Archive for July, 2017

Born to be Wild…

My article for iNews on the longer history of Grenfell Tower and the Lancaster West Estate to which it belonged was published yesterday. You can read it here: A perfect storm of disadvantage: the history of Grenfell Tower. When you visit Grenfell and the Estate, as I had to for the article, it’s hard not to […]

via A Long History of Grenfell Tower and the Lancaster West Estate — Municipal Dreams


To Walter de Grasse

Dear Walter,

Here we are on our last couple of days in Australia. Six weeks on and what a trip it’s been. Grand daughter Freya is a month old and doing well. We’ve seen some wonderful places and met some lovely local people.

The weather has been very kind, even though it’s midwinter here. Bright sunny days and on occasions warm enough for shirt sleeves- though many of the locals have remained well wrapped up and think we’re crazy!

I won’t attempt to cover everything we’ve done, but suffice to say that I’ve found much of horticultural interest here along with all the other famous landmarks we’ve visited. Though there wasn’t much colour (with the notable exception of a superb, huge, vertical display of leaf and flower colour at Sydney’s Botanic Gardens), there was a lot of plant interest, often well presented by some very knowledgeable and enthusiastic guides. It was also great being able to compare botanical gardens in the local area as well as in the three cities of Melbourne (very large and beautifully presented), Sydney (smaller but with some impressive focal points including a garden featuring vegetables grown- several unsuccessfully- by the first colonial settlers) and Canberra (the National centre which is striving to present a wide range of plants from across the country and is pursuing an exciting Master plan to renew and expand its collections).

In addition, many public parks and gardens are very well looked after. I especially enjoyed the Chinese Garden in Sydney and I was pleased to see at least one Green Flag flying- at the fabulous Fitzroy Gardens in Melbourne. There is also a very impressive Community Gardens in St. Kilda, on the edge of Melbourne. And, as I mentioned last month, Aussies are very proud of their domestic gardens, especially those on public display in small town and suburban streets.

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As we adjust towards our return home in the next couple of days I’m wondering what Old School Garden will look like. The grass will certainly be long and I dread to think what carnage the moles have reaped in our absence, though our neighbour did kindly offer to try to ‘get them to move elsewhere’…we shall see.

Hopefully you’ve had some good weather to enjoy your own garden. With some of the summer to go- at least in theory- I hope that we too can get out in the warm sunshine and see the colours of the flowers.

Old School Gardener










Pictish perfect…

The history of the stone according to Graeme, “It’s called the Sueno’s Stone. It’s a 9th century Pictish carved slab. The Picts were an ancient people from the east of Scotland…until the Vikings

via Scotland

A Garden return…

We have a selection of favourite gardens that we like to return to whenever we can. These are often newly established gardens which we like to see developing over time or gardens which are good at different times of the year. Bryn y Llidiart, up in the Welsh Hills not too far from home is […]

via A Return to Bryn y Llidiart — greenbenchramblings

Streets for Play…

Five Fabulous Facts about Trees Perhaps you remember the old poem about trees that I learned when I was in elementary school, written by Joyce Kilmer, an American writer and poet born in the 19th century and living through World War I. Critics generally did not think much of Kilmer’s work, calling it too simple, yet…

via Trees: Five Fabulous Facts You Need to Know — Serendipity Gardens

Our recent Lake District break culminated in a visit to the wondeful arts and crafts house, Blackwell, on the eastern shores of Windermere. We had been here about 20 years ago, and had a memory of it as a fabulous example of the work of Scottish architect H.M. Baillee Scott..but I wasn’t prepared to be bowled over.

It was built 1898–1900, as a holiday home for Sir Edward Holt, a wealthy Manchester brewer. It is situated near the town of Bowness with views looking over Lake Windermere and across to the Coniston Fells.

Blackwell has survived with almost all its original decorative features intact, and is listed Grade 1 as an outstanding example of British domestic architecture. The house is furnished with original furniture and objects from the period. The gardens were designed by Thomas Mawson in a series of terraces, though today I suspect they are rather more simple than the original design- I was itching to see a formal herbaceous border ona the large grassed terrace that overlooks the lake! Today a few flowers and herbs border the terraces, which form sun traps on the south side of the house. Here’s a short video from the Blackwell website to give you the flavour of the place…

What is most impressive is the attention to detail to ensure a strong sense of unity from the structure and detailing of the house through to the decorations, furnishing and internal structures- several small ‘nooks’ alongside fireplaces and/or views of the surrounding landscape (with delightful stained glass) are a key feature. Here’s my own photo show of the house…

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And of the gardens…

Definitely the epitome of all that’s good about arts and crafts style, though perhaps more could be made of the outside? The house is run by the Lakeland Arts Trust, who also provide a very good cafe on site.

Further information: Blackwell website

Old School Gardener

Gareth Pedley – Wild Trout Trust Back in June 2013 the Wild Trout Trust undertook an advisory visit for Glaisdale Angling Club on the River Esk, North Yorkshire. This was an interesting visit, identifying many of the common issues associated with livestock grazing and sandy soils on upland rivers leading to sedimentation. One specific issue […]

via Bringing the vegetation back — The official blog for the North York Moors National Park

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