Monday, May 27, 2013

Chelsea Flower Show

This year I went to Chelsea without a programme and with my mother. And in case that has you thinking, it should. Firstly the RHS in their wisdom decided to up the price of the programme to £10 each - I have no idea what they were thinking of. The poor programme sellers did not quite get verbal abuse, but it was not far from it! So no programme.
Secondly, my mother is in a wheelchair. Now to those of you who think that sometimes disabled access is made too much of, I can absolutely categorically tell you that it isn't! Have you ever tried to wield a wheelchair in a tightly knit throng where people stand 5 deep round show gardens. I will apologise for the number of legs,heels and knees of people I hurt, and would like to thank those lovely people who held throngs aside for us, made room for us and were generally incredibly kind and helpful. As for those others; they shall remain nameless. I just hope they get to experience trying to see life from a wheelchair - good luck.
Le Jardin de Yorkshire - this was one of the few gardens that made me smile. I loved the simplicity of it; the jokiness of the whole concept, and the brilliant wire sheep with a gorgeous dry stone wall. The bicycle wheels reminded me of the Olympics and were an amusing joke on the whole concept. I love the Artisan Gardens; they are always chockablock full of good ideas, and you can get up close to them and really see the detail. Not to be missed
The SeeAbility Garden I thought particularly striking, since its concepts were rooted in reality. The reality of how you see, and how your perception of what you can see is altered by your eyesight and the problems that can occur. Clever, original and striking planting.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Fianlly, finally it is spring, please please please..... You can almost see the plants growing; the hedges are greening, and we have primroses, and cowslips, wood anemones, and my tulips are coming out in all their glorious clashing colours. I know that we have been concerned, quite rightly, about the plight of the bee, but I am really worried about the lack of house martins and swallows. Yes, they are around, but in ones and twos. What has happened to those glorious flights of swallows that used to inhabit our meadows and gardens. I do so hope that we will see more of them, but I am really concerned that the weather combined with the problems with their roosting areas on migration may have damaged their numbers beyond redemption.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Where did it go?

I am ashamed to look at the date of my last post. What oh what happened to February, and now we are almost into the middle of March......... The poor gardens. Everything looks like a blasted heath. The ground is seriously hard, and although the wind has created a sort of freeze dried reaction on all my crocus and snowdrops, it has at least started to dry the ground out. And joy of joys the sun was even out today on that most glorious of mornings, when a hard hoare frost crunches under your feet; the birds are singing their hearts out and the sky is blue. How incredibly uplifting such mornings are. A real lucky to be alive day.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

One of my favourites

How I love this plant. Absolutely stunning, but do not prune it for the first 3 years after planting..... it takes a little time to establish itself. Then you can be ruthless and prune it back hard. Midwinter Fire..... literally

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

So funny....

I have resisted feeding the birds for the last year or so. Their food is a magnet for rats (yuck) a creature I loathe. However the very cold weather had made me rethink. So I have subscribed to a couple of feeders and a large bag of sunflower hearts and some fat balls. The one absolute essential about birds is that when you start feeding them you absolutely must continue to do so until the insect and fruit levels are high again, such as summer, so that they dont lose their one source of food. It takes a lot of energy to find your food; it is a big waste of energy to turn up and there is nothing there.... The one thing I had completely forgotten about though is the wonderful characters that birds are. I so completely understand why people enjoy watching them. I have had a family of long tailed tits - my favourite birds. Little balls of pinky grey streaked black and white, and very long tails. Incredibly sociable they are beautifully behaved and love the berry and insect fat balls. The goldfinches are a different ball game altogether. Beautiful plumage hides a positively street fighter attitude. They take the sunflower seeds and then drop half of them on the ground. There is one who has such an attitude problem that it frightens all the others off. I dread to think what it is saying - blue language does not describe it. The great tits on the other hand, take one sunflower heart and fly onto a branch and then gently eat the seed bit by bit. And as for the blue tits, they come in en masse and then find out there is not enough room. Of course, the upside is that all this mess means that there is enough food on the ground for the robins, blackbirds, thrushes, hedge sparrows, chaffinches and sparrows. I have not had so much fun in years watching them..... such a distraction to work! And no sign as yet of the long tailed pest.....

Saturday, January 12, 2013

How on earth....

Okay I am going to have a rant....... How on earth in today's age can we have allowed Rickets to resurface again in children within the UK? Technically Rickets is caused by severe malnutrition (do you remember the pictures of the famine in Biafra with children with bloated stomachs and bent legs?) or a lack of Vitamin D and calcium. Vitamin D comes from sunshine and is vital for the absorption of calcium. Ergo we need sun on our skins - too much sunscreen, and you block it - but first of all of course you need to get outside!!!! Are we so far gone as parents that we need to keep our children safe inside on computers, tablets and Iphones? Have we become so lazy that we have lost the ability to play; to take our children for walks? Have we become so obsessed with technology, with the internet, with 'e-games' that we have forgotten that our children need to interact with people and nature - not a wretched screen on a computer (she says as she types this on the internet). I find this fact deeply, deeply shocking. I get scared for our future as human beings. We have a responsibility to ourselves, our children, our neighbours and the environment. Technology is brilliant but it has a place. It does not teach us how to interact with real people; it does not teach us how to have conversations; nor how to behave. It most certainly does not teach us the consequences of our actions on other people. I dare say I will be shot down in flames for this blog, but I constantly thank God, or the universe, for the fact that I am lucky enough to live in the countryside; to know and to be able to observe the changes in the season. To know that the universe, our planet and nature are unimaginably huge, wonderful, terrifying, awe inspiring and often side splittingly funny. Even in cities it is still possible to look at the sky, walk in the sun and feel the fresh (ish) air on our faces. Sitting inside makes us smaller, somehow less, in ourselves. We lose the wonder of nature in all its magnificence. Sir David Attenborough brings much into our living rooms, but you cannot replace the intricacies and fun of observing our own particular take on nature in our gardens with a quick visit to the Galapagos Islands via TV. I still think that one of the most wonderful sounds on the planet is the sound of a small child laughing as they play. There is an all encompassing, gut wrenching, side splitting one hundred per cent joy in that sound, an innocence and wisdom beyond their age. I hope that we get to hear it more often and not less.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

And another thing

I read a blog today from a very observant man, who talked about the importance of 'listening' and to that I would add 'observing'. Our lives tend to make us impatient these days, full of opinions, and ideas. Many of us have lost the art of listening. As a designer, and especially in the context of therapeutic gardens, listening is all important. Listening to what the client is really asking for; the small item (and it usually is) that amongst everything else is the one essential, without which their garden has no meaning. The particular flower, the certain colour, the tiny momento of another time, or life (particularly in the case of brain injury). I often say that my clients are the designers - I just create with their thoughts. And listening is a huge part of that.