How to make a pumpkin hedgehog

Its pumpkin time and time for you to get creative.

Goards make funny faces with the hog.
Goards make funny faces with the hog.




So proud of my hogs.
So proud of my hogs.

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.

Who would have thought that pens could be this useful.
Who would have thought that pens could be this useful.


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.

What a mess, but be sure to keep the seeds.
What a mess, but be sure to keep the seeds.


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.

There's something very satisfying about drilling a pumpkin! But please be careful.
There’s something very satisfying about drilling a pumpkin! But please be careful.


4. Now admire your handy-work, even though it did make a bit of a mess.

Scene of the crime.
Scene of the crime.

5. Now get your empty pen shafts and stick them in the holes.

It will take shape now....
It will take shape now….

6. Add a low-voltage light. I got this one from Ikea. Do not use a candle as the plastic pens will melt.

8. Add Light
Use a light thats neat and safe as possible as pumpkins can be damp inside.

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.

The hedgehogs










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!

Funky pumpkins
Funky pumpkins

You will love them for longer.

Smokey-grey paint and mirrors

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.

A grey backdrop makes the plants zing.
I made use of my old windows up at the plot.
Gate-crashers partying in the front garden. I’m cool with that.

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.

The perfect garden. Acers, moss, water and somewhere tranquil to relax
Bins can be beautiful too.

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.

I don’t have a cottage garden but if I did I’d want it to be like this!

So that is all from me until we get stuck into high summer!

Chelsea Flower Show 2017

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.

‘Beneath a Mexican’ Sky by Manoj Malde
‘Gosho No Niwa’ by Ishihara Kazuyuki
‘The Jeremy Vine Texture Garden’ by Matt Keightley
M&G Maltese quarry by James Basson
‘Hagakure – Hidden Leaves’ by Shuko Noda
‘Walker’s Wharf Garden’ by Graham Bodle
‘Through the Microscope Garden; by Ruth Willmott
‘The Poetry Lover’s Garden’ by Fiona Cadwallader
‘The Morgan Stanley Garden’ Chris Beardshaw
‘The Morgan Stanley Garden’ Chris Beardshaw
‘The Jo Whiley Scent Garden’ by Tamara Bridge and Kate Savill
‘The Chris Evans Taste Garden’ by Jon Wheatley
The Chengdu Silk Road Garden by Laurie Chetwood & Patrick Collin
‘The Anneka Rice Colour Cutting Garden ‘ by Sarah Raven
Mind trap by Ian Price
‘500 Years of Covent Garden’ by Lee Bestall
‘RHS Greening Grey Britain Garden 2017’ by Professor Nigel Dunnett
The Jeremy Vine Texture Garden by Matt Keightley

Storm Doris couldn’t put a dampener on February!

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.

Front garden with white hellebores, box and snowdrops
A triangle of box linking the containers with the test of the garden, giving it some green and some structure.

Back to Doris and those rabbits…

Bamboos tipped over… but nothing serious.
…and fences flew!
But those rabbits threatened my veg, so I put up some protection.
Munjacs had nibbled too and here in the sink it was all to plain to see once they were washed a scrubbed.

Did I mention that I had an garden sink. no…..?

Can I possibly post a pic of pots being washed. YES, so ENJOY!
This truly wonderful sight greeted me. Perfection. I don’t know how it happened but there it is, with its sprouting broccoli friend….
Love. Not forgetting all your other mates….
The wonky veg family.





What girl doesn’t covet the kitchen 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.

img_2526A 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.

Washing up action al-fresco!
Washing up action al-fresco!

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.

sink-feature-imageSo whats gone on when I’ve not faffing with sinks…

Friut cage is a gonner so time for a re-think.
Friut cage is a gonner so time for a re-think.
Its freezing and foggy.
Its freezing and foggy.
Love the first signs of shoots in January!
Love the first signs of shoots in January!


Winter 2016

…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 boys are desperate for a leek!
The boys are desperate for a leek!

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.

The sweetest babies you'll ever taste.
The sweetest babies you’ll ever taste.

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!

Get these in the ground and you wont be disappointed.
Get these in the ground and you wont be disappointed.
Broad beans are poking their heads through under the protective mesh.
Broad beans are poking their heads through under the protective mesh. Mr Munjac Deer likes to snack.

The night before Christmas
This happened.

Well that me sorted. Merry Chritmas
Well that me sorted. Merry Christmas

The week before and I got my garlic in too. Gold star for me!

Garlic is in on the 18th December.
Garlic is in on the 18th December.

Fools gold

What is the point of spraying these beauties?
What is the point of spraying these beauties?

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,


August 2016

Helta-sheltas and a trip to RHS Wisley

Not going to hark on too much about the weather but really the rain storms and heat spells have resulted in lots of productive growth at the alottment. My squahes were roaming around the place, and in one of those ‘lets get things done’ moods I battled with the squashes and won!
Giving it careful thought, I wanted my squashes to end up resting in little hammocks. An unused netting pack was the perfect thing and I twisted the netting into a rope and weaved the rope into and onto the wigwam.

An undressed wigwam.
An undressed wigwam.
Ohh don't you scrub up well....
Ohh don’t you scrub up well….

Then the task of persuading four eight foot vines and their babies through the netting. It worked a treat, though I’g reccommend not wearing earings, necklace or a shirt with buttons. I spent more time disentangling myself and feared that I might actually be trapped in the netting.

The final squashy climbing frame dubbed 'The Helta-Shelta'
The final squashy climbing frame dubbed ‘The Helta-Shelta’

Other alottment news was the continuing task of getting the paths between the raised beds in order. So I picked a cool day drank Red Bull and success! I’ve only one more to go, so might leave that for winters job list.

A smarter look with bark paths.
A smarter look with bark paths.

RHS Wisley
A flying trip to Wisely with my sister to take my ninety year old mother out for an airing was lovely. Apart from the compulsory glide round the rose garden, we decided that the wheel chair needed more power that I can bodily give so decided that the downhill path nearby looked convienently interesting. So we discovered the herb gardens with an interesting thyme bed. Also a cute little garden with an interesting tree canopy.

RHS Wisleys herbs
RHS Wisleys herbs
A delightful tree canopy in a small space.
A delightful tree canopy in a small space.

Here my sister and mother waving!

Mothers cardigan blending nicely.
Mothers cardigan blending nicely.

The big tomatoey bang!

Tomatoes, squashes and crazy corn
All the colours of the rainbow have given me such a thrill in my vegetable kingdom. Tomatoes are just doing their last show and what a lovely season its been. My best tomatoes were in a pot by the front door. I planted up all different shapes and sizes and they looked good all together. The ones in the greenhouse looked permently scruffy and this is the second year that I have thought that I’m not going to bother with toms in the green house, I’m sticking with sweet peppers.

They roll about the kitchen and get squashed
They roll about the kitchen and get squashed

I’m also not doing those little currant ones next year because they roll about the kitchen and I’m forever treading on them. My beefstakes are the best and well worth the effort.

A muddle of tomatoes have been lovely this season
A muddle of tomatoes have been lovely this season
Nice and tidy with freshly barked paths
Nice and tidy my bark paths are such a good idea
Cougettes are still developing and the squashes are ready
Cougettes are still developing and the squashes are ready

Back at home and my little garden is starting to look all Japanesey.
I purchased another little baby acer because I can see that a larger one is looking a bit straggy and I dont think it will last the winter. I topped the whole scene off with a very gracefull white Japanese Anemone. I think all I need to complete the look is a Tsukubai water feature. But I wonder if all that will happen is the cat will be in it! (She loves drinking the filthiest water!)

My japanese style garden

I think its also because I do like a bit of order in the garden. Its probably a control thing. I can’t control cats or people but I can at least control the garden. This brings me neatly onto the subject of the plant rack. See what I mean about order?

A refreshing dollop of elegant green and white. That is if its possible to dollop elegance!
A refreshing dollop of elegant green and white. That is if its possible to dollop elegance!

Now, quirky veg! A friend grew some gemstone maize….AMAIZING!

Amazing colours of Gem stone maize!
Amazing colours of Gem stone maize!


A blog about my gardening exploits to inspire, even if its looking like its all about go wrong. (Which it does, alot)