Tuesday, 5 May 2009


Wisteria on the house at the RHS Garden, Rosemoor

I'm utterly aghast, shocked, dismayed, rueful and ashamed of my unbelievably idle and neglectful approach to this whole blog business.  It's bad enough not having posted for so long, but the greater crime is in not following other peoples' posts, not responding to those who have kindly contacted me and being generally slack, idle and no dam' good.  Sorry to all.

I plead excess of work - but that's the feeblest of excuses, when every gardener known to man is a busy as hell, just now, and yet so many of you have time to blog.  But it has been a bit pressing with far more travel than I normally like to do at this time of year.

We had the garden open, the week end before last, which was less of a sobering and cauterising experience than I feared.  But the main excitement, for me, was a ridiculously brief overnight dash to Devon, to attend an RHS Gardens Committee meeting at Rosemoor.  

An iPhone snap of bedding near the visitor centre at Rosemoor. 
 This is how bedding should be - brash, loud and glorious.

Any excuse to go to glorious Devon is good enough for me and if it involves a compulsory spell at the immaculate, inspired and staggeringly lovely gardens at Rosemoor, so much the better.

This is a garden of delights 365.25 days of the year and this spring, my lasting memory will be of the Wisterias flowering regally, on Lady Anne's house; the kitchen garden in full, feverish preparation for the coming season and perhaps above all, the reflections of virginally gold-green foliage in the 'lake.'  One is reminded of that deceptively deep and unsettling little poem by Robert Frost, Nothing Gold Can Stay. 

Early purple orchids flowered in the woods along the Torridge Valley.

They've made an area which they've called, somewhat pretentiously,  'The Brash,' designed for children to get close to nature.  It has natural-looking log seats - carefully planed to avoid splinters in delicate little bottoms - and big metal woodlice to wonder at.  The best thing about this spot, though, is that it gets the kids into the real woodland which flanks much of the garden.  This is lovely, dark, eerie woodland, carpeted with ferns and leading down to the mill leat and a temptingly boggy area where wildlife is rich and plentiful. What heaven this whole garden is!

'Step-over' and espalier apples in the Kitchen Garden at Rosemoor.

The good pictures, on this post were shot by my Better Half.  She's known, among close associates and friends, as 'The Photographer General,' partly because she likes nothing better than to lark about at flower shows and gardens, fiddling with her tripod and muttering dark incantations about 'white balance' and 'chromatic aberration' as she clicks away.  

Meanwhile I have to sit in boring meetings trying to be serious about the RHS and its functions.  (She was also once labelled 'P.G' at a Chelsea, thereby receiving far more deference and admiration than is merited.  The label should have read 'General Photographer,' meaning that she was shooting for our library, rather than doing commissioned work for Vogue or Gardens Illustrated.  But the name stuck.

My photoshoppery sketch of Bideford Bridge.

The rubbish pictures were snapped by me, either with my iPhone, which has its lens exactly where my index finger or thumb usually goes.   I also shot the non-Rosemoor pictures on my more grownup camera - they're not up to the PG's standard, I'm afraid.

Dramatic skies on the Torridge Estuary - with my 'grown up' camera.

I'm listening to my conscience, nagging me to get back to work.  But over the past few weeks, have been enjoying, act by act, the whole of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen on DVD - the 1980s Boulez production with Gwyneth Jones and Donald MacIntyre, now re-mastered in startlingly realistic DTS Sound.   Worth every penny.

I watched the drama doc Endgame about the secret talks to end Apartheid on Channel 4. Fascinating stuff but somehow, it didn't lend itself well to dramatisation, despite William Hurt's fairly convincing Afrikaaner accent and some fine filming.  It was plotless, and I do love a good plot.  

A propos of plots, can't anyone write an actual story, nowadays?  You know the sort of thing: a beginning, then an incident that sparks the action off, and then a series of horrendous and worsening experiences for the protagonist, followed by a gripping and harrowing climax, and then a denouement thingy to bring it all to a close. Why don't we get those any more?  If plots were good enough for Shakespeare, Dickens, Mrs Gaskell, Jane Austen, Evelyn Waugh and Graham Greene, why won't they do today?  Answer me someone, please!!!!!  Meanwhile, I'll continue to blame that wicked old sham Jean Luc Godard.  A Bout de Souffle?  Breathless?  You bet, but with rage, frustration and boredom, not with excitement!!!

This day last  year I was digging up more lawn, to make borders and, according to my diary, we ate the last of my purple sprouting broccoli.  This week end, I made two raised beds for my vegetables.  Bye bye!


  1. Nige

    Great post as usual... bedding plants look fantastic (if only the iPhone had a slightly better camera). I am about to start my planting and can't wait. Just ran out of gravel half way through the project last week so need another few yards delivered this weekend!

    Question. Talking to Dad he and I talked about Wisteria and the fact it takes over 7 years to flower. Being of the 'want it now' generation are there any varieties that will flower sooner? Mum said she found something in the Daily Mail but she obviously can't send me the flower due to the cross continent restrictions. Any help would be appreciated.



  2. What a fabulous bit of Colborning at the end! the earlier parts were sounding all together too cosy ! Beautifully phrased and photographed of course: all hail to the PG - who,incidentally,could write a book on digital photography and call it (yes,you guessed it) "PG Tips".
    I've only ever been to Rosemoor once: it was February and very rainy so I didn't really see the best in the garden.
    Hopefully I will see you on Thursday.

  3. Beautiful post Nigel. I just returned from a short trip to London and there I had the good fortune to visit the Highgate Cemetery and on the way down from Highgate Village I found some stunning Wisteria just like 'yours'.

    Take Care / Tyra

  4. That Boulez Ring is wonderful - I remember when it was first shown (on the newly fledged Channel 4 I think). I cried non-stop through Act 3 of Walküre.

  5. I love it! Very creative!That's actually really cool.