It’s Not Pink, it’s Magenta

I promised a while ago to show you what other things are in the area now known in my head as the Magenta Zone!  Pink sounds too girly for such a strong, vibrant colour.

Here is a description I found of a newly purchased Geranium ‘Tiny Monster’ “From Rolf Offenthal at Germany’s Countess Helen Von Stein’s Nursery comes an excellent new geranium hybrid (Geranium sanguineum x Geranium psilostemon). Each plant makes a 10″ tall x 3′ wide mound of cut-leaf green foliage, topped all summer with 1″+ lavender flowers (why are the people who describe plants colour blind? – it’s clearly not lavender colour in any images let alone in life!). Unlike straight Geranium sanguineum clones which it resembles, Geranium ‘Tiny Monster’ is sterile, so more flowers will result along with no unexpected little ones appearing and begging for support.”

Geranium ‘Tiny Monster’

Geranium ‘Tiny Monster’

I bought two well grown pots which I was able to divide into 9 small plants to spread under the Arbutus tree.  I don’t usually irrigate this area so I will have to wait to see how much water it requires.

salvia, a cutting from a friend's garden (unknown name)

salvia, a cutting from a friend’s garden (unknown name)

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Cistus

Cistus

The Cistus is actually not quite in the Magenta zone but I might extend the planting to reach it or I have some cuttings from it I took last year and I will plant it in the ‘zone’.

Lychnis coronaria

Lychnis coronaria

Looking along the path towards the rose

Looking along the path towards the rose

Rosa L D Braithwaite is slightly redder than the true magenta colour I have been aiming for but having moved it once I will allow it to stay.  I don’t have a good image for it at the moment, I’ll post about it again when I write about all the roses.

Achillea millefolium ‘Cassis’

Achillea millefolium ‘Cassis’

Achillea millefolium ‘Cassis’ is a lovely colour this self-seeded last year and so far seems to have come true.

Do you have a colour themed area in your garden? A classic Sissinghurst White Garden?

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Chelsea 2013 – The Pavilion

The pavilion is a great showcase for good nurseries all displaying their plants growing to perfection; the winners of the medals are always the nurseries where the owners are passionate about what they do.  A chance for the ‘big names’ to strut their stuff, Hilliers again presented us with so much to look at and it rivalled some of the show gardens for the class of its design and planting.

Vibrant colour and well-grown plants on the Hilliers stand

Vibrant colour and well-grown plants on the Hilliers stand

The cooler weather may have made it difficult for the growers to get plants ready for the show but at least it meant that they remained in tip-top condition during the week.

I noticed a new trend this year; many were selling ‘something’ not just taking orders or selling catalogues.  Seeds were an obvious choice even from nurseries whose main business is actually selling plants; others were selling small packs containing sample plants (I think they were rooted cuttings and so sidestepped the rule about NOT selling plants.  I sympathise with them, the cost of being at Chelsea must be enormous, a large percentage of their trade for a smaller nursery.  Of course they want to be present to establish themselves in the eyes of the visitors but perhaps they need the opportunity of some instant payback.  Selling something there and then is necessary for them.  Perhaps the RHS needs to address this.  I am not suggesting that the Pavilion becomes a giant market place, but with all the technology available today perhaps one could order and pay for plants at the stand and collect the plants from a collection area.  Some of the bulb companies take orders at the show and you give credit card details, payment being taken when the bulbs are dispatched; this could also work for plants by mail order which would surely encourage everyone to buy from committed nurserymen rather than buy later from unhelpful garden centres that are mostly just bringing plants from Holland, and we all know the problems that this causes in the long run.

I always head for the Tulips displays, there is nothing like seeing the colours ‘in life’ to encourage me to begin thinking about my autumn bulb order now.  All the tulips were in excellent condition, and why wouldn’t they be, they are still flowering in many UK gardens.  The following caught my eye, but I am very happy with my selections this year that came from seeing other bloggers tulips actually growing.  So what tulips worked well for you this year?

Tulip Curley Sue

Tulip Curley Sue

T. Pink Diamond, Queen of Night, Ciy of Vancouver

T. Pink Diamond, Queen of Night, City of Vancouver

Tulip Marilyn

Tulip Marilyn

Tulip Avignon

Tulip Avignon

Does anyone know the name of this? my system failed

Does anyone know the name of this? my system failed

My most interesting conversation was with the knowledgeable staff on the East Malling Reseach stand.  They are doing research into the problems that could be caused by warmer winters.  I have a similar problem; the winters here aren’t reliably cold enough for me to grow apples and pears so I will be very interested when their site is updated to included chill factor requirements for different varieties.  Also I hadn’t realised that ALL dwarfing rootstock trees don’t have a tap root, which for trees planted in drought prone area can make a huge difference to its survival.

Dwarfing root stock

Dwarfing root stock

A couple of other plants attracted my attention, maybe they’ll find their way into the garden next year.

Ixia Mabel

Ixia Mabel

Dahlia Magenta Star

Dahlia Magenta Star

Chelsea 2013 – Small Gardens

While Kazuyuki Ishihara for his garden Satoyama Life won the best in show of the Artisan gardens I have to admit to being less enthusiastic.  Don’t misunderstand me, it was beautiful.  Perfectly designed and impeccably planted but this like the Roger Platt garden I discussed yesterday was almost identical to other gardens he has created in former years.

Perhaps I am being unrealistic and certainly I’m not someone who likes change for change’s sake, but surely if the RHS can’t persuade designers to be more original then they need to change the brief and be more critical of the designs when they are submitted and not just accept them because the designer is well respected.

My favourite in the Artisan category was UN GARREG – one stone by Welsh designers Harry and David Rich.  The planting was beautifully understated and their use of stone was exemplary.  Laying the stones vertically in parts of the traditional dry stone wall showed real ingenuity.

David and Harry Rich (I think)

David and Harry Rich (I think)

The Box ball seemed a little out of place

The Box ball seemed a little out of place, the wall behind was stunning.

The planting was nicely understated

The planting was nicely understated

Iris Sultan's Palace took my eye, but not really emblamatic of a Welsh hillside

Iris Sultan’s Palace took my eye, but not really emblamatic of a Welsh hillside

There were several gardens based on recreating a natural environment this year including the above Artisan garden, The Australian Garden winner of best in show and a garden in the Fresh category that illustrates a garden in the south of France after a fire by James Basson.

Living in a more or less Mediterranean climate myself (we have colder winters than ‘true’ Mediterranean climates) I was particularly interested in how the plants looked in this garden.

New growth emerges after the fire

New growth emerges after the fire

At least here ALL the plants were suitable for the climate.  I think they had been grown in the UK though because they were ‘soft’.  I’m not sure how else I would describe them. Plants grown in Italy (or France in this case) grow tough because they don’t receive copious amounts of water, the wind is strong and the sun is really hot, the lavender in particular hardly looked like the same plant.  But this is an observation not a criticism.  I felt the contrast between the dead trees (from the fire) and the new vibrant life growing underneath was evocative of ‘place’ in a way few of the other gardens achieved.

My Thoughts – Chelsea 2013 The Gardens

As I mentioned in my last post, I hate leaving my own garden at his time of year but I am also lured by the temptation of visiting the Chelsea Flower Show.  This year partly because it was the centenary anniversary a trip to London won and I visited the show on Wednesday.

The show is watched over by this bronze statue of a Chelsea Pensioner.

The show is watched over by this bronze statue of a Chelsea Pensioner.

I enjoyed my experience more this year than on any other occasion; not because it was sunny and warm.  In fact the day was cool, bordering on cold with a very grey sky, actually meaning that it was much better for taking photographs.

Not because the show gardens were wonderful or inspiring, more about this in a moment.

Not because I was with good company, this year I was actually alone.  I’m not sure if the RHS had made a decision not to sell so many tickets (I haven’t heard that this is the case) but this is the first year I have been able to walk around in comfort.  I could see the gardens without having to push and shove (yes I have had to do this in the past I’m ashamed to say).  I could step into the main pathways and walk at the pace I wanted to; in the Pavilion it was easy to walk around without feeling that you were part of a queue.

So what about the show itself?  In some ways it was a bit of a disappointment and this wasn’t due to the difficult weather conditions exhibitors had had to endure this year.  Certainly different plants than those listed on hand-outs were used in many gardens and many plants were in bud rather than in flower, but this was positive rather than negative to my eyes.

Iris sibirica 'Tropic Night' in the garden UN GARREG Crafted from one stone

Iris sibirica ‘Tropic Night’?  in the garden UN GARREG Crafted from one stone

I’ll begin with Fleming’s nursery’s The Australian Garden, gold medal winner and controversial winner of the best in show award.  Designed by Phillip Johnson and based on his philosophy of creating landscapes that can mitigate extremes of drought and flooding, harnessing and managing water to guard against fire and storm and to create sustainable environments for both wildlife and people. “Bio-mimicry” is a word that comes up a lot: reproducing the processes of nature to solve human problems. “We need to bring Mother Nature back into our urban environment,” he says, “to cool and heal our cities.”

This was the only garden that was really different from all the others; that wouldn’t be a reason in itself for it to be awarded best in show but the planting was superb, evoking an Australian landscape most of us have never seen, with lush and luxuriant planting.  Its theme of how to sustainably harness rain and floodwater in a residential garden was given a glamorous interpretation involving a billabong, waterfalls and a rock gorge.  The billabong, a natural swimming pond is fed by rain water harvested from around the Chelsea site, which also supplies the creeks and waterfalls that flow into the pool.

A series of microclimates are created around the garden, allowing Phillip to use a wide variety of plants from all corners of Australia, including some never seen at Chelsea before. And for extra authenticity, he plays recordings of Yarra Valley frogs, made at night in his own garden.

This garden deserved to win; for the first time ever I think I agreed with the judges.

The  Australian Garden, Fleming's Nursery

The Australian Garden, Fleming’s Nursery

Phillip Johnson praying for a little sunshine for his photo shoot (not with me of course)

Phillip Johnson praying for a little sunshine for his photo shoot (not with me of course)

Phillip Johnson

Phillip Johnson

Phillip Johnson in his garden

Phillip Johnson in his garden

The  Australian Garden, Fleming's Nursery

The Australian Garden, Fleming’s Nursery

Laurent-Perrier always sponsors gold medal gardens usually with minimalistic planting but with hard landscaping to die for!  This year Ulf Nordfjell was tipped by many magazines to win the coveted best in show award but visitors to the show were underwhelmed by the subtle planting, travertine marble steps and pool and the copper backed pergola.  I didn’t dislike the garden but perhaps the combination of Nordic cool and Mediterranean heat just doesn’t quite come together.  His inspiration Nicole de Vésian’s clipped Mediterranean plants were confused by some planting that obviously needed rather more water than the Mediterranean supplies.  I did love his choice of Iris ‘Sugar Magnolia’ and I. ‘Beverly Sills’ and the very unusual Quercus fastigiata.

Laurant-Perrier garden by Ulf Nordfjell

Laurant-Perrier garden by Ulf Nordfjell

Laurant-Perrier garden by Ulf Nordfjell

Laurant-Perrier garden by Ulf Nordfjell

Iris 'Sugar Magnolia'

Iris ‘Sugar Magnolia’

I loved the emotion evoked by Chris Beardshaw’s garden for Arthritis research.  As you we have come to expect from Chris, the planting was immaculate and his interpretation of dealing with the diagnosis of Arthritis and learning to live with it is heart-felt.  The glass structure which is ‘glued’ together was one of the most interesting structures in the show (one that was, I’m afraid impossible to photograph well).

Chris Beardshaw, not in his own garden

Chris Beardshaw, not in his own garden

To the Limit by Anna Gillespie

To the Limit by Anna Gillespie

Chris Beardshaw's wonderful planting

Chris Beardshaw’s wonderful planting

I think I was one of the only visitors to really like the Daily Telegraph’s garden designed by Christopher Bradley-Hole.  Formal clipped Box, Yew and unusually Beech or Hornbeam combined with a small formal pool and a wood uprights that would have looked better had they been allowed to age before being used in the garden show how simple planting can create a sophisticated space.

Christopher Bradley-Holes's clipped cubes

Christopher Bradley-Hole’s clipped cubes

Roger Platt’s ‘The Centenary Garden’ for M&G investments the sponsors of the show left me completely cold.  Yes the planting was well done (I imagine that is what earned the gold medal) but the design could have been switched with several others he has produced over the last few years and no-one would have noticed.

Window's through time by Roger Platt for M&G investments

Window’s through time by Roger Platt for M&G investments

Window's through time by Roger Platt for M&G investments

Windows through time by Roger Platt for M&G investments

I did like this sculture in The Windows Through Time garden by Roger Platt.

I felt many of the designers were playing safe in this Centenary year, and this is sad.  Better that 50% of visitors hate a garden and the other 50% be truly inspired than the majority be bored by the garden.  If you can’t be cutting edge at Chelsea, where can designers show us what is possible, what is inspiring, what takes the breath away?  This year none of the gardens took my breath away.  There was nothing to hate except perhaps Jinny Blom’s garden for Prince Harry which I overheard someone say she had had to design in only 3 days (and looked like three hours).  But the cause is good so I will say no more.

Sorry this is too long a post.  I’ll report on the pavilion and smaller gardens on another occasion.

If  you’d like to learn more about how the prizes are organised please read Wellywomans post here.

Home from Chelsea

What is the first thing you do when you arrive home after a few days away?

Last evening when I arrived home from Chelsea, I didn’t even open the door of the house but immediately needed to walk around the garden to satisfy myself that all was well.

The sun was going down do the light was coming from a low angle and the garden seemed magical to me.

Even more of the roses were blooming, Madonna lilies were opening and Stipa tenuissima was wafting about in the wind, tempting me to run my fingers through it.

Sambucus and rose Scepter'd Isle in the triangular rose bed

Sambucus and rose Scepter’d Isle in the triangular rose bed

Dwarf gladioli in the large island

Dwarf gladioli in the large island

Budhlea alternifolia

Buddleia alternifolia

Trachelospermum jasinoides, hides the gas bottle from the vegetable garden, and its scent fills the air all around the garden

Trachelospermum jasminoides, hides the gas bottle from the vegetable garden, and its scent fills the air all around the garden

Cotinus catching the last rays of the sun

Cotinus catching the last rays of the sun

The slope

The slope

From the drive you can't even see the paths between the beds

From the drive you can’t even see the paths between the beds

I hate being away from home at this time of year, all the more because later in summer it will be too hot and many plants will go into summer hibernation so this is really the moment for abundance in the garden.  I did enjoy the Chelsea Flower Show and when I get my thoughts together I’ll post about my impressions.

GBFD – A beautiful garden is dependent on the foliage

This month I didn’t go out into the garden to look for foliage to photograph for this post but instead decided that I would look through the images I have taken so far this month and think about how the foliage relates to the whole garden experience.

This image taken on the first of May sums up my thoughts on foliage; even though the garden seemed full of flowers at the time (May 1st) in this particular view there are only a couple of tail end tulips still blooming and yet to me it looks lovely.  The texture and form and the varying shades of green MAKE the garden.

Looking accross the small island to the circular rose bed

Looking accross the small island to the circular rose bed

Looking across the large island there are flowers but without the foliage it would be a pretty poor show (May 5th)

Under the mulberry the blue colour and texture of Festuca glauca contrasts with the deep plum colour Huechera. (May 5th)

Under the Mulberry

Under the Mulberry

Some plants have foliage almost more lovely than their flowers.

Crimson edged leaf of Allium  Karataviense

Crimson edged leaf of Allium Karataviense

Cotinus

Cotinus

Sedum with feathery silvery folage of an artemisia

Sedum with feathery silvery folage of an artemisia

One red poppy in the formal beds of Perovskia

One red poppy in the formal beds of Perovskia

Large island in the foreground

Large island in the foreground

Looking across the large island there are flowers but without the foliage it would be a pretty poor show (May 5th)

Again this month I wanted to show you that by changing your images to tones of grey (thank goodness for digital photography) you can see very clearly how textures and forms work together to make a pleasing tapestry that will form the background to the flowers you want to display to their best advantage.

Cistus and Artemisia with Allium Christophii

Cistus,  Artemisia and Eleagnus with Allium Christophii

Same image in colour

Same image in colour

A narrow path leading you further into the garden

A narrow path leading you further into the garden

The grey image emphasises how wriggly the path edge is, I must adjust this, as it is unnecessarily fussy

The same image in colour

The same image in colour

What job is foliage doing in your garden?  Do you have a plant that you chose because it had lovely foliage rather than for the colour of its flowers?  If you are in the Southern Hemisphere it is autumn now, do you have some colourful autumn foliage to share with us?

To join in GBFD, simply post about foliage and leave a comment here with the link.

Blue Suede Shoes

No, not my preferred footwear when gardening but another Iris I bought from Cayeux while at the Courson plant fair last autumn.

For its first year it produced just one stem, nothing very special about that except that to begin it had 5 flowers open at the same time, spectacular, I was imagining future years when with more stems it would be amazing especially planted near the paler blue I. Jane Philips; the flowers dies back, again no surprise there but then and this, to me, was astounding it produced another 6 or seven flowers again all open at the same time!

Iris Blue Suede Shoes

Iris Blue Suede Shoes

Iris Blue Suede Shoes

Iris Blue Suede Shoes

Iris Blue Suede Shoes

Iris Blue Suede Shoes

Iris Blue Suede Shoes

Iris Blue Suede Shoes

Iris Blue Suede Shoes

Iris Blue Suede Shoes

Iris Blue Suede Shoes second flowers

Iris Blue Suede Shoes second flowers

Iris Blue Suede Shoes second flowers

Iris Blue Suede Shoes second flowers

I am so happy I bought this Iris.

Is there a purchase you’re particularly pleased with?

Don’t forget Garden Bloggers Foliage Day (GBFD) on the 22nd.  I know you all have so many flowers at the moment you’re not thinking about the foliage but if you do, I think you might be surprised.