Tag Archives: plants

  • Not everyone is a plant nerd

    I admit to being a plant nerd. It's not that I have to have the latest plants, it's that I desire the ultimate desirable plants, the unusual. Some plants leave me cold. I am convinced I shall never have my dream garden for it would cost far too much. As another garden show opens with its lure of new plants, what are the British public planting?

    Last month I took a train journey and on the way I had to spend almost an hour in the middle of nowhere waiting for a connection in Lincolnshire. What to do? Have camera, will take plant pics. I walked the streets and photographed front gardens.

    The British public, if this is a typical example, is not very adventurous with plants. The gardens mainly belonged to bungalows, so I am guessing the occupants were over 65 and retired. Many still plant in single plants, spaced neatly around a lawn. Not a drift to be seen. Colour is usually a jumble. The plants are cheap, cheerful and reliable. No-one is going out on a limb. No-one is taking a risk. At least most gardens were neat in this area, none were uncared for.

    Reliable trees, usually planted on the very edge of the garden include Fagus (beech), Betula (birch) and Eucalyptus (eucalypt) with smaller gardens, if they have a tree always plumping for Acer (Japanese maples). The predominant flower colour is pink, the predominant leaf colour and backdrop colour is green with one or two exceptions. In style, there was a balance between shrubby borders and herbaceous borders and a few potted plants.

    From the round border with vibrant colouring colouring provided by oriental poppies surrounded by a herbaceous border with Geranium, Sisyrichium and Phlomis, to the Weigela, Hydrangea, Lavatera and Ceanothus shrubby borders, I guess this is a fair cross-section of what the British public plant. I am seeing more Phlomis than I used to. Lots of roses were in evidence, both hybrids and shrubby rugosa types. Petunias and Viola, potted Pelargonium, Argyranthemum and Lavandula were providing summer bedding. Yet there were one or two surprises, it was nice to see the golden fuchsia as well as the obvious choice of F. 'Riccartonii', one garden had a handsome pink-flowered Hebe, someone had been bold enough to plant a dark-leaved beech as a shrubby hedge and also plant the dark-leaved Corylus next to a blue conifer offering a striking combination.

    There was one shining star for me and it is the first time I have seen it outside a show garden or magazine. Leycesteria 'Golden Lanterns' looked absolutely fabulous - a must-have. There was also a fine example of Choisya ternata 'Sundance' often so poorly grown in the U.K. What's it like in your neck of the woods? Are people more adventurous with their plantings?

    Catch up with colour and how to use it in my fabulous colour books online

    Words and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

  • Harrogate Flower Show review 2010

    Another in my mini-series looking back on the glorious plants on display and for sale at the Harrogate Flower Show. The flower show runs until 23 April 2017 and makes a great day out for any plant lover. If you have a partner who is not too keen on plants, there is plenty to engage them too.

    I have always found great inspiration at this show.

    Words and images Karen Platt 2017

  • Harrogate Flower Show Look Back at 2009

    Continuing with my mini-series started this morning of the fabulous Harrogate Flower Show - looking back at 2009. There's no better place to buy your plants. I'll let the pics speak for themselves. The show finishes on Sunday - 4 days of incredible plants. Who could ask for anything more?

    Words, images copyright Karen Platt 2017

  • Harrogate Flower Show Retro 2008

    Sadly looks like my health will prevent me from visiting the Harrogate Flower Show that opens later today, so I thought I would treat you to pics from 2008.

    This fabulous show really kicks off my garden year with a bang. Always top quality displays from some of the best nurseries in the U.K. You'll know my favourites by now, Edrom, Jacques Amand, Dibleys and more.

    Do go if you get a chance, the new hall will be open and is terrific. Harrogate is such a lovely town too. This flower show never disappoints.

    Words, images copyright Karen Platt 2017

  • Kedleston Hall

    I visited Kedleston Hall in March on a sunny day, cold but bright. I was greeted outside Derby station with a bright display of Polyanthus, Pansies and Fatsia. A short bus ride takes you almost to the gates of the Hall, where you walk through the parkland with its stunning countryside, river and bridge to the house.

    Yet parkland is about all you will see because there is not much of a gardener's garden here. There were a few promising buds and some ancient trees, but not enough to interest the gardener. Bracket fungus on logs by the shop and more parkland behind the house and a tiny garden area by the Church.

    Although it is a green and pleasant land, the house sits in a beautiful setting, the NT entrance fee is rather steep at 13.00 gbp, especially at this time of year because the parkland walks were far too muddy, in fact after a few minutes I had to give up. I must admit that my mud-loving days ended decades ago and that there never is a good time to discover that your walking boots leak and this was such a day as I waded over to the drifts of snowdrops.

    The lady who had just scanned my membership card ran out of the gate and asked if I had paid, then the lady in the house thought I might be a little too muddy. I felt a bit put out - they were the ones telling people to walk round the fields of mud and I had scrubbed my walking boots on the boot scraper. The house is very interesting, but the NT ended up in my bad books. Not only were the staff here a bit off-putting and not very tactful, I got round the place in about an hour.

    Words, images copyright Karen Platt 2017

  • Sheffield - EU funded gardens

    I have written about the EU funded gardens before, but being unable to make it up the hill to the Botanic Gardens, I photographed these again in their winter cloaks. There is a newer area that is still unfinished, which appears to be using recycled materials and is quite interesting, but not yet planted up. In fact work seems to have stopped, and I hope this has not been abandoned owing to loss of EU funds.

    In the rest of the planting, the grasses are shining. Yucca filamentosa was looking strong too, the greenest plant in the garden. The tree trunks, still extremely slender, are showing interesting colour. The Artemisia should come with a warning sign and I fear it might take over the garden, some of the plants planted in April 2016, are already 60cm (2ft) or more across. Its feathery foliage is, however, to be admired. Buds are beginning to appear and although it is still cold, there are signs that spring is on its way.  The spring Primula are doing their thing. I still cannot believe that flower on the Phlomis, it has been there at least two weeks now. We can always depend upon the garden to give us something unexpected.

    The EU funded gardens are outside the Magistrates Court in Sheffield.

    Words and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

  • When Autumn Leaves Turn To Gold

    I dillied and dallied and autumn turned to winter too fast. One moment the leaves were turning to glorious colours and I was thinking, wow I must do an autumn post. However I was wrapped up in my new book Woven Textiles of Tunisia, and suddenly it seemed that autumn had vanished.

    To be fair we have still only had one night of frost (although I might have escaped a couple of nights at the beginning of November as I was in sunny Greece), but one night last week changed the landscape of the garden from dazzling colours to silvered and nipped with frost, plants limp and reeling from the cold. Those blazing fiery hues of autumn leaves fell to the ground and became brown and wizened and often wet and soggy. I had been astonished to see asters, cornflowers, red hot pokers, verbena bonariensis and rudbeckia still going strong to the end of November.

    One is reminded of the eternal cycle, the return to earth, the renewal that follows. But for a while it will be frosty photos. So I recall the beautiful colours of autumn. I particularly love the rusty colours of Taxodium.

    You can enjoy year-round colour with my gardening books

    Words and images copyright Karen Platt 2016

  • Harrogate Spring Flower Show 2016

    Still a bit achy from my day in Chesire, but I braved the drop in temperature to go to the Harrogate Flower Show, my favourite excursion in spring. I did not know they were building a new Hall and the plants had been moved into a marquee, but the lighting was far better, so better photos. Despite the hail and freezing weather, I had a wonderful day.

    You too can have a super day at the show, tomorrow is the final day. If you can't get there this spring, the autumn show is fantastic too and there's always next year.

    The displays took my breath away this year from the Fritillaria and Cypripedium on Jacques Amand's stand, to Taylor's Clematis, Dibley's Streptocarpus and so many more. Some plants were definitely must-haves, so I have made a list of most of those here. They are not in order

    1. Hippeastrum (Amaryllis) Blossom Quinn from Warmenhoven

    2. Petunia Black Knight from Iddon's

    3. Cypripedium from Jacques Amand

    4. Heuchera Sweet Tea, I thought this was the best, a few nurseries were showing it

    5. Incredible Erysimum I had not seen before, being sold by a few nurseries including Hardy's, this one is Red Jep

    6. Breathtaking Clematis Pink Champagne from Taylor's

    7. Muscari Bling Bling again sold by three nurseries

    8. Primula 'Slack Top' from the nursery of the same name

    9. Pelargonium (need to decipher the name, sorry)

    10. Streptocarpus from Dibley's

    11. Iris sold by two nurseries and just unimaginably beautiful greenish and faded denim

    12. This amazing bonsai of Acer

    Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2016

  • Walking Cromford Mill

    It was the epitome of grey, but there was something to celebrate. As it was so cold, I elected for an inside rather than outdoors venue. Driving towards Matlock is a pleasant drive, even with the steep descent into the valley. The scenery is fabulous and I am reminded of Shakespeare's 'This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England' and of William Blake's words for Jerusalem 'England's green and pleasant land'. Blake's 'pleasant pastures' do still exist. This is what people who do not live in England imagine it to be like. Green and quaint, countrified and gentile. Not a garden to visit as such but an area where one can walk and enjoy the scenery.

    Ah but is was greyer than grey and cold, with a northerly wind. Green maybe, but not pleasant. Still I could not help admiring the landscape and wishing I could wake up every day to gaze on such a scene.

    Cromford Mill was Arkwright's Mill but when it closed all the machinery was taken away so there is little left except a display with an annoying over-excited actor's voice-over. The building is still very imposing, but apart from the building itself, what is there now does not reflect the history or heritage of the place at all. The shops are dismal and smell of damp, the cafe is too small even at this time of year it was full by 11.30am and it is all very disappointing. The best shop by far is the quilting shop - that is really good. There is a small plant shop. The spring plants were adding much needed colour and the owner obviously had a liking for Primula. The Ranunculus were looking perfect too. On warmer days there are many walks along the canal and more. There is an estate church, but it was closed. There is another cafe across the road by the canal, a tiny cheese shop and probably the tiniest shop in the world selling canalware art.

    There is some redevelopment of the site, so I hope it improves with a new vision. This has to be the most disappointing venue for a World Heritage Site.

    We were directed to Masson Mill to see textile machinery but we arrived at the wrong time to see the machines working so opted not to go in. There is something akin to an outlet centre here, all smelling very musky. Not at all what I expected, but the setting is fabulous. It seems a shame that the Mills' current usage has not been developed by someone who loves textiles, who could have created an experience for this site that includes the former most prominent cotton mill. As it was the best thing about the venue, apart from the views, was an antiques shop outside the centre across the road.

    Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2016

  • A Winter Walk

    There is nothing better than a bit of sunshine in winter. Days can be so grey and wet. As soon as the sun comes out I like to go for a walk.

    As the sun came up this morning, it was clear that it was going to be ok for a while. I decided on a rather long walk uphill to the Botanic gardens. They were looking neat and trim, all the hedges had been cut and a lots of the borders tidied. I was searching for purple plants for my new book, but no luck except for one iris unguicularis hiding amongst its sword-edged foliage.

    However, I took about 100 photos outdoors and in the glasshouse. The light beyond coming over the hills was beautiful and very inspiring. The tracery of bare branches was simply entrancing.

    Hellebores were looking good, snowdrops were just beginning to open. I was saddened to see the darkest hellebores had disappeared, theft from the gardens has been a problem for years - the maroon and pink ones are still there and the green ones increase year on year but people obviously filch the dark ones.

    The ridge and furrow glasshouses are in need of a paint. I hope they are not going to be allowed to fall into disrepair after they were rescued and renovated by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

    I'd love to see more purple in the garden. Who's in charge of planting?

    Words and images copyright Karen Platt 2016

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