Events

Over on our Facebook page, we’ve got a great competition on: you can win two tickets to the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. Just like us on Facebook and enter the competition by looking in our Garden Furniture category and tell us your favourite item – one lucky winner with receive a pair of tickets to the Hampton Court Flower Show on Sunday, 8th July 2012.

The competition ends 2nd July, so don’t delay: Enter now!


Beatles display at last year’s show. By Jojo 77 on Flickr, used under Creative Commons license.

Gardening, Guest Posts, Lou C

Blooming Marvelous!

What a difference a week makes. This week definitely brought the sun and the flowers where there used to be rain! In fact, my little garden is currently being slow cooked at Gas Mark 2 due to the open south-facing nature of the site. Being on an incline doesn’t help either as there is very little shade. Even our pergola which hasn’t yet celebrated its first birthday doesn’t currently provide much respite.
Red Clematis Blooms
Having at least a third of the garden grown in pots and planters doesn’t help either. Thank goodness the hosepipe ban has been lifted for now. (We are still struggling to find somewhere to fit a waterbutt due to a complete dearth of drainpipes).

At least there are upsides to this weather, the most obvious being that it’s not raining! However, I’m not an exotic creature and struggle almost as much as my garden in this heat. My priority is not lying out in the sun either – I’ve never liked lobster in any form. No, the reason I’m most excited about this weather is because so many flowers have suddenly and gloriously come into bloom!
Purple Clematis on Trellis
In particular, my spring flowering clematis have suddenly gone mad and after several patient years in some cases, I have flowers where no flower has bloomed before. Admittedly, in some cases, blink (or work all week) and you miss them, so this year I’m capturing as much as I can on camera.

For a small garden we probably have more clematis per square metre than the corresponding section of the garden centre and counting… It’s amazing what you can pack into a small space (and yes, my talents do extend to shoes and suitcases, much to my husband’s exasperation). However, this does mean that each morning this week I have been greeted by another surprise – a large nodding head of another clematis greeting me.
Pink Clematis Flowers
In some cases they have been slightly nibbled, in others they are holier than the Bible due to our slug infestation but some of them, to my delight, are perfect! I can’t be sure that my neighbours have taken as much delight in my finds or my squeals of excitement at silly o’clock each morning (I can’t resist just popping out to check before I head off to the rat race each day). I would try and restrain myself for the sake of being a better neighbour but it really is like Christmas at the moment … and long may it last. Ho ho ho!

Lou C

Annabel, Gardening, Grow Your Own, Guest Posts

A Royal Visit

We’ve had a royal visit this week. The Queen came to stay! Not the real one of course, but a gnome I bought to celebrate the Jubilee. My daughter loves her and has paraded the smiling monarch all over the garden.
Queen Elizabeth Jubilee Garden Gnome
She has surveyed her Kingdom with a regal air and has decided upon the vegetable plot as her palace. She took a dip in a bucket which was filled with water from the recent rains and even had a shower using the watering can. No expense spared for our guests!

My little gnome friend was suitably impressed by the bunting of the Union flag which hung majestically from the pergola on our patio. I have to say though, she keeps a slightly unnerving eye on me. She appears where I least expect her. I had quite a shock whilst I was peacefully potting up some geraniums in my haven (the greenhouse). I moved a piece of green netting to discover her Royal Highness smiling up at me. Later, I was informed that Queen Elizabeth needed some rest and liked the look and warmth of my glass retreat.
Queen Gnome Surveying my handiwork
Just before the heavens opened and our Jubilee weekend became a very British affair (rain, strawberries and a stiff upper lip in the face of cold winds), I managed to plant my cherry tomatoes. Their new home was hanging baskets and also, a wrought iron manger I had been given. The latter is now impressively adorning the wall of our once bare garage, like something you’d find in a medieval castle. I did wonder whether it would overpower the patio.

I used marigolds to give the displays a burst of colour. Those little yellow and orange flowers were like knights of the realm protecting the tomatoes from white fly. Surprisingly, the planter didn’t look too bad and has softened the expanse of white that was there before.
Cherrry tomatoes and marigolds in the manger
I still have a quest to fulfil though, which is to plant the Alicante tomatoes into grow bags. Not an easy task. I have about 25 plants and a toddler who has taken to pulling my delicate little seedlings out by their stems in an effort to help Mummy. I think a couple or so will have to be sacrificed for the greater good.

I can’t wait to see his little face when in the height of summer he toddles into the greenhouse, pushes the lush green foliage aside and discovers the little red gems waiting to be eaten. Having said that, he will probably stumble in, trip over the door frame or the Queen and, in an effort to steady himself; grab the plant pulling the whole lot out in the process! Fingers crossed that the tomato plants and our little gnome make it through the summer unharmed!

Annabel

Celebrations And Holidays, Promotions

With Father’s day imminent we ran a competition on Facebook asking people to tell us about their fathers.

We’ve had a great response and some fantastic answers which we just had to share!

Brendan:

He’s old now and ill, still never grumpy nor yells. It’s worth taking time out for the stories he tells.
Ill as a boy and so without much learning held down several jobs and soon he was earning.
He met a good woman, to take as a wife. Now 60 years later, together, forever, for life.
He guides and advises, tries to show us the way. Always quick to assist yet no demands to repay.
Raised six kids well, through good times and bad, that charming old rogue that we all love is my DAD.

Emma:

Despite his age of 82, my dad’s still active and fun,
He won’t give in to his dodgy knees as he amazes everyone.
Workmen he will not employ as he manages all the chores,
Like chopping down trees and hanging shelves and even laying floors!

He may be a little slower and you may need to talk quite loud,
But he’s as sociable as ever and chatty in a crowd.
Dictionaries and encyclopaedias – there really is no need
As he gives advice and helps with life so others can succeed.
Thanks dad x

Lucy:

He’s charming, witty, handsome and fun.
With bundles of energy, in a million he’s one!
He’s patient and loving our Grandad Stevo.
With his six granchildren all loving him so.

He takes them off on adventures with the stories he creates.
About ‘Woofy the Dog’ and his superhero mates.
For making us laugh and putting a smile on their face
He deserves a thank you – Grandad Stevo you are ace!

Martin:

He’s my mate, he’s my chum, cheers me up when I am glum,
Lends a hand, understands, helps in any way he can,
He’s a friend till the end, and on him I can depend,
If I’m down, he’s around and will often he say he’s proud,
And at times he can be daft, things he does, the way he laughs,
But most of all, my dad is cool, and always will be, he’s my all.

Happy Father’s day to all the grandads and dads out there!