Friday, 31 July 2009

The Tiger.

Tiger! Tiger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, and what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? and what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tiger! Tiger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

By William Blake

Photo: Leo in the greengage tree this afternoon.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

War graves.

I'm not one for blogging about work, but I thought I would put up a couple of links for you today. We have been working on two very different projects this year one in France the other Weymouth: They are both war graves.

also in todays Telegraph

Sunday, 26 July 2009

The Peto Garden at Iford Manor

Iford Manor

A visit to The Peto Water Garden at Buscot Park back in May aroused my interest in the architect and landscape gardener Harold A. Peto. This week I decided to do a little more research and paid a visit to The Peto Garden at Iford Manor, his home from 1899 to 1933.

Harold A. Peto.

Peto was an architect by profession and the partner of the renowned English architect Sir Ernest George. However, in 1892 Peto resigned from their partnership due to health reasons and an increasing desire to live in the countryside. In 1899 when he visited Iford Manor with his lifelong friend, garden designer and author Avray Tipping he knew he had found the place to test out his ideas.

View from the cloisters.

The garden is situated in 2.5 acres on a steep hillside. Terracing has formed an important element of the garden design for this challenging space. As an architect Peto believed that a gardens beauty lay in the combination of architecture and plants. He had a particular fondness for Italian gardens where flowers held a subordinate place amongst walks, statues and pools. It is at Iford Manor where he has experimented with these ideas using his eccentric collection of anitque fragments. His efforts were well accepted by the society of the time and Tipping wrote of him "If the relative spheres and successful inter-marriage of formal and natural gardening are better understood today than ever before, that desirable result is due to the efforts of no one man more than to Mr Peto."

Statue of Britannia standing on the bridge at Iford Manor.

Once you arrive at Iford Manor and you have eventually gotten over the stress of running the gauntlet of a very steep and narrow single track lane, you cannot help but notice the beauty of the Frome River that runs along side it. A beautiful 15th century bridge sits in front of the manor capped by an imposing 18th century stature of Britannia that Peto had brought from Dorset. I was initially a little concerned at this point that I was going to find the gardens too formal, but as I looked from the bridge and saw the walled garden in the distance with it's topiary seats I realised there was an element of humour to the garden too.

The Walled Garden.

As you enter the garden you see the Loggia standing in a paved courtyard.


The architecture is broken with planting, not the usual english country garden sort, but carefully chosen and often quiet unusal plants. I particularly liked the sea of golden Bupleurum fruticosum in a bed near the Loggia.

Bupleurum fruticosum

Opposite the Loggia is a semi-circular pool with bronze deer on plinths either side of it. The deer are copies of bronzes found in the garden of the Villa of the Papyri in Pompeii.

Pool with bronze deer on plinths.

From the courtyard, steps lead you up to a series of terraces with more unusual statuary and plants.

View of the first terrace steps.

Cassia coryembosa

There is a lot to take in in this garden and a very eclectic mix of antique artefacts. Below the steps leading to the lawn lie a beautiful pair of marble lions dating to around 1200.

Italian Marble Lions.

Each set of steps leads further upwards to a different terrace. The final series were edged with masses of lavender tumbling over the walkway. It was smothered with butterflies and bees.

Steps leading up to the Great Terrace.

Meadow Brown butterfly on lavender.

Painted Lady butterfly on lavender.

As I made my way through the swathes of lavender and butterflies I reached the Great Terrace. On the far side of which the Castia, with it's 13th century pink marble Verona columns immediately grabbed my attention.

View from the Castia.

The paved terrace outside the Castia was full of beautiful white day lilies which formed a wonderful point of contrast to the large clump of Lobelia tupa opposite them.

White day lilies.

Lobelia tupa

There were lots of little water features dotted around the garden, gargoyles with water pouring from their mouths, statues standing over pools of water, but the one I really liked was this small bronze lion outside the Castia.

Bronze water feature near the Castia.

After leaving the Castia the grand terrace sprawls across a vast area with box topiary, statues and columns.

The Great Terrace

Romneya coulteri

Bronze of Romulus and Remus with the wolf.

The bronze statue of Romulus and Remus suckling from the wolf was another striking piece of art on the terrace. It was made for Peto from a mould taken from the original in the Capitol Museum in Rome. The beds in this area were full of day lilies and one or two other beautiful plants such as the Romneya coulteri above.

Day lilly from the Great Terrace.

As well as statuary there were large terracotta urns flanking yet more steps leading up to the next level of the garden. One of the best statues in this area was of an 18th century German dog with an itch.

Dog with itch.

Everywhere you turned in this garden there were butterflies. For a garden that was supposed to focus somewhat less on plants it was certainly full of life and colour. I adore gardens crammed with plants, but I really did enjoy Peto's Italian folly. There was so much to see, plenty of places to rest and contemplate, some beautiful plants and a view to die for from every direction.

Brimstone butterfly on crocosmia

On refection, if anything I would say there were too many butterflies. I ran myself silly chasing after them all with the camera and in the end had far more pictures than I had space for on the blog!

Lily pool.

For what seemed to be initially quite a small garden there was an extrordinary amount to take in. The wisteria enclosed lily pond was beautiful and to my surprise hidden behind the Great Terrace was an idyllic Japanese Garden. There is too much to describe with this garden and the hidden treasures to be found at every turn. Up a steep embankment behind the Japanese Garden for example, I was quite amazed to see a large fat Buddha sculpture looking down at me. I discovered it quite by accident, and if I hadn't been exploring off the main walkway I would never have spotted it.

The Peto gardens are full of terraces brimming with plants, wildlife and quirky architectural features. It is a delightful way to spend and afternoon getting lost in Peto's daydream. Everything about this place is unusual and eccentric, right down to the cream teas served out of the housekeepers window. As you wait for your delicious home made cakes to be handed to you, you can see the scones being warmed in the Aga. What more could a garden visitor want than a thoroughly entertaining afternoon and delicious home made cakes and cream teas?

There were three in the bed ...

Common Red Soldier Beetles (Rhagonycha fulva) on Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) flower.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Monday, 20 July 2009

The Tumbledown Farm Little Owls.

When I first moved back to Tumbledore Farm in February I was delighted to be able to watch the Little Owls in the back orchard. They have been residents at Tumbledown Farm for a number of years but I had up til then only ever heard them at night.

Mr and Mrs Owl on their favourite branches.

They have a favourite apple tree in the orchard and during the winter months they sat there at various points in the day. Each with their own favoured 'his' and 'hers' branch. For me there was nothing better in the morning than to look staight out of the kitchen window and be able to watch the owls.

Once spring arrived seeing the owls through all the foliage was incredibly difficult. Although hearing their domesetic disputes was still just as easy! They've been quiet since May. We've had no doubt that they were sitting, but it was not until earlier this month that we managed to spot their new bundle of fluff. They appear to have had only one owlett this year, but it is rather cute and fluffy and has a favoured preening spot in a tree at the back of the orchard. It likes to sit there in the morning sun and watch the world go by.

Baby Owl

I've been trying for a while now to get a shot of it. The dilema is that I don't want to frighten them off as we do so love having them in the orchard. This morning I've managed a couple. They are a bit blurry and from a distance, but I wanted to share them all the same.

Baby owl looking at me rather suspiciously.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Pots of gold!

Sempervivum calcareum from Triora, Italy (Fernwood Nursery).

I expect many people went to this years Hampton Court Flower Show hoping to bring home a treasure or two for their garden. For some it was the latest Heuchera from Heucheraholics or rose from David Austin. For me the gems of the show were the Sempervivums. I was blown away by the display in the floral marquee from Fernwood Nursery. It won a gold medal and quite rightly so, it was inspiring.

Fernwood Nursery at Hampton Court 2009.

I've been building up a selection a succlents all summer with the view to making my own little display at home and after seeing Fernwoods display I couldn't help but get a few Sempervivums for the project.

Sempervivum 'Rosie'

Sempervivum 'Mulberry Wine'

So at last I have made my first little display of succulents in the garden. It's not quite up to Hampton Court standards, but I'm relatively happy with it. Plus, I found smashing up a couple of old terracotta drainage pipes with a hammer to be immensely theraputic.

My first succlent display :o)

Of course, I didn't do it all on my own. I had help...

Stilton has been overseeing my playtime in the garden as usual!

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Veg plotting!

I have shown snippets of the veg plot this summer but have not posted much about it's development, so before I ramble on excitedly about my my first crops of veggies and cut flowers I thought I better give you a little more background to my main garden project this summer at Tumbledown Farm.

I moved back to Tumbledown Farm in February and the first project I really wanted to tackle was to put in a veg plot. When I was growing up we always grew all our own fruit and vegetables and I hope very much that we will be able to do this again. The smallholding has become very run down in recent years as my parents failing health has meant they have struggled to maintain much of the garden. So the first task was to decide which part of the wilderness to tame and turn into my vegetable garden. In the end after much humming and harring I chose the small orchard infront of the goat house.

The veg plot in February 2009 before it was cleared.

It was quite a mamoth task to clear it and we had to get the local farmer in to help us grub out the scraggly unproductive plum and apple trees that were planted there. Removing all the tree roots and weeds was even more of a nightmare, but we got there in the end.
Veg plot cleared at last! March 2009

I decided not to try too much to start with in my first year and began to put in a legume bed with peas, sweet peas and beans. Followed by a small herb bed next to it.

Legume and herb bed April 2009.

Then came the all important compost bins and a few more beds.

Compost bins and beds April 2009

Brassica's were the next things to go in and I carefully covered them with netting to protect them from the evil fat pigeons that lazily sit in the front garden eyeing up the veg plot. The net seemed to work well against snails too as they got stuck in the net and could be easily removed by me and the hungry thrushes.

Brassica bed netted over April 2009.

Next to go in were beds of potatoes, tomatoes, onions, sweetcorn, courgettes, dwarf beans, and strawberries.

Brassica bed with cabbage, kolrabi, Romanesco broccoli, and beetroot May 2009.

I slowly managed to get down weed matting and bark paths around the beds and by June everything was growing like mad!

Veg plot June 2009

This month I can barely move for plants, the land is very fertile and everything seems to be exceedingly happy.

Veg plot July 2009

I have been thrilled to pick massive bunches of wonderful smelling sweet peas.

Sweetpeas with hover fly July 2009

The runner beans are growing away furiously and I am very much looking forward to them. We have already scoffed most of the peas and broad beans.

Runner beans and sweet peas July 2009

I have also grown my first ever dahilas from tubers this year. They have just started coming out and are absoluetly gorgeous :o)

Dahlias July 2009

I picked and cooked the first batch of beetroot on Tuesday. It might be a little thing to the hardened allotmenteer, but this is my first ever veg plot and it has been very exciting to begin to pick and cook the produce.

Stilton as always has taken an active interest in every stage of the veg plots develpment.

It is so nice to now just a few months after starting it, be able to pick and cook fresh veggies. On Tuesday we tried a variation on a Christopher Lloyd recipe for beetroot. Beetroot, fresh chives, cream and freshly greated parmesan. Delicious!

Tuesday's dinner at Tumbeldown Farm!