If you’ve ever wanted any inspiration for your home and garden, then the Ideal Home Show is where it’s at. This year, Anglian Home Improvements invited me along to have a good old nosey through the stalls, and whilst you might not think it, there was some great gardening ideas on offer.
In addition the Low Cost Living House (a must-see if you’re thinking about reducing your energy bills or have a plot of land and want to build an eco-flat pack house – I dare to dream), there are several little show gardens on offer. These are small and compact; so perfect if you’re living in a town or city and environment where space is at a premium. Like all show gardens, it’s important to take away inspiration rather than trying to re-make the entire look, as it’s often the case with show gardens that they’re just that – for show, but not necessarily the most feasible backyard gardens.
I love this idea for maximising space and creating some height and structure in a small garden. The deck isn’t that high that it would intrude on neighbours, especially with some well placed fencing, but it does create space underneath. This could be used for planting shady species – in this setting they had a small pool with moisture and shade loving ferns – but it could also be a great garden storage area.
For entertaining purposes, the garden on the left is great. With raised beds, the plants will be more manageable and you’ll need to spend less time gardening, and more time having friends and family over. Meanwhile, solar panels on your shed or garden office’s roof? Ideal….I could do with that to power my laptop whilst I’m tapping away writing for the many hours of the day.
Another must-see is Anglian Home Improvement’s Only Fools and Horses stand. If you loved a bit of Del-boy and Rodney, you can see a mock up of their famous flat, along with a modern interpretation. There’s even a chance to get snapped pretending you’re in that famous chandelier scene. So, if you’ve got a chance, head down to Earls Court before April 1st, it’s definitely worth a look…you can spoil yourself to champagne and a fish platter too.
As you may have read on my blog before, RHS Wisley are having a ‘pansy plant-in‘ on October 2nd, 2012. With the autumn weather definitely starting to show its face, and the RHS wanting to bring some colour to their autumnal and winter gardens, it’s the ideal time to get those overwintering pansy into the ground. And, now YOU have the chance to a Wisley gardener for the day.
The good folks over at the RHS are offering members of the public the chance to not only help with the plant-in, but to get behind the scenes at the start of the day and enjoy a container and basket workshop run by Wisley staff. The day starts at 9:30am, and the lucky few will be able to get great tips on container planting from top notch gardening experts. After the workshop is complete, you’ll then be able to participate in the ‘pansy plant-in’, filling beds, borders and containers around the stunning Wisley gardens with a huge array of pansies and violas. You’ll even get lunch thrown in too!
Tickets for this fantastic opportunity are available on a first come, first served basis. You need to be free on October 2nd, and able to get to RHS Wisley for 9:30am. If you want to participate, then simply email firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember, get in quick so you don’t miss out!!
It seems that with all my talk of pansies, the powers that be have sat up and taken notice. I kid you not, I only went and got an email about the RHS Wisley ‘pansy plant-in’ moments after I posted my last blog. But, of course, it IS that time of year already and now’s your chance to get in on the action.
If you haven’t already headed to RHS Wisley, then I can’t say enough how much you really ought too. It’s a good idea to take an entire day out for visiting the gardens because they’re very extensive, and if you’re rushing around, then you won’t get the chance to take everything in. Also, depending on how your bank balance is, you might want to take (or not) your wallet depending on your spending discipline.
The perfect time to head down to Wisley if you want a little autumn inspiration is on Tuesday October 2nd, when the RHS will be holding their ‘pansy plant-in’ session. On the 2nd, approximately 80 RHS staff members and volunteers will be popping in 5,000 pansies and violas in the top terrace border to lift the garden for the winter months. VertiGarden, hanging baskets and containers are also going to be planted up throughout the gardens, offering the ideal chance to see Wisley in all its autumn beauty and get some inspiration whilst you’re at it.
If you want to know a little more about the pansy plant-in and Wisley’s autumn colour then head over to the RHS website and take a look at just how amazing your winter garden could look this year.
This year’s Southport Flower Show, taking place in just a few weeks time (16-19 August 2012) has more on offer than ever before.
Aside from the fantastic gardening attractions and stunning floral arrangements, this year’s show will boast the first year of the North West Food Festival, complete with a host of well-known celebrity chefs. There’s also the launch of the North West Book Festival, featuring authors from all genres.
Each day there’s something new happening, from talks and lectures, to cookery presentations in the kitchen, with experts on hand to answer your questions.
Star of Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch, Simon Rimmer, has this year been announced as a patron of The Southport Flower Show, and will commence in his role, by supporting the launch of the first North West Food Festival.
The show has also confirmed that gardening experts Christine Walkden and Alys Fowler will be attending, along with Southport Flower Show’s patrons Sir Roddy Llewellyn, Professor David Bellamy OBE and Professor Stefan Buczacki - all on hand to offer tips and guidance.
There’s plenty on the bill to keep all the family entertained over the four days. For something dramatic, the main arena’s headline acts include jousting medieval knights and free flying birds of prey. And the drama is balanced by the charm of dog displays, featuring dogs of all shapes and sizes, including rescue dogs.
The bandstand line up will bring music to your ears, with the Morecambe Brass Band, the Fisherman’s Friend Jazz Band, the Biddulph Male Voice Choir and performances from the Southport Youth Drama Academy, to name a few.
The Guide To Gay Gardening has three pairs of tickets to the Southport Flower Show to give away (worth £32 a pair). Simply comment on this post (make sure you leave your email) and on Monday 13th the three winners will be announced.
*Please ensure you can attend so as not to waste an entry *
For further information and to order tickets for the show, visit www.southportflowershow.co.uk or call & 0844 847 1555. Advance tickets cost just £16 and children under 16 go free.
This week, despite the heavy grey clouds and bombardment of raindrops, I attended the Hampton Court Palace Garden Show. I’ve become a huge fan of this show over the years, and in my mind, the event is only growing in size and quality. I love the Chelsea Flower Show, but the show gardens there are often so ostentatious that the ordinary gardener would never be able to create something similar at home. However, I find that Hampton’s show gardens, whilst still being of the highest of design quality, offer a range of ideas that can be better incorporated. Combine this with a multitude of plants for sale and the beautiful backdrop of Hampton Court Palace, and you’re onto a winner.
Having glided through the exhibitors entrance (Yes, that’s how I roll), one of the first gardens that I came across was the Discover Jordan Garden (below). I have to say, I wasn’t too impressed. I do like hard landscaping within a garden, but I wouldn’t want to reconstruct a temple ruins or something similar in my own backyard. Maybe I’m missing the point. But, I didn’t really account this to being a ‘garden’, despite it winning a gold medal. The planting, what little there was, is well done, but it failed to make my heart excited.
Two gardens that I did adore, however, were The Italian Job (silver guilt) and Contemporary Contemplation (gold). These two gardens are almost extreme opposites from one another, with The Italian Job being stuffed with alliums, lavender and box. Meanwhile, Contemporary Contemplation used its box in an entirely different way, and shows how a palette of pale alliums, ferns, silver birches and hostas can create a stunning palette of green to relax in.
Another fantastic area was the Urban Community gardens; a network of areas to showcase how city regions can utilise planting. The alleyway (below) shows how residents can bring a touch of green to their surroundings by using hanging baskets and pots. Meanwhile, a beautiful wildflower meadow behind crisp iron railings, a shipping container turned into a garden shed and work area, and a small raised bed by some washing really managed to create diversity and green spaces out of these otherwise dull and depressing zones.
Of course, Hampton Court Garden Show is also about the many pavilions, and this year the Edible Pavilion, Flower Pavilion, Rose and Romance tent and Grapevine Theatre were all in fine form. If you want to buy, buy, buy, then head to the Flower Pavilion with your wallet out and your financially controlling spouse left in a corner with a cup of tea. Each nursery has a beautiful stand to showcase their plants, and you’ll find more than enough to tempt your crisp notes. I was VERY restrained and only bought a chocolate perennial cosmos, though I could have easily had one of everything in the tent. The Edible Pavilion is wonderful if you want to grow your own, and this year there was also a mouth-wateringly good cooking demonstration area to sink your teeth into. The Grapevine Theatre is the ideal location if you want to see a few stars, and I popped by to see John Craven talk about his time on Countryfile and give a little talk on British wildflowers. It was a great talk about the need for hayfields, and the importance that Countryfile is having on the next generation.
I can easily say that this year’s show is better than last, and offers a huge variety of attractions to explore and discover. I even managed to find a stand with the Twizy car on; a 100% electric car from Renault. I’ve wanted one for AGES and now I’m convinced it’s the car for me – now I just need my licence!
If you can get tickets to this show before it closes at the end of the week, I highly recommend going.
For more pics of the show, CLICK HERE.
There are 61 days until the RHS Chelsea Flower Show opens it’s doors. From May 22nd to 26th, 2012, the world’s biggest and best flower show, in my personal opinion, will attract thousands of people from around the world to indulge in flowers, foliage and garden accessories of every kind. The last time I visited the show was in 2010 because Chelsea Flower Show tickets sell out fast, and if you think you’ll be able to buy your way in on the door, then you’ll be much mistaken. Tickets for this event sell like hotcakes, and with the shows international appeal, you’ve got to get in early if you want to get past the garden gate.
If you’ve managed to get your hands on this golden prize, then there are few tips to help you survive your day;
Take a picnic
There’s a lot to see and do at the Chelsea Flower Show, and if you want to try and whizz around in half a day, then you won’t get to see very much. There are lots of grassy banks and areas where you can settle down with a picnic and enjoy a more relaxed day, slowly perusing the shops and show gardens without having to worry that you’ll never get through the crowds in front of you. There are lots of food venues on offer and you’ll have to carry your food around with you if you bring it from home, but taking a picnic and treating the event as an entire day out is advisable.
Use a folding box cart
If you don’t want to check your bags and picnic into the cloak room, then take a folding box cart. These are also normally on sale at the Chelsea Flower Show and are very useful as you can not only stuff your belongings into them as you trundle around, but once the food is eaten, you can start filling the cart up with your plant purchases. Lots of people use these carts at the Chelsea Flower Show, so you won’t be the only one and, if you don’t take one, you’ll soon be wishing you had.
The show is crammed with people, and you often can’t get that close to some of the show gardens. Great swathes of hornbeam trees are often in flower, letting off their pollen, and hundreds of carts trundling around your feet can quickly become irritating. You may be in London, but that doesn’t mean that you have to live up to the capital’s frenetic way of life. Relax a little, take your time to wander around and look at exhibits and avoid getting stressed.
The last day of The Chelsea Flower Show, May 26th, 2012, is a great day to go if you want to buy plants. You’ll only have half a day to peruse the exhibitions, but if you get there when the show opens at 8am, there’s plenty of time to see everything. If you want to bag a bargain, then carefully choose what you most want on your way around and, ahead of the 4pm sell-off bell, position yourself next to the best stands. Be prepared for a battle; this is where British queuing culture disappears, and you’ll have never seen pensioners move so quickly or aggressively for that £5 rose. Stands and show gardens are often dismantled at an astonishing rate, so get in quick and get bargains. And, bargains there are. I’ve bought ferns for £2, roses for £5, and alliums (right) and thrift for a £1 before.
Chelsea is a great day out, and anyone who has the slightest interest in gardening should definitely seek to go once in their lives. With many show garden drawings for this year already released to the media and the promise of many plant bargains, 2012 is set to be a great year.
Look outside the window to your garden and, at the moment, you’ll probably see the melting of tainted grey snow. February doesn’t often supply much inspiration, and it’s can be one of the duller gardening months. Whilst winter has descended, the season’s fading enough just to let those odd warmer days shine through, providing growing hope of a spring which isn’t quite here. This is why I love the RHS London Plant & Design Show that’s put on at this time of year, providing us gardeners with a chance to find some inspiration to start planning for the year ahead.
This year’s show, like others before it, is crammed with plants, and whilst many are specimens that you would ordinarily grow in your garden now, there’s also a great number of blooms that you can buy for planting out when weather has improved a little. Clouds of deep burgundy and pastel yellow hellebores, drifts of miniature cyclamen, bulbs of narcissus and crocus and the English ambiance of primroses are all wonderful sights to be seen. Cornus was, unsurprisingly, also in abundance at the show, though mostly used as a striking contrast to display other specimens to their best.
Many stands had careful thought put into highlighting the ‘winter garden’ aspect; a clever ploy to sell plants that most of us will happily fall for at this time of year. For, upon seeing a beautiful display packed with the foliage and blooms of plants which can withstand the colder seasons, who wouldn’t suddenly want to buy everything on the stand and head for home to create their own masterpiece. There are also a number of stands which have an increasing green and sustainable presence, utilising vessels such as rusty colanders, old bricks and thrown out saucepans to create displays which we can all easily do at home and reduce our trash. Living walls also continue to make an appearance, and had been put into great effect in one of the RHS London Plant & Design Show’s two show gardens.
If you have a free day on tomorrow, February 15th, then I thoroughly recommend heading to this little exhibition in the RHS Halls. Just to feel yourself amongst some thriving planting offers inspiration in the midst of winter, and with the chance to buy, you can start planning the many months ahead in your gardening year. There’s a chance to take a sneak peak of what’s to come at Chelsea this year too, with some design images being showcased to give you a taste of what’s to come. And whether you’re just feeling the need to surround yourself with the buzz of horticulture, or are armed with wads of cash for a spending spree, the London Plant & Design Show is worth a trip into the capital.
See more photo’s at the Facebook Group.
With 2012 upon us, it’s time to think about the multitude of horticultural extravaganza’s ahead. I’m not talking about the flower shows and country fairs here, I’m talking about the bizzare, eccentric and quirky exploits that you may not dare to enter!
1. Big Garden Birdwatch - January 28th/29th
The Big Garden Birdwatch is back again as the RSPB attempt to get a complete picture of bird populations throughout the UK. With the recent few days of bad weather, birds of all varieties are sure to have been flocking to gardens as frozen ground and water limited their access to food. For just one hour at the end of January you can simply take the opportunity to sit quietly and watch the world go by. Count up all your feathery friends and send your results to the RSPB over the internet. Easy. After an appalling survey last year, I’m hoping that my results in 2012 might be a little better.
2. International Sunflower Guerilla Gardening Day 2012 – 1st May
May 1st, 2012, will mark the sixth outing of International Sunflower Guerilla Gardening Day; a time when we must all take to the street’s on mass and plant seeds EVERYWHERE! The main premise behind this day is to highlight the importance of greening up our local neighbourhoods by planting in tree pits, forgotten council flowerbeds and random patches of dirt in desperate need of some green. Again, 2011 was a disaster for me as, no sooner had the little seedlings germinated, than a council man came along and weedkillered the lot. This year I’m having a backup plan by sowing some seeds at home in pots too.
3. World Naked Garden Day – 5th May
Also in its sixth year, and following close on the heels of Sunflower Guerilla Gardening Day, is World Naked Gardening Day. Now, I’m not encouraging you to combine the two – I think there’d be more than a few arrests that day. Nor am I encouraging you to completely strip off much to your neighbours horror as I’m sure a few of mine were. Whilst some hardcore enthusiasts might say it’s about taking everything off, I say it should be more about finding yourself at one with nature. If you’re not comfortable facing those stinging nettles and thorns in your birthday suits, dispose of shoes for the day and feel the earth beneath your toes. Throw off your tops and let the sun get to parts almost never seen before. And, if you want to go the whole hog but have a nervous disposition, find a secluded shed or greenhouse in which to potter!
I don’t like to blow my own trumpet that much, but I’ve been nominated for the first Horticultural Channel.tv awards. As previously reported, The Horticultural Channel.tv is celebrating it’s first anniversary by launching their new awards show, offering the chance for gardeners around the world to support their favourite blogs, television shows, presenters and even products.
Within just two hours of opening the public vote Sean James Cameron, creator of The Horticultural Channel.tv, revealed that over 1,690 votes had been cast. “This is the first time that members of the public can vote for their favourite gardening TV/radio series, best presenters and also favourite blogs, forums and authors,” he added.
If you’re here, reading this blog, then I’d really appreciate your support. You can vote for me under the blog category and, whether I win or not, it’s a great achievement to be recognised in this awards debut year.
The Horticultural Channel has revealed plans to launch a new awards show, offering passionate gardeners and allotmenteers the chance to vote for their favourite products, people and shows. To celebrate their first anniversary, the popular show and online gardening channel will be collecting nominees over the next few weeks before closing nominations on November 14th. Official nominees will then be announced on November 18th with votes open until December 18th.
There are a great range of categories including Best Gardening Blog, Best Gardening Product and Best Gardening Presenter to name but a few! You can head over to make your nominations at The Horticultural Channel’s News Page, and, as you’ve just visited my blog yourself….I wouldn’t mind a cheeky little nomination if you can spare it!