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Showing posts from May, 2019

The benefits of #NoMowMay

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I cut a small posy of flowers for our kitchen on Sunday courtesy of the back lawn and keeping NAH away from it so we could have a #NoMowMay. I've talked about my Wild and Woolly Lawn before, and since then it's gone from strength to strength. I've enjoyed watching the large numbers of insects zooming around our garden this year* which I'm sure is the result of my relaxed attitude to the need for lawn perfection.

As well as the flowers on the windowsill, there are plenty more where they came from outside, and so I took part in Plantlife's Every Flower Counts lawn survey yesterday. With the decrease in wildlife habitats, there is an increasing recognition our gardens can provide much needed havens for wild flowers, which in turn support a wide variety of insects and other fauna.

Plantlife's survey aims to put a baseline figure on one aspect of this concept, by estimating how much our lawns can support honey bees when the grass is left to grow longer and the wild…

Exbury to the power of two

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It was lovely to get reacquainted with Exbury Garden's rhododendrons at Chelsea Flower Show this week. I first saw them at a GMG study day earlier in the year and it was great to remember that visit and how special the Exbury hybrids are.

The Chelsea display is a joint production by Exbury Gardens and Millais Nurseries - who specialise in rhododendrons - to celebrate the garden's centenary. In that time, three generations of the garden's owners - the Rothschild family -have raised over 1,000 hybrids.


Now Head Gardener Tom Clarke and his team are working with the nursery to ensure the rarer and more threatened hybrids in the collection are conserved. Tom explained this has to be done by careful propagation as any seed from the garden specimens won't come true (the hybrids are first generation offspring; true seed comes several generations later).

The nursery launched a wide selection of new varieties at the show, many of which are part of the Exbury/Millais propagation…

Postcard from Chelsea Flower Show

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I had a delightful day at Chelsea Flower Show yesterday. My head is still processing which stories to tell you, but in the meantime here's Paul Hervey-Brookes' exquisite 'The Art of Viking Garden' to enjoy from the Space to Grow category.

One of the questions most asked about Chelsea is 'what is this year's colour?' As usual purples and greens are in abundance as befits the time of year, but the colour for me this time is yellow. Paul used deft touches in his design to add highlights and ensure they stuck in my mind.

I had a lovely surprise whilst I admired this effect. Paul turned round to me and said 'Michelle, just go and have a good look around' and I was delighted to skip onto his garden. Whilst we've known each other for a while, I had no idea he'd remembered my name.

Update: the awards are out and the garden has deservedly won gold. Many, many congratulations Paul.

My Favourite Place

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I'm delighted to be featured on the back page of Garden News this week, where I talk about the delights of The Gower Peninsula.

Unfortunately I have the byline instead of Naomi Slade who wrote the article, not me. I merely enthused down the phone at her and she's accurately captured what I said.

I'm now desperate to go there again. Where's your favourite place?

Garden Bloggers' Blooms Day - Photinia 'Red Robin'

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I planted Photinia 'Red Robin' when I created VP Gardens nearly 20 years ago. I chose it for its shiny evergreen foliage and new-growth red leaves to brighten one of the darker corners away from the house. Sadly I've allowed it to grow unchecked until recently and now it is far too dominant for its position.

The same applies to most of the border in which it resides and I've started on a slow revamp. Slow because the soil needs feeding (a combination of my neglect and a neighbour's towering conifer hedge sucking everything dry); I want to ensure I've removed every scrap of bramble and ivy that's hopped over the fence from the public land next door; and that area is currently a major flight path for nesting birds so I'll leave them in peace whilst they nurture their broods.

I was going to remove the Photinia completely until I saw how huge its trunk and roots are. It is really is more like a small garden tree rather than a shrub and is currently beyond …

Return to Malvern

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It's a while since I attended the Malvern Spring Festival and it was a happy return there last week. I might have been there on the only rainy day, but there was still plenty to smile about. Most of my show gardens photos have turned out on the dull side because of the gloom, but nothing could stop Peter Dowle's award winning efforts from looking good on the day.

The striking sculpture is called 'Zephyr' and is by Simon Gudgeon. When I looked him up, it transpires he owns Sculpture by the Lakes in Dorset, a garden which is now on my must-see list.

Here are a few more of my outdoor highlights...


The rusted metal are my chosen items from Tom Critchley this time and are shown 'planted' in my garden.

Meanwhile indoors...


It struck me there was a lot more thought put into the displays at this year's show. I particularly liked the x-ray and microscope images.

The number of areas and themes for talks has also increased and I particularly enjoyed Tamsin Westhorpe&…

For National Gardening Week

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Today is the last day of National Gardening Week and this year's theme of edible growing. To celebrate, I've posted daily photos on Twitter, plus some on Instagram and it's great to use this post to look over the week and see the visual diary of what's happening in my garden right now.

What you won't find is the confession I've waited a while to tell you: I gave up my allotment last year. I cried when I made the decision, but my renewed enthusiasm for gardening this year shows it's the right one.


You'll see from the photo at the top of this post that I brought my lovely Woodblocx raised bed back home. It soon became clear that I didn't have the right space for it here, but there is a very happy spot available for it in the community garden at Midsomer Norton station, which is where NAH has his steam engine. I look forward to going there later this year to see how it's settling into its new home.


So now I have an exciting new project for the gar…