Showing posts from March, 2017

Blossom Time

The past week has seen a transformation here in Chippenham. Green fuzziness is busting out all over, and gorgeous blossom is everywhere. It means from now until May, the trees take centre stage and proclaim spring is truly here.

I'm really lucky living where I am. As well as my neighbour's generosity with her magnolia, whoever chose the trees for our estate did a really good job. Most front gardens have a small tree with around a third of these currently sporting glorious blossom. They're mainly ornamental cherries of various white and pink hues.

The planners also kept many of the old hedgerows threading through the estate, so whilst I probably wouldn't choose blackthorn as a garden tree, I'm more that happy to find it leaning over our other back garden fence. The blossom has a notorious warning - beware the blackthorn winter - but it is a pretty sight, and I also enjoy picking the fat sloes in the autumn.

Here's some more of our estate's blossom, ornament…

Chippenham's Allotment History

Our local paper has a weekly From the Files feature and it's always interesting to see a snapshot of local life from 25, 50 and 100 years ago.

A Chippenham snippet from 1917 particularly caught my eye as it refers to the town's allotments:

"The Town Council are sparing no effort to provide allotments for all who require them. The total of applicants is about 120: of these 27 in the London Road district have already been provided with land and a portion of Harden's Farm has been secured for the remaining 27 applicants.

To meet the requirements of those in the Hawthorn and Tugela Road district, and those who had chosen land at the back of Marshfield Road, negotiations are practically completed for a portion of the arable land of Cocklebury Farm and Miss Dickson has consented to give her pasture field behind Hawthorn Road."

This has set up all kinds of questions in my brain...

Were these the first allotments in Chippenham? Who cultivated them? Who was Miss Dickson?W…

Great gardens, great cake

I had the good fortune to attend the NGS launch in London last week, where the celebratory 90th birthday cake was most excellent. It had to be seeing the NGS's president is Mary Berry and their new strapline is Great gardens, great cake. It was a most uplifting day, with the chance to talk to people from the charities who benefit from the scheme, garden owners, and many of the volunteers who help make it happen.

There was the grand reveal of the fab friendly new branding, plus the record distribution of £3 million pounds to good causes from the money raised in 2016. I was particularly interested to hear about the opening of the NGS Macmillan Unit at Chesterfield Royal Hospital as my niece is studying medicine at Nottingham University, so may get the chance to have a placement there.

Alan Gardner made a most moving speech in recognition of the National Autistic Society's receipt of the Health and Wellbeing award for 2017. He talked about how Twitter had brought about a transfor…

The Artist's Garden: American Impressionism

I've enjoyed visits to major art exhibitions in London with strong links to gardening over the past couple of years and in the process I've decided this is a fine way to appreciate both over the long winter months.

Imagine my joy at the discovery of another major art exhibition -  The Artist's Garden: American Impressionism - which according to the blurb is about:

" the American public fell in love in with gardening, and how this burgeoning interest in horticulture influenced a generation of American artists. Inspired by the work of European Impressionists, brought to New York by dealer Paul Durand-Ruel, a group of painters began to forge their own style in order to capture their own rapidly changing surroundings."

Which sounds just the ticket... only it's not coming over to the UK.


However, all is not lost. The advent of Event Cinema means a film of the exhibition is released this week, so we all have the chance to admire the paintings at our near…

Pea pondering

I've been pondering the peas on my windowsill - I'm sure those furthest away from the window germinate more quickly than those closest. Furthermore I'm sure the tray closer to the window that can be opened gets going more slowly than its companion.

It's only an anecdotal observation so far, but one that's worth looking into sometime. As you can see the peas closest to the camera are a little taller on the whole than those closest to the window. Will this difference remain until I harvest the shoots for my salad?

What you can't see is there's a small radiator on the wall below. Is it that making the difference? Or possibly there's a small draught at the window which affects germination and growth despite the double glazing? Or both? It's fascinating - to me at least - to think there could be small microclimate differences at work over just a few inches.

Enough pondering for now. I'm looking forward to these shoots gracing my salad in the next fe…

Weekend Wandering: Get thee to Lacock

The warmer weather and afternoon sunshine tempted us out for a walk around the grounds of Lacock Abbey yesterday. I didn't know this extraordinary sight greets visitors in March, even though I've lived in Wiltshire for over 30 years.

In the Botanic Garden, Head Gardener Sue Carter writes:

"Our carpets of Cornus vernushave spread from a few corms planted by William Henry Fox Talbot*. We leave them to seed, so they are still colonising new areas, making the display bigger each spring. It means we can't cut the grass in our crocus meadows until late June or even early July, so there are a couple of months of scruffy grass, but we think it is worth it for one or two glorious days in March."

I quite agree.

* = William Henry Fox Talbot lived at Lacock Abbey in the early 19th Century, so we're looking at almost two centuries of naturalisation. It's a further legacy to Fox Talbot's more widely known pioneering work in early photography.

My favourite Cornus v…

A #mygardenrightnow thank you

Starting a new online gardening project always feels a bit of a shot in the dark, even when everyone gets all enthusiastic beforehand. Deciding to have one when the weekend forecast is a bit grim is quite a nerve jangler too.

Of course it helps that gardeners are a hardy bunch, who are used to being outdoors in all kinds of weather. It's been wonderful to see everyone's contributions roll in over the weekend, 90+ all told, with hundreds of photos and other goodies taken in the process. It's now one of the most successful projects I've launched into the virtual world.

There's been plenty of mud, water, even snow, with glimpses of sunshine and shots of brightness in the shape of gorgeous spring flowers. I think crocuses and rhubarb just about edged the impromptu 'flower or veg of the moment' polls, though daffodils and leeks possibly came close. It's been particularly good to see the first signs of spring blossom too.

Carefully prepared plots and late wi…

#mygardenrightnow - the garden's reality at winter's end

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!

This challenge …

Going for gold

I've resisted having a snowdrop collection for ages. I've been perfectly happy with my garden's masses of single and double forms of good old Galanthus nivalis for many years.

The slippery slope began when I bought two 'Winter Moonbeam' hellebores at an RHS show in 2011 which came with 2 free G. 'Augustus'. I resolved to have just one special snowdrop and no more.

That soon changed of course, because I love snowdrops and snowdrop owners can be quite generous with their gifts when you show your enthusiasm. I still don't class myself as a galanthophile, nor even a collector as my ten or so cultivars are far too modest for that.

Caught up in the euphoria of the garden bloggers meetup at Chelsea Physic Garden recently, I plunged a little further down the slippery slope because G. 'Wendy's Gold' followed me home. I actually bought a promise, because she was just a few leaves when I first saw her. Now she's donned her hat and lifted her skirt…

Wordless Wednesday: Moss