Monday, 24 May 2010

ONE (from the heart).

ONE whole year of Stilton Ruler of the Universe...

....and tales from Tumbledown Farm.

I cannot believe it has been a whole year since I started the blog, I do not know where the time has gone, it seems to be moving so quickly. 

I was not sure whether to celebrate the passing of this event or not, but I am feeling nostalgic today so I will. I started the blog last year at a very difficult time in my life. I felt somehow that the real me was no longer there, just a person carrying out a daily routine, getting up every morning going to work, doing a monotonous job chasing people up and pestering them for their paperwork and constantly nagging them for it when it never appeared. No one ever saw me, I was just my job and nothing else and had been for years. I could have been a zombie, no one would have noticed.

I used to be such a happy bubbly person, but that girl was lost. When a colleague came back from holiday with a fridge magnet for me with "This IS my happy face..." on it like the one above I smiled and put it on my desk, but inside I cried and cried. Is this what I had really become? It was just not what I had hoped my life would be by the time I turned thirty...

So last year I took the very tough decision to leave my job, and take a break from archaeology: my dear mother had had a bad fall at work and had lost her mobility, she was struggling to cope with the smallholding and I felt I needed time out from my own life that was making me unhappy on so many different levels. A gardening friend (JaneRowena) suggested to me that I should start a blog, to keep a diary of my new life to help me through the move and so that is how Wisteria and Cow Parsley came about. 

I am not from a horticultural background, nor am I trying to seek fame and glory through my blog, I am just a girl who felt a bit lost and wanted to learn to express her creativity, to find a voice, to feel passionate about life and feel the grass under her feet again. 

I have learnt to pick up a camera and explore the world through a lens. It has given me the creative output I had been craving. It has helped me to explore my passion for plants, gardens and design in greater depth. But the thing that has amazed and delighted me the most is that so many people have joined me on my rambles around Tumbledown Farm, tours of gardens and wanderings through the countryside. I never imagined anyone would ever show an interest beyond my friends and family and I feel deeply honoured that you have. 

The Temple, The Courts Garden, Holt, Wiltshire.

Thank you so very much to everyone who has stopped by to read the blog, to those who have left comments and sent messages of support via forums, twitter, Facebook and e-mail. Thank you to all those who have picked posts through Blotannical. You have no idea how much a cheeky comment from someone like James or Esther can lift my day, or when Deborah or Cenya mentions my photography in one of their posts that it really does mean the world to me. Or how happy I am when a garden designer e-mails me to say how much they enjoyed the photos I took of their garden at the the Malvern Show. 

I have never ceased to be amazed by the generosity of the other bloggers, to have my day brightened by the arrival of beautifully designed cards from Karen or that Dan Pearson book I had been hankering after for so long from the Happy Moufftard

All these things make keeping the blog so special, knowing that not only do I get the chance to at last feel more creative but that it is giving pleasure to others too and that I have made so many new friends along the way. So thank you all for stopping by over the past year and supporting me in my follies, it really has meant so very much to me, it really has.

RO xxx 

 The Japanese Garden at Iford Manor.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

The Malvern Spring Show 2010: The Floral Marquee.

Tulip 'Rococo' from the Broadleigh Gardens stand.

Aside from the show gardens and watching the wonderful antics of the 3 Men Went 2 Mow, the stars of the show were of course the plants. I spent many hours wandering around the floral marquee lusting after strange and unusal beauties. There was so much to take in. Surprisingly I bought very few plants, but I did make note of several nurseries I would like to visit in the future. Here are a few of the things I saw on my stumblings around the marquee...

Iris 'Logo' from the Broadleigh Gardens stand.

 Tulip 'Barbados' from the Broadleigh Gardens stand.

There was a stunning array of tulips on display, many of them on the Bloms Bulbs stand which attracted a great deal of attention. The display was quite something and took me a long time to take in.

Tulip 'Happy Generation' from Bloms Bulbs Stand.

There seemed to be something for everyone, whatever your tastes from delicate alpine flowers to bold and beautiful peonies. I even spotted Princess Anne taking a tour of the Marquee.

Princess Anne in the Floral Marquee.

 Chrysanthemum 'Green Mist.'

There were magnificent displays of chrysanthemums, lilies, fuchsias and pelargoniums.

Chrysanthemums Misty Lemon and Feeling Green.

Lilium Oriental 'Robina.'

Lilium Oriental 'Cherbourg.'

There were several displays of hostas. Oh how I love hostas! My favouite hosta stand was Park Green Nurseries. Blackmore and Langdon's bushy blue delphiniums made me stop and smile too and I adored Pops Plants auriculas.

Delphinium 'Faust' on Blackmore and Langdon's stand.

 Delphinium 'Darling Sue' on Blackmore and Langdon's stand.

Epimediums proved to be very popular, especially a rather striking orange variety called 'Amber Queen' which sold out in the blinking of an eye. I was quite fascinated with uvularia's which were a new discovery for me. Lilly of the valleys also seemed to be popular, particularly a variegated variety called 'Vic Pawlowski's Gold.'

 Epimedium 'Amber Queen' from Edrom Nurseries.

Uvularia grandiflora var Pallida.

Convallaria majalis 'Vic Pawlowski's Gold.'

Another of my favourite stands was Hampshire Carnivourous Plants. I could have looked at their amazing plants all day. Sadly there was not time, but I did manage to take a few snaps before being swept away in the crowds. 

 Sarracennia x cv. 'Juthatip Soper' Pitcher Plant from Hampshire Carnivourous Plants.

 Sarracennia x courtii from Hampshire Carnivourous Plants.

Sarracennia purpurea from Hampshire Carnivourous Plants.

So that is it for me and Malvern for this year. 
I hope you have enjoyed the tour. 
RO xxx

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

The Malvern Spring Show 2010 Show Gardens Part II: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

The Youth of Old Age Garden designed by Mark Draper. Gold and Best in Show.

As promised here are a few more photos of some of the Malvern Show gardens. Sadly the weather was grisley, but some of them still managed to shine through. I have already shown you my favouite garden by Mark Everleigh in a previous post. In the interests of balance I have included a range of the gardens from the show here. I must confess however to not liking all of them. I can appreciate that a lot of hard work has gone into them, but hey you cannot please everybody all of the time! There were some cracking gardens on display, some of which I sadly just could not get near enough to photograph properly. The Youth of Old Age garden above was the only other garden to win a gold medal in the show and took the overall title of Best in Show. It is a garden designed for a mature couple who enjoy outdoor life. I thought it was a very clean and beautiful design. It was easy to see why it proved so popular, not least because it has elements that can be easily applied to many peoples gardens at home, but if I am truthful it did not give the same warm fuzzy feeling that the The Wellbeing and Recovery Garden did!

Losing Control, Releasing Nature by Foundation degree landscape and garden design students at Otley College. Awarded a Silver-Gilt.

O.K. so this is where I am going to show my garden design ignorance. If the word "garden" had not been attached to this piece of work and it was displayed in an art gallery I believe I would have found it quite a clever reconstruction. However, I looked at this in the early morning drizzle (admittedly I hadn't had my coffee) and I just thought to myself "You have to be kidding? How is this a garden?" For the garden Losing Control, Relasing Nature the students of Otley College have recreated a piece of derelict industrial land located near a residential area in Suffolk. My question is, is this really a garden?

Halcyon Days designed by Andy Tudbury.

I am afraid I asked the same question when I reached the Halcyon Days garden shown above. Is it really a garden? Its a very pretty bit of habitat reconnstruction for sure. I think it must be too subtle for me as the inner me is shouting "Its just a bit of sand with a beach hut on it!" I know, I know I'm an uneducated yob where garden design is concerned, I honestly felt that these two displays were habitat reconstructions and not gardens, or are they the same thing? What do you think?

The 25th Aniversary Garden designed by James Steed, Alex Bell and Claire Potter.

The 25th Aniversary Garden was rather a large affair, it was pleasant enough, I could quite happily have sat and had my lunch in it and the swathes of Stipa tenuissima were quite splendid. I shall refrain from making any comments about Teletubbies and the second half of the garden...

The second part of the 25th Aniversary Garden designed by James Steed, Alex Bell and Claire Potter.

Planting from the Illusions of Man Garden by Frances Dunham. (Chris Beardshaw Mentoring Scholarship)

There were several gardens that were part of the Chris Beardshaw Mentoing Scholarship. They were a bright and unusual mix, but sadly few appealed to me. The theme appears to have been circus' and does not seem to have translated well into many of the gardens. Whilst the overall design of the Illusions of Man garden did not grab me, its yellow, green and purple planting was very eye catching. It also had a wonderful stream of sedums and sempervivums (see the last photo in Karens post). Jenny Chandlers Roman Gifthorses garden inspired by the Roman Circus was interesting and had tried to incorporate edible and medicinal plants know to have been used duing the Roman period into the design. 

Roman Gifthorses by Jenny Chandler. (Chris Beardshaw Mentoring Scholarship)

Lyra's Garden by Kate Bratby. (Chris Beardshaw Mentoring Scholarship)

There were two gardens that I really just could not bond with from this group. It is not until now that I have realised that they both have something in common in that they both contain rather silly floaty textiles in them. I am not sure if this is part of the reason I do not like them but for me Lyra's Garden by Kate Bratby is too loud. I really do not get on with the explosion of plants or the colour and every time I look at it I hear the music from the Bodyform advert (so sorry Kate)! The other garden is Water Pirouetting for a Colourful Audience by Maria Luisa Medina. Again I think there is just too much colour for me and the wrong ones, especially in the textiles used. It is like something that has escaped from the early 1990's. I am sure these gardens will have appealed to many of the show visitors, they just were not my cup of tea. I will be interested to see how next years mentorship scheme theme of "Atom" will be represented.

 Water Pirouetting for a Colourful Audience by Maria Luisa Medina. 
(Winner of the Chris Beardshaw Mentoring Scholarship)

 Juggling the Balance by Barry Chambers. Silver-Gilt. (Chris Beardshaw Mentoring Scholarship)

For me one of the most interesting of the scholarship gardens was Barry Chambers' Juggling the Balance garden. It is a community garden with the aim of fusing the concepts associated with both traditional and modern circus. The planting was like many of the circus gardens, rather unusal, but not without appeal. Its edges started off as weeds and moved to more common herbacious perennials with I think some edibles at the centre.

Juggling the Balance by Barry Chambers. (Chris Beardshaw Mentoring Scholarship)

The Morgan Garden by Craig Hamilton-Smith.

ReSource Garden by Alison Miles. Silver-Gilt.

The Woodland Edge Garden by Mark Walker.

I was rather fond of The Woodland Edge Garden by Mark Walker for the Woodland Trust and particularly liked the way he built the design up around one of the trees already on the showground.

Aquilegias and heucheras from The Woodland Edge Garden.

The Quaker Meeting Place Garden by Matthew Jackman.

Another favourite was the Quaker Meeting Place Garden by Matthew Jackman which was inspired by his experiences growing up as a Quaker, and going to meetings. It is a peaceful space designed for people to spend time thinking, learning and understanding their role in life and the people around them without prejudice. I thought it was indeed a very tranquil garden and loved the simple stonework and planting.

Planting from The Quaker Meeting Place Garden.