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Latest posts by obelixx and then

Posted: 22/05/2014 at 12:02

When I first went to Chelsea in 1990 it was all rock banks and water courses and totally unrelated plants from several seasons all flowering at once.   Now it's much more about using seasonal plants in the show gardens hence the saminess of some of the planting schèmes with one or two particularly in favour each year.    This year it's anchusa and lysimachia Beaujolais.

Cleve West is a plantsman and combines them beautifully in his designs every year.  I can understand the design of his garden this year and his tribute to the origins of gardens as oases of calm and pleasure in a hostile dessert but I don't want one.   Chris Beardshaw is another all round designer and plantsman and his gardens are always covetable and inspirational.

Other garden deigners, Joe Swift included, are designers first who just use plants as decoration without really being gardeners who love and tend plants and gardens themselves.   I usually find their gardens clever or interesting or sometimes dreadful but they have no soul because it's about show not substance.   Garden rooms, not gardens for people, kids, dogs or the love of plants.

I find the coverage of Chelsea is very repetitive and limits itself to a few gardens and topics.  Given the air time and the number of presenters they could do each of the gardens and each of the nursery stands in the floral marquee and skip the celebs.   Leave them for the glossy mags.   Stick to the essentials of Chelsea - plants and plant combinations and design solutions we can adapt to our own gardens. and then

Posted: 22/05/2014 at 01:50

I've just got home after spending yesterday at Chelsea.  I enjoyed myself - lots of lovely plants, friendly co-visitors and a lovely atmosphere but I did find the designs of the main gardens very repetitive and lacking innovation.   Most even used the same plants and colour palette though in different ways.   Lots of irises, alliums, peonies, astrantias as usual and, this year, bright blue anchusas which I've sown for my own garden this year.   How did they know? 

My favorite main garden was the Help for Heroes because it felt right and was beautifully planted but had space to walk and sit and enjoy it.  The most sumptuous planting was the Stoke-On-Trent garden with cool whites, creams and greens at one end morphing into rich reds and bronzes at the other.   The Cloudy Bay garden had some luscious plant combintaions too but too many ornamental grasses dominating the other pants and masking the colours.  The First Touch garden had wonderful plant combinations and I felt the terracing using metal strips to hold the levels was do-able by ordinary gardeners and could be made curvy and softer and more sinuous if desired for both the terracing and the water pools.

The Laurent Perrier that won best in show had too much hard landscaping and to me felt too cool and hard and uninviting except for the one bed full of creamy lupins.   I like a garden to feel welcoming and fun.   The Daily Telegraph Italiniate garden was so neat and tidy and so refined and controlled it felt sterile.  AT's Britain in Bloom garden was very clever and I really liked the Yorkshire moors leading down to the beach but not so much the beach planting which was all too wussy to survive in my garden.   Beach hut to die for though.

The most ingenious designs this year were in the Artisans gardens - another wonderful Japanese garden but the best for me was the Potters' garden which was full of lovely touches from the use of a row of curved tiles in the kiln to make a pattern in the bricks to the plants growing on the roof tiles, the paths made from broken pots and the water butt plus some good planting. 

Lots of lovely stuff in the floral pavillion from stunning plants, flowers, fruit and veg to the Birmingham city steam train and aircraft  and the fun of the agricultural students' dress designs using plant material.    

I've come away with some great inspiration for plant and colour combos for adapting in my garden and some new lily bulbs, a few packs of seeds and 2 peony supports, 2 hanging baskets and a gekko.    Came home to find we'd had a major hailstorm last night and my prize hostas in pots have been shredded and other plants blown over so lots to check and fix tomorrow.

Gardener's World and the average gardener

Posted: 18/05/2014 at 16:04

Beechgrove provides a factsheet which can be downloaded each week so you can check plant names.

Better rose or whatever for our rose arch???

Posted: 18/05/2014 at 11:33

Looks to me like you've planted a strong, stiff climber when a more pliable rambler would have been better.

Climbers are best planted against walls or fences or trellis panels where they can be more easily trained and pruned.    Ramblers are more pliable but nearly all only flower once and then produce hips later on.  However, Malvern Hills might suit your purpose.  It's a repeat flrowering yellow rambler from David Austin.

However, roses take so much out of the soil that if you just replace one in teh same place as an old one it will struggle for nutrients and get rose sickness.   A way round this is to dig a large hole at least 60cls (2') wide and deep and put fresh soil from another part of the garden where roses haven't been grown.  Mix it up with plenty of well rotted manure or garden compost and sprinle mycrorhizal fungi powder directly on the roots of your new rose when you plant it.

If taht's all too much, then plant a clematis which will also need a lot of soil improvement as they are as hungry as roses or else a honeysuckle.  There are several with creamy flowers that age to yellow and are scented.

Hidden Gardens - TV series by Geoff Hamilton

Posted: 17/05/2014 at 20:21

Chris Beardshaw presented a series on Hidden Gardens in which old, lost gardens were restored suing research into their origins and origial plans and plants.    It was very enjoyable and interesting.  I'd love him to go back and revisit those gardens to see how they've done and maybe find some new ones.

GARDENERS' WORLD 27 April 2014 ratings success

Posted: 17/05/2014 at 20:16

Propagation?  Absolutely but not fussy house plants in such quantities perhaps.

Class envy?  No.  Like i said, I have a large garden and a paddock but no orchard.    If you took an aerial photo of the major population centres of TV land and their gardens it would be Victorian, Edwardian, 30s, post war and recent housing developments with ever decreasing garden sizes plus rents or mortgages, not to mention energy bills and living costs, that leave little left for buying fancy garden equipment. 

I am fortunate in having plants to propagate and swap with fellow gardening enthusiasts and the skills and experience to do it successfully but I do have friends who are novice gardeners for whom most of last night's show would have been completely irrelevant or beyond their means..

GW should be practical and inspirational and can do so that more people feel both able as well as inspired to have a go and discover the joys of growing plants.   Delia may have had an army of helpers and tesres but her recipes work and are easy to do in a normal kitchen.  Monty also has help but it's never seen or mentioned.

Gardener's World and the average gardener

Posted: 17/05/2014 at 17:49

I have a large garden with space for a shed and a small greenhouse and aveggie plot and a pond and grass and hedges but, given that I share it and the family budget with a teenage daughter who loathes gardening and a husband who is a good labourer but not green fingered and two dogs and a cat, I can't afford hundreds of pounds for a heated bench, let alone the many more hundred pounds I'd need for a greenhouse to house it.   Nor do I have the desire for long rass with a path mown through or anywhere to house, or give away, all the sterptocarpus babies I'd get if I did leaf cuttings.  

GH, AT and probably Beechgrove would have taken the trouble t point out that smaler models for smaller budgets are available and more than likely shown how to make one with the heating coils that can be bought now.  Beechgrove would probably run a trial of cuttings with heat and cuttings without just to show the beneffits and better inform viewers whether advanced or novice in gardening skills.

I thought last night's programme was mostly a waste of time and find Monty increasingly out of touch with people who can only garden at weekends and with limited space and budgets.

I will watch but am not looking forward to him presenting Chelsea - chalk and cheese personality fit for this event.




GARDENERS' WORLD 27 April 2014 ratings success

Posted: 17/05/2014 at 17:10

Oh dear.  I thought last night's GW was exceedingly poor.   How many people do you know with space for deliberate long grass area through which to mow a path?  How many do you think grow streptocarpus and have the space to want to multiply just one plant and have lots the same instead of buying another one or two with different flowers for their display?   Especially those living in normal sized houses and gardens and even more so those in new builds with pocket handkerchief gardens and little space for storing a lawnmower, let alone cold frames and greenhouses and large heated propagating benches.

I'm pleased Sophie Rayworth is replacing Nikki Chapman and hope she'll do it with her usual intelligence.   At least she knows a bit about plants and gardening.   Liked her parents' garden too.

Can't understand why the RHS has allowed the Beeb to oust AT as main presenter for teh Chelsea Flower Show.   I suspect Monty's personality and style will be a poor fit for such an exhuberant show. 


Taking cuttings (clematis & wisteria)

Posted: 15/05/2014 at 23:22

Clematis cuttings are usually done in spring to mid summer but can be very tricky.   See this guide -

A more reliable method is layering which also works for wisteria -


Visit to Bressingham Gardens Tuesday 20th May

Posted: 15/05/2014 at 09:55

I shall be at Chelsea.  However, it's about 30 years since I visited teh gardens at Bressingham and I'm unlikely to get there again so I'd love it if someone would take photos of the gardens at Bressingham and share them on here.  I'll do the same with mine of Chelsea.

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