Planters Seminar 2014

Saturday 23 & Sunday 24 August 2014

 Group attending the National Trust Planters  Seminar at Mount Stewart on Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 August


Group attending the National Trust Planters Seminar at Mount Stewart on Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 August.

The seminar was booked out as there were three wonderful speakers, Fergus Garrett, Head Gardener at Great Dixter House, Alexis Datta, Head Gardener at Sissinghurst from 2004 to 2013 and Helen Dillon whose garden is open to the public in Dublin. Even after two days of lectures we could have stayed for more.

The seminar started off with a garden tour of the formal gardens with Neil Porteous, Head Gardener. He showed his new and lush plantings with increased height in the formal beds and talked about the new fernery and where the new rhododendrons are going to be planted.

Fergus spoke about ‘Good Planting and Designing with Plants – the Dixter Way’ and ‘Succession Planting for a Long Season’. We could have listened to him all day telling us how to make the eye work with contrast in a bed, the right plant in the right place, doing our homework, not having a ball and chain and doing what suited us individually in our own gardens.

 Speakers at the Seminar.  Alexis Datta, Fergus Garrett and Helen Dillon


Speakers at the Seminar – Alexis Datta, Fergus Garrett and Helen Dillon.

Alexis Datta, Head Gardener at Sissinghurst from 2004 to 2013 spoke about the history of the garden at Sissinghurst and about the plants in the White Garden with white, different greens, greys, and silver foliage against the dark yew hedge. She also spoke about ‘The Roses of Sissinghurst’. Who would have thought you could do so much with roses. She explained in detail how to tie roses on to ‘benders’  which were hazel twigs bent and stuck into the ground. The roses were tied on to the benders to form a dome shaped rose bush. She had amazing slides of hundreds of roses.

Helen Dillon’s garden in Dublin is open to the public and her theme was ‘In a Dublin Garden – 40 years of reinvention’ and ‘Keeping the Show on the Road’. She spoke very informatively, lovingly and amusingly about her plants in her garden. She uses instant plants in pots to keep colour in the garden. I have been to see her garden in Dublin and she seems to have some of every plant ever grown. I think she loves each and every one of them.

A delicious lunch was organised on Sunday by the restaurant staff, so thanks to them for pulling out all the stops. It was a wonderful seminar and we are already getting excited about next year.

Jill

Cobbles galore!

Wednesday 6 August 2014

This club on the Terrace has been finished (see Diary 9 July). Dean and Jonathan, the experts who have been working on the cobbles, decided to lay half of them in a loose setting and half in a tight setting to marry in with all the other designs on the Terrace. It was a pleasure to watch them working in unison, taking it in turns to lay a cobble in lime and damp sand and ease it in with a rubber hammer. Very precise and intricate work.

They are now working on the rest of the Terrace. A joy to watch, I wonder if they need a volunteer assistant.

Jill

Getting crafty in the gardens

Wednesday 30 July 2014

 Mythical Beast - Sally Houston, Sculptor and Mosaic Artist. This was inspired by other mythical animals around the gardens in Mount Stewart. It is made from insulating foam with a cement layer around it and covered with ceramic tiles and iridescent glass tiles. It can be seen on the wall between the Italian Garden and the Lily Wood.


Mythical Beast – Sally Houston, Sculptor and Mosaic Artist.This was inspired by other mythical animals around the gardens in Mount Stewart. It is made from insulating foam with a cement layer around it and covered with ceramic tiles and iridescent glass tiles. It can be seen on the wall between the Italian Garden and the Lily Wood. 

This is part of Creative Peninsula 2014, organised by Ards Arts and runs for the month of August in different venues. It includes exhibitions, workshops and open studios. There will be 13 exhibits at Mount Stewart, all the pieces, except for Sally’s, are around the Lake Walk. Some of them are for sale, details and map are available at Reception.

Jill

Cobbling something together

Wednesday 9 July 2014

Dean Rogers and Jonathan Millar sorting cobbles. (c) Jill Russell

Dean Rogers and Jonathan Millar sorting cobbles

The cobbles have been lifted from their position on the terrace at the back of the house.   Dean and Jonathan, experts who have been working with cobbles for 10 years in churches and gardens, have been cleaning the cobbles and discarding the badly worn and marked ones. The perfect ones will be re-laid in lime and damp sand. The design hasn’t been decided yet as there are many ways of laying them, but they hope to get started on it tomorrow. I would love to go and watch them being laid but if I think like this I would have to go and live there as there is always something interesting going on.

Cobbles

Jill

Beauty in nature

Wednesday 25 June 2014

 Cobweb with drops of water shining in the sun. Thanks to Olive for spotting this, she finds beauty in everything at Mount Stewart.


Cobweb with drops of water shining in the sun. Thanks to Olive for spotting this, she finds beauty in everything at Mount Stewart.

Some days it’s about just looking at the beauty of the amazing plants and the wildlife that live within them. You might have your feet squidging around in mud from the rain and your arms wet up to your elbows from the summer showers – and then your co-volunteer (that’s you Olive) gives you a poke and says ‘would you look at that cobweb…how about that for your diary’. And the digging stops for a bit while we all look at the mind boggling structures and patterns created by a titchy little 8 legged creature hiding somewhere among the foliage. Then it was back to edging and weeding around the beds in the Sunk Garden.

Jill

Welcome to our new recruit, Rachael!

Wednesday 11 June 2014

 Rachael Martin


Rachael Martin

Rachael is one of two new gardeners appointed to Mount Stewart. This is a complete career change for her. She worked in health service administration for 10 years, then got her own house and was completely smitten with the garden and gardening. She went to CAFRE (College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise) in 2010 for a three-year course, studying one day a week while keeping on her original job. Did volunteering work with Belfast City Council and Parks Department at Belfast Castle. Succeeded in getting a placement with Historic and Botanic Garden Bursary Scheme, 6 months with Mount Stewart and 6 months with Rowallane. Then she applied successfully for a permanent position as Gardener with Mount Stewart. Her area of responsibility is the Lily Wood. She believes this was all meant to be as her favourite flower is the lily, as was her mother’s and she has a tattoo of a lily on her shoulder.

Happy days for Rachael. We had our first day working with her today. A joy to work with.

Jill

It’s raining, it’s pouring – but a glorious day at Mount Stewart!

Wednesday 28 May 2014

 Paeonia ‘Souvenir de Maxime Cornu’ in the Spanish Garden. Do look for it, it is a stunner.


Paeonia ‘Souvenir de Maxime Cornu’ in the Spanish Garden. Do look for it, it is a stunner.

It took two of us all day to remove hundreds of white Tulip Mount Tacoma from all the pots in the Shamrock Garden, the Dodo Terrace, Reception area, Mairi Garden, Spanish Garden and under the pergola in the Sunk Garden. They have been an amazing sight, pure white, but they are over so quickly. I wonder what will be put in the pots for the summer, I hope we will be planting them up. Lots of work done in the Sunk Garden under the pergolas, the usual weeding and cutting down flower heads that have gone over. The orange Azaleas are in full flower, always getting comments from the visitors.

Warm sunny day, raining in Belfast, so Mount Stewart was the place to be.

Jill