theharmoniousgarden


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london’s little secret

Just a few days of clear blue skies, and the Winter funk I’ve been wallowing in has completely evaporated. Spring is officially on the way, and London is tingling with excitement for the summer ahead. And with an honoured guest in town, the only way to celebrate was to explore one of London’s best kept secrets, The Roof Gardens. High above the hustle and bustle of up-market Kensington High Street, it’s an exotic garden sanctuary, complete with 4 resident flamingos. Primarily used to host private functions, the complex (which also includes a restaurant) is almost entirely unknown to tourists, despite free entry to the gardens.

The English Woodland
The English Woodland
A meadow
A meadow
a stand of potted mini narcissus
A stand of potted mini-narcissus
A view over the city
A view over the city
Crocus
Crocus
Flamingos! I wonder how they keep their colour? Algae anyone?!!
Flamingos! I wonder how they keep their colour? Algae anyone?!!

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Spanish Garden, based on the Alhambra

Spanish Garden, based on the Alhambra
The Spanish Garden
The Spanish Garden
The Alhambran 'harem'
Inside the Alhambran ‘harem’
Looking out into the garden
Looking out into the garden

I’m fairly neutral when it comes to Sir Richard Branson, the gentleman who owns the gardens, but it seems a refreshing altruistic gesture of him to keep them open to the residents of this fair city. So next time you’re in Kensington and get the urge to escape, go relax for a few minutes with the flamingos. Just don’t tell anyone about the gardens so they stay our ‘little secret’.

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it’s all about the grass

I’m so impatient at this time of the year, in this dreary pre-spring gap. I just want to get out into the garden and make a start on this summer’s gardening plans! Winter planter pots, stunning as they may be (especially my own awesome ones), are just not enough. In my quest for some green-themed gratification, I was flicking through photos of last summer’s vacation in the Baltic, and was reminded of how well they do grass there.

It could be said that in some places, grass is relegated to the role of providing a functional surface for walking on (or in some instances to fill boring horizontal spaces). But in Riga, Latvia, grass takes centre stage. From spiky grass with big puffy heads stealing the show in pots, to swirling plantings of textured grass alongside verbena, it was one amazing festival of wholesome green stuff during my visit to Latvia’s capital last August.

Riga

IMG_6404IMG_6403IMG_6402Riga park

So if there’s one thing I’ve taken from my trip to Riga, it’s be kind to your grass. It can be amazing ;-). I hope you’ve enjoyed this silly and slightly demented post. I’m going to put it down to a likely vitamin D deficiency, most certainly caused by the dreaded February.


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winter gardens at the people’s palace

With families abroad and friends out of town, my partner and I decided to take a roadtrip around Scotland over Christmas. Like the rest of the UK, it poured (almost) the entire time. It didn’t matter, because the country is so beautiful you don’t even notice the rain. As long as you’re wrapped in plastic and have your wellies on.

We started our vacation in Glasgow, and some friendly locals suggested we head to the People’s Palace, a museum of social history for the city. While I enjoyed the museum, what I (and the Glaswegians, I suspect) love most are the attached winter gardens.

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To be fair, it was unashamedly indulgent with all manner of tropical and subtropical plants jammed in together (they even had cunjevoi – an Australian native I haven’t seen since my childhood!). But hey, we’re talking about the people’s palace, so why should it be restrained?! And with its giant Christmas tree, mass plantings of poinsettia, and Magic FM piped through the overhead speakers, it was the perfect start to our Scottish Christmas adventure.


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what a cac(tus)!

Each time I pass my local florist where I see rows of brightly flowering cacti, I can’t help but wonder what the secret is in getting these spiky delights to bloom. Despite a great show of colour when I purchased it, my own cactus (which I’ve previously featured on my blog here), stubbornly refuses to flower – no matter what diet and living positions I offer as way of enticement.

So the other day while passing, I spontaneously went in to see if the florist could offer any tips on getting cacti to flower. “Excuse me, ma’am”, I started. “I’ve been admiring your colourful cacti, and can’t help but……” “The flowers are fake” she shouted, abruptly cutting me off. “They are pinned onto the cacti. They come like this from Holland.”

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Sure enough, on closer inspection, the flowers were made of plastic. True to the florist’s word, they were rudely pinned to each little cactus, in a fraudulent display of gaudy colour. And as my own cactus glares at me, triumphant in its prickly green glory, I am still no closer in knowing how I can coax it to flower.


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potted bling

Last night my family and I put our Christmas tree up. Our anxious wait is finally over, and the tree looks fantastic!

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But why stop there. What about the planter pots, we pondered. Surely they would look good with some seasonal decorations? We’re not convinced the neighbours will agree, but you can form your own judgement, because here they are in all their bling glory!

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red black and white

I’ve been eyeing off this Japanese maple in my neighbourhood over the last few months. Each time I pass it looks more spectacular than before. Today, with the rain-heavy sky in the background, it made such a striking autumn display and I couldn’t resist the urge to take a photo.

And doesn’t it look great against the black and white of the cottage? Clearly these people have learnt the power and impact of restraint when it comes to the use of colour in the garden.


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eco garden

Last year my friends and I ventured south of the river for the Cheese and Wine Festival on London’s Southbank. It turned out we got the dates wrong, so we missed out. We managed to go this weekend, and the food, coffee and cakes were amazing. But if I’m honest, what I enjoyed most about the whole adventure was discovering the attractive eco garden and green walls set up on the stairs leading up to the Queen Elizabeth Hall.

Alpine plants, ferns, grasses, strawberries, and herbs, all in a native-style planting requiring next to no maintenance. They must have looked stunning through the summer, but the autumn colours were also attractive.

I’ve seen a few green walls this year, including at the Olympics where they were used to cover temporary structures, however we definitely need more eco gardens and green walls!!