About Me

My photo
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!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

The daisies are a moving & so are the peas.

DSCN1416 Picture this; early afternoon, a gloriously sunny day, you have enjoyed an excellent glass of Youngs bitter, walked across a village green where a late summer game of cricket is being played & suddenly come across what looks like a stray from a classy fancy dress party.

DSCN1419 This weekend was Open House London. You know the one, where lots of buildings not normally open to the public throw open their doors & positively welcome us in with open arms. I have visited a few buildings over the past few years, & not visited even more, but the one I enjoyed most & visited again this weekend was the Herbarium at Kew Gardens. A little history of the herbarium can be found here. 

DSCN1418I find the whole place fascinating & would happily spend hours there. We started off in the original building where not only is a sense of history engendered by the dark wood panels & portraits & busts of Hooker, Bentham & Broomfield, but actual history is right there in front of you. We were looking at plant specimens brought back from the Livingstone expedition. Specimens are collected & sent to Kew in an almost identical fashion to the way all those plant hunters did many many years ago; between newspapers in a cardboard folder. The dried specimens are still glued onto paper & stored in the same way.

DSCN1422 DSCN1424

In parallel to this living botanical history some new-fangled processes & procedures have to be employed too. Now, in order to protect the specimens from pest damage, not being allowed to inject the plant material with poison, they all have to be frozen & the storage of some material is in the recently opened new building at the herbarium, where the temperature can be more strictly maintained.

DSCN1427 DSCN1426 Currently the Asteraceae & Fabaceae families are being transferred to the new building, a process will take about a year to complete.

I think I am really a frustrated botanist. I loved biology at school & was frustrated not to be able to study it at A level. When studying for the RHS General Certificate & Diploma I suddenly found myself enjoying the botany bits enormously. Bit late for a career change!

DSCN1432 Sadly we came to the end of a wonderful afternoon far to soon.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

In praise of……

…. a stalwart little workhorse of a plant, Nemesia ‘Wisley Vanilla’.

I bought 6 of these in early summer to go in a window box & hanging basket,  mainly as a long flowering plant with a colour & shape contrast to Begonia ‘Something or other’. As I couldn’t be bothered to make & maintain the hanging basket 3 plants got shoved in a pot & have sat on the table outside in the garden ever since.

They certainly have flowered their socks off all summer but it took a while for their other major attribute  to penetrate my consciousness, or should that be my nasal passages! I always have pots of lilies on the decking every summer, filling the outside & inside with their very heady & heavenly scent so it was some while before I realised that the vanilla of the Nemesia in fact referred to the perfume rather than the colour. So in between & particularly after the lilies had finished pushing themselves forward like over-dressed strumpets the decking area has been delicately perfumed with the lovely aroma of sweet vanilla.

00418 July (note the ‘professional’ design drawing of the proverbial Chelsea bed)

Peak Ditrict holiday July 2010 31719 July window box performance

Image08002 August (you can just see one of those lary lilies)

DSCN1412 15 September

All this with very little in the way of trimming or cutting back. Wisley Vanilla will be back……………..

Monday, 6 September 2010

Of Cabbages & Kings


Oh yes, & cakes of course.

Everyone who IS anyone has already blogged about the trip to Ssssshhhhh, you know where. Sorry dear reader but I don’t really care. I thought I should trail my blog along several days after the event & reveal my experience & thoughts on the much hyped & discussed bloggers & tweeters trip last week to H***g****, the country pad of HRH the Prince of Wales .

Firstly the cabbages; well they were meant to be cabbages but many  think they looked rather lettuce like… or even green roses. What did? The decorations on top of the little cakes made to celebrate this great event. Peculiarly I seem to have become known for making cakes; a heavy weight of responsibility to bear for such a naturally lazy trollop. I had just decided that I could manage enough cakes for a group event when certain shy & retiring person started putting in orders on Twitter for a personalised cake. Bloody cheek. Despite this on-line bullying I faltered only briefly &  cakes were made & decorated with cabbages in recognition of a conversation on Twitter about how cakes are essential for happy garden viewing. A personalised version was produced at the last minute – hence the rather wobbly writing (or perhaps it was the several medicinal G&Ts)

DSCN1230 DSCN1230

I must also mention the wonderful chauffeuring of the inestimable Rob Stacewicz. As a fellow SW Londoner what else could we do but travel to Tetbury together & I was not turning down a offer to be driven. It was an uneventful journey despite a loop playing of Duran Duran including a sing-along ‘My name is Rio & I perch upon your hand’, poor jokes, coded messages as the car came to an unscheduled halt………

Anyway, the garden. Sadly, but I suppose understandably there were no photos allowed so no illustrations. Much chatter went on during the guided tour but we were able to see a garden of many different parts, some of which worked & some of which didn’t & which did not really fit together as a coherent whole. There was also no real sense of the garden fitting into the landscape or views which took in much of the outside; it was all very inward looking other than perhaps at the front of the house. Could that partly be a result of the landscape itself or a future king needing to feel protected & safe?  I quite liked some of the quirkiness such as the use of stone carvings in a stone wall, but in places it became a little over quirky.  

Others have written much more eloquently about the day here, here, here & here. I enjoyed it enormously; meeting lots of lovely & interesting people & seeing the garden was a delight. I look forward to other such trips!