In the last few weeks I have had cause to warm to the common montbretia.

Today at Westwell Hall, in glorious combination with the dark leaved elder, it looked spectacular.

There is a lot to be said for being a little bit common.

Mad Dogs and Englishwomen

It has been a challenging day for a few reasons:

a)  I’ve hurt my back.  I am in official denial about this in the hope that if we don’t mention it again it might disappear as quickly as it appeared;

b)  after exhaustive avoidance tactics I was bitten on the ankle by a horsefly and stung in various places by nettles;

c)  it was so hot I threw in the towel at 2.30 and headed for a cold shower.

In order to present a balanced review of the day’s proceedings I should also mention the following:

a)  Vanilla;

b)  Chocolate with Ferrero Rocher;

c)  Eton Mess;

all homemade by the extremely talented Biddi.  It helped.


Love in a Meadow

The soil is parched, despite regular watering.  In spite of this hostile environment many of the plants on Button Moon are continuing on a trajectory so upward I am scared where it all might end.   No more so than the wildflower meadow.   Last year it was a mixed meadow, this season a little less diverse.  But not diminished in any way.  Dominated by candytuft in sugared almond shades, nigella intersperses from white to Marianas Trench blue.  It is a joy to behold, diverting.  What is more, it is a moving picture, with flitting butterflies and bees and all host of pollinators that I really should learn the name of, skimming and feasting.  This love in a mist, denim blue with spiny green ruff, was the winner in a very tough competition.  Until next time, when its crown will most certainly fall.


The other day I was admiring a row of Lavandula angustifolia in The Buns’ garden. “I was just thinking” I said to Mrs Bun, who was troubled that I had drifted into some kind of pollen induced coma “that you can’t beat good old English lavender.”  Relieved that the body inaction was just due to brain over-action she replied “Definitely, I so agree”.  It was decided.

Today on Button Moon I wondered if I had been a little rash in pinning down my affections to just one species.  This French lavender, Lavandula stoechas, was doing its utmost to sway my opinion.  And it succeeded.

I have determined that they are both wonderful.  You don’t always have to have a favourite.  And you can always change your mind.  It is decided.

The Wall

This dry stone wall at Button Moon is not only a beautiful example of local craftsmanship but also does a sterling job of holding up the land behind it.   Recently it has an additional, and altogether more exicting, raison d’être.   Behind its slate barricades lies a great tit hatchery.  Although we haven’t actually seen the nest we have watched the parents disappear through a small gap between the stones, food in bill, soon to reappear and flit off to continue their quest.

We have tried to avoid disturbing them, although Pickle the Jack Russell terrier is very interested in the comings and goings.  However, if you linger for just a moment by the entrance, not long enough to anger mum and dad, you can hear the chicks demanding their dinner.  It is most enchanting.

Upside Down, Boy You Turn Me

Yesterday a parcel of plants was left, according to the email I received whilst I was out working, “In a safe place”.   This oh so secure and nurturing place was outside my front door in the rain.  To add insult to injury it was upside down, in a box with clear arrows to prevent such mistakes.   I sighed.  I did my best to rescue the fallen.  I complained.  New plants are on the way.

Today at Button Moon the morning began damp and drizzly.  Last night we suffered supposedly heavy rain but as it passed in my dreams I can’t confirm this.   Perhaps this allegedly severe weather was the reason that some of the heuchera leaves had turned upside down.  Whatever the reason, the vibrant violet, raindropped undersides were quite beautiful.


It seemed like a brilliant idea.

“Let’s make a flower bed in the middle of the lawn.  More colour, less mowing.  There will be plenty left if you ever fancy a game of crochet.”   A perfect plan, not just perfect, inspired.

“We’ll pile the sods in corner a few meters away and when it has rotted down in 18 months time it will have transformed into a lovely loamy top soil that we can use around the garden where necessary.  Sorry?  What did you say?  A change of plan?  You want the turf transported up the steep and slippery gravel path, past two encroaching and especially prickly holly bushes, across more gravel at the front of The Hall, through the gate and beyond to reclothe the tatty lawn by the herb beds? ”  Admittedly this would involve more work, but still it was a great idea, two jobs completed in one foul swoop, can’t argue with that.  Let’s get going.

“The wheel barrow has a flat tyre?”  Fine, we’ll fill the trug, attach it to the sack truck and pull it up the slope.

“The sack truck has two flat tyres”.  Silence.

“But we have another sack truck”.  Result!

Fast forward through 7 hours of turf removal, turf transporting, turf laying, carrying bags of compost and sand down the slippery slope, digging, ball throwing, extraction of two full barrows of buried broken bricks and concrete that had to be pushed on the flat tyred barrow to their resting place, edge laying and, phew, the job was complete.  We were broken.  But we did it.  We created an elliptical bed, much larger than it appears in the photo below but I didn’t have the energy to walk the 10m required for a better view-point.  They said it couldn’t be done.  We showed them.

Now for the planting.  The good bit.



Today at Button Moon was a day of digging holes.  Big holes, little holes, medium sized holes.   Some awkward roots and slates, some easy passages.  Luckily I was armed with a golden spade, it made life much easier.  Everyone should have a golden spade, even if you haven’t got golden boots.  Into these holes I planted a pot bound camellia, three Heuchera ‘Marmalade’, a Viburnum tinus and Rhododendron ‘Horizon Monarch’.  Grow, grow, grow!

This osteospermum needs no encouragement.  Some might say it needs to calm down a little.  Not me.  I say “grow, grow, grow!”

The Future

Poppy Seed Head

Last week, on my first day back on Button Moon, we prepared the annual wildflower beds for the coming year.  It seemed a fitting way to mark the occasion of my return to the fold.   The border was weeded, the bones of last year’s blooms were pulling up and any remaining seed broadcast.   Looking forward to the future.  It is the only way to go.

This is the carcass of a particularly frou frou, bruise purple poppy that infiltrated the native mix.   It might not be true to the standard meadow form, but it was welcomed with open arms.  The contents of the pepper pot seed head will be scattered with the rest.  We do love a bit of frou frou.