Saturday, 1 June 2019

All it took was one question

One simple question asked on Twitter has snowballed into something wonderful!!

It was asked out of frustration and bewilderment. A sunny day called to spend some time in the front garden. Out came my handy tools and the weeding began. It was full of them, but it didn't take long for them to be turfed out. That's when the horrible, gut sinking feeling began. I tweeted the above question and the response I received was just EPIC!!

This is the main part of my front garden. I took this photo approximately 2 years ago. It is so bare in the borders, its quite pathetic really. It is crying out to be loved and filled and that's where all the wonderful advice I received will come into play.

So many of you took the time to make suggestions on types of plants, where to bag the bargains and some even suggested some layout changes, note: layout changes will happen eventually but I am building up my arsenal of plants first so I can use them to play. This is where it gets even more fabulous though............

Off the back of the suggestions I was kindly offered some seeds and plants to help kick start the borders becoming filled. Some came in the post thanks to @unfurlingnet & @jw4926. I was contacted on Instagram by a lady called Helen who lives a short distance away from me and kindly invited me to her gorgeous allotment where we had a cuppa & nattered like we had known each other for years. Two and a half hours later and after a tour of the site she filled my car boot with lots of goodies to add to the others. I then visited a gorgeous open garden day that belongs to the lovely Joan & Geoff. I knew this lovely couple through the Gardentags app originally. They had a plant sale as part of the open garden to help raise funds for a local school adventure to Nepal. They had plenty to offer at fabulously cheap prices, but it was more wonderful knowing I could have a little piece of their magnificent garden in mine.

Which brings me nicely on to what I want to reveal.

I'm naming the garden, Le Jardin du Chalet des Medias Sociaux.

Sounds posh I know! I thought I would bring a little French to this part of the North East :P. It translates to The Social Media Cottage Garden. To some it might seem strange or bonkers. Why name it though?, I hear you ask. Well, I am genuinely overwhelmed by the generosity from the gardening community. The most valuable part is the wealth of advice and knowledge that is shared for all to take something from and in turn that can help others out too. There is going to be a piece of everybody in this part of the garden because it's going to be built up on the responses to that original tweet.

Also I'm hoping in time as plants establish, I will be able to share out seeds and cuttings for others who are in a similar position or if I just happen to have a bit of what is needed.

This is where gardening really does come into its own. There is no other community like it. Inclusive, helpful, friendly and full of kind hearted folk. It's the nicest hobby one could take up and I for one will be eternally grateful for the appreciation it makes me have for the smallest things in life yet mean the most.

So here is to you, the gardening community.

Until Next Time

Friday, 26 April 2019

The Cleveland Alpine Garden Society Show 2019

My second attendance to an Alpine Garden society show and it didn't fail to dazzle me from the off.

Within minutes of arriving, friendly AGS members are on hand to greet me and tell me a little bit about what to expect and I was really taken aback when one of the ladies remembered me attending last years show.

With a programme in hand and my little green sticker stuck on I walked through the double doors to what I can only describe as a perfect 'sweet shop'. A fabulous selection of alpine plants/seeds to pore over and decide which ones to purchase with my 'pocket money'. Yes I had pocket money because I knew I would buy way more than I should and with so much choice it would have been so easy to!

Walking into the scent filled show hall just blew me away. Rows and rows of so many varieties to drool over. They all stand out like refined jewels and the colour invites you to inspect them more closely.

You can see more pictures over on my Facebook page HERE

It was lovely to see so many people enjoying the delights that were on display sharing approving looks and smiles. It wasn't long until the chit chat began. This is one of things that I love about visiting these shows. There is always someone to have such fascinating conversations with about origins of species, what conditions they prefer and also what to expect if you want to grow your own be that from seed or nurturing a baby sized plant.
There really isn't anything intimidating about alpines at all. They are a wonderful genus of plants to grow with something to suit everyone's taste be that Narcissus, Primula's, Dionysia or even Ferns or Pinus. They do require a little patience but that good old phrase 'Good things come to those who wait' becomes a mantra and going by some of the plants that were seen, they truly are worth waiting for.

I will share with you now my top 3 from the show. Trust me this was harder than I thought.

Ophyrs Ferrum-Equimum - A wonderfully unusual orchid which is native to grassy meadows in Albania, Greece and Western Turkey. Difficult to photograph in the display so I must say another thank you to the lovely Don Peace (an amazing alpine grower) for allowing me to take this one in his set up.

Arisaema Thunbergii ssp. Urashima - A really tropical looking plant that originates from Japan that likes moist, free draining soil in a cool, partially shaded spot.

Anemonella Thalictroides - This gorgeous plant is native to Eastern North America and likes moist, free draining soil. A super pretty plant that I really fell for!

It's very clear to see why alpine plants are easy to fall in love with. I had a wonderful, long chat with a lovely lady, Vivien Self (another amazing alpine grower) who agreed that there is something fascinating and intriguing about alpines and how the possibilities are pretty much endless in terms of trying to grow them. I do love growing my veg and flowers but there is something about these plants that have hooked me in and I know that the obsession/passion will only get stronger over the years, especially as I am now in the process of joining my local group!

So if you get chance to, do pop along to one of these amazing shows to see for yourself how amazing these plants are. You can find out when and where HERE

Until Next Time

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Stepping Out of Hibernation

Stepping out of hibernation.

Just like a little green seedling poking its head through some warm compost, us human folk are equally eager to feel the tepid warmth of the sun on our skin, to breathe in the crisp, fresh air tinged with the scent of new life and to see pops of colour scattered around the gardens from Daffodils, Tulips and alpine plants such as Pulsatilla, Saxifraga and Primroses.
Those dark winter days soon feel so long ago and the excitement begins to build at the prospect of longer, brighter days thanks to the spring jump of the clocks going forward.

I do love spring and it's nice to be able to get on with the planning and preparations for the garden/allotment. What flowers to sow and where I want to place them and what vegetables/fruits the family want to try this year and how the allotment is going to play host to them.

The greenhouse is quickly filling up with trays of seeds that I find myself popping out often to check on them. Not much appears to be happening between each inspection (which is usually at least 5/6 times on a work day, more on a day off haha!) but I do know that underneath that boring looking tray of compost, real magic is happening. The seeds begin to wake up and head on up to see what all the fuss is about.

I've got a good mix of flowers going on this year from my trusty Cosmos to Cornflowers, Hollyhock, Ipomea, Pansies to name few and interestingly all of a darker pallet. I'm not sure what the attraction is but I do get drawn to these more than some of the bolder colours. I have also got a lot more Dahlia's to play with this year too. My plan is to learn how to put flowers together nicely and have some to enjoy in the house and gift some away. I don't know many people who don't like flowers and it would be lovely to make people smile by sharing some with them. Sharing is caring right!

The vegetable/fruit plans are just about in place. The thing I love about the whole grow your own movement is there is just stacks of variety and always something to be picking at almost every point of the seasons that pass us by. There is plenty of time to be sowing things still too so please don't panic if you haven't begun any just yet. This will be my 1st official full year on the allotment. I have had enough time to work out the suns placement across it and had little experiments of what grows well for sure. So peas, beans, sweetcorn and plenty of salads will feature heavily for us along with a nice mix of squash to compliment the lovely fruit bushes and tree's that we inherited on the allotment. The greenhouse up there will be home to some tomato plants, cucumbers and cucamelons too.

This time of year allows me to spend more time in my lovely little greenhouse. That little glass palace where the plans are conjured up whilst keeping warm with a cup of tea. It's a little hideaway when I need to escape the everyday but where I can feel the most content. It inspires me and encourages me just like Spring to step out my comfort zone, push boundaries and whole heartedly be ME.

I am really excited to see what this year brings. Last year there was a lot of change in my personal life and I hope that as things settle on that side of things I can fully throw myself into the part that gives me so much enjoyment and pleasure and allows me to connect with so many like minded others.

Until Next Time


Wednesday, 2 January 2019

NOT a New Year's Resolution post!

Wait, it's the new year shouldn't it be all about resolutions? 
Keep reading and it will make sense ;)

It was such a lovely way to round up a busy 2018 of new jobs and a new baby (my niece Nancy) by taking a little wander around the garden with Max spotting signs of new life. A good spattering of bulbs poking their sleepy heads through the soil to greet the low winter sun which are then rudely interrupted by our human faces inspecting them with a little prodding to make sure they are definitely waking up (sorry about that plants!).

I then got super excited about my next discovery.........

A forgotten about Ranunculus corm has decided it will be noticed. I thought it was a weed at first but then I spotted this lovely big bloom it had, then noticed all of the other buds that are waiting for their turn to be noticed too! It definitely took me by surprise and I squealed like a small child finding treasure. 

Stepping into January was rather fun. Previous years I would have been just cleaning up after all the festivities and watching some films repeated for the 10th time but this year I had to go to the allotment. It needed the new year letting in and going there just made me smile from ear to ear.


An obligatory toast to the plot with a hot cup of coffee (Max's choice-juice&chocolate!) followed by a walk about to see the brassica's are still growing nicely, the onions are still sleeping along with the weeds. There was a real calm atmosphere with a backdrop of clear blue skies, a soft birdsong wrapped up in a blanket of warmth from the sun, yes that sounds more like a spring day and it was rather surreal but blooming lovely at the same time. 

It was the perfect condition to highlight a spectacular discovery 

A clump of beautiful White Borage! Now a few of you will have already seen this picture plastered all over my social media platforms but its just GORGEOUS!! This picture was taken on the 1st of January 2019, it looks more like the middle of summer. You can see its still got lots of buds to open on it too! I will absolutely be saving some seeds from it and will hopefully offer some out for others to grow and enjoy it too! I have only ever known this plant to be blue so this was another of those squeal moments.

After so much excitement it was time to get down to business and work out what to do this year.

Now I haven't set no new year resolutions as I never stick to any and feel like they are just never achievable. 

Set achievable ones then, I hear you say!!

Well what I am going to do is just go with the flow. I might make the odd plan or set a little project up but I am not going to give it a time scale or pressure myself into getting it completed. I found last year that the less I done that the more success I had with things and if things didn't work out I didn't stress out I just learned and moved on from it. It was quite a liberating year for me and I just want more of that to continue this year. 

I am compiling a list of things I want to grow and can't wait for things to be a bit warmer to start the sowing process. January is always a long month and itchy finger syndrome starts kicking in ha ha. I also want to step outside my comfort zones a little and try new things be that food related or experiences. I started that on the first day and rang in to a live podcast being hosted by The Skinny Jean Gardener (he is very good!) which might sound daft to some but that was me putting myself out there a bit more than I am used to!

The blog and my Youtube channel will just continue to be updated as and when I can. I don't want to force any content for the sake of it, that's just not me and I like to keep it as natural and as real as possible :)

So for now I will let you roll into 2019 being happy and content and look forward to seeing how the year unfolds

Until Next Time