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…
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…
I have a small part of VP Gardens which I've mentally called 'foliage corner'. It's quite shady, hence its lack of appearance on previous Blooms Days. This year's different because there are some new flowers on the block. They remind me of the ivy flowers on the fence nearby and are around the same size.
I lost this shrub-like perennial's label a long time ago so I have no idea of the name. It dies down each winter and re-emerges late spring. It looks like the supplier who gave it to me no longer has it in its catalogue: perhaps you recognise it and can let me know in the comments? Last week I admired the greenery of the leaves, then I turn my back for a short while and this happens.
At least when I look at the same bed from the opposite end I can kid myself summer's still here.
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 …
It's time for a proper wander around the gardens at Avebury Manor and where better to start than in the Monks' Garden, where the sunshine on the day of our visit helps to dispel the gloom of today's wet and windy weather.
Most people visit Avebury to see the stone circle, which is indeed our usual port of call; this time we sidestepped them as I'd heard there's a sculpture exhibition in the Manor's gardens I was keen to see. A visit here is also worthwhile, as it's slightly different for a National Trust property. It's more hands-on than usual and you can even dress up there if you want to!
I find myself increasingly drawn to glass art and the work of Yvette Green and Jeannette Therrien in the Monks' Garden didn't disappoint. Their work had been placed carefully to match the themed colours of the garden's beds and many of the designs were inspired by nature.
The Manor's gardens consist of 9 'rooms' and visitors have extra encou…
Travelling across Europe by train from the UK often means a change of stations in Paris. On the way to Switzerland our walk from the Gare du Nord to Gare de l'Est was uneventful. The return walk was different: it held a surprise.
There's a choice of routes available: turn right out of the station and an elegant staircase and a five minute walk is one option. Turn left and and the sign says it's a ten minute walk. In view of our suitcases, we chose to turn left.
I'm glad we did because otherwise I would have missed Patric Blanc's green wall on the Rue d'Alsace. It's turned a dreary alley way into something spectacular. At the time of installation (2008), it was the largest he'd designed, with a surface area of 1,500 square metres.
In his book, The Vertical Garden, Patric Blanc says:
"When Fanny Giraud and Michel Piloquet invited me to visit the project site, I thought I was dreaming: an endless dark alley linking the Gare de l'Est to the Gare d…
My final twixt season post is a selection of new recipes I've enjoyed over the summer which have made the best of my garden's produce. No-one's told my vegetables it's autumn yet, in fact I'm only just coming up to peak tomato...
First up is Good Food's Egyptian Courgettes with Dukkah Sprinkle. As you can see it makes good use of tomatoes as well as courgettes. The dukkah sprinkle on top was a revelation and the whole dish bursts with delicious flavours. I served this both hot and cold depending on the weather, and I expect the warm version will begin to hold sway as we head off into proper autumn.
I omitted the recipe's butter beans (can't stand them) and peas (didn't have any) and increased the number of courgettes and tomatoes in the recipe to compensate and ensure it continued to deliver the recipe's claimed 4 out of 5 a day. I didn't have any almond flakes, so I substituted some roughly chopped whole, skin-on almonds instead. This is a …