Archive for April, 2014


Lancelot Capability Brown

It’s William Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday celebration, and therefore another golden opportunity to talk about Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. But what is the connection you may ask? Brown was born a clear century after Shakespeare passed away!

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Planting Patterns #6

Farming following the contours of the land in Minnesota

via Kids’ Brittanica

Old School Gardener

Planting Patterns #5

Spring in the step

Old School Gardener

You may recall I mentioned trying to convert an old wooden bicycle rack into a plant theatre. These are traditionally structures where small specimen plants are put on display- usually in old terracotta pots. Auriculas and Pelargoniums are some of the plants often used. Here’s an example of an Auricula Theatre recently shown at an RHS show.

Auricula Ttheatre at an RHS show
Auricula Theatre at an RHS show

To avoid losing the interesting foliage effects (or ‘bloom’) on some varieties of Auricula, its advisable for the plants to have some overhead protection from the rain. Having recently completed an Alpine planter for the Courtyard here at the Old School Garden (which is now looking splendid- I’ll put some pictures in my next ‘Dear Walter’ letter), I thought this would add another interesting feature. Here’s what the bicycle rack looked like before I got to work on it.

The old Bike Rack before it's makeover
The old Bike Rack before it’s makeover

It is a relic of the local School at Cawston and must be a good 50- 60 years old. Having reorganised our sheds and so no longer in need of a rack for our bikes, it seemed a good opportunity to recycle something with local historical links. Having measured up and done a rough design, I bought a few planks of pressure-treated gravel boards from a local timber merchant and set to work; measuring out the spacing of the ‘shelves’ that would sit on the angled frame, cutting the notches in this to receive the shelves and screwing them home. Having some black wood stain left over from the alpine planter I used this to give the whole thing a unifying finish that would tie it into the courtyard. Here’s the final result, before and after painting, with the six shelves awaiting the addition of plants.

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As I have some pelargoniums in pots I think this is what I’ll use the planter for this year, though I’ll need to purchase a few more interesting varieties and source some old 3″ or 4″ pots. Next year I might do a spring display of Primulas (including Auriculas) as well as something for the summer months. I might have to think about an overhead canopy of some sort to protect the Auriculas from rain (maybe some sort of movable ‘pram hood’ that can be pulled over from back to front?)

Once the new planter is planted up I’ll show you how it turns out!

Old School Gardener

 

Planting Patterns #4

Green (and wet) roof at the Intercontinental Sanya Resort

Old School Gardener

Planting Patterns #3

High ranking Hyacinths at Blickling Hall, Norfolk

Plant Patterns #2

Narcissus parterres

Old School Gardener

Planting Patterns #1

A Lettuce swirl

Old School Gardener

One Billion Hungry: Can We Feed the World?

ID-100236071 Hailed as the latest technological advance that could revolutionise development and agriculture (along with other sectors), “big data” has been the focus of several recent articles, most notably a series of articles published by SciDev.Net. In June 2013 a UN High level panel called for a “data revolution” emphasising the need for better data to track progress towards development goals. But what is big data and how can it aid poverty and hunger eradication?

Big data is not just large amounts of information but rather it’s about integrating infrastructure to collect data at every step of the development process and designing new data collection methods that can track development goals effectively. In particular, big data is being hailed as the big fix for the lack of reliable official statistics in developing countries. But there is no clear (agreed upon) definition of big data, one article stating “it is data…

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