Friday, January 13, 2012

Arundel Castle, England, Part IV

Even in Southern California many gardens look pretty plain and unexciting at this time of the year unless you plant tons of colorful annuals, of course. Overall mine for sure does, since I neither have the budget to splurge on annuals nor the time to plant them. Here it is high rose pruning season right now and that is what I am mainly busy with since the last week of December. Necessary work, but not really adding to the current beauty of the garden.

Because I suffer a little bit from the winter blues I thought it might be nice to look at some garden pictures, where a garden is actually in bloom and I went back to my files with the photos from our England trip last year in June. I think, I still have many beautiful shots from the Arundel Castle Gardens that I haven't shown you, yet. Alas here is another post about those lovely Gardens. Hope you like it!

After leaving the Collector Earl's Garden (to see my post about it click here) we entered another garden area, which was defined by tropical plantings, a maze mowed into the lawn and a wild flower meadow interplanted with palms as the centerpiece of the maze. The main lawn area in the middle of this garden was surrounded by very nice borders and there were two more structures build out of green oak wood. You can see them in this photo: to the left of the Arundel Cathedral a pavilion is placed and to the right a wooden gate, which provided a stunning exit of this garden room. I found the design, choice, and combination of plants in this area quite fascinating and unusual and I don't think that I have ever seen anything like this before. The majestic Arundel Cathedral gives the garden a very special background and I feel they made optimal use of this borrowed view the way the garden is designed.

I loved the opulent plantings of alliums in some of the flower beds. The alliums were a little bit past their prime, when we were visiting but still real beauties to look at. 

Here we are standing in front of the slightly elevated wooden pavilion (see first photo of this post) looking back down on the maze and the Collector Earl's Garden with its impressive and beautiful wooden structure in the background. 

The paths were layed with a light gray/white gravel, which was nice to look at and made pleasing crushing sounds under our feet. In this garden room they also used plenty of tasteful and nicely planted terracotta containers.

I was completely taken by the lush and unusual border plantings in this area. I would love to plant my garden as densely as it is done here, but it would cost a fortune to do this at once. So I only can come closer to this goal one plant at a time and be patient, but persistent.

The wooden pavilion, shot from another angle. I just love everything about this garden area. It is simply perfect!


Inside the pavilion shown one photo above was an interesting fountain installed. It looked liked that the golden crown was simply held up in the air by the strong water ray of the fountain itself. I think that was indeed the case unless we have fallen for a trick.

Soft yellow phlomis was a plant that was extensively used in this garden room.

Close-up of the center of the maze.

Fascinating borders, which offered many ideas for plantings at home. Especially because they seem to work in a Mediterranean climate where I live as well.

Close-up of the beautiful penstemon that you could see in the shot of the border in the photo above this one. I bought my first blue/lavender penstemons last year in autumn inspired by our visit of Arundel Castle. It is not the same variety as this one, but I find it equally pretty and as far as I can judge by now it does well in my garden. Can't wait for spring to come so that the bees and I really can enjoy the lovely blooms. Did you know that bees go crazy about penstemons?

How much I admired this border planted with palms, dracaenas, alliums, nasturtiums and many more interesting plants. Inspired by this bed I intend to sow some nasturtiums in my garden, too. 

Close-up of nasturtiums together with the alliums. Don't you just love the combination?

The variety in tropical plants was just stunning and the obelisk seen on the left side of the path fit so well in here and added further interest. 

And yet another border, which I could not take my eyes of.

Nasturtium together with a succulent. The contrast between the intense orange yellow bloom of the nasturtium and the purple green thick leaves of the succulent just kept me captured for a while.

We left the garden through this wooden gate to enter, you guessed it, just another garden. I truly feel that the garden shown in this post is a masterpiece of garden architecture. There was so much to see and admire. I remember that by now my head was already spinning from all the beauty and unusual plants and structures that we had taken in, but I was also excited to explore what would come next. I hope you join me for another post about the Arundel Castle Gardens coming soon.

If you are interested to look at the previous posts that I did about the Arundel Castle Gardens, please click on the following links:

Arundel Castle, England Part I
Arundel Castle, England Part II
Arundel Castle, England Part III

See you in the garden!


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Blog Anniversary

January, the 1st of 2012 was not only the first day of a brand new year, but also the first anniversary of my blog. That day we had again wonderful California winter weather with temperatures in the upper 70s, clear blue skies, and just a very light breeze. I used the day to garden as much as I could since it was the last day of the holidays and on the 2nd I went back to work. For me there is no better way to start a New Year than this! Still I took the time to reflect a little bit about my blogging experience of the very first year and would like to share my thoughts with you.

 Bee visiting an anemone (photo by my husband).  

First of all I am surprised that I am still blogging about my garden. I am even more surprised how much I enjoy writing about and photographing it. When I started my blog I was not sure if I would be able to post on a regular basis and keep the blogging up. My husband was almost certain that I would not do it, but how wrong we both were.

This 'Iceberg' rose living in a container is still going strong.

I never would have anticiapted that sharing my garden (and sometimes other people's or public gardens) with you, my dear readers, would be so much fun for me. A heartfelt thanks to you, who are "out there" reading my blog. Also special thanks to the ones of you, who took the time to leave kind, encouraging, and helpful comments. It means a lot to me!

'Madame Caroline Testout'. I really like her informal flower shape.  

At the end of 2011 I had a look at my blog statistics and realized that I finished the year with 18.962 pageviews and that 54 people have enrolled to follow my blog. When I begun to write my little blog one year ago I would have never thought that I will have so many readers, as a matter of fact I was not sure if anyone is interested in anything that I have to write or show. Your resonance to my blog has been very motivating and rewarding for me and I am looking forward to continue to blog in 2012. Hopefully I will be able to improve my blog content and become a better writer and photographer. Be assured at least I am trying to! I would be delighted if you would continue to visit me here in 2012, too!

Agapanthus 'Storm Could' emerging back from the ground. To me this just looks so spring-ish already.

One thing that I also didn't get in the beginning of blogging is, that it is as much fun to read other people's gardening blogs and "see their gardens" as to write about my own yard. So I also would like to thank those of you who are writing gardening blogs for letting me participate in your gardening adventures, visiting your gardens, and learning from you.

My gardenia 'Veittchii' is blooming a little. The flowers have a porcelain like quality and the fragrance is just wonderful. 

Last but not least I was asking myself: Has blogging made me a better gardener? The answer is a clear yes. I think what helped me the most is taking so many photos of my garden. Somehow I see my garden through the lens of the camera more objectively. It seems to give me more distance to look at my garden almost like a stranger. The flaws stand out more, but also when something worked I can see it more clearly. Somehow photographing the garden trains the eye. Also reading other blogs written by real hands-on gardeners has taught me so much. Taking in their garden designs, reading about their experiences (triumphs and failures), getting to know new plants, seeing things through someone else's eye (or more accurately camera lens) is an invaluable source of learning. Besides this I simply enjoy looking at other gardens.

 The bird feeder is highly frequented at this time of the year (photo by my husband).

I am not a big fan of New Year's resolutions, but gardening and blogging about it has given me so much joy last year that I feel highly motivated to try to make my garden 2012 the most beautiful garden that I have ever had. Of course, that will be in the limitations of time and other resources that I have at my hand, but I would really like to test my limits this year. I cheated a little bit and started already in the last week of the old year, which my husband and I had taken off from work. Right now I will only say that much: I am working on a re-do of the "White Bed". Please stay tuned, more about it soon...

See you in the garden!