The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies. Gertrude Jekyll

Annie's Little Plot

Annie's Little Plot

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Huddersfield Flower, Vegetable and Handicraft Show

Last weekend was the Huddersfield Flower, Vegetable and Handicraft Show held at Ravensknowle Park. I dragged Martin along to have a look!
Yes he looks a bit startled! It is certainly an odd event, very old fashioned in some sense but was very popular with visitors.
First are the flowers, the instructions in the book are very specific, such as Vase of Sweet Peas, twelve spikes.
The begonias were amazing, incredibly big flower heads.

And the dahlias...
But one of my favourite flowers is the sunflower.
For this you have to display three blooms

And so to the vegetables. The first category is for a basket of mixed vegetables, this won first prize and deservedly so.
But then there are categories for each vegetable separately with guidelines on the length that you have to trim the tops to for beetroot and carrots, how many pods to display for the legumes and how to tie the onion tops with rafia.
Here is a selection.

I noticed the name of John Beaumont on a lot of the prize-winning veg, he has the plot next to me and I took over his second plot.
You can also exhibit your cakes, jams, home-brew wines and beers and handicrafts.

So I'm going to get my fellow crafters, to enter some next year.
I'm not sure what I think of all the vegetable showing as I think looks and size aren't everything! Taste is never taken into consideration in these things, though I guess that is very subjective. But it looks fun so I may give it a go next year.Whilst I was there I joined the Huddersfield and district allotment society which meets every month, the chap from the allotment behind my house was there and he was encouraging me to enter something next year. I said that I wouldn't have a clue what to do but he said that I could just bring it along and everyone would help, so that was very friendly so maybe I will.
Here is a group of my recent harvest, I was particularly impressed with my broccoli (calabrese) though there isn't a category for that at the show!

There was also a brilliant exhibition of model gardens and allotments at the show.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

It's harvest time, in between the weeding and watering!

So whats been happening at my allotment in July and August since my last allotment post, well I seem to spend all my time up there either weeding or watering (well Ok not this week!) but I'm really starting to harvest my crops in earnest now.
I had a bumper crop of potatoes, the first and second earlies, Vale's Emerald and Charlotte. I've still got a few Charlotte still in there too. My main crop spuds I haven't looked at yet, they are Pink Fir Apple.
I've harvested my garlic which has been a fine crop and also most of my shallots, they are both being dried off at home so that they will store well. My red onions are almost ready to pick too, they have done really well too after a slow start.
My squash plants are really taking off now and spreading across the plot.

 I'm getting masses of courgettes, in fact I've had so many I've sold some to my local greengrocer.
I'm also very proud of my Calabrese and the cabbage which is has been great once I protected them from the pigeons.
The runner beans have just started and again this promises to be a bumper crop.
Its the first time I have grown celeriac and this seems to be growing well.
The leeks are getting big already, they'll be ready before long.
I've got some cucumbers growing though whether they will grow into proper fruit but we'll wait and see.
The flowers on my plot are coming on too, the sunflowers.



One thing I've noticed on the plot is that there is a healthy number of ladybirds and for the first time I'm also seeing lots of lady bird larvae.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Tatton Park Flower show

Tracy and I visited Tatton Park Flower show on friday 22nd July. It was a sunny morning but there was the risk of showers so we had to go prepared, that has been the story of this summer with sunshine and showers and today was no exception.
As usual are first port of call was the show gardens, the earlier you go the quieter they are so it makes sense to go there first. The main group of show gardens are situated around a clump of trees called Egerton clump, so you walk round in a circle.
The first garden we got to was called 'Perspective' by Chalon Kitchens which was dominated by two walls made from tree cuts which was very dynamic.
Drawing your eye down to a lovely sculpture at the end.
I really like certain aspects of this garden but not as a whole, I loved the wall and the mass of wild flower planting at the end of the garden around the sculpture but at the front of the garden, not seen on the photos above, were two large Gunnera plants on either side which didn't seem to fit. I understand that the garden was all about perspective but they just seemed too spiky and harsh compared to the rest of the garden.

Walking round the clump the next garden was sponsored by Oxfam and called 'When the Waters Rise', highlighting how climate change is affecting food production and food growers around the world. Its main theme is how to cope with flooding.

 I loved this garden, with lots of ideas for growing vegetables, including on the roof and in containers (some more wacky than others such as in wellies!)
 They use the roof of the building for growing gourds.

 The next garden is one that seems to be there every year in one form or other, with a small waterfall and stream, even the name isn't very exciting 'The Water Garden'.

But its not inspiring to me I'm afraid I've seen it too many times before.
Another slightly familiar type of garden was next on the tour, called 'Serenity' and quite a traditional looking garden. It was based on circles, with a circular lawn and patio which I liked and the planting was nice if a bit too neat for me.

On to the next garden which was designed by Glen Jackson and the offenders at HMP Everthorpe and actually won gold and best show garden. Created to highlight the issues of knife crime.

Interesting theme but not my favourite garden.
The next garden was the Cancer Research UK garden which is highlighting the SHINE night-time sponsored walk through Manchester.  It has some lovely dark and white planting with Nicotiana, Cosmos and Ajuga. I wasn't sure about the black brick walls .

Next was a garden called 'Inside out' and is promoting outdoor living, with a lovely outdoor kitchen and a linked sitting area almost like a lounge. The planting had a lot of herbs and was really nice. I liked this garden very much, can't imagine me ever having anything like this in my garden though!

The next three gardens were all part of the RHS National young designer of the year and the first was really good. More of a garden space than a proper garden but that was its aim. It was called 'A stitch in time saves nine' and was made up of criss-crossing paths interplanted with an apple tree and largely widlflowers and perennial planting underneath.

'The Green Room' had lots of lovely textural planting, mainly from grasses, these were not only on ground level but all up the walls as well so looked amazing against the wood. A very calming space.

The final garden from the young designers was called Rider on the storm as is supposed to address the problems of flooding and extreme rainfall. This is the opposite to the type of gardens we were told that we need to have a few years ago which were drought tolerant!
Bit too much rusting steel for my liking.
'On Moonlight Bay' is a very Mediterranean-like garden but reminds me of tacky holidays I'm afraid!
The final garden on our tour round Egerton clump was called Wild Flowers of Inver.

There were a number of other show gardens around the showgrounds, one inspired by one of my favourite children's books 'The Secret garden'.

It didn't quite seem wild enough for how I imagined the garden.
The other garden near here was called 'Chocolate Orange' and with a name like that I was obviously l attracted to that one. It had a rich planting scheme of dark purple foliage and orange flowers, I wasn't quite sure about the hints of pink with some bright pink penstemons, which seemed to clash rather a lot. The good thing about this garden is that you could walk all the way round it.

Then there were two show gardens created by two famous gardens from the North-west, one by Sue Beesley who runs Bluebell Cottage gardens and nursery, this was another garden that you could walk through. It had a lovely sculpture in the centre and the planting is a mixture of perennials and grasses, especially the grass Calmagrostis x acutifolia 'Karl Foerster'.

Next to this a garden created by the head gardener at Tatton Park, Sam Youd and celebrates the centenary of the japanese garden at Tatton.

The last of the show gardens was one created by Finchale training college which celebrates the tradition of growing vegetables to show, particularly the leek. The vegetables on the plot were amazingly huge.

The whole plot was inspiring though what they would taste like.....

So thats all the show gardens. But as always my favourite gardens are the smaller back-to-back gardens.
There were a couple that really stood out. One called Embrace which commerates St Ann's Hospice which is celebrating its 40th anniversary. Took me a few minutes to figure out what the word said on the back of the wall.

But I loved the wood cut wall which you could sit on and the planting was lovely.

The other garden was called Black and Blue and was a very dark garden with just plants from the dark end of the colour scheme with lots of dark purple foliage and purple and blue flowers.

I loved this simple planting scheme on the garden called Hidden Message.

At Tatton you also get the Visionary Gardens which are always a bit mad.

This year there was also a group of gardens called the Football Club gardens, the designers remit was to create a garden based on one of the premier division football clubs in the north-west.
There was one for Manchester City, Manchester United, Blackpool and  Liverpool. Can you guess which one was for which club?

Actually I didn't take a picture of the Man Utd garden!! But they were City, Blackpool and Liverpool. My favourite was the Liverpool garden especially the planting at the back and I liked the zigzag path of daisies.

As always lots of inspiring ideas and new plants to drool over. But I was very restrained and didn't buy any just some sweet pea and vegetable seeds for next year.