Harvest celebrations at Beamish Museum

Saturday and Sunday, October 1-2

Georgian harvest feast
Georgian harvest feast at Pockerley Old Hall

The Great North Festival of Agriculture at Beamish Museum draws to a close this weekend with the celebration of Harvest Home and Harvest Festival.

Pockerley Old Hall and The 1940s Farm will be preparing Harvest Home feasts – a celebration of food, drink and entertainment to thank all who helped to bring the harvest safely home.

The Georgian spread at Pockerley will include traditional delicacies such as pigs’ trotters, pigeon, quail, rabbit and herring, with a pig’s head centrepiece. Traditional folk musicians King Cole will be playing. Continue reading “Harvest celebrations at Beamish Museum”

Fungus resistant hardy grape

Lubera’s Arkadia brings grape growing in reach of everyone

Grape Arkadia
Grape Arkadia. Picture; Lubera

There’s an air of the exotic when it comes to growing grapes – and a reputation for being difficult which puts most gardeners off.

I tried to grow a vine in the greenhouse, but my measly plant fell victim to disease.

However, Lubera has Grosso Arkadia, a fungus-resistant, hardy and easy-to-cultivate table grape, suitable for planting against a wall on trellises and stakes, or even in a pot.

Arkadia produces white, giant clusters of grapes that weigh up to 1.3 kg, the largest of all table grapes. Continue reading “Fungus resistant hardy grape”

Thompson & Morgan’s flower seeds 2017

Colour changing and blended tones all the rage

Nasturtium Chameleon

Need some ideas to brighten up your garden next year?

Here’s the pick of the bunch from Thompson and Morgan’s flower seed catalogue for 2017, including several exclusives:

Nasturtium Chameleon, £1.99 (20 seeds EXCLUSIVE): Not only do the flowers look like exotic orchids, they also change colour. Height 20-25cm (8-10in). Continue reading “Thompson & Morgan’s flower seeds 2017”

Thompson & Morgan’s veg seed pick 2017

Multicoloured array of veg

Tomato Indigo Cherry Drop. Picture; Thompson & Morgan

Thompson & Morgan’s new catalogue is available this month – here’s 10 of the best vegetables;

Tomato Indigo Cherry Drops, £2.99 (6 seeds): Each 30g fruit is packed with anthocyanins thanks to the purple skin blushing – masses more fruits compared to semi-bush type Indigo Rose thanks to a true vigorous cordon habit. A pale purple blush appears early on unripe green fruit, turning to rich purple with a reddish base when ripe. Sweeter than Indigo Rose with a better balance of acidity. Harvest July-October. Continue reading “Thompson & Morgan’s veg seed pick 2017”

Sweet pea choice for 2017

New, old and my favourite fragrant varieties

sweet pea
New sweet pea Night Sky. Picture courtesy of Matthewmans

Sweet peas cross the divide from the cottage garden to make it into most people’s lists of favourite plants.

Why? They’re easy to grow, adaptable, most of them have a fabulous scent and great colour range. They’re the one flower I grow without fail every year.

Here, I’ve picked out new varieties, a reintroduction and some old and recent types that I’d like to grow. There’s also a list of my tried-and-tested recommendations at the end.

Night Sky: (NEW AND EXCLUSIVE) This year’s introduction, bred by David Matthewman in Yorkshire. Highly scented, almost shimmering mauve flake florets set on long stems, 10 seeds, £3, www.sweetpeasonline.co.uk. Continue reading “Sweet pea choice for 2017”

Hands-on Heritage Skills at Beamish

Try your hand at traditional crafts,  September 24-25

Hands-on Heritage
Making corn dollies

Want to try your hand at crafts from the past? Get yourself to the Hands-on Heritage Skills Weekend at Beamish Museum, County Durham this weekend.

Craftsmen and women will be working at The 1940s Farm, Pockerley Old Hall and the Waggonway, demonstrating their talents and letting visitors have a go.

At Pockerley, there’s wood and stone carving and a pole lathe in action. Continue reading “Hands-on Heritage Skills at Beamish”

Jekka McVicar’s herbs for Johnsons

Native herbs are top 3 sellers

A Modern Apothecary Show Garden
A Modern Apothecary Show Garden by Jekka McVicar at RHS Chelsea 2016

British herbs are back in fashion, with the top three sellers in Johnsons’ Jekka’s Herbs range being borage, chives and white-flowering borage.

Jekka McVicar, the well-known herb expert, chose 47 species and varieties to be included in the selection, including ‘classics’ and some more unusual names.

Many are suitable for growing in pots, making them ideal for people with tiny gardens, a balcony, or a windowsill. Continue reading “Jekka McVicar’s herbs for Johnsons”

Lazy cook’s apple puree

Making the most of even a rotten apple tree

Prep the apples outside if you like…

Have you got a hopeless apple tree in your garden? One that still fruits, but the apples are tiny, bitter or covered with scab or other ailments?

I have one (the infamous tree grown from a pip when I was a kid and am too sentimental to chop down) and after a four-year programme of restorative pruning, it has finally borne a decent crop of apples.

The only thing is, it’s a Cox Orange Pippin or similar – very prone to scab and we are in a very scabby area, if that doesn’t sound too bad.

For the full post and recipe, follow this link…


Harrogate Autumn Flower Show: New Plant Pavilion

Fitting home for great plants

The new Plant Pavilion at the Harrogate Autumn Flower Show manages to play host to nearly 100 displays from the country’s best specialist nurseries – and unlike Chelsea, you can actually buy plants on the stands.

It gives you a great idea of what’s in bloom at this time of the year and the plants on offer by the nurseries were of a particularly high standard, with so many unusual varieties.

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It’s the last day of the show tomorrow – and the big plant sell-off – for details log on to www.flowershow.org.uk/.

Show bench onions

Harrogate Autumn Flower Show monster veg

Slide show of the best massive and weird veg

Giant pumpkin – but not the winner, which had vanished when we were in the hall!

Even if you don’t like gardening, everyone’s fascinated by monster vegetables and Harrogate Autumn Flower Show is one of the best places to see this specialist growers’ art.

It’s all about size, as growers attempt to grow the longest and heaviest  one gardening competition that’s not about flavour.

Hosting the famous National Heavy Onion Championship, sponsored by Kitchen Garden magazine, 12 new world records have been set since 1983. Continue reading “Harrogate Autumn Flower Show monster veg”