10am to 5pm.
Following the disappointment of the 2020 lockdown, we are hoping to open our garden to visitors 2021, with social distancing rules of course. We are opening for an hour longer this year to spread out our visitors.
We look forward to things returning to normality and we hope to be able to open our garden in 2021. In the meantime please keep yourselves safe.
Much of our spare time this year was spent on the pagoda project, so that routine garden maintenance jobs were somewhat neglected, until recently. However we have nearly caught up now, despite the time spent clearing up the fallen conifer. The year old contents of our leaf-mould tower have been spread over our Epimediums, growing in the beds. Our large bin containing perhaps three cubic yards of homemade garden compost has been spread over beds containing other perennials.
On inclement days while I have been writing blogs or working on the aquariums, Linda has been busy with her scissors, tape measure and sewing machine, making cushions for our four triangular pagoda seats. We searched for a considerable time on eBay for an oriental fabric suitable for upholstery, and the final choice was one depicting koi carp.
It was growing out of a stand of bamboo, Sasa palmata and the base of the trunk shattered with half of the bowl lifting and half remaining in the ground. It fell in an Easterly direction completely crossing over our right hand neighbours’ garden and going well into their right hand neighbours’ property.
Battens were screwed to the upright posts and horizontal beams, and flooring and the painted ply glued and screwed to the battens with small stainless steel screws. I used these rather than panel pins which seem to rust eventually and produce brown staining in the wood.
I made window frame profile wood using the table saw again, to make an L profile to take glass with the addition of a strip of wood to retain it.
I had read that a wallpaper steamer would produce adequate steam for our needs.
When the batten work was completed we set up the steamer in the pagoda and the steamer box on the walkway and steamed each strip for 15to 20 minutes as recommended on the internet.
The second strip was glued and clamped with all the carpentry clamps I possess, but it wasn’t enough to keep the strips tightly held together. Fortunately we had kept the short lengths of 2”x1” we had used with screws as clamps on the bridge handrail. These worked well but took time to fit. Strips three and four followed on, each a day apart, giving the glue time to harden.
They work like a gate table, a triangular vertically hinged leg is swung out and the seat triangle is hinged down and is supported by the leg. I ordered two dozen 3cm long by 1cm diameter neodymium magnets on eBay from China which arrived miraculously in six days.
The last additions to the construction have been a pair of slate covered concrete square planters and two ornamental warning bollards on the corners of the step.
It had a few improvements, changes and repairs over the years, but by five years or so ago, it was no longer safe to cross over the walkway in the front of the pagoda.
At last spring’s Epimedium Open Weekend we discussed its demolition and replacement with several groups of visitors. To our surprise quite a few people said this would be a shame as it had a lovely “lost Garden of Heligan” look. However it was beginning to lean perilously to the point it was clear it would fall into the pond before too long.
The old plywood sides were cut out of the buildings timber work for possible use later. The burnable timber was given to a neighbour to feed his wood burner.
The perilously leaning Buddha plinth was deemed not to be recoverable so was broken up, hoping the old handmade bricks might be useable for something someday.
Stay tuned for part two where construction begins!
About a year ago we were given a small aluminium greenhouse by new neighbours who preferred it to go for safety reasons, having young children and because of future house extension plans.
However the biggest part of the experiment was to plant our potted Dahlia imperialis var. album in the ground, with a view of removing panes of glass when it grew too tall.
It grew rapidly in the spring, and the glass needed removing by the third week in May. It had been joined by the commoner pink form, bought at the Plant Heritage spring plant fair at Hyde Hall. I told the seller of our greenhouse idea, and he warned me it was likely to fail as the plant responds to day length and short of covering it with blackout material it would flower at the same time as without the greenhouse.
I suspected that he was correct but we went ahead with the experiment anyway.
The original white flowered plant grew four stems, whilst the new one grew one. All grew large producing dense canopies of leaves, to the detriment of all the other inhabitants of the greenhouse.
The remaining large stem produced a number of long side branches with many flower buds at the ends
Last night, a badger managed to bend the vertical strands of the ‘badger proof’ fencing to create a hole 13.5cm by 19cm. This is smaller than a normal cat flap! The picture below shows one vertical wire only bent to the left, the other one being bent similarly to the right. In fairness to the fencing, it had to push itself through against the hedge. Without this to push against it wouldn’t have been able to make its way through.
The second video clip below is presumabably another fatter badger that failed to push through the same hole and then decided to climb back down..
Video clip below; Yesterday we blocked the hole with finer mesh and this is what occurred. The clip is probably good enough for You’ve Been Framed!
Recently we have been trying to help our neighbour, Dave K. identify where badgers are getting into his garden, before ripping up his lawn. We have had our ‘Outback Cam’ in his garden for night after night, and still have not identified their point/s of entry. It is beginning to look as though they patrol his garden on most nights. However it is only now and again that the lawn is devastated. One of his other neighbours put up special’ badger proof’ fencing against a short length of Dave’s boundary. The You Tube videos here show a badger scaling the fencing, and then walking along the top of the trellis on our shared fence line, then probably dropping into our garden.
We are having a Garden Open Weekend in order that interested gardeners can come and enjoy our National Collection of Epimediums.
Of course there will be many other plants to see including trees, shrubs and bamboos.
Unfortunately we do not have the space for raising many Epimedium plants for sale ourselves, but Dave Sisley of Straight Mile Nursery ( www.straightmilenursery.co.uk ) will be here with Epimediums for sale on both days. Over the last few years he has increased his range in stock to include some less common varieties.
Our address is;-
The Magnolias, 18 St John’s Avenue, Brentwood, Essex, CM14 5DF.
We look forward to meeting some of our website followers.