Archive for October, 2014

One Billion Hungry: Can We Feed the World?

Last year we brought you six of our favourite TEDx talks on food security and since then we’ve discovered a whole lot more. Here are nine more interesting talks we think you might like.

JosetteJosette Sheeran, head of the UN’s World Food Program, talks about why, in a world with enough food for everyone, people still go hungry, still die of starvation, still use food as a weapon of war. Her vision: “Food is one issue that cannot be solved person by person. We have to stand together.” Watch the video.

BittmanMark Bittman, New York Times food writer, weighs in on what’s wrong with the way we eat now (too much meat, too few plants; too much fast food, too little home cooking), and why it’s putting the entire planet at risk. Watch the video.

HalweilBrian Halweil, publisher of Edible Manhattan, was on track to become a doctor…

View original post 354 more words


Here’s another trawl of garden projects involving reused pallets or other recycled wood. Again, all courtesy of the Facebook site 1001 Pallets. First a few for child’s play…

And these two are more for the grown ups!

pallet bar picnic table hammock


Old School Gardener


Old School Garden – 30th October 2014

To Walter Degrasse

Dear Walter,

The clocks have gone back and the evenings are shortening the afternoon gardening sessions. Since I last wrote my gardening activity has stepped up a gear- well it was pretty much in 1st (or maybe even reverse) during September.

The driest September for many a year gave way to (in some parts of the UK) a very wet October. Here it has been fairly calm and though we’ve had some rain it hasn’t been the deluge experienced further north. There’s quite a range of ‘autumn colour’ in the garden right now…

As per normal for the gardening calendar it’s been a month of ‘managed decline’ as well as preparation for next year in Old School Garden. Plenty of leaves to gather up for leaf mould and general tidying away of spent stems and foliage that don’t offer anything by way of ornamental or wildlife value. Unfortunately this has included three large Box balls that have succumbed to Blight- they now await burning in my fire pit area. Looking in the Nurseries their replacements would be around £50 each, given their size! I don’t think I’ll bother, as it gives me a chance to use the remaining balls (3 large and six small), plus two cones a bit more creatively elsewhere in the garden – precisely where is still under debate.

The other tidying has included finally heaving out my enormous sunflowers, so that I now have a pile of what, from a distance, look like pretty thick tree trunks! I’ve also been pruning my Fremontodendron, which continues to thrive against our south-facing front wall and the Sorbaria, which I must say looks nice and neat after its haircut. I’ve also been trimming some of the native hedge between us and our neighbours and cutting out some very sorry-looking Choisya (my guess is that it has got to a size where the poor, panned soil underneath it, coupled with the dry weather, have starved it of moisture). Hopefully what remains will recover.

'Tree trunk' sunflowers awaiting their fate

‘Tree trunk’ sunflowers awaiting their fate

Talking of neighbours, our immediate ones (with us since we moved in 27 years ago), have moved out in the last couple of days, off to a new adventure living on a canal boat! We’ve met our new neighbours, a very pleasant young couple who have been living elsewhere in Norfolk. It also turns out that our next but one neighbour has something of a pest control talent; he has waged war on the moles in his garden and so far the ‘score card’ pinned to his shed reads ‘Norman 21, Moles 0’ ! I’m sort of envious given the problems we’ve had this year. But as I write, the level of mole activity in the garden seems to have calmed a little, though the roadside verge seems as covered with hills as ever- maybe the moles are working out how to tunnel under the road and into the fields beyond- that would be a relief!

You’ll gather that I’m building up quite a supply of green and brown material which is either being composted or burned. The new bonfire pile is in a different spot, having had a big burn up a few weeks ago. This was something of an eye opener as a Tree Surveyor from the power company came running into the garden and, rather agitated, told me to put out the fire! As this was directly under the 11,000 volt power line that crosses the back of our garden, there’s apparently a risk of a ‘Carbon flashback’. This is when smoke of a particular type enables the electricity to ‘power up’ the air underneath the wires with the result that pretty much everything under it is fried! This was news to me, and having had my bonfires in this spot for many years, I wonder how close I’ve come to disaster in the past? Needless to say I’ve now resorted to using the fire pit area (away from the wires) as my bonfire site, and this has also prompted me to start thinking about what to do with the old site and its surrounds – very much a forgotten bit of the garden…more on this in future letters.

The old (unsafe) bonfire area- room for improvement

The old (unsafe) bonfire area- room for improvement

Talking of new designs I’ve been running my garden design course at the local High School again and its been great fun taking 5 more students through the design process for their own projects, which range from someone wanting to create a garden at a primary school to a couple who have been in their house (and large garden) for a few months and are wanting to adjust this to meet their needs (which include an escapist dog!). And my voluntary gardening at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse Museum continues; yesterday I was doing a bit of ‘willow weaving’ on the tunnel I created in the ‘Curiosity Corner’ for the under 5’s. It looks a bit more tunnel- like again and also with a bit of judicious tying in, should be a bit more robust, as this area (which seems to be very popular), gets a real hammering.

The last month has also been one of planting and sowing. I’ve got two varieties of onion sets in as well as some garlic and Broad Beans, and I’ve just about finished planting out Wallflowers and Sweet Williams alongside Pansies and Violas in a range of pots on the Terrace as well as in various other spots around the garden. The last few peppers are still ripening in the greenhouse so it won’t be much longer before that’s given a clean out and made ready for over wintering duties.

A good year for roses- I've just tied in some of the new growth on the arbour (Rosa 'Zephirine Drouhin')

A good year for roses- i’ve just tied in some of the new growth on the arbour (Rosa ‘Zephirine Drouhin’)

I’ve also cleared and tidied most of the kitchen garden and given the low box edging its final trim- it must be 10 years since I grew these from cuttings and they are just about knitted together as a series of nice little hedges around the raised beds. The clearing away has also included cabbages and cauliflowers which were a disaster this year, none of them having formed any heads. I guess it must be weather related once more.

Box (h)edging tidied up in the kitchen garden

Box (h)edging tidied up in the kitchen garden

Well, I’ve just time to finish cutting the lawn (really it’s a lazy way of collecting leaves) before some friends arrive for an overnight stay. We are also on our travels again this weekend, as we visit friends in Edinburgh, so I think the waterproofs and winter clothes will definitely need to be packed as nearer normal temperatures return!

All the best to Ferdy and you; maybe we’ll meet up before Christmas?

Old School Gardener



mecc interiors | design bites

What better time to plan your garden shelter for next year than as the frost and snow start to cover the ground? And what better place for inspiration than Australia?

The above set is all designed by BKK Architects for the Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne. Given their public nature, the shelters are more of a resting spot that a place to entertain, but with a little imagination, you can surely picture how you might use any of these spaces for dinner parties or other gatherings.

garden shelter ideas from oz | @meccinteriors | design bites via

I’m not sure how I feel about the above curved structure being linked to an article entitled The Feminisation of the Garden Shed, but… The size and shape are ideal for back garden corners, particularly for narrow lots. The curve (the feminine aspect?) will soften a corner, visually expanding the space and creating a more inviting focal point.

garden shelter ideas from oz | @meccinteriors | design bites via

A shelter need not…

View original post 67 more words

Sociedad Argentina de Horticultura

Somewhere in Argentina?

via Sociedad Argentina de Horticultura

Old School Gardener

Municipal Dreams

Between the wars, Conservative-controlled Birmingham built over 51,000 new council homes – more than any other local authority in the country outside London.  When Neville Chamberlain, a former city councillor and now Edgbaston MP, opened the city’s 40,000th council home in 1933 he spoke with much local pride and only a little exaggeration of:(1)

an achievement on the part of Birmingham which has no parallel in this or any other country

While Chamberlain might seem the quintessential interwar Conservative, his name and local heritage stood for something more.  Before his father Joseph Chamberlain, a dominating figure both as local councillor and MP, became a Unionist, he was a radical.  His influence, that mix, remained powerful in Birmingham.  Neville, his more pallid son, represented some of its good intent and many of its contradictions.

The Birmingham Gazette article marking Chamberlain's formal opening of the city's 40,000 th council home in February 1933 The Birmingham Gazette article marking Chamberlain’s formal opening of the city’s 40,000th council home, October 1933


View original post 1,252 more words

A panorama of the Cortijo where we stayed

A panorama of the Cortijo where we stayed

Over our week in Andalucia, we visited the nearby town of Archidona a few times (it had a rather good supermarket). But one day we took our time…

Archidona lies in the foothills of the Sierra de Gracia. describes the town:

‘… Bordering on the Granada Province, Archidona sits at the very centre of Andalucia, 660 metres above sea level. This rural community dominates the valley over which it presides……

The municipality covers an area of approximately 187 kilometres and has a population of around 10,000. Although, as with many Andalucian villages in the 1970’s, there was a grand exit from the countryside and into the larger cities, Archidona is once again a thriving little town, whose economy still depends to a large extent on the olive groves that surround the area, which yield a very high quality of olive oil…

Although Archidona has grown from a tiny village into a small town, many of today’s inhabitants still remember the days when they played marbles and hopscotch in the narrow streets. In the area knows as “Los Caños de las Monjas“, older residents in Archidona reminisce about gathering together in the hope of finding work in the olive groves, being paid at the rate of 15 pesetas a day. Woman took their washing to “Los Caños” – the public wash place. In those days, if a widow or widower remarried, the young people of the village would stand outside the house of the newly weds and make a dreadful din, often resulting in the groom chasing them down the road, firing rifle shots in the air to scare them off. Things have changed in Archidona and there is more modern housing and good facilities, but the general layout and structure of the town has remained largely unchanged…’

We made for the centrepiece of Archidona, it’s octagonal square, where we ended up having a superb lunch after looking a little further afield, including up to the mountain top church and monastery which overlooks the town…


Well, that just about sums up our week in central Andalucia, apart, of course from the actual place we stayed, alongside our welcoming and helpful hosts, Michael and Lisa. So, to round things off, here are a few pictures of the Cortijo which was a beautiful house in a wonderful setting, where I especially liked picking fresh figs and eating newly harvested almonds. It was also a joy to lie in a hammock- something I haven’t done for a long time and which felt almost foetal in its gentle two-way sway and tight wrapping…oh, and I mustn’t forget the warm red wine which we sampled, and sampled, and sampled…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Old School Gardener

Shine A Light

This week’s blog comes from Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse: Museum of Norfolk Life.  Megan Dennis, the curator, enlightens us on a Gressenhall object housed at the Norfolk Collections Centre and the detective work required to find out its history.

Today I have been working in the Norfolk Collections Centre – trying to find out “what’s in the box”? This large green wooden box was discovered during the Shine A Light project, sitting on the social history racking. Unnumbered and unidentified it was feeling pretty unloved.

Fortunately there were several clues to unravel the story of this object. The box, to some extent, “does what it says on the tin”.


There are a number of large white plastic letters screwed onto the box reading “JOHN H BUSH, THE WOODGATE HERD, OF, PEDIGREE LARGE BLACK PIGS”.

Large black pigs are a traditional East Anglian breed. We have some here on the farm…

View original post 411 more words

GarryRogers Nature Conservation

Butterfly Canaries in the Earth Ecosystem Coalmine

Two-tailed Swallowtail Two-tailed Swallowtail

Guest post by Leslie Olsen

Predicting the effects of climate change and other human impacts on Earth ecosystems is a critical goal for policy makers, scientists, and environmentalists. Some effects, such as weather extremes and biodiversity decline are becoming clear to everyone. One group of species, the butterflies, is especially sensitive to environmental change, and scientists are using the group to gauge the effects of the changes on other species.

Like canaries in a coalmine, butterflies can serve as valuable indicators of significant changes. Butterflies are easy to see. Moreover, their metabolism and short life span make their numbers an especially sensitive gauge of environmental changes. When a butterfly population falls, other species may follow. Fluctuations in temperature patterns, temperature extremes, droughts, floods, and severe storms affect butterfly populations throughout North America. Studies on the impact of climate changes on insects…

View original post 375 more words

Finding Nature

Nature Connectedness Research Blog by Prof. Miles Richardson

Norfolk Green Care Network

Connecting People with Nature

Discover WordPress

A daily selection of the best content published on WordPress, collected for you by humans who love to read.

Susan Rushton

Celebrating gardens, photography and a creative life

Daniel Greenwood

Unlocking landscapes

Alphabet Ravine

Lydia Rae Bush Poetry


Australian Pub Project, Established 2013

Vanha Talo Suomi

a harrowing journey of home improvement & garden renovation

How I Killed Betty!

Mad as a box of frogs? Most probably ... but if I can’t be perfect, then I’ll happily be fabulously imperfect!

Bits & Tidbits


Rambling in the Garden

.....and nurturing my soul

The Interpretation Game

Cultural Heritage and the Digital Economy


Sense of place, purpose, rejuvenation and joy


Notes from the Gardeners...

Deep Green Permaculture

Connecting People to Nature, Empowering People to Live Sustainably


A girl and her garden :)

%d bloggers like this: