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

20 October, 2020

I Apologise for my blogs going wrong, and I am going to have another go as it is a new i pad and its settings are all over the place.

Here I am back in London, and having another attempt not only to write but to put some pictures on. We have improved Pettifers a lot because not only we had the time but the vision. We could not go to Corfu until just now as it took me quite some time to recover, from a dislocated hip. We have been lucky to have Polly every day,

We have planted some interesting bulbs. Polly gave me some beautiful blue crocuses which we have planted in the beds, they do not seem to do well in the grass. It is meant to be the bluest blue there is. We have some pink camassias in the autumn border, very expensive I can tell you . I am giving my friend Philip Astley Jones about 600 tulips that we have been growing on for 3 years, and have now done a different colour combination, Maybe better, and three years is enough for any single idea.

Clive told me that he was on the radio with Alan Titchmarsh a week ago and was asked by him which was his favourite garden. He said me, and needless to say I was really pleased. We have just got back from 2 weeks in Corfu. I have finally got the hang of it after sixteen years, and it is to adapt the olive trees to the landscape. Opening up the the sea, sky, and mountains by pruning the olive trees. It is difficult there, as three or four months there is no rain, and not many plants thrive naturally there. We have not got a watering system and we have Jiannis Lampros plus someone who swarms up the olive trees with a cigarette in his mouth. Jiannis looks after 30 gardens. Now for the first time James and I can sit up in bed and see the sea, the sky, and Albania. Paradise. The main guest bedroom has the same effect. I wonder why we took so long to see it, We have built about fifteen stone walls going up the drive with stone that was lying around., It gives plenty of structure on the way up the drive. It has been done by

Dmitris who has made a very skilful job of it. At the moment we are taking out plants that do not work for us. Three box balls, all which seem to have got box disease, they look terrible. The orange trees do not fruit and are tiny. Some of our lemon trees are good. James has pruned them properly for the first time. Cypresses seem to shoot away and are reliable. Quince and Persimmon are trustworthy. but the Pomegranate never flower, I fear they are partially in the shade. called garden which is 5 acres. Now we are taking out things that do not work for us, for example 3 box balls which look as if they have got box blight. Some things do well and we are better to concentrate on those. Cypresses and Quince, and Persimmon. For example Pomegranate never flower, maybe they are in the shade,

Back in England, everything looking beautiful.

I caught Polly on her way out of the gates, looking for leaf mould in the village street, and castigating me that I had not bought her petrol for her truck! She has just had her compost bins mended and obviously wanted to fill them. The garden for the 26th October is stunning, and Polly has clipped beautifully most of the hedges. How could one have a garden without Asters at the moment as they are flowering everywhere. As it is not so hot the Asters flower for a long time, Have I got favourites, yes I think I have. Aster Pink Buttons, which has originated from a Paris flower show. I was in the back of a ghastly little car,, and the Aster was the best thing that originated from that trip. My friends Karen and Pauline have rather given up our trips to Italy and France, there seem to be a lot of marvellous gardens in England. Aster Le Vasterival, came from Princess Sturdza’s garden and is very vigorous. Aster turbinellus is pretty special, and Sibylle Kreutzberger gave it to me, I love the way that one can associate plants with the people who gave them to you. My. Dahlias are still showing a lot of colour, and the Autumn border is much better than last year.. There is now a lot of yellow in it which there never was before. It is all so different from Corfu, Back in England we have some chrysanthemums which are in tight bud at the bottom of the garden. There is an exceptionally good article on chrysanthemums in Country Life this week, by Val Bourne, and mouthwatering photographs by Clive Nichols, which sent us off to Warwick this morning. It is fun having James retired as I can do things with him.

James is very annoying as he has got me going an hour too early. Having the dogs back is so lovely, Jenny has taken them to the hairdresser and they look good, I am lucky both to have a garden, dogs and a husband! I have put my camera on a tripod which is much easier, as all my photos in Corfu had slight camera shake,

The Garden At Its Best

28th July, 2020, the best I have ever seen it

Is it the clear skies, the weather, or the attention to detail? We have done a new stone door out of the drawing room, It is nearly finished, and will be done at the end of this week. This week we are having a few visitors, including the head gardener of Bressingham gardens. We had two hardy plants members who knew everything needless to say, I like the Hardy Planters! The best is the par terre, the colours and the dahlias, a few new ones. I am going to change it for next year and plant some more agapanthus round the edge, I seem to have discovered some very special ones this year, Alan Street from Avon Bulbs, the darkest blue you have ever seen and not too big. Indigo Chimes is amazing, Similar. The Iris Rhapsody in Blue is getting the push. It is too scrappy and short flowering, Arabella Lennox Boyd came to see us a couple of weeks ago, it was like a visit from the Queen, James was made to weed, very unusual. I think I picked up quite a few tips! I am half way through my hip healing, I find my clothes situation tricky, and very soon I am going to have to go to my London hairdresser! An attempt at trimming it myself has been an unmitigated failure!

2 June, 2020, A Spring that goes on and on

Being in the middle of a lock down is not so bad when you have cloudless skies and endless sun. Because of the lack of airplanes and cars everything is pencil sharp, in fact you have never seen such beauty. I wonder how different everything will be when this changes.. We are all becoming used to watering, and brown lawns. I prefer watering with full cans than sprinkling, The roses started flowering a lot earlier than usual, but they all look very healthy, and the colours are lovely. We have a new rose called Keith Vaughan which is very pretty, exceptional in fact, and is going to go up the back of the house, This flowers twice, which is what almost all of my roses do. This is not a David Austin for a change.

We have gone through the Allium period, Purple Sensation, Mount Everest, Globemaster, and at the moment are engaged in pulling them out as I always feel they look funereal when they are going over. There is a later Allium called Firmanent, which flowers in June and is darker, A rather pretty little one is called Unifolium, soft pink and more delicate. Thomas and Nicholas are going to come and see us next week for the day, with Georgia, Thomas’s girlfriend. I am so looking forward to it. I miss the family a lot, and hope we will see Dominic and Hetty soon, with their burgeoning family. Their latest addition is Phoebe, aged one, already a temptress.

All the beds are filling up quite fast, and some of the colour schemes are pleasing. The Cayeux Irises are very tempting and a couple more are arriving in June, and I have to make up my mind whether to indulge n any more. The new planting in the front garden I am pleased with, It is James’ responsibility, and Malus Everest is springing out in every direction, The planting is similar to the far end, which gives a sense of continuity. We went to have a swim with my friend Philip Astley Jones, not too cold but perfect. It reminds me of our trip to Jaipur a few years ago because there is an Indian pavilion hung with Indian fabrics and with Indian marble furniture,