About Me

My photo
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, 30 May 2013

A letter to Kate Bradbury

The Wildlife gardener

Dear Kate

Thank you so much for inviting me to the recent launch of your book, the Wildlife Gardener. It was lovely to see you again as it has been quite a while: another book launch if I recall* Such a shame we didn’t have time to catch up & have a good natter but huge thanks to your mum for being so kind to a bit of a Billy-no-mates.

I have had a really good browse through the book & love it. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in nature as a very readable & doable volume about our wildlife & how we should & could all be trying to do a bit more to encourage as wide a variety of these creatures as possible into our gardens. It  has certainly made me think about my own garden & what I can do in some small way to make it more user friendly for wildlife even though it is a very small urban patch. We already do a bit with bird feeders, a bird bath, pond & many plants & flowers & certainly attract a fair amount of birdlife. Whilst I am not sure I can go so far as to grow a clump of nettles in the garden & really don’t want to attract foxes, there are lots of other things I can do. I have already instructed my husband to get hold of some logs & make an insect hotel. (I won’t repeat what his reply was…..along the lines of ‘do it yourself’.)

Now, deep breath, I have to make a huge confession, I feel I must cleanse my soul, ease my wildlife conscience by telling you of something I used to do. OK, I was a child, but really it is no excuse for the heinous crime against nature I committed, not once, but several, possibly many times……………….I would fish tadpoles out of our pond (there were masses she says desperately) & I would squash them or leave them in the sun to fry………………there I have said it. I am truly sorry for what I have done & hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me. I certainly feel better for sharing this load although I am not sure you will!

Hoping to remain your friend


PS Are we allowed to squish vine weevil grubs without guilt?

PPS Oh yes, & lily beetles?

*You are certainly far from being bad tempered.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Chelsea ramblings & squashed balls


The Chelsea Flower Show 2013 is now a dim & distant memory; it finished all of 2 days ago but the next kid on the block is gearing up as preparations are made for Gardener’s World Live. It seems that it is one flower show after another these days. So lets have a quick ramble about the show.


This show was particularly promoted & celebrated as the 100th; indeed because of this gnomes were given special dispensation to attend resulting in hilarious segments in the BBC coverage of the event! (Did |I just say hilarious?) So as the centenary show, what did I think of it. I don’t normally get too wound up with whether it was a ‘good’ show, I enjoy the spectacle, but I did expect more from a celebration of 100 years of cutting edge gardening & garden design.


As always people have hugely differing views about the gardens but I thought this year they were really rather on the safe side. There was excellent design & beautiful planting but part of me felt that much of it has been seen before; the Laurent Perrier garden always looks like a Laurent Perrier garden. Where was the wow, the gasp, the ‘what the hell is that all about’ garden. I missed the plasticine, the tower, the Mars garden, the smarties on sticks or the fantastic garden last year to mark the 60th anniversary of the Korean war. Love them or not they did get people talking.


I suppose most gardens are very much constrained by the sponsor or the message that has to be incorporated in the design. People have suggested to me that the gardens reflected the financial climate but I am not sure that is the case. I would have loved to see a little more spark in some of the big gardens.


So enough of pretending to be a semi-sensible critic, didn’t you just love the little Japanese garden


and Chris Beardshaw’s stunning planting.


And of course every year there is ‘the plant’, the one that seems to appear in almost every garden. This year Anthriscus sylvestris 'Ravenswing', the purple foliaged version of the common but no less beautiful Cow Parsley which froths forth from our hedgerows & roadsides in spring was everywhere.

But did you also note the appearance of the squashed ball? I found it slightly bizarre this year that a particular shape kept recurring in many of the gardens. We are all used to seeing balls, particularly box balls (other balls are available) in many show gardens. What was rather interesting this year was that many of them looked as though they had been sat upon & deflated somewhat; the squashed ball was ‘in’, the round ball was ‘out’.



Even Chris Beardshaw had squashed balls!


Thursday, 23 May 2013

Best in show

The smoothest curviest of curves


The most photographed


The best table decoration….in the picnic area. I know, only at Chelsea


The most delightful wall topping


Best hanging basket(ish)


The windiest garden


The most beautiful path


Best arse(s)…..not! (SORRY!)


The twinniest hats (a very poor year for hats, it must be the weather)


Most original garden edging


Best shed….hooray for a very well deserved Gold medal for those Heucheraholic heroes (don’t we just love ‘em)


Best solo effort……luvverly wall


Best mulch


And last of all, but by no means least, my gold for the most, most, err well just the most shirt ever


Sunday, 12 May 2013

We avoided the nut that crashed to the ground, but was it a golden day?


On Thursday I, accompanied by the redoubtable MrB, arrived at the Malvern Spring Show. It was, apparently, Golden Day! I confess that, other than my arrival, I am not sure what was supposed to be golden about it. The special gold parking, available until 11.00 had all gone & it was only 10.10. But no matter, we weren’t parked miles away from the entrance.

Now a friend expressed some surprise that we were attending Malvern as she said I was a bit snotty about it last time I went. She was right: we went about 3 years ago having heard so much about what a wonderful show it was & to miss the experience was to miss an essential part of any gardeners life. Admittedly this was the year after the great garden bloggers meet up which, even for a shy & secretive person like myself sounded a cracking sort of occasion so I went full of high hopes & enthusiasm preparing to be wowed after years of same old Chelsea & Hampton Court. And yes, I confess,I was a little underwhelmed &, dare I say it, disappointed! With hindsight  I expected too much. So snotty & snitty I was indeed. However, when MrB surprisingly suggested we go to Malvern this year I thought it seemed like an excellent idea …

The weather forecast for the day was not good, windy & heavy showers so we left home early to try & beat the worst of the weather. The sunshine as we left at 7.00 seemed to augur well for the day & it didn’t seem too bad on arrival so we were all set.

First stop was a bacon roll (we had been on the road since 7) & a coffee. Second stop was to buy a hat each – well who could resist a perfectly suitable & reasonably priced hatty watt. Then, at last,  we managed to get into the more flower show type of things.


There were some fabulous plants & exhibits in the floral marquee although whilst walking round the extremely blustery winds & heavy rain showers that were never far away were causing some consternation as the covers flapped & banged loudly & the metal supports creaked alarmingly. One of the metal nuts from the frame came crashing down as we walked round which was a little concerning as were exhibitors looking upwards with worried faces .

I wasn’tt sure about the His & Hers gardens on one stand; surely not. Perhaps I just missed the joke.



As you can see His was full of funky ferns & palms with only splashes of bright colours whereas Hers was much more frothy & full of colour from flowers. Oh come on, stop it!

We thoroughly enjoyed walking round all the nursery stands & there was a fabulous selection of plants to choose from although i did balk a little at a pot with an Honesty seedling in it for £4.00. Some HRT (Horticultural Retail Therapy) was indulged in although we were extremely sensible, mature & restrained. In truth our small garden is crammed to the hilt although that fact does not always stop us.

We even got a couple of cushions for our garden chairs saving us a trip to Ikea!

By the time we had wandered round all these stalls, had a little light lunch, looked at the delightful crafts on sale time was moving on rapidly & we had not yet had the opportunity to see the show gardens……of course by now it was raining good & proper! Damn. Our viewings were rather brief.


I am only sorry we were not able to really do them justice but there were some really nice features.

Of course in any show there are things, either in show gardens & frequently on sale when you think ‘Now who would buy something like that?’

021 I mean you just wouldn’t, would you?






So what were my thoughts second time round. I really did enjoy my day, despite the weather. I had no unreasonable expectations of the show this time & indeed felt very relaxed & unpressurised about the event. I do have some criticisms about the Gold day though…

‘Escape the show crowds and join us on our exclusive Gold Day ‘ is the invitation on show website. The day offers free gold parking (!) & talks & displays exclusive to the gold day. I have already mentioned the parking & some of the talks may well have been exclusive to the day BUT there weren’t really many of them to chose from: 3 events in the Plants & People theatre on Gold Thursday, 7 on the following day! Whilst we were able to see the plants & displays at their freshest & presumably in less crowded circumstances I am not sure that the promise was fulfilled,  particularly in view of the differential in ticket prices.

Oh, & I think I may well go again.