Posts Tagged ‘Gardens’

Dream plant list – 1. Trees

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

Last week I wrote about Grevillea johnsonii, and it gave me an idea – what plants would I have in my dream garden?

This being a dream garden there would be no problems with climate, aspect or soil conditions, and of course the garden would be limitless in size.

Once I started thinking about my dream plants, I soon realised I would need to divide them up into groups. So here’s my first group.


The first three are warm climate trees and usually need some protection to cope in the UK although Albizia manages ok here.

Grevillea johnsonii – lovely delicate fern like foliage and beautiful green and pink flowers, reminicent of honeysuckle.

Bouganvillea – Always reminds me of holidays in Greece


Albizia julibrissin rosea



Liriodendron tulipifera – the tulip tree. Splendid and huge! it can be kept in a pot to keep it’s size down to normal garden size as opposed to park size but then it won’t flower which is it’s real beauty.


Laburnum – or rather an arched avenue of, underplanted with alliums. Perfect.


Acer palmatum ‘Sango  Kaku’. Japanese acers have beautiful autumn foliage and I love the red edged leaves. The stems are red too.

Cercidiphyllum japonicum –  Scented like burnt sugar in the autumn.

Betula albosinensis – the one with the peeling bark in different shades of pink.

Aesculus hippocastanum – For conkers in the autumn, and the lovely foxglove like flowers in early summer.

Sorbus hupehensis – Fern like foliage, with pink berries in the summer and then wonderful red autumn colour.

So, I’ll be needing a garden the size of a park to fit that lot in – maybe a rambling country estate somewhere…!

Ali xox


Photo credits: 1-4  Sweet Musings, 5 Unknown, 6


Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

Sorry everyone, I’ve gone and spoilt it. It is very ‘nippy’ today.

After merely mentioning last week that spring was ‘most definitely on it’s way’ we have been plunged back into the depths of winter.  Perhaps it is still on it’s way in Wisley, but it certainly is not here!

Sorry!  And please come back spring.

Ali xox


Early spring at Wisley

Friday, February 25th, 2011

It’s the spring half term holiday for us this week, so small girl and I have been visiting Grandma.  My Mum lives a shortish drive from the RHS garden at Wisley, and as there were activities for small girl, we paid a visit.

Spring is most definitely on it’s way at Wisley, and their Snowdrops were out, as were Irises and Hellebores, and also this superb display of naturalised Crocuses.


I particularly liked Crocus vernus ‘Pickwick’, and It’s delicate purple stripes. It’s on my list for next years’ bulbs.


Whilst in the glasshouse, I saw this lovely shrub, Grevillea johnsonii. It’s a native of Australia and needs to spend winter in a conservatory here, which I don’t have, so it will have to join the many others on my dream plant list…


I love the contrasting pinks and lime green of the flowers against the soft glaucous foliage.

Ali xox

A gentle reminder

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

The Snowdrop – a simple and most welcome pleasure on a dull winter’s day.

During the bleakest,  most depressing depths of winter the gentle little snowdrop blooms, reassuring and reminding us of the promise of spring, when the fashion show of the more showy bulbs will launch into full swing.

Perhaps that is why the gentle Snowdrop blooms now, when we can fully appreciate it’s beauty rather than later when it would be ignored amongst the supermodel bulbs.

Ali xox

September at the allotment

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

For most of the summer holidays, apart from the odd visit to water in the polytunnel and harvest beans, courgettes and potatoes, my poor little allotment has been languishing neglected and looking increasingly scruffy. But with the new school term came new resolve and child free time to spend at the allotment. The grass paths were long enough to take 2, yes 2! hours  to cut earlier this week, although I did manage to dig up my onions too. Today I was there for another 2 hours to sort out the weeds. It all looks much more cared for and less scruffy now.

Red spring onions – left in to bulb up into onions.

The runner beans are still growing at breakneck speed as are  the courgettes although not so fast.

Tomatoes in the polytunnel

Last years’ parsnips left in for the lovely acid green flowers in spring

Ali xox

Plant Love: Alliums

Friday, September 10th, 2010

I love the Allium.  Tall and assertive,  rather like an upside down exclamation mark, it demands to be looked at. Like a butterfly, the Allium takes it’s time to emerge  from it’s papery case, but it is well and truly worth the wait.

My (current) top 3 are:

1. Allium atropurpureum – dark and delicious

2. Allium multibulbosum – makes a lovely contrast with the darker toned Alliums

3. Nectaroscordum siculum – not really an Allium but treated as one

They are always in my garden and I buy more each year – mostly because I either forget where I put them and end up spearing them when digging or, I forget to label the ones I have lifted, and then of course one Allium bulb does look pretty much like another…  Oh well, and that’s the other reason I always buy more, just because I love them so much and can always find another pot to fill…

I buy my bulbs from and

Ali xox

Photo credits:,,

Two went Sloe-ing

Monday, September 6th, 2010

Last week-end, Small girl and I went to do  one of my very favourite things – Sloe picking. Although not that keen on Gin generally, I love Sloe Gin and look forward to autumn when there are bottles of Gin and Sloes gently infusing in the cupboard.

We both dressed for the occasion boots, trousers and zippy tops to avoid nettle stings on exposed parts and so we could fight our way through the hedgerows to get to our golden, or rather purple prize. This was her first trip Sloe picking and she was rather excited about it – especially dressing for much nippier weather on what was a lovely late summer afternoon.

We bought bread at the nearby mill before setting off on our Sloe hunt.

This was the lovely view across the Hertfordshire countryside  from the top of our climb.

Small girl turned out to be an excellent assistant – she gleaned the lower branches while I reached the higher ones. she was also rather good at spotting the bushes and their fruit.

Part of our haul.  It is now sitting washed, weighed and bagged in the freezer awaiting my return from Sainsbury’s laden with bottles of Gin. I try not to think what the till assistant will think of me with 3 litres of gin in my shopping basket, and think rather of the lovely Sloe Gin and Tonic I shall be enjoying just in time for Christmas.

Ali xox

Glorious Kew Gardens

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

This last week I visited Kew Gardens on what turned out to be a beautiful summer’s day. We caught the train to Kew Bridge station and walked across Kew Bridge and then along Kew Green to the Main Gate.  We had  the small girl with us so the first port of call was the Princess of Wales Conservatory to see the Butterflies bugs and beasties exhibition.  Small girl loved the butterflies flying all around us.

Lunch at the Orangery restaurant was next as the small girl was already wilting.  Peyton and Byrne are the new caterers there and very nice it was too! Her lunch came in a reusable heart shaped lunchbox. It has already been reused for storing her  beads.  After refreshments we headed off to the other priority of the day – the new PLANTastic play area. This is onthe far western side of the gardens so was a long walk but well worth it.  On the way over we collected seed pods from the Monkey puzzle trees (Araucaria araucana) and  met this fine chap.

With tired legs we then headed for treats – an ice cream for the small girl while we had a cup of tea and one of Peyton and Byrne’s yummy fig rolls and then a look around the shop at the Victoria Gate. I also found a lovely looking Salvia for future use.

At 5pm, after 6 lovely hours mooching  it was time to head back across the bridge towards the train and home…


Friday, August 13th, 2010

I love gardens, and plants. My garden is constantly a work in progress, never ‘finished’ and always changing. This is what I love most about gardens and plants finding new planting combinations and ‘happy accidents’ as Beth Chatto puts it.

An oasis in the city

Thursday, August 13th, 2009
The green wall at the Athaenium, London

The green wall at the Athaenium, London

I’ve been dying to see this since it was installed earlier this year at the Athenaeum, and it is fabulous. The planting is in long ribbons with lots of grasses, bright and sunny red valerian near the top, and lush, shady planting at ground level. I would love to stay in one of those rooms with planting surrounding the windows – Oh and it has the Queen for a neighbour too! Buckingham Palace is just down the road!