Roots and Celebrations

Plants can’t survive without their roots, but roots are also vitally important for a species of mammal, as I found out a week or so ago. All human beings need a sense of belonging, a place and a community they feel part of. I have four in all: Shetland, Edinburgh (my second home), a small village in northern Bavaria were I was brought up, and rather more tentative ones in what was once Bohemia and where my family comes from.
 
 
 
 
 

schippach

where my roots are

Long before I had a circle of friends in Edinburgh, I was a regular visitor to the city’s Royal Botanic Garden; a garden that has delighted and inspired me for over three decades. All of Edinburgh becomes a garden in spring. It’s those flowering cherries. The ones the late Christopher Lloyd warned us against time and time again: “A week, two at the most, is all you get from your Prunus ‘Kanzan’, then you’re left with the dullest tree in the world for the remaining 50 weeks of the year.” Who was I to argue with the great man?

The cherries in Edinburgh’s gardens have changed my mind this spring, and I now realise that my long-held anti-cherry stance was perhaps tinged with just a drop of sour-grape-juice, as I struggle with the genus in Shetland.

Those trees flaunting their myriad frivolous, totally-over-the-top tutus are uplifting and the blizzards of pink blossom confetti give the pavements a fleeting festive air.

RBGE was breathtakingly beautiful with the most glorious magnolias I’ve ever seen – running through parts of the garden like the recurring theme of a symphony.

M. stell.

Magnolia stellata

When – a long time ago – I consulted a magnolia specialist on the most suitable species for Shetland, Magnolia stellata came top of the list because of its modest, easily shelterable size. It never flowered and succumbed after two Shetland winters.

The one I photographed at RBGE was at its peak – a small tree wreathed in white starry blossom – and has re-whetted my appetite to give it another try now that I have a more suitable (micro) climate for it.

But it’s those large, magnificent species that spread their branches against the sky I really hanker for. They looked wonderful against dark conifer green or next to tender, spring-green foliage. Perhaps my dream magnolia, M. denutata, could be persuaded to flower against that south-facing wall earmarked for a fig?

magn. den.

Magnolia denutata

r. ret

Rhododendron reticulatum

I already own a good few rhododendrons, probably far too many for my small garden, but Rhododendron reticulatum took my breath away. This deciduous Japanese species grows into a large, spreading shrub and is smothered in flowers of a sparkling fresh lavender.

Palest blue lavender featured large at ground level. Carpets of the most delightful anemone featured near the lower and middle paths leading into the garden from the west gate. It stopped me in my tracks, and was instantly added to my ever-growing wanted list.

a. nem. rob.

Anemone nemorosa 'Robinsoniana'

Sadly, these days the gardens close at 6pm, rather than, as in the good old days, at sunset. Lily the supreme illustrator suggested a sunset stroll to Stockbridge via Inverleith Park where we met a flock of swans, leisurely cruising, and now and again stretching a black webbed foot against white plumage.

The last time I visited Germany in spring was twelve years ago, but spring passed me by. In March 1999 my younger sister died and my grief blinded me to all nature had to offer.

swans at inverleith park

swans in the evening

I grew up in the Spessart, Europe’s largest continuous forest.  At the time of the Norman Conquest its oldest trees were celebrating their first centenary . Wild boar, deer, hares and foxes roam it to this day, but the last wolves vanished a century ago. Wolfental (wolves’ valley) lies a stone’s throw from my parents’ house and is now a broad walkway, leading through a cathedral of trees, flushed with the spring green of young oak and beech.

Spessart cathedral

The village itself sits in a valley, dwarfed by forest on the east and north and flanked by sandstone-terraced vineyards to the south. The local Spätburgunder (late burgundy) rivals the burgundies of France and is served in every village pub.

Cherries abound, the culinary kind in gardens, and the surrounding woods shine with the white blossom of bird cherries.

sch at sunset

evening light with crane

During April the forest floors are carpeted with wood sorrel and violets, the latter echoed by the sheets of forget-me-nots in my mother’s garden.

For some reason (perhaps they’ve all read Christopher Lloyd) German gardeners don’t seem to be fond of ornamental cherries. Spring pink in many gardens is provided by wild peach blossom. A young tree in my mother’s garden was launching its charming debut, hopefully to be followed by a crop of grey-furred, beetroot red fruit in September.

wilder pfirsich

wild peach debute

The reason for my visit to Germany was a 200 year birthday party; a figure impossible to achieve by one individual, but quite feasible amongst three – my mother, a dear childhood friend, and myself.

Celebrations continued in Edinburgh, hosted by Society Lady and High Maintenance Husband. The guests were Lily the supreme illustrator, Hilary, my favourite botanist, Hilda Mackerel, the famous German physician and her musician husband John Banjo, as well as my husband with his faithful dog Babeen and our daughter Anna.

The terraced, south-facing garden of our hosts featured an apricot and a fig, just setting fruit, a Magnolia soulangiana, and arguably the most beautiful peony in the world, the Siberian Paeonia mlokosewitchii. Its large, waxy-textured goblets are a pale, delicate yellow and are filled with quivering, tarnished gold anthers.

Sadly all photographs taken that night – on the flash-off setting – are blurred; perhaps just as well.

babeen at j and g

all a-blur in Edinburgh

Hilary phoned the next morning to tell me that a bag-full of the desired pale lavender anemone was awaiting  me at the RBGE Science building. Expecting a little polythene specimen pouch, I was delighted to be handed a bin-liner full of what turned out to be Anemone nemorosa ‘Robinsoniana’ and told it was a birthday present from the Queen.

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April is the cruelest month

This April is going to be a cruel month indeed, but for reasons quite different from those T.S. Eliot cited in his masterpiece ‘The Wasteland’. For the first time in over a decade I’m going to be separated from my garden during this crucial time of its annual development.

pr. dent. mix

Primula denticulata elongating

My inspiration is going to evaporate as my spring plantings will come to an end this Friday. Not being able to see what happens next is almost impossible to contemplate and I have begged James to photograph every new flower as it emerges and expands and to chronicle all that happens in the garden.

Which reminds me to note down three important dates:

29.3. First bumblebee – a splendid specimen of the white-bottomed Bombus magnus – on the wing.

1.4. First fish cruising just below the pond surface ( two orfe and three pink goldfish).

5.4. First wood pigeon call, quite distinct from the collared doves who simply tell the world: “my toe hurts”, while the wood pigeons are a good deal more specific about their audience and say quite clearly: “My toe hurts Betty, my toe hurts Betty…”

It has  just occurred to me that my readers, just like myself, are going to miss out on two weeks of spring splendour, which has prompted me to provide a little sneak preview of things to come.

It is not at all unusual for the drumstick primula, Primula denticulata, to show some colour in March. This spectacle always happens at ground level before the scapes gradually elongate, and the white, lavender, mauve or claret heads grow into perfect pompoms.

There was a time when I was the proud owner of a small collection of trilliums. Lacking the skill and knowledge to provide for their specific needs, all but one has vanished over the years. The white wake robin, Trillium grandiflorum, increases slowly but steadily and seems perfectly happy close to the stem and in the shade of an old Japanese larch. Invariably, and much to my chagrin, every year its first open bloom becomes dinner for slugs, while the later ones are left alone.

pulm bud

filled with promise....

Pulmonarias are easily pleased and they play a role in nearly every part of the garden, going from strength to strength provided they are lifted and divided every five years or so. They look exciting and filled with promise from the moment their spotted shoots appear above ground.

the fabulous bog arum

Lysichiton americanum, the bog arum, is often and mistakenly referred to as skunk cabbage, an epithet that belongs to a close relative, Symplocarpus foetidus, whose flowers mimic the smell of carrion.

There is a faint foxy, astringent odour in the bog arum, which can be discerned at close quarters, as when one tries to get a close-up picture of the newly-emerged yellow spathe, a modified leaf that protects the actual flower, the spadix.

The appearance of these exotic looking flowers gives me a thrill each spring, and the plant is easily pleased in damp or boggy soil, sun or shade. The white form, Lysichiton camtschacensis, is much slower growing in my experience. Both are easily raised from seed.

L. am. april 2011

newly emerged spathe

Greater and lesser celandines revel in the same conditions and easily become a nuisance, their little ‘rice grains’ often unwittingly spread by the gardener during weeding or transplanting. There are numerous named cultivars of Ranunculus ficaria and one of the first to open is the orange flowered, chocolate-leaved cultivar ‘Coppernob’.

ran. fic. coppernob

Ranunculus ficaria 'Coppernob'

Corydalis solida grows from a little tuber and, with its blue-green ferny foliage,  looks far too delicate to survive, let alone thrive and flower in the Shetland climate. The flower colour of the species is a pale, almost washed-out mauve that looks best by itself.

The cream-flowered C. malkensis does well and so do the red forms of C. solida, as good as some of the named cultivars and at half the price.

red Corydalis solida

Corydalis solida

The American trout or fawn lilies rule the roost throughout April and two always flower a little earlier than the rest of the tribe:  Erythronium revolutum ‘Johnsonii Group’ has large, clear pink flowers on strong, dark stems over strongly banded foliage. E. tuolumnense has broad, plain green leaves that are so glossy as to look freshly varnished.

The buttercup yellow flowers are produced several to a stem and have a waxy texture.

Erythronium tuolumnense

Erythronium tuolumnense

Small shrubs suitable for the Shetland climate are thin on the ground, but two fit the bill in April:  Daphne mezereum opens purple, strongly scented flowers all along its bare branches, while the evergreen Berberis ilicifolia is hung with tiny bright orange tubular bells.

Daphne mezereum

Daphne mezereum

Both are delightful and should be in every garden.

My greenhouse, neglected for months, would be a total disgrace, were it not for the sumptuous flowering of Camellia ‘Debbie’. The shrub nearly reaches the ceiling and a much-needed pruning has been postponed countless times because I can’t bear to do it during its flowering, and afterwards I tend to forget all about it.

B. ilicifolia

Berberis ilicifolia

This year’s pruning incentive was my friend Pia who’d admired Debbie’s pink blossom and left with an armful of it – a clear case of mutual enhancement.

pia and debbie

Pia and 'Debbie'

The weather remains cool and unsettled which, in this instance, is perhaps a blessing. The colder the air the slower the expansion of leaves and flowers and, with a bit of luck, all those treasures I feared to miss out on, might still be in flower when I return to Shetland for Easter.

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The Ghosts of Seasons Past

 

It’s the time of year when the garden has something new to offer on an almost daily basis.

Rhododendron ‘Christmas Cheer’ is fully out now and dominates the northern end of the ‘Christo Border’ with its pinker than pink trusses.

R. Christmas Cheer

Rhododendron 'Christmas Cheer'

A great display, but not nearly as exciting as a first ever flowering. This year it’s Erythronium sibiricum. This charming little plant is more closely related to the European than the American trout lily species, and as the former don’t flower for me, I was delighted to find their Siberian relative in full, glorious bloom.

Sadly,  spring didn’t last. Sunday, the 27th was bitter cold and the gardeners were pelted with hail several times. Still, making the best of Anna’s all too rare gardening moods, mother and daughter set about giving the damp borders north of the pond a much needed make-over.

e.sib.group

Erythronium sibericum

e.sib. flr

the first fully open flower

     They are usually left until last, mainly because there’s no incentive to clear winter debris in a part of the garden completely devoid of new plant life and colour until the end of April.

   before 1         A lamentable state of affairs that cried out for an immediate change, and for once I did

before 2

winter debris

remember to take some “before” photographs to chronicle the transformation brought about in less than a day.

            First all the winter debris was cleared and carted away to be shredded, and all perennial weeds were removed – buttercups, creeping or otherwise, love the damp beds.

            There’s a large expanse of bare soil in this border by necessity. It marks the summer circumference of Gunnera tinctoria, not quite as expansive as the giant gunnera, but a close second and much more handsome in flower than its huge relative.

            Early spring bulbs manage to put out green shoots, flower, and complete their growing cycle just before the gunnera has expanded to its full girth. What an opportunity.

            And, as usual, the bulb frames south of the salad garden came up trumps. They hold a vast array of “rejects”, potted bulbs that didn’t come up to scratch, but have since – fed in spring, and kept bone-dry during the summer resting period – redeemed themselves. They are the ghosts of seasons past.

 Narcissus Tête-à-Tête, mentioned last week, was one of the ideal candidates. Combined with Chionodoxa forbesii and a sprinkling of Crocus tommasinianus ‘Purple Giant’ it has transformed the pond bed in a trice. And there’s much more to come. A large tray of Primula poissonii, a fabulous candelabra primula with wickedly dark, yellow-eyed purple flowers has found a home in the deep, damp soil, inter-planted with shallow-rooted Viola cornuta, the horned violet.

after 1

after

          My Shetland spade, a late Christmas present from Carl, our friend who helps look after Sparkle, our Shetland pony, came in handy for lifting and dividing the asters and astrantias in the pond border and its narrow blade was indispensible when it came to digging up three fat clumps of snakeshead  fritillaries in a very confined space.  

They revel in damp, even boggy soil but are, in my experience, one of the most difficult plants to establish from dry bulbs. Once growing, they increase rapidly and by far the most satisfactory way of spreading them around the garden is to lift a clump in March, or as soon as they announce their presence, gently shake off the soil and extract the individual bulbs for immediate re-planting.

            So, apart from the miniature daffodils, blue glory-of-the-snow, and purple crocus, the pond bed has an extensive planting of fritillaries and – for good measure – a few clumps of yellow Erythronium ‘Kondo’. What a difference a day makes…

after 2

what a diference a day makes

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Sex and the Country

Narcissus pseudonarcissus lobularis

Narcissus pseudonarcissus lobularis

Perhaps this week’s title should’ve been sex and the single frog. All of a sudden the western and southern pond margins have been turned into tapioca. There’s frog spawn as far as the eye can see – and – if one has the time and patience –  frogs mating amongst the tapioca. Lots of them. For reasons unbeknownst to me there seems to be a shortage of females this year – so as well as the customary twosomes, we have threesomes and the odd foursome.

heading for the pond

heading for the pond

I was rather concerned about the poor girls at the bottom of the pile. They seemed to be spending inordinate amounts of time under water for animals with lungs rather than gills. I needn’t have worried.  As it turns out, frogs can breathe through their skin.

At this time of year they come from near and far to mate and spawn at the pond and a few of them, I’m certain, become lunch or dinner for our heron or herons.

For all I know herons don’t breed in Shetland, but they seem to be around all the time, and for a while there were two who seemed to have some sort of “special relationship” – flying together and standing near each other motionless by the water’s edge, watching the fish cruising in the depth.

Saturday, 26th March was the first day of spring this year. There is not the slightest bit of doubt about it. The sun shone all day, set fiery and gloriously at 16.48, and tempted us into having our first al-fresco lunch in the garden.

“And suddenly it’s voar(spring)”, as they say in Shetland. The ground is drying up at long last, there are fresh new shoots everywhere and everything is burgeoning forth, especially the red ornamental rhubarb near the pond.

red ornamental rhubarb

red ornamental rhubarb

 A million jobs – put off from last year and the year before – need doing and I ask myself: “why didn’t I start on all this a month or two ago?” And the answer is: “A month or two ago wasn’t spring, that’s why.”

For the past half decade or so we have been blessed with a lot of self-sown trees – rowans, alders, willows, all sorts of wild roses, cotoneasters, and to a lesser extent, buddlejas, birches, elders, and hebes.

Sadly, none of these shrubs/trees managed to place themselves where they are wanted or needed and their removal/relocation had been discussed to the full last spring and the spring before last. And then, as happens in a garden, more pressing matters, such as the sowing of salads, took priority and the unwanted trees/shrubs remained in situ.

Not so this year. James has filled a wheelbarrow with wonderful specimens and has started planting them where they can expand and grow into perfection.

Suddenly there’s colour amongst winter’s drab debris – primroses are flowering: little purple ‘Wanda’, ‘Lady Greer’, a minute pale yellow polyanthus, ‘Quaker’s Bonnet’ a delightful lilac double, and all the Barnhaven polyanthus raised from seed two years ago. Their range of colours is bewitching, and I’m especially fond of the orange and red shades as well as the pastel blues.

Barnhaven Blues

Barnhaven Blues

. The winter flowering heathers look glorious, the oriental form of the marsh marigold, Caltha palustris var. alba has opened white, yellow-centred stars. Wild daffodils (Narcissus pseudonarcissus lobularis) hold sway in rough grass, and the indestructible little Narcissus ‘Tête-à-Tête’ looks great with the warm pink of Tulipa kaufmanniana ‘Jeantine’.

winter-flowering heather

winter-flowering heather

Chionodoxas seed themselves freely and have turned part of the South Border blue. There are two species in the garden, the rampant C. forbesii, and the less rampant and more intense blue C. sardensis. The wan, mauveish shade of  Chionodoxa ‘Pink Giant’ is a bit of an acquired taste, but works well as a solo performer for enhancing what would otherwise be bare stretches of green groundcover.

 The white form flowers freely but doesn’t set seed. Lovely as a contrast to blue primroses or as a contrast for my black hellebores, of which there are many.

All the hellebores are now fully out, including those elusive yellows. I now have three and treasure them. The doubles, planted last year, have bulked up nicely and are laden with frilled and spotted blooms.

double pink hellebore

double pink hellebore

I wish I had a high, sheltered bank where I could plant them all so I could see inside the flower without having to lie flat on my belly.

Hellebores, unlike some other doubles where the reproductive organs have been replaced by extra petals, are fully functioning, their anthers laden with pollen.

All seems as it should be. But something is missing. The garden is silent. There isn’t a single pollinating insect on the wing.

Sunset 26th March 2011

Sunset 26th March 2011

Our borrowed beehives have gone from three to none. The last one died out last year, due to a lack of new queens, and all those spring flowers flaunting their colourful petals will have to remain celibate for the time being.

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Spring Bulbs and the Gardener’s Psyche

It’s not at all unusual for winter to give an unsolicited December-style encore in March. In the past these late spells of frost and snow had me climbing the wall with frustration as they nearly always came hot on the heels of a first taste of spring and the gardener’s horticultural awakening.

temple in the snow

lighting a fire in the Temple

These days I welcome such late wintry spells by lighting the wood-burning stove in the Temple (our west-facing conservatory) and enjoying the intense light reflected off the snow as the garden turns white once more. There’s something wonderful about sitting next to a roaring fire, in the middle of a blizzard as it were, with snowflakes whirling all around me.

The snow flurries, hail showers and plummeting temperatures disrupted what I like doing best in March: planting spring bulbs.

snow melting fast

....snow melting fast

It’s the same every year. As soon as I’m convinced that winter is never going to end and my gardener’s sap will never rise again in this lifetime, the annual miracle happens.

The sun comes out and lures me into the garden. Just to have a look. Once there, the creativity neurons in my brain begin to fire up and there’s no going back. I’m out there from dawn to dusk.

Planting small spring bulbs such as crocus, muscari, iris, chionodoxas and anemones in March flies in the face of centuries of perceived bulb wisdom and decades of cultural instruction, but in my experience, there’s nothing like it for the visualisation-challenged like myself.

No matter how hard I try to imagine what they’re going to look like in full flower the following spring, and regardless of how carefully I choose their ideal neighbours, my autumnal combinations invariably produce more clangers and clashes than harmonies and contrasts.

snowdrops under larch, 20.3.11

snowdrops under the Japanese larch

Waiting until spring and planting those small bulbs when they’re in flower or on the verge of flowering means they go exactly where they look best. This brings instant gratification and does wonders for the starved gardener’s psyche after a long, bleak winter.

In order to indulge in this supreme pleasure one must put in a bit of preparatory work the previous autumn and containerise one’s bulbs. Between three and five in a seven or nine centimetre pot is just about right.

The late snow thawed almost as quickly as it had fallen, but it remains bitterly cold. My brother, ‘phoning from northern Bavaria, tells me the landscape is white with sloe blossom, sweet violets are flowering in the hedgerows, the first bees are on the wing, and the temperature is touching 17° Celsius.

That’s when I feel homesick and ask myself why I’m gardening on a freezing, wind-thrashed rock in the Atlantic.

pink hellebore b.y. 20.3.11

hellebores are opening their egg-shaped buds

Despite the biting cold and my spell of despondency, there are signs of spring everywhere. A second heron has appeared at the pond, and the first fish have come out of hiding.

All over the garden hellebores have opened their egg-shaped buds and the fat, grey catkins on the Alaskan willows have shed their protective husks.

alaxensis 20.3.11

Salix alaxensis catkins

The early heathers are in full splendid bloom, and swathes of nodding snowdrops carpet the ground underneath the old Japanese larch in the Kitchen Garden. On the Lime Bed three irises defy the weather and dominate the scene. Iris reticulata ‘Cantab’ in pure Cambridge blue  – as the name suggests, the reddish purple I. histrioides ‘George’, and – delicate as a butterfly’s wing  – I. histrioides ‘Katherine Hodgkin’, duck-egg blue with darker ink spots.

katherine hodgkin

Iris 'Katherine Hodgkin'

On the last day of winter a pair of Mallards settled briefly on the pond, paddled about for a bit and squawked a lot before flying off. This happens every March, and our neighbour Jimmy tells me the same pair nest in his yard each spring, but have yet to hatch a single duckling. Perhaps 2011 is going to be their year?

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Otters, Owls and Shooting Stars

This, I’m sure, has been the longest winter since I moved to the Shetland Islands half a lifetime ago. It’s also been one of those winters I remember only too well from the 1990s – months of gales and an endless cycle of hail, rain, sleet and drizzle; all coming out of a sky that is the dullest, darkest, suicide grey.

There was some real winter, crisp and white as snow fell in copious quantities last November, vertically, silently and over night; it rendered the drive impassable and kept us prisoners for days. The reflected light brightened the house and gave it an almost festive atmosphere. James (my husband) was in England, visiting his mother, who was moving into a nursing home. Anna (my daughter) and I lit roaring fires, fed the sheep and the birds and dragged every rug outside to be beaten in the snow.

snow nov-dec. 2010 043

taking all the rugs outside

In the mornings we melted blocks of vegetable fat in a large pan and stirred in anything suitable we could find on the larder shelves: nuts, seeds and dried fruit, porridge oats and out-of-date breakfast cereal. A feast for the birds – spread out at half past three in the afternoon, just before dusk and after the clouds of starlings that darkened the trees all day had flown off to roost.

On the third day of snow a hungry long-eared owl joined the blackbirds, robins, sparrows and chaffinches. For hours it sat motionless in one of the trees in the Round Garden. We put out some minced lamb, hoping that it would take up our offer of convenience food rather than swoop down on a small bird.

Weeks later I was startled by a soft thud on my study window. It was late morning, and as I looked up the wings of an owl spanned all but the whole window, their markings, beautiful subtle fawn and caramel banding, clearly visible. The male blackbird, held in the owl’s talons, looked me straight in the eye.

This early snow brought the promise of a white winter that, as it had done the previous year, would continue until the end of January or even into February, leaving the garden a white frozen wasteland and killing all but the smallest fish in the pond. At least that was the theory at the time. The fish, even those, like carp, with low oxygen requirements, suffocated under the ice.

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

the frozen pond

Since I had a strange encounter last August, I’m not so sure: A large ring in the water and a trail of air bubbles preceded the surfacing of a grey-brown back, followed by a glimpse of whiskered face. The young otter took one look at me, dived, reached the opposite side of the pond in seconds and vanished up the inflow pipe.

Last week, heading west to Bixter, I spotted a dark shape on the grass verge out of the corner of my eye. Fearing one of our cats had fallen victim to one of the cars racing through Tresta at breakneck speed day in and day out, I stopped and found a dead otter – one of three killed in the village this winter. Robert, our neighbour, believes that quite a few more are lost on the road every year, mostly young animals. I wonder if my pond visitor was amongst them?

garden, march 002

first crocuses

Three days “between weathers” were announced by a clear sky and a small shower of green shooting stars just before the last weekend in February. The sun, still glued to the southern horizon, warmed the gardener’s face and warmed the crocuses into opening their flowers.

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Introduction

 

This blog has had a lengthy gestation phase, longer than those of elephants and whales, but now it’s time to go into labour. First of all, a heart-felt welcome to my old faithfuls, who know what to expect from having read “In the Garden”, my long-running column in the Shetland Times, the Shetland Isles’ weekly paper.

For my new readers I’d like to say that The Impossible Garden refers to my garden at 60º North, its and the gardener’s agonies and ecstasies, its flora and fauna – including humans resident or migratory.

What started as a small patch of annuals outside my kitchen window in the 1970s has since fledged into two acres of shelterbelts, wetland, a pond, wild flower meadows, mixed borders, woodland, and alpine landscapes for lime as well as acid lovers.

raised beds in the kitchen garden

How it all started - Lea Gardens in 1977

Over the years about 1,500 species and cultivars from all over the world have found a home at Lea Gardens and now attract visitors from all over the world.

According to some, the garden with its cosmopolitan gathering of plants is an enchanting place, but it would be a smidgeon dull to spend all our time in it. We’ll venture out of the garden whenever we (my readers and I) please, and in good time you’ll be introduced to Lily, the supreme illustrator, the delightful Hilary, my favourite botanist, his less delightful colleague Dr.Noltie, as well as the illustrious Mr. Gentleman, mean and nasty High Maintenance Husband, the beautiful and talented Society Lady and their rather unusual ménage à trois.

late june from the east gate

The same view 30 years later

Now and again this blog will also be used for Lea Gardens news such as opening times, special events and new developments.

view from the hill

Lea Gardens, winter 2005

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