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Archive for the ‘Gardens to visit’ Category

Street Holloyhocks on AmblerHollyhocks are giving a wonderful display in our streets and front gardens this year.

Street Holloyhocks on Ambler 3Their ability to grow in such tricky conditions never fails to astound and delight me.

Jean Loup ChartresOn a recent trip to France in June (postings to follow soon on some amazing gardens visited) we stayed in a B&B in Chartres with Jean-Loup Cuisiniez (above) and his wife and met a kindred greener-upper-of the-city. Jean-Loup has been strategically sprinkling Hollyhock seeds around Chartres and has a fair few plants growing in a car park (above),

Guerilla Hollyhocks in Chartres 2and along his street. He’s promised to send me pics when they’re all in flower. Jean-Loup is in discussions with the local council about making more paths public rights of way to create easier walking routes throughout Chartres and he also wants to adorn the streets near the Cathedral with roses.

Roses in Chedigny 4I nodded sagely as he explained his aspsirations, but it wasn’t until we visited the Rose Festival in Chedigny, a village in the Loire near Loches, that I really understood what this could mean.

Roses in Chedigny 2

Every wall in the village was covered in these glorious climbers and ramblers,

Rosesign  in Chedignywith labels letting you know the variety. How bloomin’ marvellous.

Roses  in Chedigny with arrowThe Rose Festival is the brainchild of Mayor Pierre Loualt who started the project in 1998, working with French rose specialist André Eve to plant over 700 roses in the village. The festival takes place over two days every year with specialist nurseries setting up stalls,

Roses in Chedigny 3

but you can happily wander through the village at other times to enjoy this marvellous rose extravaganza.

Finsbury Park Streets

Both sights and scents were truly inspirational, and, although our North London manor doesn’t quite conjure up the bucolic bliss of the Loire, I’m wondering if we could start some similar rose planting in our streets in Finsbury Park?

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Sweet cicely 2Ah, the first snow of the year (in London)! I’m deliciously warm and cosy inside, and this enforced idleness from gardening allows me a little time for reflection and planning for the year ahead.

Sweet Cicely (Myrrhis oderata) has to be one of my favourite herbs. Its subtle aniseed flavour is always a great addition to salads and this perennial herb is also a natural sweetener, so can be added to Rhubarb and other tart fruits when cooking, instead of sugar.

Last summer I visited ‘Little Sparta’ just south of Edinburgh (another post to follow on this wonderful artist’s garden) and was enchanted by the use of Sweet Cicely as soft feathery underplanting around a small copse of trees, looking like the most delicate of fur collars. Now I think the soil at Little Sparta may be somewhat damper than my own garden, but certainly an idea to experiment with and proof that not all herbs need full sun to flourish.

Sweet CicelyIf you fancy experimenting yourself and don’t have a herb nursery on your doorstep, Herbal Haven is a great online herb nursery that always sends out quality plants at very reasonable prices.

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Narcissus cantabricusI tweeted this gorgeous Narcissus cantabricus (white hoop-petticoat daffodil) last week as it was such a joyous (and early) sight to behold.  The cone shaped, slightly crimped petals have diminutive sepals dancing around their base and their delicate, wispy leaves highlight these showy little blooms (about 6inches high) to perfection. I glimpsed this arresting clump amongst the alpine planting at RHS Wisley (luckily on one of the drier days last week), but a little research has revealed that they’re a tad difficult to get a hold of. Annoying. Yellow versions of these bulbocodium daffodils, such as ‘conspicuus’ and ‘Golden Bells’, happily, seem much easier to buy.

Wisley don’t sell any N. cantabricus in their plant shop and Avon Bulbs don’t have them in their catalogue, but if they take your fancy, the very friendly Kevock Garden in Scotland will be stocking bulbs later in the year (from their new listings in April), so do get in touch with them and they’ll email you when the bulbs are for sale online again. They also have many other delightful and intriguing bulbs for sale, so definitely worth visiting their site. Kevock Garden, just south of Edinburgh, is open for group visits (and now definitely on my garden visiting list).

Rhododendron dauricum MidwinterOther stunners in flower at Wisley were this delicate Rhododenron dauricum ‘Midwinter’,

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Harry'this rich yellow Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Harry’,

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Harry' uprightwith a very pleasing upright habit,

Daphne Spring Heraldand this white Daphne ‘Spring Herald’, pumping out a deliciously strong, all-pervading winter perfume.

Sarcococca hookeriana var. digynaSarcococca hookeriana var. digyna has to be one of my all time favourite scents though, and I think the more pointed leaves and softer tone of green (and slightly messier shape) just wins out over a Sarcococca confusa.

Wisley car parkFinally, as the light was fading, even the car park had its own wow factor (Cornus ‘Midwinter Fire’ flaming away here). RHS Wisley-always worth a visit.

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