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Showing posts from September, 2009

ABC Wednesday 5/ Garden Visit: K is for...

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... Kilver Court

A couple of weekends ago, my SUP friend S and I visited Kilver Court: this was in the same trip as last week's ABC WednesdayJaunt which led us past the lovely prairie-style planting in Radstock.

This garden's been on my must-see list for a couple of reasons: it was opened to the public last year after an extensive restoration and also because it features a rather prominent viaduct - a relic from when the Somerset & Dorset railway ran through the town of Shepton Mallet. This is a listed building and so is set to stay. I was intrigued how the garden's design would utilise this 'feature', especially as Chippenham has a similar - and equally historic - viaduct slap bang in the centre of town. I was looking for inspiration and ideas for a possible public planting transformation.

The gardens were initially developed by the local factory owner for his workers in the 1800s. In the 1960s, the Showerings family (of Babycham fame: it was brewed just over …

Public Space Workshop: Overview

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Having introduced the speakers to you yesterday, I've divided the workshop into the following chunks: Overview - some facts and figuresApproach to DesignManagementI'm mixing and matching the presentations into those key areas and because some of you won't know the people who made the remarks, I'm not planning on making them attributable in this post. I can change that if needed. My asides are in [square] brackets.Overview - some facts and figuresIt's estimated that there are 5 billion day visits made to the countryside, 1.5 billion to the coast and 2.5 billion to parks in the UK per year. On that basis, why isn't more fuss made about the (usually poor) quality of our urban open spaces?Many of our open spaces are mainly grass with a few trees around the perimeter. If that was the norm in France, every single member of the Local Authority (LA) parks department involved would be sacked. There are lots of initiatives around trying to improve the quality of our open …

Breakfast with Mr Beardshaw

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The hotel's outdoor venue for lunch at the public spaces workshop I attended last Thursday
Here's the main points I've mentioned thus far from last week's workshop: We must say NO! to mediocre quality in our public spaces and,Community involvement is key to success It's time now to put some flesh on those bones and to tell you a little bit more about what the workshop was about. About 100 of us attended, drawn from students, local authorities, charities, landscape architects, garden designers, other horticultural professionals and a tiny sprinkling - at least 2 others - of the general public like me who are passionate about public planting. We were treated to some extremely good speakers who were:
Nick Coslet - Marketing Director of Palmstead Nurseries, our hosts. Nick gave a few pointers on public planting from a nurseryman's experience in addition to welcoming us all for the dayKate Lowe - Editor of Horticulture Week, who chaired the workshop and gave an indu…

From Blogging Friends With Love

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Since the beginning of the year I've been participating in Anna's Gardening By Letter Project, one of those wonderfully simple ideas you always wished you'd thought of yourself. Several of us cheerfully volunteered to send the others a card or letter, plus any extra goodies we had to hand, to make the blogosphere and gardening buddies in particular just that little bit closer and personal. Anna's been co-ordinating the parcels all year and last month it was my turn. Of course it's difficult to get 11 people lined up on time, so my parcel arrived in the middle of last week. I didn't mind, the good things in life are worth waiting for!

Here's a glimpse of the wonderful cards and letters I've received. I've been catching up properly with everyone's generosity and thoughtfulness in the garden this morning. What better place is there to do so, especially as September's warm sunshine we've been enjoying is still here?

If you glance at the right …

Unusual Front Gardens #3: Chippenham

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This used to be Golddiggers nightclub in Chippenham, an early Richard Branson owned venue, from which concerts were often broadcast on the BBC. NAH and I went to see Howard Jones play there in 1984, shortly after we'd married and moved down south to seek our fortunes. Before all of that it was a cinema.
Now it's been rebuilt as retirement flats with space for shops below: all of the latter aren't let at the moment. I don't quite understand the thinking behind building a complex which hasn't taken into account some of the elderly will require ground floor living.
As you can see the lack of a garden hasn't deterred some of the residents.

Help Decide Our Forests' Future & Win a Prize!

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Another key message from yesterday's seminar was how community involvement in decision making is crucial in the delivery of good quality public planting, so it was especially good timing to find an e-mail from The Woodland Trust this morning about England's public forests. This must be the ultimate 'public' planting - the forests managed by the Forestry Commission on our behalf, including the wonderful Westonbirt, the national arboretum not far from here. If you've ever been for a walk, a mountain bike ride, attended a open-air concert or other event in one of our public forests in England - like the pictured scene from last year's Festival of the Tree, then you also have an interest in the following:
The Forestry Commission in England wants your view on the long-term role of the forests and woods it owns.
If you believe as we do that forests and woods in public ownership are an important national asset then now is the time to have your say in their future.
Plea…

Thanks Everyone

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Phew. I've just got back from today's tremendous public planting seminar and I've so much to tell you about it. The main message from today is: DO NOT ACCEPT MEDIOCRITY. We do deserve something much better with our open spaces. I don't have the time or energy to say any more after an absolutely packed day and a 4 hour drive back, but rest assured I'll have plenty to say over the next few days, if not longer ;)
However I do want to take the time right now to thank everyone who's voted for Veg Plotting in the first round of the Blotanical awards. I'm quite stunned, but absolutely chuffed to have 4 nominations going forward into the final round of voting. I'm even more pleased so many of my favourite blogs which missed out last year have garnered the recognition they deserve this time around. And I must say to everyone who's missed out this year - don't get downhearted. Stick with it, join in the fun and I'm sure you'll be the one grinning f…

ABC Wednesday 5/ OOTS: J is for...

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... Jaunt
I'm on my way over to Kent at the moment, for a jolly day tomorrow at Palmstead Nursery, where I will be immersed in a seminar on public planting best practice in the morning, followed by a tour of the nursery in the afternoon. There will be lots of purchasing opportunities, though I suspect these are expected to be by the odd thousand or two - as the seminar's aimed at local authorities and landscape businesses - rather than the few things I can manage to fit in the boot of my car :o
I'm expecting to learn loads from Chris Beardshaw et al. which I'm hoping to not only write about later, but also talk to my local council about :)
The picture's from another jaunt, recently made with my SUP friend S. We stopped off in Radstock on the way to Wells 2 weekends ago, to admire this stunning public planting right in the middle of town. It just goes to show it doesn't have to be all hanging baskets or eye fryingly bright bedding. More to come.
In the meantime, muc…

OOTS: Britain in Bloom

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Tomorrow sees the annual knees up for this year's Britain in Bloom awards in Torbay. Finalists from all round the country will be putting on their gladrags to find out whether they've won that coveted Gold award, showing they've reached the pinnacle of horticultural excellence for their community.
Over 1,000 places take part in Britain in Bloom, now in its 42nd year, from tiny villages to the largest of cities. It's not just their showcase areas such as parks which are important: those just like we've been considering here in Out on the Streets have an equal contribution to make when the judges make their rounds. Attention to aspects such as litter and weed-free public spaces, environmental projects and community-wide participation are also key to success.

Chippenham hasn't participated this year, if ever recently, but I have been able to visit or pass through several places over the summer that do, including Tetbury (see picture above) which has made the nationa…

Garden Visit: Special Plants

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Last Thursday, Threadspider and I treated ourselves to our first visit to Special Plants, one of Dan Pearson's favourite nurseries. Whilst it's not that far from us, for some reason we'd never been before and I can't really think why that is. However a combination of sighs of envy from Karen and Helen when hearing about our plans, plus the added attraction of nursery owner Derry Watkins' adjacent garden being open for the NGS, meant we could hold ourselves back no longer.

The garden's situated on a very steep slope, so 'good bones' had to be installed, whilst still allowing the extensive superb views over the adjacent farmland and valleys to be retained. What's emerged is a very sheltered garden, with a series of terraces, drystone walls and gentler slopes with plenty of room for plants, many of which are tender in their nature. This is the first view you see of the back garden as you emerge from the house.
At the top of the slope next to the house…

How Advertising Works at Garden Organic

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Stock an extensive range of environmentally friendly goods in your shop at RytonMake sure you include items not usually found in other organic shops or gardening cataloguesWait for a blogger with a squirrel problem and a camera to spot a deterrent she's not seen before, in spite of extensive research into the problemWait a little while longer until she spots something's wrong with the translation (click to enlarge image if needed)Et voila!Having spent a small fortune squirrel proofing our loft last Autumn only to find they've now moved into the chimney pot instead, I was initially kicking myself for not finding this product earlier. Now I'm not so sure ;)

Help Protect Our Muck and Magic

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In my Signs of Autumn post a few of days ago, I mentioned I'm obsessed with all things muck and mulch at the moment. That's because it's plot preparation time up at the allotment and I've started to cut back some of the dead vegetation in the garden. Don't worry, not everything will be left clinically tidy, there'll still be plenty of shelter and food left out for the wildlife over winter :)
So it also seems to me to be a good time to remind you about last year's hoo ha over manure and how herbicide contamination devastated a number of allotment site's crops. The culprit, aminopyralid, was withdrawn from use and we plotters breathed a huge sigh of relief. Simon first alerted me earlier this year that there's now a move to reinstate the use of this herbicide - boo, hiss. I immediately signed the protest e-petition he linked to over on the government's website, but failed to urge you to do so at that time :(
Now Sue Garrett of Green Lane Allotments …

OOTS: Chippenham's Double Whammy Chestnuts

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Last year I told you about our horse chestnut trees in Chippenham and how leaf miner moth is bringing an early autumn to them. At the time there was some speculation that a severe winter could bring this pest to its knees. If you click on the above picture to enlarge it, you'll see the leaves on these trees are starting to go brown. This picture was taken in early August, about 6 weeks ago. Well before autumn starts round these parts.

Alas, our worst winter in 18 years hasn't killed off the moth and our trees are now looking worse than ever. The picture above shows where the moth larvae have burrowed between the upper and lower leaf surfaces and thus destroyed those parts in the process. The guidance now is to collect all the infected leaves in the autumn and burn them, so that the larvae don't emerge in the spring to start the cycle all over again.
I had pondered whether composting might do the trick, but my research shows this isn't advisable in garden situations un…

ABC Wednesday 5: I is for...

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...Intriguing
Some of the bulbs in my garlic harvest this year have these intriguing mini cloves part way up the stem. They're too small to use for cooking, so I'm wondering what will happen if I plant them instead. I usually save some of my crop for next year's sowing anyway, so I'll be finding out very soon!
According to the Boundary Garlic Farm's website, these mini cloves are actually called bulbils and are an exact clone of the parent plant. Most bulbils occur when the plant forms a scape at the top of the plant. Scapes can be eaten, but if left to mature they form what looks like a flower head, but it actually contains lots of tiny bulbs which can be used to bulk up garlic seed supplies over 2-3 years. Sometimes bulbils are found in the stem instead, which is usually a sign the plant's been stressed. We've had a lot of garlic rust up at the allotment this year, I wonder if this is what triggered the bulbil formation?
The variety's Albigensian Wight:…

GBBD - Golden September

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I love the quality of light in September. It's a warm, golden colour which slants through and highlights the plants in a most wonderful fashion. And there's still plenty to highlight, even though the garden's beginning to look a little worn around the edges. The Dahlias are still on song and many of the early flowering Clematis are now producing a welcome second flush of blooms.

I'm taking a slightly different approach with my Blooms Day post this time: there's no slideshow or collage. Instead, I've selected just a few photos - which you can click to enlarge - to show some of the differences in my garden this month. If you'd like to see more, the slideshow I produced last September will fill in a lot of the details as will this post from last month and my pictured Chrysanthemum from yesterday, which is brightening the area by my front door.


First up is Cyclamen. I always choose a different one each year and Franks Plants has made my task slightly easier by …

You Know It's Autumn When...

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September's officially the first month of autumn and whilst we're enjoying some lovely warm, sunny weather at the moment, there are unmistakable signs of the changing season.

You know it's autumn when...The trees start taking on their autumn huesYou reluctantly take down the frames used for growing peas and put them back in the shedYou're frantically making pickles, chutneys and jam to hoover up the rest of your harvest before the kitchen literally explodes with produceYou need to wipe off the condensation from your car in the morning before going outYou can ignore the moss in your lawn no longer as it's the only thing leftChrysanthemums and Cyclamen supersede the summer plants used in your pot displaysAutumn digging reveals the onions and potatoes you missed during harvestingYou can't go anywhere in the garden without walking through a host of giant cobwebs bedecked with stripy spidersThe earth takes on a distinct decaying smell and there's a lovely golden…

Heritage Open Days: Cleveland Pools

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Yesterday NAH and I took advantage of the gorgeous sunshine to find one of Bath's best kept secrets: England's oldest outdoor pool. Twixt the river and the railway, Cleveland Pools is the only Georgian example, dating back to 1815. When NAH and I first moved to the south-west in 1984, it was still open to the public, but closed shortly afterwards. Until a few years ago, it was being used as a trout farm.
The buildings are in a state of severe disrepair - it's in English Heritage's Buildings at Risk Register - but much of the complex is still visible. The main pool with its changing cabins was for the gentlemen: there was a tiny enclosed space housing one for the ladies and there's a separate childen's pool situated further up the hill. Apparently the spring-fed water was very cold and bathers used to leap into the adjacent river to warm up!
The pools aren't usually open, but are this weekend as part of the annual Heritage Open Days scheme. They're curre…

Tomato Troubles

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Here's the sum total of my tomato crop this year - pathetic isn't it? It's marginally better than last year, which in turn was far better than the big fat zero from the year before. I had vowed not to grow any tomatoes this time, but the promised 'barbecue summer', plus a freebie 'Sungold' crumbled my defences and I grew some after all - four plants in total, the other three were 'Gardeners' Delight'.

They succumbed to tomato blight - yet again. I might as well give up growing tomatoes. I've tried the blight resistant varieties: they resisted for all of 10 extra days and didn't have much taste in my opinion. I've tried the aforementioned early ripening varieties too and I'm not keen on spraying Bordeaux Mixture over something I'm going to pick and eat. There's nowhere I can put a greenhouse, so I can't switch to growing them indoors where blight tends to be less of a problem.

But ohhhhhh, the taste of each of those few…