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!

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Woodn’t it be nice…


The sculptor David Nash is currently exhibiting in Kew Gardens; in fact he is artist in residence until next April. You can read all about David Nash & his sculptures at Kew here. What I love is that this is an evolving exhibition & you can see him at work in the ‘wood quarry’.

On Sunday it actually wasn’t raining, although the sky was a bit overcast, so we decided to have a look at some of his work. We didn’t see it all; we will be going back at different times of the year & in different weather conditions. Here is some of his work hopefully showing both the detail & the wider context in the gardens.

Some work was outside………

DSCN3479  David Nash 5


DSCN3484DSCN3498………and some was inside the Temperate House.

David Nash 1 David Nash 3David Nash 4 David Nash 2 DSCN3467 There was also a display of his drawings & some smaller work in the Shirley Sherwood gallery.

DSCN3491 It is interesting that these (on the whole) massive wooden or wooden looking sculptures are being exhibited in Kew gardens, the home of some wonderful trees, many of which have been there for hundreds of years & which have a fascinating history of their own. What I really love about the sculptures is that in his work on them David Nash has been able to bring out & emphasise the characteristics of the wood in its textures, its solidity, the colours & the details of its cracks & crevices. On the whole I think the natural setting helps to give the exhibition its ‘roots’.

There were some that just didn’t work for me

David Nash 6I hope to bring you more David Nash at Kew, if I get round to it of course.

Friday, 15 June 2012

It was a dark & stormy night….

PicMonkey CollageOf course that was for dramatic effect; as you can see it was not dark & ‘only’ a very very blustery day when we took a trip to Brighton last week.

My daughter has been at Brighton University for the last 3 years working towards her Fine Art: Painting degree & last Friday was the culmination of those 3 years as we attended the private view of the degree show.

PicMonkey Collage 2It was a jam packed affair with lots of rather strangely attired visitors.

As a justifiably proud parent I thought I would show off her work

PicMonkey Collage 3 PicMonkey Collage 4   DSCN3181 I am sure you now want to browse her web site

Thursday, 14 June 2012

How bizarre

How bizarre, how bizarre

Ooh, baby 
It's making me crazy 
Every time I look around
Every time I look around 
Every time I look around
It's in my face

OMC   Dec 1995    

Last weekend was the Open Garden Squares Weekend organised by the London Parks & Gardens Trust (whose address is Duck Island Cottage – I kid you not). Over the 2 days many squares & gardens are open, just over a hundred of which are not usually open to the public.  

On Saturday we visited 7 different gardens about which I will  (possibly) write on another occasion, but on Sunday we visited only one.

DSCN3203 DSCN3191As we stepped out of the door it looked like any mature & pleasant garden, ducks on the lawn, a nice red brick wall round the outside….it is only when you look through one of the openings in the wall that you fully appreciate where you are.


This is the Roof Gardens which are above what was the Derry & Toms Department store in High Street Kensington. You can read about them here. Now I have wanted to visit this garden for ages: it is generally open to the public but it takes something like the weekend event to push you to do something about your ambition.

DSCN3197   The upper level has a grass meadow & cow!

DSCN3207 This is the Tudor area.DSCN3208 DSCN3209

And now the Spanish themed garden

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And what is this ‘tree’ about?


These gardens are very much worth a visit but all that kept going through my head during my visit was ‘How bizarre, how bizarre’.

Oops, nearly forgot the flamingosDSCN3205

Saturday, 9 June 2012

The euonymus is all aquiver.


Blackbird singing in the dead of night

Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise

Black bird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free

Lennon & McCartney


The song of the blackbird is the most relaxing birdsong. I can believe that; they are among my most favourite of birds & I love them in the garden. They sit on the highest points & sing their socks off, particularly in the evening. I smile at the way they sit in the pyracantha in the front garden in the winter & burble; the best way I can think of to describe the sound of them seeming sing to themselves.(I believe this is called a sub-song!)

Over the last 3 years we have had a much closer relationship with our local blackbirds, a relationship which has caused me a great deal of stress & anxiety as the birds have nested & raised their young in & around our garden. You would think this would bring joy, which of course it does in some measure, but in an urban area with a high cat population, including our own, it is always a worry.27 May 2009 The first of these closer encounters was 3 years ago when I almost fell over a baby blackbird just sitting ‘under’ a lavender bush. I wondered why it didn’t move & later spotted 2 others in the garden, 1 of which we named ‘Runty’ because his tail feathers were poorly developed & he had feathers sticking up on the top of his head making him easy to spot.

31 May 2009 3  On reading up about blackbirds I found that in urban areas they will often have 3-4 broods but with a smaller number of eggs than in the country-side. If the nest is disturbed the chicks will fledge early but will not fly but sit still & (hopefully) hidden on the ground waiting to be fed. Sadly I found 1 chick dead soon after & after a couple of weeks when it seemed all was well with the others I saw poor Runty dead on the paving of a neighbours garden.

Siblings 05 June 2009 Last year our local pair initially successfully raised 2 young which we saw regularly in our garden after they had fledged. We were then thrilled on our return from holiday to find the parents building a new nest in our wisteria. Needless to say it was also a good reason to put off the mass pruning I was about to do on the wisteria & rose which were about to take over the back of the house.

DSCN2715 Two more young birds  were successfully raised & we more or less happily put up with the streaks of guano on the windows. The nest, when I eventually was able to restore some order to the greenery was a thing of delight.

DSCN2719 This year again 2 chicks have been successfully raised from a nest in a garden at the back of us but now, after some initial investigations by the birds a new nest is currently being built in the euonymus which climbs up the wall next to our kitchen. Joy & panic in equal measure! The fence between us & next door ends just at that point & makes cat access potentially so easy.  I have put some wire across the area in the hope that it may stop a cat getting to the nest. Blackbirds are extremely successful in keeping unwanted predators away from chicks on the ground ( I have seen them see off cats & magpies) but a nesting bird & chicks is rather more vulnerable. In the meantime I keep watch as the birds fly in & out with beaks full of material & the leaves quiver as all is adjusted to their satisfaction.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

One down, 99 to go!


It is sad I know but over many years visiting flower shows at Hampton Court & more particularly Chelsea I have looked on with more than a little envy at those people who have been invited into the sacred area that is the show garden by the designer or someone making a good job at pretending to be the designer or as important. Anyway, they hang around for a while looking smug, possibly imbibing something with a little fizz, before mwah mwah on each cheek & they swan off looking with disdain upon us mere mortal gardeners as we tug a forelock & tighten the twine holding up our patched & dirty kneed trousers.

Those of you who do such swanning around on a regular basis will read this with an enormous sense of pity, but you know, I don’t ask for much in life, just a foot upon a real live big show garden.

DSCN3131At last, thanks to the lovely Jo Thomson, I got my wish earlier this week at Chelsea. I swanned onto her glorious frothy yet sophisticated silver-gilt winning show garden, a Celebration of Caravanning, gazed into the depths of Doris, had a hug & a ‘mwah’ before swanning off again! Oh you poor ordinary garden folk.

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I confess that flushed with success I considered shouting at Cleve West, ‘Do you remember that cake I gave you at Highgrove? Well can I come onto your garden?’ But decided not to tempt disappointment.

So, what next thing on my 100 things to do before I pop my clogs.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

‘Is that the garden with the plastic lawn’ he asked scathingly



I believe I have mentioned our small ‘woodland’ at the bottom of the garden consisting of just the 1 tree. The tree is a lovely silver birch,  Betula utilis Jacquemontii, with glorious bark & quite an elegant habit. It replaced a Malus  ‘Profusion’ a dark dense tree which also had apple scab! The birch was planted some years ago, I forget exactly how many.


I was reminded of the following ‘incident by the inestimable Ms Sock’s essay on neighbours.

Early last autumn there was a ring at the door bell & a woman introduced herself to MrB as a neighbour to the side of our back garden, or rather she had bought the house for her daughter. She had called round to ask if there was something we could do about our tree that was shading their garden causing problems growing things (sweet peas it transpired) & which could drop leaves on the lawn……………………… “Is that the garden with the plastic lawn” asked MrB “and didn’t you buy the house with the tree already growing there” he continued. We had watched this plastic lawn being laid after major works to the house.


MrB’s polite response was that whilst he felt it was not really a problem (she was going to contact the council) we would have a look at the tree & see if we could do anything (the appeasement). It was suggested that perhaps we could cut it back & make it multi-stemmed! The polite reply was that trees didn’t really work like that in these circumstances.


The tree barely extended over their fence as you can see from above & the (obsessively far too many) trips to the top of the house at all times of the day showed that their own wall produces more shade in the garden than our tree. Nevertheless we did trim some of the side branches so as to show willing (& because it did not really affect our view of the tree). I don’t know if they are satisfied with our actions. Unfortunately we did not catch then vacuuming any leaves off the plastic sward!

What was interesting about the whole incident was how completely obsessive we became over the situation & how the activities in their garden began to dominate our lives albeit for a relatively short period of time.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

The 52 week salad challenge the Lazy Trollop way

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Many worthy bloggers & others have recently started in a challenge to have a supply of various salad leaves for 52 weeks of the year. You can read all about it courtesy of VP here. Now I am not involved but thought you might like to see how to take the easy way out. Please note the use of successional sowing – clever eh?

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

The rhythm of West Dean Gardens

DSCN2467 It has been quite a while since Mr B & myself took a very reasonably priced train trip to Chichester & then onwards to West Dean gardens. As the weather is a bit on the chilly side I thought I might regale you with some travellers tales.

West Dean is known for a number of things; the West Dean College provides studies for conservation, making & visual arts at all levels & lengths, many events, festivals, exhibitions & festivals are held there including the well known Chilli Fiesta & the gardens are home to a fabulous restored walled kitchen garden & an enormous Edwardian pergola designed by Harold Peto. To see everything on offer there do browse their web site.

I have many photos which include the fabulous kitchen garden, greenhouses, trained fruit & borders of colour co-ordinated perennials, but what particularly impressed me was the way so many shrubs in the parkland had been trimmed into undulating humps, hummocks, domes, whatever you might like to call them. I thought it was wonderful. It gave a movement or rhythm throughout the area. Some were very obvious; others only revealed themselves at a distance.

What do you think?


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By the way, there is a rather odd plastic tree trunk in one of the pictures. Did you spot it?