August 13, 2021

Polytunnel Runner Beans

was an accident a couple of years ago- well, I had
dug up plants before the frost to keep alive inside over winter. Only
trouble was, it took so long to warm up outside next year that plants were
already flowering, and I had runner beans some 2 months earlier than ever

The cool, wet summer this year has been bad for vegetables, but I
had beans inside in July.

Pollination can be a problem - beans need Bumblebees; I leave one door open
every day, next to which is a bee-plant like comfrey or Viper’s Bugloss.

August 10, 2021

Party on

Party fever has hit Linley Hall, both in the greenhouse and main garden. We left a living carpet of vetch, clover and plantain on the main lawn, for a party on the weekend. Mowing a frame for it on the lowest cut, and then leaving the lawn for a fortnightly cut. It looks perfect, and the bees love it.

I recently held a greenhouse party, eight of us squished in amongst the tomatoes, salad, peppers and cucumbers, with just enough space for a bottle or five of Cava. Party on everyone, enjoy your late Summer evenings.

August 5, 2021

I am growing a potato.

I did not mean to grow a potato. At least, not this potato.

I meant to compost this potato, which, when last we met, was a small and skanky object rolling about in the back corner of the veg drawer. It, obviously, had other plans for its future. Aspirations. Dreams, even. And who am I to stand in the way of potatoesque self-expression?

Especially when it means I can have my compost and eat it too, in the form of bonus potatoes.

Which makes compost better than cake.

Though not, of course, in all respects.

July 27, 2021

Generally speaking, gardeners are a jolly lot.

We tend to rumble along happily without too many tantrums or scandals. It probably comes from working with plants - as well as our even temperaments and rugged good looks.

However, it has to be admitted that we have a slightly two faced relationship with rain. We complain bitterly when there is too much and equally so when there is not enough.

The problem is twofold - firstly that we have absolutely no control over either frequency or quantity and secondly that, as with many things in life, there is no such thing as perfect rain.

July 24, 2021

There is only one sure fire cure for sea sickness.

To go and stand underneath an oak tree.

Speaking as someone who has a tendency towards queasiness I would always prefer to be in a garden than sloshing around in a boat. An unfortunate admission from somebody whose ancestors include a very distinguished First World War Admiral.

However, there is a place where the two collide namely in coastal gardens. These have their own individual problems in that they are often windswept and hot. They still need plants though and Natalie Ashbee (who is Cornish and therefore salty) has the answers here.

July 13, 2021

“Who would like to come to an open garden ?”

“No thank you Mummy”

“Why not Freya ?”

“Well you are like a bee when it comes to flowers, and I am more like a butterfly”

“What do you mean Frey ?”

” Well you tend to stick your nose into flowers and spend ages just looking at them. I am more like a butterfly in that I like to look and then float on by, so I would be bored”

I don’t think I could enter a debate about this, great simile, and so true. I had a marvellous time and was highly bee like.

July 10, 2021

Nature can be a bit creepy.

This is a Veronicastrum that has fasciated, which is why we now have something that looks like a dog’s tongue.

Fasciation is caused by a hormonal imbalance which is far too complicated (thank goodness) to explain in a one hundred word Twig. Could be bacterial, fungal or some sort of genetic mutation. Other plants affected include Delphiniums, Foxgloves, Primula and even cacti.

It is not fatal nor damaging to the plant so the best thing is to either ignore it or remove the offending shoot.

Some people like it, but they are just weirdos.

June 30, 2021

I reckon that if you did a survey of favourite flowers

then the simple sweet pea would come out close to the top. Pretty simple to grow, abundantly flowering and a scent evocative of summer dresses and the clink of ice in long glasses.

I am talking, of course, of the annual sweet pea. There is also a perennial variety that scrambles through the more fortunate hedgerows. Keeps coming back, flowers beautifully, no trouble at all to grow.

As with all good things, however, there is a drawback.

No scent.

See it as a lesson in life - you cannot always have everything.

June 15, 2021

Many years ago, when I was but a callow youth,

I spent a some of my time sitting around reading copies of either the Victor or the Hornet and eating ice lollies. Two sorts come to mind: the Lord Toffingham (which was banana flavoured with a toffee centre) and the Orange Maid.

This latter was very simple - orange flavoured (I doubt that an actual orange was ever closely involved) ice which stained the lips and made your tongue feel very slightly flayed with the combination of cold and acidity.

The Orange maid was the same colour as this Eschscholzia californica

June 13, 2021

Chelsea 2015 what a fantastic show.

Geum Roses and Peonies were abundant, all looking magnificent. I could have happily moved into several of the gardens. The Olive grove in the L’OCITANNE garden readily springs to my mind.

I am now on the hunt for Geums and boulders. I think I might have more luck with the former.

Mrs Bradshaw may well be taking a sharp exit from several of the gardens in my care. I am thinking more of Geum Totally Tangerine.

And finally, Tom Hare a name that we should all google and remember, his willow sculpture was breathtakingly beautiful.