I recently spent some time with my parents on Madeira. It is seriously a plant-lover’s paradise! Here are some of the crazy-looking plants I saw…
This wonderful creature is called the Mickey-Mouse bush. The yellow flowers fall off to reveal these cute red sepals, and eventually produce black fruits which give the plant its common name. Isn’t it lovely?
And this is the kapok tree. Earlier in the year it has striking red five-lobed flowers which are apparently very attractive to bats, but its main importance is the fruit: a light fibre which is used as an alternative to down as stuffing for soft toys and upholstery. I’m told that the fibres loosen and float off, to the great annoyance to residents…but to me they are just cool!
I love almost every colour of rose, but I think pink roses are my favourite. And even though it goes against my California-native/drought-tolerant principals here in California, I couldn’t resist a few David Austin roses in my new planting schemes. This
is one of my all-time favorites, Gertrude Jekyll, planted last year and finally hitting her stride. Doesn’t she look great against the grey of the deer sage?
is a new friend, Charles Rennie Mackitosh, planted in February and about to reward me for my faith. You can take the girl out of England… 🙂
While lilacs (syringa) can survive in California, they need attention to really thrive. Lilac in England is a completely different proposition. Given the minimum of care, it typically runs a little wild in a garden hedge or the back of a border.
But when the results look (and smell!), so good, why not?
Bowood House, near Calne in Wiltshire, is a fine example of an English Country House. The gardens and part of the house are open April-November and are well worth a visit. Every spring the owners open their justly famous Rhododendron Walk to the public, and this year I was able to go. But though the rhododendrons are spectacular, my interest was elsewhere…
More technical issues this month, but I did manage to make one successful trip…
I fell in love with some new trees. This (I think) is the redbud I photographed before, now in full leaf.
What a beauty!
A strawberry tree in the entrance courtyard.
This is a magnolia, I think. Just beautiful.
A huge bottle-brush tree by the Bird Observation Station.
And I was captivated by the tulip tree outside the Boddy House.
I thought once our roof was on we would be done with heavy machinery. But no…
Once the house was done we wanted to add a pool. The original plan was for a classically-styled in-ground pool with a spa and a tanning platform, all tastefully landscaped to match the rest of the house. Then we found out how long the planning process would take and what it would cost in permits and fees before we even broke ground, and we simply didn’t want to wait. So, on to plan B.
We’re neither of us big swimmers, and there isn’t much room on the terrace, so we decided to go for an above-ground swim-spa. It has seats around the edges for relaxation, and a deeper section in the centre where one can do water-based exercises, or swim against a current. We chose one made by Arctic Spas, which arrived on a lorry from Canada, and after some palaver getting it off the back of the truck, sat on our driveway for a week or so while we did the prep work on the terrace.
But, it weighs 2000lb, so there was no way we were carrying it around the back by ourselves! Which brings me to the heavy machinery…
First came this
Which lifted the tub off the driveway, across the garden and into the back…
And then came this little baby
which was walked through the garden onto the terrace, where is did this…
…and then this…
After some maneouvring
the pool is in place and in use.
It’s not as pretty as we would have liked (more landscaping required!) but it took eight weeks to install, from placing the order to swimming. Yay!