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04/07/2013 at 09:14

Keen, there are photos of some of our gardens on this thread, but perhaps you have seen it already.

Here is a view of part of my garden from a bedroom window. This is the main flower bit as it is fenced against the deer. The lower part has to have plants that deer don't eat and the veg garden on the other side of the house is fenced too.


04/07/2013 at 09:19

I like that book Busy lizzie.  Good books to read in winter when no gardening to do.  In this way I have acquired more gardening books than the local library,  and the front bedroom looks like a library with a bed in it.

04/07/2013 at 09:21

A very stylish piece of anglo/french garden, BizLiz. What is the tree? Love the walls too, what is the history?

Anyone looking at this picture should blow it up to full size for the full wow factor.

04/07/2013 at 10:51

Hi B-L. Super garden you have there and what scope you have, space,shade,sun, varying soils and you will certainly make the most of it going by what we are seeing here. I love the idea of cutting beds diagonally into grass (have done it myself though on a smaller scale) to provide extra planting but also ( if required) to create "barriers" round which you have to walk and thus finding pleasant surprises round the corner. Really very nice. Ref Christop[her Lloyd and Mrs, Chatto -  she was celebrating her 90th b/day last week and also last year I think was the anniversary of her garden - 50 yrs.. She actually did have a booklet printed giving details etc of the its history/creation of which I received a copy with the delivery of some plants from her nursery earlier this year - in it she also talks of her great friendship with him. I did have a couple of he's books - The Well Tempered garden and Foliage Plants. Never been to Gt. Dixter but did in fact live quite close to Mrs. Chattos for 28 yrs and thus visited her beautiful garden on several occasions. Best wishes.

04/07/2013 at 12:10

WW, the tree is a robinia, it's been snowing white petals on the lawn in the photo. It's an old French farmhouse and part of the garden used to be the farmyard. I've been told the bit where the sundial is used to have a barn on it. It slopes so it's on different levels with walls in between. When we bought it in 1990 there wasn't a garden, just brambles, nettles, bindweed (the bane of my life!) and grass.  We had some earth delivered and the lawns flattened and sown, we were busy with 4 children and decoating the house as it hadn't been lived in for 6 years. Then I made the garden.

When we lived in Kent I used to buy a lot of plants from Beth Chatto and I've chatted with her on the phone years ago. I opened that garden to the public for leukaemia research.

Am at a bit of a loose end today as I overdid the weeding when we got back from England and I've pulled a muscle in my back.

04/07/2013 at 12:40

BL... your garden is up there in the top 10 !

04/07/2013 at 12:44

Hi B-L. Ref the Robinia - have some nice specians 50ft in the woods immediately next door to us - ours are also in flower at the moment bu tonly patchily, do they flowerf less as they get to a good size?.

04/07/2013 at 12:48

Hi bluejan Salino - all. Ref the Hosta pics. In a bit of a mix here because I don't feel I can send 8-10 pics one behind the other and block the topic. Will send a couple of groups and look up on site if it is possible to start ones own gallery.

04/07/2013 at 13:00

Hi. Heres 3 Hosta



04/07/2013 at 13:09

Beth Chatto and Christo Lloyd corresponded and their letters were published in a book... a great read. I remember she once wrote she was praying for rain. His response was that he didn't see much point in praying as someone else was almost certainly praying for the opposite.

04/07/2013 at 13:32

 Hi. Ref my comment on plants lost, those that although striving to give them the conditions they need just walk out on us. Heres a few of mine -  the small Gunnera magellanica. Variegated Brunnera, Monarda ( love this plant and regret it does not seem to like me). Trycurtis. I was very lucky to be able to buy just one off each of the old white double and lilac double Primroses which stayed a while and then left me in spite of all efforts. The old Madonna Lilies - these were given to me in a bucket mid summer when in flower, pals dad was moving home and had a row of them totally neglected but thriving - in spite of all my care they slowly left over several years ( no doubt aided by that wretched beetle) as did Lilium pyrenaicum and the red Martagons.  I read many gardening books learning ( hopefully) all the time.  Read of the Ostrowskias  - described as almost impossible to grow but they looked so interesting I had to give it a go. Racking my brain here, this was 30-40 yrs ago - bulbous and of the Campanula family, needed fierce draining in full sun, a whiff too much and they wilted, flowers could be 6 in across. Planted mine in a raised bed at foot of a south facing wall in a mix of sand and grave - grew OK and at 2 feet thought I was going to get away with it - it wilted -  nothing ventured....!.   One thing I count as a marvel  was when after ages managing to get hold of some Hacquetia I lovingly planted it in exactly the conditions stated as needed, just a small clump. After their foliage died away Autumn that was all to see until the small yellow flowers should have appeared on the surface in Spring - they did not so I gave up on that resolving to try again if poss. Anyway walking on a path edged with loose stonework one Spring morning there at the bottom of this wall, 12 feet away from where I had planted in Autumn was a tiny yellow flower - Hacquetia for sure. Watched it grow and when it had got bigger carefully removed it from that wall bottom and replanted near to where I had first planted the original. Happy to say have had them ever since and have three nice groups. Worth reading about if you do not know them, how the flowers gradually turn green into summer etc, look a little like Jack in the Green Primroses.

04/07/2013 at 13:37

Hi WW. Two  most excellent gardeners and writers - lovely folk with it.

04/07/2013 at 13:45

Nice garden busy l.  

Keen we have to persuade plants to grow where we want them sometimes, even fool them a little.  It's not until you grow many of the plants that you really get to know them a s how you can treat them.  The books dont always get it right.  Love chris Loyds books too....lovely narrative style, wit, mischief and knowledge.  Charming man and charming books.

04/07/2013 at 13:48

Yes, both "lovely" in their own way.

04/07/2013 at 15:25

It's funny the way some plants go for a walk around the garden to find where they would rather be! My Phlomis Russeliana has done that, but I'm happy with where it's decided to go. The other place was getting too shady where a tree has grown. Planning on putting Hostas and Epimedium there next March/April. My Monardas sometimes disappear only to pop up again another year. My autumn raspberries go walkabout too, so the veggie garden is sometimes planned around them.

My Madonna lilies were magnificent for 2 years, then the dreaded lily beetle arrived. I often can't find the beetles, I know they drop off when disturbed, but the lilies are eaten.

Don't know Haquetia, see it likes moisture, which you must have as you tried Gunnera and Tricyrtis. I have Tricyrtis is a shady damp place, but the deer have discovered it so that's probably the end of it. I lack damp, shady places. With beds above walls and the normal Dordogne summer my garden tends to be warm and well drained. This summer warmth hasn't happened yet!

04/07/2013 at 16:25

Hi B-L. Sounds we have things (garden) in common but tell me please your "plot" looks really great and I have read several books on just such a set up as you have there - moving to foreign parts,  refurbishing old farmhouse and renovating/creating a garden all around it as well. Sounds very much to me that you have a book there waiting to be written - or have you already done so - if so please inform me - I would love to read it all.  Ref the moisture loving plants ( I still  have and always have had quite a number)  all my gardening life (56 yrs) I have lived in the dryest part of England and have had to manipulate it all to suit as and what I want to grow. I like to think I did not do to badly but you as a plant lover will understand just how sad it is when having given a plant its best chance ( which we should/must) it walks out on you. Win some lose some for sure and the overall result counts I guess but... I should mention here though that my first garden was on a site with a spring in one corner (Bushey Lea) so I naturally took advantage of that. Nice to talk to you. Regards and best wishes.

04/07/2013 at 16:27












































Hi Salino. Where are you - miss our natterings, hope all is well.






04/07/2013 at 16:28

Hi. Wheres Salino - miss our natterings - hope all is well with you.











































Hi Salino. Where are you - miss our natterings, hope all is well.






04/07/2013 at 17:34

Keen your hostas look great. Do you have any advice about slugs?

My robinias flower better some years than others.

I haven't written a book. Don't think I could sit that long! I may write more today than usual because I have pulled a muscle in my back.

04/07/2013 at 21:45

Hello Mr Keen,.... were you trying to post some photos there..? I cannot see them in your last 2 posts...

...I like to give people space to talk as I ramble on a bit, much like some of the roses I love so much...and sometimes my ramblings are not to everyone's taste...

I've been looking at your lovely Hosta's there above.... all very nice indeed, and a joy to see when in flower.. that is the time I like them most...

...I also noted something which I enjoy almost as much as the plants themselves, and that's a decent bit of hard landscaping... well, it looks decent to me, a most attractive pattern... I expect you'll tell me they're just cheap old bricks or slabs but I wish mine were like that... it really sets the plants off... in place of grass which I also like very much mind and used to enjoy mowing...  

...I have to put up with pink and grey paving slabs put down before I got here and I'm not going to change them any time soon, much as I would like to...

I've been reading what you have to say and note that you have so many years experience of growing all manner of things, many I've barely heard of... I mean, Ostrowskia's.. for heaven's sake... I shall have to go look that up... I note too your many failures...well, we've all had those... it's very disappointing when you find that some plants just don't like your garden... but a pleasant surprise when you find seedlings from other peoples...

...I have a reddish grassy plant growing - I know what it is - Uncinia rubra - I didn't plant it, it was growing in no soil whatsoever, it seeded into gravel above a thick membrane.... to give it some respect I've potted it up to give it a better life [it'll probably drop dead]... and will find another spot for it... I'm not sure I would have bought one to be honest...

Do you grow conifers Mr Keen.... I quite like a few of these, always had some in my gardens...nowadays they have to be slim, narrow little things, slow growing and must never get in the way...

...I find in a garden like mine, with lots of feminine pinkyness going on... that dark green/blue outlines like these give a calming masculine feel that I need and I use them also as 'full stops'...   these are the ones I'm growing..

Chamaecyparis 'Van Pelts Blue'... I just love this slim upright form, very blue glaucous... tolerates and grows well in a hot dry mediterranean type plot... but I have it in cooler conditions here... I find it quite beautiful...

Thuja 'Emerald' ... this is one of my favourites [Smaragd is it's other name], conical very green and narrow...

Thuja 'Brobecks Tower'... another slim outline, slightly twisty, makes a good stopping point...

Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Boulevard' ... another bluey with gorgeous soft foliage and a rounded shape...

Pine mugo 'Wintergold'... this is in a dry rocky place...and I love it's winter colour...

very dwarf...

I also have a couple of prostrate Junipers, a blue and a green, I love these too for their ground covering abilities, can't remember their names...

in other gardens, much larger, I've grown Thuja 'Zebrina'.. this can grow big in time, lovely yellow pineapple scented foliage..

Taxus 'Standishi'... very narrow and very berries enliven it's appeal

I was not put off by Leylandii 'Castlewellan'.. as a single specimen only away from boundaries...

I fear I have rambled on too much, tell me about yours Mr Keen... you must have some surely...??   hope to talk again very soon... bi for now...

p.s.   we all love Busy Lizzie's garden Mr Keen... it looks like a touch of Sissinghurst... roses scrambling over walls and suchlike...

.."a bientot'' I suppose I should say, at this point..

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