Unusual for us Brits to get a Bank Holiday with sunshine so I made the most of it busy in the garden. Seem to be snowed under with self-sewn white honesty this year.
All the greens are vivid and fresh and over the pergola the wisteria is just about to burst into its dramatic display.
It’s a busy time in the garden pricking out seedlings, potting on and preparing the raised beds for plantings.
I’m always surprised at how each year the garden is different. Over the winter some plants have survived and others have withered, but this spring the amalanchier lamarkii (Juneberry) is finally looking tree-like after 10 years.
Ten years ago when I moved to this house the patch of outside space was mostly overgrown. There was a small patch of annual weeds surrounded by mountains of brambles punctuated with ‘vertical interest’ provided by the odd self seeded holly or sycamore sapling. I spent my first summer working my way round the plot clearing, clearing, clearing.
I have read in gardening books that you should leave your garden for the first year allowing any glorious unexpected plants time to be discovered. Well, that would have been a waste of year for me as apart from a fully grown, 40 year old philadelphus, I discovered a stunted apple tree supporting an ant colony and a pale pink peony in deep shade!! And, then there was this camellia, colour of flowers unknown, and no sign of flowering.
As I have mentioned before I garden in a region with low rainfall on very free draining soil, altogether not suitable for camellias, but here was a camellia. Yes, it was sickly and struggling, but surviving – so I moved it to light dappled shade, fed it and drenched it with rainwater in dry periods and 10 years later it’s getting into its stride. Gardening is a game of waiting.
As the year turns nature dresses and redresses herself in a succession of seasonal floral and foliage combinations. Mostly this is a gradual affair in my garden, but the boundary between winter to spring offers the sharpest of the mostly blurred, creeping seasonal changes. There is the fading of the scented, late-winter blossom of Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’ whilst, at the same time, along the top of the fence Clematis armandii ‘Snowdrift’ begins opening into small cascades of white flowers as it weaves its way through a climbing rose.
Around the edges of the budding, deciduous shrubs the shy, drooping hellebores take centre stage for a few weeks pushing their way through between a dwarf hebe or two.
And, it wouldn’t be spring if there weren’t patches of light shade lit with clusters of pale sunny primroses.
From March into April the pace of new growth begins to pick up and everywhere new fresh green shoots remind me of the variety of perennials that will take their place in the limelight at some point all the way through to the Michaelmas daisies of November!
It is definitive – after a year’s grace my beautiful old climbing rose is definitely dead. Last weekend I spent a few hours cutting down and removing the old skeleton of tangled lifeless branches. This winter’s tidy up has revealed quite a gap on the east end of the pergola and dividing trellis.
Rosa Debutante in full glory in the summer of 2013.
Winter 2015 and the dead rose has left quite a gap.
Initially I had been considering another pink rose planted away from the site of the dead rose, but still trailing up over the pergola. There are hundreds of pink roses to choose from and it is a case of deciding what qualities I would like such as colour, scent, length of flowering period, height and possible hip production. And, also very importantly whether the rose will tolerate my impoverished, free-draining soil and low rainfall. But another pink rose?
Very pink, disease resistant but no scent. Rosa Karlsruhe
Delicate, pale pink, scented, but not that vigorous possible as short climber. Rosa St Swithun
Striking with strong magenta, fuchsia and paler pink stripes. Rosa Ferdinand Pichard.
Perhaps not pink then. How about a white rose (the neighbouring wisteria is white) or even a pale yellow?
Single, white with small hips and good scent introduced in 1946 Rosa Francis E Lester
Repeat flowering, reliable, gorgeous scent. Rosa Alister Stella Gray.
Of course, also, what about hips too for the autumn and winter months?
Also good hips from the wild dog rose, Rosa canina, but growth is too wild and natural for a pergola.
Medium sized hips on Rosa Alister Stella Gray.
But having a good think and looking again at some of my favourite colour combinations.
And, I think that the peachy apricot colour I’m looking for could be this rose, rosa François Juranville. It was first introduced in 1906 and as it is a Wichurana Rambler it will only flower once in mid-summer, but within a few years that should make a spectacular display for July. It’s the colour and scent that wins the day!
Perhaps the inquiry ‘digital prints versus hand painted’ appears at first glance a non-starter as a challenge. After all, whether digital or any other kind of print, the notion of prints is that there is more than the single original. The collection of images here is considering the original inspirational flowers and how they have been worked into textile designs for either multiple print use or one-of-a-kind hand work.
A print is a copy of the original and the more copies there are somehow changes the value of the original – or does it? There are many reproduction copies of, for example, the ‘Mona Lisa’, but the original is almost priceless. The arrangement of a ‘limited’ print run is the intermediate solution between an expensive original and cheaper mass produced copies. In many cases it obvious the difference between an original and a print – Monet didn’t paint his many different water lilies on the side of shopping bags, but large canvases.
However, in the world of silk painting a digital reproduction on a scarf is sometimes termed as a ‘limited edition’ and then labelled as ‘hand’ made if a square of digitally printed silk has had the edges sewn by hand.
There is something uneven and unrepeatable in the process of hand painting silk that gives a finished piece a unique appearance. Even when you have an original drawing, watercolour or oil painting translated into a digital form and then printed on to silk the accuracy and consistency of the technology somehow reduces the irregular, fluctuating effect of the hand painted original. Obviously, I’m used to working with silk and examining it closely and I’ve found it hard to put my finger on precisely what the difference between digital and hand painted is, but a difference there certainly is and it is more than just knowing there is only one like it!
It is the first of December and still we haven’t had a severe frost. Usually by now all the dahlias have been blackened and the garden reduced to its winter skeleton of leafless shrubs and trees punctuated by a few structural evergreens. This autumn has been very wet for East Anglia and even the sunflower seed heads have rotted into an unattractive slimy state. On Saturday morning I’d waited long enough for the frost and decided to tidy up my front garden clearing it of all the soggy, green mess.
The upside of these weather conditions is that as I work my view of the back garden is still very green, even on a grey day like today, which is probably why my latest scarf is featuring parsley greens and wheatsheaf golds.
It’s November and the hardy chrysanthemums have just come into flower, but as we still haven’t had a frost (unusual for my part of the world), the cosmos remain upright and blooming. I’m certainly not complaining and there’s even enough with the addition of some viburnum tinus ‘Eve Price’ to bulk out a half decent flower arrangement for the mantlepiece. Ordinary flowers, but all naturally flowering together resulting in a slightly odd combination.
Okay with just a tiny bit of extra help. I bought a 10 bloom bunch of supermarket salmon pink carnations that looked so awful they’d been reduced to half-price. Strong salmon pink is not a favourite colour of mine, but with plenty of the dark, evergreen viburnum foliage and the rich magenta cosmos they made a passable display.
Here’s a little thought ‘I don’t think that this looks inviting, but hey, I’m not the intended resident’. My garden isn’t formal by any stretch of the imagination, and a large pile of leaves heaped up behind the potted yew topiary, I admit, does look messy. However, firsthand experience has informed me that a sheltered pile of leaves is the des res for a hedgehog.
This home for a hibernating hedgehog needs to be in a sheltered position, but not in a frost pocket. I’ve lined the base with a mixed mulch of recent shreddings and created a timber frame from chopped down branches.
Then I’ve simply filled the whole space with autumn leaves pushing them in between the branch structure so they won’t be blown away. Don’t worry about packing the leaves in as a hedgehog will simply push its way into the cosy centre. As this hedgehog home is situated in a very sheltered part of the garden (barring a 1987-style hurricane) most of the leaf pile will remain in place until next spring.