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Saturday, 15 April 2017

Garden Notes, Parish Magazine. June

It was 2014 since I last wrote Garden Notes for the magazine. A lot has happened since then, starting with my mother having a serious stroke and fall, passing away this February. She loved her garden, having two gardeners to keep her tidy, and a figure of Alan Titchmarsh to remind her of when she cruised with him visiting gardens across the world. The village magazine committee have asked me to write some more pieces. I hope to write one a month and copy them with photographs in this blog. 

Since 2014 I completed a project of personal interest. My wife and I have been involved with Kelmscott Manor near Lechlade, the former home of William Morris the arts and crafts wallpaper and curtain manufacturer. I went in twice a month the photograph the garden in flower between March and October. You can see what will be in flower there in early June (when this magazine comes around) by going to I see there are old fashioned roses, variegated weigela, delphiniums, solanum (potato vine), cardoon, ornamental poppies, foxgloves, geraniums, sysyrinchium, honeysuckle, and aquilegias. The meadow has yellow rattle in flower, planted to keep meadow grass short.

Since 2014 I have, with Conor Hurst's help, restructured the garden at Roman Court and will share some of that with you. we have about two thirds of an acre which includes natural springs which feed a bog garden. Blog addresses will be given at the end. The spring has meant daffodils, tulips, hellebores, camassia, alliums, lungwort and primroses have been centre stage. Before that, the snowdrops filled January and February, the tallest being the earliest. I have rescued quite a few snowdrops from building sites where they are dug out and left to die. One clump of tall early flowers came from John Henry Newman's house in which we were working, where builders had decimated a Victorian snowdrop bed. The churchyard where we buried my mother in March was covered in snowdrops, disturbed by the digger, which with the vicar's permission I brought home to pot up to give to family members next winter. My plant of the month (April) must be the caltha or Marsh Marigold. A bed where I mixed white daffodils with black tulips have flowered together for the first time. Jobs to do include repairing the greenhouse, repairing the pond and of course keeping the weeds at bay. As the plants wake up from winter, this is a good time for softwood cuttings which I will share with you next month.

Looking ahead to June, in my own across-the-year photos from 2012 (  I notice I started with sempervivums, their brief flowering easily forgotton, then lots of roses, starting with the yellow Banksian Rose (already in flower in April). Another favourite is the white corydalis I begged from the gardener of Down House, Charles Darwin's home which seeds around freely (without being a pest) and flowers from March to November. I created an ericaceous bed which has three large Camellias, three Pieris, all looking lovely. Just out elsewhere is the acid-loving Fothergilla with white bottle-brush tassels. Grow in a pot with ericaceous compost.We have since savagely pruned the tunnel which is rejuvenating the climbers growing there - Rose 'Rambling Rector', Clematis 'Freckles', white Wisteria, variegated Jasmin and Honeysucle 'Roy Davidson'.Some roses are already flowering and June will be rose season
Stephen Bigger. 22.4.2017. 


Double hellebores

Miniature flowering cherry

Anemones and hellebores

Flowering plum

Magnolia stellata

White flowering current


Amelianchier in blossom

Snowflakes (leucojums)

Gordon's flowering current (hybrid)


Wednesday, 30 November 2016


An intrusive piece, perhaps, but this is a sample of my rock collection for a school project.
Show and tell - my display cabinet

Geodes when cut open have hollow centres with visible crystals

Sand is rock weathered into grains. This collection of sand colours comes from Alum Bay on the Isle of Wight. The container is shaped like as frog.

Deep underground the crystals form curious shapes. This is byrites.

A fossils shell.

Granite has flecks of transparent quartz in it.

These are stone age flint knives, shaped around the edge and thin and sharp.

Rocks are created in very hot conditions. I found this lump in Lyme Regis, the crystals looking like frogspawn.

This is sandstone from Petra, Jordan and shows bands of different colours.

A fossil shell, very heavy. Shells turned to stone as the absorb minerals over millions of years

Marble - my fireplace

rocks with bands of different substances

Granite doorstop

Clay was used to make practical items - this is a Roman lamp 2000 years old while would be filled with olive oil with a wick coming out of the spout

A mystery cube of stone

Pure quartz - crystals of these were used in the first radios, called crystal sets

A soapstone carving of a beast, from Sinai

rocks sliced to show their insides

Mica has a shiny surface

A small fossil

An uncut geode

A piece of rose quartz

Rocks can be polished, this one into an egg shape

Coal comes from the ground, solidified trees and vegetation. My grandfather was a coal miner in Nottinghamshire from the ages of 12 till 65. He lived in Kirkby near Mansfield.

A piece of Roman pottery.

Clay is used to make pottery. This is a fun collection made in Copenhagen

Sunday, 24 May 2015


Early May.

The evergreen  Banksian Rose, collected for |Joseph Banks in 1807 from China, where it was already popular. Flowering period about a month.


Symphytum (dwarf comfrey)

This tub started with daffodils, then switched to tulips, and now has iris siberica in (see a later photo)

Kingcups and bog cabbage in front, purple hazel behind, and invisible pond in between. The hazel marks the grave of our first cat Sally.

The tulip Greenland

The Cercis flowers before its leaves come - this one is cercis canadensis Forest Pansy.

Apple tree in blossom, with lilac behind.

Pieris, in the ericacious bed as it needs lime-free conditions.

Alpine phlox

Mid May.
New additions to the auricula theatre.

A new bearded iris from East Ruston Garden

Giant alliums

Geranium, with choisa behind

Little nodding geum

The pea lathyrus verna

The rose 'Dunwich Rose', foreground




Pittosporum in flower.

Geranium kashmirianum


Late May

Dwarf lilac

Dunwich Rose


Banksian Rose

Solomon's Seal

Auricula theatre

Rose 'Canary Bird'

Persicaria, highlighted with geranium


Rosa moyesia Geranium

Ferns, behind the stately gunnera

Plants in pots, awaiting planting or sale.

Crinodendron, in the ericacious bed

with pieris in foreground

Purple leaved weigela

this one with a variegated sport

Iris time, Iris siberica 'Stephen'

Cornus in flower.