Seen at the Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Saturday, 22 July 2017

How Advertising Works in Chippenham #36

Tweet showing Chippenham in the Antiques Roadshow opening credits


  1. Decide to revamp the opening titles to Antiques Roadshow
  2. Use some of the artifacts owned by one of the show's experts
  3. Film close to said expert's home and in the surrounding area
  4. Wait for a blogger with a PrntScr key on their computer to notice a tweet about it
  5. Et voila!
I'd wondered for ages why the opening credits to the Antiques Roadshow looked familiar and finally twigged why on a recent WI treasure hunt around the town. NAH and I watched the opening credits closely the other day and we reckon one of the other locations used (when the garage door is opened) is either on our own estate, or our old one over at Pewsham.

As well as his involvement with the Antiques Roadshow, expert Marc Allum is trying to find the actual location of King Alfred's hunting lodge by hosting a regular archaeological dig in St Mary's Street. He got a little more than he bargained for recently when Roman remains were found in his garden instead. It even made some of the national newspapers, which is another great advert for the town.

Back to the Roadshow, here are the opening credits in full - we need to find out where the other locations are.



If the embedded video doesn't work try this link instead.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Simple Summer Pots

A huge blue pot and Heuchera
A huge pot plus a large-leaved Heuchera makes a striking statement in Linda Hostetler's Viginian garden

I've always been struck by the bold use of pots at the gardens visited on previous Garden Bloggers' Flings and this year was another visual feast. The planting combinations are varied and exceptional, often using plants - such as coleus - I've dismissed previously as not my 'thing'.

Unlike some Fling bloggers*, I have only a few photos to show what I've liked and learned from this year's trip. Instead, I've realised sights like the one above have influenced the simple summer pots I've put together since I got back.

Large trough with three coleus

I've started on a makeover of my front garden and one of the tiny baby steps along that path is to replace the multitude of small pots on the ugly telephone junction box at the very front. I don't usually go for plastic with my pots, but I found this one more attractive to usual. Besides, I need to keep things relatively light in case the telephone engineers need access.

I've planted 3 coleus which will fill out and engulf the pot in a few weeks time. I thought about using just one colourway, but I liked the contrast of the middle plant when I put it with the others at the garden centre. I hope these will flower like those I saw in the States, as the spikes also look attractive.

Alpine planter filled with around 100 allium seed heads

This arrangement came together by accident when I was tidying up the garden at the weekend. I was cutting back some of my spent alliums ready for shredding and needed to put the flower heads into something as I worked so they didn't seed themselves everywhere. The pictured pot was to hand, and I liked the look of the few heads in there so much, I decided to put in the whole lot to make a temporary display. There are around 100 of them in there.

I love the way the individual stalks of the flower heads tremble in the breeze a bit like some deely boppers do, which adds another dimension to this pot. What do you think?



My final example is the hanging basket by the front door. I usually stuff this with scented petunias like the striking 'Night Sky' I trialled last year. Sadly, my seedlings got some kind of rot and then I couldn't resist the pictured trailing begonia instead when I went to buy their replacements (full name = Begonia boliviensis 'Bossa Nova White').

This is another planter which has still to reach its full potential. Watch this space for a progress report...


I'm sure huge pots with lots of bold plants - even an obelisk or two - like these I found in downtown Charlottesville - will feature in my garden's future in some way. Until then, I'm enjoying the simple summer pots I've put together for this year.

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Disclosure: I was given the two planters featured in this post by Stewart. They're not being used in the way I'd originally envisaged, but I'm glad they're doing the job I eventually gave them.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Photography on tour - a cautionary tale

The Japanese Garden at Hillwood - my favourite spot
Just to prove I really was there - a lovely photo of Hillwood with me for scale taken by my friend Barbara 

It's taken me a while to get round to writing about the wonders of this year's Garden Bloggers' Fling, primarily because I don't have photos for most of it. It means lots of the coverage I'd planned from all but the last day won't be blogged, or I'll use post-Fling photos instead.

I got home from a wonderful holiday all fired up to tell you all about it, loaded up my SD Cards in readiness... then found all my photos from the first 5 days of our holiday were missing. I know they were there originally because I showed some of them to NAH, but even his prowess with SD recovery programs failed to find even a ghost of an original photo.

This is what I think happened...

On Fling Day 2 I arrived at our first garden (this wonderful one, full of neat little touches and that bench in Pam's blog post was a shoe-in for a Friday Bench on't other blog) only to find my camera battery died after taking the first photo. Luckily Teri had a spare camera, so I was able to load my SD card into it and click happily away. I then recharged my camera's battery that evening and returned to using my own camera for the rest of our holiday.

It looks like either changing cameras or recharging the battery led to my original photos being wiped. Of course I'm kicking myself for making such a basic mistake, especially as I took a spare camera, batteries and SD cards with me to the States. BUT it was so hot in DC, I decided not to take any spares with me, I even left my phone in the hotel, so keen was I to travel light that day.

Garden Bloggers' Fling 2017: Group photo in the Lunar Garden at Hillwood
Spot me in the Fling group photo - photo credit: Wendy Niemi Kremer

So what should I have done?

I should have taken my phone, or my spare lightweight camera, or a spare battery with me that day, despite the heat. Like Helen does when she's on tour, I should have used a fresh SD card too. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

In an ideal world I would have taken a laptop with me to the States and backed up my photos onto it each evening. That's what I did in France earlier this year, and I got extremely grumpy lugging it around with me as it was so heavy. I knew that was a no-no for the States, besides I've never lost any photos before. That smugness was my downfall.

What else could I have done?

I did take my tablet with me, plus an SD card designed to fit in both my camera and the smaller slot of my tablet. I could have used these to backup my photos onto my Google Drive each evening. I have 21 GB of free space there, which is plenty. Why didn't I think of that before?


Tammy Schmitt at Casa Mariposa
At last, one of my photos: Tammy welcomes us to Casa Mariposa on #GBFling2017 Day 3 

Luckily I still have my memories and NAH took some photos when we were together in Washington DC. Plus there are all the blog posts from my Fling friends to make up for the lack of my own photos and posts.

In some ways my photo woes are a blessing as I have far fewer stories to blog about, when the garden and allotment are still calling me for attention.

How do you prevent photo mishaps when you're on the move?

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Garden Bloggers' Blooms Day: Hemerocallis 'Corky'

'Hemerocallis Corky' daylily

This plant is the sole survivor of the ones I bought home from Tatton Show in 2012. I don't usually go for daylilies but there was something about the clear yellow flower and relatively short stature of this one which caught my eye. When I found out they don't mind clay soils like mine, that clinched the deal.

This year 'Corky' welcomed me home from the States with a much larger display than usual. Either it's decided the front of my lower terrace bed is truly home, or it's enjoying the drier and hotter summer we're having... perhaps both?

Sue asked recently whether the large numbers pollen beetles she's seeing currently are prevalent elsewhere this summer. As you can see a couple of them have strayed into the above photo. It's not surprising as these tiny beetles love the colour yellow, and there's certainly enough pollen for them on my plant.

Germany Valley in the Allegheny Mountains, West Virginia
Roadside ditch lilies overlooking scenic and historic Germany Valley in West Virginia

Corky's abundant daily blooms are helping me keep holiday memories at the front of my mind, as at last I understand why these blooms are commonly called 'ditch lilies' in the States. I spotted them everywhere we went and I naturally assumed I must be looking at a native plant, they were so abundant. Wikipedia has served to put me right since I returned home: not only are they not native, their abundance in some of the relatively remote places we visited now worries me. Sure enough, they're considered invasive in some States, who've banned them from being planted.

My daylily is proving to be much better behaved so far. Besides, if it does start to get out of hand, I can always start adding the spicy tasting flowers to our salads.

Garden Bloggers' Blooms Day is hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Shedwork

My shed at the bottom of the garden
What horrors lie behind those doors? Read on to find out... 

A little while ago Beryl 'fessed up about the sorry state of a corner of her allotment and challenged others to do the same. I told her I would soon reveal the horror that is my garden shed instead. As you can see, now's the time to do so.

My shed stuffed to the gills with all sorts
BEFORE: the view inside - I could only just about squeeze in to start sorting things out

How did my beloved shed get into this sorry state of affairs? Well, it's been too easy just to dump and store stuff in there when we've had any major clearing up to do. After a while it got so bad, I felt too overwhelmed to go down there and sort it out.

This spring I found the constant bending over pots for seed sowing and potting up wasn't a comfortable way of doing things any more. At this point the potting bench in the corner of my shed started to send out subliminal messages reminding me I have the solution ready and waiting.

Time to get cracking with that clearout now the weather's decent enough to do so...

The garden strewn with items unearthed from my shed
Starting to sort out what lies within

As well as providing a major appartment block for spiders, I was amazed at how much I'd managed to cram inside the TARDIS-like interior of my shed AND forget it was there...

  • Not one, but two tub trugs. NAH bought another two earlier this year because he thought I needed them
  • A compost bin - now added to the collection up at the allotment
  • A bag of citrus compost for the kaffir lime I had (RIP, probably because I never repotted it with said special compost), I hope it'll prove of good service to a friend's moribund citrus tree instead
  • Four cheap ready to assemble garden arches - now proven to be too cheap as they've rusted through
  • A whole mini-greenhouse - bought originally for use at peak sowing time, but that idea was abandoned when I realised the proposed location was too shady from the trees nearby. Now I'm working out how to use it up at the allotment without it blowing away
  • Lots of garden ornaments brought in for the winter
  • Enough protective fleece to cover the entire garden
  • The geological hammer I thought I'd lost
  • The usual flotsam of pots, trays, baskets, empty compost bags, supports and bits of 'useful wood for later'
  • A carload of various items for recycling or dumping - broken garden ornaments, those garden arches, empty cardboard boxes, rotted through garden bench covers, some of that 'useful wood' etc etc

The shed after its tidy up - part one
AFTER: It's not perfect, a repair to that shelf and some more storage boxes will help improve things further

A quick day's work and now I know where everything is and my potting bench can be used again. It's just as well as I potted up 180 box cuttings earlier this week. It was lovely not to have an aching back after dealing with that little lot.

Now to decide just how many 'useful pots and trays' I need to keep for later, then recycle the rest at my local garden centre.

Do you have a horror corner somewhere in your garden or allotment? Beryl and I are eager to hear your confessions...




Disclosure: This post is sponsored by The Big Yellow Self Storage Company.

Note that sponsorship goes towards my blogging costs; the words and pictures are mine. There are no cookies or affiliate links associated with this post.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Postcard from Washington DC


I'm back from an amazing couple of weeks in the USA and the Garden Bloggers Fling, which this year was based in the Washington DC area, taking in gardens in Maryland and Virginia along the way. NAH came with me, so we spent a few days exploring the States' capital before I headed off for the Fling.

I'd always wanted to see the Lincoln Memorial, and it was an emotional time for me there, despite the hordes of tourists all vying to take their photographs and selfies. To the side of Lincoln's statue are some of his iconic speeches, which give great cause for thought.

Post-Fling we had a week exploring what Virginia and West Virginia have to offer, particularly in the mountains of Shenandoah National Park and the George Washington/Monongahela National Forests. We discovered some early US national history too, including sites from the Civil War.

A visit to Monticello - Thomas Jefferson's Virginia plantation home - was especially timely as we were there on the 241st anniversary of his presentation of the Declaration of Independence on 28th June. It was only later the 4th of July was declared the nation's birthday.

There are more posts to follow...

Saturday, 1 July 2017

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