Archive for February, 2013


I enjoy a bit of TV now and then.  I’m hooked on social media and the internet.  I love interacting with people.  But my favorite entertainment doesn’t involve these activities.  My kind of entertainment consists of drives on country roads, imagining silly pet commentary, meeting new animal characters, and sharing it all with you.  My mama says I’ve always been this way.  If you sit and talk with her, she’ll fill your head with stories of adventures that even I can’t remember.  So welcome to another of my silly shows. I hope it makes you smile.

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PicPost: Great Garden @ Cragside

The Formal Garden, Cragside

‘Enter the world of Lord Armstrong – Victorian inventor, innovator and landscape genius. Cragside house was truly a wonder of its age.Discover the first house in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity. It is crammed full of ingenious gadgets – most of them still working. The gardens are incredible. One of the largest rock gardens in Europe leads down to the Iron Bridge, which in turn leads to the formal garden. Children will love our adventure play area and exploring Nelly’s Labyrinth, a network of paths and tunnels cut out of a vast area of rhododendron forest.’ (National Trust website)

Old School Gardener

‘At the heart of this serene rural estate is Mottisfont Abbey, set in glorious grounds alongside the fast-flowing River Test.

There are many layers of history for visitors to explore, including the Gothic remains of the original 13th-century Augustinian priory.

In the mid-20th century the final private owner, society hostess and patron of the arts, Maud Russell, used the Abbey as a base for her racy and intriguing life.

The River Test is one of the finest chalk streams in the world and the walled gardens house the National Collection of old-fashioned roses.’

On a recent trip to southern England I visited Mottisfont Abbey, Hampshire. Now run by the National Trust this house and gardens is famous for its roses – alas I will need to return in the summer to appreciate them! It also has a rather good Winter Garden and because of the bright sunshine I was able to capture some attractive images of the gardens and grounds. I hope you enjoy them.

Old School Gardener

My Botanical Garden

Image Taking a train ride for Stoke on Trent I was observing Potteries landscape running by, all green and smooth.It made me happy to recognize English countryside  just as sculptured in Wallace &Gromit our kids liked that much .Yet my thoughts at that moment  were: “If I survive this I shall reward myself  with one Wedgwood cup!”-sorry my friends in Stoke, but at that moment I couldn’t know that all the clay and coal from these green paysage helped writing a garden story I would listen with open mouth… 2012-10-28 08.50.41

I met a young man by the name of J. Wedgwood  who had planted a flower garden adjacent to his pottery.He also had his men wash their hands and faces and change their clothes after working in the clay.(attributed to John Wesley).

I was  happy indeed, when I found this sentence, visiting Wedgwood museum.There were so many potters there around, for centuries, but just one of them, Josiah Wedgwood

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PicPost: Cushioned Colour

Chas Spain

On the streets at the White Night Festival with thousands of other Melburnians into the early hours this morning – amazing. On such a perfect balmy night it was impossible to take it all in but the transformation of our familiar buildings and bridges into newly imagined works of fantasy was a wonder. A great celebration of art and invention.

My best thing? – sipping a glass of King Valley bubbly and looking back across the Yarra as people streamed by. My hubby’s? looking at the moon through one of the telescopes on the bridges.

Quite fitting for St Paul’s Chapter House to be one of the most animated displays on the night as it sits by the Chapter House Lane Gallery – a place for wondrous art

A great time lapse of the event is on and for pics of likely better quality look on Twitter for #WhiteNightMelb

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PicPost: Great Garden @ Victor Hugo's house, Guernsey

Victor Hugo’s house, Guernsey

‘Victor Hugo left France in 1851 for an exile that would last 19 years. Following a short period of time in Jersey Victor Hugo came to Guernsey and was instantly captivated by the island.

During his fifteen years on the island he made a lasting impression and wrote some of his most famous works.

Victor Hugo’s home, for most of his exile in Guernsey, was Hauteville House, which remains today as it was left, allowing visitors to see his individual style of decoration.’  (Hauteville House website)

Old School Gardener

Bergenia cordifolia

Bergenia cordifolia

This is a genus of only half a dozen species, but many hybrids. Originally from the moorlands,woodlands and meadows of central and eastern Asia, these evergreen perennials – otherwise known as ‘Elephant’s Ears’ because of their large rounded leaves – are extremely useful as they grow in shade or sun and wet or dry soil.

The leaves are glossy and leathery and colour well in the winter, especially in poor soil. They are excellent ground cover plants, especially in or on the edge of a woodland garden.

The flowers are handsome and are especially welcome in winter and early spring. They also last well in water, and the leaves are also long lasting, making them good flowers for arranging.

Bergenia leaves

Bergenia leaves

They benefit from regular lifting and dividing and this is the best way to propagate them, as gardens with more than one variety can hybridise and produce seed that is not true to the original types. Slugs can be a problem.

Bergenia 'Simply Sweet' in mass planting

Bergenia ‘Simply Sweet’ in mass planting

The Royal Horticultural Society has given its Award of Garden Merit (AGM) to some of the cultivars, including ‘Bressingham White’ and Bergenia cordifolia ‘Purpurea’.

Early spring bulbs (Snowdrops, Crocus, Scilla, Wood Anemones) are perfect partners for Bergenia- it’s best to plant both at the same time, ideally in autumn. Alternatively, using a narrow trowel, bulbs can be slipped in between established plants.

Further information:

How to grow Bergenias

BBC Plant finder

Cambridge Botanic Garden (national collection)

Quizzicals: two more cryptic clues to the names of plants, veg or fruit –

  • Helen drives a French car
  • The era of the taxi

Old School Gardener

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