Tag Archives: Ornamental Plants

Busman’s Holiday

Took the day off work on Friday to head off to the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show. Yes, I took time off from tending plants to go… and look at plants. When you love what you do, this is what happens. I also like the show at Hampton Court much more than Chelsea, which tends to turn into an endless mass of people elbowing you in the sides. The little old ladies being the worst perpetrators. I also have a soft spot for Hampton Court Palace as I spent a blissful year there doing my horticultural/ garden design training. Nice to be back in my old stomping grounds.

Stunning & inspirational

Stunning & inspirational

Scott came along quite willingly and we had a good wander about, sampling gin, foods, and possibly more gin in the ‘Growing Tastes’ tent. We also picked up some more seed garlic from The Garlic Farm, which will go in the ground in a couple of months. Scott acted as my own personal plant attendant when I left him to nap in a shady spot while I bought plants. I generally make a rule not to buy things at flower shows, things are often available elsewhere and for much cheaper. I try and confine myself to taking photos of plants to help me remember names of varieties.

One to remember!

One to remember!

With the ornamental beds finally clear and under control (I’m making this sound like an advert for zit cream), I would really like to fill the beds with  mix of perennials. My impulse purchases that day were a few Salvia patens with stunning blue flowers and several Cosmos atrosanguineus (Chocolate Cosmos) with their lovely cocoa scent. Neither are particularly hardy, but I do love them. I did also see lots of lovely orange Achillea millefolium in the show gardens this year, so I’ll add them to my wish list.

Lovely orange Achillea in the foreground.

Lovely orange Achillea in the foreground.

Now, with my head full of ideas, I really should sit down and make a final list. In a year’s time, our allotment will end up looking like this:

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Heh.

 

Planting Plans:Ornamental Plants

I feel like I’m being quite lazy this spring, as it seem we haven’t spent much time on the plot this month. Of course, my decision to buy in many of my plants has meant our flat isn’t awash in tiny seedlings this year. Also, given the recent weather, I’m quite happy that there isn’t anything that urgently needs doing. It’s given me far more time to make plans and work on other parts of the plot. The most neglected section was probably the ornamental beds at the top of the plot and this year I’m determined to make something of them.

Last year we cleared the top area and moved the raspberry canes down into the fruit cage. These beds are right next to the access road that cuts through the allotment site and is quite close to the main gates. We get lots of passers-by,  and lots of hellos as well, but in years past Simon noticed that these raspberry plants never produced fruit. We had a slight hunch that fruit theft wasn’t entirely down to birds, so we decided to move the more tempting fruit to the far end of our plot.

The first stages of clearing the ornamental beds.

The first stages of clearing the ornamental beds last winter.

 

In the late autumn, we planted spring bulbs galore and have done so again last autumn. The daffodils from the first year have returned in abundance, as daffodils often do. The tulips last spring were a bit stunted, so this year I’ve mulched the beds with our lovely compost we produced. The trial beds of tulips are coming on well too, I do love having fresh cut flowers in the house when ever possible, especially in the early spring.

Fresh Daffodils in the house.

Fresh Daffodils in the house.

Last year by the summer however, the beds had become a fairly weedy mess. Other than the sunflowers and sweet peas, the beds we’re really not looking like much. I had attempted to sow some wild flower seeds, but they never really took. So in the autumn, I cleared most things out in an attempt to start over and added a few perennials such as Japanese anemones and coreopsis. I’ll likely add more and include some annuals such as cosmos and corn flowers later in the early summer.

While I’m mainly after cut flowers, I can’t possibly use everything and the excess flowers will left to attract bees and other pollinators. We did have an enormous comfrey plant in one bed, which did an amazing job attracting bees. Sadly, it also did a stupendous job at protecting and feeding hundreds of slugs. So I’ve dug it out and will replace it with something else. As  I’ve also ordered some summer bulbs of dahlias and species lilies, which will need to be planted soon, they likely take up that space happily.

I’m not really planting with any real design, which is a bit of a departure from what I do all the time in my job. With this little patch of ground I can plant what I like and where I like, no client imposing any limitations on me. I find it quite liberating to plant like that and I imagine some interesting combinations will come out of it. I’m hoping I’ll finally make something of it, even without a absolute “plan.”

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Hey Good Lookin’

One of the perks of being a professional gardener is that I often come home with leftover plants, or “strays” as I like to call them. In the flat we have a Kentia Palm, a massive Peace Lily and a six foot Ficus tree (nicknamed Benji for Ficus benjamina), all rescued from a one way trip to the tip.

We often over buy plants for clients’ gardens, which keeps me with a steady supply of bedding plants, bulbs and perennials. Other than the few pots outside the front door and the kitchen window boxes, we don’t have any garden space at home. The space at the plot has become a fantastic home for many of my strays and other garden finds.

I’ve already mentioned my terracotta bust Matilda, but clearing old gardens has also yielded a couple of other ornaments which I’ve added to our bright blue shed.

Decorated shed

We don’t have a cut flower bed per se, but we do have ornamental beds at the top of the plot next to the access road. There used to be raspberries in one part, but they have since been moved into the fruit cage. I planted leftover daffodil and tulip bulbs there, but with those over, I’ve let it go a bit more wild.  I’ve sprinkled in some wildflower seeds I got from Landlife Wildflowers,  so we’ll see what comes of that.

The other half has lots of lavender in it, along with some fennel and a rather massive comfrey plant. At one point, I think our resident allotment fox decided to make it into a bed and squashed the whole thing flat. I gave it a good chop and added it to the compost of course. It’s had the bonus of keeping the comfrey compact and leaving some space for more leftovers. I planted some stunning blue Allium azureum and firework-like Allium schubertii. Also a few Stipa arundinacea (aka ‘Pheasant’s Tail Grass’)  under the bee house. It’s a bit of a mish-mash, quite unlike my professional plantings, but I like them so much individually that they work just fine as a group.

Having the best of both worlds, in this case things that are both edible and beautiful, I also have a bed of sweet peas under planted with nasturtiums. I love the smell of sweet peas more than I can express and also the wonderful peppery taste of the nasturtium flowers in salads.

First sweet pea flower of the summer.

We also planted lots of sunflower seeds, sadly only a few have grown so far. I love the red ones best, but would happy for any to do well, as I’d like to leave them for the birds to eat.

I also have a good wander around the site regularily and see what’s blooming in other plots. There’s an empty plot near the front gates that is full of poppy blooms right now. We have a few that have shown up in our plot, but I’m not sure what colour they are yet. I love the purple ones best and noticed some growing wild by an old industrial building across the road from our house. I’ll collect some seeds when they ripen and add them to our patch.  If the veg growing goes bust, I may just convert the whole plot into an ornamental garden.

Just kidding…but only just.

Wild Poppies