The History of Barum Garden


Please Note:- In this historic ramble, the names used to identify the various sections of the garden are described on the "main page".

This page has been written, against my better judgement, for the many people who have wanted to know: 'How', 'When', and particularly 'Why', we resurrected this garden from the jungle we moved into in 1991.

HOW - by recovering a section, then using the power of guesswork, deciding what plant would work 'there'. This guesswork has become more refined the longer we have been here, we have come to understand the local conditions and mild climate. In particular, we have become more adventurous and planted more half-hardy / tender plants.

WHEN - this is addressed in the tedious sections below.

WHY - there was nowhere to sit and drink gin without having our legs torn to pieces by brambles.

I have added some structure to this page, as it is getting too rambling for me to find my way around it. The garden sections are the same as on the main page, with the exception of the Vegetable Section. This has its own set of pages.

The happenings of last year are reported in a separate page. I hope this isn't too confusing, mentoring is available by visiting the garden and relaxing in one of the many seating places (no gin is supplied though).

Pre-History 1998 - First NGS Opening 2007 - Renovation after Gale damage
1991 - The Garden is Discovered 1999 - Partial Un-retirement 2008 - Some Severe Thinning
1992 - First Steps 2000 - Discovered Aeoniums 2009 - Recovering from a Very Hard Winter
1992/3 - Creating Structure 2001 - A New Bed in the Front Garden 2010 - A Year with Winter at both Ends
1992/3 - First Planting 2002 - We Truncate the Acacia 2011 - Several Limited Improvements
1994 - Extending the Plant Range 2003 - Married off the Son 2012 - The Wettest Summer Ever
1995 - A Year to Forget 2004 - Married 40 Years! 2013 - A Double Celebration
1996 - The Under-gardener takes Control 2005 - An Apprentice for Barum 2014 - Two New Lives and A Long Marriage
1997 - The Conifer Arch is Created 2006 - We are a Grandmother 2015 - An uneventful Year


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We moved into a dilapidated bungalow in 1988, and during the time we were doing it up, we became addicted to enhancing the large garden. The most dramatic thing we did was to dump the old garage against a bank in the garden and covered it with the soil from the hole we had dug. This created an instant raised bed, provided an item of interest in a bland outlook, and was a lot cheaper than hiring a couple of skips.

Then in 1991 (3 years into the project) my employer made me an offer I could not refuse - come with us to Bristol or GO. This started the challenge of finding a house within commuting distance of Bristol with a garden that would match the one to which we had become used. The garden was necessary to keep Herself out of mischief, especially since she had decreed that she would take advantage of the move to retire from the chore of contributing to the household funds by becoming Head-gardener. The excuse was Mother - who had become severely arthritic and needed looking after.

Eventually, we came across Barum, a house that had been unoccupied for 4 years, and had not been improved since the 1950s. The garden had not been touched for 4 years, and lower down for at least 10 years. The agent admitted that we were doing him a favour - as we forced our way towards the lower sections of the garden - to prove to Herself that it really was as long as the details claimed - 80m by 14m.

When we moved, we needed 2 removal vans - 1 for the contents of the house and 1 for the potted-up plants being saved from the garden - these were not going to be left behind!

The Garden as Discovered

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Near the House was a lean-to greenhouse against the back of the house (with the roof across some windows). There was a shed at the side of the house, and a well hidden patio housed a collapsed pergola.

Garden as discovered The Top Garden had been laid to lawn - about 30m long, but in need of a herd of sheep to return it to a decent state. There were shrubs planted as side bedding. This had encroached into the garden by at least 3metres on each side. Out of this peeked a Romneya coulteri, a magnificent 15ft Acer palmatum, and a lot of Viburnum tinus.

The end of the section had a step disappearing into an impenetrable jungle, with a pair of Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Columnaris' acting as entrance pillars.

A larger picture can be seen by clicking on it.

The Paved Plant Maze was a jungle about 30m long. There was a path along the side, passable with difficulty. There was a huge apple tree and a large Prunus cerasifera 'Pissardii' (Cherry Plum) visible.

Beyond Civilisation was an area about 15m long, growing some very vigorous specimens of ivy and brambles. In the middle could be seen an elegant tree (now believed to be a Sophora japonica, although we have never seen it flower). The rest of the area was covered by a 'ginormous' pile of rocks - obviously dug up in the process of creating the beds in the rest of the garden.

1992 - First Steps

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Near the House, the lean-to greenhouse was left as a storage area. The shed was kicked, and fell down. The collapsed pergola was removed and burnt.

Head Gardener starts clearance

The Top Garden was the first part of the garden to be worked on. Herself very quickly got busy (amazing woman) soon discovering that there were beds, with limestone rock edging - a clue to what we were to discover about the soil. No significant plants were found. The width of the garden was recovered by hacking back the overgrowth.

This picture was taken in February 1992. A larger picture can be seen by clicking on it.

April 1992

The lawn problem was solved by an over-eager salesman who insisted on giving me a demonstration of a 22inch brute of a lawnmower. He brought this on a trailer and, with great pride, zoomed around the "lawn". After about 20 minutes he had produced enough hay to feed the local riding school for a fortnight, and the lawn was reborn. I subsequently bought a 16inch mower - which is the sort of size I wanted him to sell me!

This picture was taken in April 1992. A larger picture can be seen by clicking on it.

The Paved Plant Maze obviously contained something, as we could see the ends of several paths. Our son, gird in big boots and gloves, armed with hedge cutter, secateurs and loppers was dispatched into the jungle. We sat nearby with large gins and shouted encouragement. After 2 hours he emerged in a state of great excitement - and demanded we come and see what he had discovered - a network of paths surrounding 10 beds, each about 3 metres across.

Each bed boasted an Apple tree (most beyond recovery). A 2.5metre (height and spread) Hibiscus syriacus (later found to boast two flower forms (a double - 'Comte de Flandres', and a single - similar to 'Lilac Queen'), either it has sent up some shoots from below the graft, or two plants were planted close together. A pair of Fuchsia magellanica 'Alba' 2.5metre tall. Also a vast Choisya ternata, and a trio of Buxus sempervirens at least 1m diameter.

Beyond Civilisation remained true to its name.

1992 - Creating Structure

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Near the House the lean-to greenhouse was removed, this exposed an oblong concrete slab that seemed suitable as a patio base. This still exists and would look a lot tidier if it was cut back - currently in the too-hard file as some idiot (moi?) built steps to the conservatory over one corner, and in 1995 (never one to learn from his mistakes) built a 'comma' shaped raised bed over another corner.

The other patio was extended, and a pergola erected in 1993.

A path being laid The Top Garden had a path laid to Paved Plant Maze. This enabled this section to be reached without winter wellies. This path took me a year to complete - utter idleness.

A couple of wooden erections (oil rigs a la Geoff Hamilton) were built. These are used to support some small flowered roses, including a David Austin rose (these seem to do well here). Latterly Clematis are to be seen growing up anything vertical.

A larger picture can be seen by clicking on it.

The end of this section was defined by building a trellis and rustic arch, separating this from ...

The Paved Plant Maze had an apple tree removed, to make room for an 8x8 greenhouse (seemed large at the time, but now much too small). A shed was erected - no aesthetic benefit, but essential to the running of the garden.

Beyond Civilisation was cleared of its undergrowth by the means of setting the lawnmower on its top setting, and charging at the ivy, brambles etc. Several applications of this treatment converted the rubbish into weedy (naturalistic) grass - none was ever sown.

We then built a small 'Fruit Cage', for a Victoria plum, and Raspberries. This section was instantly claimed for the Vegetable Patch, just in case greedy eyes found a use for it. It is now considered as part of that section.

1992/1993 - First Plantings

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So, what do we plant in all this bare soil - a gardeners delight. The soil was unrecognisable to eyes used to the deep loam of North Hertfordshire - even in midwinter it slipped between the tines of a fork. It is shallow too - try to push a fork too far in and a resounding clang is heard as the fork hits bed-rock. We were also ignorant of the climate - having regularly experienced -13°C. Neither did we understand the importance of the shelter provided by 2.5metre hedges.

To solve the planting problem, we visited the local garden centres / nurseries, and began to visit local gardens (NGS naturally), and of course Bristol University Botanic Gardens.

The useful knave of trumps lay in Milady's genes; her family includes a tame horticultural guru - Roy Cheek - he is her Mother's first cousin. Prior to our move, contact had been limited to Christmas cards etc. He had to be encouraged to make a royal visit, and give us a clue what we should try to grow. In short, he came, sipped weak coffee, wandered the garden and pronounced:- if it grows in New Zealand, Australia (wetter bits), South Africa or South America (non-tropical bits) it is worth trying here.

The style of planting that came from that visit (he has been back since to criticise) has not concentrated on the tender / half-hardy / exotic plants. Rather, we grow plants we like, but have extended the range into the half-hardy with reasonable success - the well drained soil permits many plants survive the winter wet.

Near the House, the base of the lean-to greenhouse was not broken up, rather the area became a patio - used for the storage of pot plants during the winter (protected by the house), and as a "summer pasture" for the conservatory plants during the summer. This leaves very little space to sprawl about with a large gin, at any time of the year.

The pergola was soon clothed with a pair of Actindia delicosa, Akebia quinata, Wisteria sinensis and a Passiflora.

The Top Garden had several beds unearthed, so they had to be filled - I remember a Bottlebrush (still there) a Pieris (it died 2 years later of drought - fancy planting it on this drought ridden soil) a Magnolia 'Susan' and a Robinia. The Roses we had transferred from Hertfordshire were planted (a mistake - these need deep, nutritious soil with a touch of acidity), here they send up a couple of lanky shoots and provide a couple of flowers on the top.

The successful planting included:- Crinodendron hookerianum, Garrya elliptica, Rhamnus alaternus 'Argenteovariegata', Myrtus communis and Photinia (Red Robin and Palette).

An Acacia dealbata was planted in a well sheltered spot upon the instigation of Roy Cheek - whilst sipping coffee one day in our conservatory he enquired when we were going to cut a hole in the roof to allow the Acacia to grow? "But" she protested "it is a conservatory plant - it will not survive the Winter outside." "Oh yes it will." he insisted. So it was planted. It was pollarded to a trunk in 2002, see the special page!

The trellis was planted with a Clematis montana - it is so vigorous that it is now hacked back far more brutally than recommended a very sweetly scented species Lonicera; a Wisteria (first decent flowers in 2004). The arch became a rose-arch by the addition of Rosa 'Compassion' and Rosa 'Breath of life'.

The Paved Plant Maze had a few of the Apple trees removed. A Daphne odora 'Marginata' and Trachycarpus fortunei (a 1 year old) were planted. The rest was left to see what would come up. These included Primulas (several colours), Buddleja (grows in any crack), Kerria recovered from having been hacked down, Harts tongue fern is endemic, as is Geranium robertianum - Herb Robert (pretty weed).

Lily-of-the-valley was plonked around. This is now considered a weed as it has spread throughout this section of the garden - looks quite pretty though.

Beyond Civilisation remained untouched apart from planting up the Fruit cage with a Victoria Plum and 3 types of Raspberry - Glen Clova (early), Malling Admiral (mid season) and Autumn Bliss (late).

1994 - Extending the Plant Range

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This was the year that we discovered the garden centres in Cornwall - Burncoose, Hardy Exotics, Probus, Trevena Cross and Trewithen. We drove home towing a caravan whose central aisle was crammed with plants - Agapanthus, Ceonothus 'Trewithen Blue', Styrax japonica, Pittisporums 'Tom Thumb' and 'Irene Patterson' and more.

Near the House, a shed, we had erected at the side of the house, was moved to the bottom of the garden. The path to the garage was re-routed along the side of the house, and a new bed created by breaking up part of the concrete shed base.

The path to the garage involved building some steps. So, naturally the concrete base became a flat section, stupid idea, flat does not mean level - this sloped towards the back of the step forming a lovely puddle. No problem - just drill some 19mm holes through the concrete to drain the water - shame this job burnt-out my electric drill!

The new bed was planned to include a shallow stream with a series of small waterfalls. No such luck: a manhole cover was discovered, under the concrete, in the path of the planned stream. So, a dry riverbed was created, which is used for displaying tender plants in the summer - especially spiky plants, such as Agaves.

Top garden June 1994 The Top Garden was planted up with Cornus controversa 'Variagata', and other plants Herself had bought without my knowledge or permission.

A larger picture can be seen by clicking on it.

The Paved Plant Maze had a huge Apple tree removed, this had a trunk of 30cm diameter, and took about 2 months to dig the root out. When the trunk fell over it cracked a concrete path - repaired in 2003. The trunk was cut through at 90deg and used as an elevated pot stand until 2004.

A Lavatera maritima was added, this died in the bad winter of 2002-3, but has since been replaced.

An Eucalyptus gunnii was also added. This now gets pollarded by the removal of only the 2 year old growth each spring. This maintains a semblance of tree rather than totem pole. This is achieved by swaying about at the top of a 5metre ladder.

Beyond Civilisation had an area cleared of rocks. These had accumulated since the garden was first set out until the Top shed became the Bottom shed.

1995 - A Year to forget

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A sad year at Barum - I started to build a raised bed, containing a fountain that Marian's mum had bought. The bed was intended for her to cultivate. Sadly, before it was finished, she had a stroke and died 3 months later. This had a huge effect on Marian; her love of the garden was encouraged by her mother, who would proudly bring friends to admire it. Marian's motivation was seriously dented, and this was reflected in the garden.

1996 - The Under Gardener takes Control

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The Under Gardener was appointed - He managed to get voluntary redundancy, at the end of January, from the day job, having worked-out 10 months of notice. How would the garden fare? What would I get up to? A disillusioned Head Gardener, and an ignorant Under Gardener! Have no fear - our daughter moved, and needed a kitchen designed and installed - that sorted out the 1st half of the year. Meanwhile, in the garden:-

Near the House the "Fountain Bed" was completed. This is a comma shaped bed - no straight lines at Barum. It extends from the corner of the house, where it is about 30cm wide. It extends to about 3m at the blob end, the fountain sits in the centre.

A wattle screen was installed along one side to protect the area from wind that whistles down the side of the house. This was just before withies and wattle became popular on television, so we just wandered down to the few Willow Farms that had survived on the Somerset levels, opened the back of the estate, and they piled in as much as we could take for about £10. (Compare our Veg Patch experience in 1998).

This bed was planted, a few of these were: Myrtus (now Luma - name changed to confuse Under Gardeners throughout the world, it's difficult enough to learn one) 'Glanleam Gold', Trachelospermum variegata, Hebe 'Rosie' (a must - one of our dogs is called Rosie), a couple of patio roses, a silly little conifer, and two Lampranthus - to see if they would survive the Winter.

The top patio had a narrow bed added to separate it from the lawn, created by building a low wall at the level of the patio. The Dregea sinensis was planted out, as it had become too heavy to heave in and out of the conservatory (the Undergardener needed a hernia op in 1997). It would have to take its chances - "Mon Dieu" - I now have to hack off about 2.5m each spring, and it oozes a latex like sap.

The Top Garden had a new bed quarried out. A Cercis siliquastrum became its centrepiece, until it was blown over in the gale of October 2002.

The Paved Plant Maze had a few new plants e.g. Vestia foetida and the start of the Phormium collection (we now prefer these to Cordylines as they have more than one growing point and not so susceptible to Winter wet).

Beyond Civilisation had more rocks cleared, this created a bonfire area.

1997 - The Conifer Arch is Created

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The Top Garden was always separated from the Paved Plant Maze by a trellis and a pair of conifers. These conifers (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Columnaris') had begun to grow unevenly, so the Undergardener had tried to even them up by pruning. This did not work as the top no longer looked natural. Then we had a visitation from Roy Cheek, who was in a creative frame of mind. He suggested that the tops of the conifers should be pulled over to make an arch. "Never" says I. So out came the ladder, up he went, encouraged by Herself, pulled them across and tied them together with washing line, came down and brushed his hands in the manner of a man who has just done a good day's work. He didn't mention that it would need clipping each year, and that it was too slender to lean a ladder against it - the Undergardener's problem.

The Paved Plant Maze had an Iochroma australe added, also an Olea europaea was planted out - it had been kept in a pot, for winter protection.

Beyond Civilisation had some of the undergrowth and Spindle berry (a weed locally) cleared, and a new bed recovered. During this process a Mountain ash was first noticed, it must have been there all the time, but disguised as a nettle.

1998 - First NGS Opening

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The first year we opened the garden for the National Garden Scheme, so we didn't add much - just panicked.

Top garden June 1998 The Top Garden was divided from the Paved Plant Maze by a trellis and rose arch, (recently having the Conifer arch over them). These conifers need clipping each year, and this task fell to the Undergardener. Well, there he was with a ladder propped against the arch when there was a sickening crack, and it collapsed below him. It was too late in the year to do anything then, so it was decided that this arch and all the trellis posts would be replaced next Spring.

A larger picture can be seen by clicking on it.

Work began on the creation of a pergola to be placed near the bottom of this section of the garden. As winter drew in, it got too cold, so completion was put off until the spring.

The Paved Plant Maze had a Fascicularia bicolor added. The leaves turn bright red in autumn, and a strange blue flower is produced at the centre of each plantlet.

1999 - Partial Un-retirement

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There he was, ensconced as Under-gardener, when a call came - would you like some part-time paid work for about 3 months? He thinks that doesn't sound too bad an idea, so became partially un-retired.

Near the House had no additions to beautify it more.

The Top Garden had the trellis posts replaced. The Rose Arch repair was started, then whilst going to the house He looked back and wondered - "is there any point? the conifer arch looks better without the arch." So that job evaporated, the roses are now trained into the conifers, where they grow up to 4metres before flowering.

The pergola build had got as far as completing the roof (obviously I built the roof before considering and supporting structure). This had lain around, upside down, on the patio all winter, and looked like a boat. so the pergola became known as The Boat. This was completed, planted and had a Humulus lupulus 'Aureus' (Golden Hop), and a Lonicera planted against it. An Araujia sericifera, supposedly borderline tender, has since been added, it now climbs into a weather vane and causes confusion in the wind-direction, probably accounts for the strange summers at Barum.

The Paved Plant Maze showed the beginning of the Salvia craze. This began with: patens, microphylla and confertiflora.

Beyond Civilisation had some shrubs added - Salix matsudana 'Tortuosa' (twisted willow) - her choice to try and grow a willow on this soil. A Crinodendron patagua was added - this started flowering in 2001, and we got some viable seed in 2003 - well done under-gardener. A Deutzia scabra 'Plena' and a Buddleja davidii 'Black Knight'.

2000 - Discovered Aeoniums

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The "3 month" part-time job continued, so we had a holiday in northern Tenerife, and discovered a new world of plants, including Aeoniums and other succulents that fail to survive outside in this part of the country - not on account of the cold, they succumb to the cold damp of our winters.

Near the Househad nothing done, although the concrete slab was beginning to annoy. When it gets done, it will be added to this ramble.

Top garden June 2000 The Top Garden had an Acer griseum added, and we started to train the Rhodochiton along the horizontal branches of the Cornus controversa.
The Cornus alternifolia 'Argentea' was found a proper home - in the lawn near the house. This had been shunted around the garden, by the Head-gardener, shoving it in between shrubs in the Paved Plant Maze where it was throttled. This naturally involved the Under-gardener in another quarrying exercise!

A larger picture can be seen by clicking on it.

The Paved Plant Maze contained a scruffy conifer, and we mutually agreed (a rare event) to have it out. This created space for the Acacia baileyana 'Purpurea' to be planted out, allowing its roots to spread - it had been kept potted, and sheltered, for a winter to give it a chance to mature. A Stipa gigantea was also planted.

Some Cannas and Hedychiums were added, they seem to survive the winter here, but we have been digging up the Cannas and storing in winter for the last couple of years to encourage them to flower earlier in the season - plant forcing at Barum? More Salvias were purchased.

Beyond Civilisation had nothing done - the Under-gardener just visited it frequently, to admire his work from the previous year.

2001 - The Front Garden Gets a New Bed

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We returned to the same area of Tenerife - Puerto de la Cruz - because the Under-gardener had succumbed to the dreaded flu that was about last year, so only managed half the holiday. This time we went for 2 weeks, with one week being dedicated to a Saga Gardening Special Interest holiday. How did this improve the garden - hardly at all, but it was great fun.

The Front Garden has not had a look-in in this diatribe. But, when the side-fence nearly collapsed after one of those Bristol Channel windy nights, the Head-gardener decided that it would be a good idea to break up the path by the fence, and extend the adjacent bed to the boundary - "Yes dear, of course, anything you say, dear". So, once the fence had been repaired, up came the path - 2 tons of concrete and 2 tons of hardcore. " We need some soil now, we'll take it from the veg patch - you've got too much there!" So, 10 barrow loads of the most valuable soil in the garden had to be shovelled up, and transported UP the garden to support her new project.

Front garden

The bed was planted up with a couple of Phormium (Jester and Evening Glow) acquired for elsewhere in the garden; a Hibiscus 'Blue Bird' (rescued from the Top Garden where it was being suffocated); a Correa 'Marians Marvel'; a Choisya 'Sundance' planted to lighten up an area under an old conifer; and a Chimonanthus praecox. The remainder of the bed was tidied up, but nothing was added: Roses that were here when we moved in - they are small floribunda type and seem to do well on this soil; A Cercis siliquastrum (snuck in by the Head-gardener, despite there already being one in the Top Garden); a Yucca filamentosa 'Variegata'; and other herbaceous stuff that is unidentifiable to this author, especially in January.

A larger picture can be seen by clicking on it.

Near the House had a strawberry pot added, containing a collection of Aeonium plants (Aeonia?).

The Top Garden had nothing done at all!

The Paved Plant Maze had flowers on the Acacia baileyana in January. The Trachycarpus fortunei flowered for the first time in May. We have now discovered that these are sexed - ours is a male so it does not produce any berries - amazing what there is to learn.

Beyond Civilisation had more spring bulbs added.

2002 - We truncate the Acacia

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Near the House the concrete continues to annoy and frustrate, but as it does not annoy the Head-gardener, it is at the bottom of the priority list.

The Top Garden was affected when the Cercis siliquastrum was blown down in the storm in October; this was evidence of the problem of planting trees on this very light soil - they can only survive if their roots manage to penetrate the underlying rock. We replaced it with an Acer davidii 'George Forrest'. There was no need to buy another Cercis, there is another in the front garden - bought and planted without this author's knowledge or approval.

The Acacia dealbata was truncated - it had been planted in a very protected position - under a Yew as it was believed to be of marginal hardiness in this area. However, it had outgrown the Yew - reaching at least 15metres, and, owing to its position, was leaning away from the Yew so that it looked ungainly and dangerous. It had to be lowered, this was done in stages as there was a lot of wood to remove, and we had not decided how much to take off. There is a page dedicated to this event at Truncated Acacia dealbata.

The Paved Plant Maze had paving made from natural stone that was de-laminating badly in places. So, the edict went out to all (the Under-gardener) that it was time to dig up more path and replace it with crazy paving. Crazy paving is no longer available, as it is too cheap and no-one stocks it any-more. That did not deter Barum, one day wandering around a builders merchant we came across a pile of broken slabs dumped in a corner - waiting to be added to some landfill site. Under interrogation, they agreed to deliver some to us, provided we paid for the delivery - £20. Later that week a large lorry appeared with a complete pallet, about 6 tons, of chipped, cracked and broken slabs - 3 times the amount we thought we needed. Work started in September, and a section around the greenhouse - about 12metres long was completed before the winter monsoon started.

Beyond Civilisation had nothing done.

2003 - Married off our Son

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What's that got to do with the garden? Lots, as it happens. The Under-gardener had innocently said that the Head-gardener would love to make the nuptial cake - amazing talent she has, she was formally trained into catering, and used to dish up the most fabulous nosh until she got hooked on gardening - now its a quickly thrown together meal, at dusk, "Anything you want before then, get it yourself!"

The problem with the cake was that today's youngsters do not want rich fruit cake, decorated with royal icing - which can be cooked months in advance, and decorated weeks ahead. They wanted rich chocolate sponge, with chocolate butter icing in the middle, and the sides decorated with castellated strips in white chocolate. The Under-gardener was not popular!

The Happy Couple
The Happy Couple
The Cake
The Cake

After all the sleepless nights, the cake was made, transported, decorated, presented, cut, eaten and she was applauded - it was good.

Meanwhile in the garden, we only opened twice in May and June, so we had time to panic about the wedding.

We had a very cold winter here, the temperature stayed below freezing for about 10 days in January, and we had a very dry, and frosty nights in April.

Later, the hottest summer we have experienced here. This caused unknown stress to the plants with many leaves just drying up and falling off. But, amazingly, the Acers and Liquidamber gave the best autumn colour ever.

The Top Garden had its Euonymous alatus killed by frost.

The Magnolia grandiflora had a branch that was burnt by the spring frost, which spread across the rest of the crown during May and June. I chopped it all off to the trunk in July, but by August new growth was sprouting - we thought it may survive but we removed the stump in 2004.

The space left by the M. grandiflora was used to enhance the fern bed.

The Paved Plant Maze had the Iochroma australe cut back to the roots, by spring frost, after had started to leaf-up. We feared the worst, but by August it had recovered and grown to about 1metre - it even had a few flowers in September, it normally flowers in June.

We also finished the paving round the greenhouse, preparing the way for Aeoniums.

Beyond Civilisation had a very bad drought, looked very sad, but the Crinodendron patagua produced loads of flowers - it even produced some viable seed.

2004 - Married 40 Years!

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A wee tipple. Another wonderful cake.

We did some hard sums and discovered that we had been married 40 years, and there would be a demand in the family to celebrate this fact. This event was celebrated in August when many of the family travelled to join in the festivities - we are very grateful and it was lovely to meet people we hadn't seen for many years.
We would like to take this opportunity of thanking our neighbour, Tony, for these photos.

This event prompted the creation of another cake. This one is a cut-down version of our original wedding cake, so there was no external pressure regarding the design - the husband may make some suggestions, but his influence is zero.
Please note - the ladle in the foreground is really stainless steel, and not tarnished silver.

Meanwhile, back to the garden

We tried a change in the garden openings - moved them to Thursdays. We enjoyed it.

We also entered a competition organised by the local BBC news programme (Points West). To our amazement we were runner-up in the 'Old Avon' area, and won a prize - wow. The prize was immediately spent by the Head-gardener, with the Under-gardener complying - naturally.

We also lost our old dog Max - our favourite - a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier. The decision was made to get a replacement in September - his name is Barney - to be a friend to our other Wheaten - Rosie. There are now some pictures of our Wheatens , accessed from the Navigator bar of the web site. We had forgotten about the destructive energy of a puppy - he has a favourite trick of collecting plant labels from around the garden, so we expect all our visitors in 2005 to assist us in identifying our plants - particularly the various Clematis.

The Front Garden had one Phormium (Jester) removed. It was replaced with a smaller variety (Flamingo), in a different position, also a new variety P 'Alison Blackman' was purchased (money taken from the Veg. patch profits) and planted in the same bed.

Near the House the concrete slab has still not been replaced, Ruby wedding to blame, but we still need to agree a suitable surface.

The Top Garden had the fernery extended after removal of the Magnolia grandiflora which had succumbed to the winter of 2002 - 2003 and was finished off by the drought of 2003. Also sat down and have several large gins.

The Paved Plant Maze had the repaving job completed, and a low retaining wall built across the width of the garden - very posh!

The shed floor bearers had decayed. So it was emptied, jacked up and replacement tantalised bearers slid into place alongside the old ones - it's now 50mm higher. A good job well done!

The Aeoniums, were planted out.

Beyond Civilisation had more bulbs added.

2005 - Barum Takes on an Apprentice

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The Head Gardener, together with the Under Gardener, of Barum can no longer claim to do all the work in this garden.

In September 2004 we took on an apprentice.
A larger picture can be seen by clicking on it.

The Apprentice investigates.

His initial training was during the fallow season, so his unrivalled enthusiasm for digging has been utilised to the full. The lawn is his latest target, we like to believe that he is attempting to eradicate the Chafer grub menace – optimistic to the last.

He has proved extremely effective at pruning, but his precision needs some improvement – in particular the accuracy of cuts; the correct time to prune; and whether or not it is necessary to hack anything off at all – especially when it involves pulling the plant out by its roots.

He is displaying great enthusiasm, frequently excessive, in getting to his place of work. This has resulted in several short-cuts being developed across previously well-tended bed. Intense training, assisted by barriers is slowly improving this situation. However, the direct route is still preferred.

His most successful project has been learning the names of the plants – especially Clematis. Unfortunately he has interpreted this section of the syllabus as an instruction to collect any label pushed into the ground near a plant and deliver it to the house; normally he has chewed over the label, and is in danger of inwardly digesting the plant name in the learning process. Consequently, the Head Gardener now has no idea of which Clematis is which (amazing but true).

Barum therefore invites our visitors to let us know the name of any Clematis they spot – we might even have the label in his collection pot.

The Front Garden has had some pruning applied. Most dramatic has been some radical pruning of a conifer that was interfering with the main electricity supply to the house, and providing a route to the roof for squirrels. The intent was to trim the new growth back, but access problems resulted in the whole of the green bits being removed. This looked a mess, so more was removed until only a skeletal sculpture remains. This has a truncated form of a Clematis alpina and Rosa 'Madame la Carrier' draped artistically about it. We may now see the flowers from these plants - it was only visible to the local low-flying gulls (and an occasionally passing squirrel). Wonder if it will re-sprout??

Near the House the Dregea sinensis was brutally pruned back (4metres removed) - it was covering the patio making it very dark and dusty to sit under. This was very brave, since nowhere have we found any advice other than 'gently tickle with a blunt pair if secateurs'! One of the Lonicera had similar treatment, but we had no qualms about hacking this back.

The Top Garden had little brave activities carried out. Some of the Echium pininana exceeded themselves - so much so that there is a separate page illustrating their progress. Just click here.

The Paved Plant Maze had more Aeoniums planted out as the bed developed.

Beyond Civilisation had more bulbs added - mainly small daffodils this time. Also hacked off one section of the Crinodendron patagua - to encourage it to form into a more slender tree - it was getting difficult to walk past.

2006 - We Become a Grandmother

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Yes it's true - we are now a Grandmother!!

Luca Charles Owen Peacock was born on the 22nd September 2006 to Monica Peacock at Kingston Hospital - Stephen Peacock was in attendance. He weighed 9lb (what a lump).

The Grandmother is highly chuffed, and regrets that we live so far away.

The picture on the right shows a 3 month old bouncing boy weighing 15lbs.

These baby bouncers are fabulous devices:

  • They strengthen legs;
  • Use up energy;
  • Result in a quieter life for parents.

A larger picture can be seen by clicking on it.

A 3month old bouncing boy

However, there has been some activity in the garden, enough space has been taken up on our pride and joy, we must expound upon our successes / failures in the realm of horticulture.

The Front Garden had more Clematis planted around the conifer statue (a conifer that was defoliated in 2005 since it was interfering with our overhead electricity supply cable). The bed has become much more balanced since - the conifer was causing several plants, in its shade, to grow in a distorted way.

Near the House the Dregea sinensis recovered well from its brutal pruning, and produced a wonderful display, it is possible that it has produced some viable seed. A vast trellis was built for the back of the house wall, replacing a mesh of wires which inadequately supported the plants that clamber around this area.

The Top Garden had a pair of Viburnum tinis removed, it was deemed that these were nothing more than a mess, and the removal job only inflicted 2 hernias upon the Under Gardener. These have been replaced by a Freylinia lanceolata and a Griselinia littoralis 'Variegata'.

Another bed was devastated by the gale on 2nd December which smashed over our Grevillea 'Olympic Flame', which had grown to 2.4m - this is a great loss. We have resolved to rehash this whole bed next year, the results will dutifully presented in these pages.

The Paved Plant Maze progressed as most of the Aeoniums survived a long hard winter.

Beyond Civilisation had some more spring bulbs (daffs mainly) planted, hope they survive the excessive drought we had this year.

This Web site was temporarily relocated, but the different ISP added its own adverts. Problem solved in 2007.

2007 - Renovation after Gale Damage

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2007 was a very interesting year for weather - we had a drought in April – all water butts emptied. The rainy season started in May, and continued unabated until August.

The wet created a completely different garden from normal:- roses were worth growing, ferns did not sag, Japanese anemones grew to 5ft tall and produced flowers that did not droop. The arid lovers did nothing but grow. Since everything has put on vast amounts of growth this year we spent much of the Autumn cutting back to minimise damage from Autumn / Winter gales.

The Front Garden had some dramatic clearance carried out:-

This has provided much more light for the under-storey planting. But more importantly it gives the Head Gardener a much better view down the road - she needs to be able to check up on the activities in the street!

Near the House had no particular activity applied.

The Top Garden was affected by a vicious storm on the 2nd December 2006. This blew over our Grevillea alpina 'Olympic Flame', which had grown to 2.4m - this is a great loss. We resolved to rehash the bed, which was getting congested, but could not rip out everything since there are some mature plants that are unlikely to move successfully e.g. a Magnolia 'Susan' and a variegated Ilex.

This made the re-design more complicated (especially as Barum does not "do design"). The Management Committee (the Head Gardener plus one large gin) met to produce a recovery plan. The Committee produced its plan, and summoned the Under Gardener (with a cup of weak tea). He was given his instructions:-

Here is a view of the work to June 2007.

The Paved Plant Maze had an unruly Fuchsia magellanica entangled with an old Worcester Apple tree (see above). Orders were sent to the big shovel brigade to remove the Fuchsia (2 hernias).
This exposed a smaller red F. magellanica - "Rubbish - have it out" (no problem).
This exposed the Apple tree, whose main function had been to support the Fuchsia and the R 'Gypsy Boy' (moved from the Top Garden). "We'll have it out" the chairperson cried (a spinal transplant is now on order).
This exposed a poor little Pieris that had been struggling here for years. This has now been potted into some suitable compost, with some acidity and iron.
Whilst we were about it, a Rosemary and some other stuff were extracted.

The Clerodendron tricotomum now has plenty of space, and there is still a large amount of bare soil. A Pittisporum 'Garnettii' and an Acca sellowiana have been planted. Much more is planned.

Someone will be called upon to construct some frames to replace the Apple tree that supported the Clemates (plural?) and Rosa 'Gypsy Boy'.

Since this destruction, it has occurred to the Under Gardener that a Worcester Apple is a prolific pollinator - hope we still get some fruit from the Cox - the only Apple in the garden that earns its keep.

The Aeoniums continued to progress well, as reported on their own page.

Beyond Civilisation had nothing particular added, so a short description of this area is called for:

Barum strives to stay at the cutting edge of tasteless design; this section is dedicated to that ideal. It has been inspired by the numerous make-over programmes that convert a wonderful natural garden, into a building site, and eventually into an advert for expensive debris tastelessly dumped around a few very expensive specimen plants. Here, we have attempted to re-create the wonder that those people have destroyed.

However this is not just a wilderness, just a bit unruly. It has plants, which include a Salix matsudana “Tortuosa”; Deutzia scabra “Plena” and Crinodendron patagua (flowers most of the summer). These are under planted with naturalised Primroses (that are endemic in this garden), and many Daffodils.

There is also an island bed containing a Phormium tenax “Purpurea”, Stipa arundinacea and the ever-spreading Japanese Anemone.

The area is roughly mowed twice a year with a whirling blade, encouraging the unkempt appearance.

This Web site has now been successfully relocated, better make best use of the increased space offered.

2008 - Some Severe Thinning

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We opened the garden on 3 sequential Thursdays: May 29th, June 5th and 12th.The weather was generally kind, as were the comments from our visitors. More information on the weather can be found on the Weather Page.

The Front Garden

The Viburnum tinus, Tamarix and Berberis darwinii that were ruthlessly hewn back last year are all recovering well.

More importantly, the Head Gardener's improved view down the road is much appreciated. Now, nothing happens here without her knowing.

A wild Bee Orchid appeared among the gravel of the front drive. The Undergardener was dispatched to grovel in the gravel to get this picture.

Near the House

No particular activity.

The Top Garden

The bed that was renovated in 2007 following the storm of Dec 2006 is recovering well. Here is a picture taken in May 2008 (sorry about the Forget-me-nots).
The renovation of the Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Tom Thumb' has been completed. The renovation has been captured in a separate page.

In another bed there is an old apple tree. This decided to sprout a couple of pieces of Mistletoe a few years ago. This December it has produced some berries. I've had my eye on that tree for firewood ever since the gas prices started to escalate, another fruitless idea.

The Paved Plant Maze

The Greenhouse bed is where the Aeoniums and other succulents are planted. This had some dramatic reworking this year as reported on their own page.

The Narrow Bed had a Liriodendron tulipifera. This was planted about 10 years ago and was growing very well. It was decided that it was getting too big and casting too much shade. Furthermore, it won't flower for another half century. It had to be removed - another hernia.

The Cordyline Bed had an Abies koreana growing into the plant next door, and looking scruffy. "Out", she cried. The remainder of the bed is still being re-organised. Cleared Cordyline bed

The Tricotomum Bed had a mammoth renovation last year, which was reported in 2007. Here is a follow-up from this work:

The Veg Patch

Please see the Veg Page.

Beyond Civilisation

The Raspberry plants and the Victoria plum tree are planted in the Fruit cage, and the crops have been dropping off during the last few years. The Headgardener pointed the finger of guilt at an old Sophora tree, some boughs overhung the cage, cutting out the light.

A couple of boughs were pointed out to the Undergardener; "Have them off!" she screamed.
"What about the Honeysuckle that is strangling it?" "Get it off!"
"What about the the rose 'Madame Alfred Carriere'?" "That must not be harmed!"
"What about the old dead Laburnum trunk, that is supporting the Rose?" "Remove it, without harming the rose!"

However, when the Undergardener was lowering the ladder, it slipped. It fell perfectly on top of the rose, breaking it at 9inches above the ground - Whoops!
"Worry not" dear reader, within one month new growth could be seen.

2009 - Recovering from a very Hard Winter

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We opened the garden on 3 sequential Thursdays: July 16th, 23rd and 30th. It poured throughout the first opening, but was fine for the other two. The visitors were wonderful.
The thumbnail gives a view of the top part of the garden in August. As usual a larger image can be found clicking on the thumbnail.
Top Garden view 2009


What a Winter, reported as the coldest winter for 30years. At Barum the cold started at the beginning of December and didn't let up until the middle of February. The coldest temperature was −7°C, in January. Snow remained until the middle of February, then it started to warm up slowly.

The Winter was sufficiently noteworthy for the RHS to run a hardiness survey. Naturally Barum had to contribute, which is included on this website.
The RHS planned to publish the results in 2010, but since the 2009-10 Winter was even harder they have repeated the survey.

More information on the weather can be found on the Weather Page.

We lost many of our more delicate plants, particularly the Aeoniums and Lampranthus. We even lost some plants and cuttings overwintered in the frost-free greenhouse. Replacements were needed, so, at the end of May, we trotted off to join our daughter for a few days in Cornwall, our favourite plant hunting county.

The trip started wonderfully, but had a nasty sting in its tail.
We visited 4 garden centres on the first day and relieved them of a lot of stock.
The following evening the Headgardener slipped off the side of a slab bridge and twisted her knee sufficiently badly to detach a cruciate ligament together with a bit of bone.
We spent the following day at 2 hospitals. At 5pm a surgeon was dragged out of his theatre to give the benefit of his experience. The surgeon began to indicate that she was "an interesting case" (manifesting itself in the surgeon's eyes – they reflect a scalpel being honed), This caused panic to rise in Marian. By this time She could straighten her leg (probably thanks to the painkillers), and He was instructed to "Get me out of here", so off we went as fast as the wheelchair could be pushed.

The next day the pain had sufficiently subsided for Her to instruct the Undergardener "Head West" for the 5 garden centres we knew would stock interesting plants. Luckily, we found all but one provided wheelchairs.

Next day we travelled home with the rear seat of the car crammed with plants, and the boot filled with Barney Wheaten and our bags. Upon arrival we reported to our GP and got directed to the Weston hospital "bone repair shop". The hospital stated that we were wise to run away from the over-enthusiastic surgeon. They recommend "rest and exercise in appropriate proportions", where the term "appropriate" depends upon the individual's pain threshold!

The knee is still improving, but will never be as good as before – she still cannot kneel; not that the Undergardener often demands such signs of submission. If fact, now he does the kneeling - "and about time too" say all our friends.
She has had to tolerate many frustrations during her enforced idleness:-

After this experience, maybe the garden should be renamed "The Old Crockery".

Despite this there have been some development in the garden.

The Front Garden

At long last, the Yucca Gloriosa 'Variegata' flowered, it had been overshadowed by the Viburnum that was hacked back in 2007.
The Yucca filamentosa 'Variegate' also flowered.
As usual a larger image can be found clicking on the thumbnail.
Yucca Gloriosa 'Variegata' Yucca filamentosa 'Variegata'

Near the House

This includes a raised bed, protected by the house.

An Abutilon megapotamicum 'Variegatum' which had put on a lot of leggy growth. This was caught by the frost, making it very messy. It genus does not recover well if old wood is cut into. The Headgardener completely removed the long branches, leaving some new shoots growing from the base. These have grown well and produced a lovely crop of flowers.

A Trachelospermum jasminoides 'Variegatum' that had been trained over a trellis on the house wall. This had become too rampant, exceeding the range of the trellis. This is a pig to prune - it exudes a milky sap that ruins clothes. So the Headgardener found the loppers and hacked it off at base. After a few weeks it was deemed dead enough, and the Undergardener was ordered up a ladder to detach the dead shoots from the trellis. This was tricky since it had intertwined with a Rosa banksiae, which must not be damaged.

All the Lampranthus on this bed were killed. The new Cornish plants have been planted out - mostly in pots. A few managed to show some flower.

In another bed a Cestrum 'Newellii' was cut by half (about 1.2m). This was left until signs of recovery were evident (June) before we cut out the dead, had a gin and hoped. This has recovered, and even had some flowers - in September!

The Top Garden

As mentioned last year, an old apple tree decided to sprout some Mistletoe which produced some berries in December 2008. Here is a photo of them taken in December 2009. The few berries is a bit disappointing - the local flock of blue tits find them irresistible.
As usual a larger image can be found by clicking on the thumbnail.
Mistletoe on Apple
The renovation of the Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Tom Thumb' has been completed. The process has been captured in its own page.
The thumbnail gives a view of the bed containing Tom Thumb at the beginning of August.
As usual a larger image can be found at clicking on the thumbnail.
Island bed view 2009
Following a very idle holiday in Menorca with grandson and his parents, it was deemed the Undergardener was adequately refreshed to be set to work on a project that had been developing in the Headgardener's mind during her enforced idleness:- "The Rhamnus has got too big, and the Garrya is looking a mess (Winter wind burn). These must be removed." The job only took about a week to complete and the Undergardener's back will get better as soon as he stops wingeing.
The thumbnail gives a view of the newly planted bed after all the Undergardener's hard work, that gave the Headgardener a glow of satisfaction. The planting in this bed, from left to right, is:- Acer griseum, Enkianthus campanulatus 'Hiraethlyn', a Rhododendron hybrid, Acer shirasawanum 'Aureum' and Crinodendron hookerianum. The 3 smaller plants are the new ones. All had been planted in pots because they are supposed to need an acid soil, and they had become exceedingly pot-bound.
The A griseum and C hookerianum have thrived in this bed for many years and they are also supposed to prefer an acid soil.
This side of the garden has rusty looking chalk "stones", which I suspect indicates the presence of iron in the underlying rock, enabling acid lovers to survive there.
As usual a larger image can be found by clicking on the thumbnail.
New Bed 2009

The Paved Plant Maze

The Greenhouse bed has had such an exciting time that it also has its own page.
The Clerodendron tricotomum has grown magnificently. In fact it is now so tall that it is hard to fully appreciate the flowers / berries. During the Winter (2008-09) we gave it a light pruning, just to see if it would recover. It did, and the new growth was strong with many flowers. That has given us confidence to give it a harder pruning in early 2010 so that we can enjoy the wonderful show.
The top picture, taken in May, shows the trellis erected in Autumn 2008 and the pollarded Acer negundo 'Flamingo' just beginning to leaf up. Clerodendron tricotomum bed May
The lower picture, taken in August, shows Crinodendron tricotomum in flower. The the Acer negundo 'Flamingo' is now being strangled by a Clematis 'Royal Velours'. Clerodendron tricotomum bed August
The Cordyline Bed had the Deutzia 'Mont Rose' relocated as well as adding yet another Clematis. The remainder was left undisturbed.

The Veg Patch

This is reported on the Veg Page under 2009.

Last year an old Sophora tree had three boughs removed, and this year the Raspberry plants and the Victoria plum tree have fruited much better since they have got a lot more light.

We also heard that if late fruiting varieties of raspberries (we grow Joan J) do not have all their stems cut to the base each Winter, those that are left will give an early crop on the old stems, as well as the normal late crop on the new stems.
So we completely cut back about 2/3rds of the stems, and only cut off the top foot from the others. We got two good crops. After the early fruiting, I cut out the early and gave the plants a high potash feed.

Beyond Civilisation

The Winter severely burnt the Crinodendron patagua, hard to recognise it as an evergreen. The photo was taken in March, and leaves a lot to be desired – in the front are some branches of a Weigela, and the light green in the background is a conifer further up the garden.
Once new growth started the Undergardener removed the dead wood. The result was a very unsightly tree. After much thought, and a couple of gins, he pollarded the main trunk and tied some side shoots, growing from the base to the main stem. At the moment this looks strange.
If the main trunk does not re-sprout it will be removed and the side shoots left to make a new tree. Otherwise the side shoots will be removed.
You will be kept informed - maybe it will sprout its own page!
As usual a larger image can be found clicking on the thumbnail.
Crinodendron pat March

Rosa 'Madame Alfred Carriere', that got broken last year, has had its new growth destroyed by the local passing deer - who says they should be culled?

Website Changes

The following additional pages have been added:

The following pages have been significantly enhanced:

2010 − A Year with Winter at both Ends

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We opened the garden on 3 sequential Thursdays: June 24th, July 1st and 8th. The weather was dry for all our openings. As normal, the visitors were wonderful.
The thumbnail gives a view of the top part of the garden in early June, anyone wanting to examine any image in greater detail has only to click on the thumbnail.
Top Garden view 2010

Headgardener's Knee

The Headgardener's damaged knee improved during the year, but will never be as good as before, this has resulted in Barney having to go to a professional haircut shop, naturally the Undergardener pays.
The first picture shows him in snowboots last January, and the other one after a very posh hairdo in early May.
Snow Boots Jan 2010 Barney after hairdo May 2010

Luca is now 4.

We had a lovely few days with them in the New Forest in August, when we visited a Theme Park, like you do.
The Grandmother made him a Dalek cake for his 4th birthday.
He was introduced into the magic of sparklers when they came down for Guy Fawkes.
Fireworks 2010
Luca at theme park Dalek 4 Bday

Meanwhile in the Garden

The Weather

The previous Winter was bad, but this was a lot worse. The first frost wasn't until early December, and we had snow in mid December, and another dose in January. In January we recorded the lowest temperature since we moved here in 1991: −8°C, not cold for the UK, but this is balmy Clevedon.
It was the coldest winter since 1962-3, when I, a callow youth, commuted between Barnet (Herts) and Rochester (Kent) each week on a Vespa − very chilly.

This Winter was long, as well as hard − it remained continuously cold until April with the wind stuck in the North. In early Spring there was very little cloud cover so the day temperatures were warm, and very cold at night, with the wind in the North. So the plants put out a lot of delicate new growth only to be shrivelled off by the night frost.
We lost more of our more delicate plants, even some in the "frost-free" greenhouse, the heater was not up to the job.

Normally this ramble only addresses the Winter at the start of the year, but this year it had a special treat at the end − 50mm snow at the end of November that laid for about a week; then 80mm in mid December that gave us a white Christmas.
The blobbed yew made a very festive subject on Christmas Day. Guess who has to trim this overgrown Xmas pudding each year? Yes, we had to stay at home for Christmas, on our own − first time ever.
Yew Xmas 2010

The RHS was so impressed by this weather that they repeated their hardiness survey. Naturally Barum had to get involved, and our contributions to both reviews are included on this website. The RHS now plan to publish the results in 2011.

We have been recording the weather in greater detail during this year.

The Front Garden

A pine that the Headgardener thought would look good by the front wall was decapitated to a 2m post. The Undergardener was immediately instructed to build a trellis box round the stump, and another Clematis and a Solanum was planted at its base. The trellis had to extend beyond the top of the stump so that She could sit a pot on top, planted up with Trailers e.g. Rhodochiton.

Near the House

An Abutilon megapotamicum 'Variegatum' which had been cut back last spring, took another bashing, but was not killed. It was tidied up, and produced some new growth from the base − it even produced a few flowers in late Summer.

The replacement Lampranthus, bought from Cornwall last year, had been split − some were planted out and some were kept in pots. Those in pots survived the Winter, along with the inevitable cuttings. But since the Spring was so late very few gave a decent show of flowers.

The Cestrum 'Newellii' was again cut back badly. Its recovery was so messy that it was dug out. It will be replaced by Cestrum roseum 'Linacullin', which is still in a pot. We were caught out by the unexpected late November Snow, and it had not been put under cover − it is now (Dec 2010) under cover. Let's hope it survives.

The Top Garden

Glorying in Last Year's success

Last Year's efforts to plant out some acid lovers: Acer griseum, Enkianthus campanulatus 'Hiraethlyn', a Rhododendron hybrid, Acer shirasawanum 'Aureum' have settled in very well, The left picture is after planting (September 2009), and the other was taken in early June 2010.
Crinodendron Bed Sept 2009 Crinodendron Bed June 2010

Dead Photinia

This bed had a Pittosporum 'Irene Patterson', the pride of this bed, planted on the corner as a sentinel. There was also a Photinia 'Red Robin' and an old Salvia microphylla. These had all grown together as shown in the left photo (June 2007).
Owing to the hard Winter and persistent cold Spring winds, the Photinia 'Red Robin' died. The Salvia had grown leggy and had been twined into the Photinia.
It became obvious that restorative hewing and digging was needed − both the Photinia and the Salvia had to go, but what about the Pittosporum? It was 3m high (pruning department failure).
.The committee met (The Headgardener and a large gin) and decided that the Pittosporum had to go − it was too large and would show a lot of dead wood when the others were removed.
So, the Undergardener was summoned, fully fitted with hernia trusses and set to remove all three.
This exposed a great openness and a huge rock − Who put it there?, How? Why?
What to plant? Naturally there was another Pittosporum 'Irene Patterson', purchased a couple of years earlier and sitting in a pot. Why was it bought? I have no idea − I leave you to imagine. This was planted on the corner.
There were couple of Acers loitering in the wings awaiting repotting, these were plonked (artistically) on the bed. Acer palmatum 'Seiryu' (the green one) was placed so that it managed to drape over the rock − very oriental. Acer shirasawanum 'Autumn moon' was placed alongside.
The results of all this hard work is shown in the right photo (May 2010).
This photo shows that these plants had hidden the covered bench thingy, where gin is partaken and many plants are overwintered, protected by a mesh screen attached to the sides − we lose more plants from cold wet than frost.
Old Pitt IP bed June 2007 New Pitt IP and Acers May 2010

Magnolia Removal

Since it was a quiet year for the Headgardener, she had time to prowl the garden looking for some work to load upon the Undergardener. Eventually she came to rest at a bed where she had great success a few years ago − renovating the Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Tom Thumb'.
Having decided this was the bed that needed some renovation, the Undergardener was summoned and introduced to her latest plan:
  • Move those rocks out of the way, they are only half sunk into the soil so cannot weigh more than 200Kg;
  • Dig out the Magnolia, it has got too big and shading the Rose and Bottle Brush I squeezed in there many years ago;
  • Dig out the Holly, it is pretty, but making the congestion even worse;
  • Ensure you get all the roots out − I don't want to come across any when I dig planting holes.
  • Replace the rocks in an artistic fashion − as directed, then you can have a gin.
  • I will have one with you and decide what I'm gong to plant!

I have shamelessly re-used a picture from last year, since it shows the variegated Holly and the Magnolia she wanted "OUT".
The middle picture shows a similar view of the area without these trees. The chair in the middle picture was used by the project's architect to "guide" (shout at) the labour force.
The right picture shows the empty space awaiting the Headgardener's wisdom.
Island bed view 2009 Island bed view 2010 Empty Bed Sept 2010

The Paved Plant Maze

The Greenhouse bed continues to consider itself too important for this page, it has its own!

Acacia baileyana 'Purpurea

This Acacia baileyana 'Purpureum' used to be one of their favourite plants − producing a mass of bright yellow flowers in Winter to brighten up their dull lives, and my new shoots have very interesting purple leaves.
They left me out in the cold, without even a fleece cloak, for the last two Winters.
I put on a show in January despite the frost (Left photo).
But the remainder of the winter remained cold, taking its toll on my weakened constitution, killing off all my beautiful branches exposed to the brutal North-easterly winds.
However, I am not dead yet, by July I had produced prolific new growth along my trunk (middle photo).
Just to complete the insult, they even used me as a clothes horse to drape a Rhodochiton atrosanguineum over my damaged limbs (right photo) − what next?
All they have to do is give me a sympathetic pruning, wrap me up for the Winter and I will be as good as new.
Acac BP flower Jan new trunk growth Used as clothesline

The Veg Patch

Details of our successes in the realms of food production are reported on the veg pages under 2010.

A Question of Compost

The Undergardener had one of those moments in early September: There we all were walking Barney by the Marine Lake in sunny Clevedon when he noticed a group of men with a digger, dumper truck and a small lorry. They were clearing seaweed that had been thrown onto the footpath by a recent storm / high tide. Tragically, when we were walking back to the car they were unloading the dumper truck into the lorry, and his eyes saw free soil conditioner. The lorry man confirmed he was taking it to the dump, and would be very happy to deposit it in the Undergardener's front garden. This he duly did - magic.
Even though it was a very small lorry, it is amazing how many wheelbarrow loads it holds. Some was spread round the front garden. There was very limited space on the veg patch - too many crops still in the ground. The Headgardener was very sniffy about dumping it upon her prize shrubs.
So the Undergardener had to create a pile in a quiet corner where the birds can enjoy the creepy crawlies that live in beached seaweed. In December the heap is still in place, but has shrunk as it has fermented, the Undergardener will have no problem in shifting this slimy sludge to the veg patch, and the quality of next year's veg will prove he made a very wise decision.

Beyond Civilisation

The Headgardener has taken the name of this section to heart − this year she used it as a dumping ground for all those plants that died or were not up to her standard following the 2 hard winters. The remaining space has been taken over, by the Headgardener, as a depository for the dead and dying− particularly the Dicksonia antarctica which had survived 10 years. I wonder who will recover the pot, INTACT.
The island bed was dominated by a Phormium tenax 'Purpurea'. It was cut back to a few sickly shoots − the remnants are now in the "plant recovery ward". This bed has taken on a pretty flowery look!! − will it revert?
The Crinodendron patagua, as mentioned last year, was treated to the Undergardener's little electric saw to reduce it to a height of about 2m in late Summer 2009. There was further damage last Winter, but the trunk did break, and by the end of the Summer 2010, it looked almost elegant (why no photo?).
There is an old tree at the bottom of the garden that has been referred to as a Sophora. This year it flowered for the first time since we moved here, and we can now confirm it to be a Sophora japonica, two photos below taken in early September.

Website Changes

The following additional pages have been added:

The following pages have been significantly enhanced:

Sophora jap Soph jap flower

2011: Several Limited Improvements

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NGS Openings

We opened the garden later this year - 28th July, 4th and 11th August, which went very well. The weather was dry for all our openings.
The thumbnail gives a view of the top part of the garden in July, Barney considers his inclusion enhances any picture taken in this garden.

Top Garden view 2011

Luca at 5

Luca is now 5, and started school in September, how time flies. For his birthday he was taken to London to get acclimatised for his take-over in a few years time.

Luca at Tower Bridge

Meanwhile in the Garden

The Weather

The previous 2 Winters had been bad, but this was different, the early snow in November and December 2010 clobbered a lot of plants that were still growing − causing a lot of damage to the growing tip.
Once the snow melted in early January, the weather was mild and dry. This was followed by the great drought of Spring.
The result was many plants died, some supposedly "hardy", whereas several "tender" plants came through unscathed. The death of plants has dutifully been maintained on this website, viewable via the link on the plant list page.
This, naturally gave the Headgardener the opportunity to introduce changes - most of which involved the Undergardener pain and distress, which is good for him!?

The Summer was fairly dry, but without much sun, the plants loved it, and a most productive year for soft fruit.

The Autumn was very mild, in fact the warmest week of the year was at the end of September / start of October. The first frost held off until mid December. Salvias continued flowering into the new year.

The Front Garden

A Correa 'Marians Marvel' and Chimonanthus praecox were so badly damaged by the winter, that the Headgardener decided to dig them out, they have been replaced by a Sambucus nigra 'Blacklace'.

Near the House

Our Abutilon megapotamicum 'Variegatum' was severely distorted, but regenerated itself during the Summer, by producing a new plant from suckers - this is amazing as I thought suckers would produce a reverted form - non-variegated − but no.

The Top Garden

Acer davidii Out

An Acer davidii had grown lop-sided because it was overshadowed by our Ceonothus 'Trewithen Blue'. This annoyed the Headgardener sufficiently to instruct the Undergardener to remove it. Without any argument, he leapt to the task (must be going senile). This created a space to challenge the planting skills of herself − no problem: a Lomatia myricoides had been languishing in a pot outside the house for since 2006, also several Salvias that had been struck from cuttings.
A Clematis texensis 'Gravetye Beauty' had been using the Acer as a climbing post. Where does it grow now? She bodged up a cheap wigwam thing, and expects something better to be done by opening time 2012.
The Yellow Variegated shrub on the left is Elaeagnus x ebbingei Gilt Edge, and the more subtly variegated towards the right is Griselinia littoralis 'Variegata'.
The thumbnail shows the area just after replanting. Shame "her" wigwam blocks the view of the Lomatia.
New Lomatia Bed

The removal of the Acer also exposed the decaying state of the Ceonothus 'Trewithen Blue', which has been a wonderful plant. However, over the last 3 years it has been infected by bracket fungus − don't ask me which one − and suffered a lot of winter die-back. Several branches have been taken off, but now its true condition glares us in the face. The Undergardener has made a decision (normally frowned upon) to remove all the top-growth once it has flowered this Spring (2012). In 2011 it produced a lot of new growth from the trunk, so this may prolong its life, but it will look a lot less ungainly.

New Path

A very cute conifer (Goldcrest) had been planted about 15 years ago - what a stupid idea, she knows what these things do. Anyway, a man with a chainsaw was passing, so he was dragged in and instructed to chop it down to a 6ft stump − these are used at Barum for Clematis, saving the Undergardener the job of building even more trellis. Once the debris had been cleared away, the Undergardener was summoned and introduced to her latest plan:

  • We will rebuild that path - just relocate those rocks to make a retaining wall, there are only 2 weighing more than 200Kg;
  • I will make a bark path, so dig out all the grass round the back of the boat (don't ask why a home-made gazebo is so-called), and make the path edging out of conifer branches;
  • Lay down some membrane, then hump a load of bark chippings down the garden, and spread it flat;
  • Hump that Acer pot - it's only 15inch across, and made of concrete just over there;
  • Once you've finished you may have a gin. I will have two while I decide where I'm gong to artistically place my new plants.
New Bark Path View New planting
The new plants included a white Camellia japonica 'Jurys Yellow'. The left image shows the posh new path, and the right image shows the extended bed and some of its planting.

Extend a Bed

An uneven lump of lawn that abutted a narrow bed was the excuse for the bed to be made deeper, and simplified the job of building up the grass dip.
The extra area of bed was quickly planted up with a Hydrangea involucrata 'Hortensis' and an Ugni molinae 'Flambeau', just visible in the photo.
Deepened Bed

The Paved Plant Maze

The Greenhouse bed continues to consider itself too important for this page, it has its own!

Olea europaea

I, like many others around me, got a good clobbering last December.
But look, I am recovering well, albeit I have an asymmetrical shape, which "They" plan to correct next Spring by amputating (without anaesthetic) my top branch. Let's all hope that we have seen the last of these brutal Winters, after all You all stay snug and warm indoors whereas I have to just stand here and take all that the skies throw at me.

Acacia baileyana

Despite our Acacia baileyana 'Purpurea''s brave claims last year (See 2010's report), it did not survive the Winter so it was reluctantly dug up

Clerodendron tricotomum

What has happened to this wonderful tree.
  • It shrugged off the Winter's freeze.
  • It leafed up well and produced new growth.
  • It produced flower buds.

Then, in June after the great drought was over the leaves and buds began to shrivel and drop.
We sent pictures and description to the RHS, hoping for advice. They replied that they thought it was a root problem − please send in a sample.
There is no way the Undergardener was going to risk accessing a piece of root − he was bound to cause unheard of damage to the Headgardener's planting − great wrath would be cast upon him. So it continued to wither.
The plan was to pollard it in the Winter and see if carrying less leaf area will help the poor old thing to cope with the 18 inches of light soil overlaying the great limestone soakaway − there are probably caves down there.

Withering Cler Tric

The Veg Patch

Details of our successes in the realms of food production are reported on the veg pages under 2011.

A Question of Seaweed

Last year these pages mentioned about Barum being the grateful recipient of a lorry-load of Seaweed. This proved to be a wonderful decision by the Undergardener − the crops delivered to the kitchen department have been magnificent this season. I won't crow about it, just thought it was worth a mention.

Beyond Civilisation

The Undergardener has spent a lot of effort here this year, culminating in the removal of another scruffy old Conifer. It had grown out of its space, causing the Undergardener to stoop to just get by it.
The space has been used to plant more Spring bulbs (it's a dry / shady area), but more excitement may happen next year. The worry is that this area may soon have to be re-named.

Website Changes

The following additional pages have been added:

The following pages have been significantly enhanced:

2012: The Wettest Summer Ever

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Family Report

Both the kids moved house in February, Jacqui and Andrew managing to beat Stephen and Monica by one week, why do they always move at the same time.
Stephen and Monica have moved into a new build, so their problems are of a teething nature, like working out how to control the heating controls, and being presented with a blank canvas for a garden.
By contrast Jacqui's and Andrew's was built in the thirties and needs a lot of work. This was made worse by a toilet cistern cracking while they were away for a weekend, the cold tank bursting and a roof veranda seeping during this year's tropical weather.

From our point of view, before their moves they lived within 5 miles, so a single visit, over a long weekend, could encompass both households; whereas now we have to span 2 weekends spending one weekend at each.
However, we have been kept occupied − Marian managed to alter several of Stephen and Monicas' curtains. She has just started making her first set of curtains for Jacqui and Andrew's house. Roger has been kept occupied with the normal moving in jobs, like hanging curtain poles and finding a garden beneath 6 month's growth.

The old man had an auspicious birthday this year, and was taken out for a fabulous meal. The photos speak for themselves - a 6 year old has better dress sense than his 70 year old grandfather. Luca in 
Wearing casual

Garden Report

NGS Openings

We opened the garden on 3 sequential Thursdays − 5th, 12th and 19th July. The weather was dryish for 2 of our openings, but on one day it did not stop raining the whole afternoon, we got drenched, but an amazing 17 visitors came - braver than us.

The thumbnail gives a view of the top part of the garden in June.

Top Garden view 2012

The Weather

I'm not sure I want to remember this year in the garden. Never before can I remember a year like it - a drought and warmth in March, and non-stop weather for the rest of the year.
One good thing about this weather was that the Headgardener could not come up with too many "good ideas" for garden "improvements". This has saved the Undergardener a lot of pain and distress, even though pain is good for him!?

The Front Garden

No special activities were carried out here.

Near the House

Our Abutilon megapotamicum 'Variegatum' was severely distorted, but reproduced itself during the Summer, by producing a new plant from suckers - this is amazing as I thought suckers would produce a reverted form - non-variegated − but no.

The Top Garden

Acer davidii 'George Forrest'

This Acer is one of the snake Bark maples with reddish bark on their new growth. This shows up to its best in winter. However, the Headgardener did not take account of the fact that it would grow to more than 4m x 3m. It grew very well but cast a shade over one of our "sunny" beds, and the roots had grown under the side path, so it had to go.
By the end of the year the weather conditions had only allowed taking the top growth off, so the daunting part of grovelling in the mud to remove the roots remains.
Naturally I am not in a position to describe the replacement planting − I blame the weather again.
The thumbnail shows the tree in Jul 2011.
All avid readers of this spiel will have come to the conclusion that no tree is safe at Barum. Almost true, it is just that the Headgardener is always trying to maximise the areas of the garden not bathed in shade for the majority of the day.
Acer davidii George Forrest

Ceonothus 'Trewithen Blue'

As reported last year, this wonderful tree has been decimated by bracket fungus. No magic was available to cure it, so it has continued to decline. I will be forced to move its entry to the "Dead Plant List" despite it still putting out pathetic shoots. I have no plans to dig it up − too onerous a proposition, maybe it will be hewn to ground level.

Extend a Bed

The bed that was recently extended has been enhanced by the presence of a new Coral Bark acer − Acer palmatum 'Sango-kaku'. So far it is progressing well.

The Paved Plant Maze

The Greenhouse bed continues to consider itself too important for this page, it has its own!

Olea europaea

This was tidied up following the cold Winters, and the only damage so far this year is one branch broken by the snow.

Clerodendron tricotomum

In January the Undergardener started to prune this wonderful tree (the Headgardener stays indoors until the temperature exceed 15°C) and found a lot of die-back, extending to the main trunk − it is dead!!
Despite this tree's unwanted demise, its skeleton has performed a worthwhile function by supporting Clematis viticella 'Mme Julia Correvon' − one of the Headgardener's thugs that needs a large structure to keep it out of the Undergardener's way.
It's a shame that this will be a temporary solution because the wood structure of a Clerodendron is very soft, and will lose its strength in just a few years, resulting in the Undergardener being called upon, yet again, to build a trellis type of structure to support another of her thugs.

The Veg Patch

Details of our successes in the realms of food production are reported on the veg pages under 2011.

Beyond Civilisation

The Undergardener has spent a lot of effort here this year, culminating in the removal of another scruffy old Conifer. It had grown out of its space, causing the Undergardener to stoop to just get by it.
The space has been used to plant more Spring bulbs (it's a dry / shady area), but more excitement may happen next year. The worry is that this area may soon have to be re-named.

Website Changes

No significant changes to the design, only the normal updates. Is this an indication of perfection or author's indolence?

2013 − A Double Celebration

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Family Report

There were 2 auspicious events this year:-
Marian attained the grand old age of 70, so she is now officially "old" just like Roger
Jacqui and Andrew got married.

The wedding was in Glasgow (don't ask why) on 1st June, so we travelled up on the preceding Friday, just a few days after Marian's birthday. Jacqui had organised a cake for her − together with a suitable topper (there is no image of the cake).

The wedding cake was topped by another suitable statuette of the happy couple.
suitable topper JQ and Andrew Topper
We all had a wonderful at the wedding, despite the parents being misused as cake decorators on the morning of the wedding.
You may be surprised to hear that Marian didn't get given the job of making the cake, and taking it to Scotland as cabin luggage, but she did assemble and decorate it − it was built up of three layers different cheeses (Camembert, Cheddar and Cashel Blue). This had to be decorated with fruit berries − shame the pomegranites had been frozen, so it was a challenge to select enough unmushed examples.

Luca was very proud to be a pageboy, and wore a kilt.
JQ and Andrew

Garden Report

At last we had a decent Summer. The garden must be feeling old (just like the Headgardener) − a huge bough fell off an old Prunus, more below.

The thumbnail gives a view of the top part of the garden in June. I have chosen this view since it shows the growth of the Prunus, even before this season's growth − when the Wisteria is in flower.
Top Garden view 2013

NGS Openings

We opened the garden late in the year: 1st, 8th and 15th August. It was dry for all our openings, a very pleasant change and we had our highest attendance since we changed our openings to a Thursday.
We have decided to take a year off next year to catch up on some other jobs in the garden / house, the Headgardener is already drawing up a list.

The Weather

The year started with the remnants of the wetness from 2012. Then March arrived with a great chill, knocking back any early growth. This set the pattern of all plants being late, which continued throughout the Summer. Once Summer did arrive, there were a couple of very warm months, which were gorgeous. Autumn continued very mild, and the year ended with a return of the rain.

The Front Garden

One of our garden visitors stated that her mother was going into a home, and that she had a large Aloe vera in a pot in her garden that was destined for the tip. She decided we would make a suitable home for it, so would we please collect it (luckily, very local) and use it to enhance our garden.
We duly went to have a look, and found an Agave americana 'Marginata' overflowing a 45cm ceramic pot standing about 120cm high. We chopped off the excessive leaves, wrapped it in several layers of corrugated paper, trolleyed it to the car, pulled a muscle heaving it into the back.
Back at home, it was unloaded and placed in the closest suitable spot, and hobbled about for the next ten days.

Near the House

No new changes were carried out here, but I thought I would include an image of a much neglected area behind the garage. Barney is always available to enhance any view. View to Plant-port.

The Top Garden

The Acer davidii 'George Forrest' Bed

As planned from last year (amazing that some plans are actually carried out) this Acer was dug out.
The picture was taken of the Azara serrata, but shows the gap left by the Acer, showing, in the bottom left of the image can be seen an Ugni molinae 'Flambeau', a very colourful form of the Chilean Guava (Myrtaceae family).
I have cut out this section of the picture to give you a better view. This is on the limit of quality.
bed following Acer dav GF removal

The Paved Plant Maze

The Greenhouse bed continues to consider itself too important for this page, it has its own!

Echium Pininana

We managed to get an Echium pininana through the winter by covering it with a "wigwam" made from old conservatory.
What is more, it flowered this Summer − well done Undergardener.
Meanwhile, in the greenhouse, there were another two that had completely outgrown their pots, grown to about 60cm, and rooting through to the soil − I will just mention that this area is under the care and responsibility of the Headgardener. The Undergardener stepped into the breach, extracted them and planted them in thegarden. They have been protected for the Winter in a similar manner to our wonderful one that flowered this year. It was even photographed.

Ensete Ventricosum

The Ensete ventricosum 'Maurelii' we had bought as a 30cm offset in 2010, displayed in the garden during the Summer months, and over-Wintered in the conservatory.
Not surprisingly, this has become too large for its pot, and any bigger pot could not be humped into the conservatory (without a high risk of damaging the Undergardener). So, the Undergardener offered to dig a huge hole and it was planted. It has been wrapped up and covered by the ubiquitous wigwam made from conservatory roofing.
We give it a 50% chance of surviving the Winter, so another 30cm replacement was purchased to take the place of its huge cousin. Here they are shown growing contentedly together.

Prunus cerasifera

One of the most architectural plants at Barum is this tree, and it had grown considerably over the last few years.
Late in the Summer a large bough broke off, as seen in the left hand photo taken on 9th Sept 2013. Luckily it missed most of the surrounding plants, and both Head and Undergardeners. The bough was about 5m long and had a 20cm diameter at the base.
The tree became badly out of balance after losing this bough, so we decided to get the canopy severely reduced, as shown in the right hand photo taken on 23rd Oct 2013.
This amount of damage is quite likely to kill the tree ultimately, that would be a great pity.
Broken Prunus Chopped Prunus

The Veg Patch

Details of our successes in the realms of food production are reported on the veg pages.

Beyond Civilisation

Since the Undergardener did such a wonderful job on this area last year, he allowed it to settle down and develop. In other words he couldn't be bothered to do any more work down here.
The spring bulbs made a wonderful display in April − a month late thanks to the bitter Spring we had.

Website Changes

No significant changes to the design, only the normal updates. Is this an indication of perfection or author's indolence?

2014 − Two New Lives and A Long Marriage

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Family Report

There were several notable events in 2014:- We have a granddaughter; we lost our Wheaten Terrier Barney, and got a new Wheaten puppy Teddy. Also, in passing, we've been married 50 years.

Alice is our new granddaughter, born to Monica and Stephen on the 19th of August, they are thrilled.
Luca is over the moon at the thought of having a sister, and is being a great help to both parents.
The grandmother also over the moon - but many think she has lived in that vicinity for years.
Wrapped up Alice With Luca

Jacqui and Andrew are still renovating their house in London − with no end in sight (we were assured it would be completed last June, but all large projects tend to overrun?!). The parents have had to assist in the garden − it's hard for my Headgardener to keep her hands off, despite being demoted to Undergardener at their house. Our Undergardener has been demoted to Odd Job Man.

Our Barney suddenly developed a very aggressive cancer, and died very quickly. We went through the inevitable sensible questions: surely we're too old to bring up (train?) a new pup; it is so much easier not to have any dog impacting our ability to just go out / away, no need to find a shady spot wherever we park; etc, etc.
All this common sense was to no avail, we rarely go away, and the house would be too tidy and almost clean without all the muddy feet flying about. The final straw was that there was a new litter born on Marian's birthday - our fate was sealed. He arrived at the end of July, and we are still in a state of shock. Our education of (or should it be "by") the new arrival will, no doubt be reflected below, and over the next few years.
Happy Christmas

Incidentally, we've been married for 50 years - something to do with Gold we're told.
We took the kids to a lovely little restaurant in London (they found it - naturally), and had a wonderful time (and food).
Apparently, other parts of our family and friends have concluded we have become miserable old gits - hey ho you can't please all the people all the time.

Garden Report

It is impossible to dig any soil without "help", and any soft soil is meant to dug up - we have always cursed badgers for digging the lawn, and deer for chewing new shoots, now we have our own resident garden wrecker. Barney used to nick plant labels and show them off to us, whereas the Teddy chews them up, even swallows bits of them.

NGS Openings

We had decided to take a year off this year to catch up on some other jobs in the garden / house. This was very wise as we now had a pup, but the list the Headgardener very quickly got diluted until it was completely ignored.
We planned to open again in 2015, got as far as registering, but chickened out just in time owing to hassle with extra time needed to refine the pruning and digging techniques of our new apprentice. Maybe we're too cautious.

The Weather

This is covered in the "Introduction to the Veg Patch", so, in the interest of my idleness (and to emphasise Veg's importance), I will not repeat it here.
However it was an exceptionally mild Winter and early Spring. Additionally, we had a very warm / dry Summer, In fact when we picked up the pup in early August it was so hot all we could do was loaf in the shade in the garden − he began to think his whole world was outdoors.

The thumbnail gives a view of the top part of the garden in June.
Top Garden view 2014

The Front Garden

Only maintenance carried out here − couldn't leave the pup.

Near the House and The Top Garden

Only maintenance carried out here. I can hear the insults flying, after all even before we took on the onerous responsibility of a new pup we had to visit the Son and spent a week there slaving over his garden and hanging pictures, shelves etc. Then we went on to the daughter where we were put to work trying to control a Wisteria that was threatening to engulf every other plant in the garden.
The trip culminated in our fabulous celebration of 50 years in a fabulous little restaurant in the West End.

The Paved Plant Maze

The Greenhouse bed

The Aloe has at last been correctly identified as Aloe striatula, which is said to be hardy throughout the UK. Something I can well believe since it is now getting so big it needs hacking back, and it flowers wonderfully. Aloe bed 2014

Meanwhile, the Aeonium collection was planted out, but continues to consider itself too important for this page, , but the author has refused to update that page since there is no point in trying to improve on the Headgardener's perfect display!

Phyllostachys nigra

The black Bamboo has out-grown its space, it has become a clump at least 1M diameter. Also, a Pittosporum in the same bed has grown too wide and cutting it back has left a load of dead sticks (and we were assured these can always be renovated).
So this Winter the Undergardener has been set to work to dig up both plants; discarding the Pittosporum, but ensuring the Bamboo is extracted in usable clumps, some to be replanted at the end of the bed where the Pittosporum was, and the remainder to be transported to Hertfordshire for planting in the Son's garden.
You will be shocked to hear that, at years end, this task has not been completed. The Headgardener considers the Undergardener to have failed, but she doesn't understand the problems of working close to the ground splitting the Bamboo roots, with saw, axe and splitting wedge, whilst an ever interested puppy is trying to get in on the act with extra random digging and thieving of any wooden handled tool.
So this tale is to be continued next year.

Prunus cerasifera

This has leafed up well and put on a good metre of growth, with no sign of weakness or disease, but time will tell.

The Veg Patch

Details of our successes in the realms of food production are reported on the veg pages.

Beyond Civilisation

A couple of Dahlias, bought without any position in mind, have been planted here. These produced quite a few flowers in late Summer. Naturally, at Barum, no-one will bother to lift them over Winter confident they will settle and spread to make an even more impressive display in future years − must to protect the new shoots from slugs next Spring.

Website Changes

No significant changes to the design, only the normal updates. Is this an indication of perfection or author's indolence?

2015 − An uneventful Year

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Family Report

2015 was a quiet year with no outstanding events to report. The family are all well, Luca is growing up fast, and Alice is progressing well, and now being very mobile can get into a lot of trouble.
The Head- and Under-gardeners are facing their increasing decrepidation by just ignoring it

Luca Kayaking With Luca by fireplace I'm awake

Jacqui and Andrew have almost finished renovating their house in London. Their enjoyment of this type of "hobby" has led them into looking for a new house to start renovating.
The parents will probably be called in to "assist".

Our Teddy has grown in size, and there are now signs that he may become a well-behaved dog − at least that is what he is training us to believe.
As shown in the photos, he knows the Yew is his, and makes good use of it as a scratching bush − and made a scoop to help with this task.
In front of Yew Inside Yew

We are showing our age, and being reminded what it is to have a young dog around. Teddy is trying his best to train us with his new tricks.

Garden Report

As the year progressed Teddy tended to go into a digging frenzy less often. Any new planting had a surround of wire netting which has been a successful ploy. In the veg patch I used lidless cold frames as barriers, and left them in place for the whole year. Interestingly, the carrots showed no sign of carrot fly damage, I will use this scheme again.

NGS Openings

We had planned to re-open in 2015, got as far as registering, but chickened out just in time owing to hassle with extra time needed to refine the pruning and digging techniques of our new apprentice. Maybe we're too cautious.

The Weather

This is covered in the "Introduction to the Veg Patch", so, in the interest of idleness (and to emphasise Veg's importance), I will not repeat it here.
However, it was another mild, fairly dry but cloudy Winter. The Spring was very dry, but germination was good. Summer was a disappointment with only a very brief spell of hot weather.Autumn was average with a very dry spell in October.

The Front Garden

Only maintenance carried out here − couldn't leave the pup.

Near the House and The Top Garden

Only maintenance carried out here.
The first thumbnail gives a view of the top part of the garden in September.
The other on shows the "Fern Bed" in August.
Top Garden view 2015 View Fern bed August 2015

The Paved Plant Maze

The Greenhouse bed

The Aloe striatula has had some side-shoots hacked off, in fact if these are pushed into soft soil, they seem to root themselves without any help. Aloe bed 2015

Meanwhile, the Aeonium collection was planted out, but continues to consider itself too important for this page, but the author has refused to update that page since there is no point in trying to improve on the Headgardener's perfect display!

Phyllostachys nigra

The Undergardener continued with his task of extracting this beast − with great help from puppy. The result is that we now have a 30cm diameter black Bamboo planted in the location previously occupied by the Pittisporum.
This is considered, by the author of this drivel, to have been a great success for the Undergardener. Furthermore, 6 clumps were made available (free) to the son − each one normally sells at more than £30. not surprisingly, these have now all been transferred to his back garden in Hertfordshire.

Prunus cerasifera

This continues to thrive, but the loss of the branch has provided an interesting view across this section of the garden. Our Nandina domestica is on the left, the Musa ventricosum is in the mid-distance and the bright leaves behind the Musa are the Acer negundo 'Flamingo'. The red flowers spotted through the Acer are from Clematis viticella 'Royal Velours'.

Better pictures of the individual plants are available in the Plant List.
View to the Musa bed

The Veg Patch

Details of our successes in the realms of food production are reported on the veg pages.

Beyond Civilisation

Owing to higher priorities − pup wasting time, little was done in this area, we eventually got it weeded, but it gave a wonderful show of cow parsley in early Summer. The Dahlias have spread, and gave a wonderful show in the Autumn.

Website Changes

No significant changes to the design, only the normal updates. Is this an indication of perfection or author's indolence?

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