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Garden 2022

Garden Ramble

From the website it looks like I did not garden ramble in 2021. Quite the opposite. Although I did not write about my garden, I probably spent more time in it. For those of us lucky enough to have a garden it was a place of refuge. It was lovely to read and hear how so many people discovered nature and gardening during the pandemic and how it has helped them to mentally cope with the situations they were faced with.

It is now mid May and the garden at Stoneydale is looking good. Something happened to make one group of daffodils appear inferior to last year. The tulip display did not let me down. I shall give short illustrated notes about this and more. Perhaps as the months go on adding them at the top of the page so you can read the latest items first. I will see how it goes.

Richard Nicholson


Welcome to the Autumn Show


A few years ago Christleton WI arranged a coach trip to the Harrogate Spring Flower Show. This month thanks to the WI I was able to visit the companion Harrogate Autumn Show on Saturday 17th September, 2022. At 8.30am about thirty of us left the village aboard a Mallbank coach bound for Newby Hall, Ripon.

Always a difficult decision when visiting a Flower Show is what to look at first. A bit like one of those huge tins of Quality Street sweets that only appeared at Christmas years ago. Which one to pick from the great depth and assortment. Now the tins are shallow and made of plastic and for me the sweets are inedible, ruined by the sugar used. But this day was about gardening so everything was to enjoy.

I could have sat round the bandstand and relaxed listening to the brass band playing On Ilkley Moor Bar T’at and other tunes that seemed to to fit a beautiful sunny day in the glorious county of Yorkshire. But instead I wandered round the many growers stands and others that offered inventive gadgets, ornaments and furniture to grace your garden. I knew I had to allow time to look at the Newby Hall gardens but the show marquee beckoned. It just made you realise what other gardeners had been up to whilst you were tending your own plot. A lot of perfection was displayed which can only inspire others to have a go.

Lunchtime came and sitting below the paved terrace with a ham roll and listening to harmonious choir singing was bliss. So many ways to walk down through the gardens to the River Ure but I chose the main lawned route flanked by the longest herbaceous borders in the country with the Hall behind me starring down just as it has watched life past by since the time of William and Mary. I used the route via the Rock Garden to return to the house. It looks as if a lot of regeneration work is going on so it will be an area of interest to watch in the future. May is the best month for alpines. I once attempted to take alpines seriously with an alpine house. I failed probably because I was not able to give it as much time as was needed.

A tour of part of the Hall was a must. Florists had decorated a number of downstairs rooms portraying the fairy stories Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. It also gave me a good chance to have a look at the library. Just had time to look an a small number of shelves but pleased to see one book I had in my own collection. On getting home I checked to see if I had any old prints of Newby Hall. I found I had the Johannes Kip copper engraving published circa 1709 after a work by Leendert Knijff. (Illustrated above)

If you have a business you will find there is a plethora of other businesses who will offer to make your business grow bigger. This is even more evident with an online business. There is now a worldwide industry in SEO. This stands for Search Engine Optimisation. You can spend a little or you can spend a fortune on trying to get your business website’s to rank highly in search results pages. Some will promise your site to appear first but if you can appear on the first results page that is good. When I visited the Harrogate Spring Show a number of years ago I was attracted to the outdoors stand of a grower of Sempervivums who had come from Devon. He was wearing an unusually large hat. Like most growers he was helpful and full of information which persuaded me to a buy a small collection. They have been successful and I would like to look again at growing more. It was his large hat in the West Avenue I spotted first before the Sempervivums at Newby Hall. A special hat is modest and it seems a useful investment to make yourself well known.

During the afternoon the feet gave in and finding a bench to sit on in The Great Northern Larder was most welcome. TV cook Stephanie Moon was creating tempting meals using fresh vegetables. The audience got a chance to eat some of her creations but before the food arrived I had to make my way back to the coach for the 2 1/2 hour journey back to Christleton.

Thank you Christleton WI for a great day out and special thanks to Diane Garner who arranged it all.



21st September, 2022
September thankfully said farewell to the drought making farmers and gardeners happy once again. I found the drought soul destroying with endless watering, most of it by hand, as plants nurtured during the Spring started to wilt and look distressed and never reached my expectations.

September also said farewell to the far too long wait to appoint a new prime minister.

The saddest farewell was losing our beloved Queen Elizabeth who died on 8th September. But through the sorrow was an overwhelming feeling of gratitude to her years of service to the United Kingdom and Commonwealth. I feel so fortunate to have lived during her reign of 70 years and 214 days. My earliest memory of her is the coronation on 2nd June 1953. I was living in the village of Read in Lancashire. Family members had been invited to stay and be able to watch the royal event in grainy black and white on our newly acquired HMV television boasting a six inch screen but having the addition of a magnifier. Sandwiches and cake were laid on the square pull out dining table that had been covered in a plastic Union Jack tablecloth. There was a hush as that amazing day started to unfold.

So much has changed since then. Now we were able to watch her historical and meticulously planned funeral in colour on a large screen television. I found the unity of our nation mourning the loss of our Queen most comforting. A wish perhaps to return to the naivety of that boy of 10 watching the coronation. But life moves on and so must we.

I only actually saw the Queen once. I was spending my first ever holiday on the island of Malta during November 2005. Staying in Sliema but by chance one day I visited Valletta the capital of Malta. Barriers had been put along Republic Street and on a wall of what remained of the Royal Opera House after receiving a direct hit from aerial bombing in World War II was a Times poster saying “Queen Elizabeth Arrives Today”. It was the time of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. The British aircraft carrier Illustrious was in the Grand Harbour. From the direction of Republic Square mounted police appeared followed by a limousine carrying her majesty and lady in waiting.

When the Queen returned to Windsor on 19th September, 2022 I found it very touching to see her pony Emma waiting at the Castle and then her two Corgis Sandy and Muick. I think I have always been wary of Corgis making sure they were a safe distance from my ankles. But the Queen’s Corgis looked most friendly. Always having had a love of dogs and lucky to have had over a period of years the devotion of three Basset Hounds, Lisa, Emma and Jenny, I now rely on Fred Basset to entertain me in his cartoon strip each day. On the morning of the Queen’s funeral Fred’s thoughts and mine were of one accord. Thank you, ma’am!

  • Poster in Republic Street, Valletta

    Poster in Republic Street, Valletta

  • The Queen approaches along Republic Street, Valletta

    The Queen approaches along Republic Street, Valletta

  • Malta mounted police

    Malta mounted police

  • Queen Elizabrth II visiting Malta in 2005

    Queen Elizabrth II visiting Malta in 2005

  • Rebublic Street Valletta, Malta

    Rebublic Street Valletta, Malta

  • HMS Illustrious in the Grand Harbour, Valletta

    HMS Illustrious in the Grand Harbour, Valletta


A time to simplify


20th August 2022
Cannot say I have enjoyed all this dry weather as far as the garden is concerned. It can be quite disheartening to see plants that you have raised struggling through lack of water. Yes you can hand water but no amount of you do can equal a good downpour of sweet rain. Could me getting older but I find the Spring probably the most interesting the of the year for gardening. Perhaps because there is so much to look forward to. Then the summer comes and that period when all the main flowering is over for a period but then the dahlias save the day.

What I do find interesting about gardening is the planning of new projects and thinking of new ideas. Sometimes it is right to completely rethink a feature or part of the garden and start again. That is what I have been doing during the months of July and August.

About 38 years ago I cut a circle in the lawn and removed the turf. In the centre my late father cast a concrete hexagonal shaped plinth. I bought a period looking sundial from Haddonstone which came in two sections and I mounted it on the centre of the plinth. I see they are still selling these sundials but have changed the design. The earth around the plinth has displayed a large variety of plants over the years. I remember a fine show of lupins as well as many other herbaceous plants. In recent years it has been planted with hardy geraniums and iris. The depth of soil is not great in this area of the garden, the reason being that there lies some inches down the remains of a tennis court.

Any changes to the garden are planned with easier maintenance in mind. Peter who helps me with the garden and myself are both reaching the age of 80 this year so simplification is a must. We cleared the garden area of all the plants and dug it over. Then flattened it by heeling in and tamping the earth down. Next a layer of weed control membrane purchased from Wilco. To ease the mowing of the lawn and to stop grass growing into the new area a circle of Anthracite Grey Core 5mm lawn edging was put round. This circle was slightly smaller than the area dug so after filling in with soil turf purchased from Dandy’s on Sealand Road was used to fill in. The membrane was then covered with grey limestone clippings again from Dandy’s. Eight Georgian style grey planters were then set on the gravel. I have a system of growing plants in black plastic planters that fit inside these faux-lead planters so I can keep changing the display. I started off with a collection of Hostas I had grown. I am very pleased with the end result and am sure it will need far less maintenance.

I do not know where in the garden I will next make an improvement. The ideas just seem to arrive unexpectedly. But looking forward to the next one.

  • Iris and Hary Geraniums

    Iris and Hary Geraniums

  • The site cleared

    The site cleared

  • Laying membrane and steel edging.

    Laying membrane and steel edging.

  • Sundial and hostas

    Sundial and hostas

A few seats left

Star shaped dhalia

1st August, 2022
Christleton WI have arranged for a coach to go to The Harrogate Autumn Flower Show at Newby Hall, Ripon on Saturday 17th September, 2022. There are a few seats available if you would like to go.

The coach leaves the village of Christleton at 8.30am. The cost is £20. You can purchase show tickets online here at a reduced rate of £20.50 up until Tuesday 6th September. Tickets purchased at the show cost £23.50

Please contact me if you are interested in going richard@christleton.org.uk

Harrogate Autumn Flower Show September 2020


What took you so long?

24th July 2022
It took me 80 years to get to the island of Jersey. I reckon that if I had started crawling at the age of 18 months I would have been there a lot sooner. But how nice to go for your 80th birthday somewhere you have never been before. Just a 50 minute flight from Liverpool.

A delightful clean and tidy island to visit. Lots of beautiful architectural Georgian and Victorian homes as well as modern residences. Nearly all faced and painted in pale colours. On a coach trip round the island I think I only saw four houses showing the exposed bare brick. The Parishes are to be commended for their floral borders. In gardens the most popular plant during July appeared to be the Hydrangea as well as the blue and the white Agapanthus. I was interested to hear on this weeks Gardeners World BB2 programme that a purple agapanthus has now been bred and available to the gardener.

The Agapanthus seemed to have found the perfect home as it was just about everywhere. I have a few in the garden and pots and an ever increasing collection of hydrangeas which I am sure I will tell you about sometime.

Didn't We Have a Lovely Time the Day we went to Chester

7th July 2022
The reason for including this jolly interlude is that it took me away from my garden on Sunday July 3rd where I would have been wearing myself out.

It all started the night before when I received an email from my friend David who said that he was visiting Chester the next day with the Shropshire Paddlesport Club. They planned to take a 7 mile paddle on the Shropshire Union Canal from Christleton to Caughall Bridge outside Chester. The route goes through the city, under the Roman walls, portaging Northgate Staircase locks and passing the junction with the River Dee link at Graving Dock. A day out suitable for canoe, kayak and paddle board.

When David arrived in the Cheshire Cat car park he started to inflate his standing up paddle board (SUV) which took about 20 minutes. Other members started arriving with their SUP's, open canoes and kayaks. Everybody seemed to know exactly what they were doing and by about 10.30am everyone was on the water.

I followed on foot as far as the Christleton Lock 9. Everyone then had to get their craft out of the water and carry it round the lock. There was one mishap when a gentleman landed in the canal whilst launching his canoe but I understand that it did not happen again for the rest of the trip. I left them as they set off for the short stretch to Greenfield Lock, number 8,

The rest of the photographs were taken by David as they proceeded through the City of Chester and then I think as as far Lock 132A at Backford.

If this sounds like something you would like to try just click here to go to the club website.



Some of the plants and flowers that brightened up the month of June in 2022


27th June 2022
You would be well within your rights to say "Well he not give that much of a go". You will see from my notes on 23rd May that I was going to have a go at tackingthe box blight that had attacked my topiary cones. I can report that I have given up. It was obvious that they were not going to make a recovery. They went downhill fast so I decided a week ago to dispose of them. It is not recommended that you put them in your green garden waste bin for collection as you could spread the blight. So I burnt them in my incinerator.

I have got through a few of those new shiny incinerators you see in garden centres. They seem to have a very short life so I searched for a replacement. It is a converted oil drum. Much larger and stronger. It is now in its second year and working well. A much better investment. I was astounded at with the verocity the dried box hedging burnt. I had to do it in two sessions as on the first I noticed that the nearby water butt was starting to melt. I was just wishing I could have connected all the heat being emitted to the house domestic system. Or have I just discovered a new fuel?

PS. Some rain has arrived this morning. This first for weeks. Not enough for the garden yet. Some of my plants were starting to look stressed even after endless watering.

  • Yellow Phlomis

    Yellow Phlomis


  • Yellow Phlomis

    Yellow Phlomis

18th June 2022
Over time plant labels can get lost and you do not know the variety of that lovely plant growing in your garden. But often you can remember where you bought it or how it came into your possession. Somehow the plant can mean a lot more if it was given to you and you remember the kindness of that person. At this time of the year I can remember the kindness of Iris Foster who used to live in Christleton but who sadly died near the end of last year.

It was at a Gardening Club meeting at Christleton Methodist Chapel probably in 2019 that Iris announced she had some Phlomis plants if anyone would like them. I must admit that I had not really come across this plant before and certainly never had a specimen in in my garden. I expressed an interest and Iris later invited me round to her house in Woodfields. On arrival she handed me a spade and said I could have as many as I wanted. She had grown tired of the Phlomis that had tried to take over her garden and wanted to try something new.

I don't think the plants did much the first year as they had to recover from their move. But since then they have never failed to put on a good show starting each June. An unusual flowering perennial with worls of yellow flowers. Thank you Iris. Memory of you is now a part of my garden.

Gardens can be full of memories. I have two clumps of Harebells which used to be my fathers favourite flower. So when you are considering a gift for someone who has a garden please consider a perennial plant. As long as they know the conditions the plant likes you could even throw away the label before you give it to them. It is your name that will be on that everlasting label.

Union Jack


7th June 2022
Hope you all enjoyed the amazing Jubilee weekend. A wonderful historic occasion. There were a lot of parties and celebrations all over the country and a few in Christleton. The party at St. James' Church I understand went well and I hope to soon be able to include a page of photographs on the website. Dorothy and I went to see the Haslin Crescent party where part of the road had been closed. A street party was in full swing with children enjoying the games that Matt Dewey had organised. A few short steps and we visited Jim and Judith Ferns who were entertaining in their back garden. Of course I had to see how Judith's garden was fairing. The first plant that caught my eye and other visitors was a lovely poppy named Patty's Plum. Due to nurseries mislabelling it had taken a few attempts to get the plant she wanted. Hope we did not overstay our welcome as on the way back the street party had quietened. For us oldies it was a celebration for out Queen who has been there throughout our lives. I hope the current 10 year olds will remember it in 70 years time just as I remember June 1953. Who knows?

  • Poppy - Patty Plum

    Poppy - Patty Plum

  • Haslin Crescent Jubilee Party

    Haslin Crescent Jubilee Party

  • Matt Dewey

    Matt Dewey

Union Jack


2nd June 2022
Today is a special day. We celebrate the Platinum Jubilee of our Queen. Those of us of a particular age will I hope be able to remember what happened on this day back in 1953. I was a young lad of 10 at Read Village School. Strangely I was living in George Lane at exactly the same distance from St. John’s Church, Read as I am now living from St. James’ Church, Christleton.

I remember my uncle, aunts and cousin came to stay for the Coronation, probably because we had an 8 inch HMV television. I do recall that a cumbersome television enlarger being bought for the special occasion.

My parents had bought the house in 1950 when my father became the first manager of Lloyds Bank, Burnley. It had a large garden with a magnificent rockery. Great to play on with my friends. Outside the living room window was a small tree with huge flat leaves. For an art project when at Clitheroe Grammar School I remember cutting letters out of the leaves to make a house sign which I varnished. Near this tree was a much smaller one with bright green leaves. My father was so curious to know what types of tree they were that he wrote to Kew Gardens with sample leaves. A reply soon came back. I regret I cannot remember what the larger tree was but the small one was an Acer palmatum.

We moved in 1955 and the Acer palmatum was dug up and transplanted to Fieldside, Hawarden. After that it moved to Queensferry and then Rockcliffe near Flint. Then further into North Wales to Bangor for a further 7 years. Then it came to Christleton and in the early 1980’s it decided to call it a day. Probably due to the wind which they do not like or maybe the harsh winters we used to get.

I like Acers so much that I now have twelve of varying sizes which I have planted over the years.

  • Queen Elizabeth II in Malta 2005

    Queen Elizabeth II in Malta 2005

  • Acer



  • Blue Campanula starting to climb

    Blue Campanula starting to climb

1st June 2022
The start of a new month. For gardening let us hope that June brings some nice weather along with some showers of rain preferably at night. Perfect.

I am sure I will get round to chatting about my favourite plants which must adhere to a set of rules in order to attain this status. It might be difficult to understand for a non gardener that some plants just grow too much and that can be a most unattractive trait. In this case I am talking about a blue Campanula. This is a large family of plants. Not sure which one I have but it could possibly be the Siberian bellflower. I have one specimen in a raised alpine bed which looks really good but I have to keep tearing pieces out of it otherwise it would just smother the other plants around it. Another specimen is on a rockery and requires strict continuous control on where it is allowed to wander.

Bit naughty to think of it as a thug but I must admit I do at times. However, one specimen of this plant has made up for all the wrong doing of its unruly family by starting to climb up from the base of a very tall pine tree that I planted when it was 6 inches tall, back in the 1980's. The leaves and the blue flowers look quite wonderful against the bark of the tree. Right plant in the right place. The secret of good gardening.



  • Soneydale - View from front drive

    Soneydale - View from front drive

  • Brunnera


  • Red Poppy

    Red Poppy

  • Alium


  • Lewisia


  • Alstromeria

    Alstromeria "Indian Summer"

  • Preparing the new hydrangea bed

    Preparing the new hydrangea bed

  • Yellow and White Dutch Iris

    Yellow and White Dutch Iris

  • Lupin


  • Honeysuckle


  • Iris sibirica

    Iris sibirica

  • Thunbergia


  • Dwarf Alstromeria

    Dwarf Alstromeria

  • Foxgloves


  • Lupins


  • Patio Rose in a container

    Patio Rose in a container

  • Alium christophia

    Alium christophia

  • Weigela


  • Kniphofia or Red Hot Poker

    Kniphofia or Red Hot Poker

  • Aquilegia - Yellow

    Aquilegia - Yellow

  • Camassia


  • Maidenhair Fern

    Maidenhair Fern

  • Hydrangea cuttings

    Hydrangea cuttings

  • Hosta


  • Aquilegia


  • Ceanothus


  • Acer


  • Wisteria


  • Primula japonica 'Miller's Crimson'

    Primula japonica 'Miller's Crimson'

31th May 2022
Rounding off the month with a selection of photographs of the garden at Stoneydale during the month of May 2022. It really is one of the best months in the garden. Most of the tulips are now past their best but lots of other garden favourites in flower. The flowering period can be so short so you must make the most of seeing your old and your new friends as they bloom. Its a sad fact that for some it will be another whole year until they flower again. And so time marches on.


  • Garden path at Stioneydale

    Garden path at Stioneydale

30th May 2022
The Chelsea Flower Show is over for another year. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. It seemed to improve as the week went on. I think all my viewing was on BBC iPlayer. A great improvement on many years ago when I used to record it on VHS tapes so I could watch it again.

I shared the disappointment of Richard Miers on Medals Day when he received a Silver Medal for his Perennial Garden ‘With Love’. I could not believe it so it was an utter delight to see him win the People’s Choice Award later in the week. Thank goodness for the common sense of the British public.

I am not sure yet if I gleaned any new ideas from the hours of viewing. But time will tell. I do enjoy the visits to the Floral Pavilion and the chats with the owners of plant nurseries and the recorded visits to their premises to understand the amount of work that goes into getting the plants to the show. I did agree with a comment from one of the Bloms Bulbs family members when he advised that you were not going to get your own garden looking like the gardens at Chelsea. You cannot do the precise timing for all the flowers and plants to be at their best all at once. Still, it is wonderful to see the attempts to control nature.

It was amusing to hear Carol Klein saying at the end that she would be glad to get back to her own garden. I am sure that must be true for many of the presenters who did an amazing job in keeping us enthralled.

I spent an interesting and much quieter relaxed week in my garden. Biggest problem was the lack of rain.


  • Wooden bird box with a slate roof

    Wooden bird box with a slate roof

29th May 2022
When you move into a new home which has a garden you will probably be unaware of everything that has been planted over the years by previous owners. That is why it is always best if it is an established garden to wait and see what appears each month. Bit of time could be saved if you have a word with the vendor beforehand. I would imagine that if the previous owners were keen gardeners they would probably be keen to provide information on planting. But moving house is a stressing time so this can often be overlooked.

I have been at Stoneydale for 45 years. There are some plants in the garden that were here back in 1977. I have added so many plants myself over the years so it is not too easy to remember but I shall try and recall some of them.

Number one is a a charming pink geranium. No idea of its name. Probably not as many specimens as back in 1977, so might be a good idea for me to propagate some more. It’s a survivor.


  • Wooden bird box with a slate roof

    Wooden bird box with a slate roof

  • Royal Mail Letterbox as a nesting box for birds

    Royal Mail Letterbox as a nesting box for birds

25th May 2022
The added bonus of having a garden is observing the wildlife that enjoy visiting. All the better when you can arrange to have a kitchen window from which you can see the birds feeding. My kitchen overlooks the back courtyard garden where I have a feeder for seed and another for peanuts. There is a resident rather overweight Wood Pigeon who spends the majority of his time beneath the seed feeder. Impossible for him to use the feeder but he has organised a working team to provide him with an endless stream of food. Robin lands on the feeder but does not stay long so not a lot of seed is dropped. The Great Tits and Blue Tits have clumsy table manners and manage to throw out seed when eating. But the gold medallist in uncontrolled seed scattering is the Dunnock.

When the Dunnock is eating the Pigeon situated below goes into top gear, running round in clockwise circles as the seed cascades to the ground like manna from heaven. I estimate that for every seed the Dunnock eats he must fling away left right and centre some 20 seeds.

I have had bird boxes on the wall for many years which can be seen from the kitchen window. One position for a bird box for Blue Tits has been occupied most years. The current detached residence with a slate roof is conveniently situated for the seed shop, being in an elevated situation with panoramic views of the garden. Currently not on the market as Blue Tit brood number two have recently moved in. I have noticed one Blue Tit parent work away on the peanuts and take a small beak-full back to the kids. Hope they are getting a bit of grub as well.

Last Christmas I was given a moulded plastic bird box in the form of a red Royal Mail pillar box. Should be easy to clean out if anyones nests in it. it has been on the market for many months but there have been no viewings despite it being some 12 feet away from the des res described above. Time will tell but I am sure that the Wood Pigeon would really love the Dunnock to move in.


  • Box cones with Blight

    Box cones with Blight

  • Provanto Fungus Fighter

    Provanto Fungus Fighter

23rd May 2022
Not a very nice way to the start of a new week but like all of us gardeners who are occasionally faced with setbacks. Thankfully up until now I have escaped Covid but the box plants in my garden are suffering from Box Blight. As you will see from the photo it is not a pretty sight. About six years ago I invested in nine topiary cones at a considerable cost. They have now been removed from the posh containers I originally put them in and transferred to plastic ones and moved to a more hidden area of the garden for hospitalisation. I have treated the cones with Provanto Fungus Fighter Plus from Wilkos (also available from other outlets) so I will see if I can bring them back looking good enough to display in the garden. Bit doubtful at present but it is worth a go.


  • New Hydrangea bed planted

    New Hydrangea bed planted

22nd May, 2022
So much to do in the garden and this coming week there will be hours of the Chelsea Flower Show on television. I just wonder how am I going to be able to cope.

I have not visited the Chelsea Flower Show since the 1980's. I travelled to London on the train for the first day open for RHS members. So much to see and take in. Whilst on the book stand I heard a voice behind me saying "Have you got any books that need signing?". It was the much loved and much missed Geoff Hamilton. I cannot remember if I bought any plants on that day. But I did buy a lump of concrete. I must have been young and foolish to even think of hauling this weight back home. But if I had not bought the little rabbit I would not be able tell you about him now and let you know that I can see him every day from my kitchen window. Now sporting a warm coat of green moss. A memento of that amazing day out.


  • New Hydrangea bed planted

    New Hydrangea bed planted

19th May 2021
The planting of the new hydrangea bed is complete. Peter, who helps me with the garden has been working on the bed for some months ridding it of weeds and the dreaded couch grass. This week looked like a good one for planting due to the changeable weather. I have been growing on the hydrangeas in square pots for the past two and more years but got a shock when I came to removing some of them. The first was 'Camilla', a pink and white macrophylla type. She had vine weevil. I have had vine weevil in huchera before but did not know they favoured hydrangeas. They certainly do as a starred at them in amazement as the white grubs peered from the soil rotating their heads in a clockwise direction. Putting Camilla to one side I continued but had to stop again when 'Polestar' had the same problem. A paniculate hydrangea that opens white and then turns to pink and then an even darker pink by the autumn. The final plant to have the affliction was 'Runaway Bride' with white flowers flushed with pink. 'Runaway Bride' made the headlines back in 2018 when it was voted RHS Chelsea Flower Show Plant of the Year. I disposed of the compost from the pots, cleaned the roots up of the three plants and put them into smaller pots. I shall now start spraying regularly.

New idea, planning, a lot of preparation and work but now completed. The Platinum Island Bed.


  • Mintopia Day

    Mintopia Day

18th May 2022
Now is the time each year I try to rid my garden of bluebells. I know, a beautiful flower in the right setting, which is a woodland glade. Not an English garden where you are trying to grow lots of other plants that you like. I know that you are supposed to leave the leaves on daffodils and tulips so that the goodness of the leaves goes back into the bulb to help it to flower next year. You can also aid this by applying a liquid feed. Removing the leaves from growing bluebell does not seem to slow it down in the slightest.

My battle with trying to rid my garden of the English Bluebell fails each year. They can grow and spread to the most inconvenient places where they are difficult to dig up. I find that the bulbs can be quite deep

I remember one time at a meeting of the Christleton Gardening Club. The talk had ended and questions were invited. I asked "How do you kill bluebells"? There was a sudden hush except perhaps for a few low mutters. I don't think I got an answer.

So the battle continues. I see the RHS has a whole page on its website tackling the problem. So perhaps not such a stupid question. Now where did I put that stick of dynamite!


  • Mintopia Day

    Mintopia Day

  • Island bed with weeding started August 2021

    Island bed with weeding started August 2021

  • Hydrangea island bed May 2022

    Hydrangea island bed May 2022

17th May 2022
Like all gardeners I pick up all kinds of bits of information by listening, reading, talking and watching. I was listening back in the early 1980's when Adrian Bloom was promoting island beds saying how good they were for displaying plants. When I moved to Stoneydale in 1977 a vast amount of the back garden was lawn. There was a rose bed full of the pink Queen Elizabeth roses. A large raised area growing perennial plants. An old rockery starting to be choked by shrubs, a vegetable area and one greenhouse.

That probably sounds quite enough to look after so it came as quite a shock to the family when I cut into the lawn one day and made a circular island bed. I planted it with quite a number of dwarf conifers, each some 6 inches tall. Only one of the original conifers remains in that bed now. Reaching some 25 feet tall and probably thinking of growing even taller. Must look up in the dictionary what is the actual meaning of dwarf.

A second kidney shaped island bed followed some years later for perennial flowering plants. Over the years it has been more difficult to look after with a never-ending war on couch or twitch grass. Looking to the future and wanting to reduce maintenance work I have decided to turn it into a bed purely for hydrangeas, Looking at the photo on the left of the now empty bed you would be quite right to say, to reduce work that the bed should be seeded and turned back to lawn.

Planting the hydrangea bed has started today. There have been some shocks.


  • Mintopia Day

    Mintopia Day

14th May 2022
On the 11th of June Mintopia is holding an event to celebrate becoming a National Plant Collection. With well over 150 different types of mint being showcased it is one of the biggest collection of mints in the world. I’ll be on hand to chat about how mint can be used in a range of ways in the garden, or to help decide upon the best mint collection for you!

There will be food and refreshments available as well as plants for sale to help run the collection, but please note there are no public toilets or parking spots at the actual cottage nursery itself, so it’s best to park in the village. The post code below will take you to our front door, but that’s not the nursery, if you look on google maps, turn instead at the old Sandstone pub and you’ll find the nursery’s sign on Sherrington Lane.

Si Poole, Mintopia, Fullersmoor Cottage, Smithy Lane, Brown Knowl, Cheshire, CH3 9JY
From 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.


  • Jack's Magic Compost

    Jack's Magic Compost

13th May 2022
Following a meeting of the Christleton Gardening Club when a commercial plantsman with a nursery recommended Jack's Magic compost I decided to give it a go. That was quite a number of years ago and since then I hate to think how many bags I have used. It is made by Westland. A well known name in the gardening world.

The price of it varied quite a bit but I thought I had found an excellent source priced at £11.50 for three 60 litre bags. I noticed more recently some garden centres were selling 50 litre bags at a higher price. I kept using my source but on my last visit the price had gone to £16 for 3 bags and the size had decreased to 50 litres.

On a recent visit to Premier Plants I noticed they were selling a compost called Bloom & Gro. There are 56 litres in the bag and the current price is £12 for three bags. Have bought a total of 9 bags up until now. I quite like the texture so will see how things grow.


12th May 2022
Each month of the year brings its own special plants. Many have a such a small period of flowering which is why it is worthwhile planning so that you have a continuing show of flowers in your borders. The most expensive plant I can recall buying is a tree peony which has been in a container since last year. I bought it whilst watching the Virtual Chelsea Show during the covid pandemic. In a moment of weakness I ordered one from a specialist nursery. I see it has one bud on it at the moment.

Pictured is a peony in flower at the moment in my garden. There have been so many years when it has not looked as good as this owing to wind and rain. As yet I have not been tempted further into the Peony World .

  • Pink Garden Peony

    Pink Garden Peony


  • Christleton Gardening Club Poster March 2022

    Christleton Gardening Club Poster March 2022

  • Christleton Gardening Club Poster April 2022

    Christleton Gardening Club Poster April 2022

  • Christleton Gardening Club Poster May 2022

    Christleton Gardening Club Poster May 2022

11th May, 2022
Thanks to Jim and Judith Ferns the Christleton Gardening Club sprang back into life after being put away in the covid cupboard for the past two years. The first meeting on Monday 14th March was a talk by Ray Bailey titled "Twenty Ways to Improve Your Garden" . This was followed by the April Meeting on the 4th when Sue Nicholas came and talked about "Growing fruit and vegetables in small spaces". On the 9th May George Pilkington arrived with a amusing talk titled "The story of the birds and bees in your garden"

George Pilkington

You cannot beat having a speaker who entertains and amuses you whilst imparting their knowledge on a subject you may know a little about or completely nothing at all.

On his visit to Christleton on 9th May when George Pilkington gave a talk on birds and bees in your garden he was wise enough to hand out his card to all the attendees. On it appears his website address www.nurturing-nature.co.uk. His site provides videos and an excellent reference including copius information on Birds, Bees, Insects, Worms, Hedgehogs to get you inspired about Nature.

Should his website spark your interest and you want to attract more nature to your garden George provides a large selection of products for sale that are certainly going to help you.

Before George starting speaking to the Christleton Gardening Club he remarked how nice it was to see us flourishing as interest groups such as ours are fast disappearing. Yes we know we are very lucky, thanks to Jim and Judith.

Garden 2022

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