May 292015
 
Bradford-on-Avon

Bradford-on-Avon

I know I’ve talked about Bradford on Avon several times before, but I’m about to do it again. We had a wander around there last weekend, and the two rows of houses above the Newtown area, Tory and Middle Rank, were looking as gorgeous as ever. Their main gardens are across the footpath, but most houses have planting outside too. Everything seemed way ahead of my own garden, presumably because the houses face south and are in a sheltered spot. Christian’s garden there is tiny, but for a small moment I could see us living there, instead of at my house, enjoying the pleasant lack of wind. But what would we do without any gardening to do? I’m not sure I can imagine it…

It’s the Bradford on Avon Secret Gardens Festival on Sunday, and it is well worth a visit – there are clearly many green-fingered types in the town. I’m not sure if any gardens in Tory or Middle Rank are taking part, but you’ll see plenty if you just wander up there – and the view is spectacular, too.

BOA-Iris

Jan 242015
 
Garrya elliptica

Glastonbury

I’ve never been much of a fan of Garrya elliptica, but this one caught my eye. The long, silvery catkins really caught the low winter sunlight, and the whole plant seemed to sparkle.

Seeing it reminded me of studying for my RHS Level 2 examination in an evening class, many moons ago. One of the women on the course was pregnant, and we said she should give the child a botanical name. Of course that would have been easy if the child was a girl, but impossible for a boy. The only name we could come up with was… Gary Eliptica.

You probably had to be there.

Oct 142014
 
Ferns and Japanese anemones

Brook Green, London

I’ve walked past this shady little front garden many times but had never noticed it before. Now that the Japanese anemones are out, though, it caught my eye. I like the contrast of leaf colours and textures, and especially love the crinkly, purple pittosporum. It’s an attractive, low-maintenance solution for a tiny Victorian terrace.

Jul 242014
 
Lavender in front garden

Bath

This is my front garden, a couple of metres square and planted by the previous owners. For a few weeks in July it looks like a pint-sized patch of Provence and is much remarked-upon. I love it.

Compared to this time last year, it has attracted very few bees – last year, dozens and dozens of them were buzzing all over it; this year, I’ve only spotted two or three at a time. I hope they’re simply getting a ready supply of nectar elsewhere, and it’s not a sign of bee decline.

At some point the lavender will have to go, as it’s getting a bit leggy in places. But I might just plant more – it’s incredibly wind tolerant (the wind howls up from the valley sometimes), and is neatly evergreen when it’s not in flower. It even manages to obscure my recycling crate.

Jun 032014
 
Bradford-on-Avon

Bradford-on-Avon

There are rich pickings for nosey garden bloggers in Bradford-on-Avon at the best of times, let alone when it’s the Bradford-on-Avon Secret Gardens festival. We had a jolly afternoon ogling at gardens large and small, many finding clever ways of dealing with the steep slopes that are a feature of this part of the world.

I really liked this unusual parterre in a front garden, planted with alliums, heuchera and sedums for a long season of interest. It was originally lined with box, but that had to be replaced with yew thanks to box blight. It will darken with age, making it look even more contemporary.

The Secret Gardens festival runs on four weekends and you can still catch the last two, on the last Sundays of June and July. The gardens vary each time, but they’re well worth a visit.