What’s that in the tree?

Wednesday 17 September 2014

 Stuart trimming one of the bay trees at the Sunk Garden


Stuart trimming one of the bay trees at the Sunk Garden

Stuart and Jason have just finished trimming the six bay trees on the Terrace. They had been on a 3-day topiary training course at Cliveden, a National Trust property in England and their training showed in the perfect shapes of the bays, not a leaf out of place. One of the older retired gardeners, Joe Hamilton, remembers when he used to trim these bays in the days before the long handled shears and the scaffolding. He used to throw himself over the top and lie flat on his front and clip the curve going downwards. Obviously health and safety wasn’t heard of then.

We were doing the last tidy up of the season in the Sunk Garden. Dahlias and salvias lasting longer than usual without rain and wind to batter them down so everything still looks very good.

Jill

We should know better!

Wednesday 10 September 2014

 I love this photograph. It sums up the fun, work energy, comradeship and sheer enjoyment of our job. The person without the uniform is our new recruit Elva, looking ready for anything. Welcome to the Wednesday team, Elva.


I love this photograph. It sums up the fun, work energy, comradeship and sheer enjoyment of our job. The person without the uniform is our new recruit Elva, looking ready for anything. Welcome to the Wednesday team, Elva.

The job today was to tidy up the East and West Terraces, the two long beds in the Italian Garden. We looked at the beds and thought this will be a doddle, we’ll be finished in time for elevenses and a bit of a sit down. We should be wiser at this stage. By the time we had finished dealing with Kniphofia, Alstroemeria, Salvias, Lobelia tupa, Verbena Bonariensis, Penstemon, Diascia, Asters and the weeds it was nearly three o’clock. Very long beds.

The East bed reflects the colours of the rising sun and the deeper reds and purples of the setting sun are seen in the West bed. All the beds in the Italian Garden are looking spectacular at the minute.

Jill

Toasty and warm

Wednesday 3 September 2014

 Alan is in there somewhere, honestly, working the steriliser.


Alan is in there somewhere, honestly, working the steriliser

Seeds from the Atherosperma moschatum (Australian sassafras, 20 ft. x 10ft.) in the Shamrock Garden had been collected and sown this spring. These were pricked out into our normal compost but due to yellowing of the leaves Alan decided to repot them into sterilised soil based compost which we make on site. So we re-potted about 150 of these little plants into this lovely warm soil, you can just tell they are going to thrive.

 Wilf and Michael hard at work in the nursery


Wilf and Michael hard at work in the nursery

Jill

Look a little closer

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Zauschneria californica Glasnevin (c) Jill Russell

After Fergus Garrett’s talk at the seminar last weekend we had a more careful look at the combinations of colour in Mount Stewart. There is a delightful example in a small bed on the corner of the pergola at the Sunk Garden and the Lily Wood. The orange Zauschneria californica Glasnevin beautifully picks out the orange tips on the leaves of the green aeonium. The orange of the taller Alansoa ‘The Rebel’ (behind the aeonium) brings the eye upwards towards the orange of the Cuphea at the back. There are spikes, rounds, colours and shapes to bring the eye around the bed.

This nerdy eye swiveling wasn’t all we did today in the Lily Wood. Six of us did a summer clear out of about five beds, dead heading, cutting back, weeding and general tarting up. This is a perfect day to be working in the Lily Wood, sunny, warm with a strong breeze to dry out the usual damp wet grass and lunch sitting in the sun. What a job we have.

Jill

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