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Going to sea in a sieve at Wisley - with Lucie Ponsford

Posted by Sara Draycott on 01 May 2013 at 03:49 PM

March was freezing . . . thank goodness for April the drip, drip, drop has been just the ticket, combined with sunshine, to encourage the plants and us all to unfurl from what has been a long and bitter winter. 




Here in the garden I am taking on the annual seed display again and am thrilled at the prospect.  Held off by the March cold it is now at the end of April and all the hardy and indeed half hardies are finally in the ground.

For those of you unfamiliar with these terms you may have seen the HH or HA on seed packets and catalogues and these are for: half hardy and hardy annuals – plants that mature, flower and set seed in one year.  The showy specimens are the half hardies these are found in sunnier temperate areas of the world and won’t withstand the frost. 

This could prove a problem; as the old saying goes ‘ne’er cast a clout till May is out’, we may not be over the cold mornings yet.  But here at Wisley, the spirit of experimenting is as strong as in your own gardens, and we have to get the job done and move on to the next pressing task!  I am hoping that by growing them ‘hard’ (without the bottom heat of the green house) they will be slow to germinate and then survive a light grass frost?! I’ll let you know if they don’t – I do have a back up plan.


This years theme is based on a poem; something to engage adults and children alike.  Inspired by one of our faithful volunteers Nick, I wanted something to hang the design on. This image packed nonsense poem from Edward Lear seemed appropriate:

The Jumblies

‘They went to sea in a Sieve, they did,
   In a Sieve they went to sea:
In spite of all their friends could say,
On a winter's morn, on a stormy day,
   In a Sieve they went to sea!
And when the Sieve turned round and round,
And every one cried, "You'll all be drowned!"
They called aloud, "Our Sieve ain't big,
But we don't care a button! we don't care a fig!
   In a Sieve we'll go to sea!"
      Far and few, far and few,
         Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
      Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
         And they went to sea in a Sieve.’

The design has ribbons of green and blue and then circles and shapes in a jumble of colours.  There are structures to walk though and around.

The birch tunnel has some words from the poem written in the twigs on the side see if you can spot what they say?


The opposite structure represents the sieve and moves as you pass by.

The full effect should be best in July – to the end of the summer when the annuals and few canna lilies and dahlias I will wait to put in once the fear of frost is over.

Come and see the seeds that have already started to germinate.


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