Showing posts from February, 2016

Something for the Weekend? Try #gdnbloggers

Let's start with a short story (abridged and from a UK perspective)...
... Once upon a time there were loads of garden bloggers all typing away on the void, who were grateful if a handful of people (mostly their mums) stopped by to leave a comment.

Then along came Blotanical (RIP), where we found lots of garden blogs and friends from all over the world, and we happily talked to each other, left comments, even met up from time to time. We all learned lots from each other and all was well with the world.

Then everyone got busy with their lives instead (which is fine and quite natural), and in the meantime the online world fractured into more pieces where lots of other shiny things like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest laid temptation in everyone's path. It meant we had plenty of ways of making virtual friends and sharing our stuff, though it often felt like a lot of frantic running on the spot was needed just to keep up with everything.

But somewhere along the line, m…

Karma Camellias

A couple of days ago I had an enjoyable afternoon finding out about the historic collection of Camellia japonica at Chiswick House.

This garden's been on my radar for a while. There's a restored walled kitchen garden and a most intriguing entrance to look out for when you whizz by on the coach to London. The invitation to a special Garden Media Guild study day was the nudge I needed to go and explore.

The collection is housed in an amazing 300 foot long conservatory, restored via a generous Heritage Lottery grant and public appeal in 2010. The original conservatory was designed by Samuel Ware and built in 1813 to house the usual production of fruit and vegetables a notable house of those times demanded.

It was redeveloped in the 1840s to include improvements in glass and ironwork pioneered by Joseph Paxton, and the fruit and veg replaced with camellias. It's believed to be the oldest collection in the western world with some of it dating back to around 1828.

Why the chang…

Product Review: From Photo to Cushion

I've wanted a new cushion for my study for a while, so I was delighted when Snapfish contacted me recently with the offer of an allowance to purchase something from their website. They have all kinds of options for customising products with your own digital photos, such as books, calendars, greetings cards, pictures, and more.

You may remember the middle photo from a previous Wordless Wednesday. I don't often play around with my images, but for once I did and I'm pleased with the result. It's a technique called posterization, where the subtle colours and tones of a photograph are reduced in number to produce a pop art style image.

I'd earmarked making a large picture from this photo a while ago, but I needed a cushion more, so it was the perfect option for my allowance. I found the website easy to use, if a little clunky* and I soon completed my order.

I'd recommend using photos with a high resolution for this type of product if you can - I took a risk with mi…

GBBD: The Difference Between North and South

Things are returning to normal at VP Gardens this month, where most of the blooms are flowering at their allotted time. I'm relieved most of the summer flowers I found in January have started their winter slumbers.

Crocuses are making a fine show for February and I have several spots where the same [unknown] variety are clumping up nicely. A walk around the garden revealed they're a good sunshine indicator; the above photo was taken in the front garden, which faces north.

What a difference position can make! This photo was taken a few minutes later, in my south facing back garden. Here the crocuses were thoroughly enjoying the sunshine in readiness for any foraging bee who just happens to pass by.

Are there any good sunshine indicators in your garden?

Garden Bloggers Blooms Day is hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

Garden Visit: Avenues, Balls and Snowdrop Peeping

Once again I've found a garden visiting road trip is the perfect way to cheer up February, my least favourite month of the year.

I reprised part of last year's Snowdrops on Tour and added Clumber Park to my itinerary on Karen's recommendation. Just seeing Lime Tree Avenue, the longest in Europe with over 1,000 trees, ensured this part of my trip didn't disappoint.

My trip started with storm Imogen flashing and rumbling a warning at me, and thankfully a swift escape north and eastwards meant I missed the worst of her ravages. Despite that, Naomi and I were mightily pleased Karen had arranged for us to take refuge in Easton Walled Gardens' summerhouse for a picnic before we toured the garden.

As we were with Karen we were able to have a nose around doors which are usually kept closed, including the flower workshop.

Here Alexandra was busy getting arrangements ready for Easton's snowdrop event. I was particularly intrigued with these hanging snowdrop balls, creat…

Plant Profiles: Snowdrops Update

It's time to update my Snowdrops Plant Profile, as there have been developments since last year. As you can see I have some snowdrops which have self-seeded themselves in the gravel path whilst I wasn't looking. They also deserve to join the ranks of Against the Odds, just like the wall-grown ones I found at Painswick Rococo Garden a few years ago.

I showed them to Naomi - she of snowdrop book and Snowdrops on Tour fame - as I wanted to know how long it takes to get from seed to flowering bulb. She peered at them and said:

From seed to flower, snowdrops take about 5 years. But many nivalis are clonal by preference – have you got yourself a hybrid? Are there other actual seedlings around? (Looks like nivalis to me but hard to tell from a pic!).

I confirmed it must be plain old Galanthus nivalis as there are several clumps just inches away. However, her remarks stuck with me and whilst I was out taking some more snowdrop photos in the front garden, I spotted this...

...can you s…

Painting the Modern Garden: More than Monet and Lilies

I promised I'd say more about the wonderful Painting the Modern Garden at the Royal Academy...

...there is so much to see and think about - more than just Monet and water lilies - and far too much for one blog post. Here are some of my absolute favourites in the hope you'll be tempted to make your own visit.

The paintings featured are selected from the 1860s to the 1920s - roughly the span of Monet's life. For me they helped fill one of the gaps in last year's Painting Paradise exhibition; the extension of the garden from the royal palaces and stately homes featured there and out into the world of ordinary people like you and me.

This was the first painting that caught my eye - one of the artist at work, which has the picture Monet was painting exhibited alongside. This was his first garden and not a water lily in sight.

The exhibition's featured time period also coincided with an explosion of interest in horticulture. It was a hot topic and benefited from the Vi…

Puzzle Corner: Happy Families Solution

How did you get on matching the flowers, fruit and vegetables to their respective plant Families? I hope you had some fun whilst doing so.

The answers are:

Amaryllidaceae - snowdrop and onionApiaceae - Eryngium and parsnipAsteraceae - dahlia and lettuceFabaceae - lupin and peaPolygonaceae - Persicaria and rhubarbRosaceae - hawthorn and strawberry
Which pairing surprised you the most?

Well done if you spotted that by putting the pictures into alphabetical order, I'd given you three of the pairs already.

GBMD: Painting the Modern Garden - Monet to Matisse

This is the finale from the Royal Academy's extraordinary exhibition - Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse.

It reunites the 3 canvases comprising Monet's lilies triptych from their separate museums in the USA, and displays them as Monet intended.

I have so much more to say on this exhibition, but the quote I saw when I entered the first gallery is well worth a solo view for today's Muse Day.

Here's the triptych again without the quotation, so you can drink it all in.