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The Gardening Coach

Catharine Howard is the Gardening Coach. Contact her for gardening advice and visit www.thegardeningcoach.co.uk for more information.

December 10, 2013 | The hedge viewing season is upon us.

A real weakness for hedges plagues me.  They arrest me  when I am driving around.  This is one of my favourite local ones.  The three greens of hedge, grass and thuja and the Braque-effect shearing are  perfect.  You might think Lonicera pileata, commonly known as poor man’s box would be an uninspiring choice.  Not so here where  the sharp clip nips  it into shape.

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December 6, 2013 | Garden centres deck the halls

I saw a nearly life size baby Jesus with Joseph worshipping at the alter of christmas tree lights, the fluffiest sneeze inducing selection of santas, and reindeers in white mink coats. And the price tags looked pretty too.  Steep that is.    Who buys this stuff?  By the way I am in one of the leading garden nurseries in the UK.  If you look closely, there is a real live plant in amongst the twiggy reindeers and ceramic huskies.

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December 6, 2013 | This list makes me drool with anticipation

For pure poetry just read this about Dichelostemma Ida-Maia:

“Spectacular red, yellow and green coloured flowers, shaped like cigars, opening at the tip of a wiry stem.  Named after the daughter of a Californian stage coach-driver and pollinated in the wild by humming-birds”.

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December 4, 2013 | Wordless Wednesday

or seasonal mood swing?

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December 4, 2013 | Dr Noel Kingsbury and the daffodils

A banner for a recent lecture read:   ”The Daffodil – The remarkable story of the world’s most popular flower”.   These floral popularity stakes are bemusing.  Without a doubt you might single out the peony, tulips and certain roses.    But the daffodil?  I can count more customers than I have toes and fingers who have asked me to leave yellow out of the planting scheme.

It caught my fancy , this lecture on a a plant that I rather tend to hurry past and shun.  Drawn in by the notion of catching up with Dr Noel Kingsbury, plant guru and author of this year’s ‘must read’ for the gardening intelligentsia.  “Planting:  A New Perspective”.      Attempts to get a place on his talk “Plants – The Rabbit’s Eye View” have so far flopped – either Dr Kingsbury is high in his stronghold near Offa’s Dyke or, when randoming out in the wider world he is mobbed by his fans, or botanising.

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December 3, 2013 | Nerines at West Dean in a cold sweat

Nerine Enchantress.

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November 14, 2013 | Intuitive planting

I keep a list in a grubby old note book of plants that are looking good together.  I am stumped for the right word here, or phrase.  It could be ‘plant associations’ but that sounds like a gathering of heavy-duty plumbers.  Or instead  perhaps  ’companion planting’  Full time carers spring to mind.  So I am plumping for ‘intuitive planting’ and  am not that happy with that either.

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November 13, 2013 | Provoked to think by the Bad Tempered Gardener

I have been reading Anne Wareham’s recent blog post “It must Go” and it ties in with thinking about garden criticism – rolling the idea round like a pebble in the mouth.  Beginning with two questions: What is a garden for? What is a good garden?  I’ve had undistracted leisure to do so on a long walk across the north spanish landscape.  My memory plumped up with a recent trip to The Veddw, Abbeydore and The Laskett.  Plenty to feed on as I sweated up yet another hill.  Oh and Rousham too, and that one is like the source book from which all others take their text.

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October 31, 2013 | Halloween Horror

No, this is not a camel with 16 heads.  It is a plane tree in St Jean Pied de Port.  Why has it been pollarded way before leaf fall?

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October 29, 2013 | The hen and rooster Miracle

Santo Domingo de la Calzado had a hard time of it.  He applied to become a monk but two holy orders  turned him down.  Instead  he became a hermit and devoted himself to helping pilgrims on the way to Santiago.  The original causeway over the rocky torrents of the Oja river was built by him.    When he died, he became the patron saint of engineers for bridges and other ways to span water.  He was buried in the middle of the Camino and the small eponymous town grew up round him.  His tomb is in the crypt  of the small perpendicular cathedral.   A mecca  for stone carvers who arrived, got out their chisels and stayed and created a series of beautiful  carvings up the columns, on the capitals and on the exquisite and well preserved tombs.

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