Monthly Archives: April 2014

Spetchley Park Plant Fair

We attended our very first plant fair on Sunday – I don’t think it will be our last! I did have an idea that I would just be having a look, with no intention of buying yet more plants but I think we all know how likely that was…

We fell in love with Spetchley Park as soon as we got there and are already planning another visit to explore the gardens more.

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We took a little stroll round by the lake, lovely and peaceful with some beautiful blossom and wild meadow flowers.

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We watched the amazing chainsaw woodcarving demonstration by Steve Elsby, he made it look very easy.

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But the plants were the real star of the show. Lots of varieties I haven’t heard of before and I really did have to stop myself getting carried away. It made me realise how much I still need to learn about all sort of flowers, shrubs and herbs. Here is our haul, not bad for someone trying to resist temptation:

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One of our favourite stands was Edulis Nurseries, where after some discussion with the owner, we bought a Japanese Wineberry (Rubus Phoenicolasius) and an Earth Chestnut
(Bunium bulbocastanum). We also liked the Pershore College stand, where I bought a couple of lovely geraniums as many of my overwintered ones are not looking their best. They also had some pretty bedding plants I couldn’t resist.

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Later we found ourselves at the Cottage Herbery stand where the really helpful stallholder gave us some advice about stopping the wild garlic we bought from spreading itself across the whole garden.

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He had some wonderful herbs and plants, lots of unusual varieties but one we liked the sound of was Goat’s Rue (Galega officinalis) so that was added to our bag as well.

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So that was us done, but just as we were heading back to the car, a Prostrate Willow (Salix nakamurana yezoalpina) caught my eye and I just couldn’t resist it – another lovely and very helpful stallholder, Paul Green of Green’s Leaves in Gloucestershire told us about the plant’s hardiness and the fact that it hails from Japan.

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So, my first ever plant fair – showing me how much still I have to learn about plants and
gardening but another step in my fully fledged addiction 🙂

Progress report

I needed to get on with repotting some tomato and cucumber plants this weekend so I was a bit concerned about the forecast of rain (yes, I’m a fair weather gardener, I can’t deny it..). But as it turned out, we had beautiful blue sky and sunshine this morning and I managed to get quite a bit done between the showers. 

Glad I went out there early on though as it has been raining sideways this afternoon and is
currently pouring down. There must be a rainbow somewhere near though as the sun is still shining!

A couple of my repotted tomatoes went very floppy and were looking sorry for themselves, but they have perked up again now they’ve been back in the warm for a while so hopefully I haven’t killed them off.

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There are several trays of peppers at various stages of growth:

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After the peppers, I pricked out some of my antirrhinum seedlings – I do love the bright colours of snapdragons but think I got carried away when I was sowing them as I have 24 in one tray, plus 13 in little pots and that only got about a third of the tray of seedlings done.
Anyone want any snapdragon seedlings, I may have a few left over..?!

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That’s in addition to the (mostly) marigolds on these trays:

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I may have to get the under-gardener to dig me another flower bed…

Delighted to see that one of my Crystal Apple cucumber seeds has sprouted:

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Hoping to put this marjoram out in the new herb garden when it has come on a bit more:

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The cold frame is full, with lettuce, mixed leaves, rocket, coriander, peas in pots and some little fuchsia plants waiting to go into hanging baskets. The house is also just about full of plants and seedlings now, not a spare windowsill to be had. I’m getting an old table in from the garage to put up in the spare room so I can give everything a bit more space and importantly, a bit more light. I’m going to have to look up leeks, I haven’t grown them before but this tray has suddenly burst into life:

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Once I’d done all my repotting and pricking out, I had a quick peep outside at the raised beds – the garlic that went in last October is coming on nicely:

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The onions, broad beans and strawberry plants out there are also looking good but the rain poured down as I was about to take a few more photos so I’m afraid you’ll have to take my word for it… 🙂

Book Review: The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters, Charlotte Moseley

This is an amazing book, the like of which we probably won’t see again! The six Mitford sisters wrote letters to each other throughout their quite astonishing lives and their correspondence covers major events of the 20th Century, name-dropping an altogether astonishing set of celebrities, politicians and royals.

I’d read some of Nancy Mitford’s books and knew some of the history of the family, but
the letters bring so much insight into their world.

My only regret about this book is that I read it on my kindle instead of buying a ‘proper’ book as I think it would have been so much easier to read. There are notes at the end of each
chapter but it is harder to keep skipping back to the relevant part in the book. It isn’t a book to read all in one go, I’ve been reading it for months, just dipping in and out while reading other things but when I got to the last letter I felt almost bereft – hard to imagine just how hard it must have been for Deborah, the last surviving sister.

It is a really wonderful book, regardless of what ‘class’ you might be or what your politics are – such a portrait of a life that probably doesn’t exist any longer, of sisterly rivalry, arguments and love. I’m going to buy it again but the real thing this time as I want to read it again now I’ve got to the end.