Musings from the heart of Wiltshire, erm Chippenham actually... Gardening, GYO, Food, Travel & Lifestyle
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Most of the year this shrub lurks unnoticed at the bottom corner of my garden. However, it comes into its own at this gloomy time of year with its cheerful candy pink blooms and delicious scent. It's Viburnum x bodnantense 'Dawn'.
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…
A philosophy for life and a poem to mark the New Year. You can read the full poem here (note especially the last line). The scene is part of Jephson Gardens in Leamington Spa, taken on NAH's 65th birthday last September.
May 2019 be filled with dreams and wonders for you and yours 😊
On Wednesday I took part in a project commissioned by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. They invited anyone and everyone to write a quick 150 word nature diary to mark this year's spring equinox.
Regular readers know I love this kind of project, reminiscent of the fun we had with #MyGardenRightNow a couple of years ago.
You can read my [lightly edited] entry below. 80+ submissions and photos from around the country are available here. It's a wonderful celebration of this year's arrival of spring.
How's spring (or autumn) looking in your neighbourhood?
Today's dawn was special as the first chiffchaff of spring announced its arrival. It's a fitting way to celebrate the vernal equinox.
Nature's changing so fast now. The apple boughs have just burst into leaf and my herb bed tells me there'll be mint for our potatoes this Sunday.
My small urban garden is full of microclimates; demonstrated admirably today by my potted St George's tulips. Those …
I'm back from a wonderful week in Switzerland - my first time there - based in traffic-free Wengen where the only way to get in and out of the village is by rack railway or cable car. Most civilised!
This is the view on day one when we took the cable car to Stechelberg then walked to Mürren. The photo is from that walk looking towards the Eiger and Mönch mountains, with the Jungfrau just out of sight. There is a railway through the Eiger mountain itself to Jungfraujoch, which markets itself as 'The top of Europe' hence the catchy title for my post. This has the highest railway station in Europe as its claim to fame and the views are spectacular from there, stretching towards France, Germany and Italy on a clear day.
We took a tiny railway or cable car to the top of various mountains almost every day, except those when we steamed along the turquoise coloured lakes either side of Interlaken and looked up into the mountains instead. We also spent a day in Bern, the capital o…
Travelling across Europe by train from the UK often means a change of stations in Paris. On the way to Switzerland our walk from the Gare du Nord to Gare de l'Est was uneventful. The return walk was different: it held a surprise.
There's a choice of routes available: turn right out of the station and an elegant staircase and a five minute walk is one option. Turn left and and the sign says it's a ten minute walk. In view of our suitcases, we chose to turn left.
I'm glad we did because otherwise I would have missed Patric Blanc's green wall on the Rue d'Alsace. It's turned a dreary alley way into something spectacular. At the time of installation (2008), it was the largest he'd designed, with a surface area of 1,500 square metres.
In his book, The Vertical Garden, Patric Blanc says:
"When Fanny Giraud and Michel Piloquet invited me to visit the project site, I thought I was dreaming: an endless dark alley linking the Gare de l'Est to the Gare d…
A little while ago I wrote about garden visits which suit both NAH and me. Little did I know within a few days of that post I'd find a whole holiday. Don't get me wrong, all our holidays are enjoyable, but Switzerland was exceptional. NAH could happily play on the mountain railways and cable cars all day, whilst I could take in everything nature wanted to show me.
One day on a train journey up the mountain back to Wengen I caught NAH watching me with a smile on his face. 'What's up?', I asked him. 'I'm watching you taking it all in', he said. Little did he know that not only was I drinking in the gorgeous mountain views, I also had a running commentary playing in my head along the lines of:
"That view is fabulous; that's a wild flower I have in my garden... there's another, it's clover; and that's a Campanula; and there's a scabious like the one I have in my pots; here's a smaller version of the ox-eye daisy in my lawn; is …
Thanks dear Dee for posting this quote on Facebook this week. It sums up succinctly my recent thinking about this time of the year, also hinted at in my Blooms Day post last Sunday.
I feel like I'm in an odd, twixt time; the meteorological calendar says it's autumn - since September 1st - yet the horticultural calendar doesn't say so until the weekend. The current spell of warm, sunny weather is more summer-like too. I love the light in the garden at this time of the year. It has a softer, more translucent quality which makes the garden sing at any time of day.
My chosen photo of the Monk's Garden at Avebury Manor echoes my feelings well. It looks like summer there, yet the chosen colours for this part of the garden are more autumnal in their hues. It turns out that the Manor's gardens are in a twixt phase too. Box blight has devastated the garden and much of the formal lines are in the process of being stripped out in the hope that the larger topiary items can b…
Today is National Poetry Day and this year's theme is 'Truth'. I've chosen Rudyard Kipling's poem at the end of the Elephant's Child because its guidance helped me through most of my career. When I worked in IT I'd often write What, Where, When, How, Why and Who at the top of my notebook when I went off to meetings, especially at the start of a project. I was even given a nickname - Mrs Why - by my colleagues!
Before then I must have had them in my subconscious as a scientist, and I've since realised these simple words are at the heart of my blogging too.
Now they're worth bearing in mind when reading and watching anything on the internet 😉
I took the photo at the top of this post earlier in the year; staring out of our bedroom window to the birch tree at the bottom of our garden is where you'll often find me pondering... or day dreaming.
There's a display of poetry in Chippenham's shop windows today. I'll take a stroll into town l…
Like the film of the same name, there had to be a sequel to the Halloween garden I found in 2013. Today's example takes the display a little further with the introduction of a "Chamber of Horrors" aka the "Brexit Nightmare" garden.
It injects some fun into these less humorous times and like the garden's creators I'm posting this photo as such, not as a political statement. They've placed buckets on their railings in order to raise funds for an inspirational local charity, Jamie's Farm. Last year they raised £1,500.
Unlike my previous Halloween garden, which just focused on some of the more traditional imagery, this is an example which won't stand the test of time.
I have an inkling the display was created before this week's vote on having a general election. Otherwise their "Chamber of Horrors" may have been called "The Nightmare Before Christmas" instead. 😉😜😊
You may have spotted I've been a bit quiet lately. That's because my mum passed away a month ago and life's been quite hectic sorting everything out.
So here are my final Flowers for Mum, not grown by me this time, but by Georgie of Common Farm Flowers instead. When I phoned her to discuss what I'd like for the funeral, her first thought was flowers from my garden, but I knew these were unsuitable for what I had in mind because I needed:
Flowers important to mum in some wayScent, because she reacted to that strongly in her final yearsOrganic because dad was a founding member and secretary of Birmingham Organic GardenersCutting material so I could give plants in mum's memory to everyone unable to come to the funeral
We both got very excited talking through the possibilities and as you can see Georgie did mum (and dad) proud. I love these photos Georgie posted on social media which give you a peep behind the scenes: her flower trolley parked in the shade early in th…