Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Espalier and Cordon trees

I'm currently doing research for a client who wants a productive garden, especially fruit trees, in a 10 x 5m space behind a small Victorian terrace house.  Last September I took these photos at Hampton Court, in the car park, where this beautiful new wall has been planted up maybe one or two years ago, apparently to display wall training methods for fruit trees.

The wall has a pleasing bond, 6 rows of stretcher and a row of headers, which gives a horizontal dynamic.  The mortar looks to be traditional lime (no cement) and the bricks themselves not machine-made. The craftsmanship in the brickwork, combined with the expertise required to train the trees creates a reassuring feeling of competence and durability.  In a garden, the marriage of this kind of use of materials and choice of planting allows a certain relaxation, as if safe in the hands of a strong father.

My client is a joiner who, because he is so able and obliging, often takes on general building and project management and so works far too hard for his health.  I am hoping that the technical aspect of working with trained fruit trees and bushes will appeal to him and he'll use his garden to relax. He's also a great cook, so fruit to the fore.

Single cordon - very productive for size

Fan form (I think) here for cherries

Double 'U' cordon
Crossing cordons - stems may fuse together

Classic espalier

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Zinnnia - looking back, looking forward - August, September

Zinnia, fennel and bupleurum - all from annual seed
Zinnia with dahlias

August harvest - looking back, looking forward

Blackcurrants - looking back, looking forward

Early July. Mmm...sunshine turned purpley black.  Can you smell it? Then jam made, job done.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Thrive - ornamental and edible containers

Cabbage, poppies (field and Californian), sage
Some great ideas for combining colour last June at the Thrive garden in Battersea Park. Thrive is a charity supporting social and therapeutic horticulture.
Ruby chard and veronica
Rocket, oakleaf, oregano, Russian sage
Tagetes, oakleaf lettuce and beans

Nigella - mid-summer blues

Fine texture
Maybe two or three years ago I'd sown Nigella 'Persian Jewels' a freebie from a Sarah Price Chelsea garden, I think.  It has self-sown and fallen out of its selected colours and forms.  It's a little wan now but spectacular in its own feathery way. I it allowed to stay last summer as it complemented the glaucous broad bean leaves. It'll be back.


Eryngium bourgatii - stellar
Onopordum acanthium - three thistley ghosts

My (male) neighbours at the allotment find space to grow some striking, spikey ornamentals, pictured here in mid-June.

Eryngium is a clump-forming perennial about 50cm high, so this view of its stellar bracts can be made a point of interest. If you plant it by a path, feel confident your guests will have their gardening trousers on. Hardy, so long as it's on free-draining soil. 

The Scotch thistle - a native plant and un-cultivared - being up to 3m tall, is often placed at the back of a traditional herbaceous border. Here it is displayed in all its glory, making full use of the toning mortar and contrasting brick behind it. It's a biennial that successfully self-seeds (such fun for weeding) and does well against this south-ish facing wall on unimproved soil

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Late May - looking back, looking forward

Crimson flowered broad beans
Chard 'White Silver'
Pea, flower still attached

Beetroot - 'Chioggia', I think.
Viola 'Heartsease' for salads
Stem of bolting sorrel

Early May - looking back, looking forward

As the itch for the new growing season becomes almost unbearable, I'm reviewing last year's pictures. May.
Seedlings. New wire baskets with amaranth and coriander seedlings. And the lovely concertina  shredded cardboard packaging the baskets came in - perfect for the compost bin.
A brassica seedling under protection.


Strawberries in flower
Blueberries in flower
Berries to be.  I had contemplated pulling out the strawberries, as they only give a handful at a time and are a slug magnet.  Better to support our Kent growers who always seem to have to discount enormously at the supermarket? But they look so lovely here. Blueberries. Originally I planted three varieties for successional, but this one bush has done best on London clay. I haven't been able to bring myself to add peat for the acid conditions preferred. Would have been handy to leave the labels on...
Honesty - Lunaria annua

May flowers
Cottage garden flowers for wildlife. Honesty, a biennial despite the latin name, had self seeded and provided a gorgeous display for the best part of a month.  I grew it because birds are supposed to eat the seeds in the 'moon' pods (not!). I 'allow' myself this section of herbaceous perennials in a section with a wildlife attracting aim.  Here, white and violet honesty, with colombines in the foreground. Also, the blue-flowered weeds of forget-me-not and alkanet which persist however much you pull them out - the former by seeding profusely, the latter by having a brittle tap root.