Opening Pains

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Had we opened our seaside garden on the usual weekend, this is the scene that would have greeted our visitors. Not bad, even if I do say so myself. Instead, we spent the weekend in London, celebrating Him Indoors’ birthday and not worrying about deadheading or watering for a change. At Polegate Cottage, the garden I left behind looked very much like a set from Saving Private Ryan. In three weeks’ time this is where we will be serving teas – let’s hope the waste pipes are safely back underground by then! Alas it seems we might not have our French windows delivered in time, so those classy plywood doors will perform the role of serving hatch. We like to do things properly in Broadstairs you know. When asked by the builder if I wanted to keep “any of the good soil” he’d excavated, you can imagine my reply.


Polegate Cottage building site, July 2016


Now I have to work out how to keep the plants going so that they look just as good in three weeks’ time. Dahlias, geraniums and begonias I don’t need to worry about; they will just get better and better as summer progresses. Gingers will do as they please. Most flower once, and briefly at that, so if they are out they are out, and if they are over, there’s nothing to be done about it. Hedychium yunnanense, a ginger with beautiful green leaves and fragrant, spidery, white flowers, has clumped up a treat since I purchased it last year and has produced five spikes already. Meanwhile H. ‘Tara’ is only just throwing up new shoots and getting into its stride.


Hedychium yunnanense, The Watch House, July 2016


I love gloriosas but have never been brave enough to grow them outdoors. Their tender leaves and ruffled flowers have “eat me” written all over them. However, this year I decided to take the plunge and buy a few new tubers, which I started into growth in the greenhouse before dotting them amongst other plants in pots on the terrace. This has worked well as these twining vines are tall and slender, peeking out above the canopy and looking totally tropical. Only time will tell if they escape being devoured by hungry slugs and snails.


Gloriosas, The Watch House, July 2016


My agapanthus have produced a disappointingly low number of flower spikes this year, about half what I’d normally expect. This can only be down to lack of sunlight as they are treated to a generous dose of a special agapanthus feed every fortnight. Given the profusion of alternative flowers it hardly seems to matter and they still create a hazy galaxy of blue above all the rowdier colours.

Whatever happens it’s going to be a rather unusual and unorthodox garden opening this year. Perhaps instead of teas we should be selling bags of our “good soil”, or offering lessons in bricklaying instead of gardening tips. Either way I’m sure it’ll be a hoot!

Our garden at The Watch House will be open from 12-4 on Saturday, August 20th and Sunday, August 21st. Click here for more details on the NGS website.


The Watch House garden, panorama, July 2016



Categories: Flowers, Foliage, Garden Design, Our Coastal Garden, Plants, Tropical Gardens

Posted by The Frustrated Gardener

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27 comments On "Opening Pains"

  1. I’m sure the drains at Polegate Cottage will soon be below ground and I know that this garden in 2017 will be fabulous – something for us to look forward to. Watch House garden looks pretty fabulous to me and I do like that ginger. Hope to dash down and see you somewhen over the open week-end. Mrs. P

      1. I was showing my husband your last post and he told me I should just get on a plane and go see for myself. πŸ™‚ I think a coat of trim paint and then this quote written on it with an invite to be sure and come back in 2017 for the opening would be perfect. “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow” Audrey Hepburn. πŸ™‚

      2. That quote will definitely feature somewhere Judy, thank you. In sincerely hope that one day you might just jump on that plane and me vice versa, just not at the same time …. that would be bad planning! Looks like the doors might come a few days after now πŸ™‚

  2. I keep my fingers crossed so that everything is ready for the “Great Event” πŸ™‚
    Your garden, despite the works that are still being conducted, looks amazing and I am sure your visitors (both those in three weeks time and the future ones ) will be absolutely thrilled and happy as well as thankful for the opportunity of being able to enter it . I am already waiting for your report from 20 / 21 August. Best regards.

    1. I will do my best to live up to expectations Paul. I am on my way now to give the garden a mid week check-up as I’ve been unable to get there for the last week. It is nerve-racking managing a garden from a distance!

  3. Hello Dan

    Fabulous garden as always!

    Any tips on growing Gloriosa’s please? I’ve been told the long tubers have to have to be slanted downwards? I adore them but have never been successful in getting them to even shoot, let alone flower. Any advice would be much appreciated.

    And – always terracotta pots? – never coloured/glazed?

    Perhaps instead of fuchsias as vine weevil food, what about Cape Fuschias – Phygelius. They seem to be weevil proof, good do-ers and are ‘exotic looking’ with some lovely shades or coral, yellow and wine. Just a thought.

    kind regards

    1. Hi Jill. Gloriosas need to be planted vertically with the growing tip top most. I read somewhere that you should not touch the growing tip as this prevents it from shooting. I am not sure if there’s truth in that or if it’s an old wives’ tale. Anyway, they need a little warmth to get going, otherwise I’ve found them easy to grow. I like the idea of phygelius but have found that other things like to eat those in my garden and have had them look worse than fuchsias on occasion! I might try again πŸ™‚

      1. Many thanks for the tips with Gloriosa Dan. I will be visiting the RHS Autumn Flower Show at Malvern in September so will pick some tubers up then and give them a go with heat.

        I also wanted to say thank you. I had lost heart in my little patch of green, but in the week I came across a sadly neglected pot of agapanthus that despite my neglect was still about to burst into azure blue flower (sacrilegious I know! and isn’t Mother Nature wonderful?)
        and it reminded me of your wonderful plot. Your passion and love of all things floral that jumps from the pages of your blog has renewed my love of my garden too. So much so I have big plans for next year and am going ‘tropical’. I can’t wait!

        I hadn’t realised how much I’d missed my garden and I promise to take better care of my agapanthus!

  4. How absolutely glorious! Everything looks so fresh and healthy. Just hope they keep it up for the Event. I’ve never grown dahlia’s before but reading your blog and seeing how lovely they are, I’ve decided to give them a go this year. Sadly, I can’t seem to buy American Dawn in Australia but lots of others to pick from, it’s just a matter of narrowing down the choice. Hopefully they will look even half as good as yours. Agapanthus are of course no trouble here, in fact in a lot of areas they are considered a weed and people are advised to cut off the heads so they don’t seed.
    Happy birthday to Him Indoors. 21 again!

    1. Oh yes, he’s ever young πŸ€“. I am sure you’ll enjoy growing dahlias. Being fleshy beasts they do like a drop of water, so plant them a bit closer so that the soil beneath is well shaded, and they are happy with a good mulch too. I would be very interested to hear how you get on.

      Helen of Oz also cuts the flowers off her agapanthus. I don’t think you can imagine how sacrilegious an English gardener would find that idea!

  5. It all looks wonderfully colourful with lots of healthy foliage – well done! I’m sure it’ll be a lovely day … just wish I lived closer!

    1. Thank you. I am just happy you are able to visit “virtually” πŸ€“ The cool, wet spell we’ve had is generating a few too many leaves and putting the breaks on the blooms, but there’s more sunshine forecast for the weekend.

  6. Hello there – Love your blogs!!!

    Want to come and visit the Watch House on open day weekend. How do we get to yours from the train station? Too far to walk?!

    Cheers IreneπŸ€”

    On 2 August 2016 at 19:35, The Frustrated Gardener wrote:

    > The Frustrated Gardener posted: ” Had we opened our seaside garden on the > usual weekend, this is the scene that would have greeted our visitors. Not > bad, even if I do say so myself. Instead, we spent the weekend in London, > celebrating Him Indoors’ birthday and not worrying about” >

    1. Oh no, it will take you 5 minutes. Straight down the High Street from the front of the station. Head towards the sea. Turn left at Lloyds Bank down a small side road, then immediately right, Thanet Road. You are there! Hope to meet you. Dan.

  7. It looks fab and I am sure that the good soil for sale will be a sell out!!! There will be so many people there nobody will notice the boarded up windows…do wish I could come and visit but sadly not possible.heres wishing you a great weekend and fingers crossed for good weather for the open days

  8. I am positive it will be a roaring success as always! What is there not to like, amazing planting, catering and company. I would paint a mural on the plywood doors, or borrow some kids to do it or you. Yet again, I wish I were so much closer xxx πŸ™‚

  9. I’m SO sorry to be missing you open garden dat at the weekend. Really hope it goes well anyway and will make sure I’m around for the 2017 open day.

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