Summer of Love – Dahlias Dahlias. Dahlias.

Can there be too much of a good thing where flowers are concerned? Can you suffer from dahlia overload?

It may seem like that this summer for me. I love them. But sadly through the beast of the east and two seasons of neglect in our Somerset garden I had none of my own. Previously I had a lot which I boldly left in the ground. Year on year. But this year the weather and my inability to manage the garden beat me. I then beat myself for the neglect. But a new project and a new house and garden has been all consuming. But you already know that.

I have therefore had to rely on the generosity of other peoples gardens for my dahlia fix. Oh. And what a fix it has been. There have been open gardens – Jack Wallington and Alex and Joe ( The Gardening guys ). There has been Common Farm. And Instagram and twitter. A quiet start to the dahlia season and then. Boom. They were everywhere.

Well not everywhere obviously because there weren’t any in my garden. At all. Some people also struggled. Later blooms. Smaller flowers.

Yet look at his one. A big fat dinner plate dahlia as big as my head. Taken at Jack Wallington and Christopher Anderson’s open garden last weekend. Emory Paul. A dahlia I recall seeing at RHS Chatsworth last year and thinking. Blinky blonky blimey. Look at the size of that. Which I did and thought I want – no says Ian I think you mean you would like. Which I do and I will next year. Even if its just the one in a big pot on the terrace in Spain. It’s magnificent. But truth be told its never just the one. Never just the one plant. Never just the one trip. Never just the one bar of chocolate.

Jack and Chris opened their Clapham garden twice this year for London NGS, and I was pleased that I could make one of the two. Jack likes a dahlia or two. Or thirty three and grows most on his allotment and had picked a lot of the dahlias from there. ( Hint. Maybe an open allotment day next year!) I say picked but I think he stripped the allotment of all the blooms.

A bright blue sky always helps a photograph look better.

The varieties and colours were fabulous and not only did he fill a room with single stem dahlias he and Chris erected a dahlia arch over the front door, so there was no escaping what house was having an open garden day as you turned the corner.

Having watched an insta story the night before of Jack trying to put the arch up I wasn’t that hopeful to be honest. Sorry Guys! You had even turned the sound down so we couldn’t hear the angst. But patience is a virtue and it was brilliant.

Don’t ever go on that telebox programme Through the keyhole” guys. This room would give you away when they say ‘ who lives in a house like this’ Um. Must be Jack and Chris. I loved it but boy I was nervous. I stood at the edge and admired and took photographs. Too nervous to put my size nines anywhere near the flowers. I still wonder how Rumbles – the cat , not their nickname , doesn’t just go in and paw each single stem. Fred our cat would. One by one. I loved the dark red/black dahlias in the brown bottles. Recycling at its best there!

But just look at them. Gorgeous.

It wasn’t all about dahlias at their open garden – in the garden were Rincus, Jacks fern wall, coleus (sorry guys I am old and they are coleus to me), salvia, great seed heads on the clematis, shadows on the leaves of the banana and great foliage plants. But this is about dahlias. Just dahlias. There are more pictures of the other plants on my Instagram feed and Jack has a blog on the foliage plants on his feed.

Oh and course there was cake.

Another dahlia fest for me this summer were my days at Common Fam Flowers. A working flower farm. With rows of dahlias. Dahlias for picking. Dahlias for bouquets. Dahlias for weddings. Not just dahlias of course.

The thing about going there in the summer is that you are guaranteed a dahlia or two. To be honest it was Georgie who made me realise that I did actually like a dahlia. I ordered some flowers from her early on in our friendship and the bouquet included dahlias. I was hooked. Much more interesting shapes colours and styles than grown in my parents garden decades before.

Growing up my parents grew some. Not many. Pretty dull ordinary dahlias. Yes there are such a thing. I hated them. Always full of earwigs. Which fell out as you picked them. It put me off for years. I was sent to pick them to bring indoors. Which my parents always did – had flowers indoors – there was none of ‘ flowers are just for the garden’. That’s where i got my gardening habits from. Amongst other habits. Like talking constantly like my mother. Her deadheading obsession.

I digress. The dahlias of Common Farm Flowers never cease to amaze me. This year the Cafe Au Lait were and are stunning. Another one for my one pot dahlia on the terrace in Spain. Spectacular in arrangements or in a brides bouquet or equally gorgeous in a single vase. Such beautifully formed petals.

Now please dont think of asking me the names of all the dahlias. I know the names of three. The rest are either pretty dahlias, pink ones, pom-poms or cactus.

This one took my eye when we were preparing the flowers for a big wedding. 85 jam jar posies. 8 large arrangements for the table centres. Pew ends. A huge ball to hang from the ceiling. Garlanding. Buttonholes. Included in all but the buttonholes were dahlias. All colours. All sizes.

This is American Dream. And it is. A definite Dreamy dahlia. Sat quietly in a bucket I zoomed straight in on it. The flower was in the bucket. Not me. That would have been silly. And required a large bucket.

The petals shape size and form on Cafe au lait are just fabulous. I don’t mind that its not my usual big loud blousy colour choice. It’s just beautiful in its simplicity.

I was given a jam jar posie from Georgie when I called in last week which included dahlias. And a big fat Cafe au lait included. Not one. But two, lucky lucky. Worth a stop on my way to the cottage.

Here’s a few, just a few of this years delights. None of which I can take credit for – though the photographs are mine.

I think I maybe all dahlia’d out for this year. Is that a thing? I need to move on. I have.

To the bulb catalogues for tulips and alliums. For Canna and agapanthus. Tulips and alliums ordered already.

But I have one more wedding at Common Farm to help out with at the beginning of October and I am sure that there will still be blooming lovely dahlias about then. In the meantime I have made a list of what I would like to try in Spain next year. It has to be a short list. A very short list. But don’t tell Ian.

Six on Saturday -España. Again

Its still baking hot here in Andalucia which has been great for ripening the figs and for bringing the almonds on to pick. The almond crop is down – we have four trees – on last year but there again so are the olives. And next years Oranges. I think the colder winter/Spring and the extremely wet spring with a sudden cold snap when the flowers were out didn’t help.

Almond

The Almonds are ready to pick and I need to pick them before they fall off the tree. I’ll dry them for a day before I pack them away. If they are left on the ground the pesky tree rats will have them all before me.

Black Fig

Why do figs all come at once? Last week I looked and they were green. This week they have ripened. Virtually overnight. There’s not enough to jam sadly but more than I can eat. So a neighbour has been having them every day too. Whether they want them or not. But they do.

Jacaranda seed pod

The seed pods of the jacaranda tree are really interesting especially once they open. This is one I found on the ground whilst clearing and is one of last years. This years are either still green or changing colour but are still on the tree. The tree needs a good prune as it’s getting too tall. Makes note.

Plumbago

I had forgotten we had this Plumbago. It’s hidden in a corner by the garage and I only remember it’s there once the lovely blue of the flower sits against the white wall. It’s a great colour although I need to check what’s eating the leaves.

Yucca flowering

We had a yucca in our garden growing up in Cardiff and I can only remember it flowering once. This one flowered last year and I wasn’t expecting one this. . I don’t know why but I wasn’t. I have passed it by for a week and only just noticed it.

Brazilian sky flower

The Brazilian Sky flower has started to flower again. I think it may be because it’s had a drop more water whilst I have been here this week. There are a lot of new flowers opening daily.

The heat is on -The garden in Spain

Well I’m back in Spain. That’s not a surprise really as I spend some time each month here. It’s been hot apparently. Messages from my neighbour sending pics of the thermometer on the terrace. In the sun. In the shade.

Oh dear. That hot. Thankfully it’s cooled down now. A little. I’m allowing myself to turn on the air con though. And wear a hat.

Early morning before it hots up

It’s an easy journey here to be honest. The flight is quick and the drive up the wiggly road goes unnoticed now. But. Yesterday I picked up the hire car at the airport. They had upgraded us. A bigger car. Automatic. New. Now I don’t know if you have tried parking in either a car park or on the roads in Spain. But big cars and car spaces don’t go. The spaces are tiny. So I’ll drive around for an hour each time I go out trying to find a space to squeeze into. That’s the car. Not me.

The wonder of getting into a new hire car. I am old enough to remember that when you used to hire a car they would come out to the vehicle. Showed you what was what. Honked the horn. Now your given the keys and told that it’s parked in bay whatever and off you go. I had to ask where the key was. ‘ um. In your hand sir” excuse me. That’s a key? It’s more like a tv remote.

So I was unprepared for the first event. Driving and concentrating on the motorway whilst automatically going to the gear stick to change up and down I somehow pressed the wrong button. A button I didn’t know it had. Didn’t know where it was. But all of a sudden the car seat was vibrating and moving. Now I am a bit partial to a massage but not when I’m driving at 100kmp on a Spanish motorway. And when I’m starting to feel car sick. But by some strange feat I managed to turn it off. Eventually. I still don’t know where the button is.

The last time I had a car seat experience was decades ago when a colleague was driving erratically through the Rotherhithe tunnel. So scared I thought i”d wet my pants. Only to realise that it was actually the warmth of the heated seat warming up on my bottom. A new experience for me then. A heated car seat. But her driving was that bad. I digress.

The garden has been well watered. But boy is it still dry. There is little respite from the heat at night so watering late or early morning is best but not great either. Evaporation is high.

I knew from last year that the garden is best in Spring, early summer and Autumn. The high summer heat sends some things dormant and others struggle. But I was surprised at how green the garden actually is. We have a lot of drought tolerant plants but to be honest there’s drought tolerant and drought tolerant. Even the drought tolerant struggle in the mid to late forties.

The alliums have been fantastic and have fared so much better than I anticipated. They are all done now and the seed heads are still looking good. Allium Summer drummer is still standing tall – head and shoulders above all of the plants. It’s a definite for my list for next year. Along with more Allium Sphaerocephalon – drumsticks. They have gone on for ages and are still looking pretty good. So one of the things on my list for this week is to order next years along with some more freesia which were some of the best bulbs I grew this year. Karen at Peter Nyssen – by the end of this week.

Gorgeous drying seed heads of Allium
Allium Summer Drummer – tall and later flowering
Drumstick Allium going over

I’ve been looking at dahlia posts on Instagram with dahlia envy. Dahlias as big as dinner plates. Huge flower heads. Big fat buds. Next year I’m choosing one. Just one to try in a big fat pot here in Spain. My only consolation is my big fat new leaf on the Strelitzia Nicolai. Unusual in that at this point it’s perfect. A little bit of wind and the leaves get shredded. When we moved in I thought it was a banana so it was a big surprise when instead of bananas we got stunning blue/black flowers. Three of them. AMaybe next year this plant will have flowers like the other one we have in the garden. One of my favourites this year along with the Strelitzia Reginae which had flower head after flower head.

New leaf on the Strelitzia Nicolai

Even when the flower heads have died back they still look amazing. This one looking very presidential. It’s the hair.

Strelitzia Nicolai

I watered late last night. As you can see from the following picture I don’t put things away. I could have left it out of the pic. Put it away. Taken it from a different angle but life’s not perfect. Nor is my garden. Anyway I forgot to lock the gate. Any burglar would have tripped over it in the dark – my excuse. A burglar deterrent.

The path from the gate

I am fascinated by the stephanotis. Beautiful creamy white waxy flowers. A gorgeous scent. Surprisingly fruit. Yes. Fruit on a stephanotis. I say fruit and it sounds plural. Read one fruit. I also read that they are not generally edible. But they aren’t poisonous either. I shan’t be testing either points. . But there is a large fruit /seed pod that has split open. It looks like it’s full of cotton wool. Which if you interested is one thing I hate touching. I have to ask Ian to take out any cotton wool in tablet containers, I just can’t stand the feel of it. But I did stand and stare at this without touching it.

Stephanotis fruit and seeds

Earlier in the week a neighbour in London asked what a particular flower was as we walked to a local restaurant. It was oleander and was the first time I had seen it grown locally. Well locally in London and it was flowering really well. Just how hardy it will be in SE London I don’t know. They are still flowering here in Spain and I have to say are pretty lovely. Pinks,whites, red and creams. Some doubles. This year will be a major prune. I’ve seen next door prune hard and whilst I though ouch – they have come back strongly. Makes yet another diary note.

A mix of Oleander in the garden

Some are already sprouting their seed pods. Long slender pods which change to a reddish colour and open all fluffy. Interestingly. Some do. Some don’t. Depends on the plant.

Oleander seed heads

We have grapes. I’m happier with the shade the two old grape vines give than the grapes themselves. But they are an added bonus until they fall – staining the floor and the sun umbrella! But next month I will make grape and rosemary jelly.

Chateau Competa

Some things have done well. The agapanthus have been great- both the new ones I bought and the original ones. I bought ten more in the nursery sale and have left them in pots to plant in October/November when the soil is easier to work. When hopefully we will get some rain. They have shot up in the last three weeks. I think I’m going to have a bed of them along with alliums. I’m also hoping that they will self seed around the garden and am leaving the seed heads on to dry and split. I know it takes an age for them to get to the flowering stage but this year in London 3 self seeders have flowered. The soil here is poor. Thin. Stony. You also begin to appreciate things we take for granted back in the UK. Like a delivery of garden soil from our local refuse collection centre in Somerset. Non existent here in Spain. I’ve been lugging bags of compost and putting it on the ground when planting. It’s a long old process.

Agapanthus seed head

The popcorn senna has finished flowering but the other Senna has had a second wind. Now I did know the name of this one but I have forgotten. Yes know I know. Label dear boy. Label. But these we’re here when we bought the house. But I now have new flowers. Old flowers. This years emerging seed pods. Last years seed pods drying on the plant. I think this one needs a bit of a trim too. Has gone what my mother would term as leggy. Obviously she wasn’t talking mine. Short and stumpy. But the colour is a joy when there is little colour about.

Some kind of Senna!

Note to self. Don’t wear shorts when wandering to the back of the house I grandly call the orchard. It’s dry. Very dry and the grasses make my leg itch. We have Almond trees (4) two figs and a Nispero/Loquat. The figs are still getting fat and need to go dark. I suspect that will happen when I’m not here. Or if I am I will be figged out – as they come all at once. Figs with homey and yoghurt. Figs with goats cheese. Figs with everything.

Ripening figs

The almonds are almost ready. The drupes are beginning to split so I need to be on my guard to collect them before they fall. Then dry them a little. The numbers are down on last year. But. I have loads left from last year too. I think I will grind them and use the ground almonds in my baking. My time line on Facebook reminds me that I was picking and drying them this time last year.

Almonds

Don’t mention the loquats. Ugly looking fruit. Don’t store well and all come at once. This years weather wasn’t kind to the one tree we have. I was going to make jam. Honest. Oh. I’ve just found another sapling tree.

The olive crop ( grander than it is ) is down on last year. But then so is most of the fruit. We have one quince. Last year I had enough for Quince jelly but didn’t make it. Determined to this year but I have one only. What can you do with one very large quince.

The Pineapple guava is way behind last year and is smaller. I’m not so worried as we don’t pick them. No one is that keen on the taste. The oranges are down this year too. The weather was fine. Then very wet. Very cold. Now baking. There are some but not great numbers.

Pineapple Guava fruit

The lantana at the back of the house has some more flowers on it. At the same time as berries from the last batch. The one at the back of the house where we rarely go is nicer than the one in a pot on the terrace but that has gone over.

Lantana flower & berries

There are seed heads forming already on the rock rose (cistus) which flowered very early. These will stay put for months now but I’m going to have to do some cut back. If it doesn’t work then it doesn’t work.

Seed heads already

My favourite agave my foxtail agave is doing well and I have one other in a pot ready to go in when the ground is accommodating. Which it’s not at the moment. Think concrete. Hard set concrete.

Foxtail Agave

So an inspection of the garden after three weeks away. I’m happy. Things are still green. One or two fatalities but that’s down to me and planting things in the wrong place. One brugmasia wasn’t doing too well. So I potted it. It’s done even worse. The other three aren’t dong well either. Two are in the wrong place. Not enough sun. The others ok but not great.

In comparison the bank is as dry as a bone. There is no watering there. The wildflowers are now dried flowers the grasses tall and dry. I’m yet to go and check out the roundabout. Which as you know isn’t a roundabout at all.

There is plenty to be done this week. I have a week here on my own so I have to get myself off the sofa and into the garden. Early morning. Late evening. To deadhead. To weed. And to water. I may even get chance to sit down. If the mozzies feel like they can leave me alone.

Oh and as long as the temperature doesn’t get back up into the 40″s.

Somerset – Weeds and a Piet Oudolf garden.

Well. I’m not here or there. But I’m Back in Somerset. But do you know what? It would have been quicker to fly to Spain. I thought travelling on a Monday mid morning would be fine. Massive fail. Getting out of London was bad enough. Not finding a parking space at Fleet Services for a comfort stop disturbing. The final irritant. Stonehenge. 40 minutes to get from the roundabout past the Tourist attraction. Yes. I was in awe of it when I first started driving past it 26 years ago. Twice a week. But even the sight of ancient monuments can wear thin. Trust me. Sitting in that queue knowing everyone will slow down to look. Take photos. Is irritating. I have been one of those people. But not now. Thankfully a toilet stop at Common farm with tea and cake was possible 15 minutes before home. Oh. A toilet stop and then tea and cake. In case you were wondering.

Top tip. Don’t neglect a garden for three months when there has been rain. Heatwave. Rain. Sun. It’s no joke. It’s an embarrassment. My national collections of both ground elder and bindweed are magnificent. Truly magnificent. Why can’t weeds be like flowers. Struggle a bit now and then. Get eaten by snails. Slugs. I took one look and sat down.

The cottage garden needs some work

I had to make a start. And make a start I did. I was thankful for the rain on Monday as it meant weeding was a little easier. My idea was to weed. Pile it up and let it dry a bit so it would fit better into the dumpy bags to take to the dump. There is too much for the compost heap and another long story about our compost heap and bonfires. I won’t bore you with that one. So plan A. Weed. Dry. Bag. Ian arrives on Thursday evening and he will need something to do I thought. So the garden has lots of small piles of weeds and stuff.

The first of many

I then get an email on Tuesday late am. There is a viewing booked for weds. So that made plan A inoperable. So plan B. Go to the Walled garden at Mells for lunch to contemplate Plan C. Which I did. Are you keeping up?

The Walled Garden Mells

So Plan C. Tidy the area closest to the house. Take bags to the dump. Shower. At home. Not the dump. Get out of house and find something to do for Wednesday morning. Which I did and more of later.

The garden wasn’t all bad. There were still some flashes of loveliness. Hidden largely under bindweed but once removed were in good enough shape for the odd photo or two. I’m showing you these now as the ones I took later and not in our garden are colourful and plentiful. You’ll get there soon enough. Trust me.

Pitcombe Cottage
Day Lily

We didn’t prune the apples and plum trees last year. Yes Sarah Venn. It was two years ago we did the apples with you cracking the whip. Time flies. There has been tremendous growth spurts this year on them all. The plums will need a bit of a severe prune. The apples a bit of shaping and thinning. Yes. I know that there are different timings for them.

No matter how ripe they are I guarantee Ian will pick these apples this weekend.

Pitcombe grapes

We have grapes. Chateau Pitcombe. Not very sweet and quite small but they will make a fair bit of grape and rosemary jelly. Tasty on lamb. Or with cheese. I made it two years ago and it was pretty delicious.

So where could I escape to on Wednesday. With my camera. To be fair it wasn’t a hard decision for me at this time of the year. For two reasons. It had both gardens and an exhibition. Yes. Hauser & Wirth Somerset. Less than a 10 minute drive from the cottage. Unless you get stuck behind a tractor. A new exhibition and the garden in a mix of full colour and the start ~ earlyish of the faded glory of some of the plants. I like the garden at this time of the year. And in Autumn. To be honest, In previous years it hasn’t done anything for me in winter or Spring. But I’ve seen the Piet Oudolf movie – 5 seasons. Which is wonderful. If you haven’t you should. It may have been that the man himself was sat behind me at the screening ( though it took Ian to tell me) but it’s a fascinating insight to the gardens of Piet Oudolf.

You’ll need sunglasses for the colours in the flower beds at this time of year. Four years on from the original planting the beds are full to bursting. The colours always amaze me and the planting is intense.

Melting in the heat

If this is what drought tolerant is, then in Spain I’m making some mistakes. None of the photographs have filters except the selfie obviously. You wouldn’t want to see me non air brushed. Trust me. Even I don’t like looking at unedited pictures of me. I’ve done nothing with the colours in the plant photographs. They are as I have taken them. Snap happy.

Piet Oudolf garden at Hauser & Wirth

The colour is amazing. An artists palette. If I have one criticism. I’d have loved to have had an opening in the Radic pavilion looking down the garden where you could view the planting from above. It would have given a great perspective on the colours and the planting if you were able to see into the centre of the beds. And the scale of the meadow.

Now is a great time to see the planting. Some are already starting to go over. But I’m staggered at how well everything is holding up. The ground around this bit of Bruton is heavy clay. You can see the cracks in the garden as you walk through. It’s so dry.

The Radic pavilion was originally in London at the Serpentine Gallery and is a pretty futuristic. Sitting at the edge of the Oudolf meadow it is a striking standout piece from whatever angle you view it. But …….. It would have been good to have that viewing spot. Just for pictures! More pictures. But it’s a piece of art in itself and you wouldn’t cut a piece out just to satisfy the whims of one taking photographs. Would you?

I could go on and on. And add more and more pictures. I was a happy snapper but I won’t. Except for the bee. To bee or not to bee. Interesting to see what plants were the attractors for the bees. What I didn’t see was an abundance of butterflies. Bees yes. Butterflies no.

Busy bee at Hauser & Wirth

So it’s back to my garden tomorrow. Another day in Paradise. Amongst the weeds. Dreaming of the colours of an Oudolf garden. A large meadow with a pavilion at the end. Dream on Andrew and buy another lottery ticket.

Summer in the City

Back in London. It’s July and we decided that we would probably not spend too much time in Spain in July and August because it’s too hot. That we would spend time in the Uk for those months. So I headed back leaving the heat behind me. For three weeks of decent temperatures. Not the high 30’s of the Pueblo Blanco. Right. How wrong I was? I did leave the high 30’s with air con to be replaced by …… London in the high 30’s. No air con in the house. On the train. On the tube. Sweltering heat. Am I glad I’m heading back for two weeks in August? At least even if it’s in the 40’s I will have aircon. Wine. And a pool.

Flying into London City airport it was clear just how dry and parched the countryside was. From the air it looked pretty dramatic. On the ground you realise it is.

It’s quite shocking when seeing it from above. Swathes of brown areas where they would and should have been grass. Although a drop of rain works wonders and grass recovers quickly if and when we get it.

I’ve hardly caught my breath this week. But it’s been a scorcher. Do you know what? There’s only so many times you can go into Iceland. With the sheer intent of standing over or in front of the freezers. I’ve been in and out of there all week. I’m so glad the weather has changed ~ my freezer is full.

I admit. At first I was worried. Then I was petrified. Had Ian watered the garden? I knew he would have. But he’s not a gardener. He would have watered. But not like a gardener waters. But I was surprised. Very surprised. The garden was looking good.

The pots were doing well despite the intense heat. So hot that life in the UK stops. Stations close, rail lines melt. The buses were hotter than would be allowed for transporting animals. I’m sure if you’d tried you could have fried an egg on my solar panel ( bald spot) when I travelled on the no 12 bus. But I didn’t try. I didn’t want egg on my face Did I?

I thought my canna were dead following the visit of the beast of the east. But they weren’t. And they aren’t. A beautiful yellow flower on one. Another one starting to bud and a red one with glorious big fat leaves. Patience is a virtue. Not one of my stronger points. Next year I’ll label.

It wouldn’t be me without a bit of agapanthus now would it. They are still blooming lovely with some still yet to open. A great mix of blue and white I need to look out for some dark blue/black to add to what I already have.

I hadn’t seen these before but they have done really well in a pot in the front garden. Once they have gone over the seed heads are a bit like dandelion heads. They have flowered for ages and I have bought a red one to add a bit more colour. We bought them at The Nunhead Gardener and I’ve checked the label. Garvinea ~ the garden Gerbera. I will plant more next year as they have done so well.

The window boxes have done really well despite the intense heat. I had planted them with just lavender as I knew I would be away a lot this year. I hadn’t expected the heatwave though. They have delivered and have been a great success. I love lavender but in Spain it’s struggling. I suspect it’s too much water rather than not enough. I will be replacing the lavender path in the autumn. With another lavender path.

Salvia Amistad has always done well both here in London and in the garden in Somerset. But again the beast from the east was cruel and I thought I’d lost it in London. One survived and is now reaching for the Sky with a lot of flowers to come. A great filler in the garden along with Salvia hot lips and Salvia love and wishes.

The tree ferns and banana are all doing well. It’s been a pain with watering every day. All the plants are in pots. They dry quite quickly especially in this heat. A bit like me really.

Back just a day and we were off to visit a garden open in SE London. I’d been following the owners of the garden and their story on Instagram for a while and was really pleased to be home and able to support them on their open day. It’s a fabulous garden. Small. Beautifully planted. Tree ferns; bamboo, oleander, fatsia, canna and the front garden is a riot of colour. I had seen pictures but trust me. It’s stunning. They will be opening for NGS next year.

I fell in love with the garden wood burner ~ and the log store which I looked up when I got him ~ Vesta Stoves. Both Ian and I are not fans of hot tubs but there was a wooden one almost hidden in the corner surrounded by some great planting, it may have just changed both our minds. The guys had posted on SM earlier this year that they were worried about their tree ferns. But they were looking great.

You couldn’t miss the house when approaching it. The front garden was a riot of colour. An absolute firework. A great wooden pathway leading up to the house with the garden full of bees and butterflies. The Dahlias were great. I really miss growing Dahlias. I suspect my Somerset ones will have failed.

Added to the gorgeous garden they had printed a comprehensive plant list to take away. Their garden is featured in Modern Gardens Magazine this month. A 4 page spread. I’m off to buy one later. Well done Alex and Joe.

It was a pleasure meeting Alex and Joe – not only is the garden fantastic but So are they. You can find them on instagram as The_Gardening_Guys and on twitter as @Gardening_Guys – go check them out you won’t be disappointed. The Gardening Guys

Not to sit still for long for fear of missing something – the following day I went off to meet a friend from up North who was in London for the weekend. Kings Cross St Pancras. Oh my what a change. What a redevelopment. Cafes. Bars. Apartments. But also some amazing open spaces dotted around the estate. A wander along the Regents canal expecting to see Mr Higgledy and his flowery narrow boat coming around the corner. ( reminder biennial seeds to be ordered)

Some great planting and glorious colours in the open spaces. All well used with seating areas for friends to sit and catch up. The plants mg areas were really well kept and tended

When I moved to London three decades ago the area was known for colour. Usually red. But the transformation is amazing.

It’s great to see planting complimenting the hard landscape of the redevelopment. It’s a great open space and one I only scratched the surface. I will be back for another wander when the sun is not so hot.

The final wander the week was into the city of London. We were having lunch with an old friend who we hadn’t seen in a very long time and I needed to do a check of where we could meet.

My walk took me last St Paul’s Cathedral and towards Leadenhall market. At the rear of St Paul’s is a small little green space. Another find in the city. Lovely planting. A bit of grass. Seating. But what surprised me was the planting of Rincus ~ Castor Oil plant. I’d first seen it in Jack Wallington’s garden at his and Chris”s NGS open day last year and I know that Phillipa Burroughs at Ulting Wick grows it where I hope to see it.

I want to grow it in Spain but have been a bit nervous as where I want to plant it is near the rear access road. The one near the roundabout. Which isn’t a roundabout at all.

This patch behind St Paul’s must have thousands passing by daily. Our access road has probably one or two families pass by in a month. Some months no one passes and there are no casual walkers. Those that pass are usually in a car. So why am I worried? Because all parts of the plant are poisonous. But there again so is the oleander that’s growing there. So maybe my mind is changing. If it’s good enough for London then I’m going to grow it in Spain.

It’s been a bi of a whirlwind flowery week. My tiny garden. The gorgeous garden of the_gardening _guys. Kings cross. The city of London.

But it’s not been all plants and flowers. It’s been a good week to be a tourist in London. Despite living here for 36 years I still find it exciting. Inspiring. More so now that I’m not working in the hustle and bustle. I have time to appreciate the buildings. The history. The architecture. The coffee spots. My big gripe. Try finding a loo when you need to,spend a penny. Spend a penny. It cost me ten bob in old money. 50pee. It’s all very well being told carry water with you. Drink water. But 50 blinking p! Daylight robbery.

But guess what? I’m not here for long. This week I head to Somerset to spend a week on our neglected Somerset garden and to spend a day at Common Farm as part of the dream team.

I was embarrassed recently to have two proper gardeners stay at the cottage, a garden writer whose most recent book sits on my coffee table and an award winner at the recent Belvoir garden show. They stayed on one condition ~ that they closed their eyes when in the garden.

They could use their sense of smell and sound. But please don’t tell my SM friends I’m guilty of neglect. They didn’t and were complimentary. But I know. My national collection of bindweed will need some attention.