It’s now autumn…

but there’s still plenty of colour and interest on the plot, although overall it’s now looking somewhat past it’s best. It hasn’t helped that I’ve done hardly any proper plotting over the past couple of weeks.

This self-seeded sunflower appeared in the middle of the potato patch and has grown well over six feet tall with a large dinner plate size flower.

Having moved the sedums across the path earlier in the year I’m pleased to see that they’re doing well and now flowering.

The knee-high yellow cosmos Xanthos are still flowering profusely even though I’ve not been dead-heading them.

Despite the tomato plants being affected by blight I’ve left them as I’m still picking plenty of good fruit.  At long last some of the black ones have gone blotchy red indicating that they’re ripe. They taste okay but I don’t think that I’ll grow them next year.

Have a good weekend!

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Posted in Flighty's plot | 23 Comments

It was the 2017…

Newton Park Horticultural Society‘s Annual Show yesterday where I was helping, stewarding and showing after an absence of some years.  It was again held at the local Roxeth Community Church which I’ve not been to before, and have to agree with everyone that it’s a good venue with a light and airy main hall and a couple of other rooms for some of the classes and for refreshments.

There were just under three hundred entries, slightly down on last year mainly due to a regular serious dahlia grower/shower not being able to attend.  Here are many of the flower, fruit and vegetable exhibits set out ready for judging.

I’d entered nine classes including a truss of the black tomatoes just as talking point as I knew that they wouldn’t win a prize. My other eight entries won four firsts, two seconds and two thirds which surprised and delighted me.  Three were in the Novices Only category winning a first, second and third. The French beans and onions both won first prizes, with the latter being particularly pleasing as I was up against some previous winners. One of the white pattypan squashes was awarded a third.

In the Other Floral Classes I was delighted to win a first prize with my pink Cosmos.

The last of my entries was a picture of Foxy in A Photograph – Garden Visitors which came second to a superb robin photo which I certainly would have chosen as the clear winner.

My winnings came to the grand sum of £2-80, just over double the entry fees, and I then spent most of it on some yellow tulip bulbs.

After a delicious lunch the show opened to the public for a couple of hours, and it was good to see a steady flow of people looking round. I joined them and had another look at the colourful array whilst chatting with some of them including Martin, a onetime fellow shed helper, who’s sadly not in good health.

Three entries which caught my eye were these lovely dahlias,  an unusual succulent and a wonderful Harvest Festival basket.

        

All too soon it was time to hand out the various cups, trophies and other prizes to the winning exhibitors.

There was an overflowing surplus produce stall which had nearly sold out by the time we packed up.  My contribution included lots of French and runner beans, three patty pan squashes and some tomatoes.

It was a long and busy, but most enjoyable day which went quickly and smoothly. Christine, the show secretary, has already provisionally booked both the venue and judges again for next year and I’ll be there trying to emulate this year’s successes.

Have  a good week!

Posted in A good cause, Flighty's plot | 32 Comments

What a palaver!

On the window sill at home the regal pelargonium White Splash has grown well and flowered again.

I’m hoping to enter the other pot plant, a gazania Daybreak,  in the show as it’s just about to flower again for the third time. Although it looks like being touch-and-go as to whether it will be in bloom by Saturday.

 

 

On Monday I wasn’t surprised to find the the tomato plants had succumbed to blight as the site just across the road has had it for a couple of weeks.  Thankfully I’d already picked plenty of fruit over the previous few weeks, and given much of it away.  The black ones are still mostly black but a few have changed to a blotchy red which indicates that they’re ripe. I cut one open to find that it was dark red, and found that it tasted rather bland so I don’t think I’ll be growing them next year.  The picture shows the large Legend, popular Gardener’s Delight, yellow Golden Sunrise, and a few of the red/yellow Sunrise Bumble Bee.

This morning I took my show entry form round to Christine, the show secretary.  I’m a bit surprised that I’ve entered ten classes, although that might change slightly.  Tomorrow morning I’ll be picking, and sorting, climbing French and runner beans then after lunch checking that everything is okay and ready for Saturday.   What a palaver!

Have a good weekend!

Posted in Flighty's plot | 22 Comments

It makes a welcome change…

to have sunny, warm weather over the August Bank Holiday weekend, with tomorrow set to reach the high 20’s C (80F).

During the week I lifted the last onions after which I weeded then hoed the area over.  I did the same with the potato patch, but as I only lifted them using a hand fork I now need to carefully fork it over as I’m sure I’ll find plenty more.

The knee-high sunflowers Music Box are still flowering. Here are two contrasting ones, with lemon-yellow and the more usual yellow with a dark centre.

   

The nasturtiums include these pale yellow ones growing among the cosmos.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend, and have a good week!

Posted in Flighty's plot | 20 Comments

For various reasons…

it’s been a long time since I last went to the horticultural society’s annual show but I will be this year.  It’s being held on Saturday, 2nd September and I’ll be generally helping out and stewarding.  I also hope to be showing in a few of the classes so I’ve been looking through the show schedule recently trying to decide which ones to enter.

 

If blight doesn’t strike then I may have tomatoes 4 of one cultivar and/or one truss I can show, like these good looking Sunrise Bumblebee.  

 

 

 

 

I wondered if my biggest onion, an Ailsa Craig, weighed enough at just over 600 grams to enter in the Exceptional vegetables, heaviest onion class but the winners in the past three years have all been around 1000 g (1 kg) so I don’t think so.

I’ve now lifted all the onions so perhaps I have 3 of one cultivar over 250 g or 4 up to 250 g instead.

 

 

Perhaps I’ll have 6 runner beans or 9 French beans which are a good colour, unmarked, straight and of equal length.  There are one or two possibilities in the the Floral Classes, and in the Handicraft  Classes there’s A photograph, subject Garden visitors which I might enter with a picture of Foxy on the plot.

Have a good weekend!

Posted in Flighty's plot | 32 Comments

It’s always nice to be looking…

round the plot and see a flower which has different or unusual colour variations.  Here are three that I’ve noticed during the past couple of weeks.

I like the blue and white flowering love-in-a-mist ( nigella damascena) which freely self-seed and grows most years.  Look at any packet of the variety Persian Jewels and you’ll also see red (pink or rose) ones as well but I’ve only ever had a handful of these appear.   I’m told that germination is erratic and that they generally don’t self-seed and appear the following year.  Needless to say I was well pleased to see this rose and white one which was only a few inches tall with a flower no bigger than my thumb-nail.

Nowadays I rarely notice a new colour variation among the many pot marigolds (calendula officinalis) Flighty’s favourites that I grow but this yellow one with creamy-white tipped petals caught my eye yesterday.

The cosmos (cosmos bipinnatus) have done really well this year  and among the pink, red, red and white, white and white with a hint of pink colour variations is one plant with flowers that are pink and white.

Have a good week!

Posted in Flighty's plot | 19 Comments

Thrive Open Gardens

Earlier this year Sandy at Thrive emailed me asking if I would be happy to answer some questions regarding various aspects of the charity from a supporter’s point of view. I was but rather than reply by email she phoned me a few days later and we happily chatted for almost an hour.  She asked if I’d been to any of their previous open days and when I said no she said that it would be nice to see me at one of this years.  I’m not keen on driving far nowadays so I asked Christine and her husband John, respectively show secretary and chairman of the horticultural society, if they like to go to one and would John drive.  They said yes and yesterday lunchtime we headed off to the Thrive Trunkwell Garden Project at Beech Hill near Reading.  On arrival we met Sandy for a quick chat before she introduced us to her colleague Neil who she’d asked to give us a guided tour.

The Garden Project is set in a Victorian walled garden covering 3 acres next to Thrive’s head office.  Each year the therapists work with more than 100 disabled people, aged between 14 and over 80.  The garden is designed to help gardeners develop their skills with a variety of plants and has areas for growing flowers, fruit, herbs and vegetables. There are various gardens, a glasshouse and polytunnels, a shop selling plants and more.

Neil showed us round the gardens – secret, woodland, herb, triangle, potager, cottage, oriental and Chelsea – as well as the allotment field, client plots, pond and five small gallery gardens each of which is designed round a specific disability showing how design and planting can meet those needs. We frequently stopped to admire features, flowers, fruit, plants, trees and vegetables with Neil telling us about each area.

This is the view from the Triangle garden looking towards the main building.

I turned to my left to take this one of the glasshouse beyond the client’s plots, the pink flowers in the foreground are Snapdragons (antirrhinum majus).

There are over fifty client plots, each about a square metre, creating a garden patchwork of wonderful colour and diversity. I’m sure that some of the pot marigolds are Flighty’s favourites as I sent them some saved seeds early in the year.    There are benches all round the gardens, some of which are almost hidden from view. This impressive stone one wasn’t, and is in the Oriental garden.

In one of the Gallery gardens this small pond and children’s proper watering cans caught my eye.

We thanked Neil for the tour then went to enjoy a cup of tea and chocolate cake, where Sandy rejoined us for another chat.

There was a real sense of tranquillity in these gardens helped by the brick walls and mature trees just beyond them.  The surrounding areas are all countryside with only a few buildings or houses visible, nor is there any noise from roads.  These are not show gardens but working and productive areas so they do look a bit messy and untidy in places but I’m sure that’s how most of our gardens or plots look at times. Not surprisingly the gardens are wildlife friendly as shown by a big clump of sprawling lavender outside the entrance to the main building which was buzzing with bees,  and the pond is home to Great Crested Newts which are a protected species, so only gets cleaned and tidied once a year. I’m told that the Loch Ness monster’s blue relative is friendly!

Thrive’s volunteers make a significant contribution but perhaps some people don’t realise that, nor do they get mentioned as often as they should. I briefly spoke to two who clearly enjoyed what they do. I admire them and if I lived nearby I’d certainly be one.

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit, and meeting Sandy and Neil to find out more about Thrive , which is a wonderful gardening charity doing such good work.

 

Have a good weekend!

Posted in A good cause | 18 Comments