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  • The Summer Holiday 'I'm Bored' Jar

    Posted by Dawn Isaac on 17 Jul 2014 at 04:28 PM

    I'm bored collage

    As Charles Caleb Colton once wrote, "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery"... or in other words, I've totally nicked this idea from someone.  

    Yes, a month or so ago a friend shared a link to the Somewhat Simple website and its 'Mom I'm Bored' Jar.  I've since found these all over the place in various different guises but the core of the notion is the same: stockpile a load of ideas to keep the children entertained when bordeom sets in, add these to a container and then throw in a few chores just to create a sense of jeopardy when they venture to dip in their hand

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  • 'The Narrows' Show Garden - RHS Tatton Park Flower Show

    Posted by Pip Probert on 02 Jul 2014 at 08:21 PM
    So far the summer has been very busy thanks to the beautiful weather we have been having (on and off!). So busy in fact that time has flown by and the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show is upon us! My team and I are so excited to get to site and start building our garden. The 2014 Hi-Vis jackets are ready and waiting and passes are stuck onto the vehicles. We are raring to go!! We decided that many of our clients have gardens that are awkward shapes and sizes. Plus they are often the same as all the other gardens in the road, until they have been landscaped. This garden was designed as an example of an average suburban garden. Sometimes they have an unusual shape and are often narrow. Here the plot has been divided into three main spaces. ‘The Narrows’ is suitable for a family allowing them to sit and dine together or each enjoy their own space. Making good use of a long thin plot! The first is calming as the occupant leaves the house, forgetting their problems as the walk over the deck that edges the shallow pond. As they are guided round the area there are numerous flowering combinations to see, including those planted within the wall units. As you enter the next room, a stainless steel sculptural feature greets you. There is a partition fence that pierces the planted border and provides seclusion for the sleeper bench. The lawn is a sufficient size for various activities such as a child’s play area but certainly doesn’t dominate the garden. The third area is totally enclosed by a horizontally slatted fence, and has a matching sculptural feature within the fencing. You enter the space via a ‘twisted’ pergola. This part of the garden is for dining and entertaining with a paved surface and a low raised planter. Climbing plants soften one of the boundaries with planted borders on the other two. “The Narrows” is in the Escape Zone at Tatton Park, plot no ES/191. Come along and say hello!!

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  • How to plant a lettuce ball

    Posted by Dawn Isaac on 01 Jul 2014 at 01:41 PM

    Lettuce ball with front cover
    My veg growing this year has taken something of a Darwinian turn.  Forget carefully chosen produce and well planned beds, it has been much more a case of 'survival of the fittest'.

    This is all thanks to those pesky slugs and snails (I have many more appropriate adjectives I could use there, but I shall resist).  They have demolished almost every crop - and sadly seem particularly fond of lettuce which is making our salads a little bare

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  • Blackboard plant pots and Yellow Book openings

    Posted by Dawn Isaac on 04 Jun 2014 at 08:09 PM

    DSC_0003

    For such relatively small people, children really do have enormous egos.  I mean they can be incredibly cute, winning and sweet-natured but, let's face it there's a lot of "Me, me, me, me MEEEE" about them.

    This often manifests itself in them writing their name on everything, at all possible opportunities - in the sand, on misty windows, in permanent marker on playroom walls (which is also the point where they realise the downside of putting their own name down rather than forging the signature of an annoying sibling)

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  • Blush Garden Build - RHS Malvern Spring Garden Festival

    Posted by Pip Probert on 21 May 2014 at 08:44 PM
    Well a lot has happened since my last blog. We have been to Malvern, built our garden and returned home with a Silver Gilt Medal!! The show was fantastic… We were living on the site for the duration of the build up, show and breakdown period, which allowed us to really feel a part of RHS community that evolves over the month. The show ground has the most amazing backdrop and to be living at the foot of the Malvern Hills for 4 weeks with the iconic view behind us was truly inspiring! We had lovely neighbours, made lots of new friends and met up with all the old friends, and most importantly our garden was well received by the visitors to the show. Although we had a great time down in Malvern and definitely look back on it with fond memories, we certainly had a tough build! The word ‘jinxed’ springs to mind, in that everything we touched seemed to go wrong. Virtually everything that had been ordered (WELL in advance) and delivered seemed to be broken in delivery meaning that there was a lot of extra work required to put things right! After a 3 week build and working extremely hard to get the garden finished on time, the judging process actually felt like a release. Although not at the time, as that is the point where it becomes to late to change anything (and generally the tears start to trickle!) The judges came round and spent lots of time assessing the garden and discussing the pro’s and con’s, then the nail biting period begins as we await our results. Over night I had convinced myself that we wouldn’t be receiving a medal (– tiredness can be cruel!) But, in the morning we woke up early and walked up to the garden to prepare for the visitors, and there on the table was the medal. Running onto the garden to find a lovely big, shiny Silver Gilt Medal drove me to tears yet again! We had worked hard on this garden and all the struggling and problems we had solved to get to this point made the long hours worth it. From this point in, we could totally enjoy the show, and we definitely did! I got to meet the lovely James Martin and guide him round my garden, Joe Swift came for our regular show chat and also Carole Klein came over for photos on the garden. Overall the whole process was a big success and we had built a garden that we were proud of. Once the soul-destroying task of breaking the garden down was complete, we drove home talking about the last 4 weeks we had spent in Malvern and also planning the next one! After coming home and getting back into the real world, we immediately started working on a private garden. We have a few projects to get on with now and then we will start the whole process again but this time at Tatton Park, our home show. Can’t wait to get my teeth stuck into that! Stay tuned for a picture of the Tatton Park garden.

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  • Helping out the nesting blackbirds

    Posted by Miranda Hodgson on 02 May 2014 at 12:53 PM

    There are blackbirds (Turdus merula) nesting in the ivy growing on the garden wall here. I noticed when I saw a female eagerly pecking at the half apple we’d put under the bench and flying into the ivy with a beakful of it. Seeing her going back and forth a few times, I decided to add a little extra for the young birds and went out to the compost bays to dig out some worms. These went into a plastic tray with a bit of the compost and the tray was put under the bench. Blackbirds can find their own worms, of course, but it’s interesting to see them eagerly gathering up the worms and taking them off to feed their young ones.


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  • It’s all happening now!

    Posted by Miranda Hodgson on 25 Apr 2014 at 01:10 PM

    It’s the fourth week of April and the garden is a hive of activity. Now that spring is underway, the garden is reacting to the warm and rainy winter by racing into growth and the things look incredibly different to this time last year. The spring of 2013 was one of the coldest I remember and garden plants were set back by at least five weeks, not catching up until the end of May.


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  • Coreopsis ‘Solanna Golden Sphere’: New from Mr Fothergill’s

    Posted by Graham Rice on 22 Apr 2014 at 02:05 PM
    Coreopsis 'Solanna Golden Sphere' is a tough and prolific new perennial. Image ©DanzigerI know there are gardeners who see perennial coreopsis more as workhorses of the summer garden than plants with character and style but perhaps ‘Solanna Golden Sphere’ (left, click to enlarge) will spark some affection as well as admiration for being dependable and tough.

    Developed in Israel, and propagated by division rather than seed so plants are always of a reliably high quality, the dark green foliage makes a neat mound. The bright, sunny yellow flowers open from May to October, each is fully double, with a slightly darker centre. Held one per stem, they are good for cutting and last well in water.

    It’s worth noting that this is a plant that rewards gardeners who nip off the fading flowers with secateurs or the kitchen scissors as this encourages more buds to develop. Plants should still flower right through until autumn without dead heading but they will look more attractive and less messy – and there will be more flowers open at any given time – if the dead blooms are snipped of at the base of their stems.

    This is a very hardy perennial which can be planted in a container for its first summer then moved into the border before winter, or can be planted direct into any reasonable soil in a sunny place.

    You can order plants of Coreopsis ‘Solanna Golden Sphere’ from Mr Fothergill’s (last orders for this season 30 April).

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  • Worms have been moving stones in the garden

    Posted by Miranda Hodgson on 22 Apr 2014 at 01:51 PM

    There are a couple of corners of the garden that I seldom dig – if weeds come up there, I’ll pull them out, but I like to leave these patches to see what happens to the soil surface and to gauge earthworm activity. Because we garden on Oxfordshire cornbrash, there are a lot of stones in the soil and a great many of them end up on the surface. Not only do these stones end up on the surface of the soil, they often appear to be gathered into small piles. When you look more closely at these piles, you can see that there are often bits of plant debris sticking out of the top, usually near the centre of the pile.

     

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  • Snail racing

    Posted by Dawn Isaac on 17 Apr 2014 at 10:36 AM

    Snail race2
    My eldest son is a real wildlife lover.

    This is mostly a good thing.  It means he's always keen to get outdoors to check on his pond or insect shelter and he can identify far more birds and butterflies than I can manage

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