Made in Chelsea

An amazing Protea Cynaroides - each stem takes 5 years to flower, but it's worth it. This was almost as big as my head.
A longer post to come - I've just got back from a beautifully sunny RHS Chelsea flower show. I'm totally knackered, and my tiny amateur gardening mind is well and truly blown.

Here are two pics while I gather my thoughts.

The stunning Laurent-Perrier Garden (which had my favourite new plant find - Pimpinella Major 'Rosea').


Fishing for Kings

I went to Devon a couple of weeks back. It’s where I grew up – in an old Station Master’s house next to a disused railway line. It really was in the middle of nowhere, with lots of land where my parents kept chickens, grew their own veg and generally lived the 70’s good life. My parents don’t live in that house anymore but the railway line is still there, and makes for a stunning woodland walk. For me it is a literal trip down memory lane – I used to build dens, and hurtle down that track on my bicycle so often that I still feel like I know every root and stream.

We went down there to enjoy the sea of bluebells, but as we stopped by the river for a cup of tea (carried with us in a thermos – inspired idea), we were treated to a streak of violent blue and orange flashing past a metre or so above the river. A kingfisher. It’s the first I’ve ever seen despite growing up by that river. It was the perfect end to a perfect walk. I love the British woodland, and there’s plenty there to inspire the gardener. I came home convinced that we should grow nothing but wild garlic and bluebells in our side border. And maybe a few ferns too.

Wild garlic and the river

Fern unfolding in the evening sun

Vertical gardening Devon style


New month by month

I have been remiss. April's month by month has actually turned into mid May's month by month. And I'm rather sorry about that, as in these 6 weeks we've had such hot weather that everything has shot up at once. This means it's a bit of a jump from March to April. Still you can see it using the link above, or the link on the menu bar above this post.

On a side note, this year we experimented with using black plastic sheets to warm up the soil in spring. It's not a new trick, but we haven't tried it before, and with our heavy cold clay soil, it sounded like a good idea.

A week ago we lifted the black plastic to plant our squashes, and while the soil might have been a bit warmer, it was also unpleasantly compacted, and totally devoid of worms. Both are bad signs for the health of the soil, so I don't think we'll try it again. Has anyone else had this problem?


Garden to plate

Despite the chronic drought we've had here, the garden is still providing some tasty treats. My favourite are these alpine strawberries. They are perennial, and really easy to look after, but throw out masses of tiny fruits pretty much all summer.

We also had our first meal from the overwintered broad beans. We just mixed the raw beans with olive oil and salt and a few slivers of lovage leaf, and ate them on toast spread with goats cheese. mmmmm.


When Formal plantings go wrong

The parks in Central London are some of the best in the world - and I'm not biased here at all (!), but at this time of the year, many of them are filled with very formal spring plantings. I stumbled across this park near Embankment tube station a couple of days ago. I know some people love plantings like this, so I won't slag it off too much, but although it's impressive, it's really not my thing.

This is the park - filled with spring bulbs

A classic pink and blue combo

But what they were trying to do here I'm not sure. Maybe fallen leaves? A Heuchera too far for me.

They really liked those brown Heucheras... with pink?