Fingers Burnt By Plants (Or Is It The Plants Getting Burnt?)

Tiarella flowers

Tiarella flowers setting the trends at the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show

Love isn’t always requited between humans & plants, but we shouldn’t allow the lamentable failure of a relationship to thrive to put us off one type of plant entirely. Easy to say, but harder to venture a tender heart the second time around.

I was first acquainted with a brownish heuchera that lived in a hanging basket in an out of the way place, seemingly never watered. Most of the soil had fallen out and only a spindly root system prevented the heuchera from going the same way. The plant never looked great, but you had to respect its toughness. I can’t claim to have fallen in love; at best we were on nodding terms.

Contrasting brown, green and purple leaves covered in raindrops

Heucherella ‘Redstone Falls’ with contrasting varieties

Inspired by that one, I went on to grow several heucheras, tiarellas and their hybrid, heucherellas, using their mounds of patterned leaves as ground cover. They really are plants you can paint land with, in England, at least. Unsurprisingly, I found myself getting fond of them.  Continue reading

Sunlight Attack

Mossy bank with wild geranium leaf backlit by sun

Usually there are plenty of opportunities to pick an overcast day if we’re planning to visit a garden or, if not, at least chances to wait for a cloud. But this year is different. Unrelenting sunshine is not usually a big issue in northern England but Texan-style blue skies (with not a cloud in sight all day long) are all the rage.   Continue reading

Crafts Style Wrought Iron Tree Gate

House gate with ginkgo shaped leaf pattern

Our landscape architect friend, Rick Griffin, says that the best way to add personality to a house is by doing something a bit special at the entrance. I like visiting Shrewsbury – I’ve written about it before – but of all the wonderful places there, the one I’d most like to receive an invite to is this private house. I know nothing at all about the people who live there, but by looking at their gate (plus a few peeks over their garden wall) I’ve formed an impression about them.  Continue reading

Leaves And Branches

Taking pictures of tree canopies is not that easy with an iPhone, but blue sky, branches and tree leaves have a magnetic effect on my attention, so I keep on trying.

And I’m happy with this one. I have no idea where it was taken. Though I could hunt through my files and find out, it really doesn’t matter. It’s not about the place, but the feeling. For me, this tree neatly wraps up natural beauty, abstract pattern and an emotional experience all in one. It’s uplifting. It rewards the eye that lingers and traces out a few of the branches.  Continue reading

First Wintry Walk Of 2018: To Darwen Tower

Brambles and moss, covered in frost

A New Year’s walk up to Darwen’s Jubilee Tower has become a tradition. I’ve been a little under the weather over the holidays (just a nasty cold), so when we finally took the plunge, it felt extra-good to brave the fresh, winter air and get out for some exercise.

Darwen Tower

Darwen Tower may look warm under the glow of late afternoon sun, but anyone who has ever made the climb will vouch for the wind chill factor up there, even on a summer’s day. Continue reading

A Carpet of Leaves And A Much-Loved Dress

Leaves carpeting a woodland floor

Leaves carpeting a woodland floor: ivy, geranium and hellebore

I couldn’t help noticing this pretty mix of leaves – their colours and textures seem more like a design than purely accidental. The feathery leaves are Herb Roberts (Geranium robertianum), looking their best in autumnal colours; the glossy leaves are some form of hellebore and the veined ones, ivy. Spent pollen stalks have added their forms to the mix.  Continue reading

Phlox With The Leaves Of Companion Plants

Phlox in a border

Burgundy canna leaves and the bright green crocosmia provide an interesting contrast to the lilac phlox, particularly as the sun is highlighting the leaves. In the background, arching polygonatum leaves are interspersed with a few heart-shaped hosta leaves. This is an example of companion planting for sequential flowers at the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens in Romsey, England.

Woodland Plants: Erythronium dens canis

Erythronium dens canis (dog's tooth violet)

This little gem – Erythronium dens canis – grows wild in favoured places across Europe. You might come across them in dappled shade on the edge of UK woods, pushing their way up through leaf litter, but there is probably more chance of finding them in a major garden or a spring plant and bulb catalogue.

Common names include dog’s tooth violet and trout lily. If you were wondering, dog’s tooth refers to the shape of the bulbs (which should be planted pointy side up) and trout to the beautiful, mottled foliage. The leaves look like a trendy, new, mint flavoured chocolate might – thin, of course, to justify the price tag in that inverse way we’ve come to expect; wavy to give the research and development team something to think about; and with a weird ingredient for extra credibility, such as cardamom or Kaffir lime leaves or green tea.  Continue reading