginning to doubt myself and that it was in fact a cruel hoax.  Then a point and smile from the lovely Div and there she was in all her glory.  I can quite honestly say, in a totally biased manner, that Peggy Pearlers was the most beautiful specimen in the field.

After a delicious lunch our itinerary was scrapped, as £20 worth of unleaded had found its way into the diesel Citroen.  It turned out for the best, a balmy afternoon of laughter and lager (and the odd house white but that didn’t scan as well), and I didn’t buy a single plant!

Thank Mr P for being the host with the most.  Until next time!