Thursday, 9 August 2012

Chester (09 AUG 2012)

Last weekend, I visited my Aunt who lives a few miles across the Welsh border.

We travelled by rail from London Euston to the North of England.
Views through the window of a speeding train were of rolling fields mainly...

England's green and pleasant land

... except for industrial chimneys and electricity pylons, which I couldn't help admiring as structures despite what they were spewing out.

Coal-fired Rugeley Power Station is located in Staffordshire, England

We alighted at the historical city of Chester which holds relics from the Roman, Medieval, Tudor, Georgian and Victorian eras, passing a few sites on our way into town for lunch ...

The wall encircling the city which started being constructed by the Romans between 70 and 80AD for defence still stands today, as does the cathedral built on Anglo-Saxon foundations which was completed in the 13th Century.

Chester City Wall and Cathedral

Black and white buildings typical of the Tudor period 1485-1603 can be seen about town, some of them authentic, others Mock Tudor constructed during Victorian times.

Then a short bus ride into Wales.
I didn't plan on writing a post about this trip, as I don't want to turn this blog into a personal diary, but it seems that gardening is gradually making its way into all aspects of my life.

My Aunt lives in a residential estate with no take-away shops or traffic in the vicinity, quite different to the environment where I live near London.
She and her neighbours are house proud; windows are sparkling and gardens neat and tidy. They care about each other and keeping their street clean, even planting the areas outside the boundaries of their properties. I thought that it must be nice to live amongst gardeners who you can actually talk to rather than write comments to, but also realised that a messy, experimental gardener like myself would not fit very well into such a community.

Electric hedge-cutters are mandatory by the looks of it.

Some more gardening ideas which I brought back home were an ivy shed-covering, blonde grasses,  tall vertical hedges, short hedges with visible trunks at the base, a living xmas tree and a creeping rug for the lawn.

My plantings are always in two lines; short plants for the front of the border and tall plants for the back of the border. I admired the way they arranged shrubs of different heights to create tableaus. 

After a weekend of gardening with my Aunt, shopping in the local outlet stores and watching the Olympics on the TV, we got back on the train and returned to London.

Back past the fields to London

I really enjoyed the trip but it was good to get back home to a garden where there are no rules, where I can do as I please. Having said that, electric hedge-cutters are going on my list of must-haves, even though I don't have a hedge yet.

©Copyright 2012 b-a-g. All rights reserved. Content created by b-a-g for

Friday, 3 August 2012

Butterfly Bush (03 AUG 2012)

There are flies in my garden ...

but no butterflies unfortunately. I could leave out a pail of milk as that's how they got their name ... unlikely to help though as I haven't seen caterpillars either.

Caterpillars are supposed to like thistles, holly and ivy amongst others, in an undisturbed piece of land where they have a chance to survive a full life cycle.

thistles in my Mum's garden

I find this difficult to believe unless caterpillars find masachistic pleasure in being pierced. Thistles and ivy abound in a neglected patch beside my Mum's shed and holly thrives in the woodland area of my own garden, yet caterpillars are non-existent.

To be more accurate, I've never seen a colourful butterfly in these gardens, just the occasional cabbage white and those small moths that eat your clothes. Color is camouflage, heat absorbant, attractive to the opposite sex and a warning to predators which makes me wonder why cabbage whites are so plain.

Well, I thought they were cabbage whites, until I checked butterfly web-sites this week and discovered that they were actually small whites (moths in the US) or possibly white pinion moths. Moths are in the same family as butterflies with thicker and hairier bodies. They are more easily identified by the way they hold their wings flat against their body as they rest, while butterflies hold their wings vertically.

It was just a whim before, but recently graphic photos in other blogs have whet my appetite. Eg.

I need butterflies in my garden. If a can't have butterflies, I wouldn't complain if I just had some hummingbirds.
( Fantasy Plant #2 : Monarda because I've never seen a picture of one without a hummingbird attached. )

For the past couple of years I've planted mixed annual seedlings indiscriminitely around the garden, which gave me a good excuse to stop weeding as every new plant was potentially desirable. One sprout had a tiny purple tuft of a flower, which wasn't the prettiest thing I'd seen; I gave it the benefit of the doubt. However, it didn't die down in winter as you would expect an annual to. Never known a plant to grow so quickly, the stem has thickened into a self-supporting cane within a year.  My central flower bed isn't exactly the ideal location for this plant to show itself off.

SEPTEMBER 2011                                                       JULY 2012

It was only this summer that it dawned on me that this plant might not be spawned from the packet of annual seeds. I was taking photos of the hollyhocks against the garden fence, when I saw a familiar purpleness suspended above them, gently swaying in the breeze.

view from my back garden

Later, I walked down my street and there it was again.

view across the street

So now there is a baby one approximately half-way between these two mature butterfly bushes, buddelia.

They have a reputation of growing on wasteland as they thrive in well-drained soil with a high chalk content which not many plants can tolerate, probably considered invasive.

I guess the baby butterfly plant should be relocated before it makes itself at home. My bare, bone-dry border would test its robustness. As it grows, the bowed stems might offer some shade and sustain moisture in the soil for caterpillar-friendly understory plants. Hopefully, it wont be long before butterflies flutter in between the purple panicles.


04AUG2012 - After this post was published, Kate commented that my baby butterfly bush is agastache not buddelia - no wonder I don't have any butterflies!

©Copyright 2012 b-a-g. All rights reserved. Content created by b-a-g for
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