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
Gresgarth, Arabella Lennox Boyds garden end of May
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,
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!
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,
The beginning of May is Euphorbia time usually twinned with Aliums. Alliums are bulbs, and my favourites are Globemaster, which when purchased from Bob Brown a couple of them soon turned into 30. Bob said that that never happened to him! Globemaster comes before Allium Purple Sensation, which lives up to its name. To my horror James has fallen in love with Nectaroscordons which seed more than any of them, and increase at the base, which they all do. Funnily enough at the edge of a border I can see why James likes them. Opening very slowly from a sheath they are like half a dozen bells in various shades of brown, on a long stem. One of their drawbacks is they smell very strong, and it is not a nice smell. Allium Everest is white and elegant, and I have got them in the Klimt border. Quite expensive to buy initially, they have doubled up a lot. My favourite is Allium albopilosum, which is pale pink, huge, and beautiful in every aspect. We have had a bad frost this morning, and James returning from his dog walk said two of my magnolias had dropped their leaves. Oh dear.
The result of James making me go through all my Country Lifes and Gardens Illustrated has given me quite a few new ideas. Particularly when Gardens Illustrated list their dozen best Baptisias for example. I rather like the look of Baptisia ‘Golden Chestnut’. Their only drawback is that they are slow to come up. Mine are only just emerging now. Though I suppose you can fill the gaps with either Camassias and or Tulips. I do not always get the tulips right by any matter of means. Tulip Formosa is Polly’s new discovery, and a very good one too. At this time of year is the appearance of Aconitum Stainless Steel, a very pretty soft grey blue and tall, However not only very poisonous, it collapses after flowering so you have to have something in front of it.
The star of the magnolias is Magnolia Sieboldi, flowering now, and Magnolia Lilliflora Nigra, which seems to flower indefinitely, and has got quite large, in a spreading way. I cant imagine a garden without Magnolias. We have eight Magnolias which I think is a lot for an acre and a half garden. They have suffered a lot today. Particularly this morning, and Athene. Everyone is saying this, but I have never known such a beautiful Spring.
Mostyn, my family home, the back of it with the Japanese garden on the left. This was in May.
I never thought I would be writing this. One of the main things is attention to detail because we have more time on our hands. Never before have I religiously threaded the stems of Clematis in and out of the chicken wire. Therefore they are going to break and flower more instead of a messy jumble. We have nine clematis and three are growing up tripods, Arabella has hardly moved yet after about five years, but is so pretty I am hanging on to it. My favourite is Princess Kate, and Alionushka, that is up a tripod in the par terre and has had an AGM. Polly likes Madame Julia Correvon, which to my eyes is always untidy. Our walls are not tall, and are also north facing. I like the tripods which are made of steel and have small gold balls on top, painted by me. They slightly remind me of Portmeirion.
Now is when we are making notes as to our changes to the tulips in our borders for next year. To be really effective we should put in a small cane or take photographs of where they are going to go. Polly discovered a very good one, a Viridiflora called Formosa. She saw it at Arundel, planted by the Bannermans, and it is dual tone green and yellow. Delightful.
James has been nagging me to go through the immense pile of magazines I have, or we have! Every day I put it off, Finally I have done it, cutting out articles by Mark Griffiths in Country Life. He is the best. Gardener Troy at Ilford Manor has told me what I am doing wrong with Siberian irises when they do not flower, basically not enough sun and good soil. It was Mark who inspired me with the planting of lilies in pots by the greenhouse, difficulty with the staking as I am afraid the pots are not big enough. We will see if we get on better this year. This is always what makes gardening interesting.