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Wednesday, 28 August 2013

The RHS Malvern Show

The Malvern Autumn Show is last big RHS Flower Show of the year with beautiful displays from some of the finest nurseries in the country. Held each year in the fabulous Worcestershire countryside the Autumn show is held on the 28th and 29th September 2013.

As well as the plants and gardens you can also see Mary Berry at the show on 28 September in the Food & Drink areas and enjoy fresh and local delicacies.

As is traditional with the RHS shows, there are a number of garden displays to look at. All of which are designed to provide you with ideas and inspiration for your own garden.


Harvest in Harmony
Designer: David Neate-Stidson   Sponsor: Pennard Plants

The garden is inspired by the efficiency of permaculture and the beauty of Nature. It balances the harmony between the human and the Harvest and the habitat in which it sits. The central pyramid is the heart of the space, using materials sourced from the woodland. Set in an open clearing, light can flood on to vines and climbers, competing with others trailing and tumbling, and enveloped by informal hedgerow with nut bushes and cane fruits amongst insect-attracting flowering shrubs. The garden allows the user to freely forage and maintain the connection between people and their food.

The Incredible Food Gallery
Designer: Alan Gardner

The Incredible Food Gallery is inspired by art galleries.  A framework of drainpipes forms a sense of enclosure.  Seedling vegetable beds, growing in colanders displayed on plinths, signify the art of growing and cooking vegetables. Deck floors and carpet formed of salad leaves form the gallery floor. Picture frames with growing plants hang from the frames. Alan Gardner is a landscape artist based in the UK and has a unique ability to visualise and shape spaces in 3D.  His designs are fluid and dynamic and whilst they certainly work on a practical level as gardens and outdoor rooms, viewers are presented with a series of abstract pictures and exciting vistas.  Be prepared to be thrown off your guard and challenged visually - Gardner has a surreal and somewhat mischievous streak!

A la Mode Dining
Designer: Caspian Robertson

This garden is designed to inspire an ‘a la mode’ dining lifestyle for keen cooks and offers a relaxing setting to enjoy meals. The menu shows culinary delights created, using food from the garden, by the Jean-Christophe Novelli Cookery School and Chef's Academy. It is hoped that their mouth-watering creativity, and the obvious diversity and productivity achievable even with a small contemporary space, will enthuse cooking with home grown produce.

Dig for Victory 
Designer: Mark Walker

This is a theatrical garden portraying a rural setting, in Westonzoyland, Somerset, from the mid-1940s – 1950s, from VE day to the Queen’s Coronation. During the Second World War the garden was home for an anti-aircraft gun emplacement which suffered bomb damage in a Luftwaffe strike in 1942. It is a rustic garden complete with sandbag walls and an Anderson shelter and features an allotment garden, formed from bomb-damaged materials, with vegetables and herbs to help feed a ration-starved family.

Discovering Brassicas! 
Design Company: 3 Shires Garden Centre

This garden is themed as a small back garden which shows the joys of growing winter brassicas such as Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage and Purple Sprouting. An aesthetically-pleasing space, which promotes cooking with produce from the garden. There are also some menu suggestions for using brassicas from award-winning chefs within Blue Diamond.

As well as the show gardens there is also a large harvest pavilion, where the a display of home-grown giant vegetables are being exhibited as well as a series of talks and demonstrations from a number of experts.



If you are travelling from far afield, why not make a weekend of it? The Holiday Inn have two fantastically located hotels that would make a good base for a visit to this part of the country, one in Gloucester and the other in Bristol.



For more information, and to book tickets see the RHS website.

Have a great weekend, and hopefully see you there!
DG

Thursday, 22 August 2013

RHS flower show at Wisley

The Wisley Flower show is just a couple of weeks away at the beginning of September (Wednesday 4 to Sunday 8 September). The RHS promise a show that will excite with vibrant and colourful displays at this 5 day flower festival.

As in previous years there are many exhibitors - over 50 attending this year including award winning nurseries and garden trade stands. The Surrey branch of NAFAS (The National association of Flower Arranging Societies) and the National Dahlia Society are both putting on shows that should highlight the fantastic late summer colour.



New for 2013, the National Dahlia Society Show is a welcome addition to this year’s Wisley Flower Show. More than 100 exhibitors will be competing for top prizes in all classes with their vibrant blooms.

The National Dahlia Society (NDS) Competitive Show for NDS members (4-6 Sept) will be judged on the morning of 4 September, and the Show will open to the public from 12 noon.

On 7-8 September, see stunning displays from members of the NDS, the National Dahlia Collection, Pheasant Acre Plants and the Wisley Trials Field, as well as a photographic display.

Members of the NDS and the RHS Dahlia Trials Forum will be available each day for questions and advice. You can also vote for your favourite dahlia on the Trials Field.

As part of this year's show, visitors are also invited to enter this free, fun competition. 'My Best Garden Dahlia' will run on each day of the weekend (Sat 7 and Sun 8 Sept). Attendees are requested to bring one stem (with one or more flowers on it) of any type of dahlia to the National Dahlia Society Show marquee (stand 25) between 10am-12pm, fill in a registration card and place your stem in the vase provided. Judging by the NDS will commence at 2pm and 1st, 2nd and 3rd places allocated. Announcement of winners will be made at 3pm and certificates and prizes awarded. The competition is open to all, so please do come along and participate in this fun new event!







As well as flower exhibits and displays there are also a series of talks which will be held in the "Expert Zone".

It wouldnt be a garden show without fantastic food and as well as the restaurant being open there are numerous food stands and a barbecue planned - lets hope the weather co-operates!




Wisley is really well connected, just a few minutes from the M3. If you are making a short break of it then there are several conveniently located Holiday Inn Hotels within a short distance of the Garden. The Hotel at Guilford, is just 11 minutes away, alternatively Holiday Inn Farnborourgh is 24 minutes away. Within about half an hour are also the Holiday Inn at Sutton and also at Maidenhead. All of which would make a great base to visit Wisley and also other local attractions.

The RHS has a dedicated page on their website with more information - See here for more details.

DG

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Clever Cactus


Arrays of tiny copper spikes can clean oil from water, mimicking the way cacti pull water out of desert air. Chinese researchers had noticed that cone-shaped cactus spines harvest water from air pushing it to their base. Copying Nature's design, they used conical copper needles to separate tiny oil drops from dirty water - a problem existing methods struggle with. The scientists, who are based in Beijing, have reported their results in the journal Nature Communications.

The discovery points the way to a new method for addressing environmental problems like oil spill clean up, with the artificial spines capturing microscopic droplets of oil underwater, continuously transporting them to the base of the sheet of spikes.

Last year, researchers from Beijing reported the discovery that the conical needles of the "bunny ear" cactus, Optunia microdasys, can collect water from the air.

Droplets of water coalesce on its barbed spines and are then driven to the spine base by the interaction between the shape of the spine and the surface tension of the water droplet.

They now report that synthetic spines are capable of separating and collecting oil droplets out of water in just the same way, and have made a synthetic "cactus skin" of needles that do exactly that.

While oil and water don't mix, if very small droplets of oil co-mingle with water it becomes almost impossible to separate the droplets out of the water again - an example is homogenised milk, in which tiny fat droplets stay suspended in the milk forever.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

More on the Make Over

Well as regular readers will know we have been giving the patio outside the house a make over this year. This has included the new fences, patio slabs and the small pond we have featured previously.

The final part of the jigsaw I have put off until now which is the patio furniture. I had been busy on the allotment, and then a holiday away had meant I just didn't get round to choosing what we wanted. Plus I had not really made my mind up on what to go for.

I think I have finally made my mind up, following a couple of hours going through gardening magazines and searching on line. I must have looked at literally hundreds of different styles and colours, from the very modern and brightly coloured to much more traditional and even quite retro or old fashioned.

So... what were they key choices...

Metal
Metal garden furniture often has quite a bistro feel, with a number of styles, there is the fairly traditional, almost Victorian, style, through to modern bistro sets which sometimes have wooden seats as well as metal framed. Then of course there is the very modern metal ones, although these often have a price tag to match the great style.

Too old fashioned for me, but a great style for a Victorian theme.
I do like this style, but always find i get hot or cold legs when you sit on the metal seat. You can get this style with wooden seats which I prefer.
Quite a modern take on the bistro set, metal and wood. very summery!
Rattan
Most Rattan garden furniture is not actually made from Rattan any more. Rattan is a natural product from a type of palm grown in the topics. It is reasonably long lasting, but would not take well to continuous exposure to the British climate. Instead Rattan style garden furniture is usually made in the same style from a plastic based alternative. This wont get affected the same way as a natural product would in the rain and winter period.

Cozy Bay Rattan set from The Range
I love the Rattan style, there can be quite a lot of variety from quite traditional Victorian conservatory furniture styles to very contemporary and modern looks.
Modern style Rattan furniture
Wooden
Hard wood furniture has had a big rise in popularity in recent years as people moved away from the plastic sets of the 80s and 90s. There is a huge range of styles, designs and prices to meet most peoples budgets. Wooden furniture should be regularly treated, either with a specialist wood oil  or varnish from time to time to keep it at its best.
Traditional wooden garden set - perhaps more at home in a pub garden, not for me this style
Very stylish, this teak set looks amazing, although the price matches fantastic looks.

Fairly traditional and typical wooden patio set, you can get similar in most garden centres.
Plastic
Plastic furniture doesn't have to be the uninspiring cheap white chairs and tables from the past there are so many funky colours and styles available.

Simple and inexpensive but not for me!
Stylish Plastic furniture
How cool is this, bright colours and amazing shapes make plastic such a great material for garden furnitur
With so many styles and shops to choose from it can be quite overwhelming when making a choice, after all you will have your furniture for a good number of years to come so you dont want to get it wrong. I spent a lot of time looking online for what to choose, click here if you want to have a look at more garden furniture choices.

I won't reveal which one I opted for but will share photos of the completed patio in a few weeks time!

DG

Thursday, 1 August 2013

How to Choose the Perfect Christmas Tree

If never too early to start planning the festive season which will soon be approaching us. Some of us have already got a stash of Christmas cards from last years end of season sale, but the main attraction we all have twinkling up our houses in the run up to the festive season, are Christmas Here are some things to consider to turn you into a savvy tree shopper.



The top 5 Non-Drop Christmas trees for sale;
Nordman Fir - The original non-drop tree with good needle retaining properties of soft, wide, flat, dark green needles. The tree presents a wide conical shape, and the branches are not too dense.
Fraser Fir - Similar to the Nordman fir with its needle retaining properties of  soft, wide, flat, dark green needles. The top of the Fraser fir has more branches than the Nordman fir and the base is not as wide, making it an ideal tree if space is at a premium
Douglas Fir - A light green colour, thin soft and relatively long needles. They have a wonderful citrus smell making this tree unique
Scots Pine - The best needle retaining tree there is, it has very long needles that give a lovely pine smell to any room
Blues Spruce - A low-drop tree that often has a distinctive silver-blue colour and a smell that is reminiscent of Christmas
Make sure your tree is fresh with needles that look shiny, green, and fresh, not dry or brown. They should not fall off when you pull on a branch. Once you have selected your perfect tree, look after it and be aware of their health and safety to make your tree house friendly.
·         Never place your tree near a heat source, such as a fireplace or portable heater.
·         If you have small children or pets, trim the lower branches to avoid eye injuries.
·         Keep the tree from toppling by tying it to a ceiling hook.
·         Avoid using artificial snow sprays, which can cause lung irritation if inhaled.
·         Turn off tree lights when you go to bed or leave the house.
·         Never burn Christmas-tree branches in your fireplace. It can cause the build up of creosote, a highly flammable compound.


Take good care of your Christmas tree by watering it every 3-4 days, they do not have to be high maintenance, treat it like any other house plant and keep them in a cool area of the house. Taking this advice from Christmas Trees and Lights will ensure your tree sparkles in the festive season.
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