Saturday, November 26, 2011

Cyclamen graecum

In 2005 David Leeman purchased some Cyclamen seed from the British Cyclamen Society and together we germinated the seed and grew them on to maturity. The result has been dozens of plants that are now happily colonizing areas of my garden as well as in those of friends and neighbours.
But also from this pool I have been able to select specimen plants to grow in the greenhouse, these have been mostly C. hederifolium, C. coum and C. mirabile.
They have all been rewarding plants and spectacular in flower and foliage, however I had overlooked two 2" pots of Cyclamen graecum that had not been divided and were struggling for space. It was not until 2009 that I gave them their own pots, and finally last year I selected four plants with particularly finely marked leaves and moved them on to larger clay pots.

C. graecum in 2" pots in 2010.

A selection of the same plants grown on in 4" clay pots.

They have beautifully marked leaves that are typical of C. graecum.

There is endless variety.

And each plant distinct.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Flowers and Foliage at the NatBot

NatBot is what my friend in Wales called the National Botanic Garden of Wales, and so it was for us too for the remainder of the trip. Our little group are all lovers of the Mediterranean flora and so, the Great Glasshouse was a treat with its collection of plants from those wonderful climatic regions. The Glasshouse is divided into mediterranean climates around the world including those of Europe, South Africa, Australia, Chile, and Pacific North West America. Here are some of my pictures which I'll try to identify if possible.

Haemanthus albiflos.

Pelargonium acetosum.

Acacia pravissima


Dryandra sp.

Anigozanthos sp.

Fascicularia pitcairnifolia

Alyogyne huegelii.

Helichrysum were great favourites of butterflies and bees.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The National Botanic Garden of Wales

I have a lot of pictures of the National Botanic Garden, so I'm dividing it into several post starting with this one on the buildings and layout.

The National Botanic Garden is a millennium project for Wales and was opened in 2000. It is set in a National nature reserve of 500 acres which includes the lands of the historical Middleton Estate and utilizes many of its surviving building structures.
The most exciting of these is the double walled kitchen garden which has been restored and now contains a vast collection of plant families. The other outstanding feature is the great dome designed by Sir Norman Foster to be the largest single span glasshouse in the world. Link to more complete history.

David and John are following the source of the rill that runs from the top of a hill to the entrance and leads visitors to the Walled Garden and the Great Glasshouse.

Looking up the hill at the rill with the Glasshouse on the right and the Walled Garden to the left.

This complex of buildings, old and new, houses exhibits, restaurants and administration.

The remaining wing of Middleton House.

A section of the Walled Garden featuring Grasses, Bamboos and Palms.

The spectacular interior of the Glasshouse.

Visitors can follow paths at surface level...

or go down into canyons and ravines.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


This has been an unusually mild month, it has felt more like October, but with the shorter days and dramatic sunsets I associate with November. Looking out the window I noticed that Clematis rehderiana was still very green and still in flower, this inspired me to see what else there was in bloom in the garden. Here are my finds:

Clematis rehderiana, still in bloom with a few older flowers damaged by light frosts.

Geranium 'Rozanne', the blooming machine is still cranking out flowers that have turned bluer by the colder weather.

Salvia leucantha still happily blooming and so far unaffected by frost and cold nights.

Helleborus niger 'Praecox' this reliable late bloomer is just reaching its prime.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Cowbridge Physic Garden.

On my last visit to Wales my friends Graham and Denise took me and their neighbour Margeret to Dyffryn Gardens. It was a great visit and was preceded with an unscheduled visit to the Cowbridge Physic Garden. And like many unexpected detours, it turned out to be a pleasant surprise.
This is a fairly new garden and has been made in an old walled garden in the middle of the little town of Cowbridge. There appeared to be a lot of community input and seemed to be maintained mostly by volunteers.

The sign in Welsh on one side of the entrance.

The main entrance with bilingual signs.

It was a warm day in September and there were many people taking advantage of the sunshine.

Some nice ornament that suited the formal design.

The layout of the garden was formal and organized in groups of plants with similar healing properties.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Aberglasney House and Gardens

Whether from benign neglect or respect for the past, many gardens in Wales have survived time and changes in fashion. As can be seen in my earlier post, Powys Castle has retained its Italianate terraces and the house and farm at Llanerchaeron remain intact.
The most recent story of survival is the rediscovery of Aberglasney House and Gardens, which although neglected for decades was rescued in the late 1990's and has seen a miraculous recovery.
I have been lucky to have witnessed the transformation from a muddy archeological dig in 2000 to a fully realized renewal of the Cloister Garden, which is now confirmed to be from the late Tudor and early Stewart era. And, in fact, seeing the remaking of the entire garden and restoration of the house has been an ongoing pleasure for the last 12 years.

Aberglasney House. The Cloister Garden which until recently was buried under metres of soil and covered in lawn.

The house and gardens are under the care of the Aberglasney Restoration Trust and one of the most steadfast supporters is Frank Cabot.

One of the many projects supported by Ann and Frank Cabot was the Ninfarium, the atrium covered semi-tropical garden laid out in a ruined wing of the house.

It is named after the Italian garden laid out in the 1920s among the ruins of the small medieval town of Ninfa.

This summer house, another gift from the Cabots is in a sunny corner of the Kitchen Garden.

In the Kitchen Garden, this crabapple tunnel was heavy with fruit this Autumn.

Staircase to an adjoining enclosed garden.

The second enclosed garden, originally another kitchen garden, is now a new formal garden designed by Penelope Hobhouse.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Paths and Paving

At this time of year when much of the garden disappears under layers of falling leaves, it is a great pleasure to take a rake and with a few strokes uncover pathways. It's only a temporary gesture, as very soon they will be covered by snow and remain that way until the Spring.
If gardening is "an act of disturbance", this was certainly the sort of gesture that reasserts ones control over this intimate place, and if gardening is a shared creation between gardener and Nature, then this is me having my say. Of course nature wins in the end, if these leaves were left unraked for an Autumn or two, then as they break down into humus,and it would take no time for tree seedlings to invade the pathway and reclaim for Nature this manmade thoroughfare.

This the pathway as Nature would have it.

The same pathway after a few strokes of the rake.

The design of this path was partly influenced by a Japanese design and partly by the need to adapt to the slim resources at my disposal, and to be honest I like this cottage garden ingenuity of using whatever materials are available. The stone pavers were left over from a friends kitchen renovation, they are set in an inexpensive gravel and edged with granite sets left over from another project..

Here are two examples of cottage garden craft of using "mixed paving" that I photographed in the South Cottage Garden at Sissinghurst.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Plant House at Hidcote

The Plant House in 1930. It was demolished in 1954.

Hidcote Manor Garden is one of the most famous and influential 20th Century gardens in Europe. At it's centennial a large sum of money was raised to renew and rebuild some of the features in the original garden that were in need of repair or were lost over time. One of these features was the Plant House which was demolished in 1954 after an exceptionally bitter winter had wiped out the plant collection. It has now been resurrected to provide winter protection for a collection of semi-tropical plants while in summer when the glazed panels are removed it becomes an airy arcade for visitors and many of the plants spill out into the adjacent Lily Garden.
When we visited Hidcote this September some of our party were disappointed with the appearance of many of the gardens, they seemed rather shabby and down at heel, and so it was a special pleasure to find the plant house in great shape with colourful borders of annuals glowing in the Autumn light.

Plant House with border of Verbena bonariensis, Cosmos sulphuereus and Nicotiana 'Lime Green'.

The perimeter of the Lily Pond has large tropical plants in pots spilling out from the Plant House in the Summer.

The entrance to the Plant House has tables of tender plants .

Aeonium tabuliforme.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Llanerchaeron, Ceredigion, Wales

A chance meeting with my old friend Carol, resulted in a lovely weekend in mid-Wales and the introduction to two places that were unknown to me and that I would otherwise not visited. The first was Llanerchaeronand the other was the Pavillion at the Serpentine Gallery (see post on October 5th) .
Llanerchaeron is a self- sufficient 18th century Welsh estate with a dairy, laundry, brewery, bakery and walled kitchen garden. It was designed by John Nash and has survived to this day virtually unaltered and is now under the care of the National Trust.
The walled garden was huge with apples, pears and medlars growing as standards as well as espeliered against the walls and all manner of soft fruit and vegetables. There were also greenhouses with an interesting collection of unusual Pelargoniums.

The elegant main house designed by John Nash in 1790.

This is the approach to the house when entering the estate.

A nice arrangement of interesting Pelargoniums at the front door.

The main courtyard at the rear of the house surrounded by laundery and dairy and other workrooms.

The doorway from the courtyard to the farm buildings and walled garden.

Time and wear have textured this windowsill looking into the courtyard from one of the work rooms.

Carol at the entrance to one of the walled gardens.

This will give some idea of the scale of the walled gardens.

Medlars ready for harvest in mid-September.

Espeliered apples in the walled garden.