Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Welsh Wonders Part 1

I've just got back from a visit to South Wales, and while I was there made sure that some garden visiting was undertaken. First came a trip to the National Botanic Gardens of Wales. This was my third visit, but it's always improving, and I haven't been in (dare I say it) late summer. As it was raining when we arrived, we made straight for the glasshouse, which is the world's largest single-spanned glasshouse. Plants from Mediterranean climate zones are spectacularly displayed, with walkways taking you among the plantings.

That's a lot of glass!

'Kangaroo Paws'

Leucadendron salignum 'Fireglow'

Aloe Dichotoma (Quiver Tree)
By the time we had explored the glasshouse it had stopped raining and we made our way outside - which I'll save for the next post!!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Blueberry pie anyone?

I wouldn't need much pastry for the blueberry pie I could make with my blueberry crop! But in fairness I've only had my two blueberry plants since July, so hopefully next year the harvest will be more bountiful. There was enough for a couple of servings with cream, and they were delicious. I'm looking forward to the foliage turning to autumnal shades before stripping off for the winter (the leaves, not me....)

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Cephalaria gigantea

Remember when Verbena bonariensis was the new must-have plant? Now it's everywhere, and rightly so, it's a fantastic plant in so many ways. It stands up to strong winds, self-seeds everywhere (a plus in my opinion) it's tall yet you can see through it etc. etc. I predict the next must-have plant will be Cephalaria gigantea. It shares many of the attributes of Verbena bonariensis, yet it hasn't reached the popular garden centres yet, and consequently it only seems to feature in a minority of gardens. I discovered the plant about ten years ago growing at the Harold Hillier Gardens in Hampshire, and was taken with its height and cheerful lemony blooms, similar to a scabious in form. I've started to build up a collection and Mum is propagating them successfully. In my garden they are still flowering well, although I noticed some in local gardens flowering in June, much earlier than mine. If you see any in your local garden centre, give them a go. Mine have survived two very harsh winters, and like the sunny position they've been granted.

Note: This is just one plant!

Friday, 19 August 2011

Marchants At Its Peak

Many gardens peak in June, but not the garden at Marchants Hardy Plants. Like Sussex Prairies and Merriments (see below), Marchants crescendos through August, remaining at its best until the frosts. The gardens serve as a show garden for the nursery, which is lavishly stocked with perennials and grasses. I've been buying plants here for some years and they have all flourished. Some I haven't seen anywhere else - it really is worth seeking out independent nurseries for plants that the mass-retailers don't stock. As you can see from the photos below, the garden is crammed full of perrenials and grasses, giving it a prairie feel. How lucky I am to have all these gardens within a 30 minute drive of my home! If you'd like to visit, it's just outside the village of Laughton in East Sussex, and you can find out more on the website. 

Monday, 15 August 2011

Home on the Range

Sussex Prairies, near Henfield in West Sussex, is a Mecca for all who love naturalistic planting. The owner/designers, Paul and Pauline McBride, have used all their design experience to create something truly unique for the South East. Having worked with Piet Oudolf in Luxembourg, the McBrides are dedicated to using large drifts of perrenials which require minimum attention. Seedheads are allowed to remain, which not only look beautiful in winter but also provide food for wildlife. The garden plays host to a wide array of sculptures; these enhance the garden and vice versa. There is also a bed and breakfast business on site. Regular events are scheduled, and I would recommend you check out the.Sussex Prairies website for more information.

Here are some of the sculptures scattered around the garden:

'Globe Thistles' by Frances Doherty

'Flying Saucers' by Robin Johnson

'The Bishops Pom Poms' by Frances Doherty

'Cornflowers' by Frances Doherty

Echinacea Heaven

Hopefully my photographs will persuade you to visit Sussex Prairies if you can. Open from Wednesdays to Sundays until October 16th, there will be a warm welcome, thousands of beautiful flowers, and, oh yes, some rather delicious cake! Pauline's Courgette Cake is a real winner, so get there while the courgette season is still going strong!