Tuesday, May 26, 2009

It's a Dog's Life!

It's not easy being a little doggywog. You get taken on holiday without so much as a by-your-leave. This is where we went recently, some humble abode in the country.
Havezathe Voorstonden

Really, what is that all about? See those big trees? What is a girl doggy supposed to do with them? Not a lot, you got that in one.
I liked the garden as it was very large and they had birds there, lots of birds. I like birds they are very nice for chasing, although I never catch one. Must practise some more, I think.
This was also very puzzling, what a waste of space to built a great big house like that when you could have grass for me to sniff and play on
I love sniffing stuff. BTW what are Rhododendrons?
Yolanda kept mentioning them, saying how very beautiful they were.
Hmmmmm, they can't be more pretty than I am, can they?
Nah, of course not.
This had me totally confuddled, what the heck is it? It's not a doggy or a birdie and not a kittycat either. I know kittycats as we got lots of them at home.
There was another house there and I could see the point of that one as it was very nice and cosy inside, it was were we stayed during the holiday. Having a roof over your head is good, especially when it rains.
Upstairs it had a big window reaching down to the floor with a great view over the garden and I could also keep my eye on that strange big beastie from there.
In the evenings, as it got a bit nippy, we did this. I like this!
This is me in the garden of the former coach house, checking out all those new plants Yolanda has bought. I don't know why she bothers, we have enough of those at home and they had quite a lot of them at Voorstonden too.
I don't understand this fascination with plants. Sure, I like to nibble on them and chew of the flower heads but what else can you do with them?
I know that people buy them, sometimes travelling a loooooooong way to find them and when they get home they put them in the ground and then they go inside. What's the point?
This I get, I love hedges, they are fun. Can you see me in the pic?
I really liked the garden as it had so much interesting sniffing opportunities and we played with a Frisbee on the lawn quite often which I like very much.
They had lots of water there too, which was also pretty good as I love drinking the stuff and playing in it, getting myself soaking wet and then shaking myself vigorously. The shaking seems to delight all the people close by me because they all squeal with joy. Note to self: get wet more often and do the shaking thingy!

And then, just as I got used to having such a big playing space around me, we went home. Bummer! Our garden is much smaller than this one and I don't like that at all. Sigh, it's really a dog's life I'm living, don't you think?

And Tara is not the only one who's living a dog's life, yours truly will be going to this garden (pic below) and quite a few others such as Leonardslee gardens, High Beeches gardens, Wakehurst Place gardens, the Savill gardens, Ramster gardens and Doddington Place gardens as well next Friday. I'm going on a garden tour in Sussex and Kent (UK) with a friend for a few of days.
Sissinghurst aka Hissingfirst

I know, I know, it's tough, but somebody's got to do it. Later!

copyright 2009 Y.E.W. Heuzen

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Garden Design 101; The White Garden

Designing a garden is something that quite a few gardeners find difficult to do but it isn't, really. Today I'd like to blog about how I designed my front garden on what was quite an unprepossessing and impossible plot to start with.
This is how the front garden looked originally; a few humongous shrubs pushed against the front wall of the house and a bit of law with a very narrow path leading up to the front door. Boring? Definitely! Ugly? Without doubt!
As you can see the front garden is (when looking at it from the side) a very long and narrow strip of land. How to turn that into a garden that looks both good and interesting?
Let's start with the basics. That narrow 2 feet (60cm) wide path looked ridiculous as the front entrance is 6 feet (180cm) wide. So a new path was laid that is just as wide as the entrance. Makes sense, doesn't it? And, because there was no height to the garden, a pergola was added which also ties in the garden to the house and makes the transition from inside to out much more gradual.
During many months of the year you are enveloped in a cloud of rose fragrance as soon as you leave or enter the house, courtesy of rosa Madame Alfred Carriere and rosa Guirlande d'Amour.
Underneath the windows on both sides of the entrance paths were laid as well for easy access for window cleaning and the odd paint job. Then a berberis hedge was planted to keep the dogs from using my garden as a toilet as they really don't like those sharp thorns and also because it ties in so nicely with the surroundings. If you look closely at the pic above (click to enlarge) you see another berberis hedge across the street. In the third pic from the top you see a nice tree in the same colour as the berberis hedge. When designing look what is there and use it in your own design if you can.
Then rectangles were made using box. Why rectangles? Take a good hard look at the house, it's pretty rectangular, wouldn't you say?
And it's not only the house that's rectangular in shape, just look at how that wall to the right of the entrance is divided into 4 rectangles. On the right 4 rectangles of box were made and 2 on the left.
Perhaps you have heard of that old hoary chestnut that you should always use uneven numbers to make things look good in the garden and, as I've just admitted, I most certainly did not; I went for even numbers. I had to because otherwise the rectangles would be either too big or too small. But still it works. How? Well I may have 2 rectangles of box on the left but there are also 3 gravel paths there so 2 + 3 = 5 which is an uneven number.
On both sides of the path to the front door I made 2 borders. In spring they look very colourful in pink, blue, yellow, white and purple but come summer everything is white. In autumn they are brimming with colour again. I love white but not the whole year round.
Spring in the front garden
Summer in the front garden

Here's the white garden in full swing and it looks great. White is such a great colour to use in the garden, making it look a bit dreamy, romantic, ethereal. So, a white garden has only white flowers in it, right?
Wrong! You have to smuggle in a bit of colour here and there to keep it from being very flat and boring. I've planted all the rectangles up with white flowering plants and in the middle I've bunged a pyramid in every bed for a climbing rose to climb over. In one bed I've planted rosa Sombreuil, a lovely and very fragrant old white rose.
Rosa Sombreuil

But is she really white? On closer inspection perhaps not so much.
On the pergola Madame Alfred Carriere is flowering her socks off for many months of the year. The colour of her fragrant flowers is either a very delicate light pink or white with a pink blush.
This bed is planted up with Gillenia trifoliata that flowers white but it has red stems and a reddish tinge to the leaves. So the trick with a successful white garden is to smuggle in some other colours but be subtle about it.
Mother Nature was less subtle this year. I had sown some foxgloves last year that were supposed to be all white but there appear to be a few purple ones too. I'll leave them for now as they look so good but I will remove them before they can sow their seeds. The white ones will be free to self sow all over the place.
I'll leave you with the whitest rose I have in my white garden, it's rosa Blanc Double de Coubert. I love her delicate flowers that look like tissue paper, her very pretty leaves and, very important, her absolutely wonderful scent. It's a joy to work near her as her fragrance fills the air; it's a lovely rose scent with a hint of pineapple. Scrumptious! This year it was this rose that unexpectedly won the race of the roses as she flowered first on April 23.

copyright 2009 Y.E.W. Heuzen

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Driving Miss Tara

Perhaps you've heard of the movie Driving Miss Daisy and maybe even seen it, as I have, and such a great movie it is too. Both leads, Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman, know how to act and for me it was a joy to watch them. If you somehow inadvertently managed to miss Driving Miss Daisy, watch the vid of the trailer above.

Some movies leave a lasting memory and this one did for me so it became the inspiration for this post today; with Ickle Puppy Tara in the role of Miss Daisy and yours truly as Morgan Freeman. Fortunately Miss Tara isn't half such a handful as Miss Daisy and I am just as handsome, witty and debonair as Morgan Freeman. You could honestly say that I'm typecast except for such piffling little details as being female, white and Dutch. ;-)

Right, on with this post!

Miss Tara your carriage awaits.


Well, hello!Dutch, what else did you expect? In my country almost everybody has at least one bike and uses it often. I'm no exception as I love riding my trusty, iron steed, especially when the weather is good. Now we're going to find out if Miss Tara likes it too. Let's get her into her carriage, shall we?
Here she is, watching her bestest friend Jeeves, who's not coming for the ride today. Sorry Jeeves!
Tara is very comfy in her brandnew travelling basket-with-a-view, not to mention terribly safe too. Let's get cracking, shall we? Watch closely as I'm known to break the speed limit for cyclists often. See me fly by, weeeeeeeeeee!
Drat you've missed me, I told you I'm fast!

We're off for a short holiday and Miss Tara is coming too. It will be the very first holiday with Tara, something I'm looking forward to with breathless anticipation, as you may well imagine. Hopefully the weather will be fine. Will blog all about it when I'm back. Later!

copyright 2009 Y.E.W. Heuzen

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What's Your Record?

Mine is a paltry 3 minutes and 7 seconds. It's sad, I know, but that is all I have managed so far. This year I aim to improve my record by a whole minute. That's right, I want to better my personal best with a full sixty seconds.
You know how it is when people come to visit your garden and say stuff like: Oh, what a gorgeous garden you have, you must spent hours just sitting there enjoying the wonderful view.
Yeah, right! Just between you, me and the apple tree over there, do they really think that we gardeners actually sit down in our gardens?
Because frankly, the only ones ever sitting down and relaxing in my garden are the cats,
and Tara.
I really don't have to explain it, do I? You know how it works. You go out into your garden with a nice cuppa tea fully intending to just sit down for a while and simply soak in the view. Ha, like that is ever going to happen!
Your bum has barely touched the seat of the chair or off you go as you've just now spotted a weed that needs to be weeded. And then you see another one and another one and ......... Suddenly, 3 hours later, you return to your chair and find that your tea has gone stone cold. Off you go to brew another cuppa.
There have been times, I confess it, where I deluded myself into thinking that I could actually read a book in my garden. More fool me, because before I even have the chance to open the book I'm struck by a plant in a pot that needs to be watered, pronto! And hang on, that shrub could do with a trim, the roses need deadheading, is that another weed I just spotted and the birdbath needs a refill and, and ....
While we're having this chat you've been admiring all the different seating areas in my garden. It's ironic, isn't it, that there are so many but they are hardly ever used, at least not by me.
Personally, I could happily throttle those ignoramuses that prattle on about my being able to sit down, relax and enjoy the fruits of all the hard work that I've put in to create my own green paradise. Little do they know that having a beautiful garden is frankly not what it's cracked up to be. What is the fun of not being able to put in at least an hour daily to just sit and gloat?
Mine is a cruel fate, I may have a gorgeous garden but it's unsitdownable.

copyright 2009 Y.E.W. Heuzen