Sarah Coles

Garden Blog

Plant of the week – July 

This is my red leaved banana, green leaves with red stems and herring bone veins, glossy, impossibly imposing, its central shoot scrolled into a beetroot spike before loosening into a funnel then relaxing into leaves beneath another shoot. Everyone says how splendid, and then, when’s it going to flower?  Which it won’t, it’ll be dead long before it has a chance to consider this.  It’s enough that now, every day, it is here, revealing a fresh leaf and spike every few days.  The sun shines through in late afternoon, making it psychedelic, a creature half plant half animal.  It guards me while I dream.   

Four of these red leaved bananas stand to attention in pots beside the patio steps.  They call to us, to pay attention and listen.  They grow taller and taller, grander by the day.  The name is Musa ensete maurellii.

 

 

 

 

February 24th, 2021

A GARDEN FOR LILLIPUT

15th February 2021 Miniature garden designer My first garden was created decades ago.  Must have been aged about five. When Ma took me out on a walk, I gathered twigs and mosses, and on returning home I arranged them on a plate to become a doll’s house garden.  Ma lent me a little mirror from her handbag.  My garden was Japanese in feel, with bridges, shrubs, a tree here and there and a central glittering pond.  Green was its only colour. I was thinking about it.  And so the other day, in this damp cold time of Covid restrictions, ...

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February 18th, 2021

WINTER LEAVES

It’s winter, depths of.  Freezing.  I look at tree trunks, and lichen like verdigris, and the leaves that remain.  So subtle, unlike the baby froth of spring, the punch of summer or fire of autumn.  It’s like being able to see stars in daytime. There’s variegated ivy spread eagled on a wall, giving all year shelter and nesting to the birds.   Never thought it would grow like this when I bought it in a little pot to stabilise a nearby bank.   Each leaf is an island map with pale, dark  and gold contours. Mid summer I hacked down...

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September 25th, 2020

Golden Rain

I planted the Golden Rain Tree, Koelreuteria paniculata oh, twelve years ago, having  checked its hardiness and tolerance of chalky soil.  I liked the name.  Soon I was attaching bird feeder to its branches.   Now, it blots out any summer view from the bedroom above.   In spring ferny pink leaves appear, later green.  In late July and August sprays of tiny gold flowers bloom.  These fade and fall, but the show is not over.  The tree is covered by sprays of little Chinese lanterns holding the seed.  Eventually, leaves and lanterns...

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August 6th, 2020

PAINTING PARADISE

My garden is the nearest I get to paradise.  It is my sanctuary. Years ago I went – I don’t know when – to see Painting Paradise, the Art of the Garden at the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, with plant and garden paintings gathered by the royals over the centuries.   I loved the manuscripts of Islamic gardens with octagonal ponds and chenar (plane) trees, lovers and flowers (their deep symbolism barely mentioned in explanatory notes).  Ditto Rembrandt’s painting of Christ as a gardener, complete with trowel.   Ditto...

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August 5th, 2020

SEDUM BLISS

No Chelsea Flower Show this year – the cloud of Covid still hangs over us. But the 2019 RHS Plant of the year was Sedum takimense Atlantis, and I bought two, and this summer Atlantis in its pot has been glorious, white and pale green shoots topped by flurries of tiny gold flowers.  In sun for only half the day, it has flowered for weeks and been a consolation for everything.  This photo I am sorry to say was taken towards the end of its glory.  The other Atlantis, in the front of a border, has not been happy.  I moved it to a...

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April 13th, 2020

Olympic Flame

April and the tulips in the pots and scattered over the garden make the place look on fire.  Apeldoorn Elite particularly is a star, with the three essential Apeldoorn signatures, soft orange red petals, a black star at the base of the tulip bowl, and reappearing year after year. In the time of 17th century tulip mania, when Dutch bulbs exchanged hands for thousands of guilders, the most coveted were ones with flames streaking up the petal sides.  In fact this was caused by a virus, so no wonder these prized wonders did not last that long! ...

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March 24th, 2020

Blossom

It’s March, and the weeping cherry at the end of the yard is blooming.  If I step through the weeping boughs when the sun is out, it’s like being dressed in palest pink glass.  Even though the tree is old and odd boughs have died, it still draws people into our...

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August 1st, 2019

DEREK JARMAN’S GARDEN AT DUNGENESS

No one knows where Dungeness is. Bill thought it was near Aldeburgh and Rosie Sturgis in Wales. It’s a high spur of shingle deposited by floods in Kent when a frozen North Sea thawed after the last Ice Age and flooding the vast plain of Doggerland pushed through the Channel. Ann and I found we were both reading Derek Jarman’s Journals, and had to visit his garden in the shingle of Dungeness. Jarman started the garden when he was already dying of Aids but it took more than four years to kill him. He bought this black wooden fisherman’s...

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July 29th, 2019

Kew Gardens

The Hive is the big excitement. Kew Gardens have bee hives, and their sound is amplified through a construction of metal network, a huge mound of interlacing silvery hexagons. The varying sounds indicate begging for a food sample, pointing to food supplies, ‘tooting’ and ‘quarking’, but you hear not so much a buzz as a throb and hum: live music and the sound of heaven. Perfect for meditation. At ground level we looked up and saw the feet of people through a circle of murky glass, then we climbed and entered the centre...

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July 3rd, 2019

OTHER PEOPLE’S GARDENS

JUNE The gardens in our village are open today. Broad Street is lined with sedate Georgian houses all built within decades of each other because two massive 18th century fires burnt their predecessors down. Their gardens extend behind, some as far as 75 yards. Every house, in fact the whole area, is listed, which means the owners can’t alter the front facades but behind they can erect garden sheds or summer houses or conservatories. The backs are a contrast, relaxed and higgledy piggledy. You enter a garden, via a gate or garage which was...

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