Monday, February 22, 2016

My garden Holiday in England - London Inner Temple Garden

Last year we made a trip to England. Where else can you see and do things garden and not run out of places to go. My husband and I spent part of the holidays touring around the southern coast of East Sussex and Kent, the Garden of England. Yes that is how they advertise Kent, the Garden of England. So I knew I was in the right place.

In London we managed a visit to Inner Temple Garden a 3 acre park that is part of the Inner Temple. The Inner Temple is  one of the four Inns of Court where you can find information on how to become a barrister; how to join the Inn; scholarships; and other things a student of law needs to know.  Also in this area is the twelfth century Temple Church, originally home to the Knights Templar. Kinda cool that. Here's a link to their website if you want a look. The park is close to the Thames River and surrounded by some wonderful looking buildings dedicated to the British law.

A highlight of this Temple Garden was seeing a medlar tree and its fruit. I have tripped over this fruit during many a historical reading not knowing exactly what it was. Something akin to an apple that can be eaten raw, (although it is an acquired taste) but is infinitely better in jellies or desserts.

 A funny looking fruit, but certainly not like an apple

The tree is not too large. Under 10 feet tall and wider than that.

We were in England in mid September and there was still heaps of colour and tons of flowers in every garden we saw. Surprising to me, although perhaps I should not have been, North American native plants were blooming everywhere. Lucky us in that we do have wonderful fall blooms and colour. 

Mixed in with the hydrangea is a plant I am looking for Begonia grandis. A bit more tender than other begonias but this one likes shade.

This last photo is to show you how they use willow that is twined and dried to hold its shape in order to support the peonies. Ingenious. In behind are Japanese anemones.

Those were all the photos I took, not that many. Photos or look at flowers. Sometimes the choice is easy. Next stop Kew Gardens, London.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Book Review: The Gardener of Versailles

During the winter months I frequent the library more often in search of beautiful picture books, inspiring garden designs, and occasionally some horticultural information. After returning 3 books last week I decided to try Alain Baraton's book The Gardener of Versailles: My Life in the World's Grandest Garden. If you have ever visited my other blog Women and the Garden you would know that I enjoy reading about the history of gardens, gardens and gardeners. This book, Baraton's only book to be translated in English (so far) is definitely satisfying my interest in the historical aspects of gardens and gardeners.

Alain Baraton has been working at Versailles since 1976. He started as most young men did at that time as an apprentice where he learned the basics of gardening. Now, Gardener-in-Chief, he shares with us his memories of living at Versailles. We learn of his love of trees and the two devastating storms he has witnessed, the most recent of which felled 18,000 trees, many of which would have been saplings during the reign of Louis VI. He shares short stories about the kings and queens who have lived in Versailles, such as the fact that Louis IV was a lover of gardens, Marie Antoinette's need to find solitude outside of the palace, the secret passages underground in the gardens and the secret passages and rooms within the Palace of Versailles. Baraton is not shy to express his opinions about the famous landscape designer Andre Le Notre or the founder of the King's Potager Jean- Baptiste de  La Quintinie. Baraton reflects sadly on the old ways of gardening hoe or rake in hand while listening to music or birdsong, now replaced with large agricultural machinery and earplugs. At times nostalgic and times romantic Baraton drops tidbits of information anyone interested in gardens or gardening will be thrilled to find and pocket for themselves. The Gardener of Versailles is a pleasure to read. Sit down with a cup of something hot by the window and enjoy.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Lessons Learned

Lessons learned.
Last year the front porch area made a demand. "This large brick wall expanse is too much to look at. Fix it". I had to agree. It was too much brick to look at. Even hubby commented on this.
Surprisingly hubby had the answer. Grow a clematis. OK but that means grow a clematis in a pot, and I kill plants in pots. So I decided to buy the most ubiquitous clematis there is in the hope that it would survive, even thrive. Welcome Clematis Jackmanii.

Without the help of more photos I can attest that Jackmanii did thrive and bloom all summer and fall. Great choice Patty! (um, thanks hubby for the input).

However, that is not the end of the story. Fall arrives, cool temperatures waft in and it is time to put the clematis in winter storage. End of November it warms up 10C or so, so out goes the clematis (and other assorted pots with plants on trial). Clematis still looks great. It is green and lush still. And it has flower buds.

Early December Jackmanii is back indoors. It is a cumbersome pot to move on your own I find. The tomato cage is not helping either. I plan to check on the clematis after Christmas to see if it needs water. When I do I find this.

He isn't the best looking Jackmanii flower I have seen. But it is amazing that the clematis continued to grow.
So, lesson learned: You can grow and flower clematis in December.

(I bet you thought I was going to mention potted plants)