Shy Oaks

Example of Crown Shyness in Oaks
Crown Shyness

Well lovelies, it’s been rather some time since we last got together on the blog, how the devil are you all?

Like a good swathe of the country we have been enjoying a splendid snowfall. I say enjoying, I know it makes travel, work and school difficult, but from an aesthetic point of view it has brightened a dark and gloomy run up to Solstice. I still have a child like delight when it comes to snow and this year, unlike others, it came on a Sunday which was most considerate. No panic about the commute or how to get the children to, or from school, and, as I can work from home (plus said children are now at Uni) even a snowy Monday could be enjoyed rather than endured.

Originally I had thought this post would be wordless in a Wednesday kind of way, however when I was looking through the numerous pictures I’d taken over the last few days this one perhaps deserved a little explanation.

On the one hand, it’s just a group of oak trees, lightly dusted with snow against an almost azure blue sky, clinging precariously to the ridge of a hill. Nothing much needed by way of an explanation there, on the other, it’s an example of Crown Shyness*. Not the finest example you’ll ever see (to actually get directly beneath them I would have had to be a mountain goat with crampons) but an example none the less.

When we talk about Crown Shyness, it has absolutely nothing to do with a suited and booted actresses meeting her future in laws for the first time, but, a phenomenon occurring when tree crowns avoid touching or overlapping their neighbours.

Nobody seems to know why it happens, although there have been various theories in the last 100 years, from self pruning where branches rub together, the effects of differing light levels within the canopy and evolved self preservation to prevent the spread of parasites and diseases travelling from crown to crown. The only things I concluded from looking at this particular group of Oaks is that they seemed to be the same age, rather beautiful and probably just do what they do with no regard to the inquiring minds of humans.

Oaks in the snow Ankerdine
Gratuitous Oak in the snow picture

*also described as Canopy Disengagement, Canopy Shyness, or Intercrown Spacing.

My Garden Right Now

I’m rather ashamed to admit to missing #mygardenrightnow back in June, apologies to the rather marvellous Michelle of Malvern Meet and Vegplotting. I did have a garden, in actual fact I had two. One at home getting on with things, in a somewhat abandoned, wild and woolly fashion and one at RHS Chatsworth. That one being primped and cosseted with extreme care and tenderness to within an inch of its leaf.

Moveable Feast Show-garden at RHS Chatsworth designed by Tanya Batkin for Vergette Ltd Garden Design
Our Garden right then – RHS Chatsworth

My own garden right now resembles a twenty something clubber returning home in the dawn hours, slightly rough around the edges but still ready to party on.

Vergette Ltd Garden Design Gone to Seed
Crocsmia Lucifer looking a bit seedy in a sculptural way

Case in point with Lucifer gone to seed with the surrounding Symphyotrichum laeve about to come into its own and carry on partying into the Autumn.

Vergette Ltd Garden Design No time to relax
Clematis at rest

The garden seats haven’t seen much use in recent months, but this somewhat neglected Clematis has taken advantage in the manner of the aforementioned slightly exhausted reveller.

Rosa glauca in all its Autumn finery with glossy red hips
Hips of Rosa glauca backlit by Hellianthus

Rosa glauca doing its Season of Mists and Mellow fruitfulness thing, with the thicket of Helliantus bringing up the rear. *Note to self a spring cull is in order

Autumn colours in a Hereford designed by Vergette Ltd Garden Design
Parrotia persica starting the Autumn ball rolling

It may not be officially Autumn but the Persian Ironwood has its own ideas and dances to the beat of its own drum.

Hide ‘n’ Seek

There is a certain softness and a hint of romance to this subtle combination I feel. With any other flower these almost cobalt blue Nigella can be retina burningly bright, but here, combined with Digitalis trojana there’s just enough undertone of grey to calm and soothe.

Self sown Nigella with Digitalis trojana also known as the Helen of Troy Foxglove Vergette Garden Design scheme
Digitalis trojana nestled in a sea of Nigella

I’ve been growing this particular Nigella for nearly 15 years, the foxglove however is a more recent introduction having purchased the seed at RHS Chelsea Flower Show a couple of years ago. It’s a combination likely to be repeated next year if I let the Nigella self seed, actually I always let the Nigella self seed so…..

A beautiful time

Tulip 'La Belle Epoque'
Tulip ‘La Belle Epoque’

I am trying very hard to love this particular tulip. Named after a period in French history between two wars, the end of the Franco-Prussian War and the outbreak of World War I,  ‘La Belle Epoque’ is much raved of in the land of social media and the tinternet.

The colour is described variously as coffee mousse, caramel, dusky rose…….

Image searches turn up the most glorious array of photographs with the feel of an Old Masters oil painting. I rather liked the notion of a 3D Old Master gracing one of my spare pots. I have watched and waited in anticipation as the first spikes of green gave way to fat buds and held my breath (poetic licence) as they began to open.

I have to say my disappointment at the distinctly orange petals is now giving way to a slight feeling of revulsion as they become distinctly Salmon Pink. My only hope is that they will fade in the most glorious fashion that is the way of tulips, to achieve those mousseline caramel tones I was hoping for. Until then I am constantly reminded of a most traumatic decorating disaster which left us with walls the colour of Seafood Sauce.


Message in a Tiny Bottle

Algerian iris
Iris unguicularis

In Greek mythology Iris was one seriously multitasking Godess.

Meaning “rainbow” in Greek,  Iris was one of the goddesses of sea and sky serving as a messenger to the Gods. She was also known as the personification of the rainbow and served as a link between human kind and the Greek Gods.



Spot the Epiphyte

Vergette Garden Design Coastal Oak Tree
Coastal Oak furnished with Ferns

It is a universal truth that tree surgeons never look at what they’re walking on, this can be nightmarish for the gardener whose main focus tends to be on that ground and all the precious plants they’ve added. Sometimes though it would be as well for a gardener to emulate the tree folk and look up into the canopy, for who knows what delights may be hidden amongst the boughs.