Remember Them

Early morning at the trials field at Mr Fothergill's this summer and the light was just right for highlighting the poppies they'd sown in tribute to the fallen and the centenary of the end of WWI.

Then a few hours later, my fumbling fingers just about managed to capture this happy juxtaposition.

A couple of Chelsea Pensioners are usually invited to Mr Fothergill's Press Day for the presentation of the cheque for the funds raised from their 'Victoria Cross' poppy and 'Scarlet Tunic' sweet pea seeds. 25p is donated per packet sold and over £70,000 has been raised so far.

We also learnt the traditional heavy scarlet tunic coat costs around £600 and is very hot to wear on a summer's day, especially in the hot spell we experienced earlier this year. It was one of those days at the trials field, but luckily it didn't dim the cheerfulness and twinkling humour of our two Pensioner visitors. The Royal Hospital Chelsea has launched the Scarlets Appeal, to ra…

A new flower for the garden

A strange flower appeared in my garden recently - it looks like I've discovered a new species. Those swirly purple and clear petals with a dark, mysterious centre are quite something aren't they?

I had a lot of fun creating my new flower at Court Street Gallery's fused glass workshop recently. Here I am cutting and shaping the pieces using the template I'd put together with tutor Alex's clear and friendly instruction.

You can also see some of the tools and equipment used... that dustpan and brush (bottom right photo) is most important as it stops the tiny pieces of glass which inevitably break off during the cutting process from going everywhere. The bottom left photo shows my final piece assembled and decorated ready for the fusing process.

Then it was time for cake and another cup of coffee. There's plenty on offer, plus the owners have created a lovely, warm and relaxed atmosphere at their gallery.

The petals and decorative elements are fixed on loosely dur…

GBMD: In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Lt. Col John Alexander McRae (1872-1918)

Allotment Folk: National Trust Style

As well as plenty of heritage apples to explore, Rufford Old Hall had a scarecrow trail when we visited. The volunteers on welcoming duty were anticipating hordes of visitors during half term and made sure we had a leaflet in addition to the estate walks one.

They sprang up in all kinds of places, including the Hall's vegetable garden, so naturally I grabbed this shot for my occasional Allotment Folk strand. The sign says 'A Lady Gardener'.

She wasn't the only woman toiling the soil in scarecrow form. The orchard area had a Land Army Girl too. She - and me as a bystander - was being bombarded by hundreds of ladybirds at the time. I wonder how many of them settled down for winter in her straw?

Weekend Wandering: Another Place

I've wanted to see Antony Gormley's 'Another Place' at Crosby for some time and it was one of the reasons why we chose to go to Lancashire for our holiday. The first thing that struck me when we arrived was the statues are much further apart than I'd thought. That doesn't matter; this installation is far better 'in the flesh' than any photos can possibly convey.

The first statue we 'met' after our walk from the station was one which is not usually submerged by the tide. There are 100 of them spread over an area 3 kilometres wide and 1 kilometre deep; plenty of opportunity for a good wander, weekend or otherwise.

Each statue is a cast of Antony Gormley's body - like many of his works his own form influences the result. In this case it's 650 kilos of iron per statue, known locally as the 'iron men'.

I loved exploring the form with my camera to see how the elements have affected each statue...

... and their relationship with the su…

Postcard from Lancashire

Sunday's Apple Day post delayed my customary postcard on return from holiday, but I think it's worth the wait. We've concentrated mainly on the eastern side 'oop north on previous cottage holidays, and the western side - namely Lancashire - proved just as rewarding last week.

Storm Callum didn't prevent us from having a great time at Moseley Old Hall in Staffordshire on the way up (and down - I think I've become addicted to the National Trust's cheese scones as a result), then we found ourselves staying at a mere 5 metres above sea level in the 'lettuce capital of England' (my words) where we were surrounded by hundreds of acres of lettuces, cabbages, glasshouses, and other market gardening activities.

Elsewhere in the village, the West Lancashire Light Railway was the friendliest heritage railway we've ever visited, and I've fallen in love again with Booths, the northern based supermarket.

We had time to see family and friends; and plenty …

A Northern Apple Day

We've been in Lancashire for a few days where I had the opportunity to discover some apple varieties which suit more northern climes. I'm delighted I wasn't that familiar with most of these and there's just enough time left to write this post for today's Apple Day celebrations.

The larger picture shows 'Lemon Pippin' with its unusual yet giveaway shape. Its site description says (which differs in some details with the one given in the link): An old apple of the 18th or 19th Century, origin either Norman or English. A dessert/cooker with a crisp flesh and slightly tangy in taste. Pick October to December.

The other unnamed apples shown are 'Duke of Devonshire' which resided in the basket of one of the scarecrow trail's figures. Judging by the crop in the orchard and on sale in the courtyard, this looks to be a prolific russet variety.

Here are the links to descriptions of the named varieties in the photographs:

'Pott's Seedling''S…

Wordless Wednesday: Today's recipe


Garden Bloggers' Blooms Day: 'Just Add Cream'

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…

Garden Visit: All smiles and sunshine at Sir Harold Hillier Gardens

This picture taken by my friend Karen last Wednesday sums up our day at the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens perfectly. Warm sunshine, gorgeous autumn colour, plus time with my garden hero Roy Lancaster and gardening friends from the Garden Media Guild is day well spent in my book. No wonder I'm looking so happy.

Roy worked at the garden for many years and had a huge fund of stories to tell. I reckon we could have followed him round the garden for a month and the supply would be far from exhausted.

I think autumn's come early this year in terms of colour and this pictured swamp cypress agrees. It grabbed lots of attention from all garden visitors who passed it, some even taking advantage of strategically placed benches to wonder at that glory for longer.

Interestingly there's another on the bank (just peeping through on the left hand side as you look at the photo) which is much taller and still green. It shows how different conditions affects what we see and whilst having swamp…