Monday, 22 June 2009

A disappointing Veg Patch

No NGS garden this weekend, so I had chance to catchup with my garden and try to tame my vegetable plot.
I made the mistake of letting some potatoes grow, instead of oiking them out, when they first protruded from the soil. They were potatoes which had been left in the ground from last years crop. I felt bad digging them up but didn't estimate how much room they would take up. Consequently, they smothered my lettuces, french marigolds and tomatoes and when I had finally had enough of them and dug them up, the measly few potatoes they yielded, were green, as they were too close to the surface! Also I made the mistake of sowing too many tomatoes and I am finding it difficult to find a space for them. I absolutely hate throwing plants away, especially if I have grown them from seed, so I will have to shoehorn them in somewhere. And there is my next mistake. I put plant in too close together. Oh my goodness I don't think my veg plot is going very well this year!
Runner Bean 'Painted Lady'

I have had some success in the flower garden though but I won't take all the credit.
I had a patch of grass, on which I put plastic last year so that I had somewhere to grow butternut squash, in grow bags and this was going to be my veg patch, until my best friend Linda, suggested that I would be better growing flowers there and to save the veggies to the top of the garden, which I did.
We removed the turf, which was pretty much dead anyway and stored it in a space, to rot down to loam. (You will see from the photograph below, that there is horrible green plastic still covering the turfs)
I moved some plants which I had in the garden, to the new bed and with space it meant buying some more plants. Some women like shoes and handbags, but I cannot resist a gorgeous flower and I get great pleasure from buying plants - ooh it's such a lovely feeling!
We then purchased two tonnes of Scottish pebbles from StoneZone in Ferndown in Dorset, which cost an arm and a leg but well worth the effort and expense, although back breaking work, with Andy shovelling the stones into the wheelbarrow, pushing it up the drive and then depositing them for me to put around the plants.

Work in progress
Lavender Vera
I love visiting garden centres and from one of my local garden centres Stewarts in Ferndown, I bought this lovely willow heart wreath, to go on my studio door.
I love bits and bobs in the garden and I am excited as I have purchased a new book from Amazon called Shed Chic. I want to overhaul my summer house and this book looks very inspirational.
Is anyone every satisfied with their garden? At the beginning of the season I had high hopes for my veg garden. It might still come good. The peas, beans and runner beans are all looking good but I still have a lot to learn, still with my companion by my side, although he is not much help, gardening is always a pleasure and never a chore.
Boots my gardening companion

Friday, 12 June 2009

NGS Herons Mead

A very enjoyable Sunday afternoon was spent visiting the garden of Angela and Ron Millington in East Burton near Wool in Dorset.

Chattel House from where the refreshments are served

The garden is long, very long in fact. I thought I was near the bottom of the garden, when Ron informed me that I was only halfway down. The garden has lots of sections to it. There are fabulous herbaceous borders at the back of the house, leading to a rose arch, which wasn't in bloom when I was there but I expect looks beautiful when in flower.

Rose Arch

Rose Arch taken from the other side
The refreshments were served in the Chattel House by some of the ladies from the local WI. They were rather young and fun, not at all the archetypal WI ladies, with not a hint of tweed in sight. (Although I think my view of the WI is probably rather dated)
Anyone for cake!

Inside the Chattel House
There is a lovely old Walnut tree next to the Chattel House, which then leads into the vegetable garden.

Mrs Scarecrow

After the vegetable garden, you wind your way down the garden through the most abundant herbaceous borders, where I spotted a quote from Gertrude Jekyll propped up against a seat.

A quote from Gertrude Jekyll
The planting overflows onto a narrow path, which you have to take single file, through to an archway in the hedge to a beautiful woodland garden.
Looking out from the woodland garden to the herbaceous border
The woodland garden offered a lovely cool relief from the heat of the afternoon, with large Eucalyptus trees, under planted with Euphoria's, Geraniums, Rhododendrons and lots of Aqualigas.
A quiet sitting place under the Eucalyptus tree
Shell mobile hanging in the woodland garden
Nora Barlow
After a garden came the tea and cakes. I sampled the Victoria Sponge, as per the last two gardens I have visited and this cakes sponge was so light, it nearly flew off the plate!
All the proceeds from the refreshments, goes to Dogs for the Disabled. Jenny Clarke who has started her company Woofability, is training a puppy called Furzil to do tasks for her like take the washing out of the machine, pick things up, take off socks; small tasks which would be hard for Jenny to do, as she is in a wheelchair after an accident 25 years ago.
She came to the garden with her husband Andy, her daughter and her dog Farrah.
Jenny with Farrah
Farrah waiting for her command and then a treat
Farrah is absolutely gorgeous and Dogs for the Disabled is such a worthy cause. Jenny gives talks to groups to raise awareness of the charity and to raise the profile of Woofability.
I really enjoyed visiting Herons Mead. Not only is it a lovely garden, with lots of fabulous plants but the people I met whilst visiting the garden were such fun. Angela and Ron the hosts, Jenny and Andy and the ladies of the WI, all made us feel so welcome and if you would like to visit the garden, they have another two open days on 28 June and 20 Sept - well worth a visit.
Love in a Mist
Nectaroscordum Siculum
Sisyrinchium Striatum
Angela and Ron Millington

Monday, 1 June 2009

NGS Knowle Farm

Last week, my NGS photography project took us to Knowle Farm in Loders near Bridport. An absolutely beautiful Dorset village, with cottages of the most gorgeuos buff coloured stone.
John and Alison Halliday, also run a bed and breakfast at Knowle Farm and a photograph of their cottage was featured in a national newspaper recently, due to the amazing Wisteria covering the front of their cottage.

Knowle Farm B & B
The weather was glorious if you were visiting the garden but for a photographer, the light was really harsh and completely bleached all the colours. Luckily Andy is becoming a dab hand at being my assistant. I took a diffusing umberella with me this time and my 'assistant' held it over the plants casting a dappled light over the plants, which did the trick!
                                                                           Centranthus ruber
                                                                                Black Iris

                                                                                Yellow Iris

The garden is set in 1 acre and gently slopes down to the river Asker, which regularly floods every Winter. This is hard to imagine when you see it bubbling softly on a sunny day in May but Alison assures me that as it's a flood plane, the water drains very quickly and the plants which border the river come to no harm. The badgers which visit the garden, do more damage to the garden, by digging up the bulbs!

River Asker

A quite sitting place by the river
The garden has a lovely restful feel to it, with lots of lovely shady places to sit.
When John and Alison moved to Knowle Farm 10 years ago, the garden was just a grassy slope down to the river and over time they have made a most wonderful garden, with lots of areas including a kitchen garden, meadow, orchard and an area for their chickens.
stone archway
I purchased a couple of plants from the plant sales and after all the photography and retail therapy it was time for tea and cake.
The spread  looked absolutely delicious and had been kindly baked by a group of ladies calling themselves Stitch and Bitch. They are a group of ladies who live in the village and like to stitch and no doubt lots of gossiping goes on, hence their title. I tried a most gorgeous looking slice of Victoria Sandwich baked by Betty Wilde. It tasted absolutely scrumptious. Her secret ingredient being Mascapone cheese instead of cream and oh my goodness it tasted yummy. All the proceeds from the tea and cake sales goes to the Mountjoy Special School in Bridport.

                                                               back of the cottage

                                                                   Bettys' cake

                                                              Alison and John Halliday

John and Alison where extreamly hospitable and we spent a lovely afternoon looking around their garden.
You will have to wait until next year if you want to visit their garden under the NGS but it's one to circle as soon as you get next years yellow book.


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