Saturday, 28 July 2012

A garden with many rooms – July

I have always wanted a big garden. Actually, I wouldn’t mind a huge garden, a garden where I could have a shed for my tools, another shed for potting, a greenhouse for tender plants and early vegetables, an area for composting, a vegetable plot, a garden big enough for several mature trees, some fruit trees and some berry bushes, a barbeque next to a seating area and a Jacuzzi, and lots and lots of my favourite plants and flowers of course. And I wanted a garden with different themed rooms with plants according to each theme. Unfortunately, to have a garden that size living in London you need very deep pockets, as property prices come at a premium here. I don’t even own my property, I rent it, but I have lived here almost 11 years and when I moved into this house I couldn’t wait to start developing what was then just a piece of overgrown jungle in the backyard.

I must admit most of the things on my wish list are still just on my wish list – and not in my garden. I don’t even have a shed for my tools. But I have tried to make some ‘rooms’ in my tiny garden. And it really is a tiny garden, by any standard. The actual garden is 11.7m x 4.7m (38.3' x 15.4') with a small passage leading from the kitchen backdoor where I keep my tools and have a nursery area which is 3.15m x 1.55m (10.3 x 5'). This view of my garden is the one I usually show my readers, taken from the backdoor steps, and the different seasons makes the view change as the different plants in flower changes. I haven’t been able to screen off different areas and make actual rooms in my garden, there isn’t enough space for that, but the concept of making rooms with different planting is something I haven’t left all together even if the space is very limited. Because my garden is filled to the rafters with plants most of the year, you can’t see the whole garden in one go, so the effect of having different ‘rooms’ is still there. (Click on the photos to get bigger size, they look much nicer then!)

Let me take you to a ‘room’ I haven’t taken many overview photos of before, it is at the bottom of the garden, at the end of the gravel path, just to the left of the woodland corner. Sorry about the neighbour’s washing, kind of unavoidable when you live in London terraced housing! Right now this room has a mix of plants already finished flowering, like the Lilium regale which you can see in all their glory from my post earlier this month, and the astilbes the same. Right in the middle of this bed there are two obelisks which are so overgrown with clematis you can hardly see the black metal, but there are two of them. The clematis’ are just coming into flower, a whole 8 weeks late, thanks to all the cold, wet weather we have had.

Here are the two obelisks from the other side, the clematis to the right is called Clematis texensis ‘Gravetye Beauty’ , the one to the left is Clematis 'Niobe'.

‘Gravetye Beauty’ is so big this year that it has made a bridge from one obelisk to the other and is now smothering ‘Niobe’!

Close up of some of the hundreds of flowers on Clematis texensis ‘Gravetye Beauty’.

And here is ‘Niobe’, both of the clematis’ are 8 years old in my garden. Right behind you can see some large white flower heads...

...and that’s Annabelle, Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle' to be precise. A lovely hydrangea with absolutely huge flower heads this year. Despite lots of staking she is drooping her flowers a lot, thanks to all the rain we have had. Next year I will get a proper fence for her so she can lean on to it. That will make her look a bit less messy too I think! I absolutely adore hydrangeas, they keep their flowers for such a long time and when the flowers go off they don’t just drop them off in a big heap of mess on the ground that needs picking up....no, the flower heads just stay on the stalks all winter as brownish dried flowers. And when the spring comes you can just cut them off. I really appreciate plants that are so helpful to me, as picking up petals from the ground is a big chore.

Right in front of Annabelle is one of my new David Austin roses, Rose Wildeve. Remember what I said about dropping petals in a big heap of mess? Well, that’s what this rose is doing. And from being fully sprung to dropping petals can be as little as the same day, so keeping an eye and deadheading in time on this beauty can be a bit tricky. But I love this new addition to my garden, it has produced the most number of flowers of all my three new David Austin roses and this one is the one in the shadiest position. I really like the colour of it next to the deep red acer and when this rose gets a bit bigger it will fill out this space completely.

Rose Wildeve close-up.

And one more of Rose Wildeve.

The acer is 8 years old this year, I got it as a 40cm twig in a pot and it grew very slowly the first couple of years. It is an Acer palmatum 'Garnet' which stays this dark red colour all the time, not just in the autumn. This dappled, sheltered position is perfect for an acer like this, too much sun in the summer will scorch the leaves and too much wind will make the leaves dry up. And under the acer I have three Heuchera micrantha 'Palace Purple', you can’t really see them properly from this angle as they are almost the same colour as the painted wood edging, but they are there :-)

What you can’t see from this picture are two plants which can only be seen in the winter, when all this have either died down or lost their leaves. Right behind the acer and between the two clematis’ is one large Azalea called 'Geisha Purple' and a large Skimmia japonica 'Rubella'. Early in the spring, when nothing else is visible or not even out of the ground, they are flowering their heart out and keeping interest in this room in my garden.

That was one ‘room’ in my garden, the way it looks in this late July. I will be back later on presenting more ‘rooms’ for you from my tiny London garden. Until next time, take care

20 comments:

  1. Love the 'Niobe' clematis. It looks beautiful beside the hydrangea.

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    1. Thanks, Niobe is very late this year, but well worth waiting for!

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  2. That's a lovely 'room'. The planting combinations look terrific at this time of year. I just adore 'Annabelle'. She really steals the show! But 'Gravetye Beauty' and 'Niobe' are certainly lovely supporting stars. The Acer is just magnificent too!

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    1. Thanks Bernie, I plan to show off this 'room' at another time of year too, it will look completely different, stay tuned :-)

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  3. Wow, Helene! You really know how to gracefully place a lot of plants in a small area. Truly lovely! I can't say that I have a favorite plant in that room--they all play off each other so beautifully. That David Austin Rose is gorgeous, though, even if the petals drop in big piles. :)

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    1. Yes, Wildeve has become a favourite of mine, when it gets a bit bigger it will grow nicely into the white flowers of Annabelle. Well, that's the plan anyway!

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  4. Your garden is magnificent!!! I love everything about it! Even your neighbors laundry. :o) I seriously LOVE the obelisk! I was thinking about doing something similar. Inspiration!!

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    1. Thank you! Did you notice that my neighbours washing is nicely colour coded to fit with my 'room'?! Very good of them :-)
      I wish I could find taller obelisks, mine are way too short for these big clematis', but these were the tallest I could find online - only option is to make some myself of wood, but that won't look as elegant in the winter when they are bare. A link to a UK company with taller than 2m obelisks from my readers would be greatly appreciated :-)

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  5. Hi Helene
    We all wish for something we don't have. You have a small garden but would like a bigger one. But your small garden is a perfect size for you! And the wonderful interesting plants you have put into it as well as how you've designed it is a credit to you and its characteristics.
    Your clematis are beautiful and I am in love with your David Austin rose.
    Enjoy your lovely compact space - I certainly do :)

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    1. Thank you for your kind words Astrid, I must admit the small garden is good in one way, not too much walking from one end to the other! I still wish I could fit a shed, and a veg plot, and a.. :-)

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  6. I thought your garden was so much bigger - all credit to you for using your space so wisely! Your garden is so interesting and looks very different throughout the seasons. The Gravetye Beauty clematis is stunning and the rose is so romantic. Beautiful Helene x

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    1. Thank you PJ, I have just filled my garden with all the plants and flowers I like, and every time I see or hear about something new to me that I think would be suitable I just have to find a space for it!

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  7. What a wonderful garden sanctuary you have created! I also love the crunchy grave path and the decorative edging you have chosen, keeps things tidy.

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    1. Thanks, yes the gravel path and edging, and the bark mulch in all the beds are all helping me to keep it tidy and makes less work for me. I am so happy I got rid of rest of the grass last year, I got room for more plants - and no more mowing!

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  8. Gravetye Beauty is gorgeous! Thanks for the lovely pics.

    Ian

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    1. You're welcome, and welcome back some other time :-)

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  9. Helene, you've done such lovely things with a small space--I'm really impressed at how the curves in the path do create a sense of rooms just out of view. My own garden is a little smaller, and finding room for all the business-y things like empty pots and soil mix, etc. without having everything look a mess is a real challenge.

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    1. I agree, it has been a challenge to find a place for everything, but I have never shown that part of my garden...perhaps I should take a picture of my 'nursery area' in a post too? I keep everything in the small corridor alongside the house, kind of behind me on all the overview photos. I will post a photo next month :-)

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  10. I always thought I wanted a larger yard, too. I am kind of over it now. I am going to be 60 in August, and am starting to get some aches and pains. It's been so hot here this summer, and unlike you, we have not had enough rain.

    You sure have made wonderful use of your space! Oh, and I didn't notice the neighbor's laundry until you pointed it out. LOL My husband and I have watched some British TV shows over the years. Our favorite was As Time Goes By, if I'm remembering the right title. I like the way you say you are going to "have" something, when you are about to do something. I'm thinking you said something like that in your sidebar. I need to have a clean out in my house. I have one more day before going back to work. I'm a special education paraeducator.

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    1. There are times when I do appreciate that my garden is only a few steps from one end to the other :-)
      And I do watch American shows and films from time to time, there are some interesting differences between British English and American English :-)...although I must admit I am still learning English, as Norwegian is my native language and I have lived here in Britain only the last 13 years.

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