Garden Bloggers' Blooms Day: Snowdrop Dreams

We're almost at peak snowdrop here at VP Gardens and I'm pleased to see the ones I've guerrilla gardened on the side bank are beginning to bulk up nicely. I plan to help the smaller clumps in the above photo and beyond by burying their seed heads into the leaf litter in a week or two's time.

I love how the ones at the top of the side garden have begun to throw themselves over the boundary and join their cousins on the bank below. There's no helping hand needed from me here, but maybe I will.

Meanwhile in the back garden, the planned combinations are beginning to take shape. I gave the cyclamen a helping hand a couple of seasons ago and they're beginning to take off in their allotted space beneath the winter honeysuckle. It's made me appreciate how much hard work goes into the enormous spreads of cyclamen I've seen underneath the trees at Hodsock Priory, and more recently at Wakehurst.

This year I have another snowdrop dream... in the shape of a 'sn…

Things in Unusual Places #24: Cactus

Even on a dull, drizzly winter's day, this cactus brightens up this street scene in Bristol. It's made out of scaffolding covers and plastic tags and was constructed in November last year by artist Duncan McKellar.

It replaced a large pineapple on the site. I see a theme developing here...

... see that tiny shot of pink? Want a closer look?

Here you are 😘

Chock full of winter joy and surprises

I went on a fantastic road trip with my friend Naomi recently, where we found our mouthwatering itinerary was chock full of winter joy, sneak peeks and surprises...

First stop was Hortus Loci in Hampshire where we saw potting up was already in full swing to fill the huge polytunnels with the plants on order for Chelsea Flower Show. 

This year they're growing for IKEA's Gardening Will Save the World, which will be the first show garden in the Great Pavilion judged for a medal. It'll be on 2 levels and include lots of edibles; our guide Danny Green (Show Plant manager) confirmed it should include lingonberries, a signature berry of IKEA's fare whenever I go there. The other main show garden they're growing for is Welcome to Yorkshire which the lovely Mark Gregory is designing again this year. It promises to have a working lock gate as its centre piece - I can't wait to see it in action.

The team are also growing for Malvern Spring Festival - it should be a great sta…

Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice. ~ Robert Frost in Fire and Ice
Frost went on to say he favoured fire. I wonder what he'd make of today's frosted VP Gardens and the reports of the polar vortex with numbing low temperatures in the USA?
We have snow forecast for later on today. Stay warm everyone.

A Year in Birdsong

Last year I joined a creative writing group. Unlike my friends, writing fiction at first was way outside my comfort zone. Listening to the birdsong from my bed one morning, led to this piece of longform nature writing instead. It seems fitting to offer it to you in celebration of this year's Big Garden Birdwatch which takes place this weekend. The links below will take you to the RSPB's information and birdsong audio file of each bird mentioned, so you can listen along as well as read.

One day - possibly in January and definitely by February - there's a sense that spring is beginning to win its fight with winter. At last there's a hint of warmth behind the sunshine and the air seems washed clean, leaving a sky of benign blue. The clincher for me is the first song of the year from the great tit. You may know it; the loud call which sounds like a squeaky gate or a wonky wheelbarrow. It sounds clear and true in the trees at the side of our garden, and sometimes there'…

Postcard from Marcherland

Unusually for NAH, he took holiday destiny into his own hands and booked us in for a last minute week away in the Welsh border* just after Christmas. This is the view from our cottage door complete with frost, rolling hills, farm buildings, sheep and architectural trees.

I was a bit grumpy when NAH suggested it, convinced nothing would be open. I was proved wrong... there was just enough, plus the draw of a friend to catch up with who has recently moved back home after many years of living in Seattle.

We visited NAH's beloved Tal y Llyn railway and for me there were the gigglesome yews of Powis Castle decked out in twinkly lights beneath their green skirts. We partook of the world's slowest pub crawl in Bishop's Castle, where I taught everyone the delights of windmill dominoes.

We found the canal at Welshpool and revisited the marvellous lost-in-time Bunners hardware store in Montgomery. There were frosted walks for us all, plus mountain biking for NAH to complete the mor…

Incoming Mail

My article in ⁦@weekendmagazine⁩ on terrariums. Thank you ⁦@jarandfern⁩ and the wonderful ⁦@VegPlotting⁩ for a fun afternoon hunting out house plants! — Constance CraigSmith (@Concraigsmith) January 5, 2019

Lovely mention of Veg Plotting in this weekend's Mail. We had a great time investigating how to make a terrarium with Jar and Fern late last year. Naturally, a terrarium is now on my project list for 2019. I need to investigate suitable sized plants first...

Garden Bloggers' Muse Day: This is My Life

A philosophy for life and a poem to mark the New Year. You can read the full poem here (note especially the last line). The scene is part of Jephson Gardens in Leamington Spa, taken on NAH's 65th birthday last September.

May 2019 be filled with dreams and wonders for you and yours 😊

Things in Unusual Places #23: Alliums

As seen in Crewkerne parish church Christmas tree festival, December 2017. These are most probably the dried seed heads of Allium christophii aka star of Persia and therefore most fitting for the season. I wonder if the tree trimmers knew that when they chose those attractive seed heads for their tree.

They're great sprayed in silver or gold too, and smaller seed heads from other ornamental onions such as A. 'Purple Sensation' will look great bunched together in a seasonal vase, on their own or with other dried seed heads. They're not just for Christmas though; the ones I have at home in pots have lasted for years and are au naturel, just like Crewkerne's.

Have a great Christmas everyone. Veg Plotting will return in the new year.

Unusual Front Gardens #29: Dog

Spotted recently from the lounge window of my niece's student house in Nottingham where it forms the entrance to her neighbour's garden. It brightened up a typically dull November day and strangely it wasn't recognisable as a dog when we first approached it from the other side by car.