Showing posts from March, 2014

Chelsea Fringe 2014: Shows of Hands

After the success of The Bloggers Cut for last year's Chelsea Fringe, I've just registered my exciting new project for 2014.

Roll up, roll up for... Shows of Hands!

This is another simple idea which I hope you'll like. It was sparked by Paul Debois' award winning 43 gardeners' handsI saw at Lacock Abbey in 2010. Paul's given his blessing to his work forming the inspiration for my event.

This year I'm asking you to submit a picture of hand(s) in a garden, or in the act of gardening or some sort of garden-related activity.

This could be a close-up like the above picture, or of someone working in a garden - especially if their hands are mucky! Or perhaps you'd like to take a group shot of your community gardening project with everyone waving their hands in the air. The hand(s) can be human, or not - it's entirely up to you.

Like last year, I'll create a map of everyone's participation with links to your posts and tweets. I'd also like to c…

Salad Days: Easy Art Print Review

A little while ago I was offered a print from the Easy Art collection for review purposes. With the 52 Week Salad Challenge still making a regular contribution to this blog, it was almost inevitable my selection would be the pictured Salad Greens by Alan Baker from the Guardian Wallchart collection.

I now have pictures of over 30 individual leaves to remind me we can eat salad every week of year whenever I sit down to eat the real thing.

Here's the finished product on our kitchen wall. As well as the print, I had a great time playing with the frame and mount options until I found a combination to my liking to fit with our decor.

I selected an ash frame partly in homage to the ash tree I'm Tree Following this year. The mount is a moss green which fits well with the poster and is greener than the photo suggests. As our kitchen is pretty bright - even in winter - I selected the non-reflective glass option.

If salads aren't your thing, there are hundreds of botanical prints a…

Postcard From London: The Salads at Harrods

NAH was most surprised to hear I'd never been to Harrods, so we rectified that little hole in my education last week and had a gigglesome time. The Food Hall is a magnificent emporium of all things edible, but I was a bit surprised to find some plastic in evidence amongst the salad display.

This link takes you to 150 pictures to drool over (not mine) which are much more as expected. Here's a little taster I took of the chocolate hall...

Until its takeover in 2010, Harrods had a dress code and I fear the doorman would not have allowed us to enter in those days. Still, it was rather fun to check out my latest post had gone up on Veg Plotting in the Apple store and to freely admit to the assistant that was what I was doing. Then blog away was the cheerful reply.

Standards might possibly be slipping... ;)

Postcard from London: Purple Pansies

Just like in real-life, my blogging postcard arrives after Monday's more weighty tale about London's Surprises ;)

I've been getting to know the South Bank area of London quite well over the past couple of years and I really enjoy going there. However, last week was the first time I'd ventured to the back of the South Bank Centre. It's worth keeping an eye on from an Out on the Streets perspective - I think these bold planters sit well with the concrete and brutalist architecture of their surroundings.

Like this? You may also enjoy:

Roll out the Barrows
Garden Bloggers' Muse Day: Places To...
... and other photos tagged as South Bank (via Sign of the Times - link opens in a new window)

London Surprises

We've just got back from a few days 'in the big smoke' celebrating those special days I mentioned in I Love March.

We'd organised plenty of eye popping activities such as celebratory feasting, seeing War Horse at the theatre, Gravity at the IMAX and exploring Tower Bridge. The burst of good weather meant we ate outdoors on our wedding anniversary - quite a contrast to the hot water bottles we found in the vintage transport on our wedding day.

We confined ourselves mainly to a broad area around our hotel and so found plenty to surprise us as well as our anticipated treats. The riches of Spitalfields and the areas around Liverpool Street* and Aldgate stations were three such discoveries, though blog exploration of these is more suited to Sign of the Times.

* = which also had resonance for our celebrations as we departed from there on the boat train to Harwich for our honeymoon.

A few discoveries stand out from a garden blogging perspective - a couple of tiny gardens and…

GBBD: Guerrilla Tactics

The warm weather of the past week or so has brought real changes to VP Gardens and the rest of Chippenham. The picture shows part of the area at the end of our narrow side garden where I've planted bunches of daffodils to greet walkers coming off the public land onto our part of the estate.

At their feet you can just about make out the fresh green of the Pulmonaria my friend L gave me, which is beginning to spread itself out nicely. Peer a bit more closely and you can just about make out the pink flowers which the local bees love at this time of the year. Soon some grape hyacinths will join these flowers; for once their spreading habit is welcome and I can leave this area to look after itself.

I haven't done much more in the way of guerrilla gardening, apart from these touches plus the bank of snowdrops started across the way. To make it into a 'proper' garden would look out of place because we have the old hedgerows close by. But to my mind the area does need some en…

Unusual Front Gardens #18: Music

Thanks to my mate Mark for spotting a most unusual front garden on the main road in Machynllech last year and sending me this photo.

We're speculating the music style in this garden might be bluegrass.

What do you think?

North Wales is proving to be a rich seam for this series of posts. As well as last year's find for Halloween, I still have to go back to Karen's sometime and photograph a garden we found which was set out as a cricket match.

VP's VIPs: Tom Mitchell and Evolution Plants

It seems my visits to Evolution Plants are destined to be wet and windy if October and last month are anything to go by. However, the lure of a new nursery, a plant hunter cum owner in the shape of Tom Mitchell, and all happening less than 10 miles away means I can't keep away.

I'm delighted Tom's agreed to let me follow him and Evolution Plants in its first year of trading. You're welcome to join me too and you can add your questions (via comments, Twitter etc) to those I'll be asking over the following months.

So, how has the nursery been faring over the wettest winter on record? Follow me...

First impressions are that everything's remarkably intact. "We're reasonably sheltered here", Tom reassures me. Don't worry, this is the normal look to a nursery in February. For some reason I love seeing them at this time of year; their stripped down readiness for the coming season makes me excited about the months to come.

Our talk turns to 'that…

Book Review: The Cut Flower Patch

Since attending the British flower growers gathering last year, I've been keeping a weather eye on what they've been up to. This and talking to Cally and Sara about their exciting ideas for Our Flower Patch* has formed a steady drip, drip of influence on my plans for the plot this year.

So it's very timely that I have a review copy of Louise Curley's debut book, The Cut Flower Patch. Many of you will know Louise as wellywoman and that growing cut flowers is a passion of hers.

Louise's easy writing style shines through in this book and Jason Ingram's stylish photographs form an accompaniment which I'm sure will encourage lots of other readers to get growing immediately.

Louise provides a good argument for why growing our own flowers is an enjoyable and sustainable task. She shows how a surprisingly small area can be used to provide buckets of the freshest possible flowers for a good proportion of each year. There's an in-depth guide to around 35 of the …

Tree Following with Lucy

I've decided to join Lucy this month for her Tree Following project. This isn't a new-to-me-meme, but I confess I hadn't taken the time previously to think about a particular tree I'd like to get to know better.

However, that all changed on December 23rd 2013, when one of the neighbouring ash trees crashed into VP Gardens, narrowly missing our house. Since then, I've been taking a picture of the remaining parts of the tree on the 23rd of each month, to see how it changes over the year.

Here's the tree in much happier times...

If the embedded video above doesn't work, try this link instead. The picture quality isn't that great, but I wanted to capture the tree's sound as well as an impression of it ahead of any potential demise due to ash dieback. How ironic!

Here's the tree as it looked on February 23rd from our bedroom window. This was after its trim back in January courtesy of a local tree surgeon. It didn't look that much different to th…

I Love March For...

... stirring

Whether March comes in like a lamb or roars like a lion, it's a month which can't be ignored. Everywhere the earth is whispering, plants are stirring and birds are building or spring cleaning their homes. There's an explosion of growth and plants like these crocus open their faces towards the sun.

After weeks of rain, it's good to see the sun again and to have a garden which is warm to work in. This morning sees the garden in steam as the sun sets about adding its warmth to the cold, wet soil. The water vapour escaping into the bright sunshine makes it look like the earth has started to breathe again.

I also have some special days to celebrate soon, so of all the months of the year, March is my favourite.

What do you love about March?

GBMD: This Rule in Gardens

I saw this in the shop at Mount Usher Gardens last year. I'd never come across this saying before - a little light googling shows its origin goes back centuries.

I must admit I found it a little confusing because water is a vital component of seed sowing as long as the soil is damp, not waterlogged.

The source link above also says this was a traditional adage for March, because it's the month when seed sowing gets going in earnest. My seed tin is in agreement as I have the thickest bulge of packets filed away for this month.

This is a perfect example of how a rule shouldn't be taken at face value, but the meaning behind it needs to be taken into account. I'm pretty sure the "sow dry" isn't about the soil needing to be bone dry, but referring to the land drying out after the winter wet.This would typically happen in March most years, when the other conditions most seeds need - warmth and longer daylength - are also present.

However, as we know from previou…