Cuttings…

has  recently been published by the Gardening for Disabled Trust.

It’s a softcover book, 6″/15 cm by 9″/23 cm with 156 pages,  full of wide-ranging gardening tips from famous, expert and green-fingered friends including me! It’s well laid out, easy to read, has colour photos at the front of each chapter and some black/white drawings.

There is a foreword by the charity’s President Alan Titchmarsh then a Contents page listing the 14 chapters which include Planting Perfection, Essential Kit,  and The Final Farrago-Musings and Timesavers.

One page is devoted to a Case Study; how a grant from GDT helped a community.

I was delighted to have been asked to contribute to this lovely book and two of my tips are included, which I should point out are credited semi-anonymously to @ Sofaflyer, which is my Twitter identity.  There are over 500 tips by numerous people including actress Dame Helen Mirren, The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and rock guitarist Jeff Beck.  I’ve already noted several to use next year, and found my myself nodding and smiling at what Susan MacCulloch says – Make yourself a cup of tea (with a chocolate biscuit), sit down and look at what YOU’VE achieved in YOUR garden.  Marvellous!

My thanks to the committee members and trustees involved, which I’ve no doubt was made far more difficult by the restrictions on all our day-to-day lives at present.

Gardening broadcaster, presenter and writer Mark Lane, one of the trustees,  did this excellent short video to celebrate the book’s publication a couple of weeks ago.  It’s well worth watching.

At £10, plus £2 post and packing (UK), a copy of Cuttings is an enjoyable read and will more than repay you with sound gardening advice.  Details for ordering can be found here.

Happy reading and gardening!

Take care, and have a good weekend!

This year’s sunflowers…

have been the usual mix including the knee-high Musicbox  (right) and a few eye-catching Ring of Fire  (below) along with various unknown ones from saved seed.  They’ve grown from around 1 ft/30 cm to over 6 ft/180 cm.

I also tried a new to me variety Sonja but it didn’t do as well as expected, nor do I like the colour of the orange-yellow flowers so I’ll be looking for something else to try next year.

I’m not keen on most of the dark coloured varieties but like this one that I grew from saved seed.  I don’t know the variety so I’m calling it Sunset Shades

As I mentioned on Thursday I’m collecting the flower heads to save the seeds.  Most of which I’ll be sending to Toni at The Big Sunflower Project to use next year.

 

Take care, and have a good week!

My second guest blog post…

for the Gardening for Disabled Trust blog was published two weeks ago and I forgot to mention it so rather than link to it here it is.

Much as I like to grow soft fruit and vegetables on my  Flighty’s plot allotment it’s annual flowers that I really enjoy growing.  In recent years I’ve grown California Poppies, Candytuft, Cornflowers, Cosmos, Love-in-a-Mist, Nasturtiums, Poached Egg Plants, Pot Marigolds and Sunflowers. As I don’t have a greenhouse and only limited windowsill space at home I sow nearly all my seeds direct in the spring.  At the end of the season I collect and save seeds from most of them, let some self-seed and buy a few new ones.

My favourites are the Pot Marigolds which are a mix of varieties, to which I’ll be adding a packet of Playtime Mix which won an award for consistent quality with a fine mix of single, semi-double and double flowers in a mix of bright, buff and pastel shades. I’ll also be trying the delightfully named Oopsy Daisy, which is a dwarf variety which has bi-coloured flowers in a range of bright oranges and creamy yellows. The description for the Mixture of Varieties in the Chiltern Seeds catalogue says – To bring back fun into gardening, this is a jolly mixture to brighten gardens, lives and outlooks.  Who could ask for anything more?

My plot is rather exposed so I generally grow the knee-high Sunflowers Musicbox.

This year I’ll also be growing the slighty taller variety Sonja, which has dark-centred, golden-orange blooms.  These are shown as being excellent for cutting, and I’m hoping that they’ll be good enough to exhibit at my local horticultural society’s annual show in early September.

 

I’m always a touch apprehensive when I sow the Nasturtiums Tom Thumb Mixed as the Chiltern Seeds catalogue description states – If you can’t grow these then you’d better give up gardening as a hobby. Thankfully so far they’ve always, germinated, grown and flowered.

Have a floriferous 2020!

If you’d like to read my first guest blog post, which was published at the end of November 2018, then click here.

Take care, and have a good weekend!

I’ll be growing plenty of sunflowers…

next year including the wonderful Ring of Fire, which did so well this year.

As I’ve done in recent years they’ll be grown in support of the The Big Sunflower Project, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

I recently updated my webpage there writing about how I did with sunflowers this year and what varieties I’ll be growing next year.

I’m also hoping that I’ll have some blooms to enter at the horticultural society’s annual show in early September.

Have a good weekend!

I’ve been driving…

for over fifty years but have been doing so a lot less recently so finally decided earlier in the year to sell my tatty Ford Fiesta and not replace it.  It was twenty five years old and knowing that it was worth very little decided to scrap it and donate what I got to charity.

I’d been recommended to do that via Giveacar so I rang them on a Monday morning, the car was collected the next day and they advised me that a cheque, for an amount more than I thought it would be, had been sent to the charity Gardening for Disabled Trust a few weeks later.

It was all very easy to arrange and was dealt with as stated so I highly recommend  Giveacar to anyone looking to get rid of an old car and donating to a chosen charity.

I will also save money by not having to pay out for road tax, insurance, breakdown cover, service/MOT and petrol even if I have to hire a local mini cab occasionally.  Being the age I am I can use a Freedom Pass to travel free on buses and the tube. The local supermarket, library, post office and bank are all near to one another and a round trip walking leisurely takes me less than an hour.

I don’t miss driving, or being a car owner, and pleased to think that I’m also helping the environment.

Have a good weekend!

The Gardening For Disabled Trust…

is a small charity that I started supporting this year.  It gives grants to people in the UK so that they may continue to garden despite age, disability or illness.

The Gardening for Disabled Trust gave its website a major revamp during the summer following which the blog has featured weekly guest posts.  The first of these was by Alan Titchmarsh, the charity’s president, followed various other notable gardeners.  I was surprised when Anna one of the charity’s voluntary fundraisers contacted me asking if I would write a post.  Needless to say I replied that I would be delighted to do so. It’s titled A Good Cause and was published on Friday.  I hope you enjoy reading it, and the website generally.

As well as liking the charity’s objectives the Trustees and Executive Committee are all volunteers which I find admirable.

This year the charity has been celebrating it’s 50th anniversary, which must make everyone who is, and has been, associated with it proud.

The charity can be found on Facebook and Twitter , and the Trustee’s Report and Annual Account for the year ended 31 December 2017 can be read here.

Have a good week!

I grow sunflowers…

every year as they’re such cheerful flowers, and great for wildlife.

I’ve tried a number of varieties, of varying colours and heights, and really like the knee-high Musicbox that I’ve grown the past couple of years.  One advantage of this dwarf variety is that they don’t need staking, unlike taller ones.

 

The past three years I’ve supported the good cause The Big Sunflower Project with a link over on the right-hand side and posted pictures of sunflowers I’ve grown on the Facebook group page.  I’ve also written several guest blog posts on the Projects website,  the latest of which was earlier this month.

This year I’ve saved seeds to give to Toni, who will send them to participants next year.  It looks like there’ll be well over tw0 thousand   Musicbox seeds and nearly five hundred of the yellow unknown variety that appeared.  I also hoped to save seeds from the red and yellow Ring of Fire flower heads but the parakeets and/or squirrels got them.

 

Have a good weekend!

Yesterday it was…

the Newton Park Horticultural Society‘s Annual show held at the local community church hall.  I was there all day helping and stewarding, and generally enjoying the event.  I also entered six classes which won four firsts, all vegetables, and two thirds for flowers.  That’s not quite as impressive as it sounds as three of the firsts were in novice classes with only one other entry.  Having won these I can’t enter them again next year so will have to up my game so to speak if I enter in other classes.

This picture shows some of the vegetable classes, including potatoes and tomatoes, with some of the dahlias along the back.

Despite everyone saying what a challenging and difficult growing year it’s been there were still around three hundred entries.  What was particularly pleasing was how well two new-comers, both women, did.  One entered about thirty classes which won her plenty of prizes and two cups.  The other entered just three giving her two firsts, including the runner beans, and a second.  Both were surprised and delighted as the well deserved results.

The serious growers and showers showed just what can be achieved as exemplified by this  vegetable collection.

 

As usual the flowers classes were dominated by dahlias including these three raspberry coloured pom-poms and this colourful  one.

     

There were some fascinating cactus and succulents on show including this well marked and shaped aloe.

Entries in the domestic classes, shown in a smaller hall,  were noticeably down this year as two of the usual entrants were absent.

The day passed by all too quickly with the morning  spent setting entries out, then judging before lunch. It was open to the public for a couple of hours in the afternoon before the prizes and cups were awarded. By five o’clock there was no sign that the show had been held.  It’s all thanks as usual to several dedicated society members headed by show secretary Christine that it’s held at all, and is as good as it is.

Needless to say I hope to be there again next year helping and stewarding, and entering a few classes which may perhaps win me a prize or two.

Have a good week!

A happy Christmas!

One of the things that I like is receiving Christmas cards, which this year have included a hand-made one from New Zealand,  a round card showing a elegant wreath, one with a wonderful picture of a barn owl and another with a line-up of no less than seven robins!

I sent this Thrive robin card to family and friends.

Have a good weekend, and a happy Christmas!

(Please note that I probably won’t be doing a post on Sunday.)