Showing posts with label Capel Moment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Capel Moment. Show all posts

22 Jan 2014

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday & GBFD

Stunning, isn't it!  I can say that without boasting as these plants aren't mine.  I'm blatantly taking advantage of Garden Bloggers' Foliage Day being hosted by Christina over at her blog to show you my Capel Moment from last week. I'd popped into the manor house walled garden to see if the irises were coming through (they weren't) and walked back past the greenhouses.  These coleus (correct me if I'm wrong), etc, were suddenly lit by a ray of sun, the colours so glowing I had to pop inside for a photo.  It's like autumn all over again and makes me (almost) wish I bothered with houseplants! 

14 Dec 2013

Capel Moments .. A winter's day

Dew-berries Capel
Surreal: so still that the droplets of thawed frost just hung there - not one of these fell!

The icy fingers of Jack Frost have not yet touched the veg patch garden so I was super excited on my drive up to Enfield yesterday to see frosted allotments at the side of the road as I knew this meant it would be proper frosty in the gardens at college, at least at the start of the day.  Crystallised plants have a novel beauty at the beginning of the winter and I wasn't disappointed.

Frosted rose.

Proper frosty. Frozen grasses.

By lunchtime, a light mist and perfect stillness hung over the grounds; so peaceful in the walled garden, it was hard to believe that the traffic of the M25 was zooming around the north perimeter of the college.  A pale winter's sun added to the ambience and made it a perfect day for a lunchtime walk. (That's when the berries were photographed.)  I thought that would be the end of my photo opportunities but by 4 pm, the end of the college day, one last treat lay in store - a low lying mist hovered a few feet off the ground at sunset. I just managed to grab a few shots with my iphone before dark settled. (And wished, not for the first time that day, that I'd thought to bring my proper camera with me!)

Field of mist

Back in the veg patch this morning, it's quite mild but nonetheless I've popped a cloche over a couple of the more tender herbs. I say 'cloche' - actually, it's an upturned clear plastic storage box which did the job perfectly through the last year's winter and ensured the vigorous survival of the French Tarragon, a herb widely known for keeling over in the bitter cold. Herbs that need protecting in my garden are lovage, blackcurrant sage (still with beautiful bright pink flowers!) and french tarragon.  All the others are tough as old boots and come back year on year without my help: fennel, mint, oregano, horseradish. Flat and curly leaved parsley, lemon thyme and sage are still going strong and being regularly used by me and my neighbours which encourages the plants to keep producing and stay healthy.

And the work goes on: I love being outdoors, particularly this week as I have a heavy cold and feel so much better for being outside! I'm gradually getting more raised beds built and filling them with spring plants and strawberries for now - white violas, polyanthus, saffron crocus and dianthus - all edible flowers that will have lettuce sown into the gaps in late spring.  And the next big push will be to decorate the garden a little bit to mark Christmas and the year end.  More next post.

Going home through evening mist.

22 Nov 2013

Capel Moments: Going, Going ....

We've had some really blustery and cold days this week, yesterday being one of them. I did wonder whether it was just too windy to be able to get any good photos at college this week and, frankly, with the skies being overcast, a Capel Moment was not looking promising.  I was happy to be indoors in the morning,  drawing up garden planting plans in the studio, as it was more than a bit chilly outside. When I looked out of the window at lunchtime, though,  the skies had cleared and fresh air beckoned.

I headed round to the walled garden by the manor house with an ulterior motive of collecting fallen 'quince' fruit from a Chaenomeles shrub but it's also useful to see what's still coping with the weather at this time of year.

There are, of course, masses of shrubs covered in plentiful berries but the veg beds have been cleared ready for spring with only a few leaves and some rhubarb under forcers in evidence.  The roses are still blooming (just) and I was very taken with this pink beauty, especially with all the abundant hips on the same bush.  I'm seeing rose petal and rosehip jelly when I look at this! (But will, of course, leave it for the birds.)

I wandered over to the north wall and saw Chinese Lanterns (Physalis alkekengi) with their bright orange skins turning to lace ...

Not long now before these are just bare twigs in the earth.

But, as a gardener, the moment that really caught my eye was the barrow piled with seasonal tools and boxes of bulbs waiting to be planted - the morning's work finished and the afternoon's work still to come.  I didn't see anyone else about so assume the gardener had nipped back into the warm indoors for a spot of lunch. It's a very comforting thought that as one season slips away, the next is being prepared for.  The work goes on. 

17 Nov 2013

A Capel Moment: Autumn gold

I don't want to jinx future Thursdays but I'm tempted to say that we've been very lucky with having dry weather on the day I go up to college!  It makes getting out for a walk round the grounds so much more pleasant - and, of course, the colours are more vivid for taking photos!

Being indoors more at this time of year really highlights the beauty of autumn when I can get out so I had two Capel moments this week.  On the way back to the design studio after lunch, the sun popped out momentarily to highlight the beech walk (actually, the trees may not be beech, I'll find out)  - I had to tell the others I'd catch them up as I whipped out my phone for this photo! (Yes, I do tend to lean to the right!)

Autumn afternoon

The second moment was during the ident walk.  Last year, without fail, the class went out every week for a 'plant ident walk'; this is a quick stroll around the grounds looking at and discussing that week's chosen eight plants.  Doesn't sound much, does it?  But by the end of the year, we knew - and, more importantly, could identify - over a hundred and forty plants.

This year, studying 'plants and planting' for Garden Design, the ident walks have been increased to learn ten new plants each week. I'm finding that many of these are old friends from last year but a few of my classmates studied elsewhere before so aren't so familiar with the Capel grounds. It makes me realise, yet again, how fortunate I am to study with access to 35 acres of planting. 

This week we were told there would be only eight plants to learn;  as our tutor put it "there's not a lot going on out there".  Excuse me?  How about this:

Autumn colour!

The gold leaves are an Acer palmatum 'Sango-kaku' - even without the red berries (and I have no  idea which leafless shrub they're growing on!) and the ceanothus flower, the Acer is stunning. Of course, it will all be over in a few weeks but Acers are very slow growing trees so for a small garden this would be ideal for a splash of autumn colour.

The above photo was modified slightly by Instagram, even so here's the tree in situ:

Like having a little bit of sunshine in your garden!

9 Nov 2013

A Capel Moment: Japanese Niwaki Pruning

Cloud pruning in Japanese Garden

There's so much autumn colour around this week but still, on my way to the library, my eye was drawn to the intense red of the Acer japonicum leaves against the red bridge in the Japanese garden.  Moving into the garden for a closer look (and photo!), I was struck by the intense concentration of the gardener carefully pruning and shaping the Juniper into neat layers with one handed shears.

Cloud pruning, as it's become known in the western world. This is when branches of a young tree are trained and cut to resemble cloud layers as it grows. In Japan, pruning (Niwaki) is to enhance the plant and work with nature, often echoing the shapes of the landscape - all traditional Japanese gardens have clipped shrubs or trees but they're not necessarily pruned in cloud layers. It's a style that lends itself very well to English gardens; in my mother's garden, I've pruned and clipped an extremely unruly Forest Flame (Pieris) bush in this style, as well as a Choisya ternata. It's a lovely thing to do and the results are stunning.

I stopped to watch and soon a conversation was struck up. The gardener had initially trained at Capel but then spent time over the years in Kyoto learning the art of Niwaki. In Japan, I was told, it takes years to learn the art of pruning and is taught by having a master gardener as a mentor. We talked a little about Jake Hobson who has mastered this art form and taken it on into 'Ornamental Topiary' to be used in English gardens.  At Capel, small trees in this particular garden are cloud pruned to enhance the Japanese ambience.  Elsewhere in the grounds, ornamental topiary has been used to shape a Cotoneaster lacteus  and Osmanthus x burkwoodii into a mushroom shape. Really eye catching and, of course, small semi-shade loving plants, eg Arum italicum, Geraniums and ferns, can be grown underneath.

But, cloud pruning aside, here's what really caught my eye: the juxtaposition of the brilliantly red Acer leaves next to the glaucous (blue/green) scale needles of the Juniper.  Even on a gloomy, grey skies kind of day, the colour in this planting combination was stunning!

Acer and Juniper

26 Oct 2013

A Capel Moment (2)

Maybe I'm more than a little in love with plants but every week during my college day, there comes a moment when I'm reaching for my camera.  These photos don't quite fit into my veg patch posts so I'm going to start a little regular Thursday or Friday post to show my Capel Moment.

This week, it was a hard choice between the crabapple tree at the top of the last post and this, the third year of the Miscanthus trial bed in the Which? gardens.  It has to be said that I'm a big fan of Piet Oudolf and his prairie style planting.

Miscanthus trial

Have a great weekend everyone!  There's a storm forecast for south of UK so I'll be spending time in the garden today, preparing beds for bulbs and beans and making sure all is secure. 
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