Postcard from Chelsea Flower Show

I had a delightful day at Chelsea Flower Show yesterday. My head is still processing which stories to tell you, but in the meantime here's Paul Hervey-Brookes' exquisite 'The Art of Viking Garden' to enjoy from the Space to Grow category.

One of the questions most asked about Chelsea is 'what is this year's colour?' As usual purples and greens are in abundance as befits the time of year, but the colour for me this time is yellow. Paul used deft touches in his design to add highlights and ensure they stuck in my mind.

I had a lovely surprise whilst I admired this effect. Paul turned round to me and said 'Michelle, just go and have a good look around' and I was delighted to skip onto his garden. Whilst we've known each other for a while, I had no idea he'd remembered my name.

Update: the awards are out and the garden has deservedly won gold. Many, many congratulations Paul.

My Favourite Place

I'm delighted to be featured on the back page of Garden News this week, where I talk about the delights of The Gower Peninsula.

Unfortunately I have the byline instead of Naomi Slade who wrote the article, not me. I merely enthused down the phone at her and she's accurately captured what I said.

I'm now desperate to go there again. Where's your favourite place?

Garden Bloggers' Blooms Day - Photinia 'Red Robin'

I planted Photinia 'Red Robin' when I created VP Gardens nearly 20 years ago. I chose it for its shiny evergreen foliage and new-growth red leaves to brighten one of the darker corners away from the house. Sadly I've allowed it to grow unchecked until recently and now it is far too dominant for its position.

The same applies to most of the border in which it resides and I've started on a slow revamp. Slow because the soil needs feeding (a combination of my neglect and a neighbour's towering conifer hedge sucking everything dry); I want to ensure I've removed every scrap of bramble and ivy that's hopped over the fence from the public land next door; and that area is currently a major flight path for nesting birds so I'll leave them in peace whilst they nurture their broods.

I was going to remove the Photinia completely until I saw how huge its trunk and roots are. It is really is more like a small garden tree rather than a shrub and is currently beyond …

Return to Malvern

It's a while since I attended the Malvern Spring Festival and it was a happy return there last week. I might have been there on the only rainy day, but there was still plenty to smile about. Most of my show gardens photos have turned out on the dull side because of the gloom, but nothing could stop Peter Dowle's award winning efforts from looking good on the day.

The striking sculpture is called 'Zephyr' and is by Simon Gudgeon. When I looked him up, it transpires he owns Sculpture by the Lakes in Dorset, a garden which is now on my must-see list.

Here are a few more of my outdoor highlights...

The rusted metal are my chosen items from Tom Critchley this time and are shown 'planted' in my garden.

Meanwhile indoors...

It struck me there was a lot more thought put into the displays at this year's show. I particularly liked the x-ray and microscope images.

The number of areas and themes for talks has also increased and I particularly enjoyed Tamsin Westhorpe&…

For National Gardening Week

Today is the last day of National Gardening Week and this year's theme of edible growing. To celebrate, I've posted daily photos on Twitter, plus some on Instagram and it's great to use this post to look over the week and see the visual diary of what's happening in my garden right now.

What you won't find is the confession I've waited a while to tell you: I gave up my allotment last year. I cried when I made the decision, but my renewed enthusiasm for gardening this year shows it's the right one.

You'll see from the photo at the top of this post that I brought my lovely Woodblocx raised bed back home. It soon became clear that I didn't have the right space for it here, but there is a very happy spot available for it in the community garden at Midsomer Norton station, which is where NAH has his steam engine. I look forward to going there later this year to see how it's settling into its new home.

So now I have an exciting new project for the gar…

Lent the Austrian way

We noticed immediately Lent is a much bigger deal in Austria because everywhere we went there were all kinds of traditional decorations on show. Wreaths and painted eggs were to the fore, and I loved this arrangement I found in a garden in Selzthal.

Austria's population is 70% Catholic, so I'd expected churches there to have special decorations. Naturally they'd taken it a step further at St Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, where we saw Peter Baldiger's dramatic installation, Sky of Stones. Here it is lit in purple for Lent; then it will be in gold for Easter, and finally red for Pentecost. The installation of 1,332 'stones' (they're made from paper) is on view until June 10th 2019.

In the cathedral's precinct, Blumenhaus zum Dom was stacked and decorated with gorgeous wreaths and blooms.

They go for pussy willow in a big way in Austria*. As well as these little bunches for sale at the shop, I saw someone dwarfed by her purchase of a massive bunch of…

Garden Bloggers' Blooms Day: Good in death

We spend lots of time celebrating our floral highlights (and quite rightly so), but I've pondered floral death recently. I'm currently greeted by plenty of hellebores in their final throes when I step outside, and I've decided I really like them.

It means they add a couple of weeks extra interest after they've strutted their stuff round the garden. This is of particular value in the areas I've guerrilla gardened, where I tend to leave things to fend for themselves.

The pictured patch of "June's hellebores"* - of unknown parentage and given to me by June (RIP) from choir - have slowly spread themselves out and formed a couple of lovely clumps at the side of the house despite the challenging conditions I've given them.

Admiring them in their death showed their promise as a seedbank for future guerrilla gardening. I walked along the public land yesterday and there are plenty of potential spots for them which will make a cheery sight when I walk into…

This is for Lucy

There's hardly a day that goes by when I marvel at the strangeness of blogging and social media. It's attracted a lot of attention recently for its downsides, but today I'd like to celebrate its positive side.

When I tentatively set foot online with my blog in 2007, I never thought it would give me all kinds of opportunities; best of all are all the new friends I've made here in the UK and all over the world, all connected by a love of nature and gardening.

One of the earliest of these was Lucy, who has a wonderfully different way of looking at the world and generously shares it via her blogs and photos. I had the good fortune to visit her and her family a couple of times when they lived in Weymouth, but now they are much further away in Halifax.

Those of you who read or create Tree Following posts may not know that it was Lucy who created this meme, which has helped many of us slow down and view one object over time and in finer detail; something she does well in all…

Unusual Front Gardens #30: Fill yer boots

Great to have my mate Mark contributing to this blog again, albeit via a new media - he usually emails them to me!
We've had wellies previously* (here and here), so it was only a matter of time before flower-filled boots were found. They're quite apt seeing Mark spotted them in the Lake District.

* = There may be more in the future as I've spotted some in Rowde outside a farm along with a flower-filled tractor tyre. I just need the courage to stop on a busy main road and snap them. Sadly the "face" I spotted a little further on is no more.

Garden Bloggers' Muse Day: O the pleasure with trees!

O the pleasure with trees!
The orchard—the forest—the oak, cedar, pine, pekan-tree,
The honey-locust, black-walnut, cottonwood, and magnolia.

Walt Whitman (1819-1892) from Poem of Joys - in: Leaves of Grass

The magnolias are magnificent this year, helped by the unseasonably warm weather of the past few weeks, plus the lack of frost. Views like this one of my neighbour's tree reaching peak magnolia, and those at Westonbirt Arboretum last week (like the one below) make my heart sing. The pleasure with trees indeed.