Garden visiting (and helping a bit, too)

How should you spend a Sunday, when you’ve got a horrendous deadline and have had a weekend workshop cancelled, one which you had booked almost a year ago? Working on your project, glad of a couple more days’ grace?

Oh, please.

And anyway, my thumbs hurt. That’s my alibi, and I’m sticking to it.

I needed a break from the keyboard, and my friend Karen at An Artist’s Garden had her lovely garden open under the NGS. Due to the cancellation of aforementioned workshop, I could help. Well,  a bit. In plant sales.

And I even managed to leave with only one plant. I think that was very restrained, but I know me (all the willpower of a maggot) and so I had walked down the hill to Karen’s garden quite deliberately. No car, no boot, no easy transport = no temptation.

The garden looked fabulous. The vegetables were neat and abundant,

and I was very envious of the courgette crop – especially as mine are getting very mildewy, grr – and the tomatoes and beans looked lovely. In the greenhouse the chillies were beginning to ripen… sigh.

So far, so yummy, but for me the stars of Karen’s garden are the textures and the colours, so different from anything in my own garden. Yes, there are wonderful individual plants, but it’s the way they work together which I think gives away the fact that she works with textiles, and does so in a not dissimilar way. Time for a quick round up of some of the sights this afternoon, I think.

This particular pond – there are three – is the one which made me lust after a pond for my garden (of course, I also want the willow tree)… A friend and I spent five minutes checking out the wildlife: lots of water boatmen dimpling their way across the surface, a small newt swimming around. That’s what I need.

And this is by another pond. See what I mean about texture?

Some wonderfully spectacular grasses gave an additional aspect to all the texture – I’m sure there’s a more elegant way of putting that, but I can’t think of it – by adding so much movement. I managed to catch this one by the large pond in a brief second of almost-stillness, and sunshine:

OK, that’s texture, now what about colour?

This is a time of year when my own garden is basically green, with brown, some yellow and what can only really be described as beige. Lots of beige. I have to do something about this, and I will. And if I need inspiration, all I have to do is walk down the hill.

The juxtapositions are great. I used to be a real fan of dark-leaved plants (not that you’d know it in my current garden), largely because you can do some wonderful things when they’re a backdrop. Mmm.

The bees loved the range of plants too:

And so did the humans. I seem to be getting back to textures…

Plus, of course, this being a good NGS event, there were teas. Very popular teas, with a whole menu of home-made cake choices (carrot – excellent) …

But out of the whole day, there were two surprising things. One was the weather. Yesterday was appalling, the sort of day when you begin to wonder if you shouldn’t be building some sort of raft out of your logs rather than putting them on the stove. It was raining when I woke up and it was still raining at midnight, and that was raining with knobs on, times three. But it had cleared by 7.30 this morning, and we had blue sky. Well, some blue sky. Derek, Wales’s Weather God, had apparently said that we’d get rain here at 4.00 p.m, and he was almost bang on. A few drops at 4, torrential rain – again, boring – by 5. When the garden was due to close anyway.

The other amazing thing, of course, was that I only bought one plant. Guess what it was?

Can’t think.

(But I do think that salvias may be catching. I thought I’d got them out of my system many years ago, when I had a real salvia phase, aided and abetted by the RHS seed distribution scheme. Evidently I’m heading in that direction again. It can only be a short time before this year’s list is ready. Wonder what they’ll have this time?)


24 thoughts on “Garden visiting (and helping a bit, too)

  1. patientgardener

    Oh glad it went well for Karen. Saw the weather forecast this morning and thought oh no so good to here it held off.

    1. kate Post author

      It really did, right until the very end. Can’t believe the luck! (And the garden looked lovely, too – of course… I sold coleus in the plant sales bit after people saw them in the bed, by the way…)

  2. Dobby

    Hi Kate
    It was good to meet you at long last. Karen mentions you fairly often. All good I hasten to add. It was a great day and I think Karen is pleased, but not doubt she will blog herself when she has recovered!

    1. kate Post author

      Good to meet you too – and what a lot of hard work you’d put in (and what luck with the weather – Derek was absolutely right)…

    1. kate Post author

      It was such a lovely day, and a lovely garden (I’ve just been out threatening mine), and I was so pleased for Karen that the weather held – what luck!

  3. VP

    When my husband arrived back from Tywyn yesterday my first question was ‘what was the weather like – Karen opened her garden today’ before he’d even got through the door.

    So glad the rain held off for most of the day and you’ve bought early news on how it all went 🙂

    1. kate Post author

      Can’t quite believe how lucky she was – bad the day before, and today is about to get horrible too, and in between some dry weather. And even sun – wonderful.
      (Mind you, I think garden’s like Karen’s look just as lovely in the rain – but I don’t suppose it would have helped attendance. Hm… or cakes!)

    1. kate Post author

      I know – I have to keep reminding myself it’s a completely different prospect from my semi-wilderness, meadow and fern jumble!

  4. Karen - An Artists Garden

    Kate, thank you for your help on the day, and all your moral support in the run up, much appreciated.

    Dont forget – that in the Spring when your garden is a jewel garden of delights, mine is bare earth!

    I am so glad you took lots of pictures, I managed 2 – but it was a terrific day.

    1. kate Post author

      Isn’t it lovely?

      I’ve got to add some more interesting textures to mine now…. though it would be good if it just stopped raining.

  5. welshhillsagain

    I so wanted to be there and now you have shown me! Thank you. It was looking pretty fabulous when I was there on Friday but I had a message from Karen on Saturday night saying you’d had fifteen hours of rain so I was wondering how the garden had held up.
    I suspect you and I have rather similar gardens. Would love to see yours too!

    1. kate Post author

      It held up amazingly well (but I gather it’s been blown flat now; so has everything round here). Still, it got through Sunday looking excellent – amazing luck.

      Maybe Karen can bring you up the hill next time you’re over (it’s magnificent in spring, but interesting – well, I think so – the rest of the year).. yes, I suspect we probably do, too…

  6. Anna

    So glad that the day went well for Karen and that the weather behaved. Was hoping to be there but other things got in the way. I am miffed that I missed out on such a lovely garden and carrot cake too. Such admirable self restraint on your behalf to leave the car behind 🙂

    1. kate Post author

      It was lovely, and she was very lucky with the weather – it’s been terrible since, very windy, and all the gardens round here have been blown flat… I hate to say this, but there was chocolate cake as well…. and coffee and walnut…

  7. shirl

    What a wonderful post Kate, giving a very full and accurate flavour of Karen’s very artistic garden… and you helped with plant sales too! Gold star for your will power… I’d say you’ve earned that one plant with this post alone. Great pics and plant choice too. Nice to e-meet you 🙂

    1. kate Post author

      Nice to e-meet you too!

      (Lovely garden, Karen’s – and willpower on one occasion is one thing; it’s all the other opportunities to but which I also have to resist… )


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