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TheH (Hazel)'s Journal

TheH (Hazel)'s Journal August 2012

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31 August 2012 23:30:25

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When I was all angsty about my open day I got some words of wisdom from (I think) Periwinkle - Hedges and Edges! Once these were looked after the garden would look good. Since then, every time I trim either hedges or edges i am reminded of this wisdom!

I'm still in discussions over the damage to the front garden, so I'm concentrating all my efforts on the back areas and I am really enjoying getting things ship-shape. Yesterday was the turn of the Herbaceous Border, today I cut the grass around Colin's Tree and then spent the remainder of the afternoon making the edge as near to perfect as I could! I'm really happy with the result.

I have a few ideas about this area .... still trying to reduce the amount of grass .... but not sure what I'll do here yet. Unfortunately my purse doesn't always match my ideas so it may take a while .... but in the meantime it is all neat and tidy and I even wed the shrubbery. (think I must have spent too long in Carlow - I'm starting to talk like Scrubber :-D)



Home sweet Home

31 August 2012 00:14:05

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Having spent two days "on the road" with Elizabeth - yesterday with Scrubber and the day before at Heywood - I was really happy to spend the day at home today. The weather decided to be kind to me, so first I did a major dead-heading session - filled the small barrow several times! - the Sweet Peas are almost finished - I hate when they start to tail off - when some of the foliage goes a bit brown but there are still too many flowers to consider ditching the plants!

This afternoon I tackled the main Herbaceous Border beside the decking. It hadn't been touched since the big tidy-up before the Open Day so it was in real need of attention. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the soil in that bed is actually getting quite friable (thanks Peter or the big word!) and looks like real soil instead of the putty-like consistency of many other parts of the garden!

It's always interesting to work on that bed because there are quite a few self-seeders in it and I enjoy deciding where each new seedling will go - and trying not to discard too many of them!

I found something a bit strange and would welcome comments - there was a Campanula Poscharskyana that was quite a well-developed clump earlier in the year that was looking very sad. The whole centre of the clump had gone and there were just some small bits of folieage around the edge and even these had a purplish hue to the leaves. I dug it up to see if I could see what had happened it and found that the whole root was full of those small wriggly worms that are great in the compost heap - there must have been more than twenty of them in a ball of clay the size of a fist. I understand that worms only eat decaying matter so I wonder if the main rootball was actually decaying in the ground? i had a good look and couldn't see  any kind of grubs, slugs or other evil beasties in the soil so I'm concluding that it must simply have rotted because of the wet summer. 



Scrubber's Paradise

30 August 2012 00:47:17

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Today I headed off with Elizabeth  to finally see the legendary Scrubber's paradise. We followed his excellent directions right to the bridge over the legendary river. Did I say over the bridge? Well, between ourselves, he DID say his house was on the right-hand side .... Ok, so he meant the OTHER right-hand side!!!!

Anyway it was good to start the visit with a laugh! After delicious home-made scones and jam we set of to tour the garden. It is such a deceptive garden - from the entrance the first thing you notice is the amazing circle of pleached walnut trees but you are quickly distracted by borders jam packed with lots of different plants carefully chosen to complement each other. The next bit was the herb and veg garden sampling the herbs as we went. Now Peter and I share the same reservations about veg growing but he did have some pretty runner beans camouflaging a telegraph pole!!!

Then we came to the beautiful lawn overlooked by the cherubs and looking pristine! But of course, the bit I was really looking forward to was the famous SCRUB and I wasn't disappointed. I think I now understand his obsession with rocks. They are everywhere! Big ones, huge ones and really enormous ones! Most of them gently covered with moss, and with ferns of every description nestling in and around them. Everywhere you went there were little steps, winding paths. Lots of beautiful acid-loving plants all thriving in this magical garden. 

As we wandered under the canopy of mature trees we caught glimpses of strange creatures peering out from under stones - some covered with blankets of moss! I thik we would be still wandering around if the rain hadn't come down on us so we fled back to the house - and of course, Scrubber, gentleman that he is, escorted us under a large brolly back tot he car!

A wonderful day - thank you Peter, and of course Anna, for your hospitality and the delicious scones.

Drawing a line ......

28 August 2012 00:56:05

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.... under my recent escapades with the Bovine species. I spent the day sorting out a detailed report and estimate for the damage done and delivered it tonight so by now I'm even boring myself talking about it.

I am determined to look on this as an OPPORTUNITY instead of a disaster. I will have a largely blank canvas to work with so its time to get creative - particularly since I probably will have to wait for some of the plants to become available before the work can be completed.

So a big THANK YOU to all of you who have been so kind and supportive to me but from here on in, if I start whingeing again just shut me up!!!!!

Always look on the bright side ..... etc.!!!

Today I made two discoveries that I might not have made in other circumstances -

Firstly - Dunnes of Durrow have their annual Sale commencing on Saturday for the month of September - they usually have big reductions on trees and shrubs. Indeed, that is where I bought my Thuja conifers three years ago - reduced to half price!

Secondly - I discovered a new Garden Centre that I was unaware of - called "Tree World Garden Centre" it is in Timahoe near Stradbally and they are VERY reasonable with a selection of really healthy looking plants. They don't go in for all the non-plant stuff - just a pure Plant Centre - and they grow their own to a large extent. They have the 7ft Thujas that I need for €40 - will be lifted in September - compared with prices of €61, €79 and €100 I was quoted elsewhere!

So onwards and upwards ..... and I definitely feel a new project coming on .......

Just what the Doctor ordered!

25 August 2012 22:58:58

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Today I had the best cure for the upset I had yesterday (cattle invasion - see previous journal!)

I was in a most beautiful setting, Helen Dillon's garden, surounded by the most sympathetic and supportive friends I could wish for. Helen't garden is nothing short of inspirational, and she herself is a delight - wandering around among the garden visitors, answering our many questions and inspiring us with her enthusiasm for all plants from rare to commonplace. It is probably about 15 years since I visited that garden and I loved it as much today as I did then! Helen gave Elizabeth a slip of a particularly pretty Fuschia as sh mentioned that she was becoming enthused by fuschias this year!

After Helen Dillon's I dropped my sister Elizabeth home and we had a little stroll around her garden which is showing all the hard work she has been putting in getting it back in order after major building work on her house.

But most of all, the lovely day, the support of friends, and the beautiful garden all came together to help me feel so much better that when I got home I had the enthusiasm to go out and at least dead-head the sweet peas and pot up the little plants that Myrtle bestowed on me (to be shared with my sister, of course!) 

Morning shock!

24 August 2012 13:31:15

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I woke this morning to find several large cattle grazing along my hedge - no, not next door, in my garden!

I am terrified of cattle particularly large bullocks so I had to call on neighbours for help and after about an hour we got hold of the farmer who came and got them back through the hedge to where they belonged.

I am still in shock. They had a great time, grazing over both lawns, trampling through the woodland areas and sampling trees, shrubs, hedges and plants all over the front garden.

At this stage I can't even assess how much needs to be done to set it back to rights.

I'm just grateful they didn't get into the back as well.

And the irony of it all - on Wednesday the guys came and fitted the automatic closers on the gates  - and these F*?!!*$ break through the hedge. I just can't win.

Nature at work

23 August 2012 01:00:41
From the Internet

From the Internet

Today I decided to cut back that big stand of white daisies that gave me so much pleasure when they were at their prime. As I hacked away I came across a very large slug. I couldn't bring myself to actually kill the slimey creature so I just continued with the hacking. As I cut the last few stalks what did I see but a lovely big frog nestling in among the roots!

I don't often see frogs in my garden, so I watched him for a few minutes, expecting him to hop away but he just stayed put - doing an imitation of a stone :-)

I thought that if I moved away he would take courage and move off, so I went and got the wheelbarrow to clear up the cuttings.

When I came back, sure enough he had vanished - ans so had the big juicy slug. I LOVE my little froggie friend and hope he decides to stay in my garden! And of course I didn't have my camera so the picture is from the Internet!

Proper Visit

21 August 2012 23:04:28

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My friend Joan has been visiting for a couple of days, and for once I haven't taken advantage of her to get major garden work done :-) We have had a really relaxed time, sitting beside the stream and chatting, rambling around the garden and noticing how different the garden looks since her visit for the Open Day! We even took out the deck chairs and sat in the sun for a while!

Today we had a choice - mow the grass or visit Roscrea Castle (which she has never visited before) - and the grass lost out!

Roscrea Castle for those who don't know it, is a great tourist spot and has much more to it than the outside might suggest, so we soaked up all the history, and wore our legs to the knees with all the steps and stairs to explore!

At the end of all the historical stuf we wandered in to the lovely restored Walled Garden which is maturing nicely with lots of interesting plants in the borders.

One of the plants caught my eye and I would love to know what it is - I think it must be herbaceous as it has kind of bamboo-like red stems with those pretty pink flowers and leaves a bit like the Dogwood (Cornus Alba Siberica). Any suggestions?

Shredder in Lidl this week

20 August 2012 10:35:03
Shredding factory

Shredding factory

The shredder they have in Lidl this week is a great one for dealing with that pile of hedge trimmings we all dread - but I find it leaves the shredded stuff a bit too coarse for composting or for using directly as mulch. Lidl also do another shredder, slightly cheaper, which gives a much finer mulch but isn't so good for the branches.

I originally got the big one and this year I broke out and got the finer one. Now the shredding is a two stage operation but the second stage - putting the shredded stuff through the second shredder - is really easy and fast and gives great fine shreddings.


A day of many parts

20 August 2012 00:53:33

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Today started well - got a bit of shredding done, then Kevin came and sorted out the electric fence - Oh yes, the cattle are back in the field and they decided to lunch on my rosa Rugosa hedge - the photo shows it before lunch - after lunch it was down to the level of the fence you can just make out in the picture!

Hopefully they will get a nice little shock if they come for a repeat!

I was back at the shredding when I had a call from my son and we had a lovely video call wich little Cliona much more interested in her Grandma who lives in the computer! 

After that pleasant interlude i had a visit from my neighbour who is the most enthusiastic compost maker on the planet! She invited me to go see her new poly-tunnel. It is a really sturdy construction made by a local guy - he started making small ones as a hobby and now has people from all over the country looking for his tunnels! She has made a great start on it with some very healthy looking tomatoes and some spuds for Christmas! We did an exchange - some shreddings for some horse manure! And she threw in some potatoes for Christmas as well! Hope I have better luck than last time I tried!

Since the evening had brightened up I went out and did a bit of weeding in the small pond bed - the photo is a "before" one as it was nearly dark when I finished!

Really, so far August has provided quite a lot of reasonable weather, with plenty of days when the sun shines - even got a bit of sunburn yesterday - but I think we are so fed up with the poor weather in June and July that we are afraid to enjoy August!

Oh - And I've marked out the new bed borders and Kevin comes in about a week or so to help with the edgings! I love the anticipation of new beds ..... and the Nursery Beds still have lots of stuff "in waiting" so the planting will be fun!

Word of wisdom to those with daunting mountains of shredding - deciding to do an hour a day is much less daunting than deciding to finish the whole mound!



Look! No Grass!!!!!

18 August 2012 22:15:18

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Those of you who came to my Open Day in June probably noticed some pretty pathetic grass (definitely NOT lawn) down along by the Stream - although you were all far too polite to comment on it - and I did confide to Fran that it's days were numbered! Well, I have to confess to resorting to Roundup to kill o the dregs of the grass and as I have admitted before, I can be a bit short of patience .... so once the grass was looking pretty dead I couldn't wait to get planting! Being also a bit on the lazy side I didn't fancy digging over this rather horrid bit of ground so I am trying a new form of "lazy gardening" - just excaveting planting holes a good bit larger than the target plant, adding a nice mixture of manure & compost, planting and hoping for the best!

When i had finished it looked a bit of a mess with so much of the dead grass still visible so then I REALLY got lazy - I barrowed down a couple of loads of the recent shreddings and mulched over the whole lot! I am banking on my riendly worms to do the rest!!!! 

Anyway, I'm pleased with the results - apart from the bit of grass around the big Birch (Colin's Tree) - the back garden is now free of lawns and I am a big step closer to the original ambition to have a lawn-free garden!

Hopefully the plants won;t be too upset at my new planting technique - if it works out I may even start a trend :-) 

Fennel - Health Warning!!!!

17 August 2012 21:35:17

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Be very careful where you plant Fennel. It is a beautiful plant, reaching over 6 feet in height and having quite a spread too!

My beautiful Fennel was not so fortunate. Originally planted to camouflage the undignified end to the Stream feature, it performed this task admirably. When I decided to add a pond to the end of the stream we just hacked back the bottom of the fennel to make way for the pond. The Fennel didn't mind, it seemed to grow even bigger after the disturbance.

Today I had to cut back the fennel because so much of it was broken by the recent storm. When it was cut back I was pleasantly surprised to see that this opened up a new view of the pond - from the main path.

Now I know that it is nice to have surprises for people to find when they walk around the garden, but having to wrestle with vigorous Rosa Rugosa in order to see the pond at all is perhaps a surprise too many (LOL)

The only solution was to remove the fennel completely. That's why I say Fennel should have a Health Warning! It took nearly two hours to remove the root and I'm sure there are lots of bits left that will persecute me in the future popping up when least expected - another kind of surprise, I suppose!

Some of the roots were nearly a metre long!

So take note - Fennel comes with a Health Warning!

Road-widening completed

16 August 2012 18:28:00

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Ok, Jacinta, here's the finished "motorway" to the most sheltered seat in the garden! I changed the edging from bits of timber to stones and widened and straightened it in the process. Have to say I'm very happy with the result! If it ever stops raining Brendan might venture down to try it out!

Before the rain came down again I got quite a bit done down at that end of the garden. I positioned most of the plants for the extended bed and got almost half of them planted. I used some donated horse manure mixed with composted shreddings to add some goodness to the soil which is pretty poor. When the planting is complete I'll mulch it well with the latest lot of willow shreddings. Over time I'm hoping that the worms will do their magic and bring some improvement to the soil.

My greenhouse is suffering a bit from the heavy winds - it is glazed with plastic and although the frame is fine the plastic is showing some signs of damage. I'll have to decide if it needs remedial care before the REAL storms of the autumn!

The veg garden also suffered a bit - the bamboos supporting the netting over the beans snapped so I needed to take action. That bed also had some cabbage that were looking really good until the local slug and snail population discovered this new gourmet restaurant!!!! There were three heads untouched so I've picked them and will make a present to my neighbours - sadly, Brendan has taken a turn against cabbage and I can't be bothered cooking it just for me :-(

The good news was that there were lots of broadbeans ready for picking, and there should be enough peas for tomorrow!

I'm giving a lot of thought to the veg question at the moment - this year wasn't great, despite the lovely raised beds and the loads of manure used. I know it has been a difficult year weatherwise but I'm beginning to think that the work involved is not rewarded by the returns ....

Now what will I plant in those lovely raised beds ?????

Mutual Support

15 August 2012 22:09:43

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I think it's brilliant the way we are all really busy on the site when the weather is atrocious - offering help and encouragement to each other when the weather is doing its worst.

One thing we all learned after the two difficult winters of 2009 and 2010 - no matter how badly our beloved plants get damaged our gardens always seem to be able to recover and offer us some beautiful and sometimes accidental combinations of plants to lighten our hearts on the saddest days.

The storm will actually blow itself out - although it doesn't really feel like that just now - and for all the plants flattened by the wind there will be new sprouts appearing where we least expect them.

And then we will be so busy fixing up our gardens that we won't have time to do journals .....

New use for the Beds

15 August 2012 21:53:03

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I was totally devastated when I had to get rid of my lovely strawberry plants because of a virus so I just left their raised beds empty for the summer. Of course, the weeds took full advantage of this nice fertile soil and grew in great abundance. Every time I walked down that path the beds rebuked me - what was to do?

Well, on a weeding spree I pulled out all the weeds from these beds so at least they didn;t look quite so neglected. 

At the same time I was spraying off the area near the Stream Bed which is next on the list for planting up. To encourage myself I even moved the pots of plants from the "plants-in-waiting" area to their new locations so I could see how they would look. They looked happy enough in their new locations but I still needed to let the grass die off before the planting can happen.

That was when I had the brainwave - all those pots are now happily ensconced in the raised beds up to their elbows in soil so they don't dry out and protected from at least some of the wind by the shelter belt beside it!

Having seen how well this seems to be working I reckon this will be the new use for these raised beds - proper "Nursery Beds" - now if tha isn't posh ......

Coming along nicely

15 August 2012 13:57:30

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Last year I planted some bedding Dahlias and planted some in the beds, some in pots. The ones in pots were seriously overcrowded but they made a very colourful display. I decided to try overwintering them and was more than happy to get a total of 7 successful tubers for my new dahlia bed down near the new seating area at the stream.

They are a little smaller than the named varieties but they have made a really prettys display so I think I'll be lifting them again! The down-side of that new bed was that due to the appalling soil there I ended up putting an entire compost heap into the beds, which the Dahlias loved, but sadly my compost was VERY rich in annual weeds so it has been a pain to keep any way clear. My solution is to weed it again and then spread a really thick layer of the mulched willow on the bed. I tried this on the bed at the car park and it worked really well.

I think when the dahlias are lifted I might also try the tip of covering these beds with black polythene for the winter so they won't get too waterlogged.

One of the things I noticed about that new seating area - people seemed to be reluctant to use it, even though it is probably the most sheltered seat in the garden. I think the problem was that the new path was too narrow and being raised slightly wasn't really comfortable to walk on. So yesterday I got at it and widened it a bit, leveled it off and did away with the step up from the main path (no photo as it is raining cats and dogs here!)

However, here are some photos of the dahlias taken during the summer (Yesterday?)


Grass reduction

15 August 2012 01:06:42

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Cutting the grass in the front gardens I decided to mark out an extension to the beds by the simple process of marking the shape and mowing up to it. Next decision witll be what to use to edge the beds so that the mower can so the edging for me as it does around the paths.

The bed under the Birches is under consideration for a fernery - any advice from the ern experts? Would this area suit them? I thought I might hunt around for a few branches to make different levels in the bed. 

If it doesn't suit a fernery then it will be a spring bed with bluebells, Helebores, daffodils etc.

Suggestions please?

Now I've seen both gardens ....

09 August 2012 00:27:02

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Today I had the pleasure of visiting Myrtle's immaculate garden with Brendan and my sister Elizabeth. Jacinta has already given a good report on this delightful garden. It is a credit to Myrtle (and of course Ron also - hedges and lawns perfectly groomed!). When we have visitors to our gardens each visitor takes away their own impressions and ideas. For me, in Myrtle's garden I loved the great variety of plants, and the careful placing of plants so that they compliment each other in colour and texture. She has a lovely gentle way of guiding around her garden with great knowledge of her plants, each of which seems to be like a personal friend. She takes such care to give her plants what they need and they respond by giving her their best - any plant looking unhappy is noted for a move to a happier place - I think Myrtle's garden is a really happy garden and gives the impression that it all just "happens" with no suggestion of the many hours of work she must devote to it.

As if this magic garden wasn't enough, we were also treated to a lovely convivial lunch. It was great to meet Noel here also! And as we were chatting over lunch who came sailing in the gate but Jacinta, Liga, Nicky and Liam! This resulted in another round in the garden, this time Myrtle armed herself with a trug and trowel and proceeded to dig up loads of goodies for Elizabeth and me to share! She was so generous with her plants that we are both guaranteed lots of planting in the near future!

And as to the two gardens - Myrtle and Periwinkle fascinate me because they are twins with so much in common but each with their own personality. I recently visited Periwinkle's garden in Donegal, and today it was Myrtles. They both have that lovely way of linking plants to people in their lives - a grandmother, a friend, a sister! but the two gardens are so different in style and I believe they reflect the different personalities of the sisters. It has been an honour to be allowed to visit these two great gardens.

Thank you Myrtle and Ron for a lovely day.

Another job done

07 August 2012 23:35:50

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Didn't get out to the garden till after 3 this afternoon and actually stood in the yard trying to make up my mind what needed to be done .... not that there was any real shortage of things to do, just a problem with priorities!

In the end decided to do the job I like least and did the old spray job on the woodland paths - with any luck they will stay clear for the rest of the season. Next, since I was in "spray" mode I took the watering can and gave a bit of feed to my pathetic attempt at grass beside the Shrubbery. I don't know what was in the feed but the grass definitely looked a bit greener this evening .... (Ha Ha)

Then I did a little bit of weeding in the Car Park bed. There was a large clump of  Geranium Macrorhizum 'Albun' that has been lovely for the past few years but something happened it this year - I suspect that late frost was the culprit - anyway, it was almost killed outright but a few little shoots have started to grow again. Today i tidied it up. It was very strange. The rhizomes just broke off in chunks so i had to be careful that i didn't rip out the little bist of new growth as well.

Weeded the rest of the bed and was delighted to find buds or flowers on all the helebores in this bed!

.... and there was none of that wet stuff falling out of the skies today either !!!!


Busy getting things back in order

06 August 2012 21:18:43

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Saturday was such a changeable day but I was determined to tackle the mound of stuff to be shredded so I set the shredders up in the shed so the weather didn't matter! 

I got three loads of mulch done and then the sun came out! So I spent the rest of the day dead-heading and enjoying the lovely evening!

Sunday was a great day out in Terra Nova so today I was full of inspiration and plans ... but had to bring myself back to reality ...

 First job was to kill off the grass beside the Stream Beds in preparation for expansion of that bed and bringing me one step closer to the "no lawn" garden I originally wanted. There were a couple of light showers but I think it was dry enough for long enough for the Roundup to do its work.

Next it was weeding. The weeds were overtaking the plants in my "Inspiration Bed" - (the one full of lovely plants from my .ie friends! ) - so there was nothing for it but to get cracking on the weeding. I think I've mentioned before how much of an easy task it is to remove weeds from my difficult soil when there has been some rain, so I got through the task in fine style! Then it was up to the shed to bring down the shreddings - they had started to ferment and were really warm - however, I needed them as mulch so I mixed the whole lot up to dissipate the heat and then spread a generous layer over the bed. Happy with the result - although there are now dozens of sedum "green mantle" self-seeding in the bed! I pondered the dilemma for a while but eventually came down on the side of leaving them where they are - on the grounds that they will cover the ground in place of weeds :-)

I was really on a roll now - and it was only 5pm so I got the Sedum Bed weeded too before teatime! The sedum bed is getting very regular attention as I really want to get this bed to the stage where it will take little maintenance and already there are noticeably fewer weeds coming up, and the sedum plants are really taking off now.


Mixed feelings

06 August 2012 20:40:35

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I have really mixed feelings about these white daisies - They drive me nuts when they fall all over the place and flatten everything within a five foot radius! They have taken to self-seeding in my garden in interesting places but when they behave , well, there is nothing like them!

This lot didn't die back properly last winter and produced some very weird little flowers about April. They looked truly awful so I bit the bullet and gave them the Chelsea Chop! From now on all my daisies will get it if this is the result :-) 

Hickory Dickory - for Elizabeth

05 August 2012 23:43:01

Terra Nova - what a beautiful place!

05 August 2012 22:54:05

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Today was mine and Brendan's first visit to Terra Nova but I can promise that it will not be the last! Deborah and Martin have created a truly special place here and their warm welcome added to the enjoyment of the day for all - but the garden itself is the real star of the show. It is so full of wonderful planting, unusual combinations and interesting uses for the most mundane plants. I am totally inspired, particularly with the relaxed way that plants are allowed to blend together in a most natural way. Woodlands full of fairies that have a truly ancient feel to them, quirky paths and bridges, and ponds where you least expect them all linked by interesting paths and arches.

One thing that really struck me was how much effort they have put in to making the garden paths safe and accessible - I'm very concious of this because of Brendan's recent fall - it is something that garden designers often forget!

Sitting in the garden and chatting with friends added to the enjoyment, but looking at the photos posted by Fran and Hosta I'm afraid I only saw a fraction of it!

And then there was the Treasure Hunt .... unlike some people, I took this very seriously, and since I wasn't distracted by dirty tricks, county rivalry, etc. I just got on with the task and found ALL the clues (ok, so Deborah had to help me find the cat on the bed :-D ) and came away with a lovely prize!

I'll put up my few photos, but since they are only taken with my phone they are nowere near the standard of the rest .... but all serve as a reminder of the lovely time we had in a truly magical place.

Thank you Deborah and Martin for a great day!

Oh! - nearly forgot to mention the boot full of goodies - The rest of the .iers hadn't quite cleared out everything before I got there (LOL)


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