Lots of WonderfulNess

Sad as this is, my own garden has been getting me down. Progress is slow, very slow, and last weekend I felt like I needed to get away from it for a day and get some inspiration from elsewhere.

So I decided to go to Ness Gardens, a botanic gardens that is run by the University of Liverpool and located on the Wirral. Ness Gardens is a place I used to go to as a child, and can remember spending hours and hours rolling along the giant hill and onto the azalea walk. Unfortunately the hill is long gone, but the azalea walk is very much still there and the middle of May is the perfect time to see it in all it’s glory.

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I absolutely fell in love with the orange azaleas. I’ve looked in a couple of garden centres since and can’t find one, but I definitely need one in my garden.

One thing I noticed was that everything seemed so much further ahead than the plants in my garden. My sweet peas are just starting to grow up their frame and my alliums could  be described as foliage at best, but the specimens on display at Ness were in full swing for the summer.

Other highlights for me included this wonderful wisteria arch, which is something that I would love to incorporate into my garden. I’m tempted to try and grow one up the house, much like Adam Frost has shown on his new house on Gardener’s World.

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Finally I’m going to save my favourite plant of the day until last, which by coincidence, I bought last week to plant in my own garden. The plant is ceanothus, and I love the density of the deep blue flowers that it gives at this time of year. It’s absolutely stunning and as an added bonus, the bees love it too!

Ness Gardens is a wonderful day out and I would recommend it to anyone.

Time to get progressing on my own garden this weekend!

Jen

Amazing Plants from Costa Rica – Part 2

This blog post follows on from Amazing Plants from Costa Rica – Part 1 and gives you a flavour of the weird and wonderful botanical treasures that I saw on my trip. I felt there were so many incredible plants that I saw on my trip and really wanted to put them all in a blog, but it would have been much too long as a single post! Here are the remaining highlights from my trip:

1. Heliconia

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To us in the UK, heliconia are exotic houseplants that may or may not grow even in a hot and humid greenhouse. In Costa Rica they grew everywhere and the plants were enormous! I did wonder if they are related to banana plants, the leaves are almost identical, but their vivid red and yellow flowers always gave themselves away.

2. Coffee

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Costa Rica exports a lot of coffee. They can’t compete on price at the lower end of the market so choose to make exceptional coffee at a higher price instead. We visited a plantation and it was really interesting to see it being grown on the trees. The fruits in the pods above have three layers of shells which all have to be removed in different processes to get to the actual coffee beans themselves.

3. Amazing leaves

I mentioned in Part 1 of this post about the different colours in the foliage of the plants but the shapes of the leaves was equally impressive. Many of the leaves on the plants are huge and have such variety in their shape and texture. I definitely have a better appreciation of how leaves can enhance a garden after having been on this trip.

This is also a good excuse to get in a picture of the blue jeans frog.

4. This beautiful flower

Unfortunately I don’t know the name of this, please let me know in the comments box if you do. These gorgeous flowers were planted all over the towns and hotels to brighten them up, in various shades of red and pink. The petals are almost like leaves on the flowers in Costa Rica, much more solid and waxy than the delicate petals in the UK.

5. Sensitive plant

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I have a bit of an obsession with sensitive plants. I got one as a child and was amazed by it, but it died and I was never able to find a replacement. Then about six months ago, I found one in a garden centre but that also died. Just before I went on holiday I bought some sensitive plant seeds with the intention of trying to grow them that way. Then whilst I was away, we visited a national park called Sarapiqui where the sensitive plants dominated the edge of the roads, growing en masse as weeds. I understood then why mine died, the hot and humid climate was the polar opposite of the grey windowsill spot that my plant had been given!

6. Chilli plants

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Well this chilli plant in particular. The reason being it had so many different colours of chilli all on the same plant: red, orange, yellow, white and purple which I thought was really beautiful. I think this plant in particular looks like this variety so I might give them a go next year.

7. This spiky plant

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To finish off I’ve added this plant. I have no idea what it is, but I have never seen such a combination of delicate pretty flowers with such lethal spikes on the stems, you wouldn’t want to fall on it!

This weekend I need to get back to progressing with my own garden, it’s grown so much whilst I was away and needs not only tidying but progressing. Fingers crossed the sun stays out and we have a bit of Costa Rican weather this week!

Jen

Amazing Plants from Costa Rica – Part 1

I haven’t posted in a while, and my garden hasn’t progressed at all, oops! But that’s because I’ve been in Costa Rica! Wow, what a place, I’ve had the most incredible time and feel very lucky to have been. Costa Rica is known for its biodiversity and it’s amazing range of animals but I was equally fascinated by the plants that were there. So this post (with a second part to follow) includes my favourite plants from my trip and how they have inspired me for my garden.

1. Hibiscus

There were hibiscus plants everywhere in Costa Rica and they’re just stunning. I love the first picture on the left above with its beautiful feathery petals. After having read about them it sounds like they can be grown in the UK either indoors or outside but brought in for the winter so I isn’t have to get one now to remind me of the trip.

2. Orchids

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Well this orchid in particular, it looks like a fancy daffodil! Orchids were everywhere and grew so well outside, which as a Brit was a bizarre concept!

3. Variegated leaves

I’m not normally one for foliage but these leaves are just stunning. These plants definitely have inspired me to think more about using pretty leaves in my own garden instead of just for using on the flowers.

4. Cacao

Who doesn’t love chocolate?! We went to a cacao plantation to learn how chocolate is made and saw the plant in real life. The white fruit in the picture comes out of the pod and the seed inside is where the chocolate comes from, bizarrely the flowers grow out of the trunk! Tasting everything was fun too!

5. Bougainvillea

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I know bougainvilleas can be found in most warm countries but I’ll lever tire of seeing the density of the hot pink flowers (well technically leaves but you get the idea!). I’d love to grow one in my new greenhouse, I might try and get one at the flower shows next month.

6. Air Plants

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I’ve had an air plant for a while now and they fascinate me, so seeing them growing in the wild was bizarre! There were trees where every visible branch was covered in air plants. This picture isn’t the best but hopefully you can see the roots dangling down and a few air plants in the branches too, and they were huge!

7. Red-Bark Palm

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I don’t know the technical term for this palm but I do know that it’s beautiful, just look at the stems! Again I doubt this will grow in my garden but I’d love to find a plant or tree that had stems as stunning as this, the deep red contrasting with the green is an effect I’d love to have in the garden.

This would be a very long post if I posted everything I wanted to in one go, so I’ll do another post with some more plants from Costa Rica that inspired me.

Jen