VP's Guide to Gardening Bargains #1

It's been a great week here in Chippenham for finding a few bargains, so I thought I'd pass these on to you.

I've just discovered Gardens Illustrated magazine. Of late I've become a bit frustrated with seeing the same old articles across most of the genre and had previously dismissed Gardens Illustrated as being a bit toffee nosed. But a couple of months ago, I bought a copy and found most of the articles to be a much more satisfying read. It's not perfect - I suspect I'll never find a gardening magazine to be perfect again after having the pick of so many gardening blogs to read every day. But sometimes I do hanker after the printed word (much easier on the eye than a computer screen) and this one fits my mood and needs for the moment. I was delighted this month to find their subscription offer includes a free book I've been meaning to buy for a while, the RHS Encyclopedia of Perennials. The cost of the book in the shops is almost as much as the subscription itself, so I've treated myself. If you already have this book, they offer the recently updated RHS Encyclopedia of Planting Combinations as an alternative. I've met the author and my copy of the older version is very well thumbed indeed, so it's another worthwhile book to own if you don't already. The offer closes on September 28th.

Some of you are already familiar with the story of Victoria opening her garden under the National Gardens Scheme (NGS) late last month. The NGS also operate a 'Friends' scheme - it's £10 and includes a copy of the famous Yellow Book, plus special NGS events, discounts on entry to some of the gardens and a regular newsletter. For £10 this has got to be another bargain. Membership is closed at the moment as most of the season's events have been completed. However, by contacting them now, they will put you on the early mailing list for when the scheme starts up again in the New Year.

On a more local front, Franks Plants has started up again for the autumn season - 6 pots of Cyclamen for £5 and packs of bedding plants for £1.50. Shrubs start at £4.50. It's at Frogwell School this Saturday/Sunday. Also, Whitehall Garden Centre have a free bag of daffodils for Garden Club members, plus a half price plant offer for any plant you care to choose, no matter the price. Would you believe I went round the place yesterday and couldn't find one plant to buy. I'd set my heart on a golden Irish yew to partner my other one. There weren't any and my brain just couldn't get into the groove of selecting something else. I'm hoping a quick tour round the RHS Inner Temple show today will cure me of such ills and I can return to the fray refreshed and ready to grab my bargain!

However, I've saved the best til last. Today sees the start ot the annual Heritage Open Days (HOD) weekend. Hundreds of properties will be open to the public for free. Many of them usually aren't open to the public, so if you're nebby like me, it's a great opportunity to have a good old nose around an unusual building. On Saturday 300 National Trust properties also open their doors under this scheme, so it's a great way to see some of our best heritage for absolute nowt, including some of the best gardens in Engand. Sunday's taken up with Sing for Water in London, but I'm looking to use the HOD link above to find something open locally on Saturday - see you there?


  1. I think you being sad because Frank's Plants had closed / was sold - was the first Veg Plotting post I read.

    Glad it's there again.

    (Or was that something else?)


  2. Responding to your "H' contribution..... are you sure that Bear hasn't eaten the plant!

  3. We did the caves at Banwell last year for HOD - wonderfully eccentric. This year we were hoping to go to the Scince Museum outpost at Swindon, but I see it's been cancelled - what a shame

  4. In response to rinkly rimes fears for the plant I can assure everyone that the Bear most certainly didn't eat the it. In fact he was most disgusted that he was not allowed to take his prize Monkey Puzzle with him on his mammoth journey because the Royal Mail (or whatever it is now) just couldn't cope. He got quite stroppy when I said that VP wouldn't appreciate such a large tree to keep in her living room ...

  5. Thanks so much for the namecheck and the link. Owing to the glitches with feeds over on Blotanical, that was the only post (I think) that never showed up. Can you believe it? And thanks also for explaining the Friends membership so much better than me. I get sent stuff automatically, so the fine details passed me by!
    Looking foward to your post on Inner Temple.

  6. I love Gardens Illustrated and have never found it snooty. I also enjoy the English Garden, as I am an old romantic at heart. I renewed my subscription to it recently for £17 per annum which I think is a considerable bargain!

    I thought the NGS Friends membership cost more than £10 though, pds I paid £25 if not more!

  7. While my library doesn't subscribe to Chicagoland Gardening Magazine, it does subscribe to Gardens Illustrated. I've never heard the phrase "toffee-nosed" before. To me it sounds good because I love toffee. I wonder if that free book offer would apply to overseas subscriptions? I'd love to have either one of those books. HOD sounds like great fun. Enjoy!

  8. I havent tried Gardens Illustrated yet, I have recently discovered English Gardens which I am loving for its gorgeous photos. I have given up on Amateur Gardening as it is very repetive and I didnt really have the time to read it on a weekly basis.

  9. I know what you mean about the printed word being easier on the eye and it is also more amenable to being read in bed or the bath :) I used to enjoy a magazine called 'Garden Inspirations' but it has long since disappeared. I enjoy 'Gardens Illustated' and 'The English Gardener' as well as 'The Kitchen Gardener'.Occasionally I have pangs of guilt about the small fortune I must have spent on gardening mags over the years but I suppose I could have worse vices.

  10. Lucy - it's the same one. They have an autumn opening as well as a spring one. I was sad because I didn't know it was up for sale and would have liked to have had a chance for it myself

    RR - hmm, he may have got a little hungry during his journey ;) Oh see Maggi's reply too

    RPF - Wroughton's well worth a visit. Do call in if you go there next year - they have several open days a year...

    Maggi - tee hee. I know who'd like a monkey puzzle tree ;)

    Victoria - only too glad to :)

    Zoe - £10's what GI says. I've yet to find out for real and will bear your remark in mind!

    MMD - it means posh, looking down one's nose at, so not nice at all! I think they do do overseas subscriptions, but don't know whether the offer applies.

    PG - but you have now, because we talked about it on Sunday :)

    Anna - it's a very good vice :) Garden Inspirations got merged with Gardens Monthly I seem to recall. My front garden Heuchera were purchased through one of G Inspirations offers :D


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