I’m writing not one but two children’s books at the moment, which is why I haven’t been blogging here much, but the good news is one of the books is completely and utterly garden focused: think SECRET GARDEN, but written for kids today. I was lucky enough to get an excellent literary agent last December, and since then I’ve been head-down working on revisions.
The garden is a continuous source of inspiration, especially since it’s 13 years old now and getting quite mature. Of all corners of the garden, this shady area with the maidenhair ferns and the wall fountain is the one that most sparks my imagination. I love the enchanted feeling of the startling green and the steadily-flowing water.
It is taken quite a bit of effort to get steadily flowing water. My husband helped me yank out this trough to find and patch the hole in the fiberglass; turns out this stone- effect trough is by no means as eternal as stone itself, but a stone version is unimaginably expensive. The leaky trough was a blessing for the ferns, though: they’ve doubled in size. (Note to self: water the ferns more.)
The ferns here are Adiantum pedatum (northern maidenhair fern on the left, with startling black stems), which I first saw in the garden in northern New York, and Adiantum venustum, the Himalayan maidenhair fern. I got the former from Burncoose Nurseries in Cornwall and the latter from the super-helpful Binny Plants in Scotland.
What’s the most enchanted corner of your garden?
There is no better month in the calendar than May. In my garden the lilacs, dusky parrot tulips, early alliums and herbaceous peonies all cavort with the aquilegias I never got around to weeding out (and I’m glad I didn’t).
In this episode of the podcast I’m sitting back and marveling at what this month does in the garden. All of the things I love best, including lilacs, rhododendrons and wonderful wisteria are at their fragrant, flowering peak.
Most of the tones in the garden are purples, with the occasional shot of Barbie pink from a herbaceous peony I’ve never managed to identify. If you’d like to come see for yourself, my garden here in East Lothian is open this Saturday 24 May from 10am-1pm, raising funds for research into an ultra-rare disease that affects a close family friend.
So in this podcast I’m also looking at some of the stunning plants donated for the “Rare Plants for Rare Disease Research” fundraiser. If you are within driving distance at all of Edinburgh, please visit us (postcode EH34 5DA if you’re traveling by GPS), and enjoy wonderful homemade cakes and teas, as well as a selection of plants from some of Britain’s best-known nurseries, many of whom just picked up medals at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2014.
All proceeds go to researching the causes and potential cure for neuracanthocytosis (NA), a neurodegenerative disease which affects just one in 7 million people: sadly one of those people is Alex, daughter of my very good friends in London. Please come on Saturday with a fat wallet and a full heart, and help us fund the research that can make such a difference to Alex.
Here are some of the plants I’m looking at in this episode:
- Rhododendron purple splendour
- Wisteria floribunda
- Allium Hollandicum Purple Sensation
- Tulipa Muriel
- Herbaceous pink peony – unknown name
- Narcissus Baby Moon
- White lilac
- Purple lilac Charles Joly
- Rambling rose Lykkefund
- Clematis Montana
- Geum montanum
- Aquilegia saximontana
- Geum Borisii
- Mertensia lanceolata
- Primula (alpine various)
- Scilla peruviana
Podcast: Play in new window | Download
The abundance of May slightly takes me by surprise every year. So much of the greenery that strikes my eye, from the herbaceous peonies to the delphiniums, was invisible in January, but now it is all part of the greenscape that makes the May garden seethe with life.
This week in the podcast I’m appreciating how well white flowering spring bulbs look up against all those greens, including the unusual white bluebells that grow in this garden, as well as leucojum (the summer snowflake). In this episode I’m also looking at a few new sponsors for my charity plant sale on 24 May – including David Austin Roses (donating a raffle prize of a cut roses bouquet), Macplants, and Binny Plants – and I’m giving a brief rundown on the water feature I’m planning in the corner of this small garden.
Do you have a water feature in your garden? I thought and dreamed about one for years, but I could never find components that wouldn’t look twee or cost a fortune. I have finally found a stone-effect trough that is convincing to my eye, along with a classy wall-mounted fountain spout from Haddonstone. I’ll keep you posted as and when I get it installed, if I figure out how to make all the pieces work together.
What are you doing in your garden this week?
Want to subscribe automatically to the podcast to hear it on your mobile device? Go to Stitcher and learn more about downloading the app.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download
Plant lovers and gardening addicts of Edinburgh and East Lothian, it’s time to do what you do best – pick up a fabulous plant for your garden. Come to my garden on 24 May in East Lothian, postcode EH34 5DA if you’re navigating by GPS, and support Rare Plants for Rare Disease Research.
This sale of familiar plants, alongside rare and unusual plants donated from some of Britain’s foremost nurseries, is a great way to spend a Saturday morning at the end of Chelsea week. All proceeds go to the Advocacy for Neuroacanthocytosis Patients, a charity started by my friends when their daughter was diagnosed with such a rare disease, they resolved to fund the search for a cure themselves.
We’re in Pencaitland, just a half hour’s drive from Edinburgh, and would love to see you if you can spare the time. More details in the flyer above — please share this with anyone you’re connected to, who might enjoy a lovely morning looking at lovely plants, and some fabulous home-made cakes from my wonderful neighbours.
Donations of plants have already been received with warmest thanks to Beth Chatto Gardens in Essex, Crug Farm Nursery of Wales, Sarah Raven, Kevock Garden Plants, Binny Plants, Winton House, Macplants and Frank Kirwan of Humbie Dean and organiser of East Lothian Garden Trail. We’re also holding a raffle for a luxurious cut roses bouquet from the stunning David Austin Roses.
Something amazing happened this past spring. I contacted nurseries to see if they could help with a little fundraiser I was organizing for rare disease research. They didn’t just respond, they fairly broke down my door to help, with more than 300 plants donated. If you’re thinking of getting gifts for the gardeners in your life, please consider giving your business to those nurseries who gave so generously to our cause this year. These are knowledgeable, well-stocked nurseries, many of whom sell unusual, covetable plants you won’t find just anywhere:
With the support of those who donated plants, we raised more than £1000 for research into an extremely rare neurodegenerative disease, neuroacanthocytosis. When my friends in London discovered some years ago that their youngest daughter was suffering from NA, they’d no idea she was one of just a few hundred known cases worldwide. Today the advocacy they established is one of the few steady sources of funding for researchers wanting to investigate this ultra-rare disease. Thanks in part to fundraisers like our Rare Plants for Rare Disease Research sale, advocacy-sponsored scientists have made major strides. Researchers have discovered that NA is caused because a vital, missing protein leads to brain cell death, which in turn creates severe movement disorders. Every penny devoted to research into this rare condition matters, which is why I can’t quite find the words to thank the generous nurseries — and of course the avid gardeners and kindly donors of home baking from our village — who supported us this year.
To the nurseries, thanks go to Lesley at Birchwood Plants, Mark at Otter Farm, Sue & Bleddyn at Crug Farm, Alissa at Sarah Raven, Stella & David at Kevock Garden Plants, Beth & Asa at Beth Chatto, Billy at Binny Plants, Beryl at Macplants, and Michael at David Austin Roses. Have a happy and healthy 2013!
Want those web addresses again? Sure, you do. Go buy!