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Please read if you follow this blog by email

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Firstly, thank you for reading Veg Plotting ! It's good to know you like the blog enough to subscribe. This month the service I use for emails and RSS feeds - Feedburner - is withdrawing the email facility, so I'm in the process of finding an alternative supplier and working through the (invisible to you) technical changes I need to do to keep everything working. Rest assured that the RSS feed - used to supply blog readers such as Feedly - remains unchanged. It's highly likely that the next email you receive will look different and from an email address which may arrive in your spam folder. It will also ask you to resubscribe to the email service. I'll blog again with more information and screenshots once I've worked everything out. In the meantime, comments are open below should you have any questions. Have a great weekend and I hope there's sunshine and good gardening wherever you are in the world. 

Wordless Wednesday: Social distancing explained the gardening way

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Unusual Front Gardens #37: Trains

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Sometimes all it takes is a slight detour of a few yards and the most familiar of walks has something completely new to offer. A recent trip to the cinema meant I had to cross the road on my usual walk into town and there it was: the next entry in my Unusual Gardens strand. It turns out the topiary shape here has some meaning. The houses along this road belong to a listed building group  which I photographed in 2000 as a volunteer for English Heritage. The houses were built by Rowland Brotherhood in 1858 to house workers at his railway engineering company in Foundry Lane nearby. Therefore a topiary train is perfect for this setting. Look carefully and you'll see there's another - shaggier version - in the background, awaiting a haircut from its owner. This company has meaning for us too as - like many people who live here - NAH worked at subsequent iterations of the company: Westinghouse and Invensys. The railway station signs now show the company name as Siemens, but for man

Postcard from Yorkshire

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We've spent the past few weeks taking advantage of the current small gathering allowance to catch up at last with friends and family after many months; well over a year in some cases. It means I've been out and about instead of writing bloggage, but I'm happy to say I've still managed to fit in a few garden visits along the way. The highlight from this time was a visit to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park , and thanks to a trip to my BIL's I've fulfilled my wish to do so at long last. We managed an afternoon visit in welcome sunshine between showers and it soon became clear it's possible to spend days there.  The wide open spaces of the original landscape means huge sculptures can be accommodated without overwhelming their surroundings. All kinds of artists and tastes can be found there, which prompted many a discussion along the lines of 'but is it art ?' It was a thought provoking visit alongside a decent walk and plenty of art we liked as well as what

Garden Bloggers' Blooms Day: The Fibonacci effect

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I bought this Camassia leichtlinii 'Sacajawea' five years ago at the Malvern Spring Show. How do I know that? It's because so far, the number of blooms I've had each year has followed the Fibonacci sequence i.e. 0 (when I didn't have it), 1 in year 1 when I bought it, then 1 in year 2, 2 in year 3, 3 in year 4, and as you can see 5 blooms this year. So what should I get in year 6? The answer is 8 (i.e. 3+5 from the 2 previous years), so we shall see... I've often seen the more common blue Camassias in lots of gardens I've visited in late spring, and very fine they are too...but plumped instead for its white cousin with variegated leaves for the top terrace bed here at VP Gardens . It's fully repaid my decision despite the slow increase in blooms as the leaves lengthen the season of interest and the rocket-like flowers really light up this part of the garden towards dusk. The garden's flowering much later this year, owing to one of the coolest and

Unusual Front Gardens #36: Lollipops

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  These tightly clipped trees have brightened many a lockdown walk as they remind me of lollipops. I've spent so much time smiling to myself when I see them that I've totally neglected to identify them. Sometimes it's good to just go with the flow and enjoy things for what they are. A closer look at what lies beneath reveals more formality in the shape of a traditional urn and circles of clipped hedge. These remind me of a similar sight at West Green House , where apple trees and tulips are planted inside similar circles and other shapes to make a spectacular show. I've wanted to do something similar for our front garden for a while, though my attempts at growing enough box cuttings to make a start were a dismal failure a couple of years ago. I think I'll start again with some Euonymus 'Green Spire' instead to avoid the dreaded box caterpillar or blight. I'm also toying with the idea of some Camassia or alliums within the circles and I await further i

Weekend Wandering: Wildflowers

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It's the May bank holiday and coincidentally peak flowering time for two of our most iconic spring wildflowers; fritillaries and English bluebells .  It's a good year for the fritillaries at North Meadow in nearby Cricklade, so NAH and I headed out yesterday morning to see them. It's hard to show how marvellous this location is in a photograph as the fritillaries are small and there are dire warnings not to leave the marked footpaths so the flowers can get on with doing their thing. We chose the blue route which is the longest walk around the meadow, around two miles in total. It doesn't encompass them all and soon we were walking amongst thousands of fritillaries, with a pale pinky, purple haze on the horizon showing there were thousands more still to see. It's a few years since we were last there, and I'm sure there were more white forms dotted amongst their darker cousins this time. I haven't managed to find what determines the variation: genetics, or en

Gardening is good for you

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It's National Gardening Week and it's timely the RHS have published the results of a recent study they conducted with Sheffield University on gardening and wellbeing. The results and the infographic above speak for themselves. To quote one of the researchers - the RHS's Alistair Griffiths - on Twitter: "The more 'doses' of gardening you get, the better your wellbeing :) " I hope those who discovered gardening as a great stress buster during Lockdown are motivated to continue - I've always said 'Gardening is the answer'. You can read the full published paper here . Happy gardening!

Weekend Wandering: A new sculpture trail

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I returned to one of my regular walks last week and found a delightful surprise along the way. It took me most of Lockdown 1.0 to find Westmead's owl shown above as I usually walk on the lower paths from town instead of those by the car park at the top. I now marvel it took me so long because once you know where it is, you can't miss it! It's been joined recently by lots of other wildlife sculptures to form a trail through the newly planted woodland nearby. Luckily this time I've found them just as they're being installed. The robin was the first one which caught my eye as it's easily seen from the Avon Walkway nearby. I simply had to investigate and find them all, as were a family of four whose children were excitedly running to each new discovery as they found it.  Not all of them are installed yet, so this is something to return to another time so I can snap all eleven. There'll be benches installed for us to rest and ponder the view and perhaps stay a wh

A cowslip survey

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Regular readers know how much I love the cowslips at the entrance to our estate. They usually bloom around now and I'm delighted they've increased in numbers consistently over the years. Here you can see the original roadside bank from which they've spread into the meadow below, and now they've also leapt across the road to the opposite verge. An estate setting like this is more unusual as they're more of a wildflower meadow favourite. I think we're seeing the results of some seed spreading which took place over 20 years ago when the road builders established this mini-meadow and wetland to cope with runoff from the A350 nearby.  Last week I learned the sight I love is becoming increasingly rare owing to habitat loss and the remaining populations may not be as healthy as they could be. As a result, Plantlife is asking for anyone who knows of a local patch of cowslips to conduct a short survey . I've just discovered cowslip plants have two different types; o