Saturday, 5 June 2010

Best in Show - Andy Sturgeon at Chelsea 2010

This garden splits the Chelsea-going public along the fault lines already present in the show, and in the RHS as a whole:  designers vs plants people. And the whole pretty conservative, anyway.  'Ooh, looks like grave stones','Is it wood?' (it's Cor-ten steel, the oxidised layer protecting it from rust), 'Meet me in the cafe when you've done'.  I love it, though.
The planting evokes a mediterranean climate and would be sustainable. I can imagine strolling through to one end and back on a summer evening, chatting or dreaming on my own.  The structures are strong but not heavy.  The glimpses through are poignant.  It's a restless garden, movement-wise, but spaces for chairs are there. The limestone walls and platforms will hold the heat long into the evening, making it a place to linger.  I followed the whole cork oak saga, video diary.They would have been nice, but the pines are great and stir early memories for me.
For more close ups and to hear the designer talk, andy sturgeon video.

beans, beans, beans, beans

This is a retrospective post, started at the beginning of June and edited on 19th August.  How nice to look back at what has happened in three short months.
Growing runner beans is so rewarding. Here's a seedling (left) with it's seed leaves bright and shiny in the sun, ready to go; and only a few days later, ramping up its pole.  I love the intelligence and tenacity of beans, and the way their twining stems unerringly climb anti-clockwise.

For the first time ever I resisted putting out the French and runner beans 'til the end of May.  In previous years they only got checked (ie stopped growing for a while and made less vigorous plants in the long run). This year there was the unusually late, hard frost on 26th May which would have been the end of them.  Remember, their origin is Mexican!
I'm using birch and cherry bean poles taken from clearing Surrey heathland.  They are a bit sturdy and wonky, with rough bark, so my row may not look the most elegant.  However, I believe studies show beans grow more strongly when they can get a good grip. Compare smooth bamboo poles - which are imported from Asia and sold at a great price in garden centres - you might as well support a UK local coppicer,,

Left, flowers exactly one month ago, and right, big tall grown up plants this morning, beginning to get tired and go over, even. Lastly, a handful of beans for a minestrone today.