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Showing posts from January, 2016

Get Ready for the Big Garden Birdwatch

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Apologies for the poor quality picture, but I had to show you VP Gardens' latest new visitor, a Lesser Redpoll.

I found a pair of them attacking the seedheads on my Verbena bonariensis last weekend, a great advertisement for not being too tidy in the garden in the autumn/winter.

These red listed birds are a more familiar sight in Scotland, Wales and eastern England, though they may visit gardens like mine in the south west during the winter.

Their acrobatic antics were a joy to behold - fingers crossed they make a reappearance during my Big Garden Birdwatch this weekend!

Update 31/1: My count this morning was - wood pigeon 5, crow 2, long tailed tit 3, great tit 1, magpie 3, wren 1, blackbird 3, blue tit 2, robin 2 and goldcrest 1. Weather dull and mild. Not bad for diversity (though it has been better, usually on a sunny day), but numbers were down considerably.

Up on the Roof

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Many of the green roofs we hear about in the UK tend to be at the high end of the market, such as the Sky Garden in London. However, my visit to Toronto's Hugh Garner Housing Co-Operative  highlighted the possibilities for any housing development seen in our towns and cities.


It wasn't just a roof full of sedums either; this scheme showcases how a fantastic communal resource can be achieved, suitable for both entertaining and quiet relaxation, with an amazing view.


I learnt so much during my time in Toronto which deserves to be blogged about, but this garden was the one which really touched both my head and heart. I nearly burst into tears of rage at the time as the UK doesn't have the kind of legislation Toronto has had since 2010. It touched a raw nerve as I'd recently learnt France had just passed something similar.



To my simple mind it's a no brainer. We need to start building this way, so we have robust, healthy communities, with access to green space even in…

Puzzle Corner: Happy Families

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I've had a lot of fun putting together the latest edition of Puzzle Corner. 

Can you match the flowers and fruit/vegetables with their plant kingdom Families? There is a flower and fruit/vegetable for each one.

The Families are:

AmaryllidaceaeApiaceaeAsteraceaeFabaceaePolygonaceaeRosaceae I think - like me - you'll be surprised how some of these pair up with their families.
I hope you enjoy this fun quiz and I'll give you the answers next week.

Ready... Steady... Bake!

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I love it when work and blog fun collide. The company blog I look after always reports on their efforts for Sport Relief, both of the sporting kind and in the ever popular baking department.

It's great to join in with them this year in a small way by showing off my Orla Kiely designer Bake Yourself Proud apron courtesy of the nice people at Sport Relief. The Great Sport Relief Bake Off starts next Wednesday (January 27th 2016) on BBC1, where another of these aprons will be presented to each episode's winner.

It's also available in the shops* at £12.99, with at least £5.25 going to their fundraising. I'm going to donate the full cost of my apron to the cause, so it's win-win all round. I've also been inspired to restart my baking efforts by making this scrummy chocolate cake. I was given the dry ingredients last year, but family events prevented me from making it at the time.

* = HomeSense, TK Maxx or the Sport Relief website.

Wordless Wednesday: Frrrrrrosty!

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GBBD: Brightness Amongst Winter's Decay

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It's been a record breaking winter. There was record warmth and rainfall for December, possibly January too for the latter. Now we're poised on the cusp of the coldest spell of the winter thus far, possibly the coldest for the past few years.

So it seems fitting to enjoy my garden's solitary record breaking daffodil whilst I can, possibly sentenced to doom in tonight's forecast frost. It flowered just before Christmas and has had to stretch itself almost impossibly high to get itself noticed amongst the Echinops stems.

It's a record breaking winter for blooms in my garden too. I expect many of these will get nipped in the bud tonight, so it's fitting to record the full list for this month's Blooms Day and posterity. There's a total of 35 flowers and even if you take the 4 new-to-the-garden snowdrops away from the total, this is still my most floriferous January ever.

Expected Blooms
Clematis cirrhosa 'Balearica'Clematis cirrhosa 'Freckles…

GBMD: New Feet

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Apparently Emily Dickinson was also a skilled botanist. I wonder what she would have made of my new wellies!

Happy New Year - may 2016 be a good one for you and yours.