What Gardens to see in the UK?

Planning for London and Cardiff
Image by dewelch via Flickr

My family is traveling to the south UK in mid-June and we are looking for some interesting side trips to take instead of spending our entire time in the The City.

I am interested in visiting some of the wonderful gardens to be found in the UK and wanted to ask you what you might recommend?

We are spending the first 3 days of our trip in Cardiff, so my wife can present a paper at the “Investigating Torchwood Conference held at the Atrium. After that, we are not decided yet on whether we will make a few stops across the south or head straight back to London. Friends have recommended visiting Bath and Oxford, so far.

We won’t be driving, but relying on the rail system, so sites near to the rail stations, or those with easy connections, are probably the best bet for us. Please let us know what you might recommend.

Also on this trip, I am looking to meet up with people and groups who might be interested in hearing about the topics that are the focus of my blogs and podcasts. These include gardening (of course), New Media and Podcasting and also careers and career planning. You’ll find links to all my other blogs and podcast on my home page. If you have a group that might be interested in a presentation, or even an informal meetup for dinner and drinks, please let me know. I don’t want to take up my entire vacation, but I love immersing myself in a new place and this seems a great way to do it.

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I Like This – May 11, 2010

Video: Transplanting Cast Iron Plant

Today, I was finally able to transplant 4 large Cast Iron Plants (Aspidistra elatior) that my landscape designer friend gave me a few weeks ago. They had sat in plastic compost bags with nothing but a little bit of water, but looked none the worse for wear. I think this points to why they are named Cast Iron Plant and also points out their hardiness, something that will be required in this particular part of my garden.

I am trying to “green up” things in the back garden, as it can look a little brown and dusty during the heat of Summer.


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Newly transplanted Cast Iron Plant

I took some time to finally transplant these Cast Iron Plants (Aspidistra elatior) I got from a landscape designer friend several weeks ago. Here are some pictures. Video coming soon!

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Cast Iron Plant/Aspidistra elatior - 3

As always, click for a larger version

I Like This – May 4, 2010

Today: Purple Fountain Grass cleanup

Purple Fountain Grass Pennisetum setaceum in H...
Image via Wikipedia

It has been far longer than I really like to admit since I last trimmed up the purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum) in the center of the front garden. I planted it years ago to fill in a a bed that once held a sizable pine tree that died soon after we moved into the house. It has thrived with little attention beyond raking out some dead stems and leaves.

The last few weeks, though, I have been frowning every time I pulled out of the driveway. It really needed some work. Finally, today, after doing 2 client calls, I took the time to clean it up. First, I picked up each plant (there are 4 in all) and brought it upright so I could get a better idea of the actual size of the clump. Due to some heavy shade conditions throughout the garden, all of the clumps had leaned towards the southwest, where the sun reaches under the large elm tree each day.

Next, I used my fingers to rake out any lose, dead growth on each plant, much like you would run your fingers through your hair. This brought out much of the obvious dead growth. Then I took my manual hedge trimmers and gave each plant a quick trim — quite a bit off the the top and a little off the sides. This allowed them to stand upright again, opened up the space between each plant and gave them some space to grow upwards.

The trouble with such care-free plants like grasses is that they are waaaaaay to easy to ignore. They are a perfect fit for my “benign neglect” garden, but I need to neaten them up each year to keep them healthy and nice looking.

I don’t have any picture to show for all my work today as I did it at the spur of the moment and by the time I finished it was too dark to take any pictures. I have included a generic picture from Wikipedia above to give you small idea what it looks like.

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I Like This – April 20, 2010

Planting time is already here, in some states

PASADENA, CA - APRIL 30:  Vegetable garden see...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

This was originally written for release in February 2010 for another publication, but it never appeared. Much of the information is still valid, though, even as as move through April. — Douglas

While much of the US is still buried under quite a bit of snow, out here in California we are already planting veggies in our gardens. I don’t point this out to be mean. I am from Ohio, after all, so I understand what Winter means. That said, those of you cooped up in your houses can live vicariously through those of us in warmer climes and maybe even get a few good ideas for your garden once the ground thaws.

While our warmer weather allows us to plant earlier in the season there is also a bit of necessity. Our summers are so much warmer here that traditional garden staples like lettuce, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower simply can’t cope. Try to plant them in May and they will be bolted almost before you get them in the ground. Sure, we can get tomatoes earlier, but in the middle of summer they can suck up a small fortune in water to keep them going. So, now is the time for us to get all our cold weather vegetables into the ground so we can get our harvest before the 100+ temperatures shrivels them in the ground.

This can make your garden planning for your summer much easier, though. Seek out garden bloggers in warmer areas to get an early idea what the neatest, coolest, best producing varieties are new this year. You can even get some real-world feedback on how well they do before you need to start your own seedlings. It is true,though, that good news about certain plants could have you looking for space to hang grow lights and set up irrigation systems trying to get jump on your own garden.

Here are a couple of hints on how you can use warm climate gardeners as your get your started in your own garden (and kitchen) planning for the coming season.

* Check out online forums and see what others are planning and what they might already be planting.

Share your experience with others. What worked (or didn’t work) for you last year? What are you going to trying this year? You’ll find people from all over the country and the globe.

* Start collecting recipes that can make use of your garden bounty.

Gardening planning is always easier when you have some obvious goal in mine. Online recipe files have thousands of possibilities for all sorts of vegetables.

* Seek out garden bloggers. We all love sharing what is happening in our gardens.

You can use Google or other search engines to locate gardeners both in your area and around the world.

* Use restaurants as your guide

Many higher-end restaurants specialize in using new and interesting ingredients in the dishes. Consider the ingredients in an interesting dish, especially one’s new to you and how they might fit into your garden. Then, seek out these plants in seed catalogs and your local nurseries.

*Be adventurous!

Try something new this year.

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Garden Bloggers Bloom Day – April 2010

Here are a few things that are blooming in my garden this month. Click to view them larger.

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Geranium | Rose, “Mikado” | Rose, “Mikado” (opened)

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Rose, “Bewitched” | Lavender

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Azalea (the last of them) | Fortnight Lily (Dietes)

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Gardenia | Rose “JFK”

I Like This – April 13, 2010