About Me

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SW London
A semi-mature, hardy individual who tries to get away with doing as little as possible in gardening as in life, still expects the best results & wonders why she is frequently disappointed! She likes to keep a photographic record of everything, good & frequently bad!

Sunday, 31 October 2010

An apple a day…..

……can be used to make one of these, a Squidgy Spiced Apple Cake

012 I was given lots of windfall un-named cooking apples by a client. With them I have made jars of apple & rosemary jelly, frozen several pots of apple sauce & made a number of variations on the theme of Apple Crumble & stumbled upon this recipe whilst browsing. Apple requirements; 1 large cooker.


Not high-end dining I know but this was delicious served with a blob of creme fraiche & some sliced cox fried with honey & calvados. The cake apparently improves with keeping so am looking forward to testing that hypothesis!

Thursday, 28 October 2010

False Alarm

Chelsea Flower Show 2010 230 (2)  Chelsea Flower Show 2010 233

Is the trend for pretend & plastic in all things gardening increasing/getting worse? It certainly seems so to me. Indeed the poor taste brigade seems to be muscling in more & more. Actually, I am not talking about ‘all things’ gardening, I am referring to plants here…..you know, those things that grow, flower, die back; in other words they are living things that change with the seasons & the years providing huge enjoyment & also a little frustration to us mere mortals.

It all began earlier this year….

Image0484 Image0483 ……….I was quite horrified to see these lurid green balls in a garden centre. Who on earth would use these? I was soon to find out…..the biggest culprits seem to be pubs, or at least these are the most visible users of the panoply of plastic planting.

April Break 2010 043 Look at just a few of the things I have seen…………..





April Break 2010 049 April Break 2010 051 April Break 2010 048 Image1002 Image1003  Don’t you just love the 2 varieties of ‘ivy’ in the last picture & the ‘double bubble’ hanging balls!

I have always admired the planting outside pubs…

Peak Ditrict holiday July 2010 287                                     Peak Ditrict holiday July 2010 286

This is more like it!





So do you think we will see an even more widespread proliferation of this tasteful & easily maintained greening of our pubs & other premises?


**The green balls at the top are made from actual plants & were on show at the Chelsea Flower Show.

Friday, 22 October 2010

The play was over but the stage not yet cleared


This was how I saw the garden at Great Dixter during a visit there with Arabella Sock a few days ago. The weather was glorious; the sun shone from a deep blue sky, as we entered the garden I momentarily thought it must be spring with the huge spreads of a glorious lavender blue crocus in the lush green grass….095 094

I had only visited Great Dixter once before, during the height of summer & had been impressed with the planting combinations then & loved seeing the late Christopher Lloyd pottering around, talking to visitors. So when Arabella Sock suggested an autumn visit, (I suspect just to show off one of her new hattiwats), I agreed as I was interested to see the garden in another season & under different stewardship.

In spite of the weather there had very obviously been a frost the night before. Many of the tender & exotic plants at Great Dixter had clearly been  affected. Some of the plants we could not see, although quite why the exotic garden  had to be closed whilst it was assessed I don’t know! 036

But first, the stage. This is the bones of the garden, the permanent structure around which the planting ebbs & flows with the seasons like actors & actresses entering stage left & leaving once their role 128had been fulfilled, some to return, others to have only one brief part to play. The first of this stage set is of course the house with its history, shapes & colours which are very pleasing. Then we have all those rather dominant yet rhythmical yew hedges & shapes. These seem to anchor the planting, no matter how exuberant it may be. 106 043


So, the players, just who are they?


The dahlias had been frosted but still looked rather glorious, like old & faded actresses where you can see that wonderful bone structure but the lipstick was beginning to bleed into the wrinkled skin round their mouths & their 045dresses have got creased & torn. Despite this they were still an essential element of the chorus. 






Other players were still feeling full of vim & vigour…. like the asters & the grasses…..

104 079109  107

There were also some little details which I thought were so wonderful including the wall full of the delightful Erigeron karvinskianus & the brick path through the grass……

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Oh yes, and the hat….


…….. like the garden, exuberant!!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Shopping was off but the autumn show was on

214 I have stretched my critical facilities to the limit recently by reviewing 2 gardens on here so it is about time for a bit of general drivel about life, shopping, autumn, whatever takes my fancy.


Now, I am aware of the phrase ‘lifestyle shopping’ but have always thought of it in relation to rather twee companies like Kath Kidson or Sarah Raven. When it comes to shopping for myself I am very much a MOR Sainsburys & Marks & Sparks sort of person with an occasional foray into a pound shop. In essence, a bit short on style & too mean to spend much.

During our recent holiday in the Cotswolds a visit to the Daylesford Organic Farm Shop was recommended. It was close so we duly made a small trek via an extremely nice pub lunch. Now I know what lifestyle shopping is! The outlets, one cannot call them shops, are set round an extremely tasteful courtyard.Daylesford I could not look at the prices in the garden shop after I had noticed a (not very large) candle in a jar for £15. The part that made my jaw drop was the Bamford Barn; now that is what you call understated! I considered the purchase of a sort of sleeveless coat which was only £1 under £2,000 whilst my husband admired a stylish trilby-like hat which was a snip at £560 or something like that – my eyes kind of blurred at that point & we hurriedly, yet tastefully left, passing many very nicely turned out Cotswold ladies that had been lunching. 


Much more my style was a foray into Batsford Arboretum, where these pictures were taken. Now I mentioned earlier my reluctance to spend money on expensive things so was delighted to find our visit coincided with the last day of free entry for RHS members.

233 219 183The arboretum claimed, on its leaflet, to be the most popular in the UK. There was no evidence backing up this claim. It was an extremely nice walk but I have been to arboretum with probably more things going on.There are plans for changes & improvements so watch that space.


Monday, 11 October 2010

Prairie Sunday; the reprise


Way back when, well it was August actually, I visited the Sussex Prairies garden. I was blown away & waxed lyrical about the experience here. I was determined to make a return visit when the grasses were more dominant & did so last weekend.

Unlike the sunshine & blue skies of August it was a rather damp morning which turned to rain. It did not really spoil my enjoyment of the garden but the photos were a bit disappointing as a result. I hope you can appreciate the planting from these.

294 300

I love the way the grasses are combined with other perennials reflecting the colours but adding texture & movement.

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Although many perennial flowers have faded or are in shades of dusky pinks & purple there is the occasional zinging yellow shouting it’s presence. 


Or a few clashing reds & pinks.





268 275

The different colours & textures of the grasses are quite exciting.




306 290


And I love being able to get in amongst the plants………….




286 ………… a bit more difficult this time where the plants were bowed under the weight of the recent heavy rains







This block of planting runs the length of the garden & is very simple backbone to the other beds.




I have drivelled on at some length here. Do  I still love the planting? Yes. I did try to look at things a little more critically than last time when I metaphorically wallowed  in the huge drifts of colour & textures. Although we would see nothing like this in nature it does look quite naturalistic. We get views of the countryside surrounding the gardens, perhaps not as much as I would like but the site is surrounded by mature trees. What I particularly love is being able to get in amongst the planting.

I had a chat with Pauline McBride (both the McBrides are very accessible & approachable) & was asking about cutting all the plants back thinking it would take such a long time. They burn it! Now obviously this garden does have a period of looking, well, black & crispy, but then it is not open to the public at that time!


The garden is being visited in Gardeners World on Friday 15 October.

PS. The nearby recommended pub was packed out & so we weren’t able to fulfil our expectations of an excellent lunch. That was a bit of a bugger!