Lessons Learned

As you might have been aware from Wednesday’s wordless picture, the Golfer and I visited Chatsworth for Members’ Day of the inaugural RHS Flower Show. It was not a good start, as it took almost 4 hours (a 54 mile journey), the last couple of hours spent in mostly stationery traffic all but 2 miles away from the venue – heaven help any locals caught up in Show traffic! The previous day, Press Day, had been cut short at 1.00pm because of the wet and windy weather and marquees closed earlier for safety reasons, but with better weather forecast for Wednesday it was confirmed that the show would still open, with wellies advisable.

Following the traffic chaos on Wednesday, organisers swiftly announced additional measures with the aim of improving the situation: swifter access to the car parks, increased parking spaces and additional staff to enable faster parking on the grass, with more shuttle buses from the station. For those unable to make the venue on Wednesday because of traffic delays, refunds or alternatives have been offered, and hopefully most visitors will accept that weather conditions are outside the control of the RHS. With the general public admitted alongside members for the rest of the week, it will be interesting to see how well the site copes with the inevitable larger numbers.

So how was the show? Well, arriving at midday instead of before the opening time as had been planned was not a good start, and the majority of visitors were in the same position so naturally the site was heaving. I have not been to a major RHS show since Chelsea in the late 70s (!) but after my last visit to GW Live 6 or 7 years ago I all but vowed never to go a big garden show again, crowds restricting access to the show gardens, the marquees similarly packed and the outside stalls a very mixed bunch, including a large number of only vaguely relevant goods – and it was rather like that at Chatsworth too, albeit in very attractive surroundings.

Am I being controversial in saying this? We caught glimpses of some of the show gardens but in retrospect realise there were others we didn’t even get a peep at, not helped by the informal way they were arranged around the site. I am sure they were all delightful in their different ways, and there was a refreshing informality in some of those we did glimpse, but we have been spoilt with the BBC coverage of RHS shows in recent years where we get to see the gardens as complete entities, and from within, not just random sections between the crowds. I did, however, enjoy my glimpse of the Brewin Dolphin Garden, designed by Jo Thompson, outlined with flowing lines of reinforcing rods:

I did make a few purchases: merchandise from the NGS stand that I had neglected to order online as intended, miniature hostas from a golfing friend of the Golfer  and a nice rusty metal stem of cow parsley, two of which could have easily have been achieved without this visit. We readily spotted Carol Klein in one of the marquees in a wonderfully bright red coat but Jonathan Moseley could have been easily missed, standing discretely and unassumingly on his much talked about Palladian Bridge, the willow snake adorned with flowers and succulents designed to challenge perceptions of what constitutes a pretty arrangement and as a homage to the constantly developing gardens at Chatsworth.

I was pleased to have a tiny but this time adequate glimpse through the various peepholes of the presumably updated Antithesis of Sarcophagi, first seen at Chelsea in 2016 and now destined to remain at Chatsworth for a further 12 months. This huge cube of granite is described as ‘a world turned inside out; a garden inside a sculpture; desolation versus life; civilisation versus nature’. Through the peepholes are tantalising views of woodland plants wafting in the breeze and leaving us wanting more – such a clever idea, presumably involving mirrors.

So what I have learned, or been reminded of – again? That although it’s a lovely idea, visiting a ‘big’ garden show is sadly not as pleasurable an experience as one would like it to be – and I look forward to seeing a fuller and closer view of RHS Chatsworth on Gardeners’ World tonight.

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Wordless Wednesday: a day at RHS Chatsworth Flower Show

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In a Vase on Monday: Pinks

It was the presence of a number of blooms of cosmos that determined the way today’s vase was going: Candy Stripe, Click Cranberries and Fizzy Rose Picotee, all sown at the beginning of March, although two year old Candy Stripe seed germinated poorly and a second sowing was made with new seed. I have yet to successfully save my own cosmos seed so any suggestions would be gratefully received.

Joining the cosmos is Dianthus ‘Sweetness’, a perennial pink grown last year from a free packet of seed and with a typically distinct clove-like fragrance, Astrantia ‘Roma’, palest of pink Allium roseum (which Google tells me is commonly known as rosy garlic and therefore explains why it readily pops up in paths and borders, suggesting regular culling may be appropriate) and foliage interest from Luzula nivea.

Surely I had a little pink vase to pop these pretty pinks into?  Unfortunately it wasn’t as easy as that, and despite possessing several Caithness Glass vases in pastel shades, the nearest to pink was this one, which in the photographs has more of a lavender tint, accentuated by the pinkness of the chunky rose quartz point that accompanies it.  Sadly, this slight clashing of shades would grate on me during the week, so unlike other weeks the prop has not made it beyond the photo shoot, giving a more acceptable result:

Having an acceptable vase is not a prerequisite for IAVOM as a jam jar or any other receptacle will do – wild and wacky ideas and thinking out of the box are always welcomed – so do see what you can pick from your own garden or forage locally to pop into your chosen container. We love to see what other people are picking so do share it with us by leaving the usual links to and from this post.

ps I shall be at the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show on Wednesday: anyone else?

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Everything’s Coming Up….


When every June comes around do we always find ourselves thinking that our roses have never been as fine as they are now? Perhaps, although because most of my roses are relatively new I know that some of them genuinely ARE the finest they have ever been. The Rambling Rector, above, is not a new rose however, being one of the few things growing in the garden when we arrived 20 years ago, but it has certainly benefitted from disciplined pruning over the last few years. After removing the accumulated bird’s nest of deadwood, I now take out all the flowering stems within a few weeks of flowering finishing – and every June proves that this regime is a success.

The rose arbour harbouring the rector was extended two years ago to provide an arch for two climbing Crown Princess Margareta, one princess climbing a little quicker than the other:

Looking out from the kitchen windows I can see both these roses, but also petite Sweet Dreams…

… and Harlow Carr, excelling itself this year in this galvanised tank:

Beyond Harlow Carr you can just see Rural England, which is romping as it has never romped before, including into the apple trees above it

On the pergola to the right of Rural England are half a dozen Danse de Feu, setting the pergola alight as they have done for sixteen (good grief!) years:

All of these glories from the kitchen window, and then from the adjacent back sitting room where the shrub border is clearly visible with Munstead Wood (sitting happily next to Nandina ‘Obsessed’ )…

… The Pilgrim at the end of his pilgrimage…

… and The Poet’s Wife waxing lyrical:

Further down the garden, on the gallery fence Gertrude Jekyll is flowering for the first time and looking every bit as gorgeous as other bloggers suggest she is:

The rose garden itself has been filled with hundreds of blooms, Zéphirin Drouhin and Guinee joined not only by Alfred Carrière on the bus shelter next to it but also now by Blush Noisette on the surrounding fences:

Sadly, many of the first flush of blooms on Madame AC are over as it was a mass of blooms barely a week ago but like its neighbours there are still many many more buds in evidence, whilst deadheading has removed the spent ones (spent blooms accessible from ground level only on the Madame). I tend not to bother deadheading the smaller flowers on Snow Goose, nicely filling out on the wall of the blue & white border and happily intertwining with Trachelospermum asiaticum:

In this rose roundup I now realise I have missed photographing Parkdirektor Riggers against the bold borders wall and rambler Rose-Marie Viaud at the back of the shed, although the latter is not yet in bloom and the former is not yet at its zenith, but perhaps enough is enough?* It is certainly impossible to get away from the effect of roses  at the moment, with their lingering fragrance evident throughout the garden – but who am I to complain, even with the secateurs in hand trying to keep up with the deadheading?

* tough luck! As an earlier afterthought I did remember Pink Perpetué which revels in the long hours of sunshine it gets climbing up at the front of the house, sharing the framework with Clematis ‘Etoile Violette’:

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End of Month View: Why Has June Come so Soon?

It seems next no time since we came back from my Mum’s at the beginning of May and planting out in the cutting beds began – now it’s the beginning of June and the cutting beds look well established  with some things already flowering. Unsurprisingly, the rest of the garden has enjoyed an equally rapid rate of growth and any weeds are well hidden in the stuffed-full borders – June is definitely busting out all over! Take a look at these pictures and see what I mean, checking out the map under The Garden tab above to see how different parts of the garden fit together.

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Wordless Wednesday: Picture Perfect?

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All Work and No Play

It would be easy to stay largely at home and keep on tweaking the garden in preparation for the approaching open days, but that could make the Golfer and me a pair of dullards – so on Monday we swapped our Garden Opening hats for Garden Visitor’s hats and visited some other gardens open for the National Garden Scheme. We chose a group opening of four gardens in the village of Newtown Linford, about half an hour’s drive away. They were quite different in size and focus, but none were pristine or fussy or left us feeling that our own was inadequate or substandard in any way. The River Lin, where brown trout and kingfishers can be seen, ran past the bottom of one of the gardens and through the middle of another – now that’s a real water feature! – and the largest had extensive views over the Charnwood countryside.

Back home, the tweaking continues: helpers have been contacted to confirm their availability, certain missing years of photographs have been tracked down on an external hard drive, a schedule for cake making has been drawn up, the paths are looking pristine (apart from wisteria petals, rose petals and, um, more rose petals…) and I am confident that all is still on target. I have now started moving the plants for sale from their temporary nursery at the bottom of the garden to the back of the house, roughly dividing them into two groups so visitors have an equal chance to purchase on the two opening days – it will take many journeys to move them all! They have been labelled as they were potted up although labels still need to be coded for prices, but I shall do that a few days before, once we put the plant sales table in position.

Oh, and I have added some more pebbles to my collection:

Posted in Gardening, Gardens, open gardens, projects | Tagged | 16 Comments