Welcome to my garden blog, where this week I’m sharing pictures of ferns and repotted auriculas and a trip to the gardens at Hampton Court.

I’m a student again


My posts have been a bit infrequent recently and the reason is that I have started studying for a Masters Degree in garden history.  There’s always something to read or research and I’ve just written my first essay in 30 years.  What’s it like being a student again? Honestly, it’s wonderful.

Here’s a photo of my growing book collection, mostly bought second hand or borrowed from the library.  Not all garden history seems relevant to the modern day trials and tribulations that we all share, but somehow everything I’ve learned has fed into my love of gardening anew.

Enough bulbs to give me palpitations

Obviously I haven’t planted my bulbs yet.  They’re still sitting in a cardboard box in a cool room.  I visited Hampton Court Palace with my fellow students this week and was delighted to see that I’m not the only one with bulbs left to plant.  Look at all these – a whole trailer load of tulips.

They were being planted in one of the pond gardens at Hampton Court, an area that was used as huge fish ponds in Henry VIII’s day.  Planting looked like back-breaking work but I can imagine the display will be incredible next spring.

Capability Brown’s Vine

A visit to Hampton Court isn’t complete without a peek at the largest grape vine in the world, a Black Hamburg grape planted in 1768 by Lancelot Capability Brown.

The roots of the vine extend outside of the glasshouse and spread under this huge area of earth.

The Gardener’s Cottage

Capability Brown was Hampton Court’s head gardener and the position came with an on-site residence.  I’d never spotted it before but the house has a blue plaque to signify his home here.

Auricula House

This handsome display of ferns looks lovely in Hampton Court’s auricula house.  It reminded me if a trip I made to the ferns at Fibrex nursery a couple of years ago.  Until then I hadn’t realised how many fabulous varieties were out there.  Whilst I like the way they look in these clay pots at Hampton Court, I wouldn’t trust myself to keep them adequately watered, so mine are growing amongst the stumps in my woodland garden.  The little ones bought at my trip to Fibrex have filled out very well.

Expanding Auricula collection

I’d love an auricula house like the one at Hampton Court but that’s a dream for the future.  Instead mine will be sheltering under a useful shed overhang.  I spent a lovely couple of hours last weekend tending to the auriculas, separating off the offsets and repotting them.  Each parent plant had between 2 and 8 offsets so whilst I only have ten different varieties, I’ve got many many little plants.  If you want to see what they looked like before they were split click here.

This was a job that really should have been done back in the summer but I’m hoping most will survive and I’ll be rewarded with some delicate beauties next spring.  Here’s a picture of some them in their spring prime.


This seasonal diary is part of a weekly link-up of garden bloggers from around the world, called Six on Saturday.  For more information and links to other blogs crammed with gardening activity, check the blog of host The Propagator.