Surviving? or celebrating?

By some outrageous and undeserved privilege I made my first visit to Chanticleer, just outside of Philadelphia, in our spring – their autumn – last year.

I think that I’d vaguely and prejudicially shoved Chanticleer into a ‘big, boring, institutional garden’ category for several years after first becoming aware of it, then had somehow been given the impression that this was not a garden to dismiss – that there were some really lovely and magical things going on. Continue reading

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Up or out?

Seems like some climbers are happier when they’re going up, and others when they’re going out.  The wisteria I kept going on about back in early summer absolutely rocketed up its wire, but lost its way once it got to the top. It’s been staggering around drunkenly, and needs to be constantly tied into the horizontal wire.  Continue reading

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One gutsy grass

I’d clearly been lulled into a false sense of familiarity with the genus Miscanthus.  I mean, after lifting and dividing hundreds of them, cutting back possibly millions of individual stems, searching through rows of seedlings in search of minor desirable variations and taking to old clumps with a blunt axe, I thought that I was probably beyond being surprised by them. Continue reading

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The life and times of Sedum ruprechtii

I’ve never had any problem remembering the name of this fabulous sedum.  I can’t, even if I wanted to, shake the lingering images of Steve Martin playing Prince Ruprecht in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels – the idiot child who, agitated and clearly hanging on at the dinner table, puts his hand up and asks if he can go to the toilet.  When given permission, he stays sitting where he is, slowly and visibly relaxes and releases in his chair, politely says ‘thank you’, then continues to eat.  Continue reading

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Colour: dense vs diffuse

Most plants present their floral colour in a way that is irritatingly, or at least disappointingly, diffuse.  This is never more obvious than when you take a photo of a plant or combination of plants you’re pretty pleased with, only to find that the consequent pic is 98.5% green and only 1.5% flower. Continue reading

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And pot-bound wisdom..

Beginners over-read some bits of advice, and under-read others.  At least that’s my observation from my admittedly smallish beginner sample of one – myself, thirty years ago.  I remember leaving potting mix under plastic in the sun so that I could plant azalea cuttings ‘into warmed soil’.   The reference book that used these very words didn’t tell me that the soil had to be warmed, and stay warmed, for the duration of the several-month rooting process via a heated propagation unit.  I diligently, and uselessly, followed exactly what I was told to do.  On the other hand, when I was firmly instructed against buying pot-bound plants, I blithely dumped that advice into an over-warning file, and bought whatever I damn-well pleased. Continue reading

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