Wordless Wednesday: Fittonia gigantea



And the weather forecast for 2014 is…….

We’re all gonna die!!

This winter there will be 100ft snowdrifts, it will be so cold the flames on your  fires will freeze and Polar Bears will emigrate south; ripping everyone’s heads off! Sorry…. I slipped into ‘Daily Express’ mode. I really do think that someone needs to tell the editor of the ‘Daily Express’ that, what he saw on telly the other day was a film called ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ and not this winters weather forecast!

It certainly has been a strange year for weather but at least it hasn’t been as wet as 2012 well, our garden didn’t flood like it did last year……

Picture apr2011 2073

2012 (The garden flooded at least three times)

It was a cold start to the year and a cold late spring that put the garden behind by at least a month……

Picture apr2011 2127

January 2013

Picture apr2011 2191


As for the summer, not as wet as the previous year but nothing to right home about, that’s why I haven’t included any photos; plus I have missed part of the summer anyway.

In last years blog about the weather, I had found several predictions (no, not from the ‘Daily Express’) that was predicting a hot dry latter part of the summer… oops!

The autumn has not been that great either, we have had some wonderful late autumnal colour though…..

Picture apr2011 2410

Ginkgo biloba (Cambridge Botanical Garden)

Picture apr2011 2404

Cambridge Botanical Garden

Picture apr2011 2428

Last one from the Botanics


Now what about the rest of this year and into 2014. There are already many predictions out there, the best ones being in the Daily Express, the internet obviously is the largest source of information. This time though, instead of quoting predictions from the internet, I’m going to give it a crack myself. So this time next year when I do a prediction for 2015, you will be able to see how far out I was.

Winter 2013/2014

A white Christmas is what I would really like to see but as usual, this will not happen. A cold raw lead up to Christmas with a little snow in places, with the threat of more heavier snow straight after the holidays, nothing like what certain papers are saying but hopefully a little more than usual. This one I’d  love to be wrong on and would like to see snow from mid December through to January.

As some of you will know, is that us gardeners don’t really give a monkeys about the winter weather as we all go into hibernation…. handing over to those elves 😉

Spring 2014

For the spring prediction, I’ll hand over to the Groundhog. Hang on, we don’t have Groundhogs in this country. Oh well, I’ll leave the picture in…. as they are so cute!

Ahh, the cuddly Groundhog

Spring 2014 will be the same as this years: cold, miserable, wet with snow at times. Warming up in May, with heavy rain in early June, just in time for the May Ball. As long as we have a window of opportunity to get on with some lawn care, I will not worry to much about the weather.

Summer 2014

Sticking my neck out here, three months of very warm sunny weather from July – September. If nothing else we bloody deserve it. On a personal note, I don’t really care what the weather is next summer, just as long as I get to work in it this time. A season with lashings of sun is long overdue, it gives us chance to recharge those batteries, to help us through the autumn and winters.


So there you have it, another pointless weather prediction to help clutter up the internet. The weather is always a challenge for us gardeners and part of the fun of gardening, is not knowing what is round the corner, it makes all aspects of planning…. more interesting.

Whatever does happen, it will never be quite as bad to what the ‘Daily Express’ will predict.

Totally random cute picture

Wordless Wednesday: Nerine undulata



The ‘Thrash Metal’ Rock Garden

A complete contrast from the last post I wrote. You will not find any peace in this post…. quite the opposite! They’ll be no swearing in this one either, my Mum told me off! I’ll still get in trouble though, she’s a big Cliff Richard fan 😉

This one is for the complete horticultural ‘metal head’. The music is loud, fast, aggressive with lashings of sex, drugs, blood and Satan. You’ll find no Val Doonican or Cliff Richard here (even though I’m sure Cliff is the devil), just extremely loud music.

I am not going to go completely into the origins of thrash metal but the early roots started off in Punk music. Many saying that Johnny Ramone was the original thrash guitarist. Fuse that together with the likes of Motorhead, Venom and the bands from the NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) and your getting close to the thrash metal sound; along came ‘The Big Four’ and so on and so on…..

So how am I going to mix this with the plant world? You’ll see. It will not always be by name either, there are a few plants out there that fit quite nicely into the Thrash Metal scene well, I will make them fit anyway.

Hydnellum peckii (Bleeding Mushrooms)

Funny looking fella that is found in North America and in Europe. This mushroom is classed inedible but not toxic, I certainly would not eat the little bugger though! Oops… sorry Mum!

Dicentra spectabilis (Bleeding Hearts)

Bleeding hearts, lady in the tub this is one of my all time favourites. A wonderful spring time flowering herbaceous perennial a must in any garden.

Slayer – Reign in Blood  

From one of my all time favourite plants to one of my all time favourite thrash metal songs. Released in October 1986 by one of the big four.

Aralia spinosa (Devils Walking Stick)

Plant in full sun to part shade in a well drained but moist soil. Watch out for those thorns, it is a spreader and can grow to 30ft in height. Great autumnal colour.

Pantera – Walk

A great classic song released in 1992. A song about people with bad attitudes taking a long walk.

Fuchsia Alison 

An upright deciduous shrub. Growing to 0.5m in height and roughly the same in spread. I know very little about this one and is only in so I could fit in the following song.

Annihilator – Alison in Hell

Released in 1989. This song is about a girl who thinks she is being terrorized by the boogeyman. She asks her for help but when she is ignored, she goes insane. Supposedly based on true facts.

Brugmansia (Angel’s Trumpet)

A beautiful semi – evergreen perennial with wonderful trumpet like flowers. Great one for outside in the summer, but bring it in before those frosts. All parts of the plant are toxic but unfortunately, not to the Red Spider mite…. they love ’em.

Death Angel (The Band)

Thrash metal band from California, have been around on and off since 1982.

Rosa ‘Peace’

Rosa ‘Peace’ also known as Rosa ‘Madame A. Meilland’. A Hybrid T Rose that flowers between July-October can reach just over a metre in height and has lightly scented yellow flowers.

Megadeth – Peace Sells

Released in November 1986 and it is my all time favourite Megadeth song.

Sanguinaria canadensis (Bloodroot)

It is a beautiful hardy spring flowering herbaceous perennial. It gets its name from the red toxic sap within the roots, I would wear gloves when handling the rhizomes.

Sepultura – Roots Bloody Roots

Is a song released by Sepultura in 1996. Sepultura is a band from Brazil and they have been around since 1984.

Thymus vulgaris (Common Thyme)

A small bushy aromatic dwarf shrub. Everybody either knows this plant or has got a thyme in their garden.

Anthrax – Got The Time

A great catching tune from Anthrax, released in 1990 it has to be one of my favourite of theirs.


Now I wonder if I could persuade my employers that I need one of these lawn mowers shown above.

Lawnmower Deth – Kids in a America

A British thrash metal band from Nottingham, England. They have been around on and off since 1987, often doing cover songs.

Hebe ‘Emerald Green’

Its a dwarf evergreen compact shrub, that has a height and spread of approximately 0.5m. Not very interesting but can be useful in certain areas of the garden. White flowers in the summer.

Skyclad – Emerald 

Folk/Thrash metal, not a combination you would normally expect. Formed in England in 1990 and still going today, Folk/Thrash…. I think it works? Says me trying to fuse Heavy Metal with gardening all the time!


And now to the end song. For those of you who are not into thrash and have lasted the course, this will be a blessed relief. I could of very easily made it more demonic though, by adding some Cl*ff R*****d…. but thankfully, he’s not thrash metal!

That Peace of Garden (you don’t always find)

At the end of 2012, I was writing posts that were predicting the weather for 2013 but the one thing you cannot predict, is what happens in the garden and in life itself.

I can quite easily say that 2013 has been the most challenging year for me…. in both the garden and in life. This isn’t going to be a post looking for sympathy or for me the get those virtual violins out but how life’s challenge’s, affect you in the garden and vice versa. Many would say this is the case for any job…. I would beg to differ. The garden is a living breathing environment with a history and a lot of feeling to go with it. With all the these troubles of this year has had an effect on my health, having had more trips to the doctors than I have at any time in my life and recently being rushed to the hospital…. bit of bugger that was! Having been away from the garden for a while, I feel I have lost touch with it feel like it has become a bit of a stranger to me. That friend I always could confide in seems very distant. I know this is only temporary and soon I will be back and with a few changes in place, reacquaint myself with the garden.

I’m looking forward to going back to work seeing the people, the garden and being part of a team again. I have been back to say hello from time to time but it’s not the same as staying and mucking in even if it is with the admin or in the garden. Yes, sometimes us Head Gardeners do get our hands dirty and not just when we fall over. Patience is something the garden teaches us all but this is something I haven’t got much of at the moment. So as soon as I can get back in the garden again and lose myself within the surroundings, I will feel a lot happier but this cannot come soon enough.

Trinity College is a wonderful place to work and not because of its wealth and status, this doesn’t bother me, even though I often joke about it but for me it is it’s gardens. How many Head Gardeners can say, to walk from one end of their garden taking in all the courts and gardens that you have to cross: three public roads (four if you go to the sports field), cross the River Cam, walk down an avenue of Limes, walk through the famous ‘Backs’ of Cambridge, down a avenue of Plane trees and across a Brook. Bin Brook, that quiet little stream that causes me very few problems, well sometimes…….

Picture apr2011 1266

July 2012


Picture apr2011 2070

December 2012

With all these beautiful gardens and courts all steeped in history anything from: Sir Isaac Newton (Newton’s Apple) right through to the ‘Chariots of Fire’ race, there is one area of the college I often sit and be a peace with…….

It is away from the main part of the college I find the most peaceful, it is overgrown in places, natural, crawling with wildlife but completely relaxing. A place where all your worries and stresses are seen more clearly and after a few minutes there, the problems don’t seem so great and a lot more easier to deal with.

Picture apr2011 1963

February 2013

‘Happiness is not the absence of problems; it’s the ability to deal with them.’

Picture apr2011 1957

One of our log piles

To find peace in the garden for me it doesn’t always have to be in the main areas. That scruffy little area where the weeds can be weeds, the wildlife can happily scurry about without me getting a phone call, saying that we are under attack and there is no one about. Over the last few weeks I have missed being able to do that as well as all the gardening activities that you do.

There have been some good things in 2013: my son got into Essex University, we sorted out a work placement for a WRAGS student through the ‘Womens Farm and Garden Association’, I judged a flower show and they want me back next year and the cut flower patch has been a massive success. As they say… ‘Every dark cloud has a silver lining’


So will I be doing another one of those rubbishy blogs predicting next years weather…. oh yes! T’is all a bit of fun but you can never predict what life is going to hand you and you can only predict certain things in the garden. I do know one thing though, that come the 31st December I won’t just be sticking my fingers up at Jools Holland and calling him every name under the sun like I normally do but also too 2013 itself. From now on this year will always be known as ‘Two thousand and Fucking thirteen’!