Fun in the Garden

Like many of us under lockdown the past couple of weeks, I've had a bit of a spring clean, both in the home and the garden. Yesterday I turned my attention to a huge bag of garden stuff accumulated over the years from various events and realised here was an opportunity to inject some fun into the garden.

Our gardens are fast becoming our sanctuaries and a healing space for our times, but oh yes, some fun is needed now more than ever. I felt a little down on Friday and a cheerful task in the fresh air was just what I needed. Half an hour or so's work and my little flowerpot man now greets me as I step into the garden as do my welcome flowers. I rescued the arch from the bottom of the garden last year and decided it was crying out for the string of solar lights I'd found in my bag. Childlike I couldn't wait for it to get dark yesterday evening so I could admire my handiwork and was delighted the moon joined me for the photo session.

Skipper and Spot are always entertain…

Garden Bloggers Muse Day: We shall have...

I viewed this calendar picture throughout March whenever I was in the downstairs loo. It struck me as somehow appropriate for the times we're currently living in, though the dreams aren't exactly wonderful and the actual season we'll wake up in probably won't be spring. If only we could hibernate!

I hope everyone stays safe and well in the weeks to come.

Write Away and #Springnaturediary: What a difference a year makes

Last year I took part in the first #springnaturediary, an Arts and Humanities Research Council project which is also taking contributions this year. I'm chuffed last year's diary made the final cut and can be read as part of an illustrated booklet.

Now the world has changed for us all and it's useful to mark these strange times with another entry for this year's diary. Read on and you'll see everything has changed for me in another significant way. NAH had a heart attack on our wedding anniversary in early March and against the background of the looming Coronavirus pandemic - declared as such the day after on my birthday - I wanted to record a moment in our increasingly shrinking world.

Thankfully NAH's home now and started on the slow road to recovery. It was obvious the hospital was beginning to make preparations for the pandemic whilst he was there. All that can't be squeezed into a 150 word entry which focuses on the vernal equinox, but there is a snip…

Weekend Wandering: a new wildflower on the block

Oh how the world has changed in what seems like the twinkling of an eye. We're now confined to home here in the UK, let out just once a day for exercise. I have a goal to #walk1000miles this year, which is proving more of a challenge now walks need to start from my own front door.

I've devised a 3.3 mile circular route which will allow me to achieve my goal if I walk it every day... and just as I was getting a bit tired of it on Wednesday, up pops a new wildflower in a quite unlikely place in the shape of the white form of the sweet violet, Viola odorata. Have a look at the link for some delightful stories associated with this wildflower.

I found it just outside the entrance of one of the local secondary schools just up the hill from where I live. There's a narrow stretch of grass there by the tarmac path which is currently bejewelled with lesser celandine and a couple of clumps of my new discovery. As the school is built on the site of the former Hardenhuish estate, and …

Next Stop on the Blog Tour: Diary of a Modern Country Gardener

I'm delighted to be the next stop on the blog tour of Tamsin Westhorpe's new book, Diary of a Modern Country Gardener. I have to declare an interest here: I know Tamsin well and I've visited the garden in question - Stockton Bury Gardens in Herefordshire - twice, but don't worry dear reader, my thoughts on Tamsin's wonderfully warm and witty diary would still be the same if I didn't know her or the garden from Adam.

Designers often talk about finding the sense of place in their designs. Stockton Bury Gardens is firmly rooted in its farming landscape which has been in the stewardship of the family for 5 generations. You get a sense of both over her gardening year which starts in February. She isn't afraid of telling a warts and all story and her personality and sense of humour are woven into every page. Once you've stopped chuckling at her tales, you'll find yourself inspired to get out there and garden, even if it means getting caked in mud, or you…

Garden Bloggers' Muse Day: We may think...

What wise words these are! It feels like it hasn't stopped raining since September, so two whole afternoons of sunshine this week have provided a much needed pick-me-up.

The ground is far too wet to do much in the way of gardening, though everywhere there are signs nature is quietly getting on with the job of bringing in spring, thank goodness. Actually downing tools for a while and just appreciating what's growing around me has been just as beneficial to my mood as getting down in the soil and preparing the garden for the coming season.

I once didn't care much for Hellebores; I thought them a gloomy, down in the dumps kind of plant, but now I appreciate the hope they bring to the new year. In the right place they flower for weeks and they don't need much looking after. I've guerrilla gardened a few in the woods on the public land next door: they were such tiny thimbles when I planted them in the autumn, and a quick census a couple of days ago shows at least 50% o…

Stourhead Sudoko: The Solution

Last week I set a Sudoko puzzle with a difference, using the letters from Stourhead instead of the numbers one to nine.

Here's the solution. How did you do? Did you find letters easier or more difficult than the usual Sudoko puzzle? Would you do one of these again?

Other puzzles published previously on Veg Plotting:

ConnectionsCryptic Word GridGarden Scramble (the solution is here)Garden Wordsearch (NB no solution is given for this one as you'll know when you've found them all)Happy FamiliesShows of Hands special (quick ID quiz)What's in a Name?What's in a Name? Part 2

Puzzle Corner: Stourhead Suduko

This puzzle has been waiting in the wings for a while and I'm pleased to bring you a letter based Suduko using one of Wiltshire's most famous gardens, Stourhead.

In this case the letters of S-t-o-u-r-h-e-a-d are used instead of the numbers one to nine and your task is to add further letters to the grid below so that each line of nine both across and down, plus each box of nine only contains one instance of each letter.

The grid is based on one published in the Radio Times which had a difficulty rating of 11/20. A printer friendly version can be found here.

I'll post the solution next week, though you'll know when you've cracked it! If you enjoyed this puzzle, Sue Garrett over at Green Lane Allotments has another couple for you to try.

Other puzzles published previously on Veg Plotting:

ConnectionsCryptic Word GridGarden Scramble (the solution is here)Garden Wordsearch (NB no solution is given for this one as you'll know when you've found them all)Happy Fami…

Wildflower Wednesday: A floral celebration in stamps

Top left to right: Triphora trianthophorosCypripedium californicumHexalectris spicataCypripedium Reginae, and Spiranthes odorata

Bottom, left to right: Platanthera leucophaeaTriphora trianthophorosPlatanthera grandifloraCyrtopodium polyphyllum, and Calopogon tuberosus

It's not often that my worlds of nature, gardens and stamp collecting collide, so a recent email about a forthcoming stamp issue in the USA on Friday is cause for celebration. Even better when it means I can join in Gail's Wildflower Wednesday.

These are a selection of 10 from over 100 native species which grow in the wild (and in gardens) in the States. We have 52 native species here in the UK, many of which are so rare they can only be seen in a nature reserve.

Thanks to Facebook friend Jacqueline Soule who double checked with David Coleman (originator of the email), I also have their confirmed names as shown above.

Now to find them if I can in their native habitat, or at least pick up a booklet of…

Be My Valentine?

First thought: Perhaps only a gardener knows the value of a heart shaped potato for Valentine's Day 😉

Second thought: Crikey! I didn't know I was that wrinkly! 👀

Third thought: Reader, we ate it 😜