Saturday, 27 June 2009

Contemporary Art

My partner (Spencer) discovered the work of artist Tessar Lo 18 months ago. He comissioned a gorgeous piece of art from Tessar and we now have several other pieces of his work in the house. Check out his Web site.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Case Study - Large Garden in Surrey - Update 8

The left-hand side of the garden is now complete apart from the planting – one of the terraced borders is planted and there’s a new Bay hedge along the top boundary, but we’re leaving the rest until the Autumn. The sunken garden is almost complete apart from its turf. The old pergola has been extended and given a coat of black paint and is awaiting its new climbers. The lower patio is laid and the lawn has been dug over and is receiving a top dressing of sand and topsoil.

Work has started on the right-hand side terracing. The structural wall was already in place, and now the blockwork has gone up to create the various levels and steps. The new front wall has been constructed and is just waiting for its gates and railings. The timber retaining wall for the raised borders is also being constructed.

All that remains is to complete the rear garden right-hand side blockwork, then clad and pave the terraces; build the decked terrace from the summer house; lay the driveway paving; install railings to front and rear gardens; construct the raised beds bordering the road; planting and then, inevitably, snagging. I say ‘all’, there is still at least two months work to be done.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Pesky Pigeons

The allotment is looking great and bearing a selection of fabulous fresh fruit and veg. However, on visiting to do some tidying up over the weekend I was greeted by six fat pigeons taking flight from in and around my plot. Not content with scoffing my spinach, rocket, and salad leaves those thieving avian rodents have stripped one of my blackcurrant bushes and started on the redcurrants. If I had a gun and it was permissible to shoot them I would do so – I can think of any number of delicious ways to enjoy pigeons, perhaps with a blackcurrant sauce!?

I have now netted round the fruit bushes and covered all my brassicas and lettuces with Agralan enviromesh which is excellent for protecting plants from all sorts of pests including airbone ones.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Relaxing in the garden - part 2

I'm not good at sitting around doing nothing, especially when there's allotments to weed, climbers to tie in, perennials to stake, borders to weed, and so on .......... Now don't get me wrong I enjoy doing all of these things (yes, really), but sometimes I need to be told. This week I was struck down by some hideous virus and have been forced to take it easy. So, here's me and my cat, Ellie, relaxing under the umberella with the scent of Rosa 'Rambling Rector' filling the air, reading Dennis Lehane (only me, not Ellie, its Pelecanos or nothing for her) and getting in the mood to go out to dinner with some friends this evening - doesn't get much better.

Enjoy the weekend.


Thursday, 11 June 2009

Relaxing in the garden

Here's a shot of my fiercest critic showing her appreciation of the new garden layout. Her majesty clearly approves of the new black Limestone paving, and doesn't seem to mind that the retaining wall is still waiting for its final coat of render.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Allotment Update

Well, the weather is horrid, but the allotment is thriving. I’m picking chard, spinach, radishes, beetroot, lettuce and mangetout. My cucumbers and gherkins are sulking; I’m afraid that I was encouraged by some mild weather a few weeks ago and planted them out too early. I’m hoping that they survive and start to shoot upwards when the weather starts getting a bit warmer – note my optimistic use of the word ‘when’. Last year I had so many cucumbers I managed to make several pots of cucumber pickle, this year I’ll probably be lucky to get a couple of salads, oh well………

On a more positive note, my tomatoes are doing splendidly. After two disastrous years with blight wiping out my entire crop, I’ve rather over compensated. I’ve got six plants inside the greenhouse, three plants in a sunny spot outside the greenhouse and nine plants on the allotment. I love home grown tomatoes and felt very cheated to have hardly any in the previous two years, so I’m not taking any chances! I like to freeze some so that I can chuck them into sauces, and with roasted veg. In the depths of winter when everything is starting to taste like cardboard nothing perks up cooking like some tart, home-grown tomatoes. It would also be nice to have some to give away – you’re always popular if you turn up to people’s houses with a bag full of fresh tomatoes.

My broad beans are a bit late this year, not sure why. I raised the plants in my greenhouse, as usual, and then planted them out when they were about 20cm high. It took them ages to get going outside – maybe the fluctuating weather again, not sure. I grew a different variety this year (can’t remember offhand which one, but I usually plant Aquadulce and a red one), so maybe it’s not living up to its hype. Now, they’re looking a bit more promising, and I think I’ll be picking them in the next couple of weeks. My fellow allotmenters (I might have made that word up, but you know what I mean) who put their broad beans straight into the ground over the winter are already harvesting, which is slightly galling, but inevitable.

I can’t overwinter any of my crops as my plot is infested with Horsetail, Mare’s Tail, Witches Broom, call it what you will it is evil, evil, evil! Unless I leave my plot fallow for several years and carry out a rigorous spraying regime, I will never get rid of it. So, I just dig the whole plot very deeply every year (keeps me fit) to minimise its impact. Still, every time I see one of its pernicious little shoots poking through the surface I’m filled with rage and a feeling of helplessness. It doesn’t seem to affect the crops, but it offends my sense of aesthetics – I like my plot to be productive and attractive!!

I'll go and take some photos at the weekend.

Some really sweet Goslings in Wokingham

On my way to the pet shop to buy some straw for underneath my strawberries – stops the fruit rotting and bruising on the ground as it ripens, I’m guessing everyone knows that’s why they’re called strawberries – encountered Mr & Mrs Goose having a stroll with their babies. All traffic at a standstill whilst they took the time to amble across the road looking as though they owned it! I took one picture as they hit the verge, then on my way back snapped some more of them just grazing on the verge. How cute are they!?

Monday, 8 June 2009

Sunningdale Golf Club

I don’t often get my hands dirty these days; Lisa does an amazing job on planting and maintenance which I don’t really have time for. However, I got a call from one of my regular clients, Sunningdale Golf Club, last week saying that they needed some planting repaired at the front of the Club House in time for a competition on Monday. As Lisa is away on holiday, I had to juggle my diary, pull on my gloves and step up to the plate.

This was no real hardship, I love being at Sunningdale Golf Club, it is a beautiful place, I find it tranquil and relaxing. I can honestly say it was a thoroughly soothing experience, chatting with members and doing a little light planting to remind myself how simple life can be if you allow yourself to relax occasionally. I also always plant the four large pots that sit at the entrance to the club house. I choose a hot June morning and stuff the stone urns with pretty pastel bedding plants, so unlike anything else I’d ever design, but so fitting for this place. When I’ve spent the day there I always feel strangely restored. The charming Arts & Crafts club house provides an echo of elegant times past, and the golf course itself is immaculate. It’s a sort of microcosm where the credit crunch and all the other nasty things going on in the World do not exist – a bit of escapism is fine from time to time. I sometimes sit on the Wisteria covered terrace and have a cup of coffee whilst watching members practice on the beautifully manicured putting green which is flanked by a fabulously overstuffed herbaceous border designed by my good self. I usually do one project a year for the Club, mostly planting design, with the occasional piece of hard landscape design. I always look forward to getting my annual brief from the club – it’s one of my favourite parts of the garden designing year.