Wednesday, 30 March 2011

National Garden Scheme The Yellow Book 2011- Press Launch

Today I felt very privileged to attend the NGS press launch for the 2011 edition of The Yellow Book.

I had been invited as a photographic contributor for their book and it was the first time I got to see which images they had used, in their first all-colour edition.

Last year the NGS raised 2.6 million pounds, going to beneficiaries as Macmillan Cancer Support, Help the Hospices and Marie Curie Cancer Care. For every pound that is raised 80p goes to these charities, which is pretty good going.

I am very proud to have the following images in the book.

                                                                  Aviemore Hampshire

                                                              Fritham Lodge Hampshire

                                                 Dahlia New Baby from Hilltop in Dorset
                                                  (A whole page was given to this image)

On a large screen one of my favourites taken at Knowle Farm in Dorset, was shown, to illustrate that you can stay at some of the gardens. Knowle Farm is also a B & B.

                                                                       Knowle Farm Dorset

and if this wasn't exciting enough for me, a large banner showing one of my photographs from White Barn in Hampshire, was displayed for everyone to see.

                                                               White Barn Hampshire

                                     NGS Banner with image of White Barn in Hampshire

After the presentations, it was wine and canapé time and a chance to catch up with some of the lovely people I met last year.

I am now making my list of gardens in Dorset and Hampshire to photograph this year. I met up with a lovely couple who have a garden in Hampshire and who are happy for me to photograph it, so there is one on the list.

It really is a privilege to be involved in this wonderful charity.
Visiting an NGS garden is such a wonderful afternoon out. The garden owners are always happy to give advice and visiting the gardens is such a good opportunity to get ideas for plant combinations for your own garden. Of course the tea and amazing cakes are literally 'the icing on the cake'.

The average entry price is £3 and under 16's go free into most gardens and The Yellow Book is available for £9.99.
If you only want the garden details for your county, most libraries and garden centres have these for free.

Crocus at the NGS is the perfect way to purchase plants, which you have seen whilst visiting the gardens, with 15% of the purchase going to the NGS and if you purchase plants now and spend £50 excluding bedding and seed orders, you get a free copy of The Yellow Book.

I hope I have inspired you to visit some gardens open for the NGS, it's an afternoon well spent!


Sunday, 20 March 2011

The First Day of Spring

Today is the first day of spring and the weather did not disappoint.

This week I have potted on my seedlings and popped them into the greenhouse. I got quite a shock when I woke up on Saturday morning, to see quite a hard frost had visited us in the night. I feared the worst and imaged my little seedlings had perished in the night but I need not have worried because they were still hanging on in there. I think they had had a little shock but soon recovered when the sunshine warmed the greenhouse up.

Because this year I have a greenhouse, I have started my seed sowing earlier without realising it, hence I wasn't quite prepared for the frost. The seedlings had been kept in my utility room, which isn't heated but it is warmed up from the heat of the house, so I think going out into the greenhouse, was quite a change for them.

Since this fright, I have been tucking my seedlings up in fleece, just to give them an extra layer of warmth, at night.

It still is a bit early to be doing lots, so I have been nourishing my vegetable bed with a nice thick layer of well rotted manure.

I adhere to the no digging style, when it comes to the vegetable plot. I just fork over the soil lightly, before adding the manure and over these past three years, the soil has improved enormously. I know this because my once sandy poor soil, is now dark and delicious and full of worms. Oh I am so happy to see those little souls squirming about in the soil.

After adding the manure, I covered a small area of the plot with my two cloches, just to warm up the soil, ready for my first batch of seeds.

Rows of Garlic with cloches behind warming the soil ready for planting

I have been adding ericaceous compost to my two blueberries in pots and trimming them to a healthy bud, where necessary and they are looking lovely and healthy.

Blueberry plant surrounded by ericaceous compost

After first deciding not to grow potatoes this year (apart from my sweet potatoes) I have changed my mind but opted for potatoes which you can't buy in the shops.

The last couple of years has found me growing Charlotte which I love but those are now available in the supermarkets, so instead I have gone for a variety, which I grew a few years ago and that is Pink Fur Apple.

This knobbly pink beauty, is so tasty, so this year they are going into the potato sacks again but I intend to be more vigilant and water more frequently, in the hope that I get a better yield.

But for now they are chitting in the utility room, whilst I dream of simply boiling them and smothering them in butter........hmmm

Sunday, 13 March 2011

March Is Upon Us

Well they say time flies when you are having fun and I suppose I am.
My new portrait business is going well and that is definitely lots of fun and I have found out that the National Garden Scheme has used some of my photographs in the 2011 edition of the Yellow Book and that has made me very happy indeed. It means a trip up to London at the end of March for the press launch and that is exciting!

A little while ago, I was up in London, photographing one of my other favourite subjects cake. These images are going to be used on packaging and really tested my photography skills as I didn't take my lights with me and had to rely on window light and the camera, and talking of cake, I have just purchased a gleaming red Kitchenaid. Something I have wanted for a long time but sadly a Weight Watchers diet is preventing me from using it to it's full potential.

                                                                   My new Kitchenaid

With March very much upon us, the garden is bursting into life. Today has been the big tidy up, using my new sharp secaturs. Perennials have been trimmed, to reveal new growth and dead leaves have been swept away.


In the flower garden the miniature daffodils Tete a Tete have been nodding in the breeze -

                                                                        Tete a Tete

                                                             A beautiful yellow trumpet

 in the kitchen garden, the rhubarb is flourishing and this year we will be able to pick a few stalks for the first time. I have to admit that I have never tasted rhubarb but my boyfriend assures me it is tasty.


                                                                      Abstract Rhubarb

We have added some fruit to the garden this year. A red and blackcurrant and a family apple tree, which is a tree with three different varieties grafted onto it.

I have started my seed sowing in earnest. Chillies were the first to be sown and now with their true leaves emerging, will need to be potted on next weekend.

Tomato Ferline have been sown, and I will pot those on next weekend too and in a week or two, I will be sowing my other variety of tomato Legend. I grew both of those last year and I had such a success with them, that I have decided to grow them again.

Gardeners' World has returned to our screens with a new/old presenter Monty Don. I have always liked Monty and I thoroughly enjoyed this programme. The filming was very stylised and the music was very soothing. Watching it is going to be a wonderful start to the weekend but I can't help feeling though, that GW has returned to appealing to the middle-aged, middle class viewers. Toby Buckland and crew from the previous series, really lightened gardening and having Alys in the mix, whom I loved, would have appealed to those wanting to get into gardening, through vegetable growing.

I really think there is room for more gardening programmes than just Gardeners' World and would love to see Alys and Toby, return with a gardening programme designed to encourage new blood into the wonderful world of gardening.



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