Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Botanic Garden was full of Masked Tyrants

Dear Reader,

January seems to be the time when a lot of lazy bloggers re-visit their dusty old pages. I suppose it's similar to the gyms being packed full for the first month of the year.

Whilst I am writing my come-back blog, I will not be heading to the gym this month. I am on holiday. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this blog is coming to you from the city of Buenos Aires!

You may be wondering why I'm writing a blog whilst on holiday. I wanted to see if I could (iPad does let me, but photos are a bit trickier, so sadly these shall be omitted from this post).

Also the heat has meant that the day only really starts at 5pm. The sun sets at about 8.30pm, so there is still plenty of time for seeing the sights at dusk. So I have a half day of relaxing in my apartment today.

I really love it here, and have so far visited various landmarks, the colourful museum of Latin-American art, the botanic garden (a Masked Tyrant is a type of bird, common to this part of the world).

This time last year I was having my toes nibbled by some wriggly little fish off Khao San Road in Bangkok. I visited an amazing koi-infested Japanese garden a few days ago, where I was give my pedicure by a wheezy and pecky Muscovy duck named Alfonso. I don't rate Alfonso's foot treatment very highly.

I have tried the local drink, Maté, which is very much like extremely strong green tea, which is drunk through a metal straw. Being a fan of green tea, I really enjoyed this drink.

I really like the old-world and European feel to this city. The heat is usually offset by a nice breeze, the people are really friendly. The architecture is fantastic. I hope to have a lot more to report (maybe some photos too) in my next post.


**Date for the diary**
I hope to encourage lots of tweeters and bloggers to an Extra-Special Re-Launch Tweet-up Party at:

The Garden Sage
48 Durham Road, London SW20 0TW

SUNDAY 18th of MARCH 2012
From 11am till 5.30pm

We have been redecorating and renovating (it will look VERY different to before), and wanted to celebrate the fact that we are going into our 3rd year. There will be refreshments on offer and an extra special generous 30% off everything!

More to be announced!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Travel Plans

Before long this blog is going to turn into a travel blog!

Having had a really busy year in 2010, I had earmarked January 2011 as a month to take a few weeks holiday. I am up for adventure.

I recently spoke to some friends who are going to Thailand (again) for the new year. I have become quite spontaneous with my holidays abroad, booking flights and throwing things into my suitcase at the last minute. I feel this will be one of those spontaneous moments.

How could one fail to be impressed?

I am keen to hear from any bloggers that have travelled around Thailand, places to see and go, how to get around, where to stay, where to avoid, where to stay longer etc..

I've found to my delight, that it's now the cool season, so a perfect time to visit! Whilst the UK freezes, meaning the airports are at a standstill, I am risking getting swept up in the chaos.

Any info/advice/recommendations gratefully received!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

End of year review 2010

Dear reader,

This year has been quite an amazing year, and I am sorry to both you and for myself that I wasn't able to blog about it along the way. A blog needs regular tending to provide reward, and much like a neglected garden, this one needs a bit of attention. So here I am, ready to take it on, shears in gloved hands and secateurs in my holster. Of course I shall have to toss these aside if I'm to get any typing done.

I hope the (ir)regular readers of my blog remember that my year up to July was fairly eventful? You should as it was my last post, which was also an event in itself.

Since July, things slowed a little, and I was able to take some gulps of air. My trip to Belgium and Holland was great fun as always. It was a little hectic at a time I could have done with a three week beach holiday sipping Pina Coladas. The trip was much like a cocktail in fact; cacti, nurseries, ham and cheese sandwiches, Dutch people and tea all shoved in a shaker and spilled out over four days.

There was one brief moment where summer had a full-on fling with autumn, and this moment fell on the day of the Highgrove bloggers meet, superbly co-ordinated by Helen Johnstone and Roland. Apart from making sure everyone was there at the right time and right place, Helen also managed to organise a perfect late summer day to be led around the gardens. I could go on, but in short, it was a sublime day in which I met my heroes Ann-Marie Powell and Cleve West who were even nicer in real life than on screen. It was a perfect opportunity to meet loads of brilliant people. I also won a prize of Duchy hand cream for my Tillandsia buttonhole - to which Ann-Marie added, "You can rub that all over!".

So to October, and the highlight of the year at the shop... The talk by Matthew Wilson aka 'Landscape Man'! It was covered by Arabella Sock here. I should add that Matthew gave a fantastic talk - far better than I was expecting (though, to be honest I didn't know what to expect). Many thanks to Matthew for being such a top-drawer Horticulturist - I hope we see him again on our screens before long. Belated thanks also to those that were in attendance.

The local magazine used the bad photo - I was smiley in the other one!

With a hop, skip and a jump, I move on to another of the year's big events, the Garden Media Guild awards. Extra special congratulations to those I know that won awards, Mark 'Dashing' Diacono for his amazing column, Lia 'Lush' Leendertz for best blog, Dawntastic Isaac for new talent, Matthew 'Train Club' Wilson and his team for best programme 'Landscape Man' and Anne Wareham for best website. I am particularly proud of Victoria Summerley for winning Journalist of The Year, possibly because I know her and she lives in my 'hood, but more likely because she is a fantastic writer and really deserves this accolade.

Although I wasn't at the GMG awards, I was made very welcome at the pub after-party. I met loads more people and it was great to put more faces to names. In a strange twist of fate I ended up staying late with Dawn and Lia, drinking too much and eating biscuits (of which many were scoffed by a biscuit fiend who shall remain nameless - I'll just say that his name rhymes with Stephen Macey). We headed over to a nearby bar/restaurant and had a bite to eat with a tipsy Andy Sturgeon (another hero of mine) and the absolute hoot that is photographer Rachel Warne and her photographer friend Paul. An axe was taken out of one of the GMG award goody bags and played around with by an unnamed member of our party, much to the worry of the waiter. I would suggest that axes and goody bags are not good combinations, for whoever thought this idea up.

Last week I went to a recording of Gardener's Question Time. More on this on my next post. Monty Don is returning to Gardener's World, and Toby Buckland and Alys Fowler have been made to leave. More on this on my next post also, as I shall be putting down my thoughts about gardening TV and radio. Brace yourselves.

In the meantime, have a read of JOTY Victoria Summerley's article, Helen's post and for something a bit more lighthearted Arabella Sock's recent posts.

Peace and love,


Sunday, July 11, 2010

I don't care what you do to them, just be good to me.

Dear lovely reader, thanks for clicking on the link!

So, as promised last week* I have set aside some time to catch-up on my 'catch-up' blog post. Although I'd much prefer to be out watering the garden, my neighbours are having a particularly smokey barbecue. I suspect most of Merton Borough have been confined to their homes to avoid asphyxiation. Merton's loss, however, is your gain.

Should I start at the beginning? Starting a business has been very draining. Horticulture more than other businesses sees us working every hour of daylight, and darkness brings forth a need to complete paperwork and The Books.

There we have it - garden shop in 4 easy-to-follow steps!

For those of you that were able to make it to the Grand Opening, many belated thanks. There was a dearheart that asked for directions to the nearest curtain shop, which I found rather confusing, until she revealed her identity. The weather was perfect, and the booze most plentiful. If you didn't make it, I hope to welcome you soon.

Although I concentrated my efforts on setting up the shop this spring, leaving my business partner Liam to run the gardening aspect of the business, I am now rather keen to get my teeth into some garden projects.

I was in attendance at The Malvern Meet, which was fantastic and superbly co-ordinated by Helen and Michelle. A perfect opportunity to meet many of you bloggers. There were a few people that I didn't get to chat with much, but no doubt our flower-lined (or indeed veg-lined) paths shall cross again. I was most impressed with Dawn Isaac's alcohol-drinking abilities, and intrigued by the bizarre Mad Hatter's biscuit tasting party at The Lighthouse where some of the girls were staying.

Chelsea week saw a brilliant lock-in party at my shop, attended by Victoria, Helen, Michelle, Julia, The Sock, Ms B, and a few other non-bloggers. There was cake and Pimms and laughs and Alan Titchmarsh presenting the Chelsea Flower Show in the corner. The weather was spectacularly fine, and a good time had by all. Reviewed here.

I did attend Chelsea on the Thursday, but it was so long ago now, I've been warned that I'm not allowed to discuss or review it. I'm risking a prison sentence just mentioning it now.

Little Parrotlet came into my life, dubbed 'Rio' (mainly after the song, and due to his species' origins in South America, also Rio is the Portuguese for river). He is a very docile and happy bird, and keeps me company in the shop.

The other highlight for me over the past few months was escaping to Martyn Cox's Open Garden. It's easy enough to get to, only having never been to the East of London, I got quite disorientated. Martyn's garden however, was a joy to behold and a true oasis in the city.

Morbid black Petunias - a preview plant that Martyn got somewhere. Probably a Goth Petunia-lover, in return for his soul.

A "thriving" kiwi vine.

The most sublime Aeonium collection, plenty of fruit and veg, a Japanese film crew and some fellow bloggers to boot. The sun's rays were unwieldy, and an outtake of me may make it onto the Japanese youtube equivalent as 'Incredible Sweaty Face Man'. Reviewed here.

I was so impressed with Martyn's Aeoniums, it prompted me to attend to my succulent collection. I aim to re-pot a number of them into terracotta pots, but for this year, they will be left on the bench to enjoy the sun.

All in all, I've been a bit busy to attend to my garden. I've kept it alive, and have made a few purchases (pictures to follow).

It's good to be blogging again, hopefully I'll manage to keep it up. I'm looking forward to visiting the succulent nurseries on holiday in Dutchland in a couple of weeks' time.

Congratulations to my friend Paul for his Gold Medal at Hampton Court on The Palm Centre stand, and my friend Alex who won a Silver Gilt for her prehistoric carnivorous plant display (complete with T-Rex!).

The picture at the top of the page is of Gladiolus 'Impressive', a supposedly hardy variety. The petals look as though they've been given a sloppy lipstick kiss by a particularly tarty pixie. It's planted on a roof terrace, which I am really chuffed about. Here's a pic;

Over and out.

*time flies.....

....when you're having fun.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Next week.

Next week I'm going to write a blog post about procrastination.

Love to all!


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Dear reader...

Those that know me will understand why I haven't been able to post here for some time. Somehow this blog has scooped up a few more followers. Rather than making a full post now, there will at least be a promise of a new one in the next few days.

It has been a very interesting time, since my last post.

To be included in my upcoming posting;

My new gardening business and garden shop (this has soaked up a lot of my time).
Progress in the garden.
Meetings with other strange, but lovely garden bloggers at Malvern.
Chelsea Flower Show coverage. Better late than never.
My new pet.
Guerilla gardening update, and review.
New plant acquisitions.
Future plans, thoughts, trips and visits.

So you see, I have a lot to catch up on!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Milton Keynes is about two and half miles away, as the quetzal flies.

Evergreen conifers. No, wait - come back! These are pretty interesting ones. These are species that were around at the dawn on time. Ones that dinosaurs would graze on, before getting stomach ache, presumably.

Winter is a pretty boring time in most people's gardens. All the Delphiniums and Dahlias that looked so nice in the summer, have shrivelled to a rotting mess. This is the reason why I've concentrated my efforts on plants that look good all-year-round.

I started off with palms and yuccas, then succulents and ferns. The list goes on. I suppose I first became interested in these ancient conifers after having see huge Monkey Puzzle trees growing in public and private gardens. Those weird sort of plants appeal to me.

I bought my Monkey Puzzle (Araucaria araucana pictured above) several years ago. It's actually grown quite a bit since I bought it. The little plant in the same pot is Ruscus aculeatus 'John Redmond', which holds on to red berries through the winter.

The tall conifer in the picture is the Wollemi Pine (Wollemia nobilis), rediscovered in the 1990's in Australia after having been thought to be extinct for millions of years. I have been reading the progress of Julia's Wollemi Pine on her great blog We're Going to Need a Bigger Pot. In a similar manner to Julia, I am naming my plant, Wollemina.

Another ancient Australian conifer is Araucaria bidwillii. This is my one below. The last two winters have been hard on it, but has so far survived happily outdoors. A friend bought it back from Australia in 2003, and it has been outside ever since. The native Australians used to eat the 'Bunya Pine' seeds as they fell. The cone bearing the seeds is especially large, and people are advised against walking under these trees in years of heavy coning.


The problem with these amazing trees, is that they grow up into very big plants. Oh well, I hope to have a bigger garden to accomodate them!

Now for something completely different, Pseudowintera colorata;