Friday, 26 February 2010

Late Winter Blooms

Joe Swift had an article in this Saturday's Times listing his garden highlights for this time of year. It got me thinking and looking in my garden to see what I would list. Well there is not a lot of growth and colour yet. Your list may well be longer. My favourite and a new addition to my garden is cyclamen coum. I choose a white one with a silver leaf called 'Maurice Dryden' and I am really pleased with the colour and reflection it is providing.

I have several types of crocuses in the garden. I like my crocuses just before they are to burst open, as in the photo. I also have blue primulas in flower and a Cornus alba (Dogwood), just one but the red stems are very effective against my front brick wall.

The final star in the garden is left over from last year. Some of the lovely silky seedheads from the Clematis ‘Bill Mackenzie’ which I am leaving draped over a variegated holly hoping to provide the birds with some great nesting materials.


Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Out 2 Play at Kew Gardens

If you live near west London then Kew Gardens is a great place to visit. It has all the elements of a garden on a grand scale. In the summer the gardening students each have an allotment plot to plan and manage so you can even pick up some tips for growing veg.

There is so much there for children, space to run around, fish in two of the glasshouses, a tree top walk, lakes and ponds and my favourite a huge badger sett where the children can run in and out of the tunnels. There is also a large indoor play area with a botanical theme, called climbers and creepers (suitable for 3 to 9 years old, though the littlies can still use it) and a new outdoor area yet to be tested as it will not be open until Easter. So we were there this half term spotting snowdrops and smelling the viburnum.

The Princess Diana glasshouse was hosting a colourful display of orchids, with a parallel craft activity at climbers and creepers creating exotic flowers, with paper plates and tissue paper. Quite an easy thing to do at home. We did go and look at the orchids but the biggest attraction for the children were the other new ( i think ) occupants of the glasshouse, lizards which are roaming around helping to keep the cockroach population at bay.


Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Garden Guilt

Why do I always feel guilty when I go out and do some gardening. There is no such feeling when I am inside and pottering about or outside and hanging up the washing. But as soon as I pick up a trowel or pair of secateurs in the garden then I start thinking about all the household tasks that need doing. And I think that that is the nub of the issue. Although garden designers talk about garden rooms and extending the house into the garden and garden into the house not all of us consider our garden as part of our home in quite the same way. This must partly stem from us only being able to fully use our gardens for part of the year. It may also indicate a mindset that gardens are for leisure and luxury and do not form an important part of family life. Yet you can do everything in the garden you can do inside and more. There is no reason why the time, energy and resources you spend on your garden should not be equivalent to those spent on other rooms in the home.

Perhaps if I think in terms of hoovering the lawn, dusting the borders, and cleaning and tidying the plants my guilt will disappear.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

In 2 play in the Garden

As a family this weekend we were very much indoors. However I am pleased to say that we fitted in some garden-related activities. All of us joined in the RSPBs Garden Bird Watch. There has been lots to press recently about how quite rare birds are visiting and depending on food from peoples' gardens. We didn't manage any rare furry friends , but we did clock up 8 different species including long-tailed tits and a goldfinch. Which isn't bad for a small suburban garden.

There was also a visit to another museum. The Science Museum in London. It has set up a 'garden' (recently refurbished) for the under 6s. All the kids love it. The museum has divided the play area into sections - light - shadow - sound - water - mirrors. These complement some of the features I have listed on my website . What's fascinating though is that nearly all of the children make a bee line for the water play. You can feel the tension in the parents standing around who want their kids to have fun, but don't want to go home with a dripping toddler. It has got me thinking that maybe I have been too hard line in thinking that for safety reasons there should be no garden water features for very young children. I am now going to investigate bubble fountains and similar.
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