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Showing posts from September, 2011

These Aren't Just Crocus Corms...

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... they'resaffron crocus aka Crocus sativus crocus corms, courtesy of one of Emma Cooper's bargain finds on her blog a couple of weeks ago*. I've always grown the ordinary autumn flowering crocus and I'm always looking for ways in which I can shove one or two more edible items into my borders, so this was too good an opportunity to miss :)
30 corms have now been distributed around the garden in little groups of 3, planted just over 3 inches deep. The packet says they flower in September/October, but in view of their relatively late planting, I reckon it'll more realistically be sometime in November this year.
I'll keep you posted on their progress :)

* = no longer available, but bargains may still be found if you look around the interweb.

Wildflower Wednesday: Streetside Delights?

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One of the surprises of my trip to Seattle was how familiar many of the wildflowers were to me as well as lots of the plants we saw in the gardens we visited. Foxgloves were in abundance and at last I discovered what exactly fireweed is as often mentioned on American blogs. Here we know it as Rosebay willowherb aka Epilobium angustifolium.
One plant which had me puzzled was a swathe of pink often seen at the side of the road as we swept by in our bus. Bright Barbie pink and rampant, it mocked me from the side of the road. Victoria had an idea of what it was, but it wasn't until we reached her namesake city on Vancouver Island that I managed to at last get up close and personal and confirm her diagnosis:
It's the perennial sweet pea,Lathyrus latifolius, a native of Europe and sadly not perfumed like its more familiar annual cousin Lathyrus odorata. Most of the time I saw the bright pink form, but here you can see the duskier and white variations I also found adorning the sea clif…

OOTS: Some Blooming Good News!

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It's been a rather good week for Wiltshire's public planting. Cricklade, often the lone banner carrier for Wiltshire was last night named 'The Champion of Champions' at the Britain in Bloom awards ceremony at St. Andrew's, which means it's deemed by the judges to be the best in Britain :)
Cricklade has long been on my to do list of posts, not only because of its Britain in Bloom prowess but also because it's home to over 90% of Britain's wild fritilliary population. Yesterday's good news means it's moved up my list of OOTS must do posts for next summer. I've also added Corsham to the list as it was recently awarded Gold in the South West region's Britain in Bloom awards, marking steady progress from an inaugural silver in 2009, through to silver-gilt last year and now gold.
Finally, Friday morning saw us at Bradford on Avon's station ready to catch a train to Weymouth as a birthday treat for NAH. It meant I just had time to take the a…

Notes on Wisley's Trials Field

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Today I'm going to have a closer look at the RHS Award Of Garden Merit (AGM) and the trials field at Wisley as promised a couple of weeks ago. I'd asked if I could have a look around when I went to the flower show and the RHS kindly arranged for me to be shown around by Andrew McSeveney, the trials manager.

Whilst I was waiting for Andrew to meet me, I took the above photo of half of the trials field. I was tutting about those people getting in the way, only for Andrew to tell me they were the Dahlia Assessment Panel who were meeting to assess this year's trials! Much deep discussion was in evidence, with the occasional raising of hands. No doubt all will be revealed in due course when the RHS produce the trials reports plus details of any AGMs awarded. NB it's well worth browsing through the trials database - available online (also have a look at the list of Plant Bulletins available) - especially if you're thinking about a particular plant for your garden or plot…

The Holburne Museum Revisited

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In Monday's post I mentioned the recent refurbishment of the Holburne Museum had been a controversial one. A walk round the back to this view from Sydney Gardens reveals why that was so.

Personally, I love the new extension. It's bold and exciting. And the glass reflects the mood of its surroundings and thus becomes an ever changing picture. On Sunday after the rain had stopped and the sun came out, the reflection of surrounding trees danced across the new facade.
The preservers of Bath found the thought of all this far too shocking and would no doubt have preferred some kind of faux Georgian style extension to match the monstrosity (in my opinion) that forms the recently opened Southgate Shopping Centre. I'm so pleased the architect stuck to his guns, even though it meant it took 10 years for the vision to become a reality.
I took this picture at the beginning of May just as the finishing touches were being applied to the new galleries and the re-landscaped garden prior t…

Emma Cooper's Write Club: Horse Chestnut Leaf Miner

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I'm guest posting today on Emma Cooper's blog as part of this month's Write Club re some news about the horse chestnut leaf miner. Regular readers may recall I've posted about this pesky pest before in the shape of Chippenham's Double Whammy Chestnuts in 2009 and 2008's An End to Chippenham's Conkers?

Head on over to Emma to find out the latest about what's being done to discover the extent of the leaf miner's presence and how you can help to gather the information needed by the researchers at Bristol and Hull Universities.
And if you fancy a spot on Emma's blog, you still have a few days left to submit your guest post. Full details of what you need to do, plus some writing prompts if you're stuck for ideas can be found here. NB She has a fantastic prize on offer for the best guest post and even if you're not inspired to write one yourself, simply adding a comment over there puts you in line for her prize draw for a book from her ever gr…

OOTS: In the Footsteps of Jane Austen

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A last minute change to my weekend's arrangements meant instead I was able to meet up with my SUP pals D and S yesterday afternoon in Bath. A cold had kept me firmly indoors all week and it was great at last to take a tentative step outside for some fresh air.

My usual parking spots in Henrietta Gardens were all taken, so instead I found myself in Sydney Road opposite the Bath Spa Hotel. From there it's a pleasant walk down the hill through Sydney Gardens (which first opened in 1795), where I found the above beds still managing to look cheerful in the pouring rain.
At the bottom of Sydney Gardens stands our afternoon's rendezvous, the impressive Holburne Museum, recently reopened after an extensive (and controversial) refurbishment. The museum first opened its doors around 100 years ago, though before that it was an elegant hotel. It now houses the Holburne collection, a vast repository of art, fine furniture, porcelain and silverware collected in the late 18th and 19th cen…

My Garden, The City and Me: Book Review

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My Garden, The City and Me is a charming tale of one city dweller's adventures in starting edible and wildlife gardening. Except she doesn't have a garden, so undaunted she borrows her neighbour's kitchen roof to explore the possibilities. This really is gardening against the odds: a garden just 3 metres square with limited access to be gardened by a novice who just has oodles of enthusiasm to get her over the hurdles.

How much can be grown in such a tiny space? Well, it turns out to be quite a lot and Helen Babbs tells us about her triumphs and disasters. In between life on her rooftop garden, she tells us about the various community projects and initiatives she's discovered which take place in London. This is in complete contrast to the usual view of London as a faceless city, and shows there's thriving communities to be discovered if one only knows where to look.

This is the tale of one year's growing, told by the season, which turns out to be a life changin…

The Organic Garden at Holt Farm

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It's not often that my worlds of gardening and choir collide*, but earlier this year they did, in the shape of Eileen who I first met on my singing holiday last year in the Czech Republic. We bumped into each other for a quick catch up before Sing for Water West in July and it was only then we found out we have a shared love of gardening.

However, Eileen is lucky enough to be a professional, where her daily work takes her to The Organic Garden at Holt Farm. Come and see our meadow, she said, I'll email you when it's ready. Her email arrived whilst I was in Seattle, so shortly after my return, on a very wet day I did...
... two massive fields of Pictorial Meadow form a late season burst of colour. It's much more yellow in character this year and James, the Head Gardener, thinks this might be due to late sowing. The dry weather this spring meant the seeds couldn't be sown until late May. Look a bit closer and you'll still find plentiful red, blue and white flowers…

GBBD: Steely Globes

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As Autumn's arriving early this year, the garden's looking a bit more backend-ish than I'm used to for September, but I'm still really pleased with the way my Echinops have performed this year. They're just the ordinary cheap kind, but have filled out nicely in this their third season.
Their steely globes have added much interest to the single terrace bed for a few months now and I like the way they're currently helping to screen off the patio from the bottom of the garden instead of fulfilling their usual mission as a back of the border plant. With smaller gardens like mine it can be quite hard to do this adequately and I do like this as an alternative to using Verbena bonariensis.
The bees love these plants too, they haven't needed staking and I've only used 3 of them, so what's not to like?
Garden Bloggers' Blooms Day is hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

A New Recycling Option

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I've noticed a bit of a sea change on our supermarket shelves recently with the introduction of refill bags for instant coffee. I got a bit annoyed at the pictured one because there's a big eco-friendly customer message trumpeted on the packet re less weight and transportation miles (reduced costs for them more like), yet I'm now faced with throwing away something to go to landfill rather than recycling my glass jar. I wonder how well the two cancel each other out?

I was harumphing away about this again in the supermarket on Saturday when I spotted a rival company has thought things through a bit further and signed up with Terracycle, who will take in their bags and do something useful with them. Looking at the website this can result in a few products suitable for the garden amongst other things. How about joining in too Nestlé?
I hadn't heard of Terracycle before and it looks like they're relatively new in the UK. Their aim is to upcycle the more difficult waste …

Local Shops For Local People

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I've been meaning to put this post together after my Locally Sourced one earlier this year and yesterday's miserable weather meant I could snuggle up indoors to do it. It's a list, not very scientific or complete, of the local independent shops and businesses I've tried. No money has exchanged hands to prompt me to do this: in fact I've paid them by buying their wares and liking what I find :)

These are all within 10 miles of home: it's good to find North Wiltshire has good suppliers, which are worth knowing. You'll see the list's biased towards gardening and food i.e. the topics I write the most about ;)
Nurseries Evolution Plants - a very new nursery (2013) specialising in lots of newly discovered species. Special Plants - see also my tour round Derry's garden, plus my interview with herThe Botanic Nursery - Terry also holds the national collection of foxglovesWest Kington Nurseries - not usually open to the public, but opens its doors twice a year…

The Bad Tempered Gardener: Book Review (ish)

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Anne Wareham discusses The Bad Tempered Gardener with James Alexander-Sinclair at this year's Malvern Spring Garden Show

When I found out the title of Anne Wareham's book The Bad Tempered Gardener, I was rather worried. Not about the content per se, but whether potential readers wouldn't get the joke (a play on Christopher Lloyd's well known work, The Well Tempered Garden), and would be rather put off by it.

However, judging by the extensive coverage Anne has received from the gardening press she often criticises; the number of bloggers who've posted a review; and its sales ratings on Amazon, my worries were quite unfounded. Anne must be delighted with her book's reception.
This left me with a dilemma as there really isn't much more I can add. So I've been putting off my review for months now, especially as all the bloggers (from both sides of the pond) have put it so much better than I can (if you google the book's title, you'll find them all li…

Postcard From Wisley

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I had a great day at the RHS Wisley Flower Show yesterday and found this fab woven sculpture on the way to the orchard where 9 apple varieties awaited us for a taste test (and invited 'scrumping'). I discovered the apple harvest is around 2 weeks early this year: another sign of the early autumn I wrote about recently.

As well as the gardens themselves (the borders were looking fantastic and the new rose garden doesn't look like it's in its first year at all) there's around 30 nurseries displaying their wares until Sunday. I was pleased Sean and Jooles from Heucheraholics were awarded best display (and they were thrilled), even though they were invited to attend just a couple of days before the show started.

For once I bought some plants: an unusual Lespedeza thunbergii ready for a competitive planting to compare with the one Ms. Arabella Sock bought (I've sat in the Sockmobile - get me!), plus a Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola' ready for evaluation as a po…

Keyword Gardeners' Question Time

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An occasional series answering the questions found in my Keyword Search statistics which won't have found an answer on my blog. Note: some of these are useful but others may need to be taken with a hefty pinch of salt ;)

Have blog, now what?
That blank page is a bit scary isn't it? If you're stuck for ideas, then find some blogs you like and start reading: not only the blog, but the comments too. Add your own comments and if you find yourself writing a really long reply, then you've found your next post: a reply on your own blog, acknowledging the original entry. Gardening Gone Wild have a fantastic ideas gallery for garden bloggers you might find useful too.
Can you have a bird box and vegetables together?
Absolutely, as long as they don't house pigeons who'll eat all your brassicas before you can say 'knife'. Most other birds nesting nearby will gleefully hoover up those nasty aphids, slugs, caterpillars and most other pests keeping a beady eye on your …

Postcard From Dorset

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8 go mad in Dorset, courtesy of A, our hostess for a fab variation on our regular GNO: A Girls' Weekend Away :)
A weekend of fun, laughter, walks, Italian food and much celebration of life (and one birthday). I'm sure King George III on his white steed at Osmington would approve.

Autoreel Hose: Product Review

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When I blogged about Testing Times way back in April, little did I realise it'd be this long until I revealed the results of testing my autoreel hose. But I've been uncharacteristically girly and patiently waited for NAH to fix it up. A minor tantrum from me when we got back off holiday means at last I've been able to try it out.

What's really great about being offered this for review is we actually needed a new hose as our old one (at least 20 years old) was a winter casualty. It's now more suitable for porous pipe duties rather than watering ones. You can just see it looking rather forlorn and lost at the back of the photograph.
I was really fed up with my old hose. Winding it up after watering was such a faff: the hose would constantly get kinked; the winding mechanism often got stuck and I had to do a lot of bending down. Consequently it would spend most of the summer in an unreeled state lying in wait for the unwary to trip over it - usually NAH - when ventur…

Wow! Gorillas!

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I've had great fun playing spot the gorilla in Bristol over the past couple of months. Just like the pigs and lions in Bath previously, various gorilla designs have been placed around the city with a view of providing a fun way to see Bristol and eventually raise cash for charity.

The added twist this time is the gorillas are helping to celebrate Bristol Zoo's 175th birthday and to raise awareness of conservation issues. I particularly liked finding the pictured 'zoo keeper' when I met my GNO pals for dinner at Cabot Circus back in July, and as you can see he (?) was putting a smile on the faces of passers by :)
You have just a few days to see them for yourself as they're being rounded up and corralled back at the zoo after September 6th. You can download your copy of the trail map from the Wow! Gorillas website* - there's 61 of them to find. I've seen about 20 whilst mooching around the city centre for a couple of hours without really trying.
I rather like…

GBMD: Well Behaved Women...

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As seen in the marvellously decorated ladies loo at the equally marvellous The Organic Garden at Holt Farm a couple of weeks ago. Go there. Even if it's on a dreary rainy day like I did :)

Garden Bloggers' Muse Day is hosted by Carolyn Choi at Sweet Home and Garden Chicago.
Update: I see that Carolyn has just moved to North Carolina, so her Chicago blog is in abeyance. However, I enjoy GBMD so much I plan to continue with it. Hopefully Carolyn will revive her meme if she decides to pick up blogging again and I wish her well in her new home.