Beverley Nichols, author, journalist and playwright, liked to set a vase of them on a mirror as, he said it is the inside of the delicate, bell shaped blooms which is the prettiest part of the flower; white and etched in pale green, their reflection in a mirror is magic. Particularly remembered for his gardening books, he tells of the ups and downs of renovating Merry Hall, his house in Surrey and being continually ‘helped’ and entertained by his adored cats ‘Four’, ‘Five’ and ‘Oscar’.
I tend not to pick snowdrops as a bunch but dig up a clump and pop them in a pot; they last longer and somehow seem more at home in their soil rather than water, when they have died back, I replant them.
From now on, holiday brochures and catalogues flop endlessly through the letter box and there is no escape, you just have to gather them together, sit down and be drawn into making decisions and plan for the oncoming summer months. Sunshine never seems more necessary than in Jan, Feb and March. Gloomy, short, dark days running into monotonous cold and wet weeks. Winter seems to go on forever. However, light, bright days are ahead so draw the curtains, cosy round the fire and attack those advertising booklet and leaflets.
Let the research begin. You need a hefty dollop of imagination during these darker days to recall the memories of convivial Barb B Qs, egg sandwich picnics, day trips out and welcoming afternoon ‘get togethers’ for family and friends not to mention the warmth of summer holidays.
Visiting Shows must be high on anyone’s list. For gardeners and us amateur ‘designers’ whose flights of fancy lead us to believe we can transform our own gardens into perfection, we are always optimistic. Here is a wealth of information about products new and traditional to make us look again at the patios, terraces and lawns back home. The Royal Horticultural Society Shows start the season in April in Cardiff, Malvern Festival follows in the 2nd week in May and then the big one; Chelsea Spring Flower Show this year is on the 22nd to 26th May. Chatsworth Flower Show was launched last year and added to the RHS calendar that opens at the beginning of June. Hampton Court Palace Flower Show is at the beginning of July followed by Tatton Park Flower Show in Cheshire at the end of that month. In August it is the turn of the Garden Hyde Hall Celebration of Plants in Chelmsford in Essex, and then there is Rosemoor Flower Show in Devon. Wisley Flower Show in Surrey brings the season to a close in early September. These are just some of the RHS Show venues in 2018, where the experts are waiting with information and advice at their fingertips for all things horticultural. Plants have all reached the exhibitors’ high standards of perfection, many of which are blooming out of their season, giving us yet more choice of type, colour and shape. All beautifully prinked and preened and standing to attention, the show gardens seem to be from a world of perfection; artistic designs remote from the ordinary, beautiful and innovative, a far cry from our plots at home. I remember meeting someone who had the most georgous garden, all beautifully laid out, an absolute picture; the landscaping and planting was to die for, and as I looked around I congratulated the owner on just how lovely his garden was, he gallantly turned to return the compliment, ‘But your garden is just as lovely, just (and here words failed him and he hesitated as he frantically searched for the right word) ‘Natural!’ He exclaimed triumphantly. What he really meant was that our plot is indeed natural being overgrown in many places with rather too many flourishing weeds. Two hens wander aimlessly where they please, pheasants, grey squirrels and rabbits play continual game with Fred the dog as he patrols his boundaries ruthlessly chasing them off his property, but on the days when Nutmeg the goat jumps over the wall to have a destroying nibble at whatever takes her fancy, he can really show his authority.
Not this year….
We love meeting you all, however have decided not to exhibit at any shows this year, it is just too expensive. We have been invited to exhibitions with our swing seats throughout the country from the Borders to Surrey and beyond, and have thoroughly enjoyed seeing customers old and new, especially when we hear how much you are enjoying your swing seats. Despite the annual price increases by our suppliers to us, we haven’t raised our prices for the past 3 years and by cutting back on expensive outings, it all helps to allow us to continue holding them down for another year.
Anticipation of a change in the seasons….
Nothing much stirs before Easter and then there is a flurry of action for the start of Spring when magically life restarts and the British come out of hibernation to be galvanised into actioning the plans made during these last three months. However, bargains abound at the moment and when the garden is bare of all greenery how much easier it is to see the stark outlines of shape; where paths run, and how much shade trees give to certain areas. And not to forget, this is the best time to imagine where a swing seat should be usefully positioned.
Snowdrops have started off the New Year and to get you in the mood for spring many gardens are open to visitors. In all parts of the country there is plenty of choice where you can enjoy stunning snowdrop vistas and woodland walks. Kiplin Hall in North Yorkshire is one such where snowdrops and aconites thickly carpet the grounds of the estate. It is thought that the introduction of planting bulbs there was in the 19th century, despite the dates being uncertain, people have loved the snowdrops for generations, To be such a tiny, fragile, little flower that withstands the winter rigours, a miracle! A few minutes on the internet and you are sure to find somewhere near you to visit; a good dose of fresh air in a snowdrop walk, followed by a cup to tea and cake sounds a good idea to me!