8 Oct 2015

Insta-update: Whoosh! There goes another week

It's entirely typical of the week I've just had that I'm posting this a couple of days late.  There were highs and lows including a day off sick, a day without internet, two contrasting garden visits (one large, one titchy) and an awards ceremony. We had some wonderful weather last week which made it feel more like late summer; I went to Wisley (the larger of the two garden visits) convinced that I'd get some gloriously autumnal shots but, no, the sun shone, the skies were pure blue and late summer seedheads and grasses looked fabulous.

I've been very quiet about the results of Camden in Bloom.  The awards ceremony was last week and I can now bashfully reveal that I was awarded second place in the Best Individual Garden category!  Not bad for a first timer, eh?  Naturally, I sought out the gardener who was awarded first place and secured an invitation to visit her garden at the end of last week.  This was the 'titchy' of my two garden visits, a courtyard space probably no bigger than 15' x 8', and surrounded by high walls which makes it very shady, but absolutely crammed with plants and her amusing art installations - there's even a pond in one corner. It's extraordinary the amount that this lady is growing so I take my hat off to her success.  

Here's my week in nine Instagram peeks:

From top left:

1.  'HUG' - the Ficus microcarpa bonsai being grown by the Camden in Bloom first place winner. She likes to name her plants and this one is very apt and made me smile hugely.

2.  Rosa roxburghii seen at RHS Wisley. Also known as the chestnut rose - you can see why. Intriguing, spiky and beautiful but a rather challenging rosehip for all but the most intrepid of foragers.

3.  Inspirational combination planting: Euphorbia myrsinites growing through Stachys byzantina.  Extraordinary textural contrasts from two of my favourite plants - perfect for a sensory garden.  No doubt an idea which will soon be appearing in the garden here, plagiarism being the sincerest form of flattery. ;o)

4.  Physalis.  This is the first ripe fruit this year from my Cape Gooseberry shrub.  I grew it from a seed two years ago and love it - the flavour is much nicer than shop bought and very worthwhile growing.  Let's hope that it's not too autumnal for a good harvest as it's usually fruited well before now!

5.  Saffron crocus starting to appear.  Small plants were put in during late 2013; I had only leaves last year then read that saffron crocus like to be buried deep. Some were left, others replanted a good 10" deep.  Let's see what happens … 

6.  'The Twelve Apostles'.  Another garden installation from my Camden in Bloom rival.  She collects stones with faces carved by the elements for  use in her garden.  As she says, "Jesus looks rather sad." Perhaps it's the apostles on the other side of the table we should be worried about.

7.  Slightly off-piste here but I was very taken with these gorgeous Aeoniums on display out the ladies' loo at Wisley and couldn't resist a quick snap! They were over 4 feet tall and thriving outdoors in their sheltered but sunny location but I imagine will be moved back to the big Glasshouse soon.

8.  Very little autumn colour in late September at Wisley - more like a warm blast of late summer with blue skies and yellow Heleniums in the Glasshouse Borders. Autumn surely won't be long now, though.

9.  I realised that the fruit thieves had left four pears high up in the branches of my tree where they couldn't reach. I stood on my upturned bucket and managed to bring the branches down enough to reach the pears for picking. Bizarrely, this tree is supposed to be a Conference Pear.  Does anyone else think that pear looks more like a Williams pear?  

Hoping everyone is having a good week - I'm amazed at how quickly the leaves are falling or turning red now so I think next week's update could have a lot of autumn colour in it! 

29 Sep 2015

Nine photos for Seven days: Insta-update

There's a lot to appreciate in my neighbourhood: Hampstead Heath, wide tree lined streets, little old cobbled passageways, farmer's markets, the city farm, and not forgetting my veg patch garden- there's a lot going on if you stay local and love nature.

Little visuals catch my eye as I walk around and I quickly snap these for posterity.  Sometimes I just want to remind myself of a new yoga class starting or the location of some tempting foraging; often I snap a photo on my phone because it's there and I don't have my camera to hand.  Quite a few of these get posted up to my Instagram account and make a visual diary of the week that's been so I thought I'd share with a weekly Insta-update.

From left to right, top row to bottom, nine pictures for seven days:

1. Quince.  Not real quince but the fruit of Chaenomeles x superba, also known as Japanese quince. Beautiful red and gold flowers (on this cultivar) in springtime and edible fruit in autumn.  These fruits are smaller than real quince (Cydonia) and not so perfumed but still very edible when cooked, sweetened slightly and made into faux Membrillo (a Spanish quince paste), eaten with cooked apples, or sliced with honey and hot water for a refreshing tisane.

2. Pear. This was had fallen from the tree and I discovered it shortly after. Sweet and juicy, it was my first pear from this tree, seven years in the waiting. Most of the other pears have been removed by people walking past the garden.

3. I'm reliably informed this is the fruit of the Strawberry Tree, Arbutus unedo.  I've never noticed this before but its bumpy globes caught my eye on a walk around the neighbourhood and I'm thrilled to discover that the fruit is edible - with the bonus that the pip can be grown into a new tree, albeit v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y.

4. Tomatoes. I've had a really bumper crop this year, most of which have stayed resolutely green - 'Sungold' being the exception.  Finally, a few others are slowly starting to ripen. These are Maskotka and I've also picked a couple of Petomach tomatoes this week.

5. Nasturtiums. These go completely bonkers in autumn and sprawl over everything. The plus is that the flowers have wonderfully long stems, perfect for picking, and thereby removing a few of the seeds that will inevitably start the whole process again next year. The leaves in the vase are from a small Sambucus nigra shrub I bought last year.

6. Mmmmm, crab apples - don't these look gorgeous? There is a huge, fruit laden tree a couple of streets away with these beauties hanging temptingly overhead. A forager's dream. (And I'm thinking crab apple and rosehip jelly, by the way.)

7.  Brussels Sprouts tops.  Yum.  Plus purple and green  is such a fab colour combo.  Seeing beauty everywhere.

8.  Garden gathered. I only popped down to cut some of the carrot seed heads for a recent charity shop vase purchase (seen centre top of photo). I came back with a surprise bunch of crunchy and sweet purple carrots, achocha, the aforementioned pear and tomatoes, raspberries and fennel seedheads.  Ker-ching!

9.  Sprouts!  Yep, I'm pleased to see these are bulking up nicely. I haven't grown sprouts in recent years as they've not been a success before but the recent rain has fed them well and these are on track for (dare I mention it?) Christmas.

Posting this a day late ~ sorry ~ as I had a very late journey home after a dash to the Hampshire coast at the weekend. This will be a Monday meme, join in if you wish and let me know!

Hope you all had a good weekend and had plenty of sunshine wherever you were!
Now off to catch up with news on other blogs … 

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