Monday, 25 January 2016

Happy January!

Well, Happy New Year to everyone, if it isn't too late to say that.

This being the UK, we'll start with a traditional comment about the weather, which has been mostly warm and wet all winter.  Looking on the bright side, we're off to a flyer here with our hydro electric plant generating lots of green electricity from the high river flow.
 Earlier this month, Rob and Tom took the opportunity of a dry couple of days to get out and start pruning the wisteria sinensis at the front of the house.  This exercise always takes at least a couple of days, removing last year's racemes and breaking off the dead wood.
With Easter so early (garden visitors arriving!), and winter having been generally so warm, we wanted to get it done before the wisteria decided to get growing again.  These wisterias were some of the first to be planted by Harold Peto when he came to Iford, in 1899, so the oldest of them are well over 100 years old.

The Oriental garden has had its annual clean out.  
- Before -
We drain the pond down to a low level, and remove the leaves which fell over the winter, clear undesirable weed, return any stones which have moved over the season, thin out the box, ferns and other plants to allow room for this year's growth, and generally tidy the place up.
- After -

This is year four of our five-year historic replanting of the garden.  After three years of working on the borders with Alison Jenkins' support and the replacement of Harold Peto's roses with help from Robert Mattock, this will be the "year of the rockery".  
Over the coming months we will try to explain a little of how we are maintaining the rockeries in the garden which are such a useful way of filling in the space, transitioning from area to area or opening up borders without leaving them exposed.

So, here's to 2016.  May we wish you a successful year full of happy gardening and garden visiting!

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Wisteria 2015 - Wowzers!

I don't think I can recall a more abundant showing of wisteria here for many years. So I thought it might be nice to put a few photographs up.
If you can possibly get here to see it, you've got about a week left.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Rainy Bank Holiday Weekend

There was welcome relief from the droughty conditions this weekend; well, of course there was: it was a Bank Holiday and as any Brit knows, that means rain!

A contingent of the New Forest Harley Owners Group arrived for a visit on Sunday, a great opportunity to look at some wonderful vehicles, as they parked outside the front of the house which glammed us up a bit!

It was sad that the summer thunder-drenching arrived just as the Bath College Gamelan were setting up for their performance in the cloister, but the hardy visitors who had evaded the storms were very grateful for the performance and enjoyed being up-close to such beautiful instruments and music.

(sorry, dreadful photo)

By contrast, today brought drier, warmer weather, and our visitors were treated to another free concert, this time from the young musicians of Kingswood School in Bath. Three-to-tea concerts are free to garden visitors, and provide an opportunity for local performers to enjoy playing in a beautiful venue, after which everything stops for tea.

The rain also brought good news for green energy enthusiasts as the river is back up so our hydro-electric plant is running more efficiently again after a few weeks with a low river. And of course, gardeners across the region will be enjoying a respite from watering those freshly bedded-out plants. Oh, and the Japanese cherries are out.

Still, roll on summer – let’s get the warm weather back soon please!

Monday, 20 April 2015

Spring Round-up

I always feel that Spring is really giving way to summer when the magnolias start to drop their petals, the cherries put on their coat of young leaves, and the boldest of the wisteria buds open their eyes a crack to see whether it's time to signal the others to come out.

So, with a light frost last night reminding us that we're never far from a relapse, here is a pictorial round up of the beautiful spring we've had.

Grape Hyacinth and Cherries

Here it comes...

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Hidden Easter Chocolate?

Someone asked us at the weekend whether we had put a trail of chocolate in the garden.  "Not knowingly", we responded.  They enquired as to the intense chocolate scent spread through the terraces and up even as far as the mail pond.

Puzzled, we went to investigate.  And after a little searching the source of this scent, which was indeed an intense chocolate vanilla toffee, as strong as if it were being melted on the hob just next to you, was this Azara, a charming large shrub / small tree which we cosset every winter as it isn't very hardy, but which I'd never actually noticed flowering before.  Pungent stuff.
Meanwhile, the box trees are also flowering - more delicate in scent by a lovely woodiness mixed in with the sweetness.
Elsewhere in the garden it's the magnolia, rosemary lilies and spring flowers that are showing off, but it's always nice to let the trees get in on the act too!

Spring Opening 2015

We welcomed our first visitors of the year last week.
 Although there may not be much flora above ground yet, thanks to the sunshine on Easter Monday the garden showed Harold Peto's strength of design.
 In April, we are offering our visitors a little 'thank you'.  When you purchase entry to the garden this month, you'll get a ticket to come back later in the season without charge.  So why not take advantage of this opportunity to see the garden in the early season as well as later in the summer?  (Not available in conjunction with any other offer)
 (Above: Arum Lily in Loggia Pond)
(Above and Below: Cherry Blossom above the main lawn)
  More cherry blossom in the low spring evening sunlight
Our first Peacock Butterfly for the year.
  (Below: our rather large cercidiphyllum clothed in a bronzed chiffon gown of buds)