Piet Oudolf’s Millennium Garden at Pensthorpe

Described on the website as “One of the most inspirational gardens in Norfolk, the Millennium Garden offers an acre of floral delights, creating a lush tapestry of colour and texture.  A stunning cascade of mixed perennials and grasses, designed by the renowned plantsman Piet Oudolf, the bold, colourful drifts and the naturalistic planting style make the Millennium Garden a particularly popular display with both garden and wildlife enthusiasts.

Flourishing with colourful butterflies and insects during the Spring and Summer months, and providing essential nesting materials and seeds for birds throughout the Winter, this fine Norfolk garden is worth a visit even after its mid-August peak, with the Autumnal colours of the perennial foliage providing a rich spectacle well into the Autumn.” Continue reading

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day – June – Blast Furnace Days

I was away from the garden for a long weekend in Prague, visiting friends who were teaching there for a month; a great city for a break with masses to see especially if you like Art Nuevo and music – ah the music!

But I digress.  Before I went away we had more than a week of strong winds with temperatures about average or a little below the norm for this time of year.  On the day we left the direction of the wind must have changed bringing scorching temperatures of up 38 or 39° C, with wind as well on the first day.  So in four days the garden looks totally different.  Actually it looks as if someone went crazy it with a blow torch!

I hadn’t begun the automatic irrigation because every morning there had been evidence of quite heavy dew, so I felt the plants should cope.  I should have realised that the wind was already drying them out and that they needed a little help.  The automatic irrigation is now on; I’ll post about the different types of irrigation tubes I use and what I think are the pros and cons of each kind soon.

We are now entering the period when there are less blooms, only the toughest of plants flower when its this hot.  So I am now relying on foliage and form to give life to the garden.  Shiny, glinting silvers sparkle in the shimmering heat.  Even very tough, drought tolerant plants like Cistus don’t look their best; their leaves shrivel a little to help prevent water loss.  The garden has lost that feeling of lush plenty and is looking parched and lean.  Not my favourite time.

View of the Large Island with mounds of various silver-leaved plants

You can see in the above that my Cordyline is not happy, it really doesn’t like the heat; its days are numbered.

I showed this plant in spring, when it was wet so you could see how felt-like hairs on the leaf surface protect it from the strong rays of the sun.

Artimesia ponticum

Without these silver-leaved plants the garden would be very sad in summer.

Looking almost blue in the shade earlier this morning

Even the plant’s flower stems and flowers are covered in in tiny hairs for protection

Festuca glauca sparkles in the heat

These leaves look like machine embroidery lace

Euphorbia rigida

Euphorbia rigida’s new foliage is lifting itself clear of its spent flowering stems.  The seed pods were popping for weeks, I expect to find many new seedlings in autumn, time now to clear away the debris.

Euphorbia myrsinites is doing the same, its seedlings are already emerging in the gravel paths

More work to be done, did I really say in an earlier post that there wasn’t much to do in June and July in the garden?

Metallic leaves of Convolvulus cneorum have tough leaves for their protection

The loveliest thing happening in the garden is all the bees and butterflies that fill the space with fluttering wings and various levels or buzzing.  But even here there are things to shock.  Looking at the lavender hedge of the formal beds and taking as many photos as I could I saw this, at first I could quite believe what I was seeing.

Was the bee really being attacked?

I really think it has trapped the bee and is eating it! What could it be?

I checked in my ‘Complete Mediterranean Wildlife’ book and found that it is an Assassin Bug, Rhinocoris iracundus.

I hope you will join in GBFD and tell us what foliage is looking great in your garden at the moment.  To link in just leave a comment with a link to your post; I look forward to reading them.  I’ll read and comment on all GBFD posts, thank you for joining in.

GBFD December

There is no pretending any more – it is winter.  The trees are bare; it is now the structure and the foliage of evergreen and ever-silver plants that are the mainstay of the garden.

For checking if you have good form and texture in the garden you can’t beat looking at you photographs in black and white.  This is not my idea, books recommend trying this and Janet at Plantaliscious often uses this method to learn about her garden. In this way you aren’t distracted by coloured flowers.  If you think your garden looks attractive in black and white I’m sure it looks amazing in colour.

Here’s a few examples, why don’t you try a few too and link into Garden Bloggers Foliage Day to share your findings.  Thanks so much for joining in this month but if you are too busy preparing for the Christmas festivities why not try it for January.

The left side border

I’m surprised at just how good this border looks in December in black and white.  Here it is in colour:

I almost prefer it in black and white, which I think is interesting.

Skeletal branches of the trees contrast with the mass of clipped lavender and grasses give lightness and movement

In colour its like this

The Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’ sings out even without colour

Looking up the bank, the groundcover foliage plants are making quite an impact

Sometimes it is the foliage that is beautiful or interesting when viewed close-to, as in this Euphorbia which seems almost to be deformed but I remember that some were like this last year and they still grew normally.

Euphorbia

This morning I awoke to a ground-frost, so just to prove that Italy is cold in winter here are some icy shots to finish.

Foliage is even more silvery with frost

Rather elegant black grass edged in frost

Please leave a comment with your link, thank you. Christina

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day – The weather has changed

The change in the weather since last foliage day is very noticeable.  Now the mornings are cold; early one morning last week there was a frost, although it must have been very light as nothing has blackened and the roses are still opening their blooms; during the middle of the day the sun shines and it is still pleasantly warm – warm enough to sit on the terrace with a grass of white wine and enjoy the rewards of a morning spent tidying up in the garden.  As soon as the sun begins to drop, it is cooler and a fire is a cosy addition to the evenings.

Autumn shades of Panicum against textures in green

again the bright yellow colouring of Panicum, matched here by a self seeded Californian Poppy

Close up autumn colour of Panicum - I love the tones of colour

Just a few days separate when the above images of the Panicum were taken.  Change is fast, once it begins to happen.

Only the flowers of Gaura in this view of the large island

I like the tapestry of texture here, layer on layer

Even though there are more plants blooming than is usual in November (see GBBD November), it is the foliage that holds the garden together, creates colour and texture that work on their own or as a vital support for the few splashes of colour that the blooms provide.

The calm centre of the garden

Only the bright yellow of the dying Box (second plant that has died in this position) spoils this tranquil view.

This month I thought I would concentrate on some overviews of the garden illustrating how it is the foliage doing the major task of creating stimulating vistas within the garden and leading the eye to the broader landscape.

View towards the left hand border, the wide angle makes it appear a much longer path than it is in reality.

Looking North from midway along the left hand border

This angle of the garden is almost always satisfying, the solidity of the cypress combined with, at this time of year, the glowing yellow leaves of the pomegranate, the trunk of the fast growing Melia which decorates the sky when you look up with its bright yellow berries, the broad leaves of a Canna and the mat-forming, evergreen Verbena all make this everyone’s favourite spot to photograph.

no flowers are needed!

Sun shinning on the sunny yellow leaves of the pomegranite

Moving around the pomegranate there are the box spheres with Bay hedging and a Miscanthus gigantea that will hopefully reach its stated 8 foot next year.

The back border

In the back border blue leaved euphorbias, and dark claret Heuchera contrast with light reflecting seed heads of Miscanthus and Calamagrostis, while a couple of Hemerocallis are valiantly continuing to put up a few more flowers and the abutilon has nearly regained its stature from before it was knocked back to the ground in the minus 8°C temperature of last winter; its orange flowers picking up on the ‘spring’ new growth colour of the Photinia.

Even though the Heuchera leaves are now a little tatty, their beautiful marbled foliage is a great foil for other plants

When I look closely at the self-seeded offspring of seed grown Euphorbias I am intrigued by the variation in colour, I like that they turn pink with the cold as does my face when I work out in the wind!

Not the flowers of Abelia grandiflora, pink again! but so subtle

View across the large island to the greenhouse and the ever-present sparkling foliage of the olives.

What foliage is adding to the enjoyment in your garden?  Is it autumn colour? maybe too late for that now; or evergreen plants that are ignored in summer to return to notice when the splendour of summer is past?  Do share; just add a link to your post when you leave a comment.

Pam at Digging also has a foliage meme which is usually the day after Bloomday, too soon for many of us to be able to get a second post up, here’s the link to this months post.

And to finish, nothing to do with foliage at all; just look what I picked yesterday!

planted in March, strawberries continue to fruit into November, amazing value