Whats it like to have ‘grounds’ rather than a garden? Is your space so vast that you go out for a fag round the back of the maze? Staff is almost always required and so we take a peak at Lady Delphinium and her days instructions for the head gardener Benson.
Springwatchis all the rage, Lady D didn’t want to miss out….
Design Solutions My favourite ten… Got a design problem with your garden? is it an awkward shape, too shady or overlooked? Or would you prefer a particular theme like a jungle look, or seaside feel? All these questions are answered by Dawn Issac* in Garden Answers magazine and I’m the lucky one that illustrates Dawns vision. Enjoy my favourite ten below…
The Gallery: tap on an image to see the full picture.
Go for something exotic but hardy
An outdoor kitchen is a must!
A seaside look.
A triangle-shaped garden is no longer a problem
A shady garden option
A driveway solution
A privacy issue adressed
A tropical courtyard
Sloping garden now looks a lovely place to be
A bit of fun with a glamerous Chelsea theme in a ordinary back yard
Back to the drawing board!
I took this opportunity to hone my illustration skills when Garden Answers needed to illustrate the garden plans. The editor, the fabulous Liz Potter, commissions Dawn to come up with a design tackling a specific problem. Dawn supplies a simple sketch that I use as the basis of the illustration then I embellish it like a giant digital collage.
Giant! I am not joking. Each object, whether it’s a plant or a chair, is carefully cutout from my archive of images. Textures, watercolour washes and ink-work are done the old fashioned way on paper. Then I photograph it and import it into photoshop so that I can get the hand-done look. Organization, hours of picture research and a tiny grasp of perspective is all you need. Plus knowing the odd retouching trick, messing about with filters, the odd bit of warping and colour replacing. Below you can see how I’ve used Dawns initial sketch as a template then slowly built up the plants, building and water feature.
Dawn Issac Dawn is an RHS Chelsea medal-winning garden designer and author of Garden Crafts for Children, Things For Kids To Do On A Rainy Day, 101 Briliant Things for Kids to do with Science as well as contributing to Garden Answers magazine. http://www.dawn-isaac.com
Its pumpkin time and time for you to get creative.
Meet the the happy hogs Harriette and Henry Horatio-Hogg of Spikey Bottom, Splottlands, Cardiff….
1. Get yourself some pumpkins that have a good pointy stalk. Then lots of cheap ball point pens from Wilko that cost 28p a pachet of ten. Undo the pen bottoms and get the inky bits out. Keep the clear plastic shaft as this is the bit the light shines up.
2. Now cut a slice from the side of your pumpkin as this is the base. Then clean out the spew of seeds and yukky stuff. Do a good job as you want it as dry as possible in there.
3. Now get your weapon (the drill). Don’t be shy. Start at the ‘hairline’ and follow the natural creases of the pumpkin over its back holding the pumpkin firmly with your other hand.
4. Now admire your handy-work, even though it did make a bit of a mess.
5. Now get your empty pen shafts and stick them in the holes.
6. Add a low-voltage light. I got this one from Ikea. Do not use a candle as the plastic pens will melt.
7. For the eyes I inserted some of the spare pen ends. Black ones looked best.
You’re done! Sit back and admire your work.
EVEN IF DISASTER STRIKES…
What do you do when your pumpkins, that you spent all summer growing, don’t make the grade? Plant them up and they’ll last all though November!
A whirl of planting the plot, painting and inspo at Chelsea
Busy it always is in Spring what with the veggie plot being so demanding. But it was now or never to get the fence painted before new foliage made it impossible. To say I’m pleased with it is an understatement! To top it off I bought a six foot garden mirror to go with the other charity-shop finds. Now it looks like a secret opening is beckoning you into a secret garden.
Next I made good use of my old sash windows by screwing then together to make a cold frame for my beans while they were hardening off.
My front garden is looking lovely and fluffy with red tulips popping up to say “Hi”. Though not as many bloomed as I expected. As consolation some blue bells and for-get-me-nots gate crashed the garden. Your welcome!
Did I mention that I went to the Chelsea flower show?
My absolute favourite garden was the Japanese garden: Gosho No Niwa by Ishihara Kazuyuk.
Next was a saucey look for bins. I really must do this!
But in terms of gorgeous planting Sarah Raven knows a thing or too about the cottage look.
So that is all from me until we get stuck into high summer!
A privileged walk around the gardens at Chelsea for Garden Answers magazine
I was lucky enough to get a press ticket on press day and trying not to get all giddy as it was my birthday too. So I took my camera and photographed my favorite gardens and uploaded to instagram and facebook. It was so fabulous just to absorbed it all and also it was the best birthday EVER!
The weather was glorious the planting sensational I just wanted it to never end. It was lovely to talk to some of the designers about their gardens and I came away with so many ideas for the magazine and my little garden at home.
However those rabbits days are numbered. But first….
The glorious sight of snow drops spurred me on this month with a little revamp of the front garden. So many passers-by stop and look but that is all they see, just snowdrops. So a bit of ever-green was needed. A few shrubs had perished so they needed digging out and replacing with box balls. These will link with the box that are in the containers. The black grass around the center planter also gives the garden more ordered look and the box will give another texture. This compliments the random carpet of snowdrops and three white hellebore give it an elegant and delicate white theme.
THE GARDEN SINK Could this be the start of an outdoor kitchen?
If there’s an impulse project to be had I’m that mad one that takes on too many all at once. Then gets stressed about it. But you see where there’s an opportunity to get creative I’ll never pass it by.
So it came about that I saw an ad at the local supermarket notice board for a secondhand double butlers sink for sale. I had already inherited an old cast-iron sewing machine and then a neighbour gave me another one. Both of theses had long ago lost their actual sewing machines but I used the bases as a desk base and a green house staging base. But now they are destined to be swanky garden sink bases.
A quick call to the chap with the sink and within ten minutes I was in the car driving round to collect it. Once in the she-shed I could get a proper plan in how to go about combining the sink and bases. The sink was large and definitely needed two bases but with a top to rest on. So I got a slatted top made. The sink came with all the plumbing wastes which was really handy and so I sprayed the pipes black, bought some new outdoor water taps and extra plumbing do-dah and I was ready. I found the perfect place in the garden right by the house that had the kitchen waste already to be tapped into. Amusingly the cat flap is in this area too and the bases had enough void underneath for the furry one to come in and out. Passing over one of the treadles.
My plumber got it all up and running and even modified a shower head and hose to fit on the taps. This is an excellent way to wash down all my greenhouse trays and pots. The second sink is already home to a few ferns as well being the place to wash as all the awful jobs that one doesn’t want to pollute the kitchen sink with.
All this has come at the perfect time of year, where plants are dormant and the endless winter clear-up is in progress. Now life is easier with my garden sink and I actually feel like I’ve got the beginnings of an outdoor kitchen. This could get expensive.
So whats gone on when I’ve not faffing with sinks…
…and other goings on. My plot this winter is looking very respectable thanks mainly to the leeks, parsnips, chard and cabbage. Brussel Sprouts look tall but a bit sparse in the brussels department but still plenty for dinner. I mean we are not entering any beauty competitions are we? Just as well as the parsnips have man-i-fested(see what I did there) much hilarity. I needn’t say any more but it’s still fun to laugh at a suggestively rude food.
The sweetest thing
On the last day of October I harvested the sweet potatoes that I grew in a large pot in the green house. It was quite a sight seeing the vine develop but after all the effort only a few shapes imerged. The UK climate is just to chilly for them but mazingly satisfying to unearth them.
And sow on
As always a little late I got to sow some broad beans. Not expecting much, but they still surprised my by germinating. Its so worth it, and they WILL grow so just do it!
The night before Christmas
The week before and I got my garlic in too. Gold star for me!
What in the hell are Wilkos and other garden centres doing by selling painted succulents? I only hope it doesn’t harm the plant apart from looking ghastly. EPIC FAIL
So don’t buy these and I’ll see you later,
A blog about my gardening exploits to inspire, even if its looking like its all about go wrong. (Which it does, alot)