Category Archives: out&about

plant sale heaven…

We dropped off our contribution of spare chilli plants to the fund raising sale at the library yesterday.   Today, we made sure that we arrived at the library nice and early to check out the other contributions.  Of course I didn’t need to buy any plants, but at prices from 50p to a couple of quid, it’s hard to resist and anyway the sale is for a good cause.

My ‘haul’ comprised Viola ‘Freckles’ – a pretty white viola with a multitude of tiny violet speckles; a day lily that might be ‘Stafford’ an unnamed dark purple auricula, Salvia ‘Amistad’ and a scented leaf pelargonium which is probably ‘Attar of Roses’.

I cut back the longest stem on the pelargonium to prevent the plant from becoming too leggy and unbalanced; the extra leaves stripped from the lower part of the stem haven’t been wasted as I’ve slipped these under a pillow case.

A very successful plant sale I must say!


glorious glasshouses…grass, and polytunnel greens…

If you put aside botanic gardens, then the best place to gaze upon gorgeous glasshouses is in the walled garden.  We ventured out to Millichope Park in Munslow to see the, very nearly, finished restoration of the curved glasshouse.

As part of the restoration, many tiny panes of glass were made good or replaced. Some are engraved with details of people who, one way or another, have been involved with the place, including the volunteers.

There’s lots of beautifully engineered elements like the frame openings and heating vents and pipes…

It is a very impressive glasshouse and a breath-taking rejuvenation.

The owners of the plant nursery rent the walled garden from the Park owners and are in the process of restoring the area as a garden rather than a productive space.

The plant nursery sale beds are arranged by colour which is very handy particularly if you aren’t looking for a specific cultivar/species.

I came away with a geum, ‘Totally Tangerine’ as well as a phlox and pearly blue aconitum.  A visit to the tearoom rounded off the trip.

On Saturday, a small group came to practise scything in our orchard.  The lovely OH made sure that the spring flowering areas were out of bounds, (these areas won’t be cut back until end June or so), but the rest of the orchard was available and I’m very grateful for their input  as the area is looking very spruce now…

The pheasant’s eye narcissus ‘Actaea’ is in flower….

though something is nipping off the flowers from the fritillaries. The concensus, from the scythers, is that it is pheasants doing the damage.  Well, at least no flower means that the bulb will be strong, but no flower means no seed!  I managed to capture this one in full bloom.

and we have started picking rocket and herbs from the polytunnel….

Happy days!



city break….

We managed a whistlestop trip to London and were lucky enough to time it with the best weather day so far of the year.  I was able to cross off a item from my horticultural bucket list, with a visit to Petersham Nurseries on the edge of Richmond.

Whilst the plants are pretty much run of the mill, (though looked after beautifully), the setting is gorgeous – next to Petersham meadows and the river.

The shop had some wonderful items – I was very taken with a copper green, curved metal bench though didn’t feel I could jettison a nephew to cram it into the back of the car. Amazingly, I managed not to buy anything here.  Food in the tearoom wasn’t that expensive, prices on par with a NT tearoom I would say, and the quality was far, far better.  I had nettle soup and it reminded me how good that soup is!   Our nettles are coming through now so I shall make some.

We spent the afternoon at the RHS Spring Plant and Orchard show.  It was the the last day but it was so quiet,

which is a shame as there were such stunning displays and interesting plants.

My pick of the day must be all the lovely species and cultivars of Epimedium, an excellent plant for shade.

Even so, I was quite restrained on the plant buying front. Lucky then that my brother has a nice big clump of Epimedium x versicolor ‘Sulphureum’ under his maple tree so I could take some home,

amongst other things….


module moments….

I always thought it was better to sow root vegetables direct rather than into modules to avoid root disturbance.  Which is why, until now, I’ve always sown beetroot and radish in situ.   However as I’m a bit pushed on space in the polytunnel, but want to get ahead, I’ve decided to try sowing in modules and then transplanting out, quite young, in about 2-3 weeks time. This way I’m hoping to minimise the root disturbance.  I’ll also direct sow at the tail end of March, weather dependent.  My go to guru, Charles Dowding has a video on module sowing here, (it’s excellent).

dsc_0329All the propagators have been moved to the piggery – the light is better there and I’ve started potting on the chillies and tomatoes – so far so good!


dsc_0328We have the odd day of sun, enough to encourage bud break…first up, the almond, peach and apricot…

dsc_0336Speaking of breaks, the lovely OH and I managed to catch the orchid festival at Kew.  Fun though the festival was, far more impressive are the collections and the glasshouses….

dsc_0119dsc_0054dsc_0166dsc_0146dsc_0327dsc_0198…simply the best!

Watching this week, (on iPlayer): Around the World in 80 Gardens

of arches and arboretums…

We have a central path in the to-be garden now.

dsc_0609 We plan to have an archway along the path to give some height to the central section.  Cast iron is far, far too expensive but luckily we have a solution to hand – hazel poles and willow whips…

dsc_0625-3dsc_0627-2Our willow copse most definitely needs pollarding this year.  In truth we probably don’t have enough hazel poles amongst the cobs and filberts as yet but there are plenty of local suppliers.  Hopefully, we can construct something along these lines…

photo courtesy: Wassledine

We had few days in Oxford – the University Parks has some lovely, lovely trees.  I pocketed some berries from the specimens along the ‘Thorn Walk‘, – a wonderful collection of hawthorns and crab apples and some berries from a white form of rowan.  Whilst there is no guarantee that the trees will come true I’m keen to have a go at germinating from the seeds contained within the fruits.

dsc_0621-3There is a small area at the back of the orchard where we could make our own tiny arboretum.  Though I’m not sure how I can possibly edit my must have list of trees!


oh you pretty things…

In the orchards the plum and damson blossom scattered away, superceded by the pear blossom of the trees near the piggery.   Now is the turn of the cherries and apples to flower.

DSC_0486DSC_0487Whilst there is good evidence that hand thinning of blossom improves the quality of the apple crop, I can’t bear to do this, so I reduce down the small fruits after the June drop.  I would much rather have an orchard full of blossom!

On the subject of lovely things, I bought this pretty auricula for £1.50 at a local plant sale which had been organised to support the continuation of our village library.auriculaThe local villagers made donations of plants and gardening books; we gave our spare chilli and tomato plants.   The sale made a tidy sum for the library fund.

I’m a great fan of going to local plant sales, I think you can find far more interesting specimens than the stuff stocked at the large chain garden centres.  Failing that, I like to check out the smaller, independent plant nurseries.  Invariably, they are run by passionate horticulturalists.

Back to auriculas.  Calke Abbey (NT) has a terrific theatre; I’ve visited the Abbey but never at a time to see these primulas, I must make a diary note for next year.

Photo credit: National Trust

Photo credit: National Trust

Now, I must find a terracotta pot for my specimen.   Could lead to an obsession!

moody, moors & magnificent Minster

DSC_0147We went over to the east coast to look at stone paving for the garden.  The topography of the moors is so different from our part of the world.  Miles of bleak moorland – the wind must howl across the landscape.  We have some upland heath but not as wide-ranging as these North Yorkshire Moors.


We had to abandon our first attempt to cross to the coast as the snow came down.  We consoled ourselves with brunch at the very excellent Bettys in York and toured the beautiful Minster, managing to scale to the top of the Central Tower, (though our legs were a bit wobbly by the end).











The carving is spectacular and it is good to see that stonemasons are still hard at work making replacement pieces.  The Quire screen is a brilliant test of one’s knowledge of the English kings from William the Conqueror to Henry VI.









The Undercroft has a very good museum which not only tells about the extensive work needed to prevent the Central Tower from collapsing but also has a fascinating timeline of the location’s history from the Roman barracks to the present.  It is well worth a visit.

We rounded off our day with dinner at Bennett’s.  Perfect.