Grasses in a small village garden

My garden in Cratfield is small, but somehow I have managed to squeeze in a number of grasses, and I love them! Piet Oudolf is an expert in this area, and of course Oehme and van Sweden in America have been hugely influential.

Stipa tenuissima in 2012
Stipa tenuissima in summer 2012
Stipa Tenuissima in Autumn 2012
Stipa Tenuissima in Autumn 2012

The stipa tenuissima has not over-wintered well, which is very sad

Stipa Gigantea (giant oat grass)
Stipa Gigantea (giant oat grass) in 2012
Stipa Gigantea
Stipa Gigantea
Miscanthus 'Kleine Silberspinne'
Miscanthus ‘Kleine Silberspinne’
Pennisetum alopecuroides  'Hamelm'
Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hamelm’

Looking at these pictures I realise I could do a post on each variety of grass at different times of the year!

A June garden in Cratfield

Despite the variable temperatures and sometimes vicious winds the garden is growing.

The view from the front door
The view from the front door

The roses in the hedge are flowering – isn’t this hidden corner wonderful? The hedges around the village are absolutely beautiful too, pink and white dogroses everywhere.

A secret corner with Rosa Canina, and Centranthus in the background
A secret corner with Rosa Canina, and Centranthus in the background

The Roseraie de l’Hay is finally flourishing, the daisies are enjoying themselves, and the everlasting wallflower, Erysimum E A Bowles is gorgeous.

Roseraie de l'Hay, Anthemis, Erysimum 'E A Bowles'
Roseraie de l’Hay, Anthemis, Erysimum ‘E A Bowles’

I have cut off the last forget-me-not flowers so that the leaves can develop, and the anenomes are starting to develop flower buds.

Brunnera 'Jack Frost' and Anenome 'Hadspens Abundance'
Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ and Anenome ‘Hadspens Abundance’

I am feeling really excited about the garden – you can probably tell!

This is the third season and the shape and feel are different each year. I originally planted three Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ in the bed above, and then divided at the end of the first year, and at the end of the second year I was able to start another small patch. At the end of this year I will have a supply of plants for the garden renovation in London, or even plants for sale! The plants were expensive to buy, but have more than repaid me. In the same bed I started with three anenome plants which were starting to spread after one year, and by the end of this year I will have an over-supply!

My plan to grow wildflowers in the hedge has not really succeeded. I only have some field campion, primroses, and one colts foot plant, but the ox-eye daisies are spreading!

Ox-eye daisies in the hedge
Ox-eye daisies in the hedge

Hyde Hall Gardens

I heard that the gardens at Hyde Hall were very beautiful, so yesterday I stopped there on the journey from London to Cratfield. It was a stormy, windy day, and rain was never far away, but the garden was coping well and there were some beautiful plants and sights. It made my fingers itch!

Alliums, sedums, grasses, salvia
Alliums, sedums, grasses, salvia
Astrantia, Knautia, Eryngium
Astrantia, Scabious, Knautia, Eryngium
Rose 'Scepter'd Isle', a David Austin rose
Rose ‘Scepter’d Isle’, a David Austin rose
Rosa 'Teasing Georgia' a David Austin rose
Rosa ‘Teasing Georgia’ a David Austin rose
A path through the meadow
A path through the meadow

Country Grain Brown Bread with raisins

Country Grain Brown Bread with Raisins
Country Grain Brown Bread with Raisins

This is really good! It is my standard bread recipe with a little tweak.

Mix 1 tsp sugar, 5fl ozs warm water, 1 tbsp dried active yeast and leave for c.10 minutes until it has frothed up in anticipation. Then add to:

750 g four – strong brown (c.66%), country grain (c.33%)

1 tbsp oil

generous pinch salt (I use Maldons Sea Salt)

generous tbsp golden syrup

c.10 fl ozs soya milk into which I whisked an egg

generous handful of raisins soaked on some very hot water while the yeast came alive

Mix it all up, scrape the dough off your fingers, and leave it alone for about 15-20 minutes to ‘pull itself together’. Then stretch and fold for a minute or so until it feels gorgeously elastic. This time I put the dough in the fridge overnight and stretched and folded in the morning before leaving to rise in two tins. I baked at 200C for c.10 minutes and then turned the oven down to 180C for another 35 minutes. Then I went into the garden to resist cutting the hot bread and layering on proper butter …. you can tell I didn’t wait too long!

Monk Frith

Monk Frith
Monk Frith

I want to add a garden gate, and in thinking about design ideas I wondered, yet again, if I could use the name of the house in some way – ‘Monk Frith’ .

While we all understand ‘monk’ the internet tells me that the Greek monos meant ‘alone’, or ‘solitary man’.

‘Frith’ is apparently derived from Old English friðu, which is related to the Dutch vrede. ‘…Frith is inextricably related to the state of kinship, which is perhaps the strongest indicator of frith. In this respect, the word can be coterminous with another significant Anglo-Saxon root-word, sib (from which the word ‘sibling’ is derived) – indeed the two are frequently interchanged. In this context, frith goes further than expressing blood ties, and encompasses all the concomitant benefits and duties which kinship engenders…’.

And this interesting article goes on to say: ‘..The main point to be made here is that the frithstead or frithyard was not only intended to be a place where peace was enforced. It was also a reminder and a commitment to the fact that Heathen folk are in a relationship with their deities and friendly spirits: a relationship of frith, that involves trust, respect, mutual benefit, and mutual obligations, including but not limited to behaving in a peaceful manner toward one another…In essence, frith is not an absence, but a presence. It is not the absence of strife; rather it fills the spaces between people with something that is stronger and more important, more meaningful, than strife. That “something” that fills in the spaces is frith: a closely woven relationship with a distinctive pattern to it. If frith were merely an absence of strife, we could not speak of frithweaving: how does one weave a vacuum? One weaves a fabric, filling empty space with substance, pattern, and tensile strength that is created by the interweaving of many threads into a strong whole…’.

It is an unusual name for a house, however. Was there a monastery in the area? There is an ‘Abbey Farm’ nearby, but the nearest abbeys were in Dunwich and Leiston. I need to dig further!


Pinks, blues, and purples in the garden

The plants are growing taller and taller – thank goodness they are staked! The alchemillas look more like shrubs than perennials, and the ‘Mayflower’ geraniums are as tall as the allium ‘Purple Sensation’. The paeony buds are getting fatter and the Roseraie de l’Haye is about to open – all very exciting!


Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ with Geranium ‘Mayflower’
Alliums, geraniums, and a hint of red valerian
Alliums, geraniums, and a hint of red valerian

And the Libertia is looking sensational!

Libertia, with Nepeta 'mussenii' in the background
Libertia, with Nepeta ‘Mussenii’ in the background