Travelogue : Lost and Found

Welcome to the Lost Gardens of Heligan. It is another garden in restoration that makes you wonder how could an estate of that magnitude disappear into rubble? Money, time, loss of family traditions, a world war-in this case it was all of the above.

 Hell eee gan, not misspelled, but more an attempt to phonetically write how our charming garden docent Graham told us it was pronounced. The emphasis, to correctly say it, is on the middle syllable. I shall always remember him politely chiding us, but I will probably forever say it wrong.

IMG_2125 poppy heligan names
A field of Flanders poppies (Papaver rhoeas)  on the West Lawn framing a breathtaking view  to the Cornish countryside in the distance.
Welcome to the Lost Gardens of Heligan. It is another garden in restoration that makes you wonder;  how could an estate of that magnitude disappear into rubble? Money, time, loss of family traditions, a world war and a hurricane-in this case,  it was all of the above.

Then a machete wielding man started hacking away at the tangled mess. His brain started thinking restoration. So began the adventure of Sir Tim Smit. Reading stories you will find most thinking him part visionary, part insane, and actually part rock and roll.  He is as much a marketer and PR master as a passionate garden creator:  “If you truly believe in something and you can get three others to believe in it too, it will happen. If you love something, provided you’re not a freak, they’ll be millions of others that love it too. Then, the only remaining issue is a marketing one”. He has added billions to the Cornwall tourist economy by creating two gardens that visitors flock to by the thousands. Heligan was one of the first projects that brought him into the gardening limelight. Eden was the other.

heligan stone
Glimpses of old stone throughout the gardens reveal its past

heligan veg
The true gardens of Heligan were the productive ones. The Kitchen Garden, The Melon Yard and the Flower Garden.

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A private retreat in the Italian garden built in 1906

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An iconic shot of  one of the features of Heligan. The Mud Maiden along the path of the Woodland walk

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A turn towards New Zealand (the portion of the garden, not the country!)
IMG_2178dove cote

Next travelogue:
If these walls could talk: Castles in ruins and beloved restoration

Travelogue: June in the UK

This first travelogue post is photos of those heavenly fragrant English roses all over Wales and England. It does seem unfair to give you a look, but not a smell of how a rose in Britain on a warm day in June fills the air with perfume.

Many have asked how my trip was and sometimes I feel speechless because I can’t put it into quick, casual conversation. And if you know me, you know I love talking about gardens.  It was many words from travel over 1700 miles on a coach zigzagging across the countryside of Wales, Cornwall and the Cotswolds.

Come along with me for an exploration of gardens of Wales and England, not in the chronological order of travel sense,  but the things that inspired me to write something along the way.

IMG_7924 heathrow lavenderMust start here…
Arrival Heathrow, UGH! You know that place where people who are grumpy from flying get pushed into the dungeon of this mega airport to get their passports checked. Emerging into daylight, the swath of English lavender blooming reminded me where I had just landed. The aromatic journey begins.

English Roses
In my gardening realm, all I hear is roses are too hard to take care of and disease”y”, aphid magnets. I tend to agree unless they are the tough ol’ Rugosas. I have moved into a new place recently and there are a few old rose bushes (not Rugosa!) that are fabulous and now after this trip I have fallen in love with growing roses again.

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casting shadows on the walls of Kiftsgate manor

The “Kiftsgate” rose at Kiftsgate Manor was not in bloom as we had hoped. It was just its rampant, huge tangle of crazy that I remember from a visit in 2005, but as we walked through gardens over the next few weeks, it seemed like every other rose in the UK was blooming! Everywhere, scrambling up walls and in the middle of mixed borders, mixing and mingling all over the place.
So this first travelogue are some photos of those heavenly fragrant English roses all over Wales and England. It does seem unfair to give you a look, but not a smell of how a rose in Britain on a warm day in June fills the air with perfume.

 

 

 

IMG_3781 thalictrum at sissinghurst
A sweet tango with Thalictrum

 

 

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Roses and hedges, so very Sissinghurst

 

rose collage again
Kiftsgate, Sissinghurst, Aberglasney, Veddw, Heligan, Eden

Join me on my blog for more photos and musings from my trip.

This trip was one of those I looked forward to and panicked as well, it is one of the busiest times of year for my landscape design business but a chance to visit and study gardens and the renovation of properties lost in the past to ruins. Two places were on my bucket list and we saw so many more that I never knew should have been on my list.

Next travelogue post: Check marks on my bucket list

Intervention

linden at UGCThe fumes of hundreds of buses and cars fill the hazy air. The fine, sandy grit of the asphalt breaking away with every passing tire, swirls around the ground. Along the front of my studio we extend an invitation to nature by planting a mix of plants in carved out spaces of the concrete sidewalk. Daily it is a hum of bees, hummingbirds and birds flitting in an out. On our gritty urban street in downtown Tacoma, nature just happens.

There are also Linden trees (Tilia) planted in holes along the curb with their base encased by a heavy metal grate. The Lindens are there to perform as their nondescript name of “street trees.” Most would only know them by the shade they cast over a car on a hot summer day. Taking time, over the past weeks to look closer, the trees are shimmering with the sticky goo of aphids. Most of the leaves are a glossed over mess as the debris of the urban street sticks to them.
But something happens this time of year as it always does-the ladybugs come to the rescue.
Right now the two trees are filled with ladybugs in all stages of life, from the sweet little speckled girls to the odd-looking larvae. The lindens have attracted a feast for them. Ladybugs (and their young) are voracious eaters of aphids and will lay their eggs where aphids are abundant so that the hatching larvae will have a good source of food. This is all a real sense of how nature is when allowed to just do and be the amazing nurturer of itself. The disruption is more our human touch applying chemicals and concoctions to stop what we don’t want to see, in this case the sticky aphid remnants. But in our little corner of the world, in unforgiving conditions not known to be a garden, we don’t intervene-we invite. Sometimes, it just takes patience to  let nature intercede.

Spider webs…nature’s alert tones!

spiderwebGarden folklore says that if spiders weave abundant webs it is the precursor to a rough winter. I am not sure about the webs the spiders have created in your garden, but mine are mesmerizing. The spiders have been very noticeable and obviously up to something. Call it folklore; but there is a scientific term “Phenology” which is the study of the relationship between climate and periodic biological phenomena like spiders weaving their webs shorter during an approaching storm or thicker in preparation for a rough winter.  The flowering period of plants, bird migration, insect hatching, behaviors, and hibernation are all phenological events.

Gardeners and farmers have used phenology since they began to cultivate earth. They simply used intuition and observation to learn the connection to nature for successful growing and harvesting. The reasoning is valid, because you cannot always rely on the calendar. A cold wet spring may delay planting and blooming, a warm winter period fools bulbs into emerging. Watching natural behavior instead of the calendar for garden activities and weather forecasting brings out the phenologist in all of us.

As fall has ushered in the colors of the leaves deepen and the days grow shorter, a common question is with such a crazy hot/cold

summer, what will winter bring. Does nature really know the secret?

 Interesting lore and facts on how nature signals the seasons:

-If the foliage on the trees is thick and hangs on late in the fall, it is going to be a hard winter. The reasoning is- the heavier foliage creates thicker ground cover, which in turn protects larva and other organisms below the soil.

-If fur on animals (such as squirrels, rabbits, deer, fox, and bear — or even domestic fur-bearing animals, if they stay outside all the time) is thick, it is going to be a hard winter.

-It is said that horses spook more easily around Halloween. It is not eerie, but more a sign of fall in full swing.  Daylight hours lessen and shadows shift and move differently as the sun lowers in the sky. They cast longer shadows across pathways and wind rattles dried fallen leaves making a shift in natural sounds; causing a reason to spook or feel unsettled.

-Clear moon, means frost soon. When the night sky is clear the earth’s surface cools rapidly because there is no cloud cover to hold the heat. If the night is clear enough to see the moon, then the temperatures will drop.

-Wasps building nests in exposed places indicate a dry season, when they build nests near the ground a harsh winter is expected.

The interesting part of the spider theory in this year’s garden; forecasters are telling we will have a snowy, wet winter with temperatures below normal.  Hmmm…spiders or forecasters… only time will tell.

Falling

Daylight hours begin to slip away hardly noticed,
The days are warm and sunny while nights have a season changing chill,
There is a feel to the air as the breeze blows through an open window,
The signs are here that we are falling into another season.

 


Autumn has two faces.

One side shows a fire of colors that weave through the hillside and the garden naturally senses that it is time to slow down. Gardeners are ready for the slower pace too.

The other side of fall is looking forward to the renewal of next spring. Bulbs are planted and compost is topped in empty planting spaces to nourish growth for the return of longer days. Fresh toppings of compost cover soil that worked hard over the summer.

 
Inspirations for the fall garden
Cool garden tasks
The time is now to accomplish postponed jobs.  Dig out under achievers in the garden and be a bit ruthless if needed. Replace them with those impulse plants purchases sitting by the potting bench awaiting a home.

Get limey to be less sour
In history, it is said that farmers literally tasted the soil. They described soil as “sour” when the pH is too low, “bitter” when the pH is too high and “sweet” when the pH is “just right” for good crop growth. Hmmm, I’ll take a soil test instead. Fall is a good time to add lime to lawn areas. Lime will improve the availability of essential plant nutrients as the PH is adjusted a bit sweeter.

Bulbs, bulbs and more bulbs
Plant spring-flowering bulbs in abundance to make a statement. Daffodils and tulips selectively chosen for dramatic color blends or in monochromatic plantings scream for attention. Never buy just a small bag of bulbs for planting think of it like an abundant flower bouquet. If you aren’t willing to plant 50 to 100 bulbs in a cluster, then don’t bother, unless they are specialty bulbs like lilies.

 

Love those hips
Roses that produce lovely hips look especially jewel-like in the fall. Rugosa roses like the varieties ‘Hansa’ and ‘Buffalo Gal’ have large round hips.The blue-leaved rose, Rosa glauca (Rosa rubrifolia) is not known for exceptional flowers but the rose hips more than make up for them. The large arching branches (up to 8 feet) on this plant hang lower late in the season from the abundance. The hips cling on through the winter.

Gather for the future
Collect seeds from annual flowers. Look for the Papery bracts and pods of poppies, cosmos, Bachelor buttons, marigolds and Love in a mist (Nigella).

Enjoy the slower pace of the fall to catch up and breathe in the sweet autumn air..