Hidden Honeysuckle

A lovely surprise awaited me on the allotment this weekend –  beautiful honeysuckle growing in the hedge. This is actually growing at the bottom of our garden which backs on to our allotment. It has entwined itself up the hedge and trees but is only really visible from the plot. I love the bright colour of the flowers and its heady fragrance.Honeysuckle

Honeysuckle has long been associated with superstition. In Victorian times it was grown around doors and gates to ward off witches and evil spirits. I hope we don’t have any of those on the allotment site. It was also supposed to induce pleasant dreams and lift your spirits which is why it must be used today in herbal and aromatherapy pillows. Honeysuckle

Whatever folklore has to say about it, I just love to have it in the garden.


RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2015


What a treat I’ve had this week! At work on Thursday lunchtime, I checked my phone for messages and whoah! A friend had some tickets for the Chelsea Flower Show and wanted to know if I would like to go! I didn’t need asking twice!

For those of you who are not familiar with this event, I’ll explain a little of the background – otherwise please feel free to skip the next two paragraphs.The annual Chelsea Flower Show, organised by the prestigious RHS (Royal Horticultural Society), is a showcase for both nursery exhibits and ‘show’ gardens. There is one large, or one might even say enormous, pavilion which houses all the floral displays and this is surrounded by the outdoor show gardens. The gardens are assembled on site in the 19 days before the event, on display for a week and dismantled within 5 days after the show closes.The entrants are judged and gold, silver-gilt, silver and bronze medals are awarded accordingly.

The event started in 1862 but since 1913 it has been located in the grounds of The Royal Hospital, Chelsea, London. This is actually a retirement and nursing home for retired soldiers, who are noted for their bright red jackets, and are seen strolling around the show.

Chelsea pensioners

I Chelsea-pensioners.co.uk

To return to my visit! It was warm and sunny and we had a brilliant day! So much to see and admire!

The Laurent-Perrier Chatsworth Garden was the winner of the Best Show Garden. Lots of greenery and wild areas (or weeds) which seemed a popular feature in many of the show gardens.

Chatsworth garden

Best show garden – Laurent Perrier Chatsworth Garden

The People’s Choice winner was Sentebale – Hope in Vulnerability. It’s aim is to transport you to Lesotho, South Africa and raise awareness of the country’s mission to tackle the stigma of HIV in its population.

People's Choice Sentebale

People’s Choice – Sentebale

I won’t bore you with all my photos ( the official website has all the gardens’ photos and details)  but here’s some of my personal highlights.

Slate apple

Slate sculpture for your garden


Layered slate seems to be trending this year on the trade stalls. Lots of interesting sculptures and other ‘garden furniture’ to tempt you, especially if you have money to burn.

Bird bath - if you've got a couple of thousand pounds spare!

Bird bath – if you’ve got a couple of thousand pounds spare!













Who would have thought a display of potatoes could look so eye-catching?

Potato varieties

Pick of the crop

So many roses on display – I love looking at their names. This one particularly caught my attention. ‘I am Macmillan’ – a new rose which will raise money towards funding Macmillan nurses who offer care to patients affected by cancer, as well as supporting their families.

I am Macmillan rose

This rose will be available to buy next year

For fellow allotment gardeners – just look at how these vegetables are displayed!

Chelsea Flower Show vegetable display

So that’s my round up of this year’s Chelsea Flower Show. If you ever get the chance of tickets, it really is well worth a visit as there is just so much to see. The gardens are fascinating and you’re mentally redesigning your own garden at home – but please read my cautionary note below!

Health warning: Do not feel jealous, inferior or inadequate when viewing these gardensThey are ‘show’ gardens so I remind myself of these points.
– a team of people have been planning and working on the garden for the preceding year

– they only need to look spectacular for a week. What about all year round interest?
– there is no evidence of anyone using the garden. Where’s the compost bin, the washing line, the children’s bikes and goal posts?
– no expense has been spared in the construction of these gardens

Hope that makes everyone feel better! Happy gardening to you all!



Meanders in May

One of the joys of being a dog owner is that you have the excuse of going out in the fresh air for a walk.Labrador and border terrier

Of course Oscar and Rosie are always ready – whatever the weather!

Even though we live in a town, we are very lucky to have access to some beautiful countryside and one of our regular dog walking routes is across The Common. Daily walks give you the opportunity to watch as each season unfolds and I decided I would like to keep a visual record of the changes throughout the year. Luckily we had some dry, sunny mornings at the weekend and so I was able to take some shots as Oscar and Rosie enjoyed their early (well, earlyish) morning walk. The ground has dried out over the last few weeks and it has been great to abandon my wellies and wear my walking boots instead; but I’m still having to wear gloves and even a hat!

The CommonThe dandelions on The Common are gradually disappearing, leaving behind their feathery clocks, in their place are buttercups and clover.

Buttercups and clover

Of course, lots of cow parsley.Cow parsley

Some of the horse chestnuts were affected by a disease last year, which was introduced into the UK by European horse chestnuts, causing brown patches on the leaves and an early drop. Thankfully they have survived! This horse chestnut tree is such a fantastic shape and stands proudly on its own.Horse chestnut tree

And the flowers look pretty impressive too! Horse chestnut flowers

Being May, there’s an abundance of blossom on the hawthorns.May blossom

There’s even space on The Common for a Sunday morning game of football.Sunday morning football

It wouldn’t be a proper walk if Oscar didn’t find a stick – the bigger the better! He loves to play fetch; he’s never been trained but obviously it’s that retriever instinct.Labrador retriever Rosie, however, loves finding abandoned tennis balls and destroying them! We won’t dwell on what natural instinct that represents!Border terrier

Well that’s it! A little roundup to show you what I’m enjoying on our daily walk. ( I might not have said that on Monday when there was a terrific hailstorm but luckily The Husband was chief dog walker on that occasion).

I know that each month there will be something new to look at and I look forward to sharing them with you as the year goes by. Will keep you posted!

Blooming Bluebells

Last week I was fortunate to have a couple of days off work so, with some spare time on my hands, I decided to take the dogs on a longer than usual walk and we headed off to our nearby woodland. This is a planned forest which is going to be the largest new forest of native species in England. It is popular with local walkers and horse riders as well as a great place to walk the dogs with plenty of space for them to run free.

I was in for a real treat. As I approached the first wood, I caught a glimpse of a blue haze through the tree trunks and realised that it was,of course, bluebell season! What a spectacle! Bluebell woods

Here in the UK, bluebells are a protected species, so no picking is allowed. They are often found in ancient woodland and flower at this time of year before the trees develop a dense canopy.Bluebell woods

The violet-blue carpet along the woodland floor is such a magnificent sight – almost magical.Bluebell woods

Bluebell woodsEven Oscar was overcome with the beauty of the bluebells!Bluebell woods

A good long walk and Oscar is ready for a home. A drink to quench his thirst and then a well deserved rest!


Summer’s in the bag!

I had finished my baby ripple blanket and my fingers were itching to start a new project (just something quick because I knew I was going to be starting a granny square blanket). Looking through Attic24 , which is one of my favourite sources of inspiration, I found just the thing! A crocheted bag – reasonably quick to do and would also use up lots of my odds and ends of yarn.

Crocheted sunflower bag

Crocheted sunflower bag

I have slightly altered the pattern because I wanted to make it for a child. So the base is a little smaller than in the pattern and was completed in one colour (which is not visible in the photo). As suggested, I used Stylecraft DK doubled up with a 4 mm hook as an alternative to aran weight wool. Doubling the yarn was a bit tough on the fingers but nevertheless resulted in a firm bag which stood up on its own.

Crochet with DK yarn doubled

Doubling the yarn made a firm bag

I decided to do a scallop edging along the top edge of the bag which, when I looked back at the pattern, was exactly what was written anyway! A couple of handles and the basic bag was done. I loved the sunny colours I was using and thought sunflowers would complement the bright summery theme. Sunflowers always make me smile and remind me of family holidays in France. I found a pattern for a sunflower, which was actually part of a granny square, so I just did the central flower section.

Crocheted sunflower

Crocheted sunflower

Then it was just a case of sewing it all together. This is a fantastic way of using up all your end bits of wool and you can choose any colour theme you like. I was really pleased with the end result which has been given to a friend’s little girl. The only problem is that now I want to do one for myself!

Crocheted Spring Flower Garland

At last I’ve finished my crocheted spring flower garland, I seem to have been working on it for ages. The idea came into my head in February. I had just put up my Valentine heart garland when The Husband remarked that he rather liked it on the mirror and that perhaps I could do one for every season. So that sounded like a challenge. I started by fiddling around with crocheting different daffodils. I looked up various patterns and adapted them to suit. I ended up with a rather pretty stash.

Crocheted spring flowers

Crocheted daffodils

Next I crocheted a long string, making it slightly wider than the one in the heart version to prevent it twisting so much. I decided to have 2 clusters of flowers either end and a smaller group in the middle.

Group of spring daffodils

End cluster

Spring daffodils

Central cluster of daffodils

Cluster of Spring flowers

End cluster








The finished product!

Crochet daffodil garland

My spring flower garland


The flowers go rather well with the green of the walls to give that ‘spring’ feel! Now I need to start thinking about a garland for the summer!

Beautiful Spring Flowering Tubs

When we moved into our house 21 years ago, we inherited a beautiful garden. It managed to withstand our two Jack Russels and our two growing sons – learning to ride bikes, playing football etc. Then …… we had an extension built on the house and a summerhouse erected in the garden. The garden became a building site and we lost lots of plants and shrubs, but gradually it started to recover. Our sons grew up, the Jack Russels passed away and our new family pet, Rosie – the border terrier, enjoyed sunning herself in the garden without causing any serious damage, other than occasionally attempting to dig holes. Then along came our black labrador, Oscar……

Oscar the labrador

The culprit

Looks as if butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth, I know! However, he has no respect for horticulture in the garden. The lawn has been churned up with his enormous paws and he does not differentiate between the paths and flower beds. Anything of a delicate nature is trodden underfoot.

Undeterred, I returned from a garden centre last autumn, armed with bags full of bulbs and decided the way forward was to plant them in tubs in the hope that they would flourish unharmed by Oscar. The Husband had the brainwave of planting the bulbs at different levels. So early on in the year there was a lovely splash of colour from the crocuses and miniature irises.

Spring flowers

Early crocuses and irises

Then gradually my selection of daffodils began to bud.

Daffodils spring flowers

Daffodils just about to flower

Now the daffs are starting to blossom, standing proud and bold.

Spring flowers daffodils

Daffodils blooming

I have so enjoyed the little splash of colour the tubs have brought to the garden, especially when the skies have been grey. A reminder that milder weather is on the way and hopefully a glimpse of sunshine. Yes, a solution to the Oscar problem too.

Ahhh! Today we have experienced gusty winds in this area of England! What has happened to my beautiful blooms?

Daffodils in bloom

Horizontal daffodils

Daffs blown over! Well, I solved one problem this season but another one’s developed. Better luck next year!