Friday, August 19, 2011

Escape to Alnwick

Can't believe I am the owner of a new greenhouse and I've left it and all the apple crumble seedlings.  Still - visiting Alnwick gardens has been a wish for about four years after reading the book about the development of the gardens whilst at Pershore College.  It did not disappoint - and a most ungardenworthy comment has to be made about the amazing food in the treehouse.  Youngest daughter was bribed with promise of the Poison Garden, getting wet in extreme fountains and a meal in the best treehouse ever.  Best of all we had a lovely chat to Trevor Jones, Head Gardener and discovered some more details of the next phase of the garden - going to revisit in 2014 to see.  Hopefully to stay in wonderful self-catering in Alnmouth too and return with he who is most important who hopefully will not be harvesting then.

Anyway a few photos to wet appetites.   Tomorrow we are checking out Trentham Gardens, the Prairie planting and restoration of the Italian gardens and then hope to resuscitate they who were just peeping through!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Keder Greenhouse ... is here!

Greenhouse, end of term and the Royal Welsh Show
There has been a bit of a gap with blogs since June as THE greenhouse arrived - really efficiently popped up by gentlemen who made it in Evesham.  The next day the Rudbekia seedlings in various forms were transplanted and the difference the heat and space made was phenomenal - two weeks later they are ready to go out - or would be if we had had - you guessed it, some rain.  Some strange seeds bought at Chelsea Physic Garden are sitting under perlite - which when watered coloured up and now looks like I am growing apple crumble.  I decided against transplanting the tomatoes but benefitted from some heavily discounted monsters from Country Homes at Wellington.  I rescued some aubergine seeds too and they are already sprouting.  A kind gnome - who will become the Upper Newton form of The Stig - sealed and popped in a water tank for me so now no excuses for not sowing all the lovely new seeds harvested throughout the garden.
Royal Welsh Show
Becoming a bit of a tradition now - our favourite local show - it keeps us busy all day and we are all happy to go our separate ways and just meet up for foodie samplings.  Our feet were needing some tender care by 4 pm which is a great time to head for the stands and watch the hilarity of the Hunt races and the magnificence of the procession of livestock.  This kind of display really grounds us and instils a terrific pride in the agricultural workers and breeders who take three days to show their stock - although of course their awards are the result of years of breeding and months of training.
A bit like the allotment section in the floral marquee - you wondered when the gardening was coming in!  Well lengthy conversations were held with me deliberating whether to plant/trial one of the new tomato plants in a straw bale - I still have a suitably soggy one down by the pond tap, used as insulation during our two periods of -16 degree winter - hard to remember that far back now!
Mystery Solved 
This reminds me, we saw Kim Hurst at the great Aardvark Books at Brampton Bryan Food Festival a few weekends ago and she identified my pretty blue flower - it is salsify, so now it can be sown both for the garden and the veggie patch.  I suspect it may be in competition with the Jerusalem Artichokes in antisocial effects but we will see!
Pembridge Show and Trotting Races
Busy weekend with lots of choice locally of fetes and shows - we opted for the above.  Lovely countryside setting by the bubbling river in Pembridge.  Lots of ponies, lots of dogs both in a dog show and also an obedience show.  As a bonus local folk had really interesting stalls and we were able to take lots of pictures in gorgeous sunshine.  We arrived home to happy farmer with completed oil-seed rape harvest and baleing in full swing - will be interesting to see if the weather holds for hay-making.

Brampton Bryan is featuring pretty heavily as Sunday we visited the Festival and had the privilege of listening to Edward Harley whilst he explained the amazing history of the castle next to his home and particularly the incredible story of the Cromwellian castle siege when the chateleine widow 43 year old Lady  Brilliana  held the castle.  I loved the understated planting alongside the castle walls - irises and a superb clump of deadly nightshade.  The flowers remind me so much of bupleurum. What she would have made of the scarecrow trail around the village I am not sure but we thought it was great fun as was the Milliner's Shop with the discussions about hats from Brampton Bryan seen at the Duke and Duchess's wedding.
What a long blog - a respite now while I transplant Nicotiana and return to the landscaping around... The Greenhouse!