Wordless Wednesday: Tetrapanax papyrifer ‘Rex’

Look what the garden has scent me.

What makes a garden? Many factors make up a garden, we have colour, movement, sound, texture and of course the busy wildlife… both good and bad. But, if you take away the ability to see the colour and movement you are still left with the sounds and texture, but it’s  the smells of the garden in particular the  scent you get from the plants take over from the colour. Or putting it another way, how many of us have sat in the garden and closed our eyes just to take in the smells and sounds of the garden.

For me, scent is the most important factor of a garden and if used  well it gives the garden another dimension. This can range from the subtle little whistle you get when you are walking through a garden that makes you go back to investigate, or to the less subtle… ‘what’s that bloody smell’. Sometimes admittedly the ‘what’s that bloody smell’ can either be a Fox or the compost heap… I’ll come to that one later.

And scent can be found all year round in the garden…


The Winter we have the wonderful Hamamelis (Witch Hazel) known for having a spicy fragrance and spider like flowers.

My personal Winter favourite has to be Chimonanthus preacox (Winter sweet).

But we also cannot forget the good old Sarcococca confusa (Sweet box or Christmas box), too many Sarcococca to list they originate from China and the Himalayas and is related to the Common Box.

Now for my all time favourite plant of all… Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata. A beautiful evergreen shrub, that has the most perfect of all scented pale pink/purple flowers from February. A must have plant.


Scented everything for this time of year… well nearly everything. Far too many to list anyway, so I have chosen just one… Azara microphylla. An evergreen large shrub or small tree, with small yellow vanilla scented flowers in April. We have several of these in our gardens including Azara microphylla ‘Variegata’, they smell good in the spring and look good all year round.


Philadelphus ‘Belle Etoile’ (Mock Orange) a firm favourite amongst gardeners. A medium sized shrub that has white fragrant flowers in early summer, fully hardy and often grown along side paths so the fragrance is fully appreciated.

Again too many to choose from, so I’m going for another favourite of mine… Heliotropium arborescens ‘Chatsworth’ (Cherry pie/ Heliotrope ‘Chatsworth’), this has the best scent of all. It is a tender perennial with a scent has been likened to cooked Cherries.


Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Charles Lamont’ has pale pink tubular flowers from October right through to the new year, it is an upright medium sized deciduous shrub.

Abelia × grandiflora is a semi-evergreen shrub and has slightly scented pink flowers from late Summer through to the Autumn.

The Compost Heap

What a wonderful all year round aroma this has and the great thing is, in the summer when it is warmer, it’s wonderful scent is even more noticeable… especially when disturbed.

Oh, I deliberately left out Roses… that’s for another time.

Wordless Wednesday: Rosa ‘The Garland’

Plants That Bite Back

The historic, tranquil college gardens… or are they? Most of the time yes- but not always. There are some gardens at Trinity where access is very restricted these are our very own secret gardens.  There are others though, that are more accessible and some of our formal courts and more famously The Backs are open to the public. But for the majority of the college gardens these are only for college members and their guests. During the spring and summer months, we do have many events in the gardens from the very small to as large as our May Ball.

I will not bore with stories of the damage we get on our lawns from such events. And some will already know that we are famous for our ‘Keep Off The Grass’ signs, as a lot of our main court lawns only the Fellowship are allowed to walk on the grass… and of course the gardeners. But unfortunately from time to time we have to plant something to discourage that *two footed pest* so that they cannot walk through that border, stand on the bed to talk to their friend through a window, take a short cut or have that drunken fight with that plant.

So when we have decided that it is time to put in that particular plant that will give someone a gentle reminder when needed, we have to think of several factors. Firstly Health and Safety, I will keep my thoughts to myself on that one (or I will get into trouble); secondly will it look good and the most important one of them all, from a scale of 1-10 (I often go to eleven on this one) how vicious are they… don’t worry about the Health and Safety at this point. Do we need the slightly scratchy or the more vicious, that will give the drunken reveller something else other than a headache in the morning. Hopefully that little reminder that will make them think ‘ I won’t do that again’… I live in hope.

Poncirus trifoliata 

A truly stunning shrub that looks good all year round. Beautiful scented flowers in June/July and small hard, satsuma-like fruits in the Autumn. Poncirus is armed with some of the most vicious spines in our garden.

Ribes speciosum 

Ribes speciosum, this has to one of my favourites. Beautiful Fuschia like flowers in the spring, with an eventual height of 2.5m and a spread of 1.5m. This shrub can also be trained on a wall. The spines on this plant will give you a bite you will not forget… you will only mess with this little beauty once.

The Holly Hedge

It all depends which Holly you plant when it comes how vicious they are. Ranges from the slightly scratchy to some of the prickliest plants in the garden.

Berberis thunbergii ‘Atropurpurea ‘Nana’

Not the most vicious one you can get (Berberis julianae is pretty good for that), a low hedge that looks good and even though slightly brittle it does keep people off the bed.

Rosa ‘Wickwar’

Picture apr2011 2524

All Roses are a good deterrent if needed… but this one is a right vicious bugger. Can be trained on a wall or grown in the border on some sort of framework, we have one on a large tripod. One of our gardeners used to wear a hard hat when pruning this Rose. I had one of our Wickwars removed because it became a nightmare to prune… plus it wasn’t a very good shape. Pick a fight with this one… and you will lose!

But sometimes we need something a little tougher than the garden can provide…

Wordless Wednesday: Spiraea arguta

The Rock Garden ll

Sorry, but it had to be done!

There is one thing can I promise, it will not turn into one of those Smash Hits 550th CD type thing. The music will be better for a start, plus I’m likely to get bored after awhile… well after the third blog anyway. If this is your first visit you will be thinking ‘what is this bloody idiot on about’… check out the first Rock Garden blog, all is explained there.

I did also get a couple of comments from the first Rock Garden, that some found it useful… they must of confused it with someone else’s post. And I did get many suggestions of plants that I had not put in, so this did encourage me to do a second one…. not that I needed any encouragement.

Hebe ‘High Voltage’

This one is a new one on me, but I will certainly be introducing it into the gardens at Trinity. I was told about this Hebe through Twitter after writing the first Rock Garden, by Neil Alcock from Seiont Nurseries, North Wales where the plant originates from. It has been described as a beautiful fully hardy Hebe that has pale lilac and white flowers in the summer.  Along with it’s bronzy colourisation and being parented by the beautiful Hebe ‘Nicola’s Blush’ this is a must have shrub.

Photo supplied by Neil Alcock.

The album…

Released on the 14th May 1976, this was their first internationally released album that comprised of songs from their first two Australian albums…. High Voltage, Feb 17th 1975 and TNT, Dec 1st 1975.

For many this would have been the first time that Angus Young’s trademark school boy uniform would have been seen. The song High voltage is still used in their set to this day.

AC/DC High Voltage

Tiarella ‘Iron Butterfly’

An attractive herbaceous perennial, that can be grown in partial to full shade. Has creamy white flowers from May to July, with deep lobed leaves that has a dark blotch in the centre. Prefers free draining soil and can reach up to  approximately 30cm in height. A great ground covering plant often grown in large numbers.

The band…

Even older than Deep Purple. Formed in 1966 in San Diego they were signed to ATCO records in 1967, which they then went on to release their first album aptly named album Heavy. And in July 1968 they released the In A Gadda Da Vida album, which has to date sold well over 30 million copies. In A Gadda Da Vida stayed in the charts for 140 weeks , with 81 weeks in the top ten. A great track but it does bang on a bit… over 17 minutes long.

Iron Butterfly- In A Gadda Da Vida

Chamaedorea ‘Metallica’- Metal Palm Tree

Chamaedorea metallica, the Metal Palm Tree… need I say more. Origin, North and Central America and the West Indies. Used as a house plant in this country, I am not a fan of house plants and I only chose to put this in, just because it has the word Metallica in the name.

The band…

I’ve already done this one in the last Rock Garden post. But along with Status Quo, Motorhead, Ozzy and the Ramones, Metallica have to be up there with my all time favourites bands. And the Black album being one of my all time favourite albums….

Metallica- Enter Sandman


Nearly every garden has a Rose in it. A very large genus this one, so I thought I would cheat on this and just share a few photos that I have taken recently.

Axl Rose (Guns N’ Roses)

Plenty to choose from here with the word Rose in. But I had to start with the biggest dummy thrower of them all… Axl. He has single handedly upset whole audiences, other band members, other bands and caused riots at his concerts with his antics. But, he has to go down as one of the biggest names in rock history. Axl has a very distinct or even unique rock voice and is a true great rock performer.

Gun N’ Roses formed in Los Angeles in 1985, their debut album Appetite for Destruction was released in 1987. To date it has sold over 28 million copies world wide and it is the biggest selling debut album in US history. I was very lucky to see Guns N’ Roses at the Monsters of Rock festival, Donnington in 1988 and again at Wembley Stadium, in 1992 when they were in their prime.

Sweet Child O’ Mine

But I could have gone with this one as well….

Every Rose Has It’s Thorn

or this….

New Rose

Hebe Heartbreaker

Here’s another Hebe!

It is an upright, evergreen shrub, which can grow to about 75 cm high and wide in approx 4 years. It has spear-shaped leaves that are grey green with a cream margin, up to 4 cm long, and turn deep red in winter. It has mauve flowers in the summer on older plants, but this plant can be shy of flowering.

The song….

One of Led Zeppelin’s biggest hits from the album Led Zepplin ll. Released in October 69, it was their first album to go to number 1 in the UK and the US. Many music writers had cited this album as the blue print to Heavy Metal.

Led Zeppelin- Heartbreaker

Byblis (The Rainbow plant)

Native to Western Australia, it is a small genus of carnivorous plants. They get their common name because of the attractive appearance their leaves give of in bright sunshine, due to the mucilage substance that is secreted through hairs on the leaf. Any insect that is not strong enough to escape, is then slowly enveloped by the mucilage and then digested by the plant. This is a true Metal plant!

Rainbow the band…

Yet another golden oldie. Formed in 1975 and just like Deep Purple, they had countless line up changes, finally disbanding in 1997. There was many a rumour going around after 97 about a re-union, but with deaths of Cozy Powell in1998 and Ronnie James Dio in 2010 this now seems very unlikely, even though there is more than enough past living members to form a band. But I hope this re-union does not happen, it will be just seen as a boost to their pensions.

Rainbow: Since you Been Gone

Oh, I can’t leave these songs out… you have my apologies!

Tiny Tim

showing my real colours now…

Really scraping the bottom of the barrel now!

Wordless Wednesday: Rosa ‘Guinee’

Tattoos, Gardens and Death

Some of the most popular tattoo designs are of flowers, trees, birds and butterflies. Yes, there is also your more typical skulls, death, horror and tribal type designs that a lot of people associate with tattoos. I myself, have a full sleeved design of a peacock along with a Japanese Maple tree, incorporated into the design. On the other arm I have a large Celtic cross that has a climbing rose encircling its way around it. Oh yes, I do also have that death skull tattoo as well.

The Celtic cross with the climbing rose I had done in memory of my Nan and Grandad. My Nan passed away in 2008 and my Grandad in 1991, the tattoo itself I had done in 2009. Both of my grandparents had played massive parts in my life, especially my Grandad who is the main reason why I fell in love with gardening. Losing my Nan hit me hard and even though it was 17 years after the death of my Grandad, this made me think about my Grandad even more and in some ways, I grieved for him a second time. My Nan’s death brought to an end a big chapter in my life and having this tattoo done helped me, they would have always been with me in my heart and mind, but this was something visual that I would carry with me for the rest of my life. I wear this one with a lot of pride.

Why did I have a full sleeve done, simply because I love the art of tattooing and not every tattoo has to have a meaning behind it. But it does have my children’s names in it in Japanese and I did have it done in my fortieth year, but that’s it.

You will find potential material for tattoos all over the garden Roses, Lilly’s, Peonies and of course… the wildlife. I had the pleasure of taking two very talented tattoo artists around the gardens last summer, one of them being the lady who done the marvellous job on my full sleeve. Listening to them talking about the colours along with shapes and textures that we have in the garden and then on how they could transform it into their art, was fascinating to say the least. Within the garden there is masses of colour, life and interest that always draws the artists into the garden with their paints, pens and pencils, the same could be said for Tattooist. Armed with their camera, they can take the pictures back to their studios to create their art, just like any other artist would do with their own form of art.

Lily tattoo

Rose tattoo

Peony tattoo

Butterfly Tattoo

Of course, tattoos are not everybody’s cup of tea and to be honest there are some tattoos I do not like myself. I certainly do not like any tattoo that is offensive in any way. But when you see a tattoo, some may be that memorial to someone or some other personal meaning that may not always be obvious to begin with… just like a memorial planting in a garden.

“A tattoo is a true poetic creation, and is always more than meets the eye.  As a tattoo is grounded on living skin, so its essence emotes a poignancy unique to the mortal human condition. ” ~V. Vale and Andrea Juno