Tuesday, 19 April 2011

The Chalice Well & Gardens - a peaceful corner of Somerset

Although I have been to Glastonbury many times over the years, I have never made it to the Chalice Well and Gardens but last Sunday I decided to remedy that.

Sitting at the foot of the Tor, the garden, although close to a busy road, is filled with a sense of peace and tranquility. When you step into the garden, you feel that this is a really special place.

At the top of the garden, nestled amongst the plants is the well head and sanctuary.

                                                                        Well Head

The lid of the well has a symbol called Vesica Piscis which is an ancient sacred symbol of two interlocking circles. Its geometry symbolises a union, of heaven and earth or spirit and matter and it appears throughout the gardens. (information taken from the leaflet) This area is a place for quiet contemplation.

At the moment, the garden is filled with lovely spring flowers.

                                                                  Forget Me Nots


The spring waters which cascade out of the lions mouth can be drunk.

                                                                        Lion's Head

This water then trickles down to the healing pool. You can see how the iron deposits have stained the rill red.

                                                       King Arthur's Court & Healing Pool

If you fancy just stepping away from the hustle and bustle of life for an hour, this is a wonderful place to visit. It is a garden which has lots of ideas for secret, restful, tranquil spaces for you to take home and replicate in your garden, minus the pure spring healing waters of course, unless you are very lucky.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

A Wonderful Endorsement from Dobbies Garden Centre

This is what Dobbies are saying about my blog:

Louise Jolley is a professional photographer with a passion for plants and gardening. In and out of the garden combines great gardening advice with exquisite photography. Yet behind this carefully crafted display, Louise is still a humble gardener who shares her triumphs and tears as she toils in the soil. Louise also writes the online gardening blog for her local Bournemouth Echo, and is proud to have her photos published by the National Gardens Scheme.

Read more: http://www.dobbies.co.uk/blog/#ixzz1JKVKHLIQ

What a wonderful endorsement, I am chuffed to bits!

My new favourite gardening tools

The garden centres are full of tools and bits and bobs to tempt us into spending money but I wonder, do you buy additional spades and forks once you have your basics gardening tools?

After seeing Monty Dons immaculate potting shed with all his tools hanging up, I looked at my pile of gardening paraphernalia, heaped up in the corner of the garage and thought I needed to have a sort out.

I don't tend to have lots of tools, probably one of everything I need and I have collected some old second hand tools which I picked up at an NGS garden I visited but I have to admit I was tempted by Burgon and Balls stand at my local garden centre, Stewarts Garden Centre near Wimborne.

This seed and planting measuring tool and dibber is absolutely fantastic for a person like me who has no concept of space and especially as I vowed to space my plants correctly this year, it will be a god send.

Not only does it have inches and centimetres marked out but it gives the recommended planting distances for popular plants too.

Check out their website http://www.burgonandball.com for all their garden tools and your local stockist.
I especially love their Grow Your Own range, which is were this ingenious tool comes from.

Below is a sneak peak of their children's gardening tools, which I will be reviewing along with some other fantastic children's gardening tools from www.craftplay.com on the blog by The PR Mummy which I am writing a weekly guest post on, to give help and encouragement to parents who want to garden with their children and are completely new to gardening.

I think my most favourite gardening accompaniment, is a kneeler I received for my birthday, from Cath Kidston.  (She didn't give me the kneeler my friend Linda did!)

                                                                  Cath Kidston Kneeler

I am a big fan of Cath Kidston products, so I absolutely love this pretty kneeler.

Last weekend the weather was absolutely glorious. I had to take a trip to the DIY store and I saw lots of people buying bedding plants and the naughty store didn't have any signs up to warn the shoppers of frost, which could still rear its ugly head, even here in sunny Dorset.

There was a seed sowing frenzy going on in the greenhouse.
Courgettes, sweetcorn, cut and come again lettuce and squash were all sown and whilst I was at B & Q, I bought a length of drainpipe to sow some peas in. The idea is that you fill the drainpipe with compost and then sow your seeds. When they are ready to plant, you just make an indentation in the soil, with the drainpipe and then slide the seeds, compost and all into the bed. I have never done this before, so it's an experiment but if it's good enough for Sarah Raven, it's good enough for me.

The flower garden is growing at a rate of knots and my orange tulips look magnificent.

                                                                      Orange Tulip

With major reconstruction work going on at the top of the garden, I will soon have a couple of new beds to plant up. I have a few ideas of the kinds of plants I am going for, Miscanthus and Verbena Bonariensis so I now need to decide, do I grow them from seed or buy big plants for instant impact. Decisions, decisions but how exciting, those are the kinds of decisions I enjoy.


Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Gardening for the first time

 If you have decided that this is the year you are going to plant up your garden and learn how it works then firstly congratulations, I hope you get the absolute joy of gardening and it becomes a life long passion but if you just want your world to look a bit nicer, then that's good too but where do you start?

Well you could just rush to the garden centre and buy everything which takes your fancy. Now I am not adverse to the odd impulse buy or two but firstly there are a few basic bits of info you need to know before you could potentially make some expensive mistakes.

What condition is your soil in?

Is your soil full of clay, sand or a mixture?
If it is clay, then the good thing is it does keep hold of nutrients but it does dry out in the summer and becomes rock hard and is sometimes waterlogged in the winter.
If it's sandy like mine, then the nutrients leach out of the soil, it's rather thin but it is free draining, so the plants don't tend to sit in water like they do with clay.

Then you need to know the pH balance. In other words, is it acid or alkaline.
This is easy to find out by buying a soil testing kit from the garden centre for a couple of pounds.
You add soil to a test tube some water and wait to see what colour the soil goes. A visual guide on the packet will tell you the pH of your soil.

So now you know what condition your soil is in and the pH balance, you can buy your plants to suit your soil. Whatever your soil, clay or sand, you will need to feed it with some compost. Garden compost, well rotted farmyard manure or green compost like Eco Compost are good ones to go for. Spent mushroom compost is cheap and cheerful but it does have lime in it, so don't use it if you are going to grow acid loving plants like Rhododendrons or Blueberries.

What aspect is your garden facing?

You need to observe the way the sun moves across your garden.
It's no good buying a plant which loves full sun, if the bed is in shade most of the day.

It's well worth finding this out first as it will save a lot of disappointment and money if you buy the wrong plants for your conditions.

So now you know your conditions, what plants do you buy?

Well it's purely down to what you like and how much time you want to spend in your garden.

My favourite style of planting is cottage garden. You can use shrubs as the backbone and perennials as the stars with roses and climbers for colour height and scent and not forgetting spring bulbs, to fill the spaces whilst the perennials are growing.

Perennials grow, flower and die back in one season, to return again the next year. You can either cut them down to the ground at the end of Autumn or if they have pretty seed heads, leave them through the winter and cut them down in spring.

It's good to spread the flowering times throughout the garden and throughout the year, so you have something of interest in flower every month.

Here are some of my favourites, which I wouldn't be without:





                                                       Angelica for height and structure

but the list is endless.
Roses for scent and beauty. Grasses for grace and movement. Lavender and honeysuckle for scent.

Visiting gardens open to the public like NGS gardens, are a good way to get inspiration and RHS shows like Hampton Court or Gardener's World live at the NEC are both good as you can buy the plants you see, at the shows.

Your local library has a good source of gardening books and the Internet has endless inspiration and information. I always find Gardeners World or the BBC/gardening very good sources.

Whatever your style of gardening, I hope like me your get enjoyment and pleasure from your connection with the soil and with the warmer weather heading our way this week, there is no better time for getting out there and getting your hands dirty.


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