Sunday, June 15, 2014

Torre Abbey Gardens, Devon, England I

The first really nice public garden that we visited at our current vacation in the county of Devon in England was the one of Torre Abbey in South Devon.

Torre Abbey was founded in 1196 and there is quite an interesting exhibition in the historic house that documents the history of the Abbey over 800 years. But my husband and I came mainly to see the gardens. Even though the grounds are very old, the gardens that you can visit today are relatively new, but nonetheless very interesting and pretty.

It was already lunch time when we arrived at Torre Abbey and we decided to have an English Afternoon Tea for two instead of a traditional lunch at the adjacent cafe. We were pleasantly surprised when this three tired tray filled with goodies was placed on our table. It contained scones, which are eaten with clotted cream and jam in Devon. Then there was an array of sandwiches (salmon, crab, and ham) and a selection of various cakes. It felt like they wanted to feed a whole army, but, of course, we didn't really complain.

After indulging us with the tea time we were ready to see the gardens. There another kind of treat awaited us. We were greeted by this lovely border.

White and blue is always such a refreshing color combination in the garden. Here you see a hardy geranium, probably geranium x magnificum (purple cranesbill), rosa 'Iceberg', and blue delphiniums in the background.

Walking along this border we came across another beautiful combination of the same variety of purple cranesbill, catmint, rosa 'Iceberg', another saturated pink variety of cranesbill, and an absolutely gorgeous dark magenta peony. All towered by a silvery-green huge artichoke like plant.

When I see these peonies it always makes me cringe, because I just can't grow them in Southern California.

Another scene from a border adjacent to the one that we just passed. I am totally in love with chartreuse colored plants in the moment and the chartreuse shrub to the left is just such a stand-out. The plant to the very right is alchemilla mollis 'Lady's mantle', a very common plant in England, which always makes my heart sing. I think, the tiny yellow-chartreuse blooms are so absolutely charming and the matte light green leaves are very pretty, too. I made a promise to myself that I will try to grow this plant in my own garden, when we are back home.

Next we entered a part of the garden that was called "Agatha Christie's Potent Plants Display". Agatha Christie, the famous mystery novel writer, had a beloved holiday home called "Greenway" relatively close by and maybe inspired by that, the head gardener decided to put in a garden containing poisonous plants.

Modern art presented in historic places often works well and this is another good example.


I have to admit that I wasn't so impressed by the fact that some of the plants in this section were poisonous, but by the incredible beauty of the flower beds. Roughly in the middle of the photo you can see a standard tree rose. I can never decide if I like them or not, but in this bed it adds some height, which is very pleasing to the eye. Since the beds are relatively small this couldn't be achieved by planting a regular rose, because it would take up too much room. I have a similar tricky situation in my own front yard at home, where I desperately try to add some height to a very small garden border and maybe standard roses could be a solution there as well.

A lovely peony.

The yellow roses visually go quite nicely with the silvery-gray Stachys byzantina, commonly called 'Lamb's Ear' and the opulent flowering catmint. Notice, there is another standard rose in the middle of the bed, but this one is not doing that well, so the effect is a little bit spoiled. 

Close-up of the purple geranium. This variety is just stunning in terms of the color, but also how freely it blooms. Another plant that I will try to find in Southern California and see how it does in my own garden.

This sage with the newer leaves being quite purple caught my attention. It looks so pretty with the blue flowers.

Incredible colored oriental poppy!

The oriental poppy that I just showed was planted together with this interesting variety of clover. It was a stunning combo, which I managed not to get a decent shot of... But I guess, you can use your imagination and bring the two images together.

Same peony variety that I have already shown further above, but surrounded by catmint and 'Lamb's Ear', it appears very different. I really enjoy to observe how color influence each other. This is a very harmonious pairing up in my opinion.

I didn't want to part from this section of the garden. It was so stunningly beautiful and exactly the garden style that I like so much, but there was much more to explore.

This area was called the scented garden. I love the arch conquered by the white rose with the small and dainty flowers. I believe, it was a type of Eglantine Rose.

We have seen this type of daisies very often growing like a weed in Devon. That doesn't diminish its beauty, though.

One thing that I never get tired of is looking at the sometimes very old stone walls conquered by plants. This is a particular pretty example.

This interesting plant is Echium pininana, tree echium. You really can't see it on the photo, but is was quite tall.

I will say goodbye for today with this last image of a bell flower type of plant. To me, pure white blooms are always so attractive.

There is more to come about Torre Abbey Gardens in my next post. Hope to greet you soon, again, on my blog and wishing everyone a good start into the new week.

See you in the garden!


Monday, June 9, 2014

Some more from the Rose Spring Flush

Unfortunately for the last couple of weeks due to professional and personal reasons I had to completely neglect the blog, and I apologize for that, but I am happy to be back now!

The rose spring flush has been glorious this year and I have literally taken thousands of photos, but sadly I didn't have the time to sort though them and put up a blog post to share them with you, dear readers. My husband and I are now on vacation and I used my first chance to work on this post. So with no further ado, here are some more shots from this years rose spring flush.

'Charles Darwin' is a very lovely and healthy light yellow rose in my garden,...

...which blooms open almost always to a perfect form. 

The off-white flowers of 'Marie Pavie' never fail to touch my heart. Above: Just beginning to open...

...and later, on a very hot day, the flowers are partly tattered, but wonderfully perfumed and to me they still radiate dignified elegance.

'Grandmother's Hat' to the right at her peak (to the left you can see 'Reine des Violettes'). I love how she was looking untamed and wild-romantic this year. She has never flowered that opulent for me as this spring.

A few close-ups of 'Grandmother's Hat': Her flowers can vary greatly in color. They can appear in a very soft pastel pink...

...or in a much more saturated, intense pink.

However they turn out, I think, they are always lovely. 'Grandmother's Hat' was one of my absolute favorite roses this spring!

'Reine des Violettes' has one of the most amazing color out of all of my roses. It can be called a grayish violet and I adore how the petals unfold in an almost unruly but fascinating way. The color is very hard to capture for me with my camera, but the photo above comes close. Unfortunately, the bush itself is not such a joy to look at. So far it is a little bit puny, even though the rose is the third year in my garden.

'Sweetness' has become an impressive five by five feet bush in my front yard. It astounds me that it is doing so well despite the fact that it is growing in very close proximity of a tall 'Queen Palm'. But the moment I don't fertilize or water it enough it goes downhill. I really have to watch it!

A single bloom of 'Sweetness'.

A nice spray of 'Old Fashioned Girl'. I am really thankful that this rose is doing so well despite the fact that it is growing in front of a white heat reflecting South-West facing wall. 

My second 'Pierre de Ronsard' aka 'Eden' in the backyard. It just came into its own, when my other one was way over her peak.

The very full blooms of 'Pierre de Ronsard' are always a joy to look at!

Depending on how hot it is, the color changes from a cool pink (see photo of multiples flowers further above) to a more warm almost apricot pink like on the image directly above. 

'Iceberg' growing through an obelisk in a big container. A rose that is mostly pretty and blooms generously in Southern California, but can get powdery mildew badly in my garden. This is an own-root growing specimen, which has been mildew-free this spring.

'Yolande d'Aragon' another particularly opulent rose with a great fragrance. 

This rose, 'Madame Alfred Carriere', just comes into its own. We planted it into the ground last year in July, I believe, and it started to flower more generously this spring and also the size of the blooms has increased. It is supposed to be a very vigorous climber and I am expecting great things from this rose in the future.

Almost always an immaculate white Hybrid Tea rose in my garden: 'Pope John Paul II'.

'Moonstone' produces very big, gorgeous flowers, which are good for cutting and last a long time in the vase and yet, the rose drives me crazy. It is the most disease ridden bush that I have in my garden (mainly rust and powdery mildew) and I am seriously debating with me to get rid of it for that reason.

Here is a whole bush shot of 'Moonstone', when it was in full swing this spring. You really can't see the powdery mildew that much on this picture, but believe me, it is there! The rust occurred a little later after I took this photo. 

Besides being so sickly, the rose still manages to flower, even though flowering is definitively impaired. One good thing is, that it is planted across the pool, so usually no one visiting the garden can come up close enough to see the ugly mess of leaves. 

'Our Lady of Guadalupe' is usually one of the first roses to bloom in spring in my garden. But this year she was one of the last and started when it was time to deadhead the spring flush of other varieties. I pruned her very late and that postponed her blooms quite a bit.  

The spring flush is long over by now and some of the roses were approaching their second flush, when we had to part for our vacation in Devon, England. As much as I love going on vacation, it is always hard for me to leave the garden alone. I am sure many of you keen gardeners out there can completely relate to this!

Hopefully it won't take that long until I get to post next time. It will be for sure be something about our England trip. I would be happy, if you could come back and pay me another visit soon.

See you in the garden!