About Me

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SW London
A semi-mature, hardy individual who tries to get away with doing as little as possible in gardening as in life, still expects the best results & wonders why she is frequently disappointed! She likes to keep a photographic record of everything, good & frequently bad!

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Take a Walk on the Wild Side

032 It was a lovely walk on Sunday, through trees, fully green at last, grassy areas filled with wild flowers. The martagon lilies were particularly lovely & the rosebay willow herb was just beginning to burst into that mass of blowsy pink fluffiness. The birds were singing & the weather was almost nice. There was even a thoughtfully placed seat to pause & enjoy the sights & sounds.

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This rural idyll was slightly marred by the frequency of planes passing overhead & the raucous sound of green parakeets….


…because we were in Kew Gardens directly under the Heathrow flight path.

This wild area of Kew is the Queen’s Cottage grounds, in the NW corner of the gardens. Apparently it was once a game preserve & pleasure garden, presented to Kew in 1898 by Queen Victoria on the understanding that it would remain as a natural site. Over time non-native trees are being removed & replaced & the focus is on habitat creation & bio-diversity. At some time in the future there will be a nature trail but at the moment it is just lovely to be able to wander through what could be rural countryside so close to central London.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Life can sometimes get a little bit edgy

048 My favourite clematis, viticella 'Venosa Violacea'

045Perhaps I should start this with a boring post alert! Or is that a more boring than usual post alert……..whatever!

Laetitia Maklouf recently wrote about getting some young hunks to edge her beds. Lucky thing! I only had  MrB, wonderful though he is, but then he is very good at doing all sorts of other stuff too.

I designed our garden about 10 years ago when we had an extension built. I can’t really say it was re-designed as all previous incarnations were merely shifts from the original. Mind you, it had shifted considerably since we moved in. I was thinking the other day that we only have 2 shrubs left from all the plants that were here in the beginning; a weigela & a Viburnum tinus. Sorry, I have done a little more digressing haven’t I?  So, as I was saying, the design 10 years ago – we edged all the beds & the lawn with timber as I reckon there is nothing more important in a garden than a nice crisp edge to beds, borders & lawns. We just used whatever timber the builder had lying around so over the years it has gradually rotted & generally fallen upon hard times.

Over the past couple of years we have gradually replaced all the old timber,

008 009 006 culminating with the lawn edging just a week or so ago.

003It is looking good!

I know it is a bit boring & I have deliberately failed to add pics of the hunky operative & the whole garden, but it is these important little details that can make all the difference – to what I don’t yet know but one day I will find out!

Now, onto more interesting things…….

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Little & Large


Did you ever have those exam questions, ‘Contrast & compare….’ This is what I thought on Sunday when I travelled many miles, well a couple, to visit 2 Yellow Book Gardens. Have I told you that being nosy in other people’s gardens is one of my favourite occupations on a sunny Sunday? Well it is. Even better on one such visit was when we had to walk through the house to get to the garden – double whammy! It got even better when instead of tea we got an extremely generous slug of Pimms. But I digress slightly.

So, this weekend’s garden no.1 was a huge house, very close to Wimbledon Common. The garden had been designed 2 years ago by Andrew Wilson, RHS Chief Assessor among other things apparently. It was a large garden to match the large house with a sweep of beautiful grass & areas of planting divided by yew hedges (bought & planted by the metre). A lovely pond which according to my companion could do with some fish, expensive tasteful paving & matching planters.

DSCN0987 DSCN0973 DSCN0970 DSCN0974 DSCN0986 DSCN0980DSCN0983My feeling about this garden was a beautiful design which was let down by the planting. The latter may have suffered due to the weather & the grasses will no doubt look wonderful later but to me it lacked texture & anything with a bit of wow factor – overall rather soulless.

Garden 2 couldn’t be much different. A small patch backing onto a railway line at the other side of Wimbledon. The outside doesn’t look promising dominated by neighbouring blocks of council flats.

DSCN0989 Inside the gate is a beautifully planted little front garden, down the side of the house…DSCN0991 …to an eclectic plant-filled oasis. It would have been a complete surprise if I hadn’t been there twice before!

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DSCN1003 DSCN1007 DSCN1006 DSCN1014 Here is a train!DSCN1009The garden is totally private, lots of seating areas despite its size, nooks & crannies abound, fantastic pots full of shade lovers, particularly beautiful were the Japanese painted ferns.DSCN1011 The white wisteria was just finishing but must have been glorious.

Do you get the idea that I much preferred this one? Well done, you are correct. Part of it must be the fact that I too have a tiny garden which is crammed full of plants & which needs lots of trimming to keep it under some sort of vague control. But this garden also spoke volumes about the ‘designer'/gardener’. She is a set designer which I am sure is some help in her vision, but it is full of personality, down to the storage area at the back…

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Whatever the type of garden, I really do admire anyone who opens theirs for the picky public to paw over. I always like to think that mine would be good enough………if I could be bothered…….if MrB wouldn’t refuse….. if there was more of interest….

The poppy at the top is mine!

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

The not so good, the bad & the downright ugly


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Now I do know that Chelsea is old hat, but I had started to write this, just didn’t finish in reasonable time. Despite that I now reveal the bits of Chelsea that were not my cup of tea, or indeed my glass of wine come to that! Dear reader, ignore this if you have had enough.

So, my first question is would you want to sit in your beautifully designed garden enjoying an early evening aperitif with the setting sun throwing its dyeing rays on ….. half a naked torso! I mean what for? And not only one but lots of body parts poking their way into your petunias, buttocks in your begonias & as for your tithonias…….

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I guess it may be for some, but not me.

So, to other things which definitely did not rock my boat. I guess the first are the crowds but you get used to them, practise the Chelsea Shuffle & employ PATIENCE!

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This lumpy path is supposed to represent difficulties at the beginning of ‘the journey’ in the Cancer Research UK Garden. I am not sure why everything has to be a journey these days but I for one would not be tempted to start it with the thought that i might twist my ankle on the way!

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I first saw this wall & pots in Andy Sturgeon’s Daily Telegraph garden from the side & at the time thought they just looked so solid & lumpy amongst all the planting & soaring steel. It looked completely different from the front view.

And this paving was just too fussy; I rather liked the curves that had been cut into it but not into such intricate inter-locking slabs.

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Chelsea Flower Show 2010 098 The very frothy planting in the M&G Garden was loved by many, it did become the People’s Favourite after all, but my initial reaction was too fussy & frothy so the structure was a bit lost amongst a mass of roses & I was not keen on the stone roses either!

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Another garden which I thought was overly busy too was Kazahana where the planting seemed to detract from the beautiful, almost sculptural moss.Chelsea Flower Show 2010 113

 Chelsea Flower Show 2010 297 The Light & Colours of the Alps garden did nothing for me.

Chelsea Flower Show 2010 286  I was enjoying the Pine & Conifer Enthusiast Garden & thinking that perhaps they could make attractive gardens until I saw these silly miniature trees at the back. Yuk!

Chelsea Flower Show 2010 137 Ace of Diamonds – more yuk!

Actually, I am really only being very picky about small things as I did love most of the gardens very much. It is just I have this very practical nature so whilst I adored the pillows of box beside the pool in the Laurent-Perrier Garden, I couldn’t help thinking that it would make a mess in the pool when they were being clipped. And sometimes the concept of the garden detracts from my enjoyment of it as a ‘proper’ garden.

Whatever my views are I really do admire the designers & everyone else involved in producing the gardens in the time they have.

That’s more than can be said for some of the things on sale at Chelsea which I assume  the sellers feel would enhance our outside spaces!!

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