Monday, 29 February 2016

Day dreaming; Sissinghurst Castle.

Unfortunately, the picture above is not from my garden. It is a picture taken at the garden of Sissinghurst Castle; the garden of Vita Sackville-West, the English writer. Probably it is the most photographed garden of the world.

I visited Sissinghurst Castle some years ago. We arrived at the end of a beautiful summer’s day. Most visitors had already left. There was a serene atmosphere.

The garden is divided into garden rooms. High hedges and beautiful old garden walls are separating the sections from each other. The white garden is the most famous one. As you might have guessed, only white flowers and grey-leaved plants are planted in this section. At the time I arrive, the white rose in the middle of the garden is in full bloom. The evening light creates an unforgettable picture.

I walk through the garden in the evening sun. I am amazed how beautifully plants are combined together. I try to understand why the combinations in this garden work so much better than in my own garden. Hopefully I will be able to use some of the ideas.

In the end, I climb the tower. In a niche, behind an iron gate, the room in which Vita wrote her books and columns can be seen. On her desk is a small bouquet of flowers. It looks like if she just left for a moment.

From behind me an attendant climbs the stairs. With an old set of keys he opens the iron gate to Vita's room. "Is it open?" I ask surprised. "Sorry," he says, "I would love to, but they probably will kill me if I did."

Too bad, I would have loved to have a closer look. Daydreaming of writing my blogs over there......

Then again, better continue writing in my attic room. Because with a garden like that, I would never find the time to write something for you!

The white garden.

At the end of the day....

.... most visitors had left. 

Contrast, round and upwards growing plants.

I try to learn something of all these combinations.

From the tower .........

........ you can see the different garden rooms.

A more informal part of the garden. Huge roses!

The old buildings are a bonus.

To have a view like that. 

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Monday, 22 February 2016

Ordering roses makes me greedy.

Every gardener will have a wish list of plants they want to buy someday. Of course I have a special notebook for this purpose too. It's always in my bag when I visit gardens.

In this notebook I wrote down the name of a pink rose years ago. It is called ‘Scepter d'Isle’. It is a David Austin rose, so a disease-resistant rose with an old fashioned feel and a lovely scent can be expected.

However, I never bought the rose. There simply were too many other wished to be fulfilled in my notebook! Until recently Jocelyne, a French blogger with a beautiful rose garden, wrote about this rose. ( read here )Her pictures of this rose were mouth watering. That made me remember my note of ‘Scepter d'Isle'. Should I finally order this rose?

Without further hesitation I ordered 4 plants of 'Scepter d'Isle’. Overconfidently I also ordered 3 plants of 'Munstead Wood' a burgundy red rose. This rose has been at the top of my wish list for some years.

Once started ordering roses, you can hardly stop. It makes me very greedy!

After the roses arrived it was a bit of a puzzle to find a suitable place in the garden. It will be a challenge for these roses to grow, because there is hardly any space for them!

But as I visualise how beautiful it will be this summer; the more, the better. So in case of buying roses, I agree with Gordon Gekko:

Greed is good! *)

*) Famous line from the movie "Wall Street", starring Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko.

Note in my notebook.

Rosa Scepter d'Isle. Image internet

The roses have arrived!

Where to put those roses?

It is awfully crowded. 


They will be beautiful together...........

..... with the roses that already grow in my garden.

Planting roses.


Rosa Munstead Wood. Image internet

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Monday, 15 February 2016

Pruning climbing roses.

I wonder, why do I always look in my pruning book first before I start pruning the climbing roses? It is useless. The examples in the book look far from the roses that grow in my garden.

In that book, all roses sprout from the base. However, that is not what is happening in my garden. One thick stem rises 2 meters high from the ground up. At that point the rose forks into an enormous “wig” of branches.

Do I have to cut the rose at ground level, so that it will branch from there? Frankly, I don’t dare to do so. A year without roses is not an option to me!

After some hesitation, I put the book back on its shelf and fetch my pruning tools. I’ll simply have to “put my mind to zero”.

First I prune out the dead wood. Next I tie the branches that want to or can be bend to the rose arch with a piece of black electrical wire. - Tip: This electrical wire can be purchased at the hardware store. The black wire is inconspicuously and can be used for several years. - The branches that can’t be bend or protrude too much I simply cut off with the loppers.

Maybe you had expected a more sophisticated tip. But my roses bloom profusely every year, so they don’t seem to mind my brutal approach.

So if you want to prune your climbing roses: Cut off what you think is too much, bind the remaining solid to the rose arch and above all, don’t to think too much!

Rosa Mme Alfred Carriere.

My pruning instructions.

The rose Mme Alfred Carriere needs pruning!

Work in progress.

That looks promising for the summer.

The electric wire is very useful in the garden. 

From above. Everything is tied up.


The same spot. Rosa Mme. Alfred Carriere.

We have to be patient .......

..... to see the roses flowering again.

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Monday, 8 February 2016

A special encounter.

Last week I have been skiing. So no Garden story today. However, I would like to tell you about a special encounter.

In the corner of the chair lift, a small Austrian girl is sitting next to me. She looks like a rag doll in her bulky snowsuit. I hold my breath, because she easily could slip under the safety bracket. I have to skip that thought........

Suddenly the girl starts talking to me. She noticed we have the same brand of skis. That creates a bond. I tell her how I love the colour of her skis. They match perfectly with the rest of her ski outfit. Excitedly she tells me how she has chosen everything in pink and purple. Only the vest of her ski class detonates. That is in red and yellow. But obviously that has not been not chosen by herself.

She looks at me through her pink ski goggles. Then, out of the blue, she says, "Meine Eltern haben sich getrennt". Feverishly I search my memory. Getrennt? That is divorced!

Well, that is not nice, I say. And to fill the gap in the conversation, I ask: "Do you live with your father or your mother?” She lives with her mother, together with her sister, she tells me. She is on vacation with her mother now, but - if possible - she will go with her father too.

Suddenly she shows me her hand. Have you seen my mittens? she asks. Rabbits, with large ears, are depicted on her mittens. Look, she says as she turns her mitten. On the inside a root has been embroidered. Such cute mittens I would loved to have bought for my daughter I tell her. But nowadays my daughter is too old for that.

How old is she? she asks. I tell her, but she cannot cope with such a huge figure. I'm 5, well four and a half actually, she says. We have reached the end of the ski lift. She pops out of the chair lift and disappears among the other coloured ski suits of her ski class and I am left behind with all kinds of thoughts.

I admire her resilience. Last week she has been on my mind a lot.

Little girl, I wish you the best.