Tag Archives: gardening

Didsbury in Bloom 2018 – Judging Day

On Monday 9th and Tuesday 10th July Didsbury village is being judged by the RHS North West in Bloom judges. Last year Didsbury won both the Urban Community category and a Gold; so there are high expectations for Didsbury in Bloom 2018.

The road I live on, Ford Lane is one of the areas which is judged. We have a green at the top of the road and flower filled planters all the way down the lane. It looks lovely, but it doesn’t happen by magic; a team of hard-working residents lovingly maintain the planters and keep the lane looking good all year round.

Didsbury in Bloom 2018 - Judging Day

In the weeks running up to judging day, more residents do their bit by helping to tidy the green or water the planters outside their homes. I’m slowly trying to make our front garden more attractive, but it’s a slow process, not helped by the lack of rain.

Didsbury in Bloom 2018 had the twin themes of Remembrance and they also celebrated the centenary of women winning the right to vote. There has been a team of wonderful volunteers who have been working with schools to plant and maintain a poppy path running from Didsbury Park to School lane. The verges have been cleared and planted with poppy seeds which were harvested from the fields in France, then scattered by school children. In bloom they are a lovely, arresting sight. It’s well worth taking a detour to wander down the lane to see the poppies and remember them.

Didsbury in Bloom 2018 - Judging Day

2018 has been a challenging year for gardeners, especially over the last few weeks. Manchester has had an unseasonal amount of not rain, or sunshine as it’s sometimes known. We’ve been enjoying/enduring a heatwave and our usually lush green at the top of the road is now a brown.

We’ve been draining our water butts and recycling our bath water to keep the planters looking healthy, but the grass has had to take one for the team. I hope the judges will take the current weather conditions into consideration and not hold our brown lawns against us.

Didsbury in Bloom 2018 - Judging Day

I think despite the challenges, Ford Lane is looking fantastic. It’s a shame the heatwave has taken its toll on the main flower bed on the green; but all of the other planters are beautifully blousy with blooms. I love the Votes for Women bike most of all I think.

Didsbury in Bloom 2018 - Judging Day

All of the Didsbury in Bloom volunteers have worked so hard this year, I take my hat off to them. Thank you for making Didsbury extra beautiful all your round!

The Didsbury in Bloom 2018 team won’t know the results of the judging for a little while yet; but we have high hopes of repeating the success of previous years.

Didsbury in Bloom 2018 - Judging Day

Read more about Didsbury – Five fabulous things about Didsbury Village.

STEM Learning: Growing Egg and Cress Heads

Tasked with coming up with some interesting crafts and things to do with three children during the half term, I thought we’d start our week by making some egg and cress heads. I thought it would be interesting to watch them grow over the week. They’re easy to put together and all three had great fun making them and watching them grow over the week.

This activity is perfect for my 7 year old who is in Year 2. Cress grows incredibly quickly, and almost before your eyes. This fast growing crop was really exciting for the children to watch growing. Each day they found a new thing to be excited about. The best day was when they got to try eating the peppery cress, it’s a rare sight watching three children delightedly eating their greens!

STEM Learning: Growing Egg and Cress Heads

Growing egg and cress heads is a great opportunity for children to talk about their observations about how the seed grows into a plant and guessing what will happen next. It can also help to promote scientific thinking and helps with linking science to real life experiences.

Growing Egg and Cress Heads

You will need:
A hard boiled egg each
Cotton wool
Cress seeds
Felt tips to decorate your egg

STEM Learning: Growing Egg and Cress Heads

How to make your egg and cress heads:
Hard boil your eggs and get a grown up to carefully take the top off and scoop out the egg inside.

Gently decorate your egg however you want. We drew pictures of cats and dogs on ours, but you could do almost anything.

Fluff up some cotton wool and put it inside the egg. Then pour some water over the cotton wool. Sprinkle some cress seeds on the top of the cotton wool and put on a windowsill in an egg cup.

Check the progress of your seeds every day, sprinkle more water on the seeds every so often. Within a week all of your seeds should have sprouted and your egg head should have a thick crop of cress hair!

STEM Learning: Growing Egg and Cress Heads

If you enjoyed this, you might also enjoy this Jelly Bean STEM Architecture

STEM Learning: Growing Egg and Cress Heads

Blooming beautiful – Didsbury in Bloom 2017

Didsbury village always puts on a fine display for Didsbury in Bloom judging day. We have a small army of volunteers who plant up tubs and flowerbeds throughout the village all over the year, but as judging day for Didsbury in Bloom 2017 approached, more volunteers and residents rolled up their sleeves to make sure Didsbury showed off how blooming beautiful she is.

Blooming beautiful - Didsbury in Bloom 2017

On 4th July this year the judges arrived to inspect the village for Didsbury in Bloom 2017. I live on one of the roads which is judged so we’d spent some time making sure our front garden looked the best it could. Over the weekend everyone down our lane pulled out their green bins and set to work making sure everything was tidy, swept and neatly trimmed. It looked a treat.

This year Didsbury in Bloom celebrated our connection to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). The RSPB was founded by Emily Williamson in her home in Didsbury in 1889. Today you can visit where the first meetings were held at what is now the Alpine Tea Room in Fletcher Moss Gardens.

Blooming beautiful - Didsbury in Bloom 2017

On Ford Lane the volunteers had spent a lot of time building and making a Bug Hotel. The Bug Hotel is a fine addition to the green on Ford Lane, creating a little wildlife haven for birds and bugs was a great idea. Some of the local children lent a hand to help build it and we hope it will become a permanent fixture on the lane.

Blooming beautiful - Didsbury in Bloom 2017

Ford Lane is fringed on one side by a strip of woodland and has tidy grass verges with planters which are planted with bulbs and bedding plants. In spring the lane comes alive with blousy blossom. It’s a real wildlife corridor and we have all kinds of birds visiting our gardens throughout the year. We also have a family of foxes, plus owls, bats and we’ve seen more butterflies about this year than I can remember.

Blooming beautiful - Didsbury in Bloom 2017

I really love this hanging ball of pine cones, made with two hanging baskets joined together. It’s huge but it looks great hanging from one of the ancient trees which are on the lane. Clever isn’t it?

After the judges had moved on to other parts of the village, some of the volunteers and helpers gathered for a much needed cup of tea and homemade cake. It was a good opportunity for neighbours to mingle and chat for a while. Even the cat found time in her busy schedule to join us.

Blooming beautiful - Didsbury in Bloom 2017

Didsbury in Bloom is a lovely community thing to be part of. We are very lucky to live somewhere where many of the residents have such pride in their area. We can’t always help out as much as we’d like, but we try to keep our front garden looking neat and tidy, and we help out on community days when the green bins, hedge trimmers and sweeping brushes come out.

The Didsbury in Bloom 2017 team won’t know the results of the judging for a little while yet, but we have high hopes of repeating the success of previous years.

Read more about Didsbury – Five fabulous things about Didsbury Village.

Big thanks to Ted’s Garden Shed who worked really hard to clear the scruffy wilderness of our front garden and create something rather lovely in its place.

My Sunday Photo 24.7.16

I don’t know what this plant is. We rescued it from the disaster that was our garden when we moved into our house five years ago. I suspect it’s something like a hydrangea (answers on a postcard please). 

When we moved in the garden was a jungle of ivy. You literally had to hack your way through it to get anywhere. It was a “designer” garden which had been left to run wild. Occasionally I’d find an especially lovely plant drowning in the ivy. I’d carefully dig it up, plant it in a pot and put it to one side until the garden had been cleared and we could plant it up properly.

hydrangeaThis is by far my favourite find and I always look forward to it flowering. Even when the flowers fade we’re left with fragile looking papery flower heads. Yjeu mostly last through winter providing some interest until we cut them off in spring. 

I’m still struggling to get my head around everything that’s been going on for me at the moment. I’ve been making a point of going outside each day and looking at some of the nice things in the garden. A bit of fresh air and nature will always do me some good and I’m just trying to be kind to myself.

So what is it? Does anyone have a better idea than me? 

Gardening: Spring tidying your garden

Now that spring has sprung and the weather is a bit nicer, I’m a bit more inclined to get out in the garden and give it a tidy. Last weekend we spend a happy few hours tidying our garden after the winter, sweeping up leaves and debris, pulling up dead plants, cutting back overgrown climbers, pruning dead branches from shrubs and cutting the grass. We’re planning another tidying up session over the Easter weekend and I’ve bought some new plants to go in the beds to fill some gaps.

spring

Spring is a busy time for me in the garden, I always feel if you put some effort in early then you can sit back later and enjoy your garden. Our flower beds and veg patch are quite easy to look after, bar some weeding and watering. I’m pretty happy with how it’s taking shape after nearly 5 years of creating a family garden from bare earth.

The real problem in our garden is the grass. It’s boggy in parts, with clay underneath, and it’s a haven for moss and weeds. We seem to spend hours tending to it. One of the biggest problems with the lawn is the edging. We’ve built raised beds for some parts of the lawn, but for others the grass just butts up against the flowerbed and it’s a constant battle keeping the edge neat and the grass away from my plants.

Edging seems like the answer to our problems, keeping the lawn and border separate and making it easier to keep the lawn neat and tidy. Fitting it shouldn’t take too long and it should give the garden an instant lift. We just have to figure out how to deal with the moss now, any suggestions for that are very welcome! Moss is the bane of our gardening lives!

Gardening: How to encourage bees and butterflies

Now that the first of the spring bulbs have started to peep through, my thoughts have turned to planning what to do with the garden this year. We’ve worked hard over the last five years on our derelict garden and we’ve built raised beds, laid a lawn, tended neglected trees and planted it up almost from scratch. We’ve had a “let it grow” policy the last few years, waiting for some of the small shrubs we’ve planted to fill out so we could get a better feel for what we wanted, and what we want is more colour and to do more to attract bees and butterflies.

I know from our visits to a lavender farm in Devon that bees and butterflies can’t get enough of the purple stuff, I love it too especially when planted in lavender hedges it looks so effective. It does need a gentle pruning every year though. When it comes to garden design I’m no expert, but I think blocks of colour look great and I don’t like to see bare soil, it seems such a waste.

I’m not very good with planting seeds, so I prefer to buy small plug plants and pot them on into my little greenhouse and then plant them out. Not wanting to let the grass grow under my feet (excuse the pun) I’ve already ordered my plug plants for this year, focussing on what I think will look good and what should attract the bees and butterflies to my little patch. I have plans to order…

Spring flowering…
⇒ Primroses
⇒ Bluebells
⇒ Foxgloves

Summer flowering…
⇒ Lavender
⇒ Marigolds
⇒ Dahlias
⇒ Geraniums

Autumn flowering…
⇒ Asters
⇒ Sunflowers
⇒ Sedums

We already have some of these in the garden, I love sedums for autumn colour and the birds seem to like them too. We’ve always been cautious foxgloves given their poisonous reputation, but the boy is beyond the plant eating stage, we have no pets to worry about and they are very beautiful.

bees and butterflies

Given the struggles that bees are facing these days, I’m very happy to do what I can to help them survive and thrive and it’s always a pleasure to see butterflies fluttering into the garden and appreciating my planting scheme. What will you be planting this year to make your garden bee friendly?

= In collaboration with Homify =

Didsbury in Bloom 2014

Didsbury is a fine old part of the world. It’s often referred to in somewhat sneering tones as “leafy Didsbury” because, well, it’s a particularly leafy suburb of Manchester. Today the RHS Britain in Bloom judges came and inspected the little village where I’ve spent my entire life.

Last year the judges were very pleased with the efforts of our local team of dedicated green-fingered volunteers, so much so Didsbury won gold. As far as I’m aware the judges look around the village at the planters and displays, taking in the Jubilee Gardens on the corner near Cafe Nero and then make their way down the road where we live, because (and I say this without a hint of smugness, honest) it’s a very pretty road, it has a small green at the top, it overlooks fields and leads down to the river. It’s very nearly countryside, nearly.

Today the sun shone. The road had been swept. Plants watered and deadheaded, it looked beautiful, so out came my camera to capture the moment. So for your floral pleasure may I present Didsbury in Bloom 2014: Ford lane.

Didsbury in Bloom

This year celebrates 50 years of the RHS Britain in Bloom competition, hence the rather stunning display on the green.

Didsbury in Bloom

Didsbury in Bloom

Didsbury in Bloom

As a resident, I’d like to thank all the volunteers who work so hard to make Didsbury beautiful year round, but especially for occasions like this. Fingers crossed we do well again this year!

Planting Seeds – Gardening with kids

A little while ago I wrote that we’d ordered a shed load (literally) of gardening bits and pieces and that this year we were going to grow our own with the help of our own miniature Percy Thrower, Benjamin. We think gardening with kids is really important; it’s a great family activity and it helps them learn so much.

Last weekend when the sun shone we ventured outside to get cracking. He was helping to plant our courgette and pumpkin seeds. It’s a nice, simple job he can easily get involved with and the seeds are just the right size for little fingers to plant, and not too fiddly. gardening with kids He helped fill the little pots with compost, then we showed him how to poke and wiggle his finger in the soil to create a little hole for the seed. Then he dropped each individual seed in and covered it up; he then gave each one a good drink of water and we put the whole tray in our greenhouse and waited for them to grow.

As you can see from the photographs he really enjoyed helping Mummy and Daddy out in the garden. He’s been brilliantly helpful and watered his seeds, and now seedlings every night before bed.

Courgettes and pumpkins aren’t the only things growing in our garden, we’ve got tomatoes, potatoes, runner beans, swathes of herbs and some fruit. Alas it has been raining heavily for the last few days and so I can’t take a picture to show you how healthy everything is looking, so you’ll just have to wait for my next instalment of our grow your own adventure, or keep an eye on my instagram account where I’ll be posting some pictures when I get the chance.

I can’t wait to taste the fruits (and vegetables) of our labours.