Category Archives: Blogtalk

All Change Here (this line terminates at this station)

I’ve been ever so quiet for the last few months, haven’t I? The biggest reason is that I’m going to be leaving Layer Marney Tower in July. MrK and I have wanted to move to the Midlands for a long time – almost all of our friends live there and we spend so much time on the A14 and M1 that it’s ridiculous. Well, now MrK has a job in Nottingham that starts in September and we’re in the middle of selling our house and buying one up there. I’ve been keeping an eye on the national horticulture job sites and once we’re up there I’ll be showering the surrounding area with my CV in a great job hunt.

I’m planning on doing a last Tymperleys post (in fact I’ve already taken the pictures) and a farewell to Layer Marney post. After that, we’ll see. I’ll have some exploring to do of nearby gardens, plus a garden to make at the new house and so I’m actually intending to start posting more regularly again. While I’m between jobs I’m going to focus on my non-gardening writing too, to see if I can actually get something published.

So here’s looking to the future whatever it holds. I can be sure there’ll be gardening and writing but in what proportions and where, who knows?

Autumn evening sun


It’s oh so quiet

You may have noticed that I’ve gone a bit quiet lately. There is no crisis or anything – I just seem to be having a slump in my garden blogging mojo. Not only am I not writing this blog but I’m not reading garden blogs either.

What I am writing and reading is fiction. So I’m going to buff up my writing blog (Libby Scribbles) in the near future and have something of a haitus here.

Autumn evening sun

Best wishes to you all and I hope it’ll be no time at all until I’m back here scribbling away about soil, slugs and special plants.


On Friday I joined Pinterest and it promptly swallowed my weekend. If you’re not familiar with Pinterest it’s a somewhat controversial site which allows you to ‘pin’ images from the net to virtual pinboards. Gathering shiny things from the net like virtual magpies you can easily and quickly make collections of inspirational images. The controversy is around copyright violation. The site has a couple of rather flimsy figleaves it attempts to hide behind but the fact is that a fair amount of the ‘pinning’ on the site is not approved of by the image owners. This is a source of horror for professional photographers in particular and until last weekend I was avoiding the site for my own ethical reasons.

However I’ve started using it. Why? Because Pinterest has been the largest single source of referrals to my blog recently – even before I joined it. Yes, this means that some of my images were being pinned without my consent but honestly it’s not like I’m ever going to make money from my photos anyway so, whatever. And also – pretty things and the opportunity to arrange pretty things. Deep, huh?

In order to use Pinterest without my conscience eating me nibble by nibble I’ve come up with some rules which will help me to use it without violating people’s copyright.

I only pin in these scenarios:

1) The image is my own or I know that the original pinner is the owner of the image.

2) The link to the source works and the source encourages or allows pinning of their images and I am reasonably confident that the source is the owner of the image.

3) The source is a shop. This is based on the assumption that free advertising is usually appreciated.

This isn’t foolproof but it seems to be a reasonable compromise. I’ve only been on it a few days and the beautiful images I’ve not pinned because they were blatantly stolen would be enough to make you weep.

If, like me, you are a gardening blogger who is happy for others to use your images then it might be worth at least enabling the ‘share’ button for Pinterest.

So, dear readers, do you use Pinterest? Do you have your own set of rules for using it well? Do you have any thoughts on the issues regarding the site? I could rant about this for pages and pages but I’ll save you the horror and stop now and distract you with –

Look! Tulip!

Tulipa 'Professor Roentgen'

Tulipa ‘Professor Roentgen’

~Yawns, stretches, awakens from hibernation~

Yup. I’m awake. Just in time for the cold weather according to the BBC weather site.

There was plenty of the white stuff on our Christmas holiday in Sweden…

Herb garden in snow

There’s herbs here – honest.

This was the herb garden at Skansen, an amazing living history attraction.

Things have been a bit chilly at work the last couple of days and I’ve generally done ‘odds and sods’ jobs in the morning and then, once the air’s a bit warmer, have got on with some rose pruning. We’re due for some snow which will be great fun if it really materialises. I enjoy clearing paths (yes, I’m a freak, this is not news) although once that task is done I’ll struggle to find useful things to do; I might have to resort to washing all the plastic pots in Jeyes fluid (groooan).

So, apart from snow, what’s upcoming? I’ve got myself one of those smart phone thingamijigs and am therefore intending to be a bit more active on twitter. There’s a tudor bed to plan and plant, the espallier apple trees to prune (I’m planning on doing a how-to post on the subject) and lots and lots of rose pruning. Thanks to the soggy autumn all the grass is rather long so I’m hoping for an early, dry Spring so I can get it all tidy asap. Have you, dear reader, got any particular hopes or goals for this year?


At this time of year I think many of us want to spend more time on the sofa under a warm blanket and so as I can’t actually hibernate, lacking the relevant physiological equipment, I’ve decided to hibernate my blog throughout December.

Barn in the snow.

Our first snowfall.

If you’re planning on pruning your roses over the next month or three you might want to check out my posts on pruning shrub and climbing roses.

I’ll be back in early January and am planning a post on training espalier apple trees and then there’s that Tudor bed to plant up, so don’t worry I’m not going away permanently – there’s far too much to write about for that!


A helpful free ebook

Taking up photography again has been a fun side effect of having a blog. This is where my friend Mara and the advice in her Foto Friday posts came in. She’s now bundled all the advice into a free photography ebook which I recommend to anyone making first forays into digital photography or wanting to get beyond the auto settings. I used to take pics as a kid on a proper film SLR camera and when I decided last Christmas that I wanted to go to a digital SLR and needed to re-learn so Mara’s advice was really useful. I thought I’d plug it here as almost all bloggers take photos and many want to improve.

Knautia macedonia in a border

New features!

So I’ve been thinking about my blog and have had a couple of ideas for new types of posts. At the moment the regular features consist of The Good, The Bad and the Beautiful, which is my monthly round-up, and Plant of the Month which I usually post around the middle of the month. Joining them soon will be:

– A Good Book: I recently got out all my favourite gardening books and realised there’s just about enough to do a one-a-month post for a year, each taking one of my favourite gardening books and exploring why I think it’s great.

– Science Snippets: I like the sciencey side of gardening but I’m no science genius. These posts would explore the science from a lay-gardeners perspective; I want to think about how these things actually affect us as gardeners.

The last thing I want is for the blog to get too tied to a timetable because frankly, life is too short to do homework when you’re not at school anymore. So I think it’s unlikely I will be very strict about keeping to a schedule and these posts will pop up as and when I write them, but I’m aiming for about once a month or thereabouts. Look out for them starting to show up soon!

Holiday time!

I’m off to spend a delightful week in Wales with my family from this weekend and between Knit Night and packing I’m not sure I’m going to be on the net between now and leaving on Saturday morning. So goodbye! farewell! etc etc I’ll be back in a bit over a week with some new ideas for the blog and no doubt some humorous pictures of sheep. No arguing in the comments section while I’m gone, you naughty people.

T’interwebs is being a problem

Just a note to say that I’m having internet problems right now and can’t get on particularly regularly, so sorry I’m not floating about t’interwebs in my usual manner. Fingers crossed that normal service will be resumed shortly.

I was planning on waffling at you all about Garden Day at the towers which is coming up this Sunday. If you happen to be in Essex this weekend I’ll be giving tours and generally displaying my ignorance – come along for a laugh!

Bye bye 2011

So what’ve I been up to this last year? All sorts apparently.


I started the year looking forward to Spring and the year ahead and then in February we cleared out some sickly trees and made space in the shady nook, which hasn’t seen much progress since then I’m afraid!I haven’t written about it much but we’ve had small but delicious harvests all year from the veg beds I wrote about in early March and by late March things were starting to get busy. In April I was worrying about drought as I instituted my new monthly round up called The Good, The Bad and the Beautiful. Then in May I was busy with Antiques Roadshow and Garden day, not to mention chasing animals out of my garden!

By June I was breaking out the biological controls in the greenhouse, taking a close up look at Digitalis ferruginea and scoffing food from the veg patch. In July you might have got the impression I spent more time out of the garden than in it what with three posts on Hampton Court Flower Show and a trip to Hyde Hall. In a slightly soggy August I took pictures of flowers in the rain, was greatly impressed by embroidery inspired by the Towers and did some work in my own garden (for once). September saw me putting in some new plants in the tower borders and worrying about the yews.

Red rose in the rain

By October I was in a thoughtful mood when I wasn’t doing the autumn lawn care. In November I came over all confessional and then did a lot of digging ready for planting the new borders. December jobs mostly didn’t involve gardening except planting a vast quantity of bulbs and of course we were on the telly!

Viburnum x bodnantense 'Charles Lamont' close up of buds

All in all, though it’s had its ups and downs, it’s been a great year. May 2012 be even better! Wishing you all an excellent 2012!