Beneath the plastic...
This might look like a very unassuming pile of plastic, but underneath here lies the fantastic Waterside II bench for my Tatton Show garden. Sponsored by Marshalls, the bench has been made in time for the show and brought in from Germany to take pride of place beside the water feature in the garden. With a sleek and contemporary design, the bench should be the perfect match for the bespoke Western Red Cedar timber panels which will frame the garden (sponsored by Denbigh Timber Products). I can't wait to see it in place...I assume that something slightly larger than the car in the background will be bringing it to the show ground!
Liatris with Acanthus and Miscanthus sin. Nippon
It has been two weeks since I visited the nursery growing my perennials and I thought it was high time I checked on my little beauties. And what a difference two weeks has made here too. The Liatris spicata Floristan Weiss is a really strong grower and the Dierama 'Blackbird' is showing its arching flower buds which I am hoping develop in time. I love this plant with its graceful habit; it is a really good companion to grasses but also tricky to get right as it does need its own space in which to arch to get the full effect of this stunning plant.
The Acanthus mollis is mixed - a few are already in flower and a few don't show any sign of flower buds developing. I am using the leaf texture with this particular plant to tie in with the leaves of the Fig tree; the flowers are a bonus but I can't make my mind up whether the judges will see it as a failing if they don't all come into flower...tricky decision to make.
The Echinacea are finally showing flower buds but only time will tell whether they are looking good in time for the show.
Ficus carica holding its fruit
I also visited the tree nursery today to check on the two Cherry trees (Prunus avium Burlat) and the Fig (Ficus carica). The birds have been feasting on the cherries so it won't be in fruit for the show (no surprise there really but it was the shape as much as their fruit that attracted me to them in the first place) but the Fig is holding its own and bearing fruit now. With a little bit of luck...and no fig-eating birds we might just have some for July!
The strangest thing about growing edible crops yourself for a show garden is that you have to try and work backwards! When I first started researching what to grow I used a wall planner and counted the weeks backwards from judging day (24th July). Its an odd thing to do, and I received some very strange looks when I visited the Malvern Show and asked one of the edible exhibitors (plants, not the staff!) which varieties might look good for a specific date! So I counted down with judging day being week 12 and worked out what to start when. It has worked so far, with the odd things being too far infront, but most of it looking okay at the moment. Sowing and potting up in succession has been the answer, much like succession planning on an allotment.Giant Red Mustard
Giant Red Mustard has got to be my favourite of all the plants I am growing in my back garden for the Tatton Show so far. It is living up to its name, planted here in an old wooden tomato crate and towering over the lettuce growing behind it. Unfortunately it might be an early giant and this beauty might end up as next weeks' evening meal! But never fear, succession growing means that I am growing most of my plants at intervals so this (hopefully) should ensure that I have some looking good for the show...
Sarah Raven, on her website, gives a good guide to growing and cooking these lovely edible crops from seed: http://www.sarahraven.com/shop/mustard-red-giant-organic.html
To thin or not to thin...carrots
This is the first time that I have grown my own carrots and the stories I hear about the Carrot Fly have stopped me from thinning out the carrots...so far. But I have to make a decision soon or the carrots will be too close together and be tiny! I am aiming for small baby carrots and the depth of the wooden crate will prevent longer ones from growing anyway, but I really do need to get on and do it. The other thing that is stopping me is the fact that I can't make up my mind which to pull!!! I think it really doesn't matter as long as I leave the strongest behind and give them more space but the fact that I have to make a decision about this (and lets face it, its not exactly a life-threatening situation!) means that I keep looking at it and leaving it for tomorrow - perhaps I should just close my eyes and hope for the best....My current excuse, waiting for a cool dusk evening to attack!
I did make a decision on the Spinach I had sown though; it bolted and was about to go to into flower so up it came. Sorry spinach. Strike one.
Tatton plants growing nicely
Driving through the narrow country lanes of Cheshire the other week I came across a fantastic garden nursery called The Rectory.
A quick scan around the glasshouses and open beds made me realise that I had found my plant supplier, and almost on my doorstep too! This means I can keep a close eye on the plants as they grow over the next few weeks and make any last minute substitutions that might be required (depending on what the weather does of course!) I called by today to have a quick check on the plants I have selected and they are looking great! i can't wait to see it all come together!
Marshalls are my main sponsor for the Edible Medley show garden for the RHS Tatton Show this year. Not only do they create a fantastic range of products, but they manage their business in an ethical and socially responsible way. With my background in sustainable development, this really appeals to me!
A visit to Marshalls Landscape House in Yorkshire with Actual Landscapes yesterday allowed a sneak preview of some of the fantastic products we will be using.
We are going to be building the garden with a beautiful range of ethically imported Fairstone Indian sandstone. You might ask how stone can be ethical, or unethical...well, let me tell you! Marshalls, as a member of the Ethical Trading Initiative, address key issues throughout its supply chain such as child labour, bonded labour, illegal quarries, poor living conditions, migrant worker settlements and environmental damage on a massive scale. By working with charities and quarries to improve conditions, they not only ensure a safe working environment, but the lives of workers are safeguarded through insurance policies and living wages.
I will be talking a lot more about this important issue...watch this space!
The back garden shrinks every day!
At last the weather has warmed and the sun in shining! And what a difference it is making to the edible show garden plants...all of a sudden you can see a difference in their size on an almost daily basis.
I decided to plant the majority of vegetables and salad crops in old wooden crates from the market (lined of course) and I am hoping that the rows will bulk out and begin to jostle for space.
Only time will tell whether they all make it to the show - slugs have discovered the nutritious salad bar this week so I will have to be more vigilant
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I am a garden designer based in the Staffordshire Moorlands and love inspiring children and adults alike to explore and enjoy the outdoors!
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