Archive for 21/01/2015


Tool Reconnaissance

Edinburgh Garden Diary

Gardening is one of those hobbies that can be as cheap or as expensive as you make it. What makes a hobby expensive is very often its specialist equipment. I love digital SLR photography, but have you seen the price of lenses? And don’t get me started on skiing, whose cost to enjoyment ratio is, in my opinion, questionably high (especially when you are stuck sideways on some hideous icy slope at 4pm and your friends have vanished and all you desire is to be safely back at the chalet, or better still on the flight home.) Gardening, on the other hand, though it requires specialist equipment, you can easily pick this up on the (very) cheap or even for free. As for the plants themselves, well, I have already raved at their obliging ways of dividing, seeding and growing from cuttings, at no cost to you. Of course, you…

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Gardening with Children

Wooden Peanut Butter Feeder A Wooden Peanut Butter Feeder provides a high energy treat for the birds

This weekend (24th/25th January) is the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch it began in 1979 and is one of the world’s largest wildlife surveys, last year nearly half a million people took part with 7,274,159 birds being counted. Each year the results are collated and are used to compare trends, monitor species, understand how birds are doing and take steps to put things right.

Schools are also invited to take part, they can do the Big Schools Birdwatch anytime this half term until the 13th February, and can Register and download specially designed classroom resources on the RSPB website.

How do you take part?

  1. Register for the Big Garden Birdwatch before this weekend, you will receive an information pack full of advice, information and a Bird ID guide.
  2. Put out bird feeders preferably containing high…

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Municipal Dreams

In 1921, Brighton was the second most densely populated county borough in the country after West Ham and, as a long-established town, a good deal of its housing was in worse condition than that of the London suburb.  If you associate it with Regency gentry or happy seaside holidays, this blog will show another side – a town with many slum homes and an urgent need to  better house its working-class population. But if council housing was the solution (as was accepted by nearly all in these days), the problem of making it affordable to the poorer working class remained a conundrum.

General_View_of_Moulsecoomb

Brighton Corporation had begun slum clearance efforts back in the 1890s and even built a small number of homes to rehouse – though at rents they couldn’t pay – some of those displaced.   In 1919 much remained to be done; the local Medical Officer of Health estimated 3152 new houses were needed…

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The Forget-me-Not Cultivation Blog

073

I didn’t have a good weekend.

It started last Saturday when I was notified that my next door neighbour was in the process of having his very large English oak tree cut down and it ended with a blank, treeless view out of my window.

A tree really shouldn’t effect me this much.  I found myself pacing and went for a walk to get away from the sound of the chainsaws while my guts were churning in a mix of fury and heartache that life in that old tree was being taken away.  It didn’t need to be taken down.  There was no issue with it other than the fact I believe my neighbour wants to sell the wood.

Thing is, I love trees.  Trees are special and beautiful and majestic.  Everyone is unique both in it’s appearance and it’s impact to the environment.  They are also extremely important.  Trees…

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Volunteers tidying the kitchen garden beds at Blickling Hall

Volunteers tidying the kitchen garden beds at Blickling Hall

My second day as a volunteer gardener with the National Trust at Blickling Hall involved cleaning up the recently used kitchen garden, and along the way meeting some of the other garden volunteers… oh, and uncovering some plant mysteries…

You may recall that last week I helped Project Manager Mike and gardener Rebecca to make a start in preparing the ground in the main walled garden. With lots of rain since then there had been little chance of doing much more- in fact there were sections that were reminiscent of a World War I trench system, complete with mud and puddles!

‘Ooh, there’s a row of something…’

So, today we turned our attention to the long bed along the south-facing wall, an area that in recent years had been cultivated as a kitchen garden and nursery bed. There were clearly areas of bare soil, some  a bit weedy, whilst other areas still had the remains of last season’s plantings, including Chard, Penstemons, Dahlias and some less obvious herbaceous perennials.

At the start it looked like I might need to weed and then use a spade to dig over the soil, but it turned out that the soil is quite workable and so a border fork proved up to the job. I was soon joined by a platoon of other garden volunteers who turned their attention to other sections of the bed; uncovering rows of planting here and there (and trying to identify and label these as we went), tidying away spent stems and foliage and generally giving the soil its first ‘breath’ of the new year.

I think the plan is to use this bed in due course as a place for demonstrating different approaches to vegetable growing, but for this year Mike is focusing on a holding operation, working around existing groups of plants that can be left and no doubt seeing what other surprises might appear along the way; for example I think I uncovered an area of Rhubarb crowns towards the end of my stint.

Part of the team, proud of the day's work

Part of the team, proud of the day’s work

It was a satisfying day. There’s something ‘optimistic’ about seeing a newly dug border, the dark, rich soil contrasting with the brighter colours of surrounding plants, and looking forward to creating a progressively finer tilth as the days lengthen and temperatures.

My reward at the end of the day- sunset over mid Norfolk

My reward at the end of the day- sunset over mid Norfolk

Further information:

Blickling Hall website

Blickling Hall Facebook page

A 360 degree tour of Blickling Hall

Old School Gardener

 

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