Visiting gardens is a most interesting and a very popular pasttime. Wimpole Hall was the latest we visited end of May, 2012 where it was interesting to see the advanced growth of their onions, whereas ours were mere blips on the landscape by comparison! We also noted the wild bee houses liberally sited throughout the gardens. A variegated horseradish was much admired by visitors and irises were in full bloom despite the lack of rain for the last week or so. Based in Hertfordshire we tend to spread out north and east, so for us a visit to the Langford village gardens in Oxfordshire on Sunday 17 June between 2 and 6 pm is not really on our agenda. However the gardens sound magnificent and if you are anywhere near do consider a visit.
There are 26 gardens to wander round, both large and small including one created by Hardy Amies, famous for dressing the Queen for more than 55 years. The Grange and Ansells Farm gardens are open for the first time and Lower Farm House, a garden at the medieval end of the village has been completely remodelled.
Garden visiting wouldn’t be the same without tea and homemade cakes and there will be two locations to choose from.
£4.50 per person on entry and children go free!
More information on website
Val Reynolds, Editor
When I heard of a super strength cat repellent I was sceptical – I have tried so many products over the years. Cats wander through our garden at will and catch and kill birds visiting the garden. We feel responsible for the safety of birds visiting our garden as we encourage them by providing a seed feeder and apples from our trees for a pair of song thrushes.
One year we had a great spotted woodpecker that visited regularly and brought its two young to eat the hazelnuts we put into a bough of a dead tree. To read that feature click here.
However, to our great delight the Neudorff Super Strength Cat Repellent has worked! We haven’t seen a cat since I scattered the granules where they appear over the fence, through the privet hedge and under the garden gate.
At £4.49 I thought it was a bit on the dear side. I also read on the instructions the granules will lose their strength if it rains, so another tub would be necessary after rain. But, in view of its complete success I won’t begrudge the cost.
The clay based mineral granules are grey in colour that hold plant based oils – garlic oil in fact. The long lasting odour is disliked by cats so the best places to scatter the granules is where the cats enter the garden and also where the birds are most active. In our garden this is where the bird feeders are, on seed beds and beside the pond.
Depending on the weather, the period of protection is 3-4 weeks.
The granules come in a 500 g can.
So would I buy more? A resounding yes! And I would have a couple of spares to make sure I can keep those pesky critters out of our garden forever, or is that tempting fate!
Super Strength Cat Repellent is £4.49 available from:
Blue Diamond centres, full range at Derby, Trentham and Le Friquet
All good garden centres
Val Reynolds, Editor
An unprepossessing name hides a remarkable new product. The Groove Bulb is a high quality, low energy light eminently suitable in the home. It uses 85 per cent less electricity than standard bulbs, so despite its higher purchase price* it ensures immediate savings. With an approximate life span of 30 years there’ll be no need to replace it for a very long time**.
So what are its credentials apart from the impressive cost savings?
It’s available in bayonet or Edison screw cap
Provides a clear white light – good for reading and activities involving small detail much easier
They are dimmable
99 per cent recyclable
Has the lowest CO2 emissions of any lighting technology on the market
Aesthetically we prefer the natural – nearly white – grooves to the silver grooves
The company, Groove Bulb, intends expanding the range to include a 100w equivalent and a candle style bulb by the end of the year.
Groove Bulb is a privately owned company operating in the UK. The founder, James Theobald, has over thirty years’ experience of LED manufacturing.
This bulb is neat. It’s very bright. We have used it in the entrance hall and would prefer it to be somewhat less bright, so a dimmer switch would make it more appropriate. Perhaps placing it in an enclosed light fitting would help to reduce its brightness.
OTHER ADVANTAGES It could be left on all night, with a dimmer switch, in dark corridors rather than using the much more expensive motion sensor light switches used in hospitals and high activity corridors.
WILL WE BE BUYING SOME?
Yes – what’s not to like?!
The Groove Bulb can be purchased exclusively via the website: www.groovebulb.com
*9w bulbs are retailing at £15.95, which is 25 per cent cheaper than similar quality LED bulbs on the market
**Calculations are based on a UK average of 24 bulbs per household used for three hours per day with electricity charged at 15p per kilowatt saving you c. £200 per year/£16 per month.
Val Reynolds, Editor
It would seem to be a generational thing. I’m old, much older than many of our readers, and I don’t clean my shoes very often. All made from Nubuck they only needed proofing on purchase and later, much later, a clean/restoration session.
Okay, so I’m different and don’t do the polish bit, but what I do remember about polish is Cherry Blossom, Meltonian, Mansion Polish, along with other contemporary products such as Dinky toys, sugar in blue paper bags, crisps with blue twists of salt in the packets, broken biscuits in Home & Colonial – all products my generation will be familiar with. And just how many are still around?
Well Meltonian has gone, as has Mansion Polish but Cherry Blossom shoe polish is blooming, or should I say shining! Apparently these days we are more conscious of repair and care, rather than throwaway and buy again and shoes are taking a more centre stage position.
Cherry Blossom is a British product through and through, originally conceived and produced in 1906 but over the years the name has changed hands. In 1992 Grangers, the company well known to campers wanting to reproof their tents, equipment and clothing, bought the right to use the name, manufacture and sell in the UK and export to certain other countries.
I visited the Cherry Blossom factory in Alfreton, near Derby a couple of months ago. It had a real good feel factor about it.
The science of polish is not hugely technical, although over the years it has adapted to health and safety standards and more recently bypassed the need for certain specific ingredients by creating replicas. This sounds a bit odd, but in the case of a specific wax – mined in Hungary which is becoming very scarce as the mines close down – it makes total economic sense.
So why the interest? I was curious to see how polish was made. The production methods are not specially high tech, nor base production, and some parts are labour intensive. But there is something reassuring about a British company still producing goods that go all over the world. I felt a quiet pride that such a successful original was still being produced in the UK.
With a widening user base, a broadening range of trade customers, and 30 different polish colours on offer it’s no wonder impressive sales are in evidence.
In fact an impressive range of products to complement shoe polish, creams and wipes is going to push the company’s profits hugely in the next year or so.
Grangers are astutely widening their product range to include shoe inserts, insoles – the ones I tried are excellent, orthotics, toe warmers – great for skiers, hand warmers – excellent for football fans among others and I can foresee a very promising future.
Have a look at their website.
Interesting fact: Although called Cherry Blossom Polish the tin has never depicted Cherry Blossom but shown the rich shine which appears on ripe red cherries. Good question for a pub quiz!
Val Reynolds, Editor
Photography © Pintail Media
I can’t keep up with Thompson & Morgan! Verbascums, a favourite background filler for flowerbeds, have always been yellow! Then last year T&M brought out Clementine, a golden/bronze beauty. The plug plants I received grew strongly are now blooming rather well in May a year later.
Then a blue verbascum, Blue Lagoon, came on the market and I had to have some, especially to plant with Clementine as they would make a great contrast.
I have always loved delphiniums but like many other gardeners find my slugs love them even more and plants have always been decimated, always when my hopes were riding high for a fabulous display. So I ordered two plug plants £9.99 each or 2 for £17.99 to make up for my disappointing attempts to grow delphiniums. As they only arrived three weeks ago and won’t be anywhere near mature until next spring I will plant them in larger pots for the time being, making sure I use my outstandingly good labeller so they don’t become the pots that I wonder what’s in them!
Blue Lagoon has been developed using specialist micro-propagation techniques. It has the same characteristics as its fellow verbascums: low maintenance and well adapted to growing in poor, stony soils. It should grow to about 30 inches high and spread out for about 12 inches. Flowering from June through to September they like full sun. Although my garden loses it by 2 pm, Clementine is doing very well. Verbascums spread their leaves flat to the ground – a remarkably useful weed control feature.
Then I heard of yet another new verbascum – Pink Pixie. Spoilt for choice! I’ve decided to get some to grow with the aquilegia Green Apples, again it will be a good contrast and I’m hoping the height difference will add to its impact. I’ll be sure to space the verbascum plants far enough apart so as not to smother the aquilegia.
All the verbascum cost £9.99 each or £17.99 for two plants that come in 7cm pots. See T&M webpages for more details
Val Reynolds, Editor
A traditional ‘who did what and what became of them’ story, How it All Began is an easy read that doesn’t really challenge the intellect. I found it only mildly amusing – a candidate for ‘pick up when bored’ book status. Definitely not on the compulsive can’t put it down list, I think it could be referred to as a pot boiler on a rating of 5 on the 1-10 scale. I have to say she is good at character studies, but I didn’t like any of the characters and found little pleasure in her artful descriptions.
Miss M I Huish, Aquilegia vulgaris, has a deep crimson flower like a Ballerina’s tutu. Perennials, aquilegias grow up to 2 feet tall and mix well with lighter foliage plants.
I found seed germinated well in May. Planted in the front and back garden around August 2011 about 2 feet apart, they are now flowering in May 2012 and expected to continue on until early June. Apparently they don’t last long as cut flowers, only 3-4 days, but they are very pretty so I’ll probably pick a few short stalks for a small table decoration.
I sowed seed of Green Apples, Aquilegia vulgaris, at the same time as Miss Huish which had a lower germination rate. They flower initially as white blossoms gradually turning to green.
Both these aquilegia resemble a double clematis but of course nowhere as large a flower. Aquilegias do well in full sun or partial shade, being a meadow and woodland plant. They will seed freely so I’m looking forward to them migrating all over the garden.
Thompson & Morgan offer a dual pack of seeds for £3.49, 70 seeds in total, or separate packs Green Apples £2.99 for 20 seeds, and Miss M I Huish 50 seeds for £1.99.
Val Reynolds, Editor
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