Seen at The Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Friday, 21 November 2014

Against the Odds: Canalside

Plant communities in a lock gate on the Kennet and Avon canal at Devizes

During the summer NAH started a new volunteer role with the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust who provide narrowboat trips from their headquarters in Devizes. When our niece and nephew came to stay, we took them to see what he gets up to these days.

I was surprised to find a whole plant community thriving in one of the lock gates we went through. These plants are likely to get a thorough soaking many times a day when boats go through the lock as the water level rises then falls.

The stones lining the top of the lock have thriving mini communities too.

Plant communities along the top of a lock on the Kennet and Avon canal at Devizes

Monday, 17 November 2014

Postcard From Devon

Walking the dog on Exmouth beach with the local lifeboat on manoevres in the background

Greetings from a wilder and more woolly Devon than most postcards show. We've just come back from a week in Exmouth, where blustery walks were the order of the day. The coastal resorts of Torbay and elsewhere might be more popular nowadays, but Exmouth is Devon's oldest seaside resort and has a nice quirkiness about it.

This view is looking across the Exe estuary towards Dawlish, where last week's weather once again halted the coastal trains for a while, though not as dramatically as the storms did earlier this year. Just out of shot to the right is the coastal spit of Dawlish Warren, a national nature reserve as well as a holiday resort. The Exe hosts thousands of overwintering birds, which we had the chance to see when we took a boat trip up the river.

We also experienced a little of Transition Town Totnes, where we at last caught up with our dear friends S and L who moved there just over a year ago. It was great to stay with them and also take part in a community quiz at their local pub. I was deeply envious of their close proximity to the amazing art deco sea filled swimming pool at Brixham, where they spent many a happy hour over the summer.

We had some fantastic walks straight from the doorstep, where the weather helped to make us feel truly alive. I've realised how much I need to step out the door for a brisk walk and find an immediate and dramatic view, something which isn't available in Chippenham without a drive beforehand. In the meantime, I can at least check out the view via Exmouth's seafront webcam.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

GBBD: Hanging On

Photo of Fuchsia 'Hawkshead' blooming in mid November

The blooms at VP Gardens are breaking all kinds of records this month, with all of my late season perennials hanging on and flowering in profusion. My garden's had just one slight frost so far this autumn, which hasn't been enough to bring these plants to their knees.

I've been meaning to tell you all about my favourite fuchsia for quite a while, but I never imagined a November Blooms Day would be the ideal time to fulfil that promise. In most Novembers, the pictured blooms would be a soggy, brown looking mess by now.

I adore the elegant simplicity of Fuchsia 'Hawkshead'. Its porcelain white flowers remind me of dainty ballerinas dancing across the stage. They're a more delicate looking form which belies their hardiness. I see the common name for this species is Lady's eardrops, and I've often thought the flowers would make great earrings.

I forgot to prune the branches down to the ground in the spring and my neglect's been rewarded with the most prolific flowering yet. It seems this and its other hardy F magellanica cousins can withstand this treatment. In time they may become a bit woody and outgrow their allotted space, but I've found the 'rule' regarding annual pruning can be disregarded for a good 2-3 years.

Elsewhere in the garden I still have salvias and dahlia flowers a-plenty and it looks like it'll be a while before I need to bring out the dahlia duvet. 2014's record breaking warmth continues...

How's your garden this month?

Garden Bloggers' Blooms Day is hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens.
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