As a foreigner living in Britain, English is a language I am still learning – even after 17 years here in London. I still bump into words I have absolutely no idea what means and I love looking them up and see their meaning and history. Some words just jump up and down and do a little dance for me when I see them, some words are just hilarious whilst others give me a lump in my throat. Have you heard the word ‘Discombobulate’ before? What a lovely word! And what about haberdashery?? I absolutely love that word too. OK, so the title of this post is naming my garden. I have thought about doing that for a while. Well, to be honest, I have thought about it for many years, but I never really found a good name. I know it is quite common here in Britain to name your house, at least if you live in a countryside cottage or in a somewhat grand house. Naming your house in a council terraced 2-up-2-down in East London would probably have raised some eyebrows, so that was never on my agenda. But my garden? The most important room in my house? Sure! ....But what?
I have collected words I like for a long time, and one of them is SERENDIPITY. I didn’t really know the true meaning of the word in the beginning, but after looking it up it dawned on me that this was an excellent name for a garden! So I decided that when I found a new house and had moved in, I would name my new garden that. It is now 11 months since I moved house so it’s perhaps about time I announce it – so I am hereby declaring my garden named The Serendipity Garden.
I have told a couple of people about this so far, and I realise that although some people have heard the word Serendipity, people put just as many interpretations into the word as you would to an abstract painting – but that’s fine! That’s absolutely in the spirit of The Serendipity ethos! The word Serendipity has been voted one of the ten English words hardest to translate, I guess it would do well together on a list with for example ‘Gobbledygook’ and ‘Double Dutch’ – the latter means something completely different here in Britain than in America and has nothing to do with skipping ropes :-)
But if you do wonder what Serendipity means, here is a bit to help you on the way, much more can be found online if you do a search.
"Serendipity is the gift of finding the things we did not know we were looking for."
"Serendipity is the effect by which one accidentally stumbles upon something fortunate, especially while looking for something entirely unrelated."
“Serendipity is an unsought, unintended, and/or unexpected, but fortunate, discovery and/or learning experience that happens by accident.”
“Serendipity is making unexpected, pleasant and fortunate discoveries by chance, and in gardens, this happens all the time. There are new things to be seen or uncovered every day and not always the way we expected or even hoped for. Mother Nature sometimes has a way of rearranging our gardens and placing things how and where she wants instead. This is serendipitous gardening. Nature has struck again. Enjoy the unexpected in your garden!”
And here is my new garden sign, hanging on the door into the garden.
Let’s dip into The SerenDIPity Garden (sorry, I couldn’t resist!) – and see what’s happened the last couple of weeks.
I have been busy planting, and I did have this crazy goal of getting all the plants I took with me from my previous garden planted before end of April – a year after moving house. I say crazy, because with the turtle speed I am doing gardening I am afraid it will take another year, but despite the impression of being stacks of pots EVERYWHERE you look, I have been planting a lot. Honestly, I have. But then I did have around 700 pots with me from my previous garden....
The last couple of months I have been quietly working on this bed without writing much about it. This is my Japanese inspired bed – and I say ‘Inspired’ because it is not a true Japanese garden or bed, but just elements of it I like and appreciate. I would love to make a proper Japanese garden, but that would cost a lot of money and mean a lot of work – so this is my version. The inspiration for the Japanese Bed came from the big, old Salix integra 'Hakuro Nishiki’ growing in the middle of this bed, the only plant I kept apart from the plumtree to the far right.
I bought some cheap plastic containers from Argos, they were silver coloured and looked really tacky, but after I spray painted them black I think they look much better and much more suitable to the Japanese theme.
This is Prunus incisa ‘Kojo-no-mai’, a lovely, slow growing cherry from Japan. I have two of them and intend to have them permanently in these containers. Most of the plants in this bed will be grown in pots and containers due to the high pH and the clay soil and I have tried to find plants that will be happy long-term in containers.
Prunus incisa ‘Kojo-no-mai’ is grown for its gorgeous flowers in the spring, but come the autumn, the leaves turn glorious shades of red and orange and is a spectacular sight.
The cherries are not the only trees with gorgeous flowers right now, my plumtree is looking absolutely lovely!
The flowers are really decorative and I can’ wait to see if I get as many plums as last year.
This is the view of the Japanese Bed looking towards the house and I have been spray painting more containers – some of the old terracotta pots are now black and glossy and look like they are glossy ceramic pots instead of very cheap terracotta pots from B&Q. I hope the spray paint doesn’t flake off too quickly, time will tell. There should always be water in any Japanese garden, and in my Japanese Inspired Bed, the bird bath will have to do as the water supply. It would have been nice with a water stream cascading down, but I don’t think that’s going to happen :-)
This acer was new a couple of years ago, in new black glossy pot it makes a grand statement. This is Acer palmatum ‘Ariadne’.
This is the view from my shed, the obelisk at the front is my new rose obelisk, more about that one in my next post. And behind the obelisk is the plumtree again.
Pretty plum flowers.
My plumtree is Prunus domestica ‘Victoria’.
And this is Chaenomeles speciosa 'Moerloosei' – gorgeous flowers and so at home in the Japanese Bed.
Let’s move on to other parts of the garden, this is the Sunny Bed – not much has happened here in terms of planting, it is still a complete pot-jungle, but things are emerging and flowering and not really that bothered about pot or ground – as long as they get watered.
And in a pot of yellow and orange tulips I planted in a pot last autumn I found this one – very pretty, but probably not meant to be there!
I still have daffodils in flower – very late, but then I was extremely late planting the bulbs, some of these didn’t get planted until 2 weeks before Christmas! I might do that again, I like having daffodils this late. This is Narcissus 'Furbelow'.
And here are some Muscari – I especially like the Muscari armeniacum ‘Pink Surprise', although here they have faded to almost white as they are almost at end now.
The seeds I showed growing in my living room in my previous post has since all been kicked outside after having been potted up. It is much colder outside than indoors, but there is much more light outside. What survives survives - Que sera, sera.
And now to a bed that is finally finished; The Woodland Bed. It looks a bit sparse still in terms of plants, but that’s because we are still in April and there are a lot still to emerge here. And all the plants will grow, fatten up and fill in the space a lot come the next year or two so I recon I might possibly be able to squeeze in a few more plants, but not many.
The tail-end of this bed is actually in full sun most of the day, well, at least when the sun is shining! So the woodland plants end just about here where the left container is. In front of the wrought iron trellis is a climbing rose which I hope will be happy here and there are lots of lilies planted in the ground.
On a distance - this little space has now got a table and chairs and the beds around are planted up too.
But the pond is yet to be fixed, that will be a while yet till I get to! But until then the pond serves as a space to put my water feature and plants.
Sitting here with the tinkling of water behind me, waiting for my two clematis’ to grow up the new arch – I just need to get the fence fixed and painted and this part of the garden will be sorted for now.
The planting here is mostly woodland plants, and who can resist Fritillaria meleagris.
One more photo of Fritillaria meleagris, also called snake's head fritillary, snake's head, chess flower, frog-cup, guinea-hen flower, guinea flower, leper lily, Lazarus bell, chequered lily, chequered daffodil, drooping tulip or simply - fritillary.
There are lots of primulas flowering right now, this one is quite unique, Primula vulgaris 'Blue Zebra'.
Oh, I have to tell you about these ones, well, the primula is lovely, this is Primula 'Don Keefe' and I got it from Angie in a plant swap a couple of years ago and took it with me here to my new garden. But behind it are my new toadstools! I have always wanted some sort of garden sculpture or figures or decoration to my garden, but never really found anything suitable. There are hundreds of fairies, angles and gnomes online, but that’s not really me. That REALLY isn’t me. And the sculptures I would have liked to have cost LOTS. But then I found these ceramic toadstools, just by chance. I was looking for something completely different so this was a true serendipity moment when these turned up and I knew instantly I had to have them in my Woodland Bed.
I got two sets of 3 and this is the other set. They were said to make a tinkling sound in the wind, and being made from ceramic they do make a very pleasant tinkling sound when you carefully clink them together, but I think it will take a hurricane before they make any sound on their own and I am not likely to sit here and listen out for the sound in that kind of weather so in terms of the sound it’s probably more for the advert!
Here in the Woodland Bed I am also very pleased to see the trilliums I took with me from my previous garden now emerging and flowering. Trilliums don’t like to be disturbed and dug up so I am happy for every single one surviving the ordeal.
And I also took Lamprocapnos spectabilis ‘Alba’ (Dicentra) with me from my previous garden, it is just about to flower.
The Mini Bed is also planted up, can’t remember if I have showed this before, but I have used Primulas and Saxifraga stolonifera and in the middle is a group of Arisaema amurense just emerging.
More primulas, all these are Primula vulgaris of different varieties.
I have planted some violas in the Woodland Bed, they have been growing in pots for years so it was about time to get them in the ground. Hopefully they will spread nicely and not too invasively. This is Viola odorata 'Annie'
And this is Viola labradorica.
My magnolia flowered last week, only a few flowers this year but I had not expected any so the few I got was a nice surprise. After moving last year and keeping the magnolia in a container for a whole more year than I had planned, I thought flowers were off the menu this spring, but the few that came were very welcome. Sadly the strong winds we had the other day took all the flowers and that was it, all gone. Hopefully next year will be back to full flowering like I have had in previous years with this lovely Magnolia soulangeana ‘Heaven Scent’.
And here you can see the magnolia planted in the ground in the side part of the front garden – where I haven’t really started any work yet at all. But this makes a nice lead back to the title of this post – the naming of my garden. Here is the garden sign on the door into the garden - when the door is open, the sign can be seen from both outside and inside the garden. The plan here is to get the prison look barbed wire removed (hopefully by the council!), paint the gate and fence, and then the new clematis in the container next to the door will hopefully climb up to the top in no time!
One final, a bit different interpretation of the word serendipity that I also like.
“Serendipity: A combination of events which are not necessarily individually beneficial, but occurring together to produce a good or wonderful outcome.”
And the word serendipity has been tried translated into other languages, even though it is difficult to get the actual meaning of it. Someone has attempted to translate it into my own language, Norwegian, and the meaning of that word would be something like ‘stumble-upon-fortunate’ (snubleflaks) – I am not sure if I like this kind of translation as the actual word doesn’t mean anything unless you know the story behind it – and I suppose the word should be like that in all languages – like the names for cities and countries. Serendipity comes from the word Serendip, the old word for Sri Lanka. But that story is too long to put here, if you are curious you can Google serendipity :-)
Final photo from me today, another true serendipity moment, I was taking a photo of the sparrow on the birdfeeder and while I was pressing the shutter, these two other sparrows turned up, realised suddenly that there was only one feeding port available and two of them - and started to squabble in mid-air, fighting for the available space. The sparrow on the feeder was completely unfazed by this cacophony and just continued eating! I can plan for all sorts of photos in my garden, but sometimes it’s just a question of being there at the right time!
And if you after all this would like an interesting link about serendipity, of all the pages I have been through making this post I have chosen this one about a study into serendipity at UCL. Enjoy!
I am off to see what surprises my garden has to offer today.
That was it for today’s middle of the month roundup and Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day post. Next post will be the end of the month with another garden video, hope to see you then, until next time, take care.