a way of life...

Month: May 2017

Bulb Lasagne

Having just enjoyed the fruits of my Autumn labour I was sad to see the last of the spring bulbs fade this past week. Having enjoyed watching the bulbs emerge from the soil since the beginning of the year and finally erupting into a mass of colour during March and April it reminded me of the inspiration for this particular planting scheme.

Hyacinths at Dunsborough Park

A visit to Dunsborough Park in the spring of 2015 introduced me to the idea of planting hyacinths in the garden. My only previous experience of these lovely plants was the indoor variety that produce, what I consider to be a very beautiful and evocative scent. Unfortunately, not everyone shares my opinion and find the aroma totally overwhelming.

Garden Magazine article

Quite by chance, whilst thumbing through a September copy of RHS magazine, The Garden, I came across this article which explains in detail how to plant spring bulbs for maximum impact. Bulb lasagne sounds more akin to a vegetarian meal than to an exotic planting of spring flowers but it cleverly describes how to layer bulbs in a container.

Bulbs in bloom

Planting bulbs at different depts maximises the space available and provides a dramatic show of flowers.

The Garden’s instructions stated that you should start with a layer of polystyrene chunks in the bottom of the container to aid drainage. Add compost at least 10cm deep and then begin to build up bulbs using the largest first.  Add another layer of compost so the top of the bulbs just show, then add tulips, another layer of compost, and finally edge the pot with small bulbs such as muscari or anemones. Finish off with more compost and grit mulch to deter slugs.

I chose to use a combination of tulips, hyacinths, and muscari which I bought as a mixed pack at a very reasonable price.  Now that they have finally gone over I will tidy them up but leave them in the container for a repeat performance next year.

Autumn is the ideal time to plant spring bulbs and once in the ground, or pots, need very little attention. To see them emerge in the latter stages of winter and stay in bloom until the early days of summer makes the effort and forward planning really worthwhile.


I was up at the crack of dawn this morning to beat the impending rain showers. It’s a busy time in the garden and particularly rushed when trying to make the most of the English weather.

Today’s plan was to clear one of the raised beds in readiness for the runner beans. Having decided that the cutting flower bed was in need of a makeover I decided that a bit of “crop rotation” was in order. Unfortunately, this required clearing the alliums whilst in full bloom, but rather than dig them up and leave them to die, I quickly gathered as many as I could and put them in large vases of water.

I love these flowers, and have several varieties in the allotment. Sad as it may seem I rarely bring them indoors so don’t actually get the benefit of their beauty. I’m hoping by leaving the cut flowers in vases on the garden table I will see them from the kitchen window and the bees will still get the benefit of them.

Haidee-Jo Summer – Alliums & Iris

Inspired by Haidee-Jo Summers‘ paintings of alliums at Gunby Hall I had tried to transplant some earlier in the year so that they would be in pots on the patio. Unfortunately, having left it too late their leaves quickly withered and died before any flowers had a chance to form. I’m not too disheartened though, as now that they are in pots I can look forward to next spring when they should shoot up and fill the patio with a glorious display of purple heads.

Haidee-Jo Summers  – Committee checking on the alliums and herbs

In the meantime, the runner beans must take precedent as rain is forecast later, and this can only be a good thing for the garden.

Design Roadshow

The Taste of Design roadshow is celebrating 20 years this year. With venues across the UK the roadshow started on April 26 in Dublin and ends on May 25 in Cheshire. Venues are chosen for their beauty, history, gardens, ambience and locations.  The objective being to provide a relaxing and enjoyable atmosphere to view fabulous products in every corner of the country.

This year I ventured to Great Fosters in Egham to attend the roadshow. This stunning Grade One listed building in 50 acres of gardens and parkland is a showstopper in itself. The core of the house being built in the 1500’s is considered to be one of the finest examples of domestic architecture in Surrey.

Great Fosters Egham

On arrival one enters the house through a sturdy wooden door which opens into the lobby. Here, in this ornately panelled room,  you can’t help but be blown away by the spectacular table top floral arrangement.

Entrance lobby

Beyond this is the hotel reception where I was cheerfully greeted and directed to the exhibition hall which  was situated across a courtyard surrounded by beautiful barn-style buildings.


The entrance to the exhibition was clearly defined by a large billboard and a  contemporary armchair displaying a selection of colourful cushions.

Exhibition entrance

On entering I was presented with a black linen bag full of the exhibitors’ literature. Within the contents I found purveyors of exotic fabrics and wall coverings; the makers of fine furniture; endless luxurious floor coverings; a magnificent selection of wall and table lamps; and some rather grand curtain poles and fixings.

Over a brief lunch of fresh sandwiches and sparkling water I jotted down exhibitors of interest. Notebook in hand I ventured into the well attended hall and made a beeline for those on my list.

Heathfield& Co. were first. As designers and manufacturers of bespoke decorative lighting I was keen to source a small occasional lamp for a project in which I am currently involved. I found exactly what I was looking for so I was able to tick that off my list.

My next encounter was with George Spencer Designs who were exhibiting some of their exclusive collections of fabrics. I was struck by their colours and textures and was advised that the fabrics on show were much more akin to country homes as opposed to city dwellings. This struck a chord as I love colour in my own home and often find London show homes very cold and unwelcoming by comparison.

John Boyd Textiles were the next stand to catch my attention with their incredible collection of horsehair fabrics. Their Somerset factory is home to the world’s only mechanical horsehair-weavers who create traditional and modern fabrics to last several lifetimes.

My final port of call was to Jacaranda carpets and rugs who specialise in handmade textures and natural materials and colours. I was particularly interested to learn that they provide a colour matching service which allows carpet and rug colours to be matched to fabrics, paint samples, and pantones. This is an invaluable resource which I have only discovered quite recently.

Laden with armfuls of swatches and a purse full of business cards I headed out into the warm sunshine for a pleasant drive home through the Surrey countryside.


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