Archive for the ‘Hedging’ Category

Tim and samll elephantHere’s Tim. Topiary Tim. He’s looking a bit sad.

One of our elephants has had to go.

Baby and big elephant2Up until the end of last year, all was looking well in the herd. But then, fairly swiftly, telltale signs of honey fungus were spotted. There was dieback on the trunk and ears of the baby elephant.

At first we were in a state of denial. Maybe somebody had poured some nasty chemicals on the ground or perhaps wandered past with a flame thrower? But who were we kidding. We dug up roots of the wilting/dead trunk and ears, and our worst suspicions were confirmed. White fungus was clearly visible between the bark and wood.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for Honey Fungus. On the RHS website it says, ‘the only effective remedy is to excavate and destroy, by burning or landfill, all of the infected root and stump material. This will destroy the food base on which the rhizomorphs (brown root-like cords) feed and they are unable to grow in the soil when detached from infected material.’

Cutting back baby elephantSo all of the baby elephant has had to be destroyed. Sad, but pragmatic. We’ve dug out as much stump and roots as we could get to, not just the obviously infected wood, but also the rest of the plants which made up the baby elephant (which luckily looked untouched by the fungus).

Pond liner

As a belt and braces approach, we’ve also added a couple of pond liner barriers to roughly 18inches deep as this should block any remaining rhizomorphs, which look like bootlaces apparently. We haven’t noticed any of these, but they could easily be confused with roots. I’ve also checked with the RHS about removing the soil around the affected area and they say that the soil doesn’t have to be removed. Hugely relieved as this could be a mammoth (ha, ha) task, but we’ve added plenty of rich garden compost for the new plants.

Griselinia littoralis

It would be unwise to plant privet again, as it is so susceptible to Honey Fungus, so we checked with the RHS list on which evergreens are less likely to be affected. Tim’s plumped for some (fast growing) Griselenia littoralis. This has much bigger and brighter green leaves than the privet, but should be an interesting addition to our topiary hedge.
Elephant herd

We also plan on giving the rest of the herd a good old feed and mulch come spring, so that the elephants are fighting fit for the years ahead. Here’s hoping we’ve caught the fungus in time….

P.s. Here’s how our elephants were created by Tim Bushe (aka Topiary Tim and @hedgecutterman) in one of our neighbour’s front gardens back in 2012.

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Camelia sasanqua

I’m not a great Camellia fan. I find their dark evergreen foliage can be relentlessly gloomy, especially in our winter months. But when you’re greeted in a garden by these playful blooms, you can’t help but feel uplifted. I’m strangely enchanted by their offbeat flappy petals and their in-your-face winter colour. And when the sun does shine, they have a gentle, slightly cloying (heading towards mothballs) scent, which is no doubt great for early pollinators.

Camellia sasanqua flower after the snow in January

A week later, and these brilliant blooms haven’t survived the snow,

Camellia sasanqua flower opening in January

but new buds have toughed it out, and are ready to put on a show once more. And despite myself, I’m finding it difficult not to love ’em.

Here’s a great article by Noel Kingsbury on how and where to grow Camellia sasanqua, with a helpful list of Camellia nurseries too.

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Sumptuous curves of Amsterdam

Inspired by Wellywoman’s Golden Welly awards, I thought I’d have a look back over the year and round-up some of my favourite horticultural experiences. So in no particular order (other than what first pops into my head)…..

On the third weekend every June, usually hidden Canal Gardens in Amsterdam are open to the public, so I popped over to Holland with fellow blogger Veronica (you can just see her there in the background) to have a look. (In 2013 Open Canal gardens are 14-16 June ).I have to admit, the omnipresent box parterres were slightly overwhelming by the end of the weekend, but I loved the giant curvaceous sculptural box forms in this garden at Kerkstraat 67.

Sumptuously curvy hedging in Amsterdam 2

Impeccably maintained, this garden was the most inspirational by far out of the 25 gardens or so that we packed in over the two days.

pots in Amsterdam 2

I haven’t been to Amsterdam for years, and I’d forgotten what a fantastic place it is just to hang out. And maybe the real horticultural treat for me over the weekend was not so much the canal gardens (although some were stunning), but the great planting that you see in the streets throughout this beautiful city.

pots in Amsterdam_

At every turn, pots were bursting with blooms,

Streets of Amsterdam

and roses adorned all manner of objects, seemingly springing out of deep concrete. Amazing!

De Kas Restaurant in Amsterdam

To complete our horticulturally themed weekend, we dined at De Kas restaurant, a short tram ride just outside the city centre. It’s a fabulous spot. Vegetable beds surround an enormous revamped municipal greenhouse and dining in this open airy structure added to the joy of eating their delicious meals, where fresh produce from the gardens is used as much as possible.

Black Krim tomatoes

Back in Blighty, I know it wasn’t a great year for tomatoes, but Black Krim, a beefsteak variety which I’d tasted the previous summer at Victoriana Nurseries , was another curvaceous delight. It looks wild and tastes great. Really meaty and rich. I’m definitely growing these again next year. (more…)

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