Archive for January, 2018

To Walter de Grasse

Dear Walter,

Well another New Year! It’s been rather mixed here, weather -wise, of late. Today is windy and cold with some squally showers, but it looks like it will clear a bit later, so that’s when I’ll get outside…

In the last week I’ve been re -erecting the trellis panels in the Kitchen Garden, with a mix of old and new posts (this time concreted in), to provide a clear boundary to the main garden. I’m pleased with the result, though yesterday, in an attempt to refix one post (in a metal clamp) to some concrete, I managed to burn out my electric drill, so that little adjustment will have to wait until a new drill arrives in the next few days.

I’ve also fixed the posts to hold the rope swags I’m planning along the entrance to the Kitchen Garden, up and along which will be trained the six ‘Compassion’ climbing roses I put in last year. The whole thing looks a little unkempt at present due to its original cream paint being covered with mildew. Once Spring arrives I will clean off the woodwork and repaint (in a light grey). I’ve also relocated and tied up the Blackberry to run along the back of this plot (which was previously the home of the raspberries). Here are some pictures of how things look at present…

I’ve also bought seeds for the Kitchen Garden as well as some annuals with an eye on flowers for our eldest daughter’s wedding in July; and some Early Potatoes are chitting (‘Swift’ and ‘Charlotte’).

Having had a satisfying day yesterday tidying up and burning off a lot of the debris from last year’s garden, planting a new Blueberry in a sunken pot and a few other bits and pieces, I feel that I’m making progress…still a lot of major structural work has yet to be done as well as continuing the tidy up.

In my regular visits to Blickling Hall I’ve enjoyed the company of fellow volunteers and the gardening team. Our jobs have included cleaning out the Shell Fountain and pond  where the Irises had invaded the pool and over grown the lilies, requiring a major job of cutting out, splitting and replanting (I’ve brought home a few spares for my own pond). Here are some pictures taken on the day…

Most recently I went in early and worked with fellow volunteer Rory  to clear leaves in the Secret Garden and then with a few other volunteers to mulch the main borders in the Parterre…it was a lovely sunny day and the Orinental Planes looked especially impressive in the winter sun…

I’ve continued my small voluntary input to the local High School allotment project where, with the students, I’ve finished creating some new raised beds and begun the process of mulching all of these with some rather rich compost and farmyard manure. A number of projects are underway here and I’m pleased to have helped arrange a visit of the local Orchards and Apples project to provide some advice about the orchard.

And speaking of orchards I’ve just been sent my data and other guidance to carry out a survey of historic and other orchards in the parish by the project Orchards East. This same project is also visiting the Grow Organisation in Norwich where hopefully they can help establish a new orchard as part of a wider ‘Fruit Forest’ area, complete with underplanting of fruit bushes, ground cover and other plants. The aim is to create ‘plant guilds’ to help establish and develop this important part of the master plan for the site. I’m popping over to them next week to help with designing a strip next to the Hub Building as a wildlife garden, sensory area etc.

Well, that’s about it as far as the past month is concerned. As we are spending a couple of weeks away towards the end of February (including four days in northern Iceland!), I think it will be a month of pottering and odd spells of tidying up rather than anything more major. I think I will also hold off sowing seed until early March….and then things will begin to take off big time!

Old School Gardener















Anglesey Abbey…

Anglesey Abbey gardens are best known for their brilliant Winter Gardens, which were the first well-known gardens designed to be at their best and visited at this season. But there is far more to these premises than this seasonal garden, such as beautiful gentle herbaceous borders and lots of plants that attract wildlife. The […]

via Anglesey Abbey in mid-Summer — greenbenchramblings


OK, back to Japan. We left Tokyo, going by train to the much smaller city of Kanazawa, a historic castle town. One of the gates to Kanazawa Castle.

via Kanazawa Castle — gardeninacity

Tokyo power garden…

You’ve heard of the power lunch, power walk, and power nap, right? Well, Koishikawa Korakuen is a power garden. It was commissioned in the 17th Century by a member of the ruling Tokugawa clan. The name means “the garden for enjoying power later on”, at least according to the Tokyo Parks website.

via A Tokyo Power Garden — gardeninacity

Ruthall Manor…

We go for years intending to visit a garden but sometimes circumstances dictate otherwise. This is what happened with Ruthall Manor, a Shropshire Yellow Book Garden. After years we finally visited earlier this year in June. The wait was so worth while! First impressions count for a lot when you visit a garden, and a […]

via Ruthall Manor – well worth the wait. — greenbenchramblings


There’s an elegant 17th century palace in Bairro Alto that once belonged to the grandfather of the Marquis of Pombal. The palace, which remains beautiful despite its decadence, was converted into an art center called Carpe Diem in 2009. Hidden inside the center was a cafeteria that served delicious food designed in collaboration with artists. The […]

via Optimism is the best recipe — Salt of Portugal

Too soon for seeds?

When is the best time to start my seeds? I know everyone is getting anxious for spring to arrive but there are only a few things you need to get started this month. First let’s look at what is still growing in the garden. The kitchen garden is full of surprises this month. Winter has…

via When is the Best Time to Start My Seeds? — That Bloomin’ Garden

Graham Lee – Archaeology Officer Further to my last blog post, here are some more examples of enthralling LiDAR imagery from the North York Moors. As mentioned previously, the interpretation of features is not necessarily straight-forward since we are not seeing a photograph per se but a series of points joined together by a computer […]

via Impacts of history — The official blog for the North York Moors National Park

This is the last of four posts telling the story of council housing in Walsall. Beyond any local interest, it reflects the dynamics of a wider national history of council housing. That fuller story will be told in my forthcoming book Municipal Dreams: the Rise and Fall of Council Housing which will be published by […]

via Council Housing in Walsall, Part IV: from 1979 to the present — Municipal Dreams

Garden Organic…

When I started gardening, all the way back in 2001, I was already interested in looking after our planet, and so it was a no-brainer that I would garden organically. Garden Organic (the HDRA as it was called then) and the Organic Gardening Catalogue were two mainstays for me, helping me to learn all about…

via What’s going on at Garden Organic? — The Unconventional Gardener

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