The Orange Tip

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Tag: gardener

Evening gardening in Central London

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Early evening very much the best time of day – and the best kind of light – to enjoy the Museum’s front gardens. Particularly the woodland bed, designed by Dan Pearson Studio,  where in spring Narcissus runs alongside sulphuric epimedium and bright white Ipheion ‘Alberto Castillo’, borrowing the haze above the Thames for a backdrop.

Caught By The River

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The good people at Caught By The River wrote a lovely review of my journal, Ivy Cities. You can read it here: Review: Ivy Cities

The journal has had a limited print-run, and copies are available for purchase here.

Caught By The River is a wonderful blog that chronicles the many wonders, challenges and surprises of the natural world.

Terrarium

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Always wanted to make one of these..finally got round to it. I went for: coir on top of lava rock, planted with Fittonia albivenis, Orbea variegata, one Davallia fern and some spanish moss.

Photo by Roo Lewis.

New Orange Tip Podcast: Peter Cross

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I went to meet the illustrator of a much-loved and treasured book from my childhood, Peter Cross. Peter’s drawings capture the back-garden, natural-world with exquisite, precise and entertaining botanical detail. During my recent correspondence with him, Peter noted that his garden was in fact his greatest work, and kindly agreed to discuss both his artwork and his outdoor-influences with me at his home in Surrey. From the perspective of both gardener and nature enthusiast, it was a great privalige to meet the man behind this unique book.

You can hear this short podcast on my ‘Listen’ page: Listen

Working in the Wood

Wintering-snail in a fissure of a robina trunk

Wintering-snail in a fissure of a robina trunk

Back in the woods again. The paths have held quite well, edged with the fallen or cut branches from last year’s tree work. Although the boundaried areas of copse have subsequently been afforded uninhibited (and un-trampled) freedom of growth, it is now necessary to clear back the bramble before it has a chance to take over.

South path of the wood, lined with sycamore boughs

South path of the wood, lined with sycamore boughs

Splitting our little wood up into five sections, I’ve been slowly digging up the thorny blanket by the roots and amassing them at the centre of the copse, ready for a bonfire next week.

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Bramble pile for burning

Bramble pile for burning

As with the work last winter, I’ve loved spending a solid block of time devoted to this section of the garden; probably my favourite place to be at this time of year. The birds in the canopy are a hive of constant activity, preparing new nests and scoping out material with which to construct them. On the copse floor, flowers of snowdrop and winter aconite are now in full flower, lighting up the ground as beacons for awakening bumble bees.

Snowdrops in flower (

Snowdrops in flower (Galanthus nivalis)

Winter Aconite (Eranthus hymalis)

Winter Aconite (Eranthus hymalis)

Arum leaves under large English oak

Arum leaves under large English oak

One plant I’ve always ensured gets a good footing in the wood is burdock. Around four years ago I found a small clump, having presumably made its way over the park wall via wind or wing (or more likely, attached to a squirrel), in full spread beside one of our ash trees. Ever fond of its shrub-like form and broad, rhubarb-esque leaves, I’ve made sure each year to gather and redistribute the seed, collecting directly from the dried heads that remain at the top of dead stems over winter. Taking note of the plant’s edible qualities from the wildflower bible that is Richard Mabey’s, Flora Britannica, I even once dug up some of the burdock’s roots and had a go at stir frying them. Nothing special..I’m not going to lie. Flora Britannica is very much a book worth having to prop up anyone’s interest in the history of our British wild flowers though.

Burdock seed heads (Arctium sp.)

Burdock seed heads (Arctium minus)

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Burdock seeds released

Burdock seeds released from capsule

'Flora Britannica', by renowned nature-writer, Richard Mabey

Flora Britannica by renowned nature-writer, Richard Mabey

Throwing Back To The Summer

DahliasA few images taken with my dad’s old canon AE-1 film camera back in September. Thoughts of the year to come and possible changes to the cutting garden.
Dahlias 2DahliasGeranium and aggeranthemums

Collected Runners

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Handful of borlotti & ‘Red Rum’ runner beans collected before pulling up the shoots and frames. Stunning colours.

Loosestrife

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Lythrum salicaria: it’s invasive and destructive, pushes out uk-indigenous watercourse and riverbank plants and takes their place, but seeing the little islands at London’s wetlands in Barnes, each surrounded by a ring of the thick, waving purple stuff, I couldn’t help thinking, ‘I want that, that looks good.’

So two years ago I bought a packet of seed and sowed a pinch-full (the seeds are minute like poppy) in the greenhouse. Pretty well all of the sowings germinated, and about 8 found their way to being potted on and growing to fill 1 litre pots the following year. The little plants were then dug, admittedly somewhat unwisely, into the already-dense pond periphery and left to fend for themselves. By their third summer therefore, given the much-hyped vigour attached to their infamous character, I hoped to find them not just surviving the winter, but displaying a majority-rule, unrivalled by any other water-fringe species circling the pond. To my dismay only one plant remained.

Following a long, warm summer, the Thames footpath in Richmond is now swamped in loosestrife seed heads. I stopped along my commute to collect some, and the pods are now drying in the greenhouse.

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Rather than sow again in the greenhouse as I had done before, this year I’m going to follow the ‘natural route’ and sow the seed directly into the pond margin. In the wild, loosestrife grows as a biennial, and sets it’s seed now so that the new plants have time to establish before the winter. So I’ve trimmed and scraped back the undergrowth and once the seed has dried I’ll broadcast it and be hoping for better success next year.

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