Monday, July 11, 2016


Why is it that I can spend 5 weeks in Great Britain visiting gardens and countryside and think that I will be returning to something remotely similar at home? It is a fantasy world I get caught up in and despite having been into fantasy land many times before the reality of this doesn't dawn until we open the gate and I take a look at what is waiting for me.
It has been a wonderful trip and I wouldn't give up one moment of it but now I must face the inevitable. 5 weeks with no rain, temperatures ranging between 90-100º and a drip irrigation system that is worse than useless.

Many plants are dried to a crisp and much is overgrown. We arrived home at 5:30pm so there was time to walk around and take it all in. The pathways are in their usual state....a machete would be a good tool. Everything is crying out 'Water me, water me' In the moment I don't have words so I just go inside and put the kettle on. The British answer to every crisis. I don't even want to look at the two lovely garden magazines I brought home and there is the Hampton Court Flower Show to catch up on................but not for a while.

By morning I am in my 'get out there and get it sorted out mode'. There is work to be done and surely there will be a few nice surprises. The plumeria is blooming. A cutting given to me by Austin Agrodolce. My spirits are already lifting.

And, among the crispy dried leaves, there are butternut squash. So it really worked to cover the plants with those net onion bags. And tomatoes-that is really a surprise. I shall call this my Texas trug.

I begin watering and pulling out. Three big bins in one morning....but morning is the only time I can work outside as the temperatures soar by noon. Then it is time to go inside and download the photos and maybe do a little more dreaming. These are the places we visited this year as we covered 3000 miles around England and Scotland. I'm sure I will be sharing some of these wonderful places over the coming months.
For now I am am back to dreaming a little.

Paycockes- A 16thC house and garden of a wealthy cloth merchant. NT
Beth Chatto's Gravel Garden
Sutton Hoo- Viking burial site and treasure hoard. NT
Flatford Village-Constable country where he painted Flatford Mill NT
East Ruston Old Vicarage Gardens. Gardens created by Alan Gray and Graham Robeson
Felbrigg Hall Walled Garden. NT
Cambridge University-Pembroke and Kings College
Grandchester -The church and Orchard Tea Rooms
Peckover House-Quaker home and gardens NT
Scampston Walled Garden-Piet Oudolf
Wallington House and Gardens NT
Cragside House NT
Alnwick Gardens
Dunstanburgh Castle NT
Bamburgh Castle
Lindisfarne Island and Gertrude Jekyll garden NT
Spey River(fishing) Craigellachie Iron Bridge(Thomas Telford) and Glenfiddich distillery.
John O' Groats. Duncansby Stacks and Sclaites Geo.
Isle of Skye-Quiraing
Isle of Mull
Inverewe Garden NTS
Treshnish Isles(puffins) and Fingall's Cave
Acorn Bank and Garden NT
Wordsworth's House NT
Hill Top Farm-Beatrix Potter's House NT
Beatrix Potter Gallery  Hawkeshead NT
Sizerg Castle NT
Holehird Gardens- Lakeland Horticultural Society
Rufford Old Hall NT
Tatton Park NT
Hidcote NT
Snowshill NT
Suddeley Castle,
Awkward Hill- Victoria Summerley
Barnsley House Garden-Rosemary Verey. Thanks to Victoria Summerley
Greys Court NT


  1. I've never been away for five weeks, but that moment of pulling into the driveway and seeing that at least something is still alive, not eaten, not storm battered -- it's an anxious moment. Glad you found pleasant surprises too!

  2. Welcome home.
    I'm always amazed at how your garden survives, while you're gone. And, a bigger harvest than I have....and, I was here!
    That is quite a list. Hope you are able to post some of those photos.

  3. Having recently suffered through a vicious heatwave that left my garden in shambles within days (despite emergency watering!), I can well imagine your feeling upon returning to your garden after 5 weeks away. However, I've seen you (in the virtual sense) take charge of a host of weather-related travesties before and I've absolutely no doubt that you'll put your garden in order in no time even on a part-time schedule. I look forward to hearing about your trip too - I'm envious just after reading the list of the placed you visited.

  4. Denise

    You saw some wonderful places. I've always admired your garden for the resiliency you've built into it, the strong framework of stone, the native plants and self-sowers. It's a lot of work to whip it back in shape after such an absence, but it's got such good "bones" I don't think it could ever be defeated. Your garden inspires "dreaming" too!

  5. As a Brit living in North Carolina, I feel your pain. I'm never away from the garden for longer than 2 weeks (thank goodness) but I hate the re-entry from UK (my sister, a successful artist, has an incredible garden in Northamptonshire).

  6. Welcome home! At least that plumeria is a real beauty - mine has so far never produced even a trace of a flower bud.

  7. Wow, what a trip you had.

    And a summer garden in Texas is *supposed* to look a bit parched, right? ;)

  8. We were only gone a week and things were unraveling. We were up north in Wisconsin seeing lots of ferns, moss and native orchids. Home to heat and humidity, so I am very sympathetic as you are definitely feeling those extreme contrasts.

  9. It was so lovely to see you both! Come back soon - I'll arrange for it to be damp and drizzly.

  10. I was away for 5 days and came back to all sorts of crisped plants. Watering alone is never enough in this sort of heat I suppose. I'm happy the plumeria is performing at least! You definitely have a magic touch in these matters.

    Around here it appears many plants that usually bloom and set seed in August are already doing so. An accelerated schedule triggered by so much rain earlier in the season perhaps? I'll be eager to see what rejuvenation happens this Fall though it may be delusional to be pinning my hopes on weather that is weeks away from arriving.

    Care to share details on the onion netting of the squash? You covered the blooms, or the squash when young? Whatever your technique, it certainly paid off!