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In Growth

27 Nov

Oh dear, I can’t believe I didn’t write anything for a whole growing season! I’m here to say that I am alive and the blog lives on, but I am hesitant to promise a more regular posting since I’ve made that promise a few times before without the best follow through.

One of my favorite little woodland plants, Maianthemum stellatum, looking fresh before the drought took its toll.

One of my favorite little woodland plants, Maianthemum stellatum, looking fresh before the drought took its toll.

Between the budding projects and responsibilities at work and the longest, hottest, and driest summer in Seattle history, there wasn’t much time left to write. (I really don’t know how other bloggers do it.)

Spring came incredibly early this year, so the Long Bed erupted into growth with amazing vigor.

Spring came incredibly early this year, so the Long Bed erupted into growth with amazing vigor.

My own garden suffered quite a bit, but this was the perfect year to leave the garden to edit itself. Anything what wasn’t well established or sited well would wither away allowing space for the more suited plantings to spread. Of course being a bit soft hearted I saved and doted upon a few select plants, but over all everyone had to make it through by their own devices.

Spring

Even before the normally reliable rains petered out the alternation of warm sunny days and mild rainy ones kept everyone looking quite good. Nearly everything bloomed all at once, so it was very difficult to photograph everything.

One of my favorite sights this spring was seeing the icy teal blue spruce and soft pink plumes of cherry blossoms against the wonderfully blue sky.

One of my favorite sights this spring was seeing the icy teal blue spruce and soft pink plumes of cherry blossoms against the wonderfully blue sky.

The (late) potted tulips sailed through the mild winter and began blooming a month early with a riot of color.

The (late) potted tulips sailed through the mild winter and began blooming a month early with a riot of color.

As usual the Bletilla orchids put on a great show though this year the chartreuse blooms of Euphorbia characias and ruddy flowers of Rosa 'Mutabilis' added to the effect.

As usual the Bletilla orchids put on a great show though this year the chartreuse blooms of Euphorbia characias and ruddy flowers of Rosa ‘Mutabilis’ added to the effect.

I received this Ranunculus ficaria 'Flore Pleno' from a friend in early spring...hopefully it doesn't have plants of garden domination.

I received this Ranunculus ficaria ‘Flore Pleno’ from a friend in early spring…hopefully it doesn’t have plants of garden domination.

I love the sweet smelling double flowers of Primula veris 'Katy Mcsparron' and despite the heavy blossoms the heads look up.

I love the sweet smelling double flowers of Primula veris ‘Katy Mcsparron’ and despite the heavy blossoms the heads look up.

The Long Bed always looks so verdant in spring, but if the lady ferns aren't well watered in the summer they crisp and brown terribly. I dig them out in late summer and planted other perennials in their place.

The Long Bed always looks so verdant in spring, but if the lady ferns aren’t well watered in the summer they crisp and brown terribly. I dig them out in late summer and planted other perennials in their place.

I find that the brooding blossoms on Geranium phaeum 'Variegatum' helps ground the splashy nature of its cream variegation.

I find that the brooding blossoms on Geranium phaeum ‘Variegatum’ helps ground the splashy nature of its cream variegation.

I love the long dangling pedicels of Mertensia bella - a lovely Pacific Northwest native.

I love the long dangling pedicels of Mertensia bella – a lovely Pacific Northwest native.

The only well-drained area in my garden is this long narrow bed about a foot wide. Everything Mediterranean lives here along with this lovely Iris 'Cloud Ballet'.

The only well-drained area in my garden is this long narrow bed about a foot wide. Everything Mediterranean lives here along with this lovely Iris ‘Cloud Ballet’.

After removing the Siberian irises back in February, I was happy to see that the fragrant Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus would bloom along side sweet Tellima grandiflora.

After removing the Siberian irises back in February, I was happy to see that the fragrant Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus would bloom along side sweet Tellima grandiflora.

Summer

This summer was quite the blur. I seemed like everything needed my attention, so I didn’t get many chances to photograph what was blooming. Plus most of the plants were stressed and ragged from the drought, so I spared them from the camera’s unflinching view.

I've been impressed with how hardy Osteospermum jucundum has been in my garden. I has survived at least four winters now, but unfortunately hasn't produced any viable seed while I've grown it.

I’ve been impressed with how hardy Osteospermum jucundum has been in my garden. I has survived at least four winters now, but unfortunately hasn’t produced any viable seed while I’ve grown it.

This is Taraxacum pseudoroseum, a pink flowered species of dandelion that I grew from seed and of course I was delighted by its first bloom this year. (Yes, I know I am a bit of a nut.)

This is Taraxacum pseudoroseum, a pink flowered species of dandelion that I grew from seed and of course I was delighted by its first bloom this year. (Yes, I know I am a bit of a nut.)

This is one of the flowers from an heirloom seed strain of carnations I started earlier in the year. Dianthus 'Enfant de Nice' is an old French variety with spicy clove scented flowers of mixed shades of red, pink, white, and purple.

This is one of the flowers from an heirloom seed strain of carnations I started earlier in the year. Dianthus ‘Enfant de Nice’ is an old French strain with spicy clove scented flowers of mixed shades of red, pink, white, and purple.

I started a bunch of dahilas from seed this year, but this seedling had the richest ox-blood red flowers which I can't capture on camera very well.

I started a bunch of dahilas from seed this year, but this seedling had the richest ox-blood red flowers which I can’t capture on camera very well.

Without a hard freeze over the winter Fuchsia magellanica 'Aurea' was quick to bloom this year.

Without a hard freeze over the winter Fuchsia magellanica ‘Aurea’ was quick to bloom this year.

It was my first year growing this black tomato (Indigo Rose), but the marauding deer didn't leave a single ripe one for me to try.

It was my first year growing this black tomato (Indigo Rose), but the marauding deer didn’t leave a single ripe one for me to try.

Rosa 'Julia Child' really need a rejuvenating prune this year, so after a hard hack and feeding in early summer it grow back and bloomed all the way through frost.

Rosa ‘Julia Child’ really need a rejuvenating prune this year, so after a hard hack and feeding in early summer it grew back and bloomed all the way through frost.

Pelargonium 'Attar of Roses' grew magnificently in the summer heat. It was a joy pruning back the rich rose scented sprawling stems.

Pelargonium ‘Attar of Roses’ grew magnificently in the summer heat. It was a joy pruning back the rich rose-scented sprawling stems.

Autumn

Autumn came late this year, but when it did arrive it was a drastic and noticeable switch. It was still quite mild and the sunny days were beautiful, but the cooler and damper weather gave many plants much needed relief from the straining summer.

Oddly the Rhododendron occidentale decided to blossom again in September. Maybe it was rejoicing the autumn rains

Oddly the Rhododendron occidentale decided to blossom again in September. Maybe it was rejoicing the autumn rains.

Another rebloomer was Veronica gentianoides 'Pallida'. I love the china blue veins on its porcelain white petals.

Another rebloomer was Veronica gentianoides ‘Pallida’. I love the china blue veins on its porcelain white petals.

As soon as Tricyrtis formosana 'Blu-shing Toad' started to bloom I knew it was the end of summer and the beginning of autumn.

As soon as Tricyrtis formosana ‘Blu-shing Toad’ started to bloom I knew it was the end of summer and the beginning of autumn.

Thanks to the late mild autumn, Chrysanthemum 'Apricot' had a beautiful display. The shimmering peach color brighten grey days.

Thanks to the late mild autumn, Chrysanthemum ‘Apricot’ had a beautiful long display. The shimmering peach color brighten grey days.

Here is Chrysanthemum 'Matchsticks' - a new acquisition - in a blaze of scarlet and gold.

Here is Chrysanthemum ‘Matchsticks’ – a new acquisition – in a blaze of scarlet and gold.

Apparently a few of my pollination attempts took on my Helwingia chinensis. How odd seeing little berries growing on a leaf.

Apparently a few of my pollination attempts took on my Helwingia chinensis. How odd seeing little berries growing on a leaf.

The over growth of the Long Bed wasn't looking too rough despite the drought this summer.

The over growth of the Long Bed wasn’t looking too rough despite the drought this summer.

I could never grow tired of smelling the sweet, yet fresh apricot scent of Osmanthus fragrans. It lives in a pot by the doorway where its wafting fragrance can be enjoyed.

I could never grow tired of smelling the sweet, yet fresh apricot scent of Osmanthus fragrans. It lives in a pot by the doorway where its wafting fragrance can be enjoyed.

In early November I took a weeklong trip to LA to visit a friend. While I was there we stopped by the Huntington Botanical Gardens for a look around.

In early November I took a weeklong trip to LA to visit a friend. While I was there we stopped by the Huntington Botanical Gardens for a look around.

The gardens were amazing, but I wish they were open longer. Four and a half hours was not enough to see the entire place!

The gardens were amazing, but I wish they were open longer. Four and a half hours was not enough to see the entire place!

The Pollination Garden

One of the many exciting projects I got to take on this summer was creating “The Pollination Garden” out in front of the University of Washington Botany Greenhouse. The container garden was designed to be a fun display for visitors where they are invited to enjoyed the flowers as they learn how to infer what pollinators each species of flower was trying to attract by looking at form, color, and scent. The garden doubled as a urban oasis for pollinators passing through both animal and human.

The garden was mostly a mixture of tropical plants and the majority of them were of straight species.

The garden was mostly a mixture of tropical plants and the majority of them were of straight species.

Here is a view of the main border.

Here is a view of the main border.

A close-up of a portion of the main border.

A close-up of a portion of the main border.

Here is the main border but looking towards the gate on a warm afternoon.

Here is the main border but looking towards the gate on a warm afternoon.

That’s all for today. Hopefully I be back around soon, but until then wishing you well and if you are in Puget Sound stay warm out there!

Island Life

29 Jun

This is my first week at Tresco Abbey done and I am really liking this island life (especially when it is sunny). Between working in the garden, I’ve been strolling along beaches and biking to the far corners of the island (it’s only 2.2 miles long so a perfect size for exploring and still making it back home in time for dinner).

When I biked down this path Sunday morning I had to stop and admire the large Brugmansia sanguinea freely blossoming overhead (upper left).

When I biked down this path Sunday morning I had to stop and admire the large Brugmansia sanguinea freely blossoming overhead (upper left).

The flowers maybe smaller than the more common hybrids, but the rich colors really pack a punch and it likes cooler conditions - perfect for temperate regions!

The flowers maybe smaller than the more common hybrids, but the rich colors really pack a punch and it likes cooler conditions – perfect for temperate regions!

The island vegetation ranges from woodland, to grassland, sand dunes, and heathland. Within minutes I can bike from one environment to the next peppered within these areas escapees from the garden, such as Agapanthus and Echium, have self sown themselves around.

Here's one of the grassy areas with the escaped Agapanthus beginning to bloom.

Here’s one of the grassy areas with the escaped Agapanthus beginning to bloom.

Isn't that amazing? That's all Bracken Fern as far as the eye can see!

Isn’t that amazing? That’s all Bracken Fern as far as the eye can see!

Here is a closeup of the heathland. Everything is low to the ground and full of heathers.

Here is a closeup of the heathland. Everything is low to the ground and full of heathers.

The island was leased to Augustus Smith from the Duchy of Cornwall in 1834. Augustus built his home along side the ruins of the old abbey (1200’s) and started building his ‘exotic’ garden. The waters around the island is warmed by the Gulf Stream and this is why many of the tender plants (USDA Zone 9 and even 10) thrive here. Successive generations have added many more plants from the far corners of the world, as specimens from expeditions and passing voyages, and as the spoils of war and imperialism. Today the Dorrien-Smith Family – decedents of Augustus – still own the island and live in the large estate by the ruins of the old Abbey.

Gosh, what a home and a view.

Gosh, what a home and a view.

Aside from the Dorrien-Smith Family, the majority of the inhabitants are temporary workers under contract and a few permanent staff that live on the island. Since the student housing was all booked up I live on the other side of the island with the seasonal staff. It’s not too far away and it’s lovely biking to work in the morning when few people are awake. Plus my neighbors are quite friendly and everyone is rich with life stories.

Two of the cleaners were so kind and shared their homemade pizza with me. The store on the island didn't have the right ingredients for dough so they improvised with slices of bread and a few beaten eggs. I'm calling it 'Romanian Pizza'. (And it was good!)

Two of the cleaners were so kind and shared their homemade pizza with me. The store on the island didn’t have the right ingredients for dough so they improvised with slices of bread and a few beaten eggs. I’m calling it ‘Romanian Pizza’. (And it was good!)

Back in the garden, the task of the moment is – surprise – weeding, weeding, weeding! We’ve been tackling the problem areas that have been left for a while and it’s need to ‘free’ the beds a little and let them breathe. Aside from weeding, it’s the usual of watering potted plants and clearing up the leaves on the garden paths. Usually it’s raking oak and beech leaves, but here on Tresco we are clearing up leaves of palm fronds, Metrosideros, and Cordyline. Every Monday morning and after a storm, we go along the paths collecting Cordyline leaves and tie them into bundles. Apparently, they are slow to decay and they clog up the mowers, so they are collected and burned.

To some this task maybe tedious, but I find quietly walking the garden picking up leaves is meditative and a gentle way to start the working week.

To some this task maybe tedious, but I find quietly walking the garden picking up leaves is meditative and a gentle way to start the working week.

The lovely red pompom flowers of Metrosideros excelsa was swarming with  bumblebees. You can hear their low 'Ooomm' down the garden path.

The lovely red pompom flowers of Metrosideros excelsa was swarming with bumblebees. You can hear their low ‘Ooomm’ down the garden path.

We finished the week working up in the Upper Terrace. The hot, dry, and poor soils are the ideal conditions for all sorts of plants in the Protaeceae family. Here Leucospermum and Protea cynaroides are blooming away.

We finished the week working up in the Upper Terrace. The hot, dry, and poor soils are the ideal conditions for all sorts of plants in the Protaeceae family. Here Leucospermum and Protea cynaroides are blooming away.

Here's a close up of <em>Protea cynaroides</em>. Isn't it mesmerizing?

Here’s a close up of Protea cynaroides. Isn’t it mesmerizing?

Today the Tresco hosted a triathlon to benefit Cancer Research UK. I wish I didn’t go to bed so late, because I missed actress Dame Judi Dench opening the event. (However she is still on the island, so maybe I can catch a glimpse of this rare bird?) Though I did manage to walk past, British comedian, James Corden while I was out today.

Yup, definitely woke up too late.

Yup, definitely woke up too late.

The triathlon started with swim in the sea, a bike ride through the hilly (and bumpy) grass and woodland, and – in good British fashion – the run around the island finished at the pub. There was music and a barbecue in honor of the athletes and it looked like everyone was having a good time.

Here's the finish line alive with cheering and clapping. (PS, the pub is behind me.)

Here’s the finish line alive with cheering and clapping. (PS, the pub is behind me.)

Even this old hen was enjoying herself!

Even this old hen was enjoying herself!

Anyway, I am going to run out and enjoy the sun before it slips away for the day. I can’t believe I have only two more weeks left, but I’ll be visiting the other islands in the next two weeks. Check back for those posts. Talk to you soon!

A mini-quiz bouquet from one of the days. From left to right: Digitalis canariensis, Anthropodium cirratum, Tagetes lemmonii, Hymenolepis parviflora, and Wingandia caracasana.

A mini-quiz bouquet from one of the days. From left to right: Digitalis canariensis, Anthropodium cirratum, Tagetes lemmonii, Hymenolepis parviflora, and Wingandia caracasana.

City Streets to Country Lanes

14 Jun

Oh gosh, has another month passed again?! I can’t believe it is already June! If there are any regular readers out there, I am sorry I haven’t been updating more regularly! I’ve had a bit of horticultural whiplash lately, and though I know I made it sound really unpleasant, in actuality I’ve been having a fun time zooming from one garden to the next.

The last time I updated I was in the Tropical Nursery at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Since then I’ve been in the Arboretum Nursery potting up nursery stock and all sorts of shenanigans in the Princess of Wales Conservatory.

Don't mind me, just admiring the world's smallest waterlily species (Nymphaea thermarum) that's also extinct in the wild...

Don’t mind me, just admiring the world’s smallest waterlily species (Nymphaea thermarum) that also happens to be extinct in the wild…

Since the Jade Vine (Strongylodon macrobotrys)  was in bloom, a soon-to-be diploma student and I pollinated every flower in hopes of getting some seed.

Since the Jade Vine (Strongylodon macrobotrys) was in bloom, a soon-to-be diploma student and I pollinated every flower in hopes of getting some seed.

I was at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew until the second week of May and the next week I scooted off to Winfield House, which is the US Ambassador’s home in Regents Park. (No, unfortunately I wasn’t staying there, just helping out in the garden.) Though I have a few photos of Winfield House, I’m not allowed to post any of them in a public space. However, during my week there the Head Gardener – Stephen Crisp – arranged some gardens for me to visit: Great Dixter, Sissinghurst Castle, The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, Lambeth Palace, The Royal College of Physicians, and Buckingham Palace. I know, isn’t that quite the line up?

This was my second time visiting Great Dixter, but it was great to see the garden in a different season and I got to meet head gardener (Fergus Garrett), some of the staff, and students. It is amazing how full and lush everything was, I did not find a single gap in any of the gardens there!

Great Dixter is much softer in the spring, but with the same free spirit!

Great Dixter is much softer in the spring, but with the same free spirit!

After visiting Great Dixter Sissinghurst Castle was a little bit of a let down. (Not that it wasn’t beautiful, it just wasn’t as full compared to Great Dixter.) Though in their defense, they just brought in a new head gardener in the autumn and it was a week or two before the garden was at its height. Still lovely nonetheless.

The hot colors in these beds at Sissinghurst Castle made it feel warmer that day.

The hot colors in these beds at Sissinghurst Castle made it feel warmer that day.

The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple is in the heart of London and you wouldn’t know it just by visiting it. Just walking through it there are many little passages, courtyards, and gardens, and with all the buildings arranged like a village they seem to cancel out the noise from the busy streets. (Oh by the way, The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple is where most of all the high-profile barristers work in London.)

A wonderful spring display in the herbaceous border. Does it remind you of Great Dixter? Well it turns out the head gardener used to be a student there.

A wonderful spring display in the herbaceous border. Does it remind you of Great Dixter? Well it turns out the head gardener used to be a student there.

Lambeth Palace is also in the heart of London with the Garden History Museum located off to its side. This is where the Archbishop of Canterbury’s lives in London. The gardens are English in style, but each one has it’s own signature and feel, ranging from formal to naturalistic. The idea is to create a tranquil space for everyone – from the visitors to the bishops – to unwind and reflect. (Just by change I met the Archbishop of Canterbury that day!)

This herb garden was one of my favorite sections and though the chefs may come out to pick some for cooking, but it's really there for people to enjoy the fragrance when wandering by or finding a sunny place to sit.

This herb garden was one of my favorite sections and though the chefs may come out to pick some for cooking, it’s really there for people to enjoy the fragrance when wandering by or finding a sunny place to sit.

Being on the outer edge of Regents Park, the Royal College of Physicians are tighter on space. Though the gardens are smaller they are quite wonderful and packed full of plants familiar and new. Generally, the plantings are inspired by plants that have or were once used for medicinal purposes by doctors and apothecaries. Though the plant palette it may suggest a very botanical garden style design, the plants are combined and used in a free manner. The gardens softened the buildings and created a fresh atmosphere.

This block of buildings has one long garden in the front where an 18th Century list of approved plants for apothecaries to sell/use are brought to life. I love it!

This block of buildings has one long garden in the front where an 18th Century list of approved plants for apothecaries to sell/use are brought to life. I love it!

My final visit was the gardens around Buckingham Palace and it was quite a treat! When I was there a small crew of people were setting up marques for her summer garden parties, but luckily the Queen was staying at another palace that day and I was able to see her massive long herbaceous border. (Her window overlooks that section of the grounds and if she were home we wouldn’t be allowed to be on that side.) Also like the Winfield House, I wasn’t allowed to take photos. Sorry to disappoint!

This was the final day of build-up in front of the to-be Best of Show garden. The garden designer/builders' stress levels were through the roof!

This was the final day of build-up in front of the to-be Best of Show garden. The garden designer/builders’ stress levels were through the roof!

Next phase of the horticultural whiplash: a week at the Chelsea Flower Show! It was truly astonishing, since I have never seen anything like it. It was like London through a giant garden party and everyone from the rich and famous to the average gardener could attend – that is if they can get their hands on a ticket fast enough. My position was the Volunteer Support support. All joking aside, I was there to help both the volunteer coordinators and the volunteers, so if they needed anything I was their go-for.

The Great Pavilion was filled with all sorts of flowers at peak perfection.

The Great Pavilion was filled with all sorts of flowers at peak perfection.

It was also amazing to witness the ‘Chelsea Sell Off’ at the end of the show. At 4:30pm on the final day of the show, a bell is rung then everyone – even the most genteel of people – get worked up into a frenzy and descend upon the gardens and flower stands and buys up anything with chlorophyll in sight. It was amazing what people were trying to take home on the Tube. Though I can’t lie it was wonderful to see giant plants and flowers bobbing up and down through the crowds, decorating the London streets for an evening.

The chaos!

The chaos!

And the brave! (Or crazed?)

And the brave! (Or crazed?)

Next a caught the train and made my way down to RHS Garden Rosemoor for a week. It is a beautiful garden, very peaceful and intimate.  I think it may be my favorite out of the RHS gardens. (Shh…don’t tell Wisley.)

The lake water was so sill that day it was like a giant mirror reflecting everything so beautifully.

The lake water was so sill that day it was like a giant mirror reflecting everything so beautifully.

After my short stint at RHS Garden Rosemoor I slipped down to the Eden Project and I’ve been here for two weeks now. So far I have worked in the Mediterranean Biome, the Tropical Biome, the Outdoor Biome, and the Nursery. Next week I will be with the ‘Narrators’ (kind of like docents), Pathology, and Plant Records. It’s an amazing place and a different take on botanic/ornamental garden. When I will write a more detailed post when I next have access to more reliable internet access. This is my last week at the Eden Project and on Saturday I am off to Tresco Abbey out in the Scilly Isles! Gosh time flies!

Here is one of the paths curving through the olive grove in the Mediterranean Biome.

Here is one of the paths curving through the olive grove in the Mediterranean Biome.

Though many would find it too hot, I actually enjoyed the heat and humidity in the Tropical Biome.

Though many would find it too hot, I actually enjoyed the heat and humidity in the Tropical Biome.

I’ve headed out for the day to enjoy the the glorious warm and sunny weather in St. Ives. Anyway, that’s just a quick update for now. (I’ve been sitting in the Tate Gallery Cafe using their wifi for the past two hours and I think they are ready for me to leave.) See you all soon!

I haven't seen the sea in months and I couldn't have asked for better weather!

I haven’t seen the sea in months and I couldn’t have asked for better weather!

Nice to Meet Kew

2 Apr

Has it really been a month since I last updated?! (No, I know – I’m such a bad blogger.) Time is really starting to fly by, so much as happened since then! This will be another short post, but I will be trying to make an effort to post more frequently. Okay let’s recap from my last post about moving back down to London from Edinburgh.

Here is the scene from the morning the day I left.

Here is the scene from the morning the day I left.

Once again, I packed up my entire life and headed out to Waverley Station and caught the next train to London. After a five and a half hour ride through the British countryside and an hour commute across London, I made it to my accommodation in Isleworth where I will be living for the next two months while I do my placement at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

With my first day at Kew I was greeted by huge swatches of fresh daffodils cheerfully popping up in the lawns.

With my first day at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew I was greeted by huge swatches of fresh daffodils cheerfully popping up in the lawns.

When I made it to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew on my first day the flowers were at least two weeks of Edinburgh: the snowdrops were basically finished and daffodils and camellias were beginning to put on a show. While life was starting to stir again outside, I slipped into the the Princess of Wales Conservatory was transported into a lush tropical paradise. I just made it for the the tail end of the Orchids 2014 show and the main tropical room was awash with vibrant colors and alluring scents.

A part of the displays at the Orchids show at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

A part of the displays at the Orchids 2014 show at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

The Alpine House also had many bulbs coming into bloom as well, so I just had to pop in for a quick look. Much like the Princess of Wales Conservatory the Alpine House was also popping with color and delicious fragrances abound.

The Alpine House may look a bit odd, but its modern design helps provide the alpine plants with the right temperatures and light levels.

The Alpine House may look a bit odd, but its modern design helps provide the alpine plants with the right temperatures and light levels.

I love delicate and wonderfully scented Narcissus jonquilla and luckily there were dotted about and in full bloom.

I love delicate and wonderfully scented Narcissus jonquilla, and luckily they were dotted about and in full bloom.

This froth of pale-blue stars belongs to Scilla messeniana.

This froth of pale-blue stars belongs to Scilla messeniana.

For the entire month of March I was placed with the Arboretum Department where I was helping with preparing the different sections of the Arboretum for spring and summer. Unfortunately I forgot to take photos, but I will include some later. Currently I am working in Tropical Nursery and for the final week in April I will have a week in the Princess of Wales Conservatory.

The magnolias were at there prime for the past couple of weeks, but unluckily there was a light frost and the blossoms on many trees got singed.

The magnolias were at there prime for the past couple of weeks, but unluckily there was a light frost and the blossoms on many trees got singed.

A friend from Seattle visited me in mid-March and on one of our days out we stopped by the Columbia Road Flower Market to see what it was all about. The flower market is only opened on Sundays and little did we know how packed it would be. It’s amazing to see a flower market crammed with so many people! (Plus I think the sunny weather also played a big hand in that.) It was amazing surrounded by so many plants and cut flowers, and all around the voices of flower merchants shouting out hourly deals filled the already humming atmosphere.

I've never seen a flower market so packed!

I’ve never seen a flower market so packed!

I know that wasn’t very substantial, I will be back with a post on the Tropical Nursery. Happy Spring and talk to you all soon!

 

 

Onwards and Upwards

22 Dec

This was the state of my room this morning. During moments like this I wish I had Merlin’s magic bag from Disney’s Sword in the Stone to make packing and moving much easier. Alas, I am just a mere mortal.

Higitus, figitus, migitus, mum Prestidigitorium!

Higitus, figitus, migitus, mum
Prestidigitorium!

Over the weekend I visited two gardens: The Savill Garden and Oxford Botanic Garden. I will create a post for both and – hopefully – I will catch up and write about all the other gardens I have visited during the next few of weeks. Just two mini highlights from the two gardens:

These snowdrops at The Savill Garden are either really early or extremely late.

These snowdrops at The Savill Garden are either really early or extremely late.

Carlos (one of the trainees) spotted some snowdrops blooming at the foot of a tall oak and we all rushed over to admire them. I find the simplicity of snowdrops very beautiful, and combination of the clean linen white and fresh apple green is so hopeful and encouraging during the final throws of winter.

So small and delicate!

So small and delicate!

At the Oxford Botanic Garden a wonderful shrub was starting to bloom: Chimonanthus praecox. This deciduous, winter-blooming shrub is native to China where it is highly prized for its scent and its audacity. This shrub has long lancelet leaves and has a wild habit, but in the dead of winter brave blossoms hang off of the bare branches. The papery petals are pale yellow, bell-shaped and extremely fragrant. The scent is reminiscent of hyacinths, but softer and smoother – to die for. A must have in a winter garden where it can get a bit of shelter from the cold, drying winds.

Chimonanthus praecox, a ghostly looking flower with a haunting fragrance, blooming at Oxford Botanic Garden.

Chimonanthus praecox, a ghostly looking flower with a haunting fragrance, blooming at Oxford Botanic Garden.

My next stop is Bury St. Edmunds where I will be spending my Christmas and right after that straight onwards to Edinburgh. Technically I start my placement with the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh mid January, but since I have two ‘Study Weeks’ I wanted to take advantage of them and really get to know Scotland. (Plus nothing beats a Scottish winter to inspire you to write…specifically a mid-term report.) Anyway, time to finish packing and I’ll be heading off in the morning. Talk to you later!

Gardens Great and Small

19 Sep

Just last weekend I got the opportunity to visit two very well known gardens: Great Dixter and the Chelsea Physic Garden. (Starting with style, if I do say so myself!) Both were very different gardens, but both amazing in their own way. The team leader of the herbaceous department was heading down to Great Dixter and invited the two foreign interns and myself to come along with on Saturday.  Sunday I was heading off to meet some friends that happen to be visiting London and one of the interns from the trip to Great Dixter also was heading into the city to run errands and visit the Chelsea Physic Garden. She asked if I wanted to join her and, of course, I said yes. On this post I’ll cover Great Dixter.

Great Dixter – Saturday, Sept. 14

It was early afternoon, overcast and a bit chilly. (Autumn is definitely on its way.) The sky was threatening to rain, but the weather reports said that at its worst showers would be on and off. Sean pulled into the parking lot and picked the two other interns and myself up and headed south to Northiam, East Sussex. The drive took only a little over an hour and it was fun to watch the woods give way to hedgerows and livestock.

On the road! (Photo taken by Kirsi, one of interns.)

On the road! (Photo taken by Kirsi, one of interns.)

Here we are in the parking lot hot with anticipation. (Photo from Kirsi, taken by Sean.)

Here we are in the parking lot hot with anticipation. (Photo from Kirsi, taken by Sean.)

Great Dixter was home to one of the great English gardeners and garden writers, Christopher Lloyd. He was born and raised at Great Dixter and through both his parents – particularly his mother, Daisy – he developed a great passion for gardening. (His mother would also introduce him to Gertrude Jekyll, another very influential English gardener.)

Here is the path leading to the house, Great Dixter.

Here is the path leading to the house, Great Dixter.

First we headed off to the right and slipped into the Wall Garden. It was so wonderful to see plants overflowing from their beds and dripping into the walkway. Sean told me that Christopher Lloyd was also known for his playful use of color and I have to say the gardeners here are doing an amazing job keeping up with his designs.

I love all the plants in there pots enjoying the sun (if it comes out).

I love all the plants in there pots enjoying the sun (if it comes out).

Here are some close-up’s of the Wall Garden:

I love the chrysanthemum-flowered marigold mingling with the limey-greens and the hot pink of the Pelargonium.

I love the chrysanthemum-flowered marigold mingling with the limey-greens and the hot pink of the Pelargonium.

I love how the lavender flowers of Thalictrum rochebrunianum float above the golden leaves of Rubus cockburnianus 'Goldenvale'.

I love how the lavender flowers of Thalictrum rochebrunianum float above the golden leaves of Rubus cockburnianus ‘Goldenvale’.

The ebb and flow between the magenta flowers of Polygonum orientale, the deep green leaves of the Abelia, and the chartreuse leaves of a Lavatera(?) is so wonderful.

The ebb and flow between the magenta flowers of Polygonum orientale, the deep green leaves of the Abelia, and the chartreuse leaves of a Lavatera(?) is so wonderful.

And through the Wall Garden…

Sean heading into the next garden with Salvia seboana(?) and Cestrum parqui(?) crowding the pathway.

Sean heading into the next garden with Salvia seboana(?) and Cestrum parqui(?) crowding the pathway.

…we end up in the Barn Garden and the Sunk Garden.

I audibly gasped at this point. Also the Sunk Garden is hiding in the middle of all of that.

I audibly gasped at this point. Also the Sunk Garden is hiding in the middle of all of that.

The Sunk Garden is, well, sunken in the Barn Garden, so the two gardens are stacked like a Russian doll. Here are some of the views in the Barn Garden:

The white cosmos are so fresh and fancy-free!

The white cosmos are so fresh and fancy-free!

Did somebody say 'glorious'?

Did somebody say ‘glorious’?

The borders are just immense!

The borders are just immense!

My god, the colors!

My god, the colors!

I wish there was a way to take a 360° photo, because the way the Barn Garden enwrapped the Sunk Garden was just amazing. So may layers upon layers of great textures and colors.

Apparently the Sunk Garden used to be a vegetable garden in World War I.

Apparently the Sunk Garden used to be a vegetable garden in World War I.

Do you see that GIANT magenta flower in the corner?

Do you see that GIANT magenta flower in the corner?

It was a ridiculously ginormous dahlia.

It was a ridiculously ginormous dahlia.

We wandered back into the Wall Garden and went down the steps into the Blue Garden.

Here is the other half of the Wall Garden.

Here is the other half of the Wall Garden.

The Blue Garden wasn’t particularly blue, but it was bubbling over with foliage. I’d say this is the transitional room, since the next garden down the path was the Topiary Lawn.

Calmer than the gardens before, but no less beautiful.

Calmer than the gardens before, but no less beautiful.

Still in the Blue Garden, but on our way to the Topiary Lawn. Oh, and the topiaries behind us are supposed to be teapots.

Still in the Blue Garden, but on our way to the Topiary Lawn. Oh, and the topiaries behind us are supposed to be teapots.

Christopher Lloyd converted the lawn in the Topiary Lawn into a meadow which creates a beautiful contrast to the constricted clipped shrubs. However, they recently sheared the lawn back, so we slipped through into the next garden. We walked under the ‘hovel’, a cow shed, and emptied out into the Exotic Garden.

It was quite a shock to walk from the Topiary Lawn and immediately encountering this!

It was quite a shock to walk from the Topiary Lawn and immediately encountering this!

This garden made the previous gardens look thin.

This garden made the previous gardens look thin.

Remember my little Amicia zygomeris cutting at home? If it survives, hopefully, it will one day look like this.

Amicia zygomeris looking amazing with the giant grasses and gingers.

Amicia zygomeris looking amazing with the giant grasses and gingers.

Apparently this garden used to be a rose garden, but Christopher Lloyd and Fergus (the Head Gardener now at Great Dixter) ripped them all out and planted tropical/subtropical plants instead. This was due to the roses not doing well there and new ones suffering from ‘replant disease’. Either way, this garden is quite thrilling and a tangle of color and life. It’s amazing how many plants they crammed in there.

An absolute jungle!

An absolute jungle!

Lush, lush, lush!

Lush, lush, lush!

It almost felt like I was in Wonderland, the only thing missing were giant mushrooms.

It almost felt like I was in Wonderland, the only thing missing were giant mushrooms.

There's one of the narrow exit paths.

There’s one of the narrow exit paths.

From the Exotic Garden we wandered through the Orchard, up and over to the Long Border. The Long Border was still looking quite fresh and beautiful, even though summer was warm and long this year. From the bottom of the Long Border there is a large mulberry tree that blocks the view, which creates a great unveiling for the Long Border.

The first thing you see is the Japanese anemones starting to bloom.

The first thing you see is the Japanese anemones starting to bloom.

Here is the full beautiful view of the Long Border after you pass the mulberry tree - just stunning!

Here is the full beautiful view of the Long Border after you pass the mulberry tree – just stunning!

Here is Sean looking up at something at the end of the border.

Here is Sean looking up at something at the end of the border.

A close-up of a section.

A close-up of a section.

Gosh, just look at all those colors!

Gosh, just look at all those colors!

Another close-up view of the Long Border.

Another close-up view of the Long Border.

Here is looking back down the Long Border towards the entrance.

Here is looking back down the Long Border towards the entrance.

From the Long Border we went up the steps to the Orchard Garden. This garden was showing the most signs that autumn is fast approaching – bittersweet.

Autumnal and beautiful.

Autumnal and beautiful.

From here I slipped up into the High Garden. Here some of the perennials and annuals were starting to grow tired, but amidst them tropicals were still going strong, carrying the garden into first frost.

This path leads to the Vegetable Garden and the Prairie.

This path leads to the Vegetable Garden and the Prairie.

I love the hot colors of the marigolds and their lemony-medicinal scent.

I love the hot colors of the marigolds and their lemony-medicinal scent.

Looking back at the house - what a view!

Looking back at the house – what a view!

These spicy zinnias really burned bright in the overcast gray.

These spicy zinnias really burned bright in the overcast gray.

This path leads down into the Peacock Garden.

This path leads down into the Peacock Garden.

Down we went into the Peacock Garden where many giant topiary Peacocks tower overhead flanked by large billowing grasses and perennials.

This is looking at the Peacock Garden from the High Garden. See the peacocks?

This is looking at the Peacock Garden from the High Garden. See the peacocks?

Here is the walk way along the edge of the Peacock Garden.

Here is the walk way along the edge of the Peacock Garden.

Polygonum orientale has been making many appearances in the gardens intensifying and deepening the colors of the flowers and leaves around it.

Polygonum orientale has been making many appearances in the gardens intensifying and deepening the colors of the flowers and leaves around it.

Phew! That was a lot, but it isn’t even everything! All in all, I had a wonderful time at Great Dixter and I was completely swept away by the plantings and design. I have to say that the gardeners have been doing an amazing job keeping gardens in tip-top shape. How’s that for my first excursion here? Stay tuned for the Chelsea Physic Garden post next!

An American in London

9 Sep

So what is all this mysterious UK visa business about? Yes, I know have been secretive about what is happening, but it’s partially because the actual departure seemed so far away and at the time I didn’t want to jinx anything. If we flip back to late February, some of you may remember I mentioned that I was heading off to New York for an interview. This interview was for the Royal Horticultural Society Interchange Fellowship. (It was previously known as the Martin McLaren Horticultural Scholarship, but funding changed and so did the name.)

This fellowship is “a reciprocal exchange…sponsored by The Garden Club of America in the US and the Royal Horticultural Society in the UK” (CGA) and every year both organizations select only one fellow to send overseas. The chosen fellows from the UK are placed at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania for 12 months. Though if they are graduates, they may choose to attend the first year of a Masters Program at a US university of their choice instead. The US fellow has the ability to pick a variety of garden placements within the UK for their 10 month stay.

This exchange was founded in 1948 with the aim to “foster British-American relations, promote horticultural studies and the exchange of information in this field, and of course to develop the horticultural and educational leaders of the future” (RHS). Since then more than 100 fellows have participated in this Interchange Fellowship and many have gone on to shape and hold important positions in the fields of botany, horticulture, and landscape design.

I’ve always wanted to see the gardens of Britain and I’ve always dreamed of living in the UK for a bit of my life. To be selected as the next RHS Interchange Fellow, all of my dreams (and more) are coming true and many doors are beginning to open. I’ve just arrived yesterday morning to my first placement at RHS Garden Wisley, and I will be working here for the next few months. I can’t believe I am here – it is so exciting!

Come along with me on my grand British adventure right here on this blog!

PS Thank you Annie Jung for the banner!

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