Aspiring Garden Designer | current healthcare admin | ex-teacher

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Off the grid, on the map

Off the grid, on the map

Sometimes it’s easy to get swept away in the hustle and bustle, and the excitement of constant activity too. Sometimes it’s soothing just to relax, no plans, no deadlines. How many of us are guilty of forgetting that?     From Friday evening to Sunday […]

Not enough hours in the day

Not enough hours in the day

How can we add more hours to the day? A question I keep posing to myself regularly at the moment – the answer, of course, impossible. The reason for this pondering: I’ve found a new lease on life and there’s just so much out there […]

An eternal outlook

An eternal outlook

How often do you find yourself retracing steps from an earlier part of your life, sometimes without even realising it?

Last weekend I met Matt out in Tideswell where we’d had our very first date. This Saturday I ended up taking Troy for a walk along the same route I’d taken just around the same time as Matt and I had that first date. I clearly recall sending him photos of me and the spaniel walking along the blizzard-blitzed roads and over the snow-blanketed fields, which this time were soaked in sunlight and cloaked in corn.

Saturday – walking from Worrall

This is one of my favourite wanderings to take from home, and much of it is uncongested by other walkers or cyclists.

Beginning in the heart of Worrall, head downhill and round the Butcher’s Corner S-bend as if going to the top end of Oughtibridge. Behind the farm on the bend you have a left hand lane – go up it and it soon becomes a mud/stony path – Boggard Lane. It’s home to one of my favourite tree-vaulted archways. After this you also glimpse Onesacre on the opposite side of the valley (my dad’s grandmother was one of the last to attend its small schoolhouse).

From the far end of Boggard, head up the steep incline of Burnt Hill and carry on until the right hand turn onto Onesmoor Bottom, a windy and gradually increasing rise which offers views back towards Oughtibridge, Worrall and Sheffield city from its heights. You can also look across to the north-east and see one of my other local walks through Greno Woods (more about that in future).

Take a footpath over the fields to your left at the top of the hill (there is an opposite path which descends to Oughtibridge). Crossing through these fields – this summer filled with ripening golden wheat and rustling bronze rape stalks – you’ll pass around the right of the convent and its grounds. Yet another example of beautiful stone walling, albeit more imposing than the usual field dividers!

Passing alongside the convent, you’ll reach a metal gate out onto Kirk Edge Road. Turning right there would lead you on into Bradfield and beyond, but I turned left (lots of lefts, like not ending up lost in a labyrinth). Descend down the straight road over Worrall Moor until reaching the village itself. Troy and I finished off by walking along Top Road and down Towngate towards the post office and Blue Ball, and returning home from there for a well-earned coffee and glass of water. So much for the poor weather!

Sunday – Renishaw Hall specialist plant fair

Such a shame the sunny weather didn’t completely continue through into Sunday; a lot more heavy clouds floating around, and the constant threat of rain – which fortunately never came.

I spent the morning drawing up some plans for my sister’s partial garden re-design, before then dividing some offsets (or “pups”) from the Aloe Vera which Matt bought me earlier in the year. Easy peasy – I now have nine Aloe Vera’s. I don’t expect them all to survive, that said, due to insufficient root systems on the smaller ones as well as a little rot on a couple. Nevertheless, more than one is progress from just the one! I simply tipped the plant from the pot, teased the pups away from the centre (sometimes using my disinfected cuttings knife to slice if necessary), and potted on into gritty compost-filled containers. Simple!

Lunchtime arrived and drove across to Renishaw Hall via my friend Fiona’s house to collect her for an afternoon in the fabulous gardens and mooching round the specialist plant fair. We even went thrifty, taking our own lunches and drinks. More money free for the plants on sale in my case!

I find the gardens at Renishaw utterly beautiful, even if it isn’t the most expansive estate. The major downside from my point-of-view is the woodland walk. It’s not its size, so much as its lack of excitement. There’s very little going on between the trunks or along the ground. Perhaps I just need to make sure I visit in spring; maybe there are bulbs of which I’m unaware.

There’s also a neoclassical statue of a lady attempting to coyly cover her modesty, glancing anxiously to her left. This is the only statue I’ve ever felt sorry and sad for. The reason? She doesn’t have a decent view to gaze at for her eternity in stone. Fiona and I pondered on how her outlook may have appeared when first realised. A clear hillside overlooking rolling hills and scattered thickets?

Renishaw Hall is paradise for its own yew enclaves of immaculate lawns, abundantly planted herbaceous borders and rows of roses, lilies and, in spring, tulips. It even boasts a laburnum arch for earlier in the year.

The plant fair was a little disappointing – I saw very little that took my fancy. Then again, there’s no accounting for taste, and what skips my notice might well stoke someone else’s passion. Do be warned however, that there is a charge of £3 just for adults to enter the separated fair area, or an additional 50p on your £6 adult entry to the gardens if you combine the two activities as we did. We actually got away without paying – I think the ticket people had tootled off home by that time in the afternoon (close to its closing at 16:30; it began at 10:30).

I was beginning to feel that sadness at the prospect of leaving empty handed – like I need more plants! – and then I spotted four Echinacea “White Swan”, and purchased three. Now, where to squeeze them in… I was also pleased to arrive back at my mum and dad’s to see one of the Gladiolus murielae buds has opened up.

And so Sunday night has arrived, I’m typing this up, and just noticing the rain has finally arrived through the window. Good timing.

Have a great week ahead, and don’t forget, you can follow me on social media and subscribe below!

Taking it easy around Tideswell

Taking it easy around Tideswell

Do you find that every now and then you just need a totally chilled weekend? That’s what I was in need of this time, and that is what I got. Not boring or empty, but relaxed and satisfying. I’ve been chock full of cold since […]

Gardening addictions

Gardening addictions

How does your garden grow? Full of spontaneous plant purchases? Despite not having my own garden at the moment, I’m still dabbling with plants and produce in my poor parents’ outdoor space. They’re inundated with plant pots, and I’ve only gone and picked up even […]

Surprise surprise

Surprise surprise

Are you a fan of surprises? Do you feel comfortable completely relinquishing control?

I’ve never been a huge fan of surprises myself. I think a lot of it was a safety mechanism – being in charge of what I do and when and where was a way of avoiding nerves or fear. Lately though I have been allowing others to lead the way, and I’ve actually quite enjoyed it. Matt totally planned out the itinerary for New York back in June, and came up with a fair few ideas for Boston before that too.

Saturday 22 July was a day full of surprises, planned by Matt, based around things I love. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and while nothing groundbreaking, he did a fantastic job picking out some unique activities.

We began the day lazily but by lunchtime had arrived at Church Brow, Bowdon, where we called at a pretty little cottage whose garden and outbuildings contained antique and secondhand stone and metal artefacts for use outdoors. All very appropriate and inspiring for my delving into garden design. I came away empty handed (having gone by bus aided this).

After that we wandered up past the church on the hilltop to a small village green besides which stood two gorgeous-looking pubs. We opted for The Stamford for a couple of pints, although we only withstood the outside seat for one of them due to the clouds scooting overhead frequently. It was also pretty nice to witness groups of devout Jewish people wandering by, enjoying each other’s company as they left the South Manchester Synagogue just up the road.

We walked off the calories from the beverage, heading into Altrincham centre via some lovely looking terrace cottages and town houses, catching the tram all the way through to the terminus at the Etihad Stadium. I was very perplexed – was there an event on in the ground that I’d not heard of?

Not at all – Matt led us round to the entrance to Philips Park and showed tickets to get us into Jurassic Kingdom, an animatronic dinosaur event set out in the greenery. Some of the information displays were missing or incorrect (erm, why is that diplodocus labelled as a brachiosaurus?), and it got a bit overwhelming with the number of under-10s running under the cordons to pull on dinosaurs’ tails or stick their heads in the dinos’ mouths! Despite this, it was such an unexpected plan, and totally appealed to my inner geek that loves dinosaurs. It turns out Matt saw how much I enjoyed Jurassic World when we watched it the other week and felt inspired.

Things went slightly awry then, as we went to catch the trams back through to Manchester centre and then on to our final secret stop. We were informed the trams weren’t running to Etihad Stadium stop due to “an incident”. We had a walk along the canal which, in spite of my jeans being too tight (too many crisps and cakes it seems!), was better than you’d think. Some interesting sights en route.

It turns out all trams around Manchester had been suspended indefinitely. Fortunately our all-day tram tickets were accepted on certain bus lines and we managed to get to the last surprise: West Didsbury for cocktails at Hula and delicious tapas at Pinchjo’s. It was only my second ever visit to Pinchjo’s, but I was sad nonetheless to note a “goodbye” party and farewell messages for the last weekend of July. The waitress explained to us that it shall be re-opening in August however, just under new management and a new chef, as the old chef-proprietor is leaving. I’m eager to see what the “new” Pinchjo’s will be like.

I also had to get a quick shot of The Metropolitan‘s grand vintage décor before we caught an Uber back to Matt’s…

If you have little ones in the family and an opportunity to visit Jurassic Kingdom, definitely give it a go – or just pop along if you’re a dinosaur fanatic too!

RHS Chatsworth Flower Show 2017

RHS Chatsworth Flower Show 2017

Picture the scene: rolling hills in various shades of green, embracing a soft valley as its river gently meanders through. Trees stand here and there as sentinels at their various posts. Their charge? A magnificent golden edifice hundreds of years old. The location? Chatsworth House, […]

Hare, there and everywhere

Hare, there and everywhere

I read on the Pentreath & Hall Inspiration blog earlier this year how the author, Ben Pentreath, was aiming to do one new thing every weekend. Unintentionally I have been doing much the same thing.This weekend just passed was a much more sedate affair, but […]

Lymm Open Gardens 2017

Lymm Open Gardens 2017

Do you ever yearn to know what is going on behind closed gates? Maybe you’re an avid gardener like me, and wonder what others do with their own outdoor spaces? I have the perfect remedy…

An open garden event. Each year since the 1920s, British gardeners have opened their inner sanctums to the outside world through the National Garden Scheme. I have recently visited a couple of examples of this contradiction to “Britishness”, where a stiff upper lip hidden away gives in to a knee-trembling voyeurism of floral proportions.

On a more intense scale was the Lymm Open Gardens Day, on Sunday 02 July 2017, part of the wider Lymm Festival (most of which I missed unfortunately). All ticket proceeds went to charity at St Rocco’s Hospice, while each garden offered up refreshments (food and drink, alcoholic and non-alcoholic) for a small price that went to charities of the owners’ own choice. It was all exceedingly good fun with fresh air, exercise, chit-chat and warmheartedness.

We followed the accompanying brochure in an extremely higgledy piggledy fashion, beginning with (7) No 16 Burford Lane. I was simply astounded by what a winding little oasis of calm and colour there was flourishing behind the hedge, right beside the road!

Next we wandered our way onto the Transpennine Trail to (2) and (3), gardens off Green View, whose gardens looked over open fields in the height of summer. Both plots were very different, number 7 bursting at the seams with plants of all varieties, number 8 more restrained and selective with the contribution of the owner’s own artwork (Paul Scates, for those who would like a look). They just go to show that you don’t need a vast area to do a lot.

There were several other brilliant gardens, including (5) Lucas Croft, The Avenue, with its “traditional” suburban lawn and flowerbeds concealing a magical shady spot complete with fish pond, arbour and acers, and (6) No 64 Crouchley Lane, home to a more Arts & Crafts feel cottage garden. Also outstanding was (1) 20 Pepper Street, near the heart of Lymm village: a more modern residence backing onto a sophisticated, whitewashed LA-esque garden which I was thrilled to hear incorporated reused elements of the owners’ own Tatton Show show garden. It was the perfect place to end our tour of Lymm’s private outdoor spaces, with a young DJ, proseccos and beer, and plenty of cheer. Sadly, I didn’t get a picture..!

I have to say though that my absolute favourite was (8) No 10 Statham Avenue, at the opposite end of the Transpennine Trail through Lymm. I was utterly unprepared for this work of art and technical wizardry. A steeply sloping garden rising up to the Bridgewater Canal, it had carefully and considerately been carved into paved terraces, plentiful seating areas and abundant flowerbeds since the early 1980s. There are veg patches – by the kitchen rather than stuffed away down the garden, practical and endearing – and social spots, the latter of which we’re getting much use, and rightly so!

All I can say is… A job very well done to the event organisers and participants, and I look forward to future occasions! I only wish more villages and towns did such wonderful, sociable and charitable open garden days.

Does your locality hold a similar event regularly? If so, do let us know – I’m always game for a visit!

Tea please – visiting Boston

Tea please – visiting Boston

Way back in May I had the pleasure of staying in Boston USA for three nights with my boyfriend. As a teenager I read some Buffy the Vampire Slayer novels (The Gatekeeper Trilogy) which had been set there mostly, and I could picture the streets […]