The Lovely Garden Blog

Forgotton Spaces

Posted on 06/01/12, filed under Latest News | No Comments


Christmas is a good time to find space, in between family visits, to go and do something for yourself. We went to Somerset House in London to see the Forgotten Spaces exhibition. In small rooms, perhaps old stables, there were plans and exhibits set up to show how different areas of London, currently unloved or unused, could be used to good and positive effect. I loved the 51 Spires project, using the spires of London churches that have a useable workspace. These areas are to be offered to struggling artists and creators so that they can rent wonderful office space within the city. How inspiring (excuse the pu6282n) to work up in the church tower! Some of the projects on display were modest – good ideas for 'bee houses' underneath forgotten and draughty staircases. Some were really well thought through – community markets, vegetable growing areas, market gardens and new spaces for food festivals. All of the ideas put forward had the community at its heart and it's great to know that our designers and architects of the future are already thinking in this way; that the heart of communication ( a word very close to community – interesting eh?) is always at the forefront of their thinking.  My favourite scheme was the plan to re-introduce Atlantic Salmon to the River Wandle. My mum was brought up in South London and used to fish in the Wandle as a child. For many years, the river has been subjected to sewage and industrial outfall and can you believe that it was once an important breeding ground for Salmon, that was then caught and sold in London? Amazing. Well, the good news is that the sewage outfall has been moved and the industrial effluent cleaned up and it's hoped that salmon will return. The proposed salmon leap design is an area where the public can walk beside the river, watching, through a glass tunnel, where the salmon will leap and go on to spawn again. I think this is fantastic and I love regeneration on a grand scale. I know there will never be the money to do this properly, but if we could only clean up our rivers just a bit, and bring back the fish……. I know that domestic garden design is on a tiny scale, compared to these huge ideas, but when I sit on the train going to London and look at all those depressing back gardens – all with their own type of effluent chucked out of the back doors – I hope that this year will enable me to create at least some wonderful spaces that, at the moment, are forgotten.

Forgotten Spaces is Free to get in and will run until January 29th. The exhibition is open from 10-6 daily. Check the Somerset House website for more details. Fab cafe too!

Sow sow

Posted on 05/04/11, filed under Home Farm | No Comments

0201-tomatoesWell, it’s been perfect weather for sowing vegetables. We had all that warm sunshine, so I covered up the beds with bubble wrap and weighed it down for a couple of days. The seeds I sowed in the small poly tunnel seemed to germinate overnight and now I’ve go a great little crop of carrots and lettuce coming through. I’ve thinned them out so that they have space to mature but I want quite small carrots (they’re the expensive ones to buy) so they’re not thinned too much. The lettuce leaves can be picked as they mature to leave space for the others to grow even bigger. The parsnips have all germinated, as have the peas and I have now sown the second lot of seeds. This time I planted leeks, beetroot, swede, more carrots (for bigger main crops) and more lettuces to carry on when the others have all been eaten. The potatoes are ready to go out too and I’m going to grow these in big black barrels. There isn’t much room now for other things and I want to get the onions in too, and leave space for beans. I’ve bought lots of herbs and potted these up near the kitchen door where they’ll get some sunshine. I’ve already started picking the mint to go with the new potatoes they’re selling in the supermarket. They taste so wonderful, I’d be happy to have just them for dinner!


Posted on 05/04/11, filed under Latest News | No Comments


I gave a talk this afternoon to the U3A. I hoped everyone came along because they all love their gardens and not for the tea and biscuits or because my Mum had paid them. Actually, it was great to be able to talk to ‘real’ gardeners. Not for them the low maintenance border, and these are BUSY people. Apparently, we broke the record for the number of attendees so it just goes to show how passionate people are about that space outside. The U3A is a brilliant organisation, and there were so many things booked; visits to gardens, holidays away, trips to Holland next year. I’m looking forward to retiring and joining one day! Everyone’s on line and all wanted to know the web sites I’d recommended. I talked about the basic principles of design and I wanted to get in a shot about wavy borders. There were plenty of sagacious nods when I spoke about the flower borders in the lawn with curves. At the end, many of them said they were going home to straighten up the edges of their planted beds! I love giving talks and imparting some of my passion for the design basics. It’s so rewarding when people come up and say they’ve enjoyed themselves. I’m giving some talks at Parham House on Sunday as part of their NGS day. I’ll be in the Seed Room. Do come along!