Plant of the Month – Jan 18′

Hello folks!

So back we are again, in January and I am starting off my ‘Plant of the Month’, although I don’t think I even made it to 12 last year… Oops!

Anyway… January. Most things are just starting to come back to life again and everything else is brown and twig-like. However, inside the house, my indoor plants are giving me life!

The indoor plant (in all of its guises) gives me joy on a grey day like today. I have a wide range of indoor plants, cacti, aloe, succulents, lithops and air plants.

They are all so easy to look after, most require watering once or twice a year and the air plants don’t need watering ever… EVER! Well unless you live in an uber dry place. The kitchen is a good place for them, the moisture in the room from cooking is all they need.

I got these cute little air plants from my parents at Christmas and they look fab next to my other indoor guys!

I am keen to expand my indoor plant collection to other rooms in the house, and there is a cute new plant store opened up in Bristol which sell loads of house plants, so I have to visit!

Until then, I will be admiring my small collection and enjoying the greenery during these dark grey days in January!

Thanks for reading,

Amy x

Farewell to plot ‘fifty seven a’

Happy New Year to you all!

Wasn’t the holiday break just the best thing ever?! I don’t know about all of you but I had the BEST time! Seeing family and friends, eating everything in sight… What could be better?!

However… Hasn’t the January blues hit us all with full force?! This January feels longer than ever before, I’m not sure quite how that is possible, but it certainly feels it! Aside from moping around at work and getting up and going home in the dark, I have made some serious decisions about the house, the yarden and the allotment.

This year am going to focus my mind on the place we live and try and put some time into decorating our guest room and saving up for the other big work which needs to be done. We are keen to get our pub shed in the yarden this spring too (exciting) and get some nice new paving so its basically done and I can then just merrily garden and we can BBQ until our hearts are content and enjoy the space we have.

This means that I have decided to hand my allotment back over to the association. If I’m honest I had taken on too much too soon. There isn’t the time I would like to spend up there getting everything as I would like and so the poor plot has suffered a little. I’m a firm believer of ‘do something properly or don’t do it at all’, so for the next few years at least I will not be an allotment holder.

I was sad to say goodbye to the little plot today but I know it’s the right choice for me at this moment in time, so although initially I was upset, now I feel that this huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. I was getting worked up and stressed over it and how little time I had been able to spend on the plot, which was making me want to go up there less. So the plot was getting worse. A vicious circle when you think about it! A hobby shouldn’t make you feel stressed out or under pressure. Otherwise it’s no longer a hobby, it’s like work.

This doesn’t mean that my blog will stop though, if anything I have more time now to write and take photos of the gardens I visit and of course our own little yarden! I am keen to move some of my allotment ideas into the garden and change one of my large flower beds into a mini veg patch. I will be doing my cut flower border in the flower beds too, plus growing more potatoes and carrots in growing bags! I will be testing my small space to the max and will show you how much you can really grow in a teenie yard.

I’m so excited for this year. I am growing (pardon the pun) as a gardener and I am looking forward to the new things I will learn in 2018!

Can’t wait for you all to join me along the way!

Lots of love,

Amy x

P.S. New ‘plant of the month’ coming up this weekend and throughout the year I will be sharing my favourite design tips for a small space, will also try and get to some NGS gardens and share my ‘take away’ items from each garden!

RHS Rosemoor – Our day out

Hello lovely people!

I feel that once again I need to apologise for my lack of posts over the past month. I have had lots of changes with my job which has made me feel unsettled, which has left me no brain space to think about all the things I enjoy, and so my blog has been taking a back seat. My poor allotment has been abandoned too, but I mostly blame the pants weather for that! Hasn’t it been awful?!

Apologies aside, I am still here, the blog is still very much active, and I promise it will be more of a priority in the New Year!

Moving on… This month was Andrew & my 3 year anniversary (how he has put up with me that long is beyond me) so we booked a long weekend away in Devon. We stayed in this BEAUTIFUL renovated shepherds hut, which overlooked a private woodland. The weather was awful but we managed to get a walk through the woods and avoid the rain, and it was fantastic!

As well as our lovely walk in the woods and lots of snuggling with the fire on and a hot chocolate in hand, we braved the poor weather and decided to go to RHS Rosemoor.

Since my time on Gardeners’ World, I have been keen to visit the RHS sites, Rosemoor in particular, as we filmed a lot of inserts for the show there. I really didn’t know what to expect, but I can tell you that I was not disappointed. Rosemoor has something for everyone, from formal gardens to woodland walks, and even a hobbit house built by the workers.

We were fortunate to visit the weekend before they opened a sculpture display around the garden, which meant that many of the sculptures were already in place. Which really added something extra to the gardens, particularly at a time of year when  the large grey and dark skies are overbearing.

(I do realise that there is a patch of blue sky in this photo, probably the only bit we saw all day!)

The gardens are truly beautiful, with lots of variety, they are well kept and maintained and the staff are also really friendly! I feel I should stop rambling about it and pop some more photos into this post so you can see what it was like!

(Down by the lake)

(Sculpture made from car parts)

(View from the entrance)

(More sculptures)

(Me!)

Take a look at my Instagram for more photos! I will pop some more up 🙂

So yes, RHS Rosemoor was inspiring and we managed to stay dry too! If you are ever in Devon or nearby, do take a trip and visit, you can buy tickets online for less than you would expect and the cafe is good too!! Plus, do check out Witherdon Wood Shepherds Hut, which is where we stayed! You will be sure to have an amazing time as we did!

Promise my next post won’t be so long awaited!

Amy xx

Plant of the Month 9/12 – Trees

Hello lovely people!

Super apologies for the long wait between posts, things in life have been busy and also it’s been so wet recently, I’ve barely had any time outside. Boo!

We managed to find some sun last weekend and got out for a walk at Leigh Woods which is just 5 mins down the road from us. A beautiful woodland, great for summer picnics and dog walks! It was on this walk that I decided I would break the rules a little and celebrate a whole family for my ‘plant of the month’.

You can’t go through the autumn months without noticing the changing colours all around. The beautiful chilly mornings, with the low sun shining through tones of copper.

Yes, you got it. Trees are my celebrated plant for October and I am not picky. I love all trees, but I think my favourite might be the traditional Oak. There is something wonderful about seeing a huge, grand, old oak on a woodland walk and thinking, I wonder what you have seen in your long life? Imagine, some of the big Oaks you can see around the UK have been around for nearly 1000 years. Most for hundreds. How much change they must have seen and lived through in that amount of time is incredible.

I am not very knowledgeable about trees generally, Andrew knows a lot about them and points things out to me on our walks and teaches me new things. But I have an appreciation for them and a huge respect for how intricate and important they are. Aside from the obvious, which is that they provide us with the oxygen we need to breathe, they are important eco systems. They are homes for many insects, animals and birds.

There are so many more things they do, things you could never imagine. I think when you look at a huge tree, you almost forget that it’s a living thing. The intricate science which happens within them is outstanding.

Andrew is currently reading a fantastic book about them called, “The Hidden Life of Trees: What they Feel, How they Communicate” by Peter Wohlleben. It talks about how they can communicate with one another, how they live in a society and how they communicate within themselves.

All trees have something fascinating about them, some make good habitats, some great building materials, some a unique way of spreading their seeds. Like I said, I am not knowledgeable about trees, so I cannot teach you about them. But I urge you to go out and learn, particularly at this colourful time of the year. Go, enjoy them and maybe find a small one you can plant in your garden at home. I did, and it’s my favourite plant in the garden.

Happy Autumn folks! Happy exploring! 🍂

Plant of the Month 8/12 – Viola

Now when I started out on this plant adventure I was a bit snobby about bedding plants. I’m not really sure why, but I suppose the bedding plants I always had in mind where plants I remember grandparents having in hanging baskets and I guess they feel a bit old fashioned to me. I don’t know, maybe I thought I was too trendy for bedding plants.

Turns out, I’m not. When the summer is ending and you walk around the garden centre with less and less colour jumping out at you, you realise that most of the remaining colour you can see is in the bedding plant section.

I filled my lovely new flower beds with annuals which are now either dead or dying back and I was craving some colour in there still. So I went for it… I bought some bedding plants. Viola to be exact, and boy, do I love them!

I bought these purple & white guys and then some striking black ones. I am entertained by the fact they look like tiny angry faces and y’know, it was Viola’s in Alice in Wonderland wasn’t it? The scene where Alice is small and all the flowers sing to her, I’m sure I remember little Viola’s in that.

Aside from their funny little face-like petals, they are cheap and cheerful too. I think I only paid a few quid for a tray of 6 plants and there were loads of colours to choose from! A bargain really if you ask me! I think you could find any colour you would wish for.

I don’t really have much else to say on these, I mean bedding plants are bedding plants. There are lots of different types, and they really help to inject a bit of colour to your outdoor patch. Also I guess I have to also say that I am no longer a bedding snob… I will actively seek it out in the future!

 

Amy x

Recipes from my allotment – Spiced plum jam

Hey folks!

Last night I made my first ever batch of jam using golden plums from my allotment. The thought of this alone brings me pure joy, making something from food you have grown yourself is just fantastic!

So anyway here is my take on a recipe I found on BBC Good Food for spiced plum jam.

Ingredients:

  • Plums, roughly chopped (any amount you have, 650g makes about 4x small jars)
  • Caster Sugar (the same weight as your plums when the stones are removed)
  • Water (10ml/100g of fruit)
  • Lemon Juice (1tbs/1kg of fruit)
  • Ground Cinnamon (1tsp/1kg of fruit)
  • Butter

First things first, pop a couple of saucers/plates in the freezer… You will need these to test your jam later!

As mentioned above, the recipe can be edited to suit how many plums you have. Once the stones were removed, mine weighed about 650g.

Put your chopped up plums in a non-stick saucepan with some water (approx 65ml for my measurements). And allow the plums to simmer and soften for about 10 mins. You want the plums to be soft but not mushy.

Next, add the caster sugar (650g), lemon juice (1tbs) and cinnamon (1tsp) into the plums and allow the sugar to dissolve in the mixture. This should be done on a gentle heat (not boiling) and will take approx 10 mins.

After the sugar has dissolved,(you can tell when you move your wooden spoon along the bottom of the pan, you won’t feel grains anymore), you can turn the heat up! Get the mixture onto a boil.

Once the mixture has been boiling for 5 mins, get one of your frozen saucers and drop a small amount of jam onto it. Give it a minute and then push the jam with your fingertip. If the mixture wrinkles when you move it, it’s ready. If it doesn’t wrinkle, keep boiling for a few more minutes and check again.

If you are super posh you might have a sugar thermometer… I don’t. But if you do, I believe the perfect temperature for jam is 105 degrees celsius, that’s when you know it’s ready.

When you are happy the jam is good to go, take it off the heat and add a knob of butter. The butter helps to disperse any scum when the jam is in the jars. Then let the mixture cool for 15 minutes or so.

Finally, pour the jam into hot jars, seal and leave to cool at room temperature.

The finished jam will last for around a year and once opened should be kept refrigerated.

Top tips:

  • Cut disks of baking paper into circles, about 1cm wider than your jars to put on top under a screw lid. This will help to maintain a seal. Although jam often forms its own seal, so it’s not necessary.
  • Remember to sterilise your jars before using them, there are a few ways to do it depending on the type of jar you have. I washed mine in HOT soapy water and then put them in the oven on gas mark 1 to dry them out.
  • You could also put ground ginger in your jam too if you like, for a bit of extra spice.

 

Let me know if any of you give it a go! Or if you have any other recipes which would be worth trying.

Amy x

Plant of the Month 7/12 – Dahlia

Dahlia are beautiful and they come in a variety of colours, shapes and sizes. They look good in pots (if you can tolerate the bugs… keep reading) and in a flower bed or on an allotment.

Lots of people think they are a bit dated, kinda blousey. I guess they do remind me of an 80’s blouse or something. But their bold, kitsch appearance is what I love about them.

True if you maybe over do it and go all Dahlia, your garden could resemble your nan’s… But if you dot them around your garden with some other plants they really inject a bit of colour and drama. They look especially nice up against a plain wall or fence.

So… I was starting to feel that I would never be pleased enough with my first ever Dahlias to be naming them a plant of the month. Oh how things change, because here they are!

They started out well as seedlings, but the ones which started to flower in my garden were covered in aphids, which lead to the plant pots being full of ants. Then some of the plants had gotten too heavy and had flopped over in the wind. Also, the slugs liked them. Cue grumpy gardener!

I had tried so hard to keep the ones in the garden pesticide free and using organic methods only, but after a bit of straight talking from Dad I accepted defeat and used some non-organic methods to get rid of the bugs.

I am now pleased to say that they are doing fantastically at the moment and they look beautiful. They add a real burst of colour into the yarden and I love them.

Now… on the other end of the scale… The Dahlia who live at the allotment.

They have given me no problems, not one. I guess, as they live on the open plot they get a bit more of a breeze which makes it harder for aphids to cling on. It’s less sheltered there too so they get full sun!

These guys are in full bloom next to my cosmos and they look fantastic too. I popped up the plot this afternoon to have a quick check before a weekend of camping and I was hit by an explosion of colour!

So there you have it. My 7th plant of this year. The wonderful, versatile, colourful Dahlia. I think there must be a version out there for everyone. Aside from the aphids and occasional slugs, they are pretty easy to look after, and let’s face it they’re a classic.

Thanks for reading.

Amy x

 

 

Sunny Sundays

Evening lovely readers! Also, a very happy PRIDE weekend to those who have been celebrating – Love really is everywhere. <3

We have spent this weekend basking in the sun and truly enjoying our newly created seating/dining area in the garden. Thanks again Dad & Andrew.

First up yesterday I moved lots of my potted plants into the new planters which not only look fabulous, it’s made more patio space, and has generally made the garden feel bigger.

We then jazzed up those reclaimed stools we bought while Dad was staying and now they look BLOODY AMAZING! It really ties the whole area in together, with the bird box and the bright flowers against the neutral colours of the planter and walls.

Don’t be frightened to inject a bit of colour into the garden, be bold and go for something bright. It can really add a bit of personality to your garden space. Ours now speaks volumes about us!

We still have bits to add, but the stools make such a difference. We also added a bit of interest by putting up some mirrors, one was given to us by my Nan earlier in the year and one I had lying around the house so I painted it up and they both look great.

Adding mirrors to an outdoor space can help create the illusion of more space, and when put at plant level it can reflect view of the garden you might not get to see normally.

Beautiful!

Andrew’s project has been sanding and varnishing our fabulous table, so that its got a smoother finish and is more weather proofed.

He managed to make a good start today, see where he has sanded down half the table?

The right side there has been smoothed down and the edges sanded, it feels and looks so much better.

Then Andrew covered the sanded half with wood preserver, which will keep the table looking nice for years to come.

It’s really brought out the grain, it looks beautiful and it is now ready for its coat of varnish. Can’t wait to see the finished product!

The lovely new space we have in the garden has allowed me to really start appreciating the plants I have.

My beautiful sweet peas are now starting to flower and I have big plans for them next year. Im thinking about sourcing a beautiful statement pot and an obelisk so I have a tower of sweet peas next time around.

I am excited for things to come and to spend more time in our fabulous new garden.

 

Thanks for reading!

Amy xxx

My Week in Words 7/7

Hello folks and Happy Friday to you all! Thank gawd right?!

I was off today with Dad, and we got the last few bits done before Dad goes back home tomorrow, boo!

First thing we did was measured up the bed so we could make an educated guess on how much compost we would need, then we went off shopping!

We bought a selection of bits from the garden centre (Almondsbury, which is on the outskirts of Bristol) including, membrane for the planters, 15 bags of compost and manure (YES 15) and maybe a couple of extra plants…

After that we treated ourselves to a cake at the fab restaurant at Almondsbury, if you live nearby and you don’t like plants (why the heck are you reading this if you don’t like plants) you should definitely go and have some cake in the restaurant!

Our morning of shopping then took us to Ben’s Reclamation Yard, where Dad went yesterday. To a shop called Treaure Island which is on the same site, where I bought 3 reclaimed stools.

This is them…

Finally we went to B&Q for some paint to upcyle the stools and the we headed in home!

Here is Dad emptying the masses of compost and stinky horse shit into the planters. Now they are full and ready for me to transfer plants into at the weekend.

Last job of the day was a trip to the allotment, where Dad built me a compost heap and paved some of the area around the shed and I finally gave in and did some spraying in attempt to keep the weeds down. Fingers crossed it works!

Good days work for us, and now we are relaxing with a Cider in our local pub garden! That’s the life!

Thanks Dad!

Thanks for reading all, there possibly won’t be another post tomorrow as I have truly ran out of words. But the next post won’t be far off! Promise 🙂

Amy xx

My Week in Words 6/7

Helloo – Sorry it’s late, my stupid bus home was late and then I was grouchy so I had to drink cider before cooking dinner etc, etc, blah, blah!

Anyway, I am much happier now and ready to blog. Mostly because of this spectacular creation today…

Look at that beauty! A chuffin’ wonderful table to match our planter and seating area, made from scaffold planks and a couple of pallets. Once again, a big thumbs up to Dad & Andrew who completed it this evening, in time for us to eat dinner around it!

So firstly, Dad bought the scaffold planks from a local reclamation yard (Ben’s Tiles and Reclamation, Bristol) and Andrew brought the pallets back from work. Finally I bought the cushions from Wilko and hey presto, it looks awesome!

We have worked out that the table cost roughly £40.00 – THAT IS A BARGAIN I TELL YOU!

So you could totally do this yourself at home!

Shopping list of items as follows and what we paid:

  • Scaffold Planks (£13 each + VAT, the ones on the table are about half a plank long)
  • Two matching pallets (FREE)
  • Black rectangular planter (£5)
  • Screws (£4.60 for a box, we used a handful)
  • Heavy duty coach bolts (FREE we recycled these)

You may wonder why the planter is empty in the middle?? Well… I wont be planting anything in it. When we have BBQs we will fill the planter with ice and keep our cider bottles cold in it… If that isn’t the BEST idea, I don’t know what is!?

So yes, I have a fabulous table made for next to nothing by my two favourite men. Lucky me!

So I treated them both with a homemade carbonara, which we ate at our new table (here they are waiting patiently for it to be ready).

Thank you both for your continued hard work – I am overjoyed with our garden so far!

Check in tomorrow for my last post of the 7 day blogging marathon!

Thanks for reading 🙂 xxx