My Blog List

Monday, July 13, 2009


Are we the lucky ones! Specially chosen to go on the trip up to Yellowstone. Here we are resting on the cool grass at a campsite. We have never seen grass before as we have none in our Texas home. We are the special plants grown from cuttings and seeds: the stapelia and Christmas cactus from Annie, a  rooted leaf of an epiphylum from the Austin cactus show and an agave grown from seed.

We are mixing with all kinds of wonderful wildflowers. This beauty is a Sego lily growing among the sage brush at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.

This morning a mule deer and her triplets visited us. Glad we were safe inside.

and just look what was on the dinner table last night. Just as long as we get back before it snows!

Monday, July 6, 2009


Gresgarth hall is the home of Arabella Lennox-Boyd, who is a nationally acclaimed English landscape and garden designer. She and her husband Mark purchased the property in 1978 and over the years have made many changes to the gardens. The property lies near the village of Caton, in Lancashire, on a tributary of the Lune called Artle Beck. 12 acres are now under cultivation. The house takes its name from the Norse Gresgarth meaning "Boar Yard" and a copy of the Calydonian boar, found in the Uffizi museum in Florence, takes center stage on the lawn at the front of the house.
The gardens are only open one Sunday a month during the season and as luck would have it we were there for the June 7th open day. This particular day was in aid of the Conservative party so I wasn't surprised to find rather a different crowd from the usual garden visitors. This turned out to be rather a good thing as most people seemed quite happy to hob nob on the lawn or at the tea tables leaving most of the garden spaces quiet.
My photographs don't quite capture the splendid terraces we encountered as we walked round the back of the house. Roses were everywhere, in full bloom, and scaling the walls of the house.

Intimate seating areas filled with catmint, lavender and roses.

The beck encircles the house and can be crossed by the Chinese bridge festooned with clematis. Someone has made good use of willow branches to create a unique seating area around this tree.
This year I was introduced to the handkerchief tree, Davidia involucrata, which is putting on a spectacular performance in England this year due to a cool spell at the start of the year and a very wet spring. We saw it blooming in many gardens.

Looking back towards the house across the lake. 

Every great house has a walled kitchen garden and this one is probably the best I have ever seen.
Through the kitchen garden gate.

I love the wattle fencing used to contain the beds. Usually made used young willow branches but other sapling branches can be used as long as they are supple.

A row of forcing jars. I wonder what was growing underneath them.

Pathways were of a generous size.

I had to put in this foxglove. I have only once had success in my own garden and that was when I purchased the plants in the nursery in the spring. despite having grown from seed and over wintered this biennial, with healthy leaves, they just never flowered.

The pebble pathways were exquisite. I have never seen such fine work. They add such interest to any garden.

Ah! The greenness of it all. The herbaceous border, a must in any English garden. You can just see the pleached limes in the background. Did I expect my garden to be so green when I got back to Texas? In my dreams.
This garden is an absolute must when visiting the north of England. I will be keeping my eye on the open days and will plan my trips accordingly.

Sunday, July 5, 2009


I have tried for quite some time to save my blog so that I could print it out. I managed to save a pdf file but the photos are chopped in two, some on one page some on the next. Blogspot gives some direction on how to export the blog but whether it is because I am on a mac it doesn't seem to work. 
You may wonder why I find it important to save the diary of my garden. I think it has to do with an interest in genealogy. I have so few records written by my ancestors. No diaries or letters and few photographs. Just three cards composed and written by my 2 great grandfather. Someone had the foresight to save them. I have, for several years, been tracing my family tree and am now in the process of writing up the history of each family. How wonderful it would have been to have something written by them. Instead, I can only guess at their lives from public records, hearsay and my own memories. I will pass on what I have found to my children along with stories of my life. As gardening has been such a big part of my life and recently keeping a blog, it would be nice to pass on something in print. 
 So I searched the internet and came up with blog 2 print. After some trial and error (it does not work on Safari) I successfully downloaded straight from blogspot and was able to look at how the finished book would look. A dedication can be added at the front and comments can be included or excluded. Here is a sample page.

I managed to find a coupon on line which reduced the cost. What gardener can't resist a new gardening book or two!

Thursday, July 2, 2009


I don't believe that my English heritage has anything to do with my love of English gardens, but my love of English gardens has certainly influenced the design of my own garden. 
On our recent visit to England we punctuated our visits with family and friends with visits to 6 beautiful gardens. The day after we arrived, with no rain in the forecast, we headed up to Sizergh Castle, in Cumbria, about a one hour drive from where we were staying. Sizergh is a National Trust property, acquired from the Strickland family in 1950. The house was started in 1239 but the present house dates back to the 14th century. The Stricklands still live in the house occupying one wing of the house which is excluded from the house tour. Following our guided tour through the house, where we saw some wonderful Elizabethan oak paneling, we headed out to the grounds. 

I have a fascination with plants growing out of walls and the climate in Cumbria supports all manner of wall growth. Here erigeron growing up the original entry staircase into the house.

The slate roofs covered with mosses.

But the star of Sizergh gardens is the limestone rock garden laid out in the 1920s.  It was not, as I imagined, a rock garden with alpine plants but a large sunken area with stream flowing through the bottom. The plantings were much larger than I imagined but still spectacular for the color of the Japanese maples set among conifers. 

We enjoyed our picnic lunch before heading up for a return visit to Holehird gardens, home of the Lakeland Horticultural Society. We had hoped to catch, once again, the Rhododendrons in flower, but most were past their peak bloom. We were, however, visiting at the perfect time to view the Himalayan blue poppy, Meconopsis. I have a vague memory that I once bought a packet of these seeds! I was doomed to failure as the plant will only grow in cool moist conditions! 

A perfect stand of yellow lupines.

However, my favorite features in this garden are the alpines growing in the lakeland scree, troughs, raised beds and the tufa house.

I can only dream of growing plants like this out of my walls.

The tufa house was once a Victorian pit house and now houses a permanent collection of alpines. At the far end water trickles over stacked lakeland slate. Large blocks of tufa create a permanent siting for Dianthus, Draba, Helychrysum and Saxifrages.

Ideas for my own garden were now floating around in my head as we headed home at the end of a perfect day of garden visits. Sunday we would be driving back up to visit the gardens of Gresgarth Hall.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


One thing I have learnt. When you leave town for a month expect to come home to a lot of weeds in the garden and maybe the odd nice surprise. We arrived home last evening after a trip to England followed by a cruise into the Eastern Mediterranean. It is all very well having those rudbeckias and zinnias seeding in the gravel paths but you have to accept the weeds along with them....... and boy were they bad. How is it they manage to keep growing even when there is no rain and 100 degree days! It will probably take at least a week to get on top of them.

I was sure I had removed every Texas sunflower from the back bed but three are growing and stand about 4' tall- in just 4 weeks. 

I even have rudbeckias in the vegetable bed.

The cage over the squash bed has been a great success. There is no sign of squash vine borer.

Tomorrow I will be roasting the Roma tomatoes to freeze for the winter. 

The narrow leaf zinnias are putting on their usual dazzling performance.

The pomegranates are filling in nicely. 

The garden has been full of birds enjoying the seed heads on the blanket flowers. Two geckos have moved into the house. We have had no success trying to remove them. Maybe they will eat the spiders.