A new Coronovirus year 2021

Well, are we going to have a better time this year, and we have not got to the end of January yet. I am lucky as I have Tensing and Temba, James who is going for his first vaccine today in a snow storm, Polly my gardener, and Roger and Mandy who live beneath Polly. At least I have all these people to wave at from a distance outside. Polly has been working so hard in the most desperate grey and cold weather, cutting back plants and she is working her way down the garden.

The last two days, in which the sun shone, I was out there, cutting the plumes off Cortaderia Ricardiae, and then I have to cut them into small pieces. James and I have taken the tarpaulin off the table and chairs in the paddock. How lovely to have an acquamarine flash down there instead of beiges and browns which are always depressing. All the snowdrops seem to have increased hugely. Especially a Greatorex double called Jacquinetta that Polly gave me years ago, They have gone in my new bed called Salix Irrorata, which was spotted at the Cambridge Botanic Garden. This has a white theme. Aconites are everywhere, and they have definitely spread a lot, and they die in a graceful way. This is very important. Most of my Hellebores are out and they are a success story this year as Polly cut off the leaves early, which stopped the mice nesting and chewing off the flowers. They really looked terrible last year,

Two excitements this year. I have ordered three new Agapanthus, three of each, from Avon Bulbs. A very special one called Alan Street, which is dark, and I ordered last year, Northern Star, and Acquamarine. I am going to have them as an edging in the par terre, as what is there is not having any impact, they flower for too short a time and you don’t really notice them. I think that agapanthus are amongst my favourites.

I am very proud of my two sons as to how they are coping with this lockdown with small children. Dominic and Hetty with three and Thomas with one. There has been no moaning of any sort. I have forgotten to tell you all to order Triteleia Rudy. So beautiful, flowers in June, which is purple blue, and again I have ordered it from Avon Bulbs. These flower when not much else flowers. Even when everything else is shut, you can order from these nurseries on line or on the telephone. I have just ordered Astelia silver shadow, I am having a love affair with Astelias at the moment, as they are so good in the winter and all the year round. I cant bring myself to spend a lot of money on snowdrops! Though I do love them and they increase well here. A few years ago Polly and I spent a lot of time and trouble to improve the garden in winter round the house so we could see it all the time, That means evergreen shapes, snowdrops, aconites, ferns, hellebores, (the only flower that is flowering for three months). Clematis cirrhosa Balearic is all flowering on a wall that I am looking at. Anything that flowers in Winter is worth its weight in gold.

Salix irrorata

It took us a year to get the right thing, but this is beautiful

Acquaramine chair, Julia rose paeonie, in the paddock.
Aconites and snowdrops

Fern reflection on stone ball on steps to par terre

24th November, 2020, Pettifers entering into different guise

I looked out of the window the day before yesterday, and goodness it was totally different. Polly has finished all the clipping., and planted all the tulips in the par terre. The shapes there are Phillyrea angustifolia, two of them. There is one Phillyrea latifolia , and this has a different leaf and reflects the light. I prefer it, I have placed another one in the Burgundy border, I love this one as it picks up the shape of the plant in the par terre, The colours have completely changed, and we have a few roses glowing, Chrysanthemums are looking amazing by the gate into the paddock. Those colours are stunning, One is Venetian and has gold in it. Another one came from Marina Christopher. If you have not heard of her already you should engrave her name on your heart. I just wish we saw more of her. Sue Dickinson, another star, told me that Bob Brown has a marvellous selection of Chrysanthemums, so Polly and I must hasten over there. We have rather neglected him in favour of Avondale which is very close to us.. James has asked me if I want anything in particular for Christmas, and I told him a book called, Jimi Blake, ‘ A beautiful obsession”, Two or three people have recommended it to me, There are so many gardening books that it would be exciting to find one that grips one. There are still Alstomerias flowering which make a marvellous cut flower. Two different ones, from Sue Dickinson and Victoria Wakefield at Bramdean. If you pull them from the base they will flower again, Needless to say Sue Dickinson gave me this useful tip. It is extraordinary to think that I did not succeed with them when I first started growing them, It is what makes gardening so interesting, the success rate and the failure rate, Nothing is really predictable.

In the par terre we have two quite large plants of Pittosporum Golf Ball, They have grown a lot this year, and what is special is the shade of green of the leaf, I think they are meant to be tender., In Country Life this week is a garden in New Zealand with a lot of them running along the base of the picture. My eye fell on them immediately. I have never seen a green like that. At this time of year ones eye falls on leaf and flower, For example Mahonia Eurobracteata soft caress’. It is flowering now and has a more delicate leaf than usual, It is not my favourite plant but this is lovely, We already have two seedlings, ‘. Several snowdrops are up, Galanthus S. Arnott’. It is honey scented. Brenda Froyle, came up first in the circle in the paddock.. Fuschia Hawkshead has been flowering for ages, It is so delicate and never ceases, It is under planted with Parahebe catarractea which I think is a shrub, pretty tiny with beautiful minute flowers, I found it at Kiftsgate with Dianey and Betsy. Goodness I miss those two.

The top two photos are of Malus Hupehensis, and the top photo has Delphinium Alice Artindale in it with its second flowering. It is a species delphinium, meant to be difficult, but not here,

Ordering new bulbs mostly from Avon Bulbs

I have just ordered last night 100 Triteleia Rudy, We have the odd self seeded down in the par terre, Deep blue and coming up they look like miniature agapanthus and come from north west America, Plant in well drained soil, and they flower a long time, They arrive in June and are 18ins tall, I think they are a curiosity but we shall see, I have now come across a recommendation from a great friend of mine called Eric Tsu who lives in the States and works at Chanticleer. It is a dwarf tulip and called Praestans Shogun, I liked it when he recommended it, He has very good taste, and it is an apricot colour, It is like anything else, it is important where you put it. It makes the whole difference in the world as to where it goes. That is why I like the pictures so much, because I can see it in my mind,, and one day I would think of the right place.

I have rung to order bulbs from Avon Bulbs and I have been going there for a very long time. They are the best. Unusual and beautiful, This is an exciting time of year as they have an eclectic catalogue, and lately I have been cutting out the coloured photographs and pasting them in a large green book, I wish I had done this before as it really helps when it comes to planting them, I remember kissing Alan Street at the Chelsea Flower Show because I was so excited by the nursery’s exhibition as it was so good.. After three years we have changed the layout of our tulips in the parterre, Three different Triumph tulips, Black Bean, all Venetian looking have gone to my friend Philip Astley Jones. The three replacements are Slawa. Paul Scherer which is dark black, and Amber Glow. I am going to recommend Triumph tulips, they are robust, and seem to flower a long time, and put up with variations of weather. The new layout is a similar colour scheme, but the actual tulips are more interesting looking, We will see. This is why I love the pictures, because I can see it in my mind, and I would so love to go to Chanticleer. I have also ordered Narcicuss Stint, I think 100- of them. They are going in my small Winter border which is full of Salix and finally we have got the right plant Salix irrorata. It is very white stemmed. And is totally covered in small red bits and is in the Botanic Garden,, Salix irrorata was totally silver. I was very impressed by the Botanic Garden, and loved the Fitzwilliam Museum, Next door to my Salix Irrorata I have planted a small tree of winter flowering Cherry prunus subhirtella autumnalis, it is totally covered in small white flowers at the moment.

Salix irrorata, Cambridge Botanic Garden, well worth going to:

Salix irrorata
Salix irrorata

Arch, present from James, with pots in the curve:


John Singer Sargent, the beautiful sitter is Dorothy:

John Singer Sargent Portrait of Dorothy
John Singer Sargent Portrait of Dorothy

Klimt border on the left in the Autumn, cornus Controversa going over:

cornus Controversa
cornus Controversa

Autumn border, miscanthus sinensis yakushima dwarf, sorbus Joseph rock, and euonymus planipes:

Autumn border
Autumn border

Autumn border, i love the colours:

Autumn Border
Autumn Border

Dahlias, red is Murdoch, pink this end Is Preference, American Dream, We have had it like this a couple of years now, At the back with Murdoch is Miss Julie on the left.

Eryngium true blue, clematis Alionushka, variegated box and achilllea, , all in the par terre

The progression of Pettifers Garden

With more time available, and I have never liked it anyway, Polly and I have changed one end of the front garden, I find that the smaller the bed is, the more difficult it is to achieve anything. Clematis Armandii has been removed, as it was thick and woody, and basically looked a mess most of the time. 5 Rosa Mutabilis were all falling over and did not add anything to the general picture. In went Malus Evereste, sporting the hugest red berries which apparently get made into cider,It has been carrying these berries for months, and initially had pretty blossom on it. All along the border is Nepeta Nuda, the best Nepeta in my opinion, very delicate and is about to flower for the second time. All the others are too huge and bushy, this one seems to stand up more, and is quite delicate. This Nepeta was highly recommended by Graham Gough, Marchants Hardy Plants. Running the whole way down the front bed are four Euphorbia Jacquemontii, This is one of the best for looking good for a very long time, Either side of the front door are two small domes of Irish Yew which have taken some time to increase.

James’ Mother left me some money in her will, and with that we have done a stone surround on the outside of the drawing room door, leading into the garden, This is the same stone and fits in well with the arch that James gave me two or three years ago. I am pretty pleased now with this end of garden which is vastly improved, and for the first time I really like the four pots when they are planted up in the summer. They are in the curve of the wall before you go through the entrance. There I have always made the huge mistake of having pots that were much too small, We put Jescot Julie in the new huge pot and it has beautiful different markings on both sides, and is my favourite of all dahlias, In another pot an Astelia, quite old, and two different dahlias, Mexican Star being one of them..These are flowers that nod on long stems over dark foliage. Deep red maroon with a lovely yellow centre. Very very pretty. All these pots come from Italian Terrace. I think they are the best pots I have seen. The design and colour of the terracotta is perfect.

The end of Autumn, 27th October

I came upon Polly making her way noisily out of the gates. I asked her where she was going and she said she was collecting compost leaves from round the village. It made me laugh as she has just had the compost bins mended and she was in the process of filling them. Whenever she is missing she is in the middle of the compost heap. We had been away nearly three weeks and to my amazement the garden still looked lovely. Polly has clipped most of the topiary in the garden, the only thing that needs it is the Irish Yews which are getting taller and taller, too tall I think. The Acer Dissectum is a bright shade of orange, totally beautiful, though a lot of peoples comments this year is that I should get rid of it, which I am not going to. Today is raining all day and I have hardly been out, except to Marks and Spencer which had a lot of people which were always dodging out of my way! James has gone to London today as our oven needs mending, and he thinks our daily sat on it and broke it, Don’t have a garden without Asters, they are flowering everywhere. My favourite is Aster Pink Buttons which was brought back from an uneventful trip to a Parisian plant fair, Never again, I was in the back of a car, three of us, and my neck was wicked at the end of the day. The other trophy was a climbing clematis called Blue River, pretty exceptional, Aster turbinellus,, came from Sissinghurst and was a present from Sibylle Kreutzberger. Aster Le Vastiveral was a gift from Victoria Wakefield, Bramdean, which is very vigorous, and came from Princess Sturdza, now deceased. It is a marvellous garden though I have not been for a long time, and it is island beds which is not my favourite. She had little white gloves I seem to remember, and a stick with a hook on the end, which she said she would use to take out the objects that offended her. What a character. I clapped at the end.

That came from Jaipur and is now used as a bird bath, and is made of marble. These are steps down to first terrace at Prosilio

Mostyn Hall, entrance

Gresgarth, Arabella Lennox Boyds garden end of May

Klimt border, bottom left of garden

Corfu, Villa Prosilio