Octave Mirbeau was an anarchist writer* and seemingly enthusiastic about all things gardening if this quote from his one of his letters is anything to go by.** He considered his garden in the River Seine valley as an unspoiled utopia, and corresponded with Monet, Caillebotte and Pissarro.
* = described as such at the exhibition.
** = I don't know if there was any reaction to this comment from any woman who knew Mirbeau. Whilst I love gardening and compost, NAH knows better than to compare me to anything I spread on our garden. However, a former boyfriend once said, "I don't care if you looked like a washing machine, I'd still love you". Hmm.
Update: purely by coincidence, Flighty has posted about his compost bin. Like him and the gardeners at West Green House, I must get cracking and spread the good stuff from mine...
I don't usually expect much in the way of gardening bargains in the January sales, but Homebase this year have come up trumps - 60 litres of peat free compost substantially reduced as you can see from the picture. January would normally be one of the worst times to buy compost too - the bags on sale have usually been left outside for months and consequently have had a lot of their nutrients leached out and aren't a good buy. However, the bag I bought a few days ago had been kept inside in the stock area, was for sale inside the shop and was therefore OK. Just as well as I still have a few tulip bulbs left to pot up as I ran out of compost just before Christmas. At other times of the year, you may pick up similar bargains. Stores often have a cheap deal going on 3 bags of compost and I use the empty bags as a weed suppressing cover on my allotment. I have 10 compost bins on the go, so you'd think I'd never have to buy any wouldn't you? But I seem to have a garden and…
It's time to reveal the reality of #mygardenrighgtnow and compare it with the photo at the top of the blog which was taken in the summer. You'll see I've not cut back much of my garden yet - that tiny dot of pink in my trug is the clue my secateurs are poised to start soon.
I used the trug originally to link my garden with my allotment and I've done the same this time around. I have the seeds I'm about to sow this weekend, some caliente mustard for green manure, plus my loppers and soft tie for finishing off my tree care.
There's quite a contrast between the two photos, but they also show I love my garden whatever the season.
Now it's over to you ~ how's your garden right now? The weather is set to be quite wild this weekend, which potentially gives us some dramatic photos to look at. The wind was blowing a hooley before NAH took these photos, but for some reason it calmed down when he took them. I wanted my hair to be all over my face!
A few days ago I was contacted by a TV company to see if I'd like to be filmed advising a 'lovely retired couple' on how to grow vegetables. Yes, of course I would. However as our chat went on, it became clear the enthusiastic researcher - and fan of my trug - thought we could show something similar to the above image... in early March.
On Facebook a little later, I joked that perhaps I should recreate the above photo and reveal the reality of my garden right now. Sara was quite taken with the idea, and so after some thought the #mygardenrightnow project was born.
Join me on the weekend of 4th/5th March and take a picture of yourself in the garden (or on your allotment, or wherever you usually garden) which shows how it looks at some point over those 2 days. Don't worry if you don't have a nice summery picture to recreate like mine or someone to take the picture for you, selfies or a little bit of you (like the picture above) are fine. I'm interested in seeing…
Some days are destined to be extra special and the last day of September was one of them. Not only did I get to swan around a secret garden in the heart of London, I - along with twenty or so other garden bloggers - had the good fortune to meet Monty Don and preview his latest book, Down to Earth.
...nestled close to Piccadilly Circus and whisked up to the fourth floor, there's a different world waiting to be explored. It's a beautiful, productive roof garden complete with a bug hotel, bee hives and a green roof on the shed. It was a great space to explore with my blogging buddies and unlike my poor tomatoes, the hotel's were still going strong with not a hint of blight. I also envied the huge aubergines and curly chillies in the display.
There was plentiful space for entertaining, though we were too busy chatting and enjoying the warm afternoon in the garden to move onto the inviting sofas. Then Monty appeared…
Garlic is one of my favourite crops to grow because it's so simple and you can easily save some cloves for next year. We use quite a lot of it every week, which makes garlic a must-have for my plot.
However, last year I was rather puzzled to find my harvest wasn't disappearing quite as quickly as expected. Some time later I found the solution to the mystery in our spice cupboard: a jar of garlic powder stood proudly in prime position on the top shelf.
It turns out NAH prefers using the powdered form because it's less fiddly and so quick to use. To say I was a bit cross when I tackled him about it is putting it mildly as I felt all my hard work up at the allotment was being rejected. Later when I'd calmed down and could put myself in 'my customer's shoes' I resolved to have a go at making my own garlic powder.
We both use the green garlic I grow which uses up the smaller cloves from a cropping garlic bulb. It starts the home grown garlic season much earlier…
When an owner says their garden is 'drier than Jerusalem', the last thing you expect is to arrive in a downpour of biblical proportions. That's what happened when I visited Ulting Wick recently. 'Third time lucky' I thought when I made the arrangements, as I've tried and failed to visit the past 2 years. That thought was almost my downfall. Almost.
The rain was coming down so heavily when I arrived I could hardly see out of the car window and I was deafened by the noise. Bright flashes of lightning made the courtyard stand out in stark relief for a second before fading again into the murk. I was giggling so hard at the irony, I struggled to get into my rain gear. Also which of the buildings I'd glimpsed should I run to for shelter?
Luckily owner Philippa Burough quickly came to my rescue and guided me to the potting shed where she and new head gardener Lou Nicholls had taken shelter from the storm. It was a great opportunity for Lou to take a selfie of us …
I entered a new world at the weekend, courtesy of my friend Sally who invited me to judge the flower classes at Foxham Horse Show. After I said I'd love to, a little bit of jiggery-pokery ensued and I swiftly achieved promotion to fruit, veg AND flower classes.
I was totally unaware this event existed until Sally volunteered as show secretary this year. Not only does it exist, it celebrated its 30th birthday on Saturday. The horse show is the main raison d'etre with around 300 horses attending this year's competitions of all kinds. The produce classes were added a couple of years ago as a fun way of involving more people.
Foxham is a small village around 5 miles north of Chippenham. It's a pleasant drive which follows Maud Heath's Causeway for quite a way and goes through the hamlet of Kellaways. This is the source for the naming of the Kellaways Formation, a particular series of sands and clays from the Jurassic period.* It shows even a tiny dot on the map can ach…
Regular readers know I'm a sucker for plant trials - my own and other people's - so won't be surprised that at last I've managed to get over to Ball Colegrave's Summer Showcase. This event is aimed at professional horticulturists and the retail trade and shows off more than 50,000 plants at its grounds in Oxfordshire every July. Even on a dull grey day after last week's thunderstorms they made for an eye popping display.
As well as the chance to see hundreds of annuals and perennials - some completely new to the market - I also enjoyed the opportunity to talk to horticulturists from a wide variety of backgrounds, from nurserymen and local authority gardeners through to fellow garden writers and university gardeners, as well as Ball Colegrave's staff.
One of my most interesting discussions was with a couple of gardeners from South Gloucestershire council who were seriously considering the merits of the Phygelius plants in one of the experimental beds. I'…
This plant always makes me smile at this time of the year: it's a reminder of a wonderful afternoon at Knoll Gardens in the company of owner Neil Lucas's enthusiasm a few years ago. He had many Persicaria to show us that day, and it was 'Fat Domino' that stole my heart with its large flower heads waving to me from the nursery area.
It's proved to be an easy care perennial since I placed it in the lower terrace bed; it only needs cutting down at the end of winter and then given a topping of mulch to see it through the year. It's rewarded me with over 60 flower heads from one plant, and when I peered below the leaves yesterday, it looks like I have a plant ripe for division into two. This is earmarked for behind the white phlox you can see in the background as there's a hidden gap there which needs to be filled.
I've also cleared a space in front of the phlox, which is thick with alliums in spring, but now needs something added there for later interest. …