WIN a gorgeous Julie Dodsworth Buff

Being a keen hillwalker, I’ve long been a fan of the ‘Buff’ as a great way to keep my hair out of my face (it’s usually windy up there) and also the sun off my head. The lovely folks at Kitshack sent me this gorgeous one from the new Julie Dodsworth range and they’re offering one of you lucky readers the chance to win one too.

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I’ve been wearing it out in the garden pretty much every time I’ve been out since getting it, it’s perfect, pretty and functional – and ideal now that the midgies are about again. Love that it can be worn in so many different ways, ingeniously simple product design at it’s best.

All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning one of these is to follow the rafflecopter link and choose how you would like to enter – GOOD LUCK!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

(If you would like to see the range you can choose your prize from, please click here)

RHS Tatton Flower Show 2016

a truly floral dress
a truly floral dress

I was lucky enough to be invited along to the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show this year by the lovely folks at STIHL who were exhibiting. I’d never been before and it was a wonderful day. We had a demo of STIHL’s new cordless consumer gardening equipment range (a hedge trimmer, a strimmer, a leaf blower and a chainsaw) followed by a lovely lunch and plenty of time to wander around and take in the sights

The lovely Lee demo-ing STIHL's new cordless range
The lovely Lee demo-ing STIHL’s new cordless range

So many lovely things to look at (mentally I spent £ thousands) and there was a lovely vibe. The weather was incredible – I’d definitely go again although perhaps I’d need to think re-think flying home so I could make some purchases. I even got to see the lovely Monty Don a couple of times.

driftwood horses
driftwood horses

Thought I’d share a few pics from the day.

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IMG_9293IMG_9295 IMG_9296 IMG_9297More information about this year’s event can be found here:

RHS Tatton Park 20-24 June 2016

GTech Cordless Strimmer – Product Review

The lovely people at Gtech recently sent us a cordless strimmer to review, and typically, it’s rained ever since. Thankfully we had a break this past weekend so finally got to road-test it, let’s just say it had it’s work cut out – here’s how S got on with it.

Assembling the strimmer out of the box was very easy – there were only a couple of pieces which clicked together easily, and which didn’t even require instructions.  My first impression was how light it was.  The battery had been charging before this point and even after pushing that into place at the head of the handle it made no difference to the weight and feel of it.  The cutting blades were also amazingly easy to fit – no cartridges needing plastic wire threaded through here – instead, just a small plastic blade which you pop into the head.

 

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Yes, that’s really how bad it got!

 

So, with that, I was very keen to try it out.  I was wanting to level out a small patch of lawn, which had got very long and thick (20+ centimetres in bits).  Starting it up was easy, with the safety switches not requiring you to change your grip on the handle at all.  It performed very well, there was plenty of power and, because it is so light, was very easy to precisely cut through to the right length.

 

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S in full strimming action

 

While using it the blade pinged off a couple of times (and had to search for it in the long grass), but that was due to getting too close to a rock on the border.  However, there is no worry at all about the blade getting broken and jammed in the rotating head – it just can’t happen.  I got through a couple of blades, although did not do too much experimenting with how much life you can get from one use.  The plastic did not have a particular cutting edge as such – and could be inserted either side up – but did get a little rough and flattened round the edges, possibly from hitting the stones and rocks. But, again, it was easy to pop another one in and so much better than some which use plastic wire.

The plastic did not have a particular cutting edge as such – and could be inserted either side up – but did get a little rough and flattened round the edges, possibly from hitting the stones and rocks. But, again, it was easy to pop another one in and so much better than some which use plastic wire.

 

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That looks better!!!!

 

I used it for about 45 minutes in total until the battery was used up, but that was plenty of time to do several passes over the surface, cutting down to the right level, and through some pretty thick and long grass.  I didn’t try out the option to rotate the head for edging.  That wasn’t quite so straightforward to push the sides in to allow the rotation.

In conclusion, I’ll be using this each time, since it is so light, easy to use and handle and makes doing the chore much more appealing!

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 To find out more about GTech’s range of cordless garden equipment you can check out their website here

Finally, a dry weekend for gardening!

Hurrah, after weeks of seemingly endless rain Saturday dawned bright, if a little breezy so it was straight out into the garden to get some much-needed jobs done.

 

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Just a little bit long…..

 

There was a lot of weeding, there was also a lot of grass that was well overdue a good haircut. We got to try out the new GTech Cordless strimmer that we’d been sent too (review to follow).

 

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Courgette flowers

 

I cleared out a couple of the raised beds and planted lambs lettuce, spinach, mizuna, mustard, rocket, broccoli romanesco and pak choi. I also sowed a couple fo different carrot varietals and some dwarf and climbing beans – it may be a little late but then everything is this year anyway – we’ll soon see!

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I trimmed the cherry arch – it was wild! I’ve also been digging up all the bulbs from various pots around the garden – then re-planting them using a multi-layering ‘packing them in’ system in just a few pots and then we’ll need to get some annuals to plant on top instead of having empty looking pots for a large part of the year – see, I’m learning :o)

 

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A bulb packed pot with obelisk and Sweet Peas

 

I was sent a rather lovely wrought iron obelisk so planted that in one of my new bulb containers with sweet peas – can’t wait to see how that turns out.

I also planted up a self-watering hanging basket that had been sent to me by Stewart Garden to review with a lovely Heliotrope and white surfinia. The massive blue Delphinium that I bought at the Newhall Walled Garden open day found it’s way into the front garden – it’ll flower any day now.

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I also ended up doing an emergency wasp nest removal after S noticed wasps flying in and out of a garden cupboard. I was a little surprised when I opened the door and a whole cloud of them flew out – don’t think I’ve ever run so fast! I guess with all the rain we hadn’t been outside to notice them before now.

 

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The remains of the nest after it’d been sprayed and left overnight

 

I started to chicken proof the bed we recently planted up with Periwinkles, Heuchera and Hellebores but I ran out of bamboo canes so that’s now a work in progress until more arrive.

 

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A couple of Rose Bushes finally housed

 

The front garden also saw some love and I put up a trellis and planted a couple of rose bushes that were wedding presents last year. I also planted an Osmanthus, a red Acer and a bunch of different lavender plants.

 

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Things are looking a lot tidier now

 

S finally got round to trimming the hedge all the way along the back garden and we took a trip to the recycling depot with a load of old flower pots a bbq and a chimenea. All in all things are looking ever so much tidier now. There’s still a mountain of stuff to do but we’re getting there.

 

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Nicely ripened blackcurrants

 

 

 

 

 

 

Self-watering Hanging Basket – Review

I’ve been looking at various slow-watering watering methods on Pinterest recently, many involve sticking a plastic bottle with pierced holes into the soil – a nice, thrifty idea, however, a bottle can take up quite a bit of room so when Stewart Gardens asked if I’d like to trial one of their self-watering hanging baskets I was keen to see how it works.

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It’s actually really simple and very clever – there’s a plastic disc that sits above the bottom of the basket with a fibre mat, that dips into the well below that continually sucks up moisture from below into the soil. The water is added via a tube inserted into the plastic disc.

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It’s good design in action, the watering tube takes up very little room and the basket is a decent size. You only need to fill the water reserve every 7-10 days – ideal if it’s hot weather and you’re planning on going away, or just to save precious watering time during more clement weather.

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I’ve potted mine up with a beautiful Heliotrope in the centre surrounded by white Surfinia. It looks ok just now but once the Surfinia starts to grow and trail I’m hoping this will a quite lovely display.

I’ll definitely be getting some more of these, so much better than the others I’ve tried so far and at £5.99 a bit of a bargain too.

www.stewart-garden.co.uk

@stewartgarden

An Obelisk and Multi-layered Bulb Combo

The lovely people at The Orchard (I LOVE their site) came up trumps again and this week sent me one of Poppy Forge’s wrought iron obelisks to try out. I’d been looking at some in the garden centre recently and fancied giving one a go so it was very timely.

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The wrought iron design makes for a sturdy yet elegant garden feature – I got the 4ft high one which is a perfect size to create a nice vertical feature for a dull corner. I hadn’t really thought through where I was going to put it, or what to plant around it for that matter, but I soon hit upon a solution.

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I’ve been digging up all the Spring bulbs we have in pots to replant on a multi-layering basis to give lots of different blooms for a longer length of time. I found a perfectly sized planter for the obelisk, layered up a load of bulbs and then planted sweet peas all around the base of the obelisk.

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Perfect, now we’ll have the sweet peas through the Summer and then when they die back the bulbs can do their thing, well that’s the plan anyway. It doesn’t look much now but I’m sure once the sweet peas have climbed their way up the legs it’ll be quite lovely.

If it works well then I might get a couple more for climbing veg or possibly a clematis or two. At £34 for the 4ft one, and £38 for the 5ft and 6ft ones, they’re pretty good value too and will last for years.

@theorcharduk

www.theorchardhomeandgifts.com

Wherefore art thou Summer

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In need of a haircut!

What a miserable few weeks of rain we’ve had – the grass is going wild and I still haven’t had chance to try out the cordless strimmer that the lovely folks at GTech sent me a couple of weeks ago to review.

 

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Blackcurrants ripening up nicely

 

My soggy garden inspections are showing that it’s going to be a bad year for crops this year – we haven’t seen so much as a blossom on any of our apple trees, we have 2 gooseberries between our two bushes and no blueberries at all.

 

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Better late than never

 

On the plus side, our blackcurrants and rhubarb are both doing very well and it looks like we’ll be able to start harvesting some of early variety potatoes soon. The newly planted herb garden is doing well and we also have tomatoes growing nicely in the conservatory, despite everything being a lot later this year after the extended Winter.

 

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Beautiful Petunia Night Sky just started blooming

 

The chickens have managed to dig up most of the plants in our recently planted bed – periwinkles, tiarella, heucheras and helibores have all been tossed asunder by the naughty little beasts. We’re going to have to replant what we can salvage and then cane-off the bed until they’ve established themselves.

 

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The honeysuckle is looking great

 

Praying for some nicer weather this week as the to-do list is growing longer daily. I’ve been sent a self-watering hanging basket by Stewarts so I’m keen to see how that works and finally get to test the strimmer.

 

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Our other ‘surprise’ Rhododendron is out

 

I’m also quite excited to have been invited to RHS Tatton Park by Stiehl on the 16th and it looks like we’ll be in for a treat. Can’t wait to see the show gardens there.

 

 

 

 

Newhall Estate – Garden Open Days

The walled garden at Newhall is just lovely – I had serious veggie plot envy last time I was there, so I’m excited to see that it’s open every Wednesday between 2pm and 4.30pm until 27th July as part of Scotland’s Garden Scheme.

Entry £4 (goes to charity). Tea and coffee will be on offer.

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The History of The Garden

The Walled Garden was built about 1792 by Robert Brown. Originally such gardens were merely enclosed places in which to grow produce for the kitchen and flowers for the house, but they quickly evolved as places also for quiet perambulation in summer, and in winter to view the exotic fruit growing in the heat of the Glasshouses. The Walled Garden at Newhall has some remarkable features surviving from its earliest years, a heated Melon Pit, a beautifully built tunnel was discovered recently linking the nearby burn to the greenhouse for water supply.

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In the centre of the Garden is a statue of Adam, the first gardener, (made of Coadestone) ready to ‘delve’. You may also find – at the top of the Garden – the composite sundial, a round early 18th century table dial with a scrolled stone gnomon (or pointer) on what is probably a late 17th century pedestal of four figures of the seasons. The pedestal has been attributed to James Gifford of West Linton, a local sculptor and pre-dates the garden as it is thought to be from 1708.

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The cloverleafed pierced stones and another dated 1796 that you might find near the statue of Adam were brought here from one of Robert Brown’s outlying properties.

The twin busts of Pan and his mother on the South Gatepiers are probably early 18th century.They used to adorn the old entrance to Newhall House.

These are thought to have been cut by an Italian sent for and employed by the Duke of Hamilton and originally to have been on the gateposts between two Pigeon Houses that were once at the front of the house.

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Under the trees to the right of the South Gatepiers can be seen stones that originally formed part of a stone newel or spiral staircase from the old tower-house that still forms the core of Newhall House today. They were removed during the early 19th century extensions and alterations to the house.

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Newhall Estate is just off the A702 between Penicuik and Carlops.

Newhall House, Carlops, Penicuik EH26 9LY