Wordless Wednesday: Primula japonica ‘Apple Blossom’

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The Rock Garden (Plantovision)

For those of you who want to escape the Eurovision song contest….head this way. If you are reading this after the Eurovision has finished…don’t waste your time reading this.

Like Eurovision itself, this is still a load of rubbish, although the music will be a little better….well most of it will be. As with the Eurovision, all the voting to this blog, has already been rigged and the winner will be the one with the most neighbours. Being a Rock blog as most will know know, there will be some added little gems from the horticultural world, just to give it a little extra added interest.

Lilium ‘Stargazer’

A beautiful dark pink with a Lily that has a whiter edge to it’s flower. It can reach an eventual height of approximately 1.5m, loves full sun to partial shade.

Stargazer is from Rainbows 1976 album’ Rising’. This album reached platinum status in the USA….one for the old rocker die hard’s .

Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Viette’s Little Suzy’

I never used to like Rudbeckia’s until recently but I have grown to like them. As for this one, it has wonderful yellow flowers, it likes it hot and humid flowering from July so September. Has an eventual height of approximately 0.5m.

Wake up little Susie was a 1957 hit for The Everly Brothers. It is more pop than rock but I had to include it.

Eriobotrya japonica (Louquat)

An evergreen shrub or small tree, that reaches an eventual height of approximately 4-5m and doesn’t mind being pruned. Has dark green leathery leaves and beautiful white fragrant flowers.

Louquat, are a pop/rock band from San Francisco. Not my usual cup of tea but this song is not too bad.

Clematis ‘Gypsy Queen’

A late flowering deep purple Clematis. A vigorous grower that can reach up to 4m in height, this one will be finding it’s way to a wall in Trinity.

Gypsy Queen, is from Uriah Heep’s 1970 debut album ‘Very Eavy…Very Umble. They are still going to this very day.

Vitis coignetiae (Crimson Glory Vine)

One of my favourite climbers. This is a vigorous deciduous climber that can reach up to 12m in height. It has beautiful autumnal foliage and the fruits are edible.

Crimson Glory are a American heavy metal band that formed in 1979 and are still performing today.

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis “Yellow Submarine”

New one on me this one. It is a evergreen Hibiscus that can grow up to 2m in height and has wonderful deep yellow flowers, prefers full sun.

The Yellow Submarine, now we should all know this one. A 1968 film and song by The Beatles

Now there was one Eurovision winner I did like, not your usual crap that is forced upon us but something a little more me.

Wordless Wednessday: Prunus serrulata ‘Ukon’

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The Haunted Garden

“The loneliest people are the kindest. The saddest people smile the brightest. The most damaged people are the wisest. All because they do not wish to see anyone else suffer the way they do.”

The garden can be one of the loneliest places, but sometimes…that’s just the way I like it.

The peace and tranquillity, coupled with all the sounds, smells, colours, plus all the wildlife makes it a very calming place to be. In one of my earlier posts (‘It’s a Kind of Magic’), I talked about the garden in your head, the one that holds all those wonderful memories that you can go back to; especially in times of stress. But do those memories of your past sometimes join you in the garden? Or, do the memories from that garden itself join you as well as your own?

“People do not die for us immediately, but remain bathed in a sort of aura of life which bears no relation to true immortality but through which they continue to occupy our thoughts in the same way as when they were alive. It is as though they were traveling abroad.” ~Marcel Proust

Having grown up knowing, playing and having worked at Hemingford Grey manor, and for those of you who don’t know, this is the place where the ‘Green Knowe’ children’s books were based and written by Lucy Boston. Books that were based, mainly around the house and garden, where the past inhabitants interacted with the present.

They were always happy memories from my childhood, visiting my Nan and Grandad at the manor where they worked and Mrs Boston, who always found the time to say hello. Then later in my teens, I was working there on work experience from school and then for a short time after school. These were feelings of great happiness, magical feelings and the feeling of being safe. The very same feelings I still sometimes get, especially when alone in the gardens I work at today. The safe feeling, the feeling that everything will be ok, especially when there are times of stress. Sometimes the feeling that you are not alone, although it is never a horrible feeling….but one of great comfort.

Are these just similar feelings you get when alone in the garden -as I have said before, the garden is a magical place- or do we get visited by the happy memories of our past…..I’d like to think it is both. I am not religious in any way, but personally I do believe that there is life after death and perhaps when we do pass on, we then keep a close eye on our loved ones. The place you then most feel their presence, is the place you are most at peace.

Saying all that it could just be that because I grew up knowing the Green Knowe stories, I am just making this all up in my head with an over-active imagination and when we die, that’s it, there is no coming back.

I heard many a ghost story from my Nan and Grandad and from Mrs Boston herself, concerning the house and garden. In the short time I worked there, I never saw anything but I most definitely felt that I was never alone. Was it just the wildlife or just my over active imagination? That is something I will never know. Like old houses, old gardens will always have stories of things that go bump in the night, the old Oak tree that they used to hang people on and that old lean to shed, that has plenty of big spiders and cobwebs….I think we all like a good ghost story.

Today I still work in a historical garden and often wonder about it’s past residents and perhaps, do they still visit? Have I walked in the same places as: Isaac Newton, King Henry VIII, Catherine Parr, A.A Milne, Lord Byron, Ludwig Wittgenstein, John Ray and many more. This I will always find fascinating, but the one thing that makes me the most proud, is that I can always say that I have followed and walked in my Grandads footsteps.

The Green Tide

After a long winter and a late spring, we get a little warmth and some sun and everything goes off with a bang….especially the weeds. It is that green tide of endless mowing and weeding that we get this time of year.

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Theses are not Trinity weeds….they ain’t posh enough.

Saying that, I do like some weeds, just not at this time of year. With exams looming, party season not that far away -not forgetting the May Ball- you want the gardens looking at their best. At this time of year, if you are not behind or sitting on a mower, you are leaning, sorry I mean pushing a hoe or you are on hands and knees weeding. As soon as you have finished one bed or patch, turn your back and the buggers are back again. I am quite happy weeding or mowing but when it comes to edging a lawn, I’ll make sure my phone rings or there is a meeting to go to or I will find absolutely anything else to do… except edging.

It does also depend where the weed is and there are differing opinions  amongst certain members of the college to what weeds should stay and where….including the gardeners.

 “But a weed is simply a plant that wants to grow where people want something else.  In blaming nature, people mistake the culprit.  Weeds are people’s idea, not nature’s.”

Seeing all the weeds beginning to grow isn’t a bad sign, it just means that the garden is beginning to wake and give us that warm feeling, that summer is not far behind; then all of a sudden your back goes with all the bending you have been doing.

“Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them.”  ~A.A. Milne

Had to include that quote he’s an ex Trinity man.

So what are you doing when you are not fighting with the weeds…..mowing. The sun, warmth, a little rain (we will ignore last spring), a spring feed along with any aeration or scarification, the lawns will then take off.

Right up until mid April of this year, the lawns were looking tired and stressed because of the long, cold winter. With the previous year being extremely wet, we were unable to keep up with our usual lawn programme and because of the constant rain. A lot of the nutrients were washed out of the soil, which caused many of our lawns to suffer with fungal problems (mainly rust and red thread). We have on most of our lawns been able to start our usual spring lawn programme. All have been aerated, some have been scarified and most have had their spring feed, leaving just a couple of troublesome ones still to do.

All of them, after a very slow start, are beginning to grow and grow fast. Some are already needing to be cut twice a week just to keep on top of them. If the weather carries on like it has in the last couple of weeks, and I hope it does, the month of May is going to be a very busy month on the lawns. That is something I am really looking forward too, it will be bloody hard work but the rewards will be a sight for sore eyes.

Since becoming Head Gardener in March 2010 I have had to put up with: virtually two years of drought; then the wettest year on record; and then a long cold prolonged winter, that only really ended for us just after Easter. Give all us gardeners a nearly normal year, if there is such a thing, so we can concentrate on the gardens more; than having this constant battle with the weather.

“Gardening is about enjoying the smell of things growing in the soil, getting dirty without feeling guilty, and generally taking the time to soak up a little peace and serenity.”  ~Lindley Karstens

Whilst writing this post I realised that I have been writing the Tattooed Gardener blog now for just over a year, the first post going out on the 28th April 2012…..adding even more crap to the internet. Before I joined Twitter, I hadn’t even thought about writing, but after reading some brilliant horticultural blogs, it gave me the incentive to give it a go. Reading blogs from all types of gardeners both professional and amateurs, in this country and from all over the world, I have found very informative and interesting. So after being cyber bullied by some of my Twitter followers (yes, you know who you are, it’s all your fault you know) into writing a blog, I didn’t think I would enjoy it so much. You never know, if I’m still writing it in a years time, I might even write something worth reading…..but wouldn’t hold your breath.

As with most of my posts, I will end with a music video, it does have the word Tattooed in the title but that’s where the similarity ends….unfortunately.