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!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Ham & errr, sausage roll!

Image1441 It was the first frost of the year on Sunday. The sun rose & everything sparkled beautifully. Just the morning for a walk.

We were slightly encouraged by a craft fair being held in the grounds but Ham House is always a lovely National Trust property to visit. We got there before it opened so started off with a walk along the Thames’ tow path noisily crushing the ice on the puddles. We toyed with but  decided against a visit to Petersham Nurseries so returned to Ham House to be revived by a hot latte* & a really truly excellent sausage roll. The sun had increased the temperature to such a point that we were able to sit outside looking at the vegetable garden. We were almost basking in the sunshine


The garden, although not large is very interesting historically with very contrasting areas. Well worth a visit if you are in the area.

Image1448 And whilst not wanting to sound like a tourist guide the Palm Centre is just around the corner as well as the already mentioned Petersham Nurseries.


* Now I do love a latte but they can be insipid if not made properly. However, the  worst coffee crime is when they are TOO COLD. Frequently they seem to be just warm enough to drink immediately so if you like to sip something hot, or, more importantly, eat a delectable slice of something cakey beforehand they do not retain enough heat & I can then get jolly cross. ‘Make it hot please’ can be frequently heard as I queue for my beverage of choice.

Monday, 18 July 2011

I gracefully declined being judged in the final of the competition.

DSCN2615 This probably sounds ever so middle class & even a bit twee but our local resident’s association has a front garden competition every year.

The aim, a very laudable one I am sure you will agree, is to encourage people to contribute towards making the area look nicer by putting a bit of effort into their front garden.

There are no entry qualifications or applications; every garden in the area is judged by a team of enthusiasts before those gardens with the highest scores going through to a ‘grand final’. There are three categories; summer garden, all year garden & container garden; the highest scoring garden of the 3 is awarded the best front garden, receiving a cup & some garden vouchers.

The judge’s gardens are disqualified from judging & the previous year’s winners are usually asked to help with the judging.

We won the competition quite a few years ago, I can’t even begin to work out when it was. Following that triumph I helped with the judging for quite a number of years. It was usually an enjoyable exercise  but in some areas actually quite depressing. Most of the front gardens but many occupiers seem to take no pride in that first impression. It wouldn’t have been too bad if it was just the odd house here & there but in some streets it was difficult to find any garden that could possible be squeezed into the final judging. Concrete & weeds are fairly common & more recently storage sheds have begun to appear which I can see are very practical but take up almost half the available space. At least we have not been forced to deal with the delights of wheelie bins which would have to be kept in front gardens although many people have dustbins & re-cycling bins tucked somewhere.DSCN2617About 5 years ago I decided to both give judging a rest for a while & to give our front garden a re-vamp as it was getting a bit out of hand. I was rather shocked & embarrassed to be awarded the best front garden prize again! It had not occurred to me that it would even be considered as it had only just been completed & some planting needed a bit of time to really get going!  Oooops! Judging beckoned again!

This year the letter about judging was on the doormat when I got back from holiday.I had to deal with some work issues & I quite forgot to get in touch as intended. Imagine my horror on Friday evening to get a letter saying we were to be judged in the final on Sunday! What should I do? Clip the box so it looked it’s best? Not clip the box or the hedge so it might look a bit neglected? Say I didn’t want to win again? (How self-important would that sound) In the end I rang the organiser & muttered I should not be included in the final judging as I should have been involved in it myself & sorry for not getting in touch…….. Phew!

DSCN2613 Today I was delighted to do a little emergency judging. There were 2 contenders for the best container garden with the same score. I was asked if I could go & give my opinion to come up with a winner, so I did!

Thursday, 2 June 2011

More of my Chelsea

You are safe dear reader, I am not going to ramble on about Chelsea gardens weeks after the event when everyone has lost interest. No, this is about me, or at least a bit of my garden

I will remind you, because I expect you have forgotten, that after the Chelsea flower show last year I was enthused enough to create my own what I laughingly call my Chelsea bed. My initial rush of enthusiasm resulted in this updated in early spring to this.

These pictures show very honestly what things were looking like during Chelsea week….

Chelsea 2011 083 Chelsea 2011 085 Chelsea 2011 084Not very inspiring is it when it was looking rather nice a little while ago! Rather dominant is the dyeing foliage of the bulbs.  A 2nd phase of daffodils looked lovely but the iris which were meant to follow on are very small (1 plant divided into 3) & suffering from a severe lack of water this spring so the one potential flower shrivelled. The rose in the middle of the bed is flowering away like mad but has gone rather leggy. At least my balls have been trimmed to encourage them to thicken out a bit so now I await the flowering of Geranium Rozanne which will be the main summer colour.

I know, I could have mown the grass & tidied up behind, but I didn’t!

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Giraffes are a go go………….

Do tell. What is it about giraffes that make them suitable garden accoutrements or ornaments?

I have been to 2 flower shows recently & at each there have been ornamental giraffes on sale to adorn your garden.

Chelsea 2011 076 Malvern Spring Show

Chelsea 2011 275 Chelsea Flower Show

Do you use them as supports for climbing plants? Do they add height to your otherwise flat & boring plot? Do you use them to add a feeling of the wide African plains to your tiny London backyard?

I have absolutely no idea why anyone would want a giraffe in their garden. Do you dear reader?

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Yes, you can do it…..

….if you B & Q it!

Hooray, after his Sunday scrabble for stones at B&Q Wandsworth, Diarmud Gavin has won a Gold medal at Chelsea for his Irish Sky Garden.

I loved the greeness of it, sculpted trees, swathes of grasses & mounds of box surrounding numerous pools & a sinuous pathway leading to the glory of a petunia pink pod containing most of the flowers in the garden & from which a few chosen souls could see the garden at its best, from above whilst us mere mortals gazed open mouthed from below.

Diarmud’s gardens often cause mutterings & indeed this one has too, but I just love to see someone who is both daring & able to push the boundaries of garden design & if you can’t do it at Chelsea……

Chelsea 2011 156 Chelsea 2011 162 Chelsea 2011 163 Chelsea 2011 166But did he buy enough slate chippings?

Chelsea 2011 154

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Has he left it too late?

Stop Press

RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Today assessors visit the show gardens at the Chelsea Flower Show before judging tomorrow . Today will be the last minute polishing, vacuuming & dusting to make sure everything is in prime & pristine condition for the judging to begin.

So who was that looking rather panicky in B&Q Wandsworth this morning pushing a trolley with 10 bags of blue decorative slate & asking what time they closed tonight.Image1363Whose first card payment was not accepted?

Image1364 Can you spot him, yes it is a him, in the distance?

Image1366 Yes, you are right dear reader. It was himself, Diarmud Gavin of the controversial flying garden dashing about B&Q this morning possibly making up for shortfalls in his forward planning. Alternatively he could have finished & be moving on to his next job. What do you think?

I wanted to wish him all the best but had a feeling it may not be appreciated in the circumstances, but good luck anyway Diarmud.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

A dog’s dinner or a curate’s egg?


MrB has had the joy of commuting to Slough for the past few months; he started off training it but reverted to the more reliable motor vehicle. During his many ‘I must find the best route’ diversions he ‘discovered’ Chiswick House & gardens which we recently decided to explore.

The house & grounds have had a chequered history. The house, a palladian villa, was completed in 1729 having been designed by the then Lord Burlington & never intended as a private residence but as a showcase. The gardens were designed by William Kent & began the ‘English Landscape Movement’. The house was home to various members of the Burlington family until the late 1800’s when it fell into decline being used as a mental institution at one point. The house was sold to Middlesex Council in 1929 & became a fire station! The gardens are currently in the care of the LB Hounslow & the house is in the guardianship of English Heritage. In order to unify the management of the site the Chiswick House and Gardens Trust was set up & took over management in 2010. There has been a major restoration project carried out on the grounds so what is the result?

004005017021056It is a fine house & there is still much of the statuary & other physical features around the gardens. The latter have obviously had much money spent on them recently to restore many of the original features, some of which look superb.

043033031I know that newly planted shrubs will always look sparse until they have matured a little. 051But whilst some protection may be necessary too much & poorly maintained just makes the place look a mess.036 039 006




There were lots of ‘municipal’ fences, many of which were there to provide dog free areas for families to use. Ugly but extremely important in a park used incredibly heavily by dog owners….


…although the situation was extremely well regulated…

063  020064048024060023

The other niggles were the renovated glass-house was all closed up & orange plastic fenced off for no apparent reason, a walled area was locked with no indication of what it was or why it was shut, the beautifully shaped flower beds were just sitting empty.047   038032

So all in all I would say that, just like this blog, the gardens were a total mish-mash, trying to re-create what was obviously a very important garden to something of its former glory whilst having to cope with dogs, children & dogs. There is no doubt it is an enormously valuable & popular local resource but if you are looking to bask in the history of the place, beware. It will improve as planting matures but I think the conflict between its historical importance & current usage will always result in a less than satisfactory situation.


Sunday, 10 April 2011

This was no tiptoe through the tulips…

Nymans garden 07 April 2011 007 ……more of a dive into the daffodils.

*w9iog[1] What was the ‘this’ you ask? It was a Big Day Out with the inimitable Arabella Sock**, yes, she of the 100% cashmere loveliness. So we took a walk in the park, Nymans gardens to be exact which is approximately half way between our respective abodes.

We could not have asked for better weather; the sun shone strongly,  the sky was blue & spring was springing up everywhere.

Nymans garden 07 April 2011 047Nymans garden 07 April 2011 043 Nymans garden 07 April 2011 051Nymans garden 07 April 2011 037 Nymans garden 07 April 2011 042Nymans garden 07 April 2011 039

 Nymans garden 07 April 2011 078 Nymans garden 07 April 2011 076 Nymans garden 07 April 2011 050 Nymans garden 07 April 2011 061Nymans garden 07 April 2011 070  Nymans garden 07 April 2011 026 I have never seen so many fritillaries before; an indication of it being just the perfect place for them. Photos can not do the mass of them any justice. There were several ancient wisteria preparing to burst into flower & an interesting use of field beans in the bare beds which were waiting to be planted up with summer flowering plants.

Nymans garden 07 April 2011 073It is difficult to be critical about a garden on such a gloriously sunny spring day when so much is bursting into life & the birds are singing their socks off so I abandoned any small critical faculties I possess, didn’t really think about it & just enjoyed the day.

*No animal was hurt in the taking of this photo & I have the written permission of the body in question.

** I am sure that Ms Sock will have already posted an erudite & witty entry on her blog by the time I get this finished