Archive for May, 2011

Every year Woottens of Wenhaston (in Suffolk) open their Iris Fields for customers to come and be wowed by the rows of colours stretching out before them,

and to choose their favourite bearded irises for despatch later in the year. It’s been a while since I’ve made the 2 hour or so pilgrimage to the fields, but it’s certainly worth it if Irises are your thing. As it’s been so hot and so dry, some of the blooms are over earlier than usual, but there’s still plenty to see at the moment.

If you’re not looking for a particular colour, then it can be a little overwhelming as each new frilly bloom becomes your favourite. Here are some of the Irises that appealed to me as I wandered up and down the fields. Above is Iris germanica ‘Ever After’.

And then I was tempted by I.germanica ‘Braithwaite’.

And another 2 toner called I.germnica ‘Starring’.

I then found myself being seduced by the warm tones of I.germanica ‘Coup de Soleil’,

and the luscious deep petals of I. germanica ‘Superstition’.

I finally decided that the more subtle tones of I.germanica ‘Once Again’ was the one that really did it for me,

until I came across the rows of ‘Dusky Challenger’. The fields are open for another 10 days or so if you’d like to make up your own mind on which is the most desirable Iris, but best to go sooner rather than later as the blooms are fading fast. Contact Woottens so as not to be disappointed before you set off on a journey, although Woottens nursery (mainly specialising in perennials) is just around the corner and never disappoints.

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May 29th

I found the Chelsea Flower Show hugely enjoyable and inspiring this year. Stealing the show for me was Crug Farm Plants inside the Great Pavillion. It’s their first time showing at this RHS show and they’ve not only deservedly won a gold medal, but also the coveted President’s award.

Most of their amazing exotic looking plants are completely hardy in the many parts of the UK- just wish I had the space for this stunning large-leaved Schefflera macrophyllum. Plants at Crug Farm (based in Wales) have been nursery grown from seeds collected from all over the world by Sue and Bleddyn Wynn-Jones and this is why their collection of plants is unique (and so enticing!).

Enticing, as many of their unusual plants, such as this Syneilesus, can be planted in tricky spaces such as the dry shade of London back gardens. Can’t wait to visit their nursery and will make sure I go with plenty of space in the back of my van!

I’ve often found the smaller Artisan show gardens the most inspirational at Chelsea. Not only can I relate to their size, but their informal and year-round planting seems more achievable, certainly more sustainable and arguably more desirable then some of the bigger show gardens. Jihae Hwang’s ‘Emptying one’s mind ‘ (on the way to the toilet) garden was thoughtfully designed and planted and filled with quirky and imaginative recycled objects,

such as this upturned pot used as a bird bath,

and recycled furniture to create different planting levels and areas in this small garden.

This make-do-and-mend aesthetic was beautifully echoed in the creatively recycled fence surrounding Kati Crome and Maggie Hughes’s ‘A Postcard from Wales’,

and also in the bed springs of ‘A Child’s Garden in Wales’. Love it! (more…)

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After years of squirrels digging up freshly planted pots in my back garden and then chomping away at newly emerging flower heads for afters, I have built some mini cages to neatly fit on some old wine boxes so that I can still grow my favourite salad leaves by the kitchen door. Once the lettuces etc. are of a decent size and can look after themselves, I can remove the cage. Simple to make. All you need is some chicken wire, nails and a 8 small pieces of thin wood (these were reclaimed from a nearby skip). First, cut and then nail the base pieces of wood together to fit around the wooden box, then nail on the 4 upright pieces of wood to the base. Shape and position the wire around the wooden framework and then nail the wire onto the base. Mine’s getting a bit rickety, but still really does the job.

And while I’m blogging, here’s a quick update on the mint I re-potted about 9 weeks ago in March.

Looking very happy and ready to be used in the kitchen too. Spring is a good time to re-pot mint as new growth is so vigorous, but if your mint is pot bound, re-pot anytime throughout spring and summer and even into early October if it is still mild-ish.

And finally, a quick mention for Andrew Babicz’s blog. Every week I receive a ‘What to do in the garden’ list from Andrew. Really comprehensive for both flowers and veg-I find it a timely reminder of when to sow seeds, when to cut back , when to plant out, when to prune and what pests and diseases to look out for. Thanks Andrew!

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