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Hagbourne Garden Club – Blewbury Manor Through the Seasons

Blewbury Manor is a garden that is on my doorstep but I haven’t yet managed to get to visit. Set in 10-acres, I am told it is a must visit as it offers something for everyone and so I am really keen to have a look around.  Fortunately, Richard Roslyn, the head gardener, will be speaking on Thursday 27 November at the Hagbourne Garden Club and it will be interesting to hear how they manage the garden and find out how I can get myself there.

The Garden without a Journey

Sometimes we spend too much time stuffing the garden with plants rather than thinking about the people and so making the garden an experience to be enjoyed. One of my first jobs as a gardener was to help a busy professional couple find their garden again and really all that was needed was to give them a journey to enjoy together and the rest would fall into place.

Postcard from my week

A friend asked me whether I was putting my feet up now the wet weather had arrived.  I had to have a little laugh to myself.  No, I am not, in fact I am probably busier now than during the summer when gardens are largely left to their own devices.  Now is a great time for lots pruning and dividing as well as all those maintenance jobs and projects that you keep adding to your diary.  So I thought it might be good to keep a little pictorial diary of the past week or so and just a few of the things I have been up to.

Postcard from The Japanese Tea Garden

I suspect every gardener dreads this question… so “What is your favourite garden?” Why because it is so difficult to pick from so many wonderful memories and places. However when put on the spot, for me there are two answers – a cheat I know.  First up is the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco and I hope you enjoy the photos we took.  The second, well that is the last garden I visited (whether for work or for pleasure) because each garden, each plot of land always has something unique and special to offer and so that is my answer (but the Tea Garden is a really close second!).

Me maximising the green waste bin capacity

What I have learned from my first year as a gardener

I am one year old. A couple of years ago I decided to give up one profession and do something which, on paper, looked like a really smart thing to do. Looking back, on my first year I thought I might share ten of things I have found out.

The Roasting Tin: Simple One Dish Dinners

The Autumn Cookbook

One of the great things about autumn is you have (if lucky) a wonderful spread of produce but absolutely no idea of what to do with it all. At the moment, I can’t walk around the house without bumping into a butternut squash or finding a bunch of tomatoes hanging out.  So I thought I might share three really simple things we have done with our harvest.

Postcard from RHS Wisley

With a few days off, one of the things we were determined to do was finally go to RHS Wisley and it did not disappoint at all.  Like Kew, you really can’t do it justice in one visit – fortunately I am an RHS Member and we live relatively close so many return visits are planned.  In the mean time, here is my very first postcard from RHS Wisley just a few highlights from the visit.

Postcard from Oxford’s Window Boxes

Front gardens come in all shapes and sizes from those with huge vistas and long sweeping driveways to those with nothing more (and nothing less) than a window box.  As the centre of Oxford doesn’t really have enough space for those long sweeping driveways, for many the window box is their floral welcome mat. Here is my postcard from the window boxes of Oxford.

Chocolate courgette loaf cake

Chocolate Courgette Loaf Cake

You know that you have a glut of courgettes when friends don’t answer the door and fellow allotment holders suddenly remember urgent dentists appointments.  However a glut of anything means you have to get a bit creative.  So, should you find yourself with courgette and the need for a lovely moist chocolate cake then the Chocolate Courgette Loaf Cake is the answer to your (and my) prayers.

South Stoke Open Gardens 2019

South Stoke Open Gardens

With the last bank holiday almost upon us you might want to spend a pleasant afternoon doing what all gardeners love doing – mooching around other peoples gardens!  Many of the gardens in South Stoke (between Goring & Wallingford) will be open to visit and enjoy on Monday 26 August.

Harwell Village Produce Show 2019

Harwell Village Produce Show

Should you find yourself at a loose end on Saturday 14th September why not head over to the Harwell Village Produce Show and admire the efforts of local growers young and old.  The show is at Harwell School and opens at 3pm.  For more details, see the photo.

Postcard from Abbeywood Estate, Cheshire

There are no shortage of gardens to visit and if nothing else, even in the height of summer, they provide inspiration and ideas for next year as well chance to admire the hard work of others.  And so on a visit to the parents we went to Abbeywood Gardens near Delamere (Cheshire, North-West England for those from other parts). Now if you visit the Abbeywood Website you may come away thinking this is just some wedding venue but don’t be fooled, these gardens are wonderful and bold with huge drifts of grasses, perennials and evergreens and that is before you get to the woodlands.  It really is well worth a visit.

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Local Gardening Clubs & Societies

Believe it or not you are surrounded by a multitude of gardening and horticultural clubs and societies all offering talks, visits and the opportunity to swap hints, tips and experiences. Here is a selection of those in and around South Oxfordshire.

Thames Valley Air Ambulance Open Gardens 2019

Thames Valley Air Ambulance Open Gardens

For every wonderful heritage and historic garden in the immediate vicinity there are many more lovely smaller private gardens that, for much of the year, are closed to the public but now and again open their gates so we can enjoy their hidden delights.  The Thames Valley Air Ambulance provides an opportunity to visit a number of these gardens and should you find yourself with a spare few hours they are well worth your time.

The Mirage Hotel & Casino - Las Vegas

Postcard from Las Vegas

Now of all the things you might associate with Las Vegas, gardens and plants is probably not going to appear on your list however you would be surprised what you can find. Here is my postcard from Las Vegas…

Gardeners' World - 2 for 1 Entry - April 2019

Gardeners’ World 2 for 1 Entry

It is always a pleasure to wander around others well tended gardens on a warm sunny day and if you are regular visitor it may well be worth buying the May 2019 edition of Gardeners’ World Magazine which includes a 2 for 1 pass for adult entrance fees at almost 450 gardens until April 2020.

Didcot Allotment Society (DAS) AGM Notice - May 2019

Didcot Allotment Society AGM

The Didcot Allotment Society (DAS) is holding its Annual General Meeting on Saturday 11 May.  In addition to its AGM, there will also be a plant sale so you may well find yourself walking away with a bargain.

Staked tree with adjustable tie

I’ll have a stake with my tree please

Take a little walk around the car park at the Orchard Centre in Didcot and you will spot quite a few trees with a bit of a lean on them (grrr). I have also been to a number of gardens recently and found some lovely trees leaning at rather at a rakish and occasionally alarming angles. The latter we can forgive but the former we shouldn’t because if you are buying a tree, you should always always stake it.

Leek & Goat's Cheese Crêpes

Leek & Goat’s Cheese Crêpes

The last of the leeks had been sat outside by the kitchen door for a few weeks and really needed using if only to make a bit of room.  A visit to our well stocked recipe library came up with the suggestion of Leek & Goat’s Cheese Crêpes but enthusiasm wasn’t high.  However we were wrong and if you have a few leeks kicking around you must try this – simple and quick to prepare and cook and really rather wonderful.

French Marigold [Pexels]

The not so secret weapon for deterring whitefly from your precious crops

Wander around the allotments in the summer months and note the few plots with long lines of lovely marigolds between the rows of fruit and veg. Awww… such a nice thing to do to brightens things up – yes… and no. These canny plot holders are just carrying on a tradition that scientists have only now managed to catch up with – deterring whitefly.