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Showing posts from September, 2008

Magnetic Poetry - September

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September 2004 - This is the kind of magnetic poem you write when you've been waking up at 3 in the morning and not getting back to sleep again in months.

Marvellous Malvern

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Self Contained from Beholder's Eye
I love Malvern. It's a place of good times and memories as it was our family's premier choice for a day out when I was little. It was like magic - the number 144 Midland Red bus from the end of our road would whisk us away from the dingy outskirts of Birmingham and we'd arrive in a sparkling new world full of hills and fresh air. We'd climb up Worcestershire Beacon, unpack our picnic and drink in the view as well as a welcome cuppa brewed up by dad on a tiny camping gas stove. The rest of the world was spread out below us like a map and it was easy to spot the Three Counties Showground from our perch atop the hill.
So it felt a little like coming home yesterday when I pitched up at the showground for the Malvern Autumn Show. I'd only been to the Spring one previously and I was a little worried on my arrival as most of the stands seemed to have very little to do with plants. Luckily I'd arranged a couple of rendezvous at th…

Psst! Fancy 15 Minutes of Fame?

Just back from a fab day at Malvern with Patient Gardener - more on that tomorrow as I'm a bit pooped. I just wanted to share this e-mail I found in my inbox from KLC when I got home:

Dear VP,

RedHouse TV have developed an exciting new series for C4 about people and their passion for Nature. It follows the design and creation of the most ambitious and inspiring private gardens, and tells the stories of the inspirational people driving them, over the course of a year.

It is a celebration of what is achievable in outdoor spaces, but a realistic portrayal of how hard it is to create truly stunning landscaped gardens. Created by the people behind Grand Designs it will be both inspirational and aspirational in tone. They are looking for a couple of ambitious, large-scale garden projects to include within the series and follow over 12 months.


Ideally the gardens will be at least 1 acre and above in size, with work due to commence this Autumn. The style of the garden is not necessarily impor…

Things to Smile About in Bath Today

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Warm September sunshine

Meeting a friend not seen for months - good company and chat

Coffee and cake at St Michaels Without - proceeds support projects in India

Unexpectedly finding another King Bladud Pig

Street advertising's still there

Feel good busking - particularly this fiddle player with an inventive way of playing his Dobro guitar

A lovely long browse in the Garden section at Waterstones - sadly no purchases as I forgot my book tokens

Finding a book about Banksy with the publisher's disclaimer that they're not condoning Graffiti Art

Banksy must be having a laugh...

Windfall Cake

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From this...
... to this. Yum!

This is the first year I've had a sufficiently large apple crop where I haven't insisted we eat the windfalls up ASAP before tackling the really nice fruit. My allotment cordons have yielded nearly 300 apples, so I can afford to do other things with the less desirable ones. Our current favourite use is to bake this rather nice apple cake. As it was the World's Biggest Coffee Morning earlier on today, I made one to accompany my morning cuppa. The apples in the bowl are a mixture of Scrumptious, James Grieve, Sunset and Princesse (aka King of the Pippins).
I found this recipe for West Country Apple Cake by Googling 'Apple Cake' and it seemed the most apt one to use bearing my location in mind. I intend to try substituting cider in the recipe sometime to make it even more authentically West Country. The cake slices into 8 generous portions, which means you're getting about one of your '5 a day' per slice! Ingredients 450g (1lb…

The Mystery of the Clematis - Case Solved

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For solving heinous crimes and mysteries, Agatha Christie had Miss Marple. EmmaT currently has Miss Maple on the case at Midsomer Berryfields. And recently I've had a most courteous Male to help me solve the mystery of my Clematis.

She's appeared here before and also over on my Open Garden. A completely beautiful floosie who makes everyone visiting my garden say 'Wow! What is that?' At which point, I have to shuffle my feet and answer 'Er, I bought it as a C. 'Crystal Fountain' from the garden centre, but it looks nothing like it. So, actually I've no idea!' Nevertheless, I do love her.

In my previous posts, two people were kind enough (Fat Rascal and Niels) to suggest what my Clematis could be: C. 'Blue Light'. I could see where they were coming from, but there were some differences, particularly in the way the flower looked in bud, that made me unsure. Besides, the lineage was different (C. 'Mrs Cholmondeley') and the Clematis I'…

ABC Wednesday - J is For...

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...Junk!
A couple of weeks ago Karen at Artistsgarden wrote a great piece about the messy bits in her garden and challenged the rest of us to 'fess up on the situation chez nous. At the time I was feeling most superior having frantically tidied everything up so I could safely show you my garden without embarassing myself. However, old habits die hard and like the pile of 'useful things for later' on my allotment which I had to remove and rehome earlier in the year, a quick inspection last week shows that I'm beginning to accumulate things at home again. It took me less than five minutes to take the pictures in the above collage. Some of the pictures give you a sneaky extra look at some of last week's Impulse Buys too.
Here's what they are - clockwise from top left: 1 & 2 - pots from planting up winter planters and various seed labels 3. Old washing up bowl - why it's there is a complete mystery 4. Useful bits of pipe for adding drainage 5. You can never ha…

Open Garden - The Awards Ceremony

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Picture courtesy of: WaterAid/Daniel O'Leary
I feel a bit like my old Headmistress at Speech Day. It was always held at this time of year and she'd be presiding over a table groaning with prizes for presentation to high achievers. But it was always a bittersweet time as it marked a fresh chapter in the school's history and not everyone could receive a prize, no matter how deserving they were.
It's the same with my Open Garden. I've decided to keep it open for a while: the Just Giving website is valid until 9th February and some of you've asked to come and visit a few times more. I also have a couple of great prizes to auction a little later in the year - watch this space for more details. Thus begins a new chapter in my open garden's history - I'll be revamping it over the next few weeks to reflect its new status. I'm in the process of adding some new bits and pieces, such as the plant lists for each bed. I've also added another recipe - for cour…

Thanks and Prizes

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This Gladiolus was too late for Blooms Day, but has brightened up today instead

Firstly I need to thank those of you who've nominated Veg Plotting for a Blotanical award in the Best UK Blog and Best Agrarian Blog categories. It was a complete surprise as my feed (or lack of it) has been caught up in the Blotanical feed problems saga, so I've been feeling a bit lonely here of late. Thanks to all of you who've remembered me and especially those of you who are still coming over to have a read. I'm in extremely good company, so I urge those of you who are in registered in Blotanical to go and vote for your favourites. I've found it an ideal opportunity to make acquaintance with some new blogs too - what could be better than a recommendation via the votes of my fellow bloggers?
Now let's get down to the day's business - the results of Friday's quiz. I received three entries; two were 100% correct. Thanks to Anna, Happy Mouffetard and Zoe for entering: I hope …

Food Bloggers Get Together

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No problem with blight here - tomato selection courtesy of Patrick & Steph
Yesterday found me in Oxford - at the Botanic Gardens on a glorious September day. Thanks to Patrick of Bifurcated Carrots, a number of food growing bloggers met to chew the fat and also some produce. It was a nice mix of bloggers present - some of whom I read regularly, some I lurk on from time to time and others were completely and delightfully new. And with a real international flavour, as not only had Patrick and Steph come over from Amsterdam, Kate (Hills and Plains Seed Savers) had stopped off on her whirlwind tour from Australia to be with us for the day.
The day kicked off with non-stop chatter. That's the great thing with meeting bloggers, there's no introductory barrier to get over first. Ben from The Real Seed Catalogue had to be very assertive and insist he start his talk. At this point we gave up on the hired room and decamped outside to listen to his whirlwind tour of seed domestication …

Round Garden Quiz

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Singing for Water, London 14th September
It's Friday, so it's time for another prize giveaway. As promised earlier in the week, I'm setting a fun quiz for you to ponder over the weekend. All the answers can be found in my Open Garden (opens in a new window, so you can easily get back to the questions on here). All you need to do is grab a cuppa, pop over to the garden, make a small donation (if you haven't done so already) and find your answers. There were just 4 entrants in the last quiz, so you may increase your chances of winning a prize if you enter this one.
As I'm away over most of the weekend, you have until 9am Monday morning British Summer Time to send me your answers to: vegplotting at gmail dot com - good luck! How did I squeeze in 9 more Clematis into my garden? What do we call our garden shed? What's the length of the sides of our garden? Where was the photograph taken for the Bramble Jam recipe? How many photographs were donated by WaterAid to illustrat…

Plot Views - Dewy mornings

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ABC Wednesday - I is For...

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...Impulse Buying

All of us who garden do this don't we? No garden visit is complete without a little something from the plant sales area on the way out. We tell ourselves it'll be a nice souvenir of a lovely day out, or it's just what we've been looking for, it's an absolute bargain, or it'll be ideal for...
...ideal for where? If you're like me, you bring your new most treasured possession home and then reality hits. There's absolutely nowhere for it to go. I get round that temporarily by putting it in quarantine - after all I don't want to introduce any new nasties into my garden. And there it stays - I've just managed to plant out a lovely Phorium 'Jester' in the front garden. It's been in quarantine for two years and it had to wait for a variegated Rhododendron ponticum to die before it could be planted out in a chunky Mayan pot. Looking at my nursery area I've got a tree fern, two Heuchera, a Syringa palbin, a Prunus mume, a …

Flushed with Success

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One of the more unusual volunteer opportunities WaterAid has on offer
I re-discovered a number of things I'd forgotten on Sunday - getting up in the dark, the 5.30 am Shipping Forecast on Radio 4, mist laden fields and empty roads. They were all worth it for the experiences later on that day. Sing for Water forms part of the Thames Festival - an end of summer extravaganza held on the banks of the river. A heady mix of dance, world music, stalls on all sorts of watery themes and of course song. All of it free, except for the food and drink. It's really hard for me to adequately describe the day - except to say it was one of the best, ever. I hope the following pictures will give you a flavour.

1,000 people in rainbow coloured tops with nothing to do but sing our hearts out...

... to an audience of 1,500+, who gave us a standing ovation at the end...

... conducted by Michael and Roxanne (who wrote Focus on the Horizon), exaggerating every movement so we could all see what was wante…

GBBD - September's Mists

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September's a transition month: my small pots get filled with Cyclamen - this year's chosen colour is a bright pink edged with a suspicion of white. The autumn clearing of both plot and garden commences and everywhere there is the smell of damp earth and the beginnings of decay. Banded spiders spin their webs everywhere, taking me unawares during my morning garden inspections and even getting into my eyes at one point last week.

Therefore I was surprised to find lots of new flowers to show you this month. Enough to change July's slideshow to a new one in my sidebar. This has been helped mainly by the Dahlias and hardy Fuchsias making a splendid show. Both will carry on to the first frosts and bring cheer to both front and back gardens. I'm particularly pleased with my new Fuchsia 'Hawkshead'. I'd coveted one for ages and finally found them for sale at the RHS Show in Cardiff in April. I planted it in the front garden where its slender but plentiful white flo…

A Bee in My Bonnet

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My friend S with all his 'girls'
I've had a long standing invitation from my friend S in Corsham to go and visit his new bees. These were acquired a few months ago, but it was a chance encounter with his partner L on the train to London on Thursday that actually saw us make a tentative arrangement for me to go and see them yesterday.

I phoned up in the morning to confirm arrangements. Yes it was OK as long as it wasn't raining and not too windy for them - so I wouldn't have been able to see them any earlier anyway as that's just how our weather's been for ages. But a miracle occured - the sun shone and it was actually quite warm. Too warm for someone asked to don themselves in long trousers, a kagoule and gloves to protect herself from the bees, S not having a spare beekeepers outfit to hand.
So apart from donning my 'safety outfit', I confirmed I wasn't allergic to bee stings (I don't know I haven't been stung by one before), wasn't we…

Welcome Back Gardeners' World!

Did you hear the collective sigh of relief go round our gardening fraternity last night? Yes, I hadn't dared to hope, but Toby Buckland's start at the helm of our flagship gardening programme was a welcome return to form. He's someone who seems approachable, isn't afraid of lashings of rain whilst saying his piece to camera and doesn't mind showing his dirty hands whilst eating a freshly plucked tomato. I even picked up a couple of ideas to try at home. It's ages since watching Gardeners' World has actually made me want to go out and start gardening instead of my usual falling asleep half way through the programme.

And there appears to have been an almost universal uniting of us behind our new Head Gardener. Unbelievably the BBC Message Boards are almost 100% in their praise. The reaction I've seen thus far in the blogosphere is positive too. This has got to be a first.

So join me in raising a glass of home made wine or two (or any other tipple that takes…

A Day of Rehearsals and Prizes

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Logo courtesy of: WaterAid

Tomorrow's the BIG day - the Sing for Water concert in London. So I found myself in Trowbridge at lunchtime for another rehearsal. A number of the songs will be sung quite differently in London - in a much simpler way. Apparently we were given a much more complicated mix for our concert in July to make the performance more interesting. However moving 800-1,000 singers across The Scoop in London (where we'll be performing) can't be done, so I'll be somewhere at the side of choir for tomorrow's performance and there I'll stay.

But our choir masters don't want us to rest on our laurels. So we had a completely new song to learn today, in an African language to boot. Luckily for us, most of the song is calling (i.e. a soloist or group singing the song's verse), and we just sing the response back. It's a catchy number, involving African drummers too. The tempo quickens as we go along, which was a little difficult to master at time…

A Day of Near Misses & Close Encounters

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I seem to have the stamp of approval

I'm a little late in filing my report - The Garden Monkey has the best paparazzi style, JAS is in lurve (with the tall pink frothy number to the left - Persicaria orientalis) and R. Pete Free tells it like it is. So I'll try and fill some of the gaps left with my overview of yesterday's RHS show at the Inner Temple. I missed most of the paparazzi shots - Roy Lancaster, Nigel Colborn, the President of the RHS, the editor of The Garden magazine and Jekka McVicar were all spotted within seconds of my arrival, well before I could whip my camera out. Next time I'll have it to hand before I get through the gate. I managed to capture Peter Seabrook - only because he was held rooted to the spot for a couple of hours by his adoring public. I'm saving that story for another day. Unfortunately I didn't even get to bump into James, even though we were there at the same time (sob) and I must have missed the Garden Monkey by a mere swish o…

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 subscriptio…

ABC Wednesday - H is For...

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... Huggable and Happy
Emsworth (for it is he) is on his way to join me at VP Gardens. Mine will be but a temporary home as Maggi (fellow KLC Designing with Plants Student and winner of my first Open Garden prize giveaway) has made him to help me raise funds for WaterAid. Her bears normally retail at £75 or over, so he's not only a very huggable and happy looking bear, he's a posh one too. You can tell that by the jaunty tilt of his bow tie. Therefore I'm not adding him to my Open Garden prize stash, I'll be auctioning him off a bit closer to Christmas. Watch this space - I'll let you know when he's up for grabs. If you can't wait that long, Maggi does take commissions - do leave me a Comment if you're interested.
I might just have to put a bid in for him myself.
Do checkout ABCWednesday3 for further stories and pictures bought to you by the letter H.

The Quiz Results Are In

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Drumroll... We have our first international winner in my Open Garden prize giveaways!

Congratulations to Amanda from Cooking in Someone Else's Kitchen - you've won this lovely necklace made by ArtistsGarden. I'll be in touch with you shortly to make arrangements for getting your prize to you. I'll also take it along to Sunday's concert just in case I bump into you there as I see you'll be in England then. I do hope we do get to meet - it would be lovely to see you and handover your prize personally.
Well done to everyone who entered - Threadspider, PatientGardener and Anna. You all submitted correct entries, but as ever it's the luck of the draw. Don't worry, there's still plenty more up for grabs. I'll be doing another quiz at some point as I put together far more than the 5 questions asked last week. Note, if last Friday's quiz is anything to go by, it's a good way of shortening the odds to win a prize! Also note, Amanda has made the cho…

Sowing Some Seeds - Let's Knit!

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It's not often you see me on here is it? ;)
A while ago I wrote about Rebel Knitting. At the time Helen aka Patientgardener commented that like me, she's looking out for some sort of community knitting project to join in with. Yesterday she found it and emailed to tell me so. Kathryn Hall of Plant Whatever Brings You Joy has started a great blogging community initiative to knit warm scarves for schoolgirls in a remote region of Pakistan. Kathryn was inspired by reading Three Cups of Tea, a dramatic tale of a mountaineer lost on the slopes of K2, who is rescued by the inhabitants of a remote village. From that act of kindness and sheer chance, the mountaineer, Greg Mortensen, returned to the United States determined to start a school for girls back in Pakistan. Having read the book, Kathryn explains the story much better than I can (see the above link) and would like to help in a more practical way than just giving money. So she's come up with the idea of knitting warm scarv…