Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Bindweed, ground elder and late summer flowers.Does my bum look big in this? Mites and nodules.

Hello Everyone, This is a quick post  just to  keep things going. Look out for a bumper issue next time when  hopefully time there will be time  to prepare a  fuller read. Don't forget  new posts are announced on twitter at @pwhorticulture

Does my bum look big in this? 

Not so much  beyond the pale but more between  the pales. A very rosy looking Golden Delicious apple has squashed itself between the palings of my garden fence. 

Bondage in the orchard. 
The flowering  shoots of this espaliered apple  developed their fruit inside a squirrel proof  bird feeder.



There can't be many gardeners in the UK ( and maybe around the world)  who don't recognize these roots. They are of course the roots of  Bindweed,  Calystegia  sepium. They strike  fear into the heart of any serious gardener. They  grow very deep and they are packed with stored  energy which  means  even very small pieces of root have  sufficient   reserves to  push up a new shoot from  even deep buried fragments. They always look  uncannily white and ready washed  when they come out of the ground  and  look  temptingly like an ingredient for a crunchy stir fry.  Not sure if they are toxic so I am not going to try it.
It is difficult to eradicate  but with patience and persistence it can be got rid of  but you need to be sure it is not  going to be  running  back into the garden  under your neighbour's  fence.  Nor  is a wall necessarily  a good defence as the roots will make their  way under or through  a stone wall though a brick wall with footings can be considered  secure. If the ground is  otherwise clear of  any  plants you want to keep let  the bindweed  grow a good cover of leaves across the ground and then before it flowers spray it with Glyphosate ( Glyphosate  is the active ingredient in Roundup but there are other  brands  to be found.)   Glyphosate is a translocated herbicide which means it is moved around the plant  to kill all parts of the plant  so the greater the leaf area the more herbicide  you get into  the plants system and the greater will be its effect. You are wasting your time  if you spray the first few leaves that appear. Always remember that  this weed killer is just as happy killing your favourite plants as it is  killing the weeds so take great care when spraying. Using a low pressure on you sprayer will  give you a  bigger  droplet size and help avoid  spray drift  but you should not spray on windy days.
If you  are very vigilant  and  persistent you can wear it down by  removing  every new shoot that appears  and the plant will eventually run out of energy and die  but such is its store of energy  that  this can take years  and you might run out of energy before it does. Chickens might have the required stamina - a friend  moved his large chicken run  around his garden over  period of a few years and killed,  by  pecking attrition, every bit of bindweed, ground elder  and creeping thistle in his garden.    

Bindweed is at it worse when it is established among herbaceous plants and shrubs. Training it up canes gives you a chance to keep it  clear of the plants you want  to keep and allows a good  leaf coverage to build up before you spray. When it comes to spraying  cover the plants around  the canes with polythene sheet   and  beware of run off from the bsheet.  

More often than not, Ground Elder, another  extremely pernicious  weed, gets mentioned in the same  breath as bindweed. It is one of the  terrible trio of weeds ,  Bindweed, Ground elder  and Horses tail. (Equisteum)  . Everyone is keen to tell you  Ground Elder was brought into the UK  by the Romans  ( So that  is what the Romans ever did for us. Hmm? ) and was used as a salad  and cooking herb  by monks. It is also often said to be a cure for gout as  its scientific name  implies. Aegopodium podagaria. Aegopodium = goat's foot from Greek aix, goat and pous,  foot. Podagaria = used to treat gout or arthritis. More of this sometimes desirable plant below........

 Bretforton Manor

  A few years ago  I was involved with  the early stage development of the gardens  at Bretforton Manor
One of the most awkward parts of the garden was this yew covered walkway which leads to the back gate and to  the private gate to the church. It was gloomy and the  ground was dry and shady. Very little would grow there so I decided  to take a bit of a risk and plant the variegated  selection of the  grow anywhere Ground Elder. It was a  risk taken with some understanding that  not too much could go wrong. There were  thick stone walls on both sides and at the far gate end and a  thick  yew hedge  where you enter the walkway so the  ground elder could not escape into the garden proper. I went back to visit the garden recently and I was  very pleased that my experiment had worked.  Congratulations have to go to  the owners  for letting me  plant such a rampant spreader in the first place and  to Jon Heath , the  head gardener  for managing this so well and  stopping the plain leaved  Ground Elder  from  taking any hold.  One way to keep the plain leaves at bay is to make sure  that the flower heads are not allowed to seed  because seedlings may well  come up  plain green. Also any shoots reverting  to green  need to be dug out as soon as they appear. Because the  plain leaves  have  more green in the leaves than the variegated  type  they will be more vigorous and  start  to overwhelm the 'ornamental' type.


 ''It's late September and I really should be getting back to school......................''

I love  late September in the  garden. Things are far from  over  and the flowers that are  still showing off  seem to have their  colours enriched by the  low sun. There is no great  mystery  in getting a good display  in early autumn. The picture below was taken in  the last week of September in north Gloucestershire  and none of the plants are difficult to grow. This is quite a deep border, the front to back dimension of a border is important if you want  to get a meaningful interplay of  height and shape between plants. This is  just a small part of a longer border  but  the same effect can be had  in a border of  lesser  proportions  by just using fewer  plants of the individual  varieties. The plants   from left to right are, at the back Datisca cannabina .I know I bore you to death with my regular references to this plant  but it is only because I love it so much,  a few  late flowers of Hemerocallis,  a  Sedum (but I cant remember
which), Echinacea purpurea,  more grassy Day Lily foliage at the front ( It is always  worth  considering the effect of the  foliage a plant provides because  most often it  is on show for far longer than the flowers), The blue is Aster amellus 'Monch' and in front of it is Crocosmia 'George Davison '.  Some stray Verbena bonariensis seedlings, Miscanthus  gracillimus and Heuchera  'Plum Pudding' complete the  arrangement.   

Another  late September  arrangement  now in its second year  is made up of  Miscanthus 'Flamingo',- the near grass,  Euphorbia myrsinites,  the foreground grey,  Ajuga 'Black Scallop' -  dark foliage in foreground, Portugal Laurel as  repeated evergreen structure midway throught the border. The Heuchera is Cherry Cola.

 In this  new woodland  garden we took care to make sure the spikes  of  toxic ( but who in their right mind is going to eat them) berries were not knocked about. Very often the  wind  and other vegetation conspire to bend and break  the stems or dislodge the berries and spoil the very dramatic affect that  can be achieved  if  they can be kept whole.

The   pinky ,purple , silvery grey  leaves of the Japanese Painted  Fern ( Athyrium nipponicum 'Pictum')  make an unlikely  companion to the  red berries of Arum italicum subsp. italicum 'Marmoratum'. I am surprised  the   marbled  leaves have not yet started to show through, whennthey do they  provide some of the best winter ground cover available. The grey stone ball is a piece of sculpture by David Harber  and is one of three in this part of the woodland garden. 

Another late season treat  is this Tricyrtis ( Toad Lily)

Rust free Hollyhock.
I am not sure where this fits in  botanically with the plants we all know as Hollyhock but it has the same effect  as  the more flamboyant varieties but is much later in flower. Unlike the traditional hollyhocks it  does not  have the rust problem.  In the case of  normal  Hollyhocks the  effect of the rust can be minimised not by treating it with chemicals but by growing your  Hollyhocks  towards the back of a border so the diseased leaves are never seen  but the towering flower spikes are. This variety flowers much later than most  and is flowering now in the first week of October. It has slightly double flowers  but  its true value lies in its  slightly  dirty pink colour -very  Farrow and Ball. Perhaps the colour  could be  called  Flamingo's Breath. That is a joke, ( after Farrow and Ball's Moles Breath) for those who thought I might be going all unduly arty.
I have this  growing against a purple smoke bush  which  sets it off perfectly. It rises to  a couple of metres  and is  rust free.      
 Alcea 'Parkfrieden' from   Special Plants


Name that plant 1. 
Presuming you don't know what  the plant below is and I asked you  to guess  its name  what would you say?
It has been flowering for several weeks through September, it is herbaceous, has survived the last few very cold winters ( That is UK Midlands very cold and please no sniggers from Canadians or Greenlanders. ), it forms a gradually  spreading  clump  and has very narrow  leaves on stems some  75 to 90 cms high. 
Would you say Lobelia? Well you should  because it is Lobelia laxifolia  var. angustifolia. It has survived several years on my very ordinary soil  in a site neither  protected nor a particularly exposed.  It is one of the most exotic  looking hardy plants in my garden.  It is from Mexico.

Name that plant 2.
Here is another one that is so atypical that if you  don't know it you are unlikely  to be able to guess from its shape and colour. It is an Echinacea, honest, It is a variety  called Southern Belle,which doesn't bode well for its hardiness but I am going to give it a try. It is not so much the flower shape that appeals to  but its bright lipstick colour. I have no idea what I am going to pair it with but maybe that is the point and it will just  stand on its own as a very bright  show-off.  

Greenhouse red spider mite ( Then again it might not)

The warn dry weather we have had in the UK  during the summer  has encouraged  Red Spider Mite to  establish itself outdoors on  plants you would not usually see affected. This is Leycesteria  formosa showing the  typical speckled  leaf effect caused by the minute mite sucking sap from below. A fine webbing can usually be seen on the underneath  of the leaf and helps  to  further confirm an infestation. You will need to  look carefully  unless it is a severe case  when  the whole plant can be enveloped and distorted by dense webbing which  can eventually kill  even large plants  such as Dahlias


Has bean...

I was digging out my French beans and I noticed these  nodules on their  roots. These are  a common feature of  leguminous plants ( What was known as the Leguminosae  family is now the  Fabaceae)  but are also found in other  genera, Alnus ( Alder) is a  a well  known one. There is a symbiotic relationship between a bacteria and the plant whereby, very simply,  the plant  provides nutrition to the bacteria and the bacteria provides  nitrogen to the plant. The bacteria in the nodules  fix nitrogen from the atmosphere ( In a good soil there is plenty of air between the soil particles.) This is particularly useful for the plant  where it is growing in a nitrogen poor soil.  You might have noticed how clover   in your lawn stays green  even when  the rest of it is looking undernourished, it is because  clover, ( a  member of the Fabaceae)    has these  nodules helping it to get its nitrogen.  as a side  note , you might  have  noticed  that your  clover leaves  close up at night. This is called nastic movement and  happens in a quite a lot of plants, some  movements are quite dramatic. I hope to take a look at  nastic movement in a bit more detail in a future post.

Tidying up.
I like  tidying up  in the garden  because it gives you a chance to get close  up to your  plants and  you see them in more detail then when just  enjoying them from afar. I was pulling off  the seed heads of Stipa arundinacea ( In know it now has a new name  but I haven't caught up with it yet.). They have a  soft  feel but are  slightly  spiky as well and a great armful  weighs nothing. They were still looking good but these were  flopping over  the path and they are prolific self seeders and I can do without  any more seedlings. I found the touch and the colour  of the  pink and sere  tinged stems  both visually and tactilely ( is there such a word?) very stimulating.
The pictures  don't really capture the sensations   of touch and texture  but if you have  pulled these out and bundled them up the pictures  will jog a memory.  

Knotting  the  fluffy stems means you can get more in the barrow but also  makes  for a sculptural effect. (Would have been better on a plain background. Ed.)

This is a picture of Euphorbia rigida showing a very fancy foliage arrangement to which some people  immediately shout Fibonacci!  I was going to explain why  but it takes a bit of maths and good deal of explanation and I have run out of time so look out for it in the next issue.  



This is not gardening but it caught my  eye  when I was waiting for my wife to finish her  judging duties at  a local show. 
 On a day out at Moreton Show I came across Dan Quartermain thatching a dog kennel to demonstrate his skills. It is obvious still a very traditional craft but  small improvements  such as stainless steel wire and screws and nails  make the  thatch  more long lasting. 
He is thatching this  dog house with straw rather than reed.Traditionally thatching would have been carried out with whatever  material was local to the  area and long ago  this  was very often grass. Now reeds  get transported across the world to satisfy  demand.  

Judging by the seed heads this is barley straw. The wire is  twisted with a ' wire twister' - I am sure it has a more  interesting  name really -  which pulls the  strips of wood holding the  straw tight and holds it secure.  
That's all folks Au revoir.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Honey Fungus, Pretty Pictures, The Old Lawnmower Club, Giant Hogweed, Bakewell tarts and puddings, Coffins and Cheeses of Nazareth.

It has been a while since my last post so here's hoping  absence makes the heart grow fonder. 

I know this is a garden blog but I could  not resist opening with this. It is something you don't  see very often.
I was driving down a  local lane when I passed first a  woman on a sit up and beg bike with   the regulation wicker basket  hanging from  the handle bars and just up a head  was  a guy on a  penny farthing  struggling  with all his might to get up a  very steep hill. It worried me that  if  he lost his balance as you eventually do when  you go slower and slower  on a bike, he would come a tidy old cropper.  Giving him a wide  birth  I drove by in amazement  but  determined to get a picture of  him. There was nowhere to  stop in the narrow  lane  until the  next  junction  about a quarter of a mile down the road. It was  a junction with a   much busier road  and I thought  that would offer a chance for a chat and  a photo  when he stopped  for the traffic. I pulled up  and waited. Eventually  the lady on the bike came into view and I asked if she  had seen a man on a penny farthing. As I asked  his head  bobbed into sight from a dip in the road  and gradually the rest of him and his  huge wheel appeared.She was  his  companion  and explained that he had designed and built this bike himself and  having stayed  at the  local pub overnight  they were  now making their way back  to Silverstone some  thirty three miles away. But just as he hove into view he swiftly hoved out of view, the road was clear  and no way was he going to dismount if he did not have to  so it was quick wave from him and quick jog alongside from me  try to get a quick snap and he was off  with his 'support team'  in swift pursuit.  

Pretty pictures

I had a letter from Mathew Pichu in Peru and he said  the last  issue  was a bit too biased towards  the nastier side of  gardening with all those pictures of  pests  and diseases and how about more pictures of gardens. Here are  few 'pretty' pictures of plantings I have designed  but  sorry Mathew more death and destruction to come.

The first  planting is  a mix of purples and silvers with Sambucus 'Black Lace',  Buddleja ( Where are we with  the spelling of Buddleia? )'Morning Mist', Heuchera 'Plum Pudding' , Nepeta 'Six Hills' and  Allium   'Purple Sensation'. 

A collection of pots with Abutilon, Ostespermum  Discia   Scaevola, Plectranthus argentatus  Echeveria, Pelargonium  Lady Plymouth  and another  pelargonium with a trailing habit and very dark flowers.

Nestling in the  containers above is this  Diascia variety.  It is the most fabulous  dusky, dirty, greyey   purpley,  blue. and not done true justice by the picture. I don't know the  name  of the  variety but it is one I am going to get some cuttings of  and use it again  next year -  only for my own use of course just  in case it carries  Plant Breeders Rights!

The seed heads of Pasque flowers, Anemone pulsatilla run through  an  upright  Euonymus. Too bright a day for  a  really good photo but it does have  a sort of sparkle.

While we are on  a green theme,  just along from the planting with the Pasque Flower above I tried out  is this  green and cream arrangement. Cammasia leichtlinii 'Alba' with a  yet to open fully Stipa gigantea but looking just right. 

This is the same Stipa  later in the season when its  flower heads had opened up and were shimmering in the breeze - lovely.  

More of the same but different.

I tried out this combination of Heuchera 'Marmalade' , Carex  buchanani, Cosmos atrosanguinues    and some tagetes in  a galvanised tub in the jumble of my greenhouse.  

Two large clumps of Pulmonaria 'Diana Clare', some  Heuchera,a  Hydrangea paniculata and  a purple smoke bush make a lively combination  on a shady bank.( no, not Lloyds.)

More green but this time not mine. These are Nectaroscordum siculum subsp. bulgaricum reaching for the stars over a sea of Hosta leaves at Kiftsgate Court garden. 

A bit more Kifstgate. The 'new' garden where the tennis court used to be. All very stylish. 

A closer shot of the metal leaf sculpture. The leaves periodically  drip water  on a timed  system 

I tried this for the first time this year. I bought it as Zigadenus nuttallii  but it does not tally exactly with the images on Google. My nutallii is nicer. Right name or wrong name it is a little charmer.

 A group of box balls patiently waiting to have their hair cut  behind a sea of Marmalade - Heucheras.

Just a nice mix of Heuchera , Carex and a viola that   fades through a whole range of colours one of which  matches  the Heuchera to perfection.
News from our agricultural correspondent  Ivor Field. 

I wrote....
Hello Ivor, I am getting a new blog ready to go. Any chance of a few words on the current state of play in agriculture. Any quirky pests popped up this summer? There seems to have been fields being ploughed up right through the summer this year rather than the usual autumn after harvest ploughing. Good year for aphids? I imagine the warm weather got them going. Roses have been relatively free of fungal diseases because of the dry weather, has it been the same for agricultural crops?
Ivor wrote.....
Hi Paul, Yes a lot more fallow fields this year in the South Midlands! This is a direct follow on from last years wet summer and autumn. Many fields had deep ruts and damage to the soil from heavy harvesting equipment last year and so the only way to rectify the problems were to wait until the soil dried up this Spring or Summer and then rectify the compaction issues with subsoiling. Also there has been a lot of drainage activity going on in fields where previous drainage schemes have become dilapidated/blocked. You may have noticed areas in fields (particularly Winter wheat and Rape) where the crop was sprayed out and killed in June. Areas of orange/brown appeared in the green crops like patchwork quilts - this is where farmers sprayed off crops as they were infested with weeds - mainly Blackgrass, whereby the weed has become resistant to the herbicides used and the only way to control it or reduce the weed seed numbers is to kill it off with glyphosate and sacrifice areas of the crop also. This year there has been much more spring cropping (barley, spring rape and beans and Linseed) due to the wet autumn and cold winter and the fact that the more usual winter crops could not get established last autumn. Harvesting the spring barley and wheat is now underway and the yields are respectable. Fortunately there has been a lot more sunshine this year and the harsh winter and late spring has meant fewer pests and diseases managed to survive this and cause major problems to the crops in the field. By the time the warm spells occurred in June and July bringing with them an increase in aphid populations - many agricultural crops were beyond the stages where the pests cause economic damage or harm. The one thing that seems to have thrived is wasps and sitting here outside tapping this blog on my phone, I am being harassed - perhaps their natural predators failed to survive and with the abundance of fruit on the trees (a result of the very late spring flowering with no frosts or pests to kill off the blossom) they are not short of food. Enough is enough, it's now war!

Giant Hogweed. 
 Heracleum mantegazzianum  (After Paulo  Mantegazzi,  a liberal Italian  neurologist and  supporter of Darwin. ) 

Not one for the naked gardener this, the sap causes serious blisters and long term scarring. Its a biennial and a serious self seeder. Up to four or five metres high with cartwheels of  umbelliferous flowers. Queen Anne's Lace on steroids.   

 Such is its majesty that I did not have the heart to dig out this dramatic plant. 
Jagged leaves and  purple  stems - all as toxic as you like! 

If you want to eat again don't be tempted to  make peashooters out of the hollow stems. 

Honey Fungus - a tale of woe.

I have long known about honey fungus  but never  knowingly seen it in action.  It is one of those fungi that strikes terror   into the   hearts of  a gardeners. It can kill  large trees  and a tree  dying of honey fungus  arouse fear that th whole  garden is suddenly  going to be struck down  but often  just one tree will go  down and  that  is it , no more problems.  Sometimes  though it will spread  and other nearby plants will be affected.  Research has shown that there are what appear to be  species and strains that  are more virulent than others. It spreads underground  by  strands or rhizomorphs ( Rhizo = root.  morph = shape  so 'root like'  structures. ). The  rhizomorphs infect the plant through living  bark on roots or at the root collar then the fungus  kills the phloem (conducting tissue)  and the cambium ( growth tissue) and so   preventing the movement of  fluids up into the tree.  
The  mycelium spreads as  thin  white sheets underneath the bark. This white  mycelium  becomes black with time. The  fungus penetrates the dead wood   and shows as thin  black veins through the decaying wood.
The fungus can be  recognised by its strong  mushroom  smell and and it produces a wet rot. 
The pictures below are taken from a garden I work in. It is a garden that had become neglected  and  when we started work  there were one or two  poorly looking plants which eventually died over a period of a season and a half,  notabley a Rosa glauca, Viburnum davidii and an Escallonia. I put some of this down to   poor growing conditions, a cold winter  and an acceptance that sometimes things die and you are never quite sure why. There were none of the  obvious  honey fungus symptoms ( to this day there has never been any of the  honey coloured toadstools in the garden and  the books say their spores  are not a very likely source  of infection.)   though I did  not suspect honey fungus  and  can't say  I looked hard for symptoms so I might have missed something.The  plants we condemned to the bonfire. 

Shrubs were  put in to replace them  and all was well for a year  then  this year  a Hamamelis, Rosa Nevada and Wiegela all  died and and now a Magnolia stellata  is looking sick.  They  all deteriorated  slowly.  Subsequent  investigation has shown a dead Leyland cypress in amongst a hedge of Prunus laurocerasus  near  what seem to be  one of  three sites of infection.   
There is nothing that  can be done other than to remove as much as possible of the infected roots  so as to  remove the food source  for the  spreading  mycelium. Unfortunately one of the  stumps I need to dig out has since  had a  low retaining  wall built over half of it so  a barrier of stout  plastic will  seal  off  the part of the stump that  cannot be removed.  

This close up of  infected wood shows the  wet  decaying wood,  the  sheets of white mycelium  and the black 'marbling ' typical of honey fungus. This was found in the  middle of a decaying tree stump that  had been covered over   and  lay as a prime source of infection right next to where I was planting new shrubs. 
The soft decayed tissue is easily dug out  and was burnt.  
Peeling back the bark at the base of the stem  on this young Hamamelis revealed sheets of white mycelium working their way up under  the bark
Another shot of the  damage to the  Hamamelis which limped along for several months before eventually giving up. 
A piece of decayed  root showing  black mycelium penetrating  the decaying tissue,  and  white sheet of mycelium 
The base of this Leyland cypress  showed signs of  attack by mycelium  and smelled strongly of mushroom. It is in a long hedge of Cherry Laurel,  Prunus laurocerasus which is  showing no signs of damage  and  is fortunately on a Forestry Commission list of trees  thought to have a useful degree of resistance.  

Datisca cannabina.
I have written  about this  plant before. It is dioecious - having the male and female flowers  on separate plants  and comes from the  Greek oikos meaning home Monoecious  is where the  male and female flowers  are on the  same plant i.e. one home,  and dioecious  they are on separate  plants  i.e. two homes.   (Ecology has the same derivation)   but I had never seen the male plant. The  first two pictures below are the females  and they are elegant  with long and open tassels ( the herbaceous stems are  some three metres  tall)
It is not possible to  know what plant you have bought  unless you know the nurseryman who propagated  it and  if it is a division you will know what you are getting  but if it is an un-flowered seedling you could get either  male or female.  They are  fairly easy to raise from seed.

The long female  tassels swirl elegantly in the wind

Male plants looking more like Goldenrod .....

.... and  not looking as elegant as the females.

Bakewell Show
I was at two shows with our Gardening Question  Time  Road-show  a few weeks ago and came across some great stuff. 
The first show was in Derbyshire at Bakewell.  Here in the UK everybody goes oh yeah, Bakewell Tarts (it is a  kind  of small cake/ dessert)   and  tries to cast some slur on the women of Bakewell  which is downright rude of course. Others say 'but what about  the Bakewell Pudding  and are the  things Mr Kipling  produces anything like the original Bakewell Tart?'I tried to sort out the  tart pudding thing while I was at the show. Apparently the   modern,  somewhat sanitised,   Bakewell Tarts  we get offered  in the supermarkets are tarts  and the icing and cherry on the top are  new additions and were not part of the  original tart. They all have  a pastry case  with an almond paste and  strawberry jam filling  but the  original pudding has a flaky( that might be  puff, I can't remember)  pastry  case  and a filling which according to the Original Bakewell Pudding Shop  has a secret ingredient. Anyway  here is a picture  of  two small puddings and as you can see from the grease soaked bag and  dollops of jam they are a very healthy dessert. They are extremely sweet, so sweet in fact that  I would struggle to eat more than  six at a sitting. They definitely call for a strong cup of tea or some not too sweet custard - crème  fraiche might be an idea if not a very traditional one.


I am always envious of  vegetable growers  and I can only guess at the commitment it takes from these   allotment holders to  produce such magnificent  crops. 


Cooperative  Funeral Care. 
The Cooperative Funeral Service sponsored the heavy horses and carriages  classes  which displayed in the main arena. What I was dying to see was the display of  coffins which offered an odd mix of sobriety, lightness and quirkiness to the show.

This as green as you are going to get - a wicker coffin  pedaled to the grave side. I am afraid it does conjure up images of  a rainy day  and a bike bogged down  in rather sodden ground.

This looked so cosy I was tempted  to get in for a short snooze.  A  felted coffin, it was hard to resist the temptation to stroke it.  
You would  have to be careful  where you parked this Japanese style Buddhist temple hearse in case you ended up  with  queue  for 99s

A very plush interior. Why would  you want to go floating off to heaven when you  have this? 

In the Pink.

The display of pinks for judging was just so lovely with near perfect flowers and in colours I never thought I could like but I did. Sorry about the  pictures being a bit fuzzy. 


The Show Bench.

The mixed veg class   impresses  me most  because you have to show your skill across a range of   produce. Anyone who can  grow good caulis gets all my admiration.

What can you say!

 Preened roots a horse would be proud to have as a tail. 

It's a bit  of hard Cheddar.
I am struggling to find a reason  to include pictures of cheeses  in a garden  blog but  to be in the cheese tent was an experience  you couldn't help but to want to share and  a couple of the cheeses have  plant connections 

I don't have the words  to describe  the feeling I had seeing these cheeses. The colour, the smell, the weight and somehow a timelessness.

New satellites have  given us some fabulous close up pictures of the suns activity and particularly  the sunspots.   They could have saved some money  and just  sent a camera to Bakewell show cheese tent. Conspiracy theorists  may well say that's  just what they did.

We all know this cheese. It's Yarg from Lynher Dairies and  it is wrapped with nettle leaves. How could you bring yourself to cut it? Yarg sounds like some ancient word dragged up from the  depths of time but this a relatively new cheese, early 1980s and first made by  Alan Gray 
 and who just turned his  name around to create this  great sounding name. 


A cheese by the same maker  but this   time wrapped in wild garlic leaves.

Cheese mould. Very similar colours to many of our lichens.

A blue continental cheese making a run for it.


No words needed. New Close Farm Shop

That's the end of the food section.


Canwell Show is a great one day show  in the UK  Midlands. Very friendly and hospitable.

French beans for judging. 


In the horticultural tent  apart from all the judged classes  was a display of old garden implements including a range of  lawnmowers and turf care equipment. 

This  lawn edger  was  engineered to last. The metal  tray on the side would collect the trimmings as you went along. . 

I am a sucker for old metal and  patterns and symmetry so this  riddle or sieve  took me to a seventh heaven. The detail  and accuracy of the work was astonishing. It was made of steel so had  rusted over time   but for me it just added to its appeal.. The name on the wooden  rim was  that of a  malt suppliers  but I have no idea what part of the malting operation would have involved  a mesh so fine.

Of all the old tools this tiny lawn mower took my heart. It was so solidly built and as sharp and  efficient as you would want. Here it is turned upside down so that you can see the rotating blades  and the fixed bottom blade. It has a cut of about three inches.

It is just pushed along with one hand and the  wheel drives the blades around. The make is Tudor  who were also  makers of  kitchen appliances  and I seem to remember my mom had a  pressure cooker  made by them though it might have been a Tower.

The mower is upside down here showing where the clippings are thrown out. Look how thick the metal is.

I had a really good chat with Dave ( I hope I have remembered you name right  it has been a few weeks ago now.)  and  he  told  me about  his collection and collecting and also about The Old Lawnmower Club which brings together  enthusiasts at annual rallies  and  via the website. He demonstrated  the mower and it cut to perfection even on the  bumpy  grass of the show-ground. There was whole range of tools which  I could have  photographed  had I not been nattering  away for so long. One item was a three pronged flat bladed  fork cum spade  but with the  blade ends joined with a pointed,  flat piece of metal which if you stood the fork upside down looked like a  house with a  pointed roof held up by the three flattened prong. Suggestions were  that it was a  ditcher's fork  and would be used to dig ditches in heavy soil  and the  open spaces between the blades would let air in and  reduce the 'suck' you get when trying to dig wet clay.

LA FIN - that's for our French readers.

P.S Anyone looking for the reference to Cheeses of Nazareth there isn't one it was just a cheap gag. P.W.