Showing posts from July, 2010

The Big Butterfly Count

Here's the perfect excuse to chill out in your garden or any outdoor space this week. Butterfly Conservation have organised the Big Butterfly Count and are looking for everyone to spend just 15 minutes on a sunny day counting the butterflies seen in that time. The website's great for helping you with identification and is the ideal place to record your results.
Like the RSPB garden birdwatch held every January I hope this will become a regular event. Many of our butterflies are endangered so anything which helps to gather masses of information about what's where is going to be most useful for conservationists.
I've already spent my 15 minutes in the garden and spotted: 2 large white5 small white1 peacock3 meadow brown1 wall Sadly the myriad of small tortoiseshells and the odd red admiral didn't make their usual appearance. Nor did the comma I see from time to time and we're not having the mass invasion of painted ladies like we did last year. But that's what…

OOTS: Love Parks Week

It's Love Parks Week at the moment (until August 1st), so what better excuse is there to briefly introduce you to John Coles Park, Chippenham's main public open space. You can see it's laid mainly to grass with lots of grand specimen trees. Elsewhere there's a large playground, a sensory garden, a bowling green, floral bedding, tennis courts and that all important cafe for drinks and ice creams. On Sunday afternoons in the summer various bands are scheduled to play on the bandstand: I can hear them playing up at the allotment when the wind's in the right direction. When I took this picture the park was being well used (it is the school holidays after all): it's just that it's rather large, so the two hundred people or so there at the time were spread out a bit.

Love Parks Week is sponsored by Green Space, a charity which aims to raise awareness of the value of our open spaces and campaigns for better provision. I'm rather concerned that the current econ…

Wasp Woes

I said it was the Year of the Wasp last August, but this year seems to be going the same way if events up at my allotment are anything to go by. Whilst clearing some weeds at the top of the plot I was stung again: this time because I'd strayed too close to their nest which they've decided to set up in my manure heap. Apologies for the blurry picture - here they are flying into their nest entrance located under the flap of the black plastic I'm using to cover my heap.

Once again my woes didn't stop there as I reacted quite badly to the sting with my right hand swelling up like a balloon. I don't really want to repeat the experience again to see if I gradually become immune like my allotment neighbour says has happened to him because he's been stung so many times. I try not to use any chemicals on my garden or allotment wherever possible, but this time I've decided to make an exception. Besides, the nest is very close to the communal path and quite a few chil…

Postcard from the Czech Republic

Wish you were here...

GBBD: Musing on White

Whilst looking around for Blooms Day this month, I've be struck by how I've been choosing the colour white for many of my new plants for my garden without realising it. I've already introduced you to one of them for my Muse Day and elsewhere I can see white Osteospermum and Impatiens bedded down in their summer planters. A new Trachelospermum jaminoides is just beginning to show its scented blooms and as you can see from the above photo I've had a marvellous display of Philadelphus 'Virginal' this year. It's the first time it's really bloomed properly since I planted it 9 years ago and I believe that's down to a combination of our harsher winter (everything seems to have gone bloom-ing crazy since then) and my mental note to remove it and plant something a bit more interesting last spring.
Having pondered and mused a little on this need for white, I believe it's my subconscious telling me to calm down and chill out more as real life has been rath…

ABC of Weather: Zephyr

A zephyr is just the kind of wind we'd like to have in the garden: a gentle, refreshing breeze. The word comes from the Greek and particularly refers to light winds from the west. Here, our prevailing wind comes from the south-west, but is usually anything but light as it brings in storms from the Atlantic.
Sadly we're at the end of my Weather ABC and I haven't had the chance to tell you all kinds of things particularly in the wind related sphere, such as the Beaufort Scale, why wind speed is measured in knots rather than miles per hour, and how the UK has the highest concentration of tornadoes in the world (when land area is taken into account but they're not anywhere near as destructive as those found in e.g. the USA). And seeing we're at Z, there's also the news that the Zone system (and its RHS equivalent) are currently under review - Transatlantic Plantsmanis keeping a weather eye open for when the revised systems are announced.
I do hope you've enjoyed…

Showtime: Hampton Court's Conceptual Gardens

Hampton Court has more categories of garden than at Chelsea and I've found the Conceptual one to be the most challenging and thought provoking in the past. The work of Tony Smith has been the most memorable to date. However, he's not exhibiting at Hampton Court this year, having had a garden at Chelsea already and is now girding his loins for Tatton Park at the end of the month. So what is this category all about and what is there to see this year?

The show programme describes this category as:

The conceptual gardens question and redefine existing design boundaries and express a level of innovation and creativity that is not always possible within other garden categories. The brief requires horticultural knowledge to be finely balanced with artistic licence and an understanding of the principles of design.

To my mind conceptual gardens capture the essence of a strong idea or theme using horticulture and design stripped down to just a few key elements. It's not necessarily w…

Showtime: Plant Heritage at Hampton Court

If I could have spent the whole day in one place at Hampton Court show on Monday, I would have chosen the Plant Heritage marquee. This organisation wasn't really on my radar until Victoria mentioned a couple of years ago she usually volunteers at their cloakroom at Chelsea and then more recently I've found myself in places where some of the national collections are held (Digitalis, Miscanthus and Lavandula since you're asking).

One of the joys of Hampton Court is the sheer variety of displays and tents to look round because the show has such a vast space to fill. Naturally, Victoria wanted to visit the Plant Heritage marquee being such a keen supporter of their work. This year there are displays from 18 national collection holders and it turned out to be absolutely fascinating stuff. On arrival I was immediately accosted by an enthusiastic lady who was very keen to know where I'd obtained my Dierama. It turned out she had 15 cultivars herself (Oh no my dear, it's n…

ABC of Weather: Years

This year is already proving to be an exceptional one in terms of our weather. We've already had the coldest winter for 30 years and now we're experiencing the driest period since 1929 with a hosepipe ban due to start in the north west of England this Friday. Of course the weather statisticians can usually find something record breaking for most of our years, such as the wet summers we had in both 2008 and 2009 and all that rain in the Lake District last November.
Whether or not all those exceptional weather events add up to climate change or just the traditional 'noise' of variation remains to be seen: how things average out over many years (a minimum of 30) is what makes up our climate rather than our day to day weather. My local weather station statistics has two of these averages available online: 1961-1990 and 1971-2000, which presumably will soon be joined by 1981-2010. By comparing the two sets of data, I can see on average our years have become slightly wetter w…

Showtime: Press Day at Hampton Court

I consider myself to be a very lucky girl indeed having visited Hampton Court Flower Show yesterday. It was not only my first visit to this particular venue, but I'd also managed to acquire a coveted (by me anyway) press pass to the show. Victoria kindly agreed to show me the ropes and we duly presented ourselves at the gates at 8am. So what's different about being at a major flower show on press day?

Well, for starters you have to wear your pass at all times, plus a hi-vis vest if you're there before 9.30 am as the show is still in Build mode. On a day like yesterday, this soon makes you quite hot and bothered and it's a relief to be able to take it off at last.

When you've found your first set of show gardens to have a look at (the Shakespeare ones in our case), a young woman leading a gang of assorted people brandishing clipboards comes up to you and says: Sorry, we're about to judge this garden which is a polite way of saying Clear off we're busy! You …

How Advertising Works in Chippenham #18

Decide to upgrade the top footpath in the Donkey FieldStir up a hornet's nest of controversy in the local newspaper about itInstall new signage where the footpath splits into two so people know where they're goingWait for a blogger with a camera to spot the wrong estate is on thereEt voila!The footpath actually takes you to Cepen Park North, a mere 5-10 minutes walk away. Cepen Park South is a further couple of miles errr, south of where the footpath ends.Update 26th July: The sign has been changed and now points to Cepen Park North :)

Pride of Bath

I met up with my friend A for coffee in Bath yesterday afternoon and was surprised to find a pride of lions has invaded the streets. I should have remembered that like Bladud's Pigs two years ago another public art project is taking place this summer. After all, they did appear on the local TV news a few months ago alongside The Lions of Longleat. It was rather funny seeing real lions clambering all over their model counterparts.

100 lions have been decorated by artists and local personalities, such as Amy Williams, GB's lone winter olympics gold medallist [skeleton bob] who hails from Bath. I managed to find 22 of them yesterday: simply by walking up from the railway station to the Royal Crescent, taking in the main shopping area and The Circus (how apt!) on the way. Some of the lions are located outside Bath, in Bradford on Avon and Corsham for instance and maps showing all their locations are available, should you want to find them all rather than see them in the random fa…

GBMD: Potpourri

No bought potpourri is so pleasant as that made from ones own garden, for the petals of the flowers one has gathered at home hold the sunshine and memories of summer, and of past summers only the sunny days should be remembered.
Eleanour Sinclair-Rohde

I've been pondering on scent in my garden lately and how reliant I've become on the usual stalwarts such as roses, lavender and herbs. Last week I added to this repertoire by buying the pictured Nemesia 'Wisley vanilla' on Threadspider's recommendation. She waxed so lyrical about its wonderful scent that everyone within hearing distance dived in and bought one as well. Then at Cottesbrooke on Friday, Actaea 'Black negligee' was amongst my purchases to bring lots of tall scented white flowers to a shady spot in my late summer garden.
Finding this quote ready for GBMD made me think about my scented garden further and onto home made potpourri...
Garden Bloggers' Blooms Day is hosted by Carolyn Choi at Sweet Home…