Posts

Showing posts from August, 2010

OOTS: Garden Organic's Car Park

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This time last year I visited Garden Organic's HQ at Ryton near Coventry to have a look around their varied demonstration gardens. Before I'd even made it that far, I was struck by the planting in the car park: here you can see tall, wavy grasses topped off by crab apples trees (do click for a larger image if required). This is very different to the usual car parks seen around Chippenham, but it seemed to me it would be great if this kind of planting was adopted more widely.

There was an interpretation board nearby which gave lots more information about what had been planted:

The planting in our car park has been designed to provide year-round interest for our visitors whilst providing food and cover for wildlife. Many of the shrubs and trees provide fruits, berries or hips, all of which are a magnet for birds. The tall stems of the ornamental grasses are left on over winter to provide cover for hibernating insects.

Spring interest is provided by flowering shrubs such as Berber…

Yes, Lawnmower Racing Does Exist!






I've been wanting to show you some lawnmower racing for a couple of years now, but had to wait until last month until I saw any action. It's been a featured event at the Headington and Stockley Steam Rally previously and it returned there this year, so at last I was able to capture a few snippets on camera :)

Unfortunately my favourite racing class wasn't featured: where the competitors run behind their machines. I'd particularly wanted to show you that one but I understand from the helpful British Lawnmower Racing Association (BLMRA) leaflet given out at the time that this class isn't so popular anymore, despite it being the original form of the sport.

Instead we were treated to races in classes 2, 3 and 4: all variations on the type of seated lawnmower available. The above clip shows part of a class 2 race which is for cylinder mowers. It turns out that lawnmower racing has a competitive league and everything, and the races we watched were championship ones…

A Dancing Flame

This little movie of a dancing flame in our garden is from NAH's annual curry night yesterday. We had 16 hungry people descend on us for the evening anxious to taste the 4 currys on offer plus starters of poppadoms, samosas and onion bajis. It's a regular event that NAH's been holding for over 15 years now and there's always a mix of old and new faces, some of whom have waited up to 3 years for the experience. Such is NAH's fame as a curry meister.

It's rather nice that quite a few of the people attending also come to see the garden, so I thought yesterday would be the ideal opportunity to debut the pair of garden torches I'd won in a competition over at Love Thy Space. So instead of the balmy summer evening I'd been envisaging, mother nature decided to give us a cool, windy one instead.

However, having placed the 2 torches in the upper terrace border by the kitchen patio doors, they served to entice people out into the garden and to stay there as they le…

Pesky Pests: The Cabbage White Butterfly

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I've encountered many pesky pests in my time and until recently I didn't count the cabbage white butterfly among them. If anything I thought of them as more of a plaything for our cat Jess, who likes nothing better to chase them as they flit about the garden.

However, my attitude towards them this year has changed because I've decided to grow cabbages for the first time*, red cabbages to be precise as I'm really missing the red cabbage and juniper berry concoction which used to be served up at work from time to time.

Owing to the drought and concrete like conditions up at the plot, I started my seeds off in modules at home. I'm pleased I did for another reason: it's allowed me to keep a good eye on the seedlings and to watch out for the cabbage white butterflies muscling in on them. Here you can see no less than 2 types of eggs: the clustered ones have been laid by a large whites and the paler, solitary ones by the small white. You'll also see that I've…

Picture This: A Walk on the Wildside

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The subject for Gardening Gone Wild'sAugustPicture This competition is On the Road Again. It's given me the perfect excuse to select a photograph* I took whilst visiting Keith Wiley's amazing garden in Devon called Wildside at the beginning of July. Click on the image for a full screen view - heartily recommended :)

Keith came to give a talk to the University of Bath Gardening Club in January (which I blogged about here) and we were so blown away by his slideshow it was obvious that this garden, plus the previous one he developed at The Garden House should be the destination for the club's main summer field trip this year.

Despite the dull and rainy day, Wildside was a riot of colour. It's an extraordinary creation as the flat four acre site is in the process of being transformed by Keith into a multi-terrained garden with many different microclimates. He's then using his extensive plant knowledge gleaned over a lifetime to match the right plant to the right pla…

How Advertising Works in Chippenham #20

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Sign up a well known gardening personality to your DIY stores' advertising campaignGet the marketeers to design lots of different posters, cardboard cutouts etcMake sure every store has a wide selection of them allWait for a blogger with a camera to notice that the very small garden centre area with Mr Titchmarsh popping up every couple of yards or so (not to mention the tannoyed exhortation from him to Let's Get Gardening!) makes her feel like she's being stalkedEt voila!I'm wondering if every store gets the same amount of display material irrespective of size, so what works in the large superstore of Poole say (note to self: must check the next time we're there) seems a little claustrophobic in the intimacy of smaller stores like Chippenham. I also like the special touch in the picture's foreground, where what Alan is passionate about is obscured by the box ball, so you can supply your own word. My feeling of being stalked was further heightened as I received…

A Blooms Day Extra: For Patient Gardener

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I was feeling a bit mean that I only gave you one picture for this month's Blooms Day, so when Patient Gardener asked to see the Echinops I wrote about last Sunday, I thought it would be churlish to refuse.

I hope they bring cheer on a not so good day for you Helen. I'm sure Plan B will be fine :)

First Apple Harvest

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The first apple harvest of the year is always a cause for celebration at VP gardens and here's the first of this year's crop. These are Discovery, one of the earliest of apples which is a cross between Worcester Permain and possibly Beauty of Bath according to the wonderful The New Book of Apples. It's a double cause for celebration because last year the wasps got to the apples before I did and I lost the entire [small] harvest.
I love how the red of the skin permeates into the flesh, giving it a glowing pink colour. It tastes pretty good too: a crisp juicy apple with a hint of strawberry which is best picked and eaten off the tree. Worcester Permain is one of the apples of my childhood as it was the local apple to where my cousins lived in Worcestershire and Beauty of Bath originated a mere 10 miles from here, so for me this apple is an apt marriage between childhood memories and today's living.
That's not the entire harvest BTW, NAH just picked enough for immedi…

OOTS: Soft Landscaping Workshop

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Palmstead Nursery are holding their 3rd annual soft landscaping workshop called Dynamic Planting for Public and Garden Spaces on September 22nd at the Ashford International Hotel in Kent. Timing is approx 9.30 to 16.00 (registration starts 9.00 am), costs £15 including lunch and there's a great lineup of speakers: Matthew Wilson (aka Landscape Man) on how public plantings can be more dynamicSarah Price will give a sneak preview of the 2012 World Gardens for the Olympic Games on how they might impact on future planting designsAndrew Wilson will look at the future of garden designBert Griffioen lends his Dutch nurseryman's expertise on sustainable municipal perennial plantingsGreen Space's Paul Bramhill will discuss how the The Budget could impact our public greenspace I attended last year's fantastic workshop (I posted about it here, which also links you through to my introduction and subsequent posts) where I learnt so much on the day :)
See you there?

GBBD: Drowsling August

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I've always described August as drowsling: a made up word where I attempt to sum up a feeling that everywhere is just about ready for an afternoon nap, lulled by the constant background hum of bees and hoverflies browsing through the plants. Summer's still there, but it's beginning to look a bit frayed around the edges and if you go out early enough in the morning, there's just a hint of autumn in the air.

The past two Augusts haven't been that drowsling owing to their rainy weather, but this year's is more than making up for it. It's been so dry here in Chippenham, that the trees are already taking on signs of autumn, particularly the silver birches. Even the welcome decent drop of rain a few days ago has done little to halt their downward spiral.

In the garden I've mostly left things to fend for themselves, only watering key plants when they're beginning to look stressed and keeping the pots topped up when needed. I've probably got away with thi…

On Blight Watch

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The welcome drop of rain a couple of days ago combined with the continued flannel-like humidity has put me on blight watch in my garden and up at the plot. I have a number of tomato plants * here at home, plus quite a few maincrop varieties of potato up at the allotment all in a potential state of vulnerability. At least my wuthering and worrying has been calmed down a little by the discovery of a really useful website called Blight Watch. It's aimed at commercial growers but has just as much relevance to amateur ones. It's pretty clever, operating on the principle that the blight fungus needs particular conditions in which to thrive (temperature above 10 degrees centigrade for 24 hours and relative humidity above 90% for at least 11 hours) and for these to exist for 2 consecutive days. This is called the Smith Period.

Local weather records are automatically monitored for the UK and near misses, 1 day and 2 days of ideal conditions are determined. By signing up to the service…

Book Offer - Recycle: The Essential Guide

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If you want to know more about how recycling works here in the UK, or are simply needing guidance on where to start, then you need look no further than this recently updated guide published by Black Dog Publishing. It goes through each category of waste we generate, explains how the recycling process works for them and gives you practical tips on how you can reduce or reuse this kind of waste yourselves.
It also gives an insight of where we in the UK stand re our success (and failure) in dealing with our waste problem. There's also plenty of case studies of projects from all over the world where waste is being tackled in innovative ways. There's also some striking pictures: who would have thought that an empty plastic bottle could be turned into a sign for the top of a taxi for instance? There's also a great directory at the back of the book which gives details not only of where you can get lots more information about recycling, but also those companies who are using wast…

Fancy Getting an Allotment?

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Today sees the start of National Allotments week (9-15 August), an initiative held in the second full week of August each year and jointly promoted by the National Allotment Gardens Trust and the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners. It aims to promote awareness of allotments, both locally and nationally, so there's probably an event near you.
There's also a strong likelihood there'll be TV and other media coverage this week to tempt you into thinking about becoming an allotmenteer yourself. After all gardening programmes make it look so easy don't they? It is very easy to start growing your own and I'll be the first to encourage you to do so but I'd also like to urge caution. Allotments can be very hard work, especially if the one you're assigned has been overgrown for a while. If you're already growing some of your own at home and would like to do much more, or are the kind of person who having decided on doing something you'll see i…

Google Maps: Good for a Sense of Place?

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Oh how I love local newspapers! Particularly when they publish letters like this delightful one penned with a dry sense of humour by Geoff Endacott concerning Google Maps:
Something strange seems to have happened in Chippenham. Last evening I was checking the website for the Chippenham Model Railway Exhibition which takes place at Sheldon Sports Centre on October 2. There is a helpful link to Google Maps to show visitors how to find the venue and I'm glad I checked. The Sports Centre seems to have moved into the former maths block at Sheldon School. That will disrupt lessons. Worse was to follow. I soon realised that major changes have been made in the Monkton Park area. The Olympiad [our local sports centre] has moved to Monkton House on the other side of the park and Wiltshire Council has been forced out onto the grass by the river. The building which used to house their offices is now Monkton Park Golf Course. At least there is nearby shelter for the staff who have been evicted. Al…

How Advertising Works in Chippenham #19

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Decide to hold a special event to show off all the possibilities of your swanky venueAdvertise your event in the sparkly new What's On section of your local newspaperEnsure it's published in good time so lots of people will comeWait for a blogger with a camera to notice that your welcome on arrival might be a bit different to what's usually on offer at these thingsEt voila!Whilst marquees and gazebos are an option that larger wedding parties might be considering, I don't think the venue's restaurant staff would be that thrilled at not having the opportunity to show off what they can do to get any event off to a good start ;)

VPGGB #15: Strawberries

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A lot of my strawberries up at the plot are either nearing the end of their useful working lives or are so interplanted with weeds at the moment, I need to thoroughly makeover their homes. This has also given me an opportunity to review the varieties I'm growing and change things around a little.

I'm really pleased with the Mae and Christine varieties I'm growing: they're both early varieties (cropping late May, or even earlier if I ever got around to protecting them with a cloche or some fleece), crop prolifically and taste wonderful. They're also generous with their runners, so I'll be making sure they're potted up this year ready to make a new bed for them. That's strawberry bargain #1: lots of plants for free. The parent plants of each variety are still very vigorous, so I'm confident I'll have lots of healthy progeny ready for next year's crop.

Both were freebies given away with a couple of garden magazines a few years ago, so that's …

Out on the Streets: August 2010

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It's August, which means it's time for our summer edition of Out on the Streets! The above picture is another from my recent singing holiday in Litomysl in the Czech Republic. It's a rather simple but pleasing arrangement I found at the local Lido (outdoor swimming pool) adorning the outside walls of the changing cabins. Window boxes on ice cream toned walls with arrangements of one or two plants in abundance were a notable feature of the town and were a welcome addition wherever I saw them.

I also have a promised post about the wonderful monastery gardens there and I'll try and find time to squeeze in a lot more about what I found during my short stay in the Czech Republic. I also have an update on Chippenham's trees on the High Street and who knows what else I might find this month?
Now it's over to you: how is summer looking in your part of the world or on holiday? Good, bad or indifferent, I'd love to know. Helen and Monica have already been busy and giv…

GBMD: Thoughts in a Garden

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What wondrous life is this I lead! Ripe apples drop about my head; The luscious clusters of the vine Upon my mouth do crush their wine; The nectarine and curious peach Into my hands themselves do reach; Stumbling on melons, as I pass, Ensnared with flowers, I fall on grass.
Andrew Marvell, Thoughts in a Garden
If only - my reality is thus: Windfall apples drop about my head and that of the allotment society chairman whilst inspecting my plotThe grapes on my vines are tiny because I forgot to water themAlas I have no nectarines, peaches or melonsBut I am ensnared with flowers and it's been rather nice to have a little doze on the lawn this summer ;)The picture is part of the monastery gardens in Litomysl in the Czech Republic (I also showed another view + link to more info here), which had the most luscious of grass to fall upon on very hot afternoons. I have plenty of thoughts to share with you about this garden for this month's OOTS. Kick-off post is due tomorrow :)

Garden Bloggers'…