Victorian Vision

Back in November last year we took a trip to the North West of England primarily to go to one of Slayer’s last British concerts in Manchester,but at the same time we took the opportunity to visit some of the historic National Trust properties in that part of the country. We visited Dunham Massey as well as Tatton Park,but the best property we saved until last and visited on the way home this was Biddulph Grange.

I took many photos which I’ll share here, but to add some information l’ve used some of the wikipedia script to give you an idea of how things came about. Behind a gloomy Victorian shrubbery there’s a gloomy Victorian mansion, but behind that lurks one of the most extraordinary gardens in Britain…it contains whole continents, including China and Ancient Egypt – not to mention Italian terraces and a Scottish glen.”

The “rhododendrons and azaleas are spectacular in late spring, but the pinetum and the evergreen topiary provide year-round interest. It’s a fantastic garden for children, with its tunnels and rockeries, and there is a children’s quiz trail.” The true brilliance of Biddulph Grange “lies in the way that Cooke and Bateman hid the different areas of the garden from each other, using heaps of rocks and thickly planted shrubberies’ the design locks together as tightly as a jigsaw or a cross-section of the brain.” It contains “a series of Italianate terraces, connected by steps and enclosing small flower gardens’ at the bottom, long, buttressed hedges enclose a dahlia walk,” In the Egyptian part of the garden, “Two sphinxes guard the mastaba-like entrance to a tunnel, whose darkness is an invitation to explore. Deep inside is a bloody chamber (lit by a hidden window of red-coloured glass) in which squats the half-spooky, half-comic figure of the Ape of Thoth.”

The garden is divided into many different areas with themes including: China,Egypt,Western Terrace,Italian Garden,Lime Avenue,Rhododendron Ground,The Glen,Pinetum and Arboretum,Bowling green and Quoit Ground,Cheshire Cottage,Wellingtonia Avenue,The Stumpery,Lower, Rose, Verbena and Araucaria Parterres,Cherry Orchard and the world renowned Dahlia Walk.

Biddulph Grange was developed by James Bateman (1811–1897), the accomplished horticulturist and landowner; who had inherited money from his father. He moved to Biddulph Grange around 1840, from nearby Knypersley Hall and created the gardens with the aid of his friend and painter Edward William Cooke. The gardens were meant to display specimens from Bateman’s extensive and wide-ranging collection of plants.

Biddulph Grange “started life as a bog-standard rectory, but around 1840 it was bought by James Bateman…he and his wife Maria had a passion for plants and the money to indulge their interests, and as the house was enlarged they began work on the surrounding gardens. His gardens are a rare survival of the interim period between the Capability Brown landscape garden and the High Victorian style.

From 1923 until the 1980s; the house was used as a hospital known first as the “North Staffordshire Cripples’ Hospital” and later as the “Biddulph Grange Orthopaedic Hospital” The 15 acres (6.1 ha) garden became badly run-down and neglected during this period, and the deeply dug-out terraced area near the house around Dahlia Walk was filled in level to make a big lawn for patients to be wheeled out on in summertime. The Bateman property was (and still is) divided: the hospital got the house and its gardens, and the uncultivated remainder of Biddulph Grange’s land became the Biddulph Grange Country Park.

Until 1991 the house and gardens “housed an orthopaedic hospital, whose managers (understandably enough) were more concerned with their patients than the weird stuff looming out of rocky outcrops in the grounds. For the best part of a century the gardens decayed, visited only by passing vandals and, more rarely, intrepid folly-hunters.”


In 1988 the National Trust took ownership of the property and its gardens, which have now been nearly fully restored, including a long work digging out the Dahlia Walk area archaeology-style to find forgotten features. In 1995–96 the Wellingtonia Walk, which had become post-mature and badly gappy, was clear felled and in that year and the next replanted. Although on our visit in November there were no Dahlias you could see the charm and how Batemans vision had created something special.

Sowing Seeds

Following on from my post in December : Growing Success and after reading other peoples blogs and twitter posts, I’ve decided to sow some seeds inside and hopefully put them outside when the threat of frosts have receeded.

This is a new venture for me as I normally either buy plants straight from the nurseries or retail outlets or buy bulbs,bare rooted/potted plants to simply plant out in the garden or put in pots.

Most of the seeds I’ve either been given or I’ve got them free on the cover of magazines,so the only actual costs have come from the coir pellets which I purchased from Premier Seeds Direct via Amazon.

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So far I am happy with the progress in the garden having cut the lawn twice and planted bare root shrubs and hellebores, all of which have started to show signs of growth even though some of it has been slow.

At the same time I’ve puposely not rushed into or finished either the raised bed or vegetable planter as nothing is ready to sow outside until the frosts have gone and theres nothing much to plant in baskets or pots either.

Its amazing just how much the weather differs from year to year. During mid February we had temperatures almost hitting 20°celcius with glorious sunshine allowing some clothes free gardening,which was totally different compared to this time last year.

This time last year much of the United Kingdom was covered in white. Last year we were hit by the ferocious “Beast from the East” remember, a period of freezing conditions brought in by chilling Siberian winds.

While the 18°C weather in February was nice it may be a thing of the past with high winds battering the UK last weekend and with temperatures expected to dip during mid to late March.

A Rock n Roll Tragedy

They were supposed to be the next Beatles; but a series of tragedies, mismanagement and “rock and roll rip-offs” left Badfinger little more than a sad footnote in musical history. But now the 1970s power-pop band are finally getting the recognition their fans believe they deserve, as the city of Swansea today unveils a blue plaque to troubled frontman Pete Ham, who committed suicide, aged 27. The plaque, close to the city’s railway station, will honour Ham as one of the region’s “finest musical talents”.

At the peak of the band’s fame he played “Here Comes the Sun” at New York’s Madison Square Garden with George Harrison, but Ham is now largely remembered for writing a song – “Without You” – that Harry Nilsson, and Mariah Carey would later cover to global success.Dan Matovina, a US record producer wrote one of the few books about the band – Without You: The Tragic Story of Badfinger – is to speak today at the ceremony. He will say: “Pete Ham presented us with beautiful songs, people fell in love to his songs, got married, to them, reflected on their broken hearts, dwelled on the messages of peace, love, kindness, understanding, he reached out in testament of the best of the human spirit.”

The band had started out as The Iveys in the mid-1960s and were discovered by Beatles’ roadie Mal Evans. Their demo records convinced The Beatles to make Ham’s group the first signing to their Apple Records. After a rocky start, they changed their name and a song written by Paul McCartney called “Come and Get It” gave Badfinger an international hit.They would go on to produce hit songs including “No Matter What” and “Day after Day” before writing “Without You”, which has been covered about 180 times.

Ham was the driving force behind the band. “He was so gifted, but it came not just from talent but hard work, a perseverance, a belief in himself that great effort could bring fulfilment and success,” Mr Matovina said.Problems started towards the end of 1971 after issues with Apple Records, and the band headed to Warner Brothers Records. They had hired American Stan Polley as their manager a year earlier, which would have tragic consequences.

During the next few years, despite releasing a series of albums, tensions rose and the band began to split at the seams. Polley had signed them to a ruinous contract that left him with the lion’s share of the earnings – sparking a series of legal disputes.

Warner sued Polley after an advance vanished, and after the manager disappeared, the band were left penniless. One fellow musician would later describe it as a “rock and roll rip-off”. Believing he had been wiped out, Ham hanged himself in his garage three days before his 28th birthday. He left a note telling his pregnant wife and her son that he loved them: “I will not be allowed to love and trust everybody. This is better. Pete. PS Stan Polley is a soulless bastard. I will take him with me.”

Mr Matovina will say: “It’s a very hard business, full of shysters, huge egos and people more than willing to use others for their personal gain.” He feels Ham needed people who “were willing to stand up for him”.

Badfinger fell apart, and an attempt to reform four years later failed. Two of the original line-up, Joey Molland and Tom Evans set up rival Badfinger bands. Evans, Ham’s writing partner, suffered more mismanagement and was hit with a $5m lawsuit after another disastrous contract. In 1983, after a bitter argument with Molland about the royalties for “Without You”, Evans put down the phone, went to the garden and hanged himself. Many said he had never got over Ham’s suicide.

Ham’s daughter, Petera, who was born a month after the musician killed himself, will attend today’s ceremony. She said last year: “I miss my father every day and I know that he will be there at the event looking down on family and friends, as they sit in his beautiful Swansea and listen to his music and honour his memory.”

This is a repost the original can be found here: Original Post

An alternative to plastic

Plastic plant pots are often used just once, to bring on plants from seed or transport them home from the shops and then they get thrown away. While these pots are very convenient, such disposable items contribute significantly to plastic pollution. It is possible, however, to buy biodegradable plant pots produced from bio-based materials

In recent years, plastic pollution has hit the headlines as a major environmental issue. While gardening is an outdoor activity involving organic material and natural products, the uncomfortable truth is that gardeners use a lot of plastic.

At the start of the last series of Gardeners World, Monty Don acknowledged this,with dismay. Talking about his own garden , which is used in the show, he said: “One of the things that has really horrified me looking at the garden over this winter is the amount of plastic that we’re using here, we have plastic pots, we have plastic seed trays, almost everything I buy is wrapped in plastic.”

Pots are one of the most common plastics in the garden. In the UK alone, it is estimated that around 500 million plastic plant pots are used every year. And a survey by consumer magazine Which?, found that the average British gardener has 39 plastic plant pots cluttering their shed, greenhouse or garage.

Of course, you can look after the pots, use them more than once, and eventually put them out with the recycling. But unfortunately, it isn’t quite that simple. They are often not easy to recycle, and worldwide less than 10% of plastic waste is recycled.

It is possible, however, to buy bio-based pots. These are made from fibrous bio-based materials such as wood pulp, rice hulls and cow manure that are pressed into the shape of a plant pot. Most are biodegradable and can be planted with the plant, or thrown in the compost, once finished with. Some – such as those made from rice hulls – are rigid and can even be used multiple times, over a few years.

One disadvantage of bio-based plant pots is that they tend to be more expensive than plastic ones. Currently, on Amazon, for example, you can get 100 8 cm wood pulp pots for £13.99 (€15.62), while 100 similar sized plastic pots will cost you £10.88 (€12.15).

However, a recent survey by Gardeners’ World magazine, in the UK, found that 85 per cent of its readers wish to use less plastic, and 66 per cent would be willing to pay more for goods that reduce their plastic use. While research in the US found that people are willing to pay more for non-plastic pots.

This suggests that there is an appetite for alternative pots, even if more expensive. But naturally, after more than 50 years of plastic pots, gardeners will be concerned about how well these alternatives work and possible negative effects on their plants.

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Human Nature

“I thought ? We were the human race,But we were just another border-line-case”

Once you start to live nude it becomes natural and as a result you on the whole do not see it in the advertly sexual way that most unintiated people see it today. It is a unfortunate fact that nudity is not seen the same the world over and that double standards are in place within some countries boarders.

In Britain things have moved on hugely in the last decade meaning its now easier to be clothes free outdoors without being in fear of prosecution.Unfortunately some of the American based social media platforms namely Facebook and Instagram (also now owned by Facebook)

are intent on turning the clock back to the draconian times where society banned all forms of nakedness. They seem to think as they wheel the power and the money,that they can preach what they think is right and wrong in a way that echoes back to the 1950s.

Its such a shame though as most people are far more intelligent and worldly expierenced in life now than they were in those dark days. Given the world can be a nasty place these days but that is only because people are unwilling to change moving the human race as a whole onto a higher more interlectual plain.

With the weather on the turn as we head towards spring I finally managed to get out into the garden and get some jobs done. After cutting some timber (some new,some recycled) into the correct lengths I managed to get the frame of the vegetable planter put together and also put the legs on too.

I was pleased with my efforts as the legs seemed square and it did not wobble even when placed in its final position on a anything but flat surface.

I then began to give the outside a coat of preservative just to protect it from the elements but ran out before I finished the first coat. Hopefully I can get some more and finished off on Monday/Tuesday when the good weather is supposed to continue.

Hopefully I will also be able to get some more work done in the garden get in a good position for spring,while also enjoyed the glorious sunshine that is due in this part of England.

Gardening Trends

The Good life with Power of Plants

In today’s world where news travels at the speed of now, people are searching for balance and purpose, and tapping into the power of plants to cultivate the ‘new good life’. Plants are powerful and play a vital role in our lives. Besides beautifying our homes and gardens, they’re vital to our health and wellbeing. Plants elicit powerful positive emotions, revive neighborhoods, and influence everything from what to eat to celebrating life’s milestones. Plants are no longer a luxury, but a necessity for our lives. Plants can live without us, but we cannot live without plants. Plants are powerful whether it’s enjoying garden-to-table meals or sharing great new plant finds, people are naturally drawn to plants.

The Power of Plants

Studies prove that plants are more than just a pretty face, from the power of healing to restoring neighborhoods, plants are vital for healthy, balanced lives. For a growing army of eco-conscious generation are embracing a connection with plants based on economic, environmental impact, health and wellness. The pursuit of health and quality of life is the number one influence of the goods and services we choose. At a recent Chelsea Flower Show in England, the influence to protect the earth’s resources showcased gardens with wind turbines, and reclaimed materials, water saving plants and vertical walls.

We are finding joy in nature to achieve peace and purpose. While we have been obsessed with technology and absorbed with self-care, the planet has been gasping for air. But there’s hope on the horizon.2019 predicts a move towards a healthier relationship with the expanding technological world and dives deep into the value of maintaining our connection with nature.Today’s ‘social clock” society is online 24 hours, seven days a week. In a desert of work, stress and too much time on the internet, nature both indoors and outside has become an oasis.

Stress Relief

By 2030, anxiety will be the number one health issue, outranking obesity. A recent survey by Ypulse shows 81 per cent of 18-34 year olds are making mental health a priority, looking for new ways to balance physical and mental wellness via “digital detox”. Switching off the technology, and getting outside. Gardening and plants can play a big part in mental wellness. Being surrounded by air-purifying plants, creating a quiet tranquil space, eating a plant-based diet are reflections of wellness trends that have become status symbols for people who make health a priority.Garden trends predicts a move towards a higher value on increasing our connection with nature and sees a beginning of a change from the ‘Me’ generation to a focus on ‘SHE’ – ‘Mother nature’.


From rock in the garden to rocks in the living room, nature becomes more important in our lives. Many people want their gardens and their homes to be sanctuaries of tranquility, reflecting their ideal concept of nature.Folks are bringing the outdoors in with houseplants, that are affordable, easy care, and in a wide array of colors, which are perfect, not just decorating. Touted for their health benefits and styling credentials indoor plants have hit homes and apartments with a vengeance.

Inner Gardening

Decorating our inner gardens with houseplants for better, healthier lives is now the new norm. These natural oxygen machines clean indoor air while bringing life and beauty to any room whether you want ferns, peace lilies or palms, bring nature in and green up your spaces for a better, healthier you.


While there are only so many different indoor plant varieties you can buy, there are countless ways to style them. 2019 will be more creative with styling. People want easy low maintenance plants that give plenty of color and are pests and drought resistant. People are becoming more creative with pots, plant stands, and macramé plant hangers. Rather than green walls, we’ll see shelves full of greenery. People want to invest in mature plants, which makes the style more effective and easy.

This year we are seeing a real trend to bring the outside indoors. Plants are decorating spaces as “art-in-motion”. Plants create instant beauty and give a boost of oxygen and clean the air.Homeowners are continuing to extend their space by moving plants, décor and accessories outside. It is easy to expand your home’s boundaries and add indoor charm to your patio, deck and garden using great indoor plants like ferns, palm, spider plants, peace lilies which are easy, mobile and super air purifiers. Plants like orchids and bromeliads create instant beauty. And ornamentals continue to be fashionista beautifiers, in containers, landscapes, mixed or mass planted.


As we travel more, we tend to bring more of our memories home, creating escapist retreats. We are ‘ uber-trendy’ with anything, all up in patterns, textures and colors. Color is first and foremost in a gardener’s mind. People get their inspiration from flowers. Foliage however adds a more sophisticated look, so look for shades of green to be dominant in planting schemes. Also people will want large scaled ‘found objects’ for their garden. People love those unusual pieces to add personality and a touch of the exotic; folk art accents, antiques and handcrafted, one-of-a-kind artisan pieces, rustic stones for pathways, patios, walls, and hidden trails, which bring an added sense of discovery and destination, charm and intimacy to any garden.

In Living Color

Neon colors, pop art and color blocking are influencing fashion on the runways to fashion in the garden. From Tangerine Tango, the new pantone color to deep purples and soothing greens, colors are all over the landscapes. With rich gemlike colors, you can create your own personal piece of paradise. Tropic escape hibiscus and Bahamas bay hibiscus produce huge flowers that last twice as long as regular hibiscus and are perfect for decorating patios and landscapes.

Create Technicolor with new ‘Bloomtastic.! Bouganvillea patio trees, new Patio Tropic Desert Rose, Adenium ‘Kissable Pink’, is carefree and adds intense hot tropical color to patios, balconies and poolside.Whether you’re gardening in the yard, decorating a balcony, patio or deck with blended containers, or growing herbs in the kitchen counter or wall, it’s clear that “mother nature” is back !


Reconnecting with the Natural World

One of the reasons nature is calling us is thousands of years of evolution. We have a link to the natural world which really goes to the essence of who we are.. It’s where our minds evolved. It is where we became who we truly are, and its where; really we are most at home.

Rooted Together

Our love of the natural world is our best defense for saving it. Sustainable development and eco-services re not doing enough to protect the planet. But there is hope, finding joy in nature will help save the environment, and in turn, save us. The future for gardening looks joyful and holds a connection to mother nature that just may be the saving grace of the planet.

The intrinsic connection people have with nature and how banding together could be the best defense to protect the earth. This awakening cultivates a healthier relationship with expanding technology; draws people outside, brings them in touch with their roots and gardening is a natural feat.

In 2019, we are finding ways towards a healthier relationship with the expanding technological world and trends in design, color and technology that will strengthen our relationship with Mother Nature. 2019 garden trends demonstrates how changing habits can cultivate a healthy community and a healthy planet.

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