Monday, 31 December 2012

Second Class Posts

Over the past two years I've visited many wonderful gardens and blogged about them. Some posts have had lots of visits, others not. The following three are among my favourite posts which have not had many visits. The reason I like them is that the gardens were all revelations to me. I usually let my photographs do the talking, and in these three cases I think the photos came out pretty well. So if you missed them first time around, you might like to have a look at them now! They are Switzerland for a day, Arundel Castle Gardens and Vann-tastic!

Thank you to all of you for visiting my blog, I really do appreciate it, whether you leave a comment or not.
Please keep visiting in 2013, and Happy New Year!

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Most read posts

It always surprises me when I look at my blog stats to see what posts people read. Over the past couple of years I've been lucky enough to visit some amazing gardens, in Britain (across Cornwall, Devon, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire to name but a few), Italy, and Florida. But it's not necessarily these posts that get the most hits. By far the most popular post I've ever done is Cephalaria gigantea. If anyone can explain this to me I'd love to know as it's a very short, very dull post in my opinion! The only thing I can think of is that it gets google hits. Here's a few of my other posts which have amassed a large number of hits.
In second place, we have Villa Carlotta on Lake Como. This is one of the most amazing gardens I've ever visited so I can understand this. But in third place is Rodmell Open Gardens, a village not far from me that opens some of its gardens annually. The gardens are lovely, but I am puzzled as to why this post has been so popular. In 4th, 5th and 6th are more Italian gardens. 7th is Bosahan, a Cornish garden, but by no means the most well known. Perhaps bloggers click to find out out places they haven't heard of to learn more about them, which is great. In 8th place is a post about my Mum's garden. 9th is a post about square cucumbers and in 10th place is another Italian garden.

Of course, now that I have linked to these more popular posts, there's a good chance they will get more visits. And like me, you may wonder why some people bothered! Perhaps it's the titles that lure people and then they visit the post and are disappointed! Anyhow, next time I'll look back at three posts which I've been pleased with but nobody else seems to have been interested in!!!

Friday, 28 December 2012

Two Years Retrospective

It's two years since I started blogging at ernieandi, and it's whizzed by. The best part of blogging is making new friends and sharing ideas and opinions. It's a funny old world we're blogging in now, we have to be so careful what we say or we may find ourselves with a legal action against us! That's why I tend to keep some of my stronger opinions to myself. I don't mention gardens that I visit but do not think are very good. And believe me there have been many over the years. The worst kind for me are charity village openings where one garden has been allowed in that is clearly not in the same league as the others. I find it embarrassing to walk around gardens such as these when the owner is following you around, waiting for you to say nice things. Such as what? 'Do you tend these weed beds by yourself, or do you have help?' Or 'I do think it's nice to see a garden that's used by all the family.' (ie what a load of junk there is lying around) It's lovely that people want to open their garden for charity but there should be something to see of interest to the public. I wouldn't dance for charity because I'm not a dancer. So why do gardens open for charity when clearly there is no gardener in residence?! I appreciate not all gardens are to everyone's taste, it would be dull if all gardens were the same. And I enjoy visiting gardens different to my own to get new ideas. But a messy or unloved space has no place as part of a village opening. Dare I suggest that sometimes it is because the garden owner is a person of importance in the village or on a certain committee?! Tricky situation I know. On the bright side, however, I've never been to an open gardens event and come away disappointed, and the odd low-point here and there just serves to highlight the success of the other gardens.

I may not be able to visit quite as many open gardens in 2013 as I will be spending more time looking after Harvey the puppy.

However, I'll be posting some news about upcoming open gardens in the UK and USA / Canada (where 50% of my readers are based!) so hopefully you will find my blog a useful source of information. Go visit some gardens in 2013 - but only blog about the good ones!!!

My next retrospective post will look at some of my most-visited posts. Some of these are quite surprising....see you next time!

Monday, 17 December 2012

Leonardslee Re-opening

This is the best news I've heard for a long time. This amazing Sussex grade-1 listed garden closed in 2010, much to my sadness. Now the news is that the gardens are re-opening in 2013. Little is known about the new owner, but to my relief it would appear the gardens have been developed further, and many deer have been purchased for the wider estate. I've also heard whisperings of a new restaurant. For those of you who have not visited, it has the most amazing collection of rhododendrons and azaleas, gathered around a series of lakes. The rock garden is just breathtaking:

When I hear any more news of the re-opening I'll be sure to post it here! Can't wait to visit this iconic garden again.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

My New Undergardener

Yes, Harvey the labrador x giant schnauzer has tumbled into our lives today! He's a cheeky little chappy and I love him to bits already! He is looking forward to helping me in the garden. He has already been for a tour to assess what needs doing.
Here Harvey is mulching a pot (with slobber)

And here he is pruning a Convulvulus
I'm sure he won't always be that helpful! It's going to be hard work I think but hopefully a lot of fun!

Saturday, 1 December 2012

December hasn't arrived

At least not in my garden, which still thinks it's September. We've managed to dodge frosts until this week, and many of my plants are still flowering when they really should be resting or dying off.

I grew these Mesembryanthemums from seed, and they are now at their best.

Apples are still clinging on for dear life, like baubles on a Christmas tree.

This Salvia was late to get going, and is now making up for lost time

Yes, this poppy still has buds on it in December!

Stipa and Sedums are hanging on, just.

This lantana overwintered without protection last winter. I wonder how it will do this year?

Some of the roses are still blooming.

This one, Rosa 'Lucy' still has plenty of buds, which may not get chance to open.
Even though I am not spending much time in the garden at the moment, it is nice to pop out and see some flowers still doing their thing. And the odd bee here and there. And before long new shoots will emerge and the whole thing starts over again. Can't wait!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Maclura pomifera Osage Orange

Well done to those of you who correctly identified this amazing tree's seed pods. I think it's a fabulous name for a tree. One of the reasons I was so confused by this seed pod was that I found it on the ground nowhere near the tree itself. A child had possibly picked it up and carried it to another part of the garden. Anyway, a member of the gardening team took us to the tree, and below it were dozens of the things. I should think they'd give you a nasty bump on the head if they fell on you. So the moral of the story is, don't stand beneath a Maclura pomifera Osage Orange during the Autumn. But then I expect you knew that already!

Saturday, 24 November 2012

What on earth is this?!

I didn't know at first, but I asked an expert and now I know what it is. Do you?!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Cambridge Botanic Glasshouses

The glasshouses at Cambridge University Botanic Gardens are impressive. Not on the scale of an Eden, Wisley or Welsh National Botanic, but they still hold their own because of the interesting layout. A long corridor runs from one end of the complex to the other, and different rooms open from it, each showcasing a different climate zone. I find this a more intimate way to view the plants, and certainly compared to Eden a lot less overwhelming.

The central corridor

A huge Aeonium

Delightfully glossy foliage

A type of passion flower? Amazing, whatever it is!

More lush foliage

Monday, 19 November 2012

Cambridge University Botanic Garden

Cambridge University Botanic Gardens are among the best in the country without a doubt. Tucked between ordinary streets in the town's suburbs, this 40 acre oasis is open throughout the year. You can see just about every gardening style known to man here, including a rock garden, waterside planting, nine national plant collections and an impressive network of glasshouses. In October, the most impressive areas were around the lakes, where autumn colours were stealing the show.

These Systematic Beds group plants according to their families, for teaching purposes.

There's so much more to see (including the glasshouses which I'll feature in my next post) that I recommend you check out the garden's website.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Anglesey Abbey

Another National Trust treasure that we visited at half term was Anglesey Abbey. The now famous Winter Walk was looking good, and in a month's time it will be spectacular, with the perfume of viburnums and daphnes in the air. Of course looking good all year round are the silver birches. Cyclamen were also putting on a show.

This is a pretty old wisteria!

The dahlias were looking very uniform in their semicircular plot.

Here they are from the other side.

The house itself is fantastic, room after room crammed with the collections of its last private owner, the 1st Baron Fairhaven. The grounds are vast and there are many areas I haven't featured - we were keen not to miss the All Saints Day evensong at Kings College Cambridge!

Sunday, 11 November 2012


Not a bad place when you think its owner only lives here for a couple of weeks a year! Not much of the house is open to the public, for security reasons, but what is open is truly splendid. The grounds sprawl for miles around the house, and there is a walled garden which is only open to booked groups.

One would be happy to worship here!

 There were some impressive autumn colours on display, and a lake is never too far away.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Is this the most beautiful house in England?

It's normally the gardens I rave about when I visit National Trust properties, but at Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk, it's definitely the house that steals the show. Built by the Bedingfeld family in the 15th century, they have lived here ever since. Inside, the family's Catholic history is revealed, complete with a secret priest's hole which you can crawl inside. I was captivated by the place, inside and out. Some of the walls are covered in gilded leather, and the colours are as vivid as the day they were made. Outside, the way this moated house sits in its grounds is so majestic. One is reminded of Ightham Mote and Bodiam Castle, but there's something about Oxburgh that makes you feel you could just move in.

As I've already implied, the garden is perhaps not the star attraction at Oxburgh, but the grounds are very pleasant. There are, however, a few features of note.
This formal parterre lies in the shadow of the hall.

This border must have looked lovely in the summer.

Sometimes I think the National Trust wishes its properties didn't have kitchen gardens. But in fairness, it is November.