Saturday, August 28, 2010

Can it really be done?

Well here I am done and dusted. Final project, the soft landscape portfolio, printed packed and posted. A sense of overwhelming relief followed that final piece of information landing in the right place but it wasn't until posting it that the real sense of 'it's done, finished' hit me.

SEASONAL PLANTING:160 plants over 4 seasons

COLOUR THEME PLANTING:120 plants over 10 colourways

A certain gapping hole which of course will be filled in coming weeks with planning and progressing a new business, MY new business. But I have to say it has been a whale of a ride and a great deal more work than I imagined possible to cram into one year (well 11 months tbh) and a great deal more in terms of deliverables and learn than I also thought possible.

I've enjoyed the blogging and the sense of achievement at completing the course and now putting it into practice and making a success of my new business is the next stage.

New blog(s) to go with the new business.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Which books get you enthused about plants?

In the middle of prepping 20 planting plans (!) and I am knee deep in fabulous books, spread open with sticky notes all over them identifying perfect combinations and possible plant choices. My current favourites are:

With Beth Chatto's wonderful planting schemes detailed

Predictable in places but mostly glorious ideas

Dreamy is indeed the word though the cottage garden features so heavily in UK examples one could be led to believe that's ALL we can do!

I'm in a Piet phase so though I gather things have moved on I am still lusting after these planting schemes ;)

Any other recommendations would be happily explored

Earth Clock - not on topic but fascinating nevertheless

Friday, August 13, 2010

Glorious Shropshire summer days

A short stint of house and chicken sitting for friends in sunny Shropshire allowed me ample time to pad round some glorious gardens (including The Dorothy Clive garden and Wollerton Old Hall) in the environs. The last one was Trentham Gardens a huge estate with some spectacular gardens. Think mature meets modern. I visited in the winter last year and was breath taken by Tom Stuart Smith's Italian Garden borders so felt a summer visit to see it all in it's full glory was both appropriate and frankly a must do whilst staying less than an hour away!

It was heaving with families and kids, HEAVING.  I headed along the Trent beside the frothing grass paths and sculpture.

Sculpture and Grasses

Coming upon the Piet Oudolf borders is a delight they tantalise along the river path  inviting you to explore the wide paths and deep, blocky planting. Somehow there is something much more satisfying about big blocks of plants, not 3's, 5's 8's per Fibonacci but 34's, 55's and 89's (also Fibonacci's but bigger :) )

Piet Oudolf borders

Swathes of Echinacea, White Swan and purpurea and probably several other so (no plant list :( ), Eupatorium purpureum, Solidago, Achillea, all colours and sizes, bluest Salvias, stands of Monada's, and pink/purple Liatris amongst them and then, of course with blocks of grasses to form backdrops and punctuations in the floriferous groups.
Birch copse with grasses

Two smallish copses of birch (Betula utilis and nigra I think) underplanted with grasses promise of future season when they will join the mature canopy of trees that dot the gardens. Seeing the layering of the plantings against the well established shrubs and trees re-inforces the vital importance of seeing the planting scheme within the whole environment.
Stretching on forever

This section of garden is maintained by 1 full time and 1 part time person plus volunteers which surprised me. It's pretty weedless and looked in excellent shape given the time of year and recent dry spell. I was lucky enough to speak at length with the gardener about her plants and the maintenance of this beautiful series of borders. Her enthusiasm for the plants and the development are infectious and lead one to imagine it will indeed develop over time and not remain static.

beautiful blooms

Crossing the paths into the Italian Garden proved something of a disappointment though. They just didn't look great. The planting was bitty, or so it seemed, there were a lot of unfilled gaps, collapsed plants that were still flowering and shockingly weeds at eye height. OK I am not a weed snob and know it's impossible to maintain a completely weed free environment but 5'6" (eye height for me!) flowering dandelions? c'mon! that's just poor management!

5'6" Taraxacum officinale - DANDELION!

At the time I thought the whole area looked unkempt - hardly appropriate for the formality of the space - but looking back at shots it doesn't strike me as so uninspiring. Maybe it felt worse in comparison to the boldness and striking planting of the Oudolf borders, maybe it was simply a hard year for the plants in that area. But uninspiring it was.

Italian Gardens

Italian Gardens

scale of planting in Italian Garden

and can I just say Trentham what on earth possessed you to plant this up in the upper (Italian) gardens? talk about poor juxtaposition!

hideous bedding in upper Italian gardens

The 100 ideas gardens on the whole were not worth photographing, which is  a mean thing to say but they were so badly looked after - think dying plants, weeds, gaps, dead plants, broken fences, that I was shocked they were clearly starting to hard landscape for new ones. This was such a change from my December 09 visit when they were all looking full of promise and good structure.

WHICH just goes to show one season does not a good garden make!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Seasonal portfolio in the print

After a moment of blind panic yesterday at the printers todays news came a s a delightful surprise. Not only was the quality of the print out fantastic and not in the least bit line-y (as we were worried it might be yesterday)  but the first few pages look completely amazing, and the cost is about half what I had anticipated.

I'm really excited about seeing it finished and am onto part two though it is still more challenging due to having to limit my plant selections to 6 per colourway!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Do you know what this is?

An alternate title could be ' It's not enough to know the Genus!'

I am mid way through the Seasonal portfolio and struggling to identify some of the flower images. It is of course great exercise in plant identification but sometimes one needs outside help. Time as ever is against me so I am asking for help.

Tweeters have been brilliant with speedy replies and suggestions so I am hoping that blog readers will be able to help to.

These are my current challenges.
Geraniaum himalayense? perhaps? perhaps not?

???? some sort or rudbeckia? or helianthus?


Veronica spicata?

all help gratefully received :)
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