The Big Allotment Challenge

allotment shed

Silver River Productions, a TV company based in London are currently in production for a BBC2 primetime gardening show ‘The Big Allotment Challenge’. The series follows a handful of talented amateur kitchen gardeners as they transform a plot of earth into a patch of beauty and reveal all the wonderful possibilities that can be unlocked from allotment growing. Kitchen gardening and growing your own produce is an amazing way to live and this series celebrates that.

They are looking for contestants to feature in the series, those who have the skill and dedication and who could dig their way to victory and be crowned the winner of The Big Allotment Challenge. People who can cultivate the perfect carrot, make their green tomatoes into award winning chutney and turn their dahlias and sweet peas into floral arrangements fit for a Queen.

So whether you’re an allotment holder, a city living window box grower or a gardening enthusiast, they want to hear from you!

It couldn’t be easier to apply, all you need to do is email grow@silverriver.tv for an application form.

Good luck!

Uh Oh! The Big 4-0!

40th birthday balloons

Yesterday was my birthday. The BIG 4-0. Yikes!

bouquet of flowers

bouquet of flowers

I had a lovely day full of surprises, wonderful presents, beautiful flowers, balloons and a relaxing lunch with Rich at our favourite country pub.

 heart balloon

I danced the night away with my wonderful family and had a few too many glasses of bubbly (of course).

Happy New Year 2014

As a kid I was often told that the years fly by when you’re a grown up, and don’t they just. As a brilliant growing year comes to an end I’m already looking forward to all the exciting things to come for us gardeners and wildlife enthusiasts, such as laying out seed potatoes to chit in egg boxes….

chitting seed potatoes

Spring colour….

forget me nots

Frogspawn….

frogspawn

Bird song…. Tweet, tweet, twittery tweet…….

The first seedlings of the year….

tomato seedling

Blossom….

fruit blossom

And buzzing bees….

bumblebee

Happy New Year to you all, here’s to another brilliant gardening year!

Happy Christmas

Christmas decor

Happy Christmas everyone, thank you for taking the time to visit and comment on the blog and welcome all our new followers!

christmas bauble

For those visiting allotment plots or raiding the vegetable patch over the festive period, I hope your harvests are good! Enjoy those Christmas potatoes, parsnips and sprouts.

Karen x

Bringing the Outside In

yule decorations

I’ve really enjoyed decorating the house for the festive holiday, the lingering scent of a fresh tree sets the mood for me. There’s something special about fresh greenery in the house at Christmas / Yule, it’s so cheery and beautiful to look at, and it smells wonderful too.

christmas decoration ideas

I dressed the fireplace mantle using fresh sprigs of pine, fresh pine cones and ivy from the garden, a simple lit berry garland adds a touch of sparkle. Windowsills were dressed with a mixture of pine branches and ivy, pine cones and bunched cinnamon sticks tied with raffia and dried fruit on wires.

yule decoration

yule decoration ideas

Do you like my festive wire Oak tree?

Do you like my festive wire Oak tree?

Add a festive touch to your home by bringing a little of the outside in, use things from the garden or collect bits on a walk.

Halloween

halloween pumpkins

Happy Halloween and Samhain blessings, have a great night and weekend x

A Walk Before the Storm

dog walking in Browns Wood

We visited one of our favourite places to walk yesterday, a chance to give our dog a good run and sniffing adventure before the anticipated storm arrived to knock our socks off. It was also a great opportunity to take some photos of beautiful Browns Wood at this magical time of year.

browns wood in autumn

It was a perfect autumnal day and the woods offered plenty of beautiful subjects to photograph. Glowing Field Maple leaves caught my attention, the exotic colour highlighted further by sunlight streaming down onto the tree branches from above.

browns wood

Looking around at the ground I often find things of interest, like this forgotten tree stump covered in a thick coat of Ivy.

Ivy-covered tree stump

Dried teasel line a long path, separating the new section of woodland from the field beyond. Long grasses sway in the wind, wildflower seed heads rattle eerily, scattering seeds everywhere.

teasel backlit

long grasses

Deeper into the ancient woods, light struggled to filter through from above, creating dramatic light, colour and long shadows.

autumn maple leaves

browns wood in autumn

beech leaves in autumn

Exiting the ancient woods, dark and dramatic shadows greet the light from the fields beyond.

dog walking in browns wood

Browns Wood is a wonderful place to visit and we’re incredibly lucky to have this magical place on our doorstep. For more information about Browns Wood, take a look at this previous blog post http://thegardensmallholder.wordpress.com/2013/03/30/a-visit-to-browns-wood/

Heavy rain fell overnight and it appears our location escaped the damaging wind. Looking at news reports today, others were not so lucky with gusts of up to 105 mph, trees coming down, flooding and loss of power.

Counting Butterflies

peacock butterfly

Taking part in the Big Butterfly Count took me out of my zoned out state of mind for a while, giving me something else to think about other than how incredibly numb and sad I feel at the moment. Since my last post regarding the loss of one of our beloved dogs, sadly my Nan passed away a couple of days ago. It was expected, she’d been terminally ill for a long while. Although I’m relieved she’s no longer suffering, my heart is crushed. At 39 years old I know how lucky I was to still have a grandparent to confide in, to be spoilt rotten by. I will miss that.

I loved listening to her stories. We recently giggled together like a couple of school girls over her confession of having had a huge crush on Stewart Granger in her younger years. She was a beautiful lady; skin as soft as silk, olive complexion and hardly a wrinkle, sparkling eyes and a naughty grin.

peacock butterfly

I spent 15 minutes counting butterflies the day after her passing, mesmerised by their beauty and grace, smiling inside, because they reminded me of her.

Wordless Wednesday

broad bean plants, broad beans

Beautiful Spring

blackbird egg

Our garden is a visual and audible treat at the moment, even though spring arrived a little late this year everything appears to be catching up. The huge pine trees are a nursery to many garden birds right now, twiggy nests can be seen in branches.

bird nest

Blackbirds are nesting inside the rockery conifers surrounding the pond, occasionally I hear the ‘peep peep’ sound of hungry chicks throughout the day, eagerly awaiting the return of their parents with food. At dusk we are treated to an aerial display of bats hunting, if we listen really carefully we can just make out the distinct clicking-sound. Another nocturnal visitor to our garden and a favourite of mine is the hedgehog, they can be heard snuffling around the lawn at night, on a clear moon-lit evening we might catch a glimpse of one, scurrying off into bushes.

tree blossom, fruit tree blossom, white blossom, spring blossom

spring blossom

I’ve noticed squirrels digging in the lawn, taking off for the pine trees when I approach. I love watching them leap from tree to tree with the grace and skill of a gymnast. Some of the fruit trees are ablaze with blossom, attracting bumblebees in their numbers, daffodils are just finishing now and Forget-me-nots are taking centre stage, creating a pretty blue haze.

forget me not

forget me not

IMG_4147forgetmenotresized

forget me not

I saw my first ladybird of the year yesterday and a number of butterflies on the wing are passing through the garden too, mainly Peacock. Here’s a great website for those unfamiliar with UK butterfly species: http://www.britishbutterflies.co.uk/index.asp

I love nature, especially during spring. I hope you’re enjoying watching and listening to nature/wildlife in your garden too.

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