A philosophy for life and a poem to mark the New Year. You can read the full poem here (note especially the last line). The scene is part of Jephson Gardens in Leamington Spa, taken on NAH's 65th birthday last September.
May 2019 be filled with dreams and wonders for you and yours 😊
On Wednesday I took part in a project commissioned by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. They invited anyone and everyone to write a quick 150 word nature diary to mark this year's spring equinox.
Regular readers know I love this kind of project, reminiscent of the fun we had with #MyGardenRightNow a couple of years ago.
You can read my [lightly edited] entry below. 80+ submissions and photos from around the country are available here. It's a wonderful celebration of this year's arrival of spring.
How's spring (or autumn) looking in your neighbourhood?
Today's dawn was special as the first chiffchaff of spring announced its arrival. It's a fitting way to celebrate the vernal equinox.
Nature's changing so fast now. The apple boughs have just burst into leaf and my herb bed tells me there'll be mint for our potatoes this Sunday.
My small urban garden is full of microclimates; demonstrated admirably today by my potted St George's tulips. Those …
Veg Plotting's Blooms Day would be incomplete without the occasional foray into Grow Your Own flowers, so I'm pleased to bring you my 'Just Add Cream' strawberry plants for this month's floral focus.
This is a relatively new variety from Thompson & Morgan's own breeding programme, who also provided me with a few plants to try in 2017. Naturally I've given them a tough time by forgetting them entirely deliberately growing them on in the smallest of trays for a year before I finally planted them out. I'm pleased to say they've passed this test with flying colours.
I'm growing these at home instead of on the allotment where VP Gardens demands food plants look attractive as well as being productive. Apparently pink flowered strawberries have proved rather bland and unproductive in the past, but this variety is bucking those particular trends.
It's an everbearer strawberry which means the crop is spread over many months in the summer/autumn i…
The arrival of a big box is always exciting, like Christmas come early, and last week was no exception when a trial recipe box arrived courtesy of Riverford. They currently have Sarah Raven as guest chef and this was the first week out of four different recipe boxes on offer, with seasonally adapted recipes from her latest book, Good Good Food.
The box contains everything needed* to create three recipes with accompanying goodies for two people and retails at £36.95. There's a suggested cooking order for each dish; I reversed 2 and 3 as the chicken recipe requires marinading overnight. The dishes were:
Tomato and Poppy Seed Tart served with salad leavesSangria Chichen served with red rice and salad leavesSweet and Sour Vegetable Curry served with red rice
My box arrived on its appointed day last Wednesday at 7.30 am, much to our surprise. It seems deliveries can start as early as 6 am, so luckily ours arrived when we were awake**
As you can see from the above collage, everything is…
A little while ago I wrote about garden visits which suit both NAH and me. Little did I know within a few days of that post I'd find a whole holiday. Don't get me wrong, all our holidays are enjoyable, but Switzerland was exceptional. NAH could happily play on the mountain railways and cable cars all day, whilst I could take in everything nature wanted to show me.
One day on a train journey up the mountain back to Wengen I caught NAH watching me with a smile on his face. 'What's up?', I asked him. 'I'm watching you taking it all in', he said. Little did he know that not only was I drinking in the gorgeous mountain views, I also had a running commentary playing in my head along the lines of:
"That view is fabulous; that's a wild flower I have in my garden... there's another, it's clover; and that's a Campanula; and there's a scabious like the one I have in my pots; here's a smaller version of the ox-eye daisy in my lawn; is …
I'm back from a wonderful week in Switzerland - my first time there - based in traffic-free Wengen where the only way to get in and out of the village is by rack railway or cable car. Most civilised!
This is the view on day one when we took the cable car to Stechelberg then walked to Mürren. The photo is from that walk looking towards the Eiger and Mönch mountains, with the Jungfrau just out of sight. There is a railway through the Eiger mountain itself to Jungfraujoch, which markets itself as 'The top of Europe' hence the catchy title for my post. This has the highest railway station in Europe as its claim to fame and the views are spectacular from there, stretching towards France, Germany and Italy on a clear day.
We took a tiny railway or cable car to the top of various mountains almost every day, except those when we steamed along the turquoise coloured lakes either side of Interlaken and looked up into the mountains instead. We also spent a day in Bern, the capital o…
Houseplants are trendy. Houseplants are cool. And who wouldn't be tempted by this spectacular Alocasia x amazonica (aka Amazonian elephant's ear) when it's going for a song at their local supermarket? Not I for one.
Luckily I knew what I was getting as I lust after them whenever I see them at a show or in a heated glasshouse. Why lucky? Because there was no care label anywhere to be seen and most of the information out there rates these as Difficult. Later, I checked at several such outlets, then my local DIY store and found exactly the same situation: tons of attractive and tempting houseplants, succulents and cacti... all withzero information to tell the buyer what they are and what to do with them.
In this instance the amazonica in the name is the clue. This is a plant that likes plenty of humidity and warmth. It needs rainwater instead of my limy tapwater and requires misting every day. It's currently around 10 inches in height, so I need to prepare myself for sev…
In Denver I was asked why I come to the Garden Bloggers' Fling, especially as UK gardening is held in great esteem in the USA. Well, there's always the pull of seeing good friends and interesting places, plus I still have lots to learn and my visit was inspirational. Sometimes you have to get away from your own place to see things more clearly. Here are some of my key points from this year - many thanks to the organisers of this year's Fling and to all of the gardeners and organisations who made us so welcome. Make an entrance...
This view has provided much food for thought since I've got back. I've seen large matching pots in doorways at many a Fling before, but these were exceptional. I have pots at my door too, but they don't match and they don't bring the front garden's planting nearer the front door. It's something to bear in mind as I plan my new front garden.
Here's a view which changed my plans for my front garden revamp. I'm planning…
You may have guessed already that I loved our holiday in Switzerland. I adored the mountains and their views; the clean air; and the beauties of nature ready for us to drink in and admire.
My garden blogger antennae were also finely tuned to pick up anything of a garden nature and I was surprised to find a distinct style throughout every village, which in turn formed its own backdrop to our visit. It was a complete contrast to the more eclectic and individual style I see from the train in the UK.
The first feature I noticed were the window boxes on every chalet crammed with cheerful pelargoniums. Most of these were red, as if there was an unspoken rule on what a windowbox should contain.
It was good to see there were others willing to flout this 'rule'. I'd say pink was the next choice, followed by white. It was clear the Swiss love to have plenty of colour in their gardens. An antidote to the white of winter perhaps?
I was also pleased to see lots of apple trees, though …
You may have spotted I've been a bit quiet lately. That's because my mum passed away a month ago and life's been quite hectic sorting everything out.
So here are my final Flowers for Mum, not grown by me this time, but by Georgie of Common Farm Flowers instead. When I phoned her to discuss what I'd like for the funeral, her first thought was flowers from my garden, but I knew these were unsuitable for what I had in mind because I needed:
Flowers important to mum in some wayScent, because she reacted to that strongly in her final yearsOrganic because dad was a founding member and secretary of Birmingham Organic GardenersCutting material so I could give plants in mum's memory to everyone unable to come to the funeral
We both got very excited talking through the possibilities and as you can see Georgie did mum (and dad) proud. I love these photos Georgie posted on social media which give you a peep behind the scenes: her flower trolley parked in the shade early in th…