Sunday, 31 May 2015

Rare Plant Fair at Kingston Bagpuize

Last Sunday May 24 I went along to my fourth Rare Plant Fair this year, and probably the last of 2015 for me. The fairs are great, there is always an excellent range of nurseries attending with such good quality, reasonably priced plants and lots of information about their cultivation, and they're held in beautiful gardens.
Kingston Bagpuize House is beautiful, set in delightful grounds.
Here are a few photos taken last Sunday when the weather was a bit dull, but there was a fabulous turn out.
 This gorgeous Magnolia tree is in the field where we parked the car, you can just see the flowers dotted all over it:
 It all looks a bit far away, but here are the stalls and crowds of people

 And the house
 People looking at plants with the house in the background

 Below the long herbaceous border
 I took a few close ups, but they look a bit 'jungly' like the one below

 I like this view into the wooded area
 The steps up to the terrace had a lovely Wisteria in full bloom

And further along a white one.

 Some lovely trees
 and tree Peonies
 Love this structure, it works really well
 And a lovely layered Viburnum?
If you click on the rare Plant Fair link, you can see where the others are being held, it's tempting to go to the one in Birmingham, or have a weekend away and go to one.
I nearly forgot, this is what I bought:
Absolute beauts all of them!

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Let's Look After - PARA's 5th Community Event

The local residents' association PARA, Pipers Area Residents Association, held their 5th planting and tidying the area, and general socialising event on 17 May. The event has been renamed 'Let's Look After' to reflect an increased brief, we now are working with Incredible Edible who are planting at Croft School and playgroup, as well as helping us on the day. Having started with the bed on the corner of Newport Street and Devizes Road, we have now moved on to other beds, making 7 in all. To see the history of some of the beds in photos, have a look at the PARA website
We were lucky to have had quite a bit of rain before the event making the weeding and planting of more perennials easier, with virtually no watering needed then, although  we need some rain now.
I'll show you a few photos of each of the sites:
Firstly the bed opposite Rose Earle's newsagents where Cllr Nadine Watts led the planting, and described by the people who put up the posters as the best bed they visit:
 Above posing for a photo and below getting stuck in
The bed beside the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery is challenging because it's a tree stump with soil around it, here's a before shot:
And after, Colin, our chair had a team with him who didn't want to be photographed:
From there to Berenger Close where James and Lyn worked tirelessly on a bed, first on the right as you go in:
 Onto the Intel roundabout where there's the bed under the Marlborough Road sign and a much larger bed, led by Neil:

The bed beside the Co-op, and the smaller bed nearby was cleaned up by Judith and team, and not as yet photographed.
The bed on the corner of Newport Street and Devizes Road hasn't been photographed yet either, a job for today.
That takes us on to the Mr Cod bed which is looking fabulous despite only being planted for the first time by us, last autumn, here are some photos:
 Work in progress:

 Below a photo of the plants:
 And a lovely photo of the team involved:
Yesterday, an email from Cllr Nadine Watts communicated this great news about the benches:
Following on from the planting at the Let's Look After event the other weekend, I raised a case for the Council to look at the benches by Mr Cod.
The Council have installed a new slat, painted the ends and will be oiling all the timber this morning.
The benches look better and should last longer now they have been sorted.
Hopefully, people will enjoy this area more now that they benches have been refreshed and there is some beautiful planting.
And here they are. We just have to paint over the flaking paint behind them, and the area will look even more fantastic.

Bath Society of Artists 110th Annual Exhibition Opening Night 15 May

The opening of the BSA's annual exhibition at the Victoria Art Gallery is something I always look forward to, despite it being almost impossible to see the work, or raise a glass of wine to one's lips because of the crush of people. The opening night was held on 15 May from 6-8pm, with speeches at 6.30pm, and although I hung about where the speeches were held last year in order to take photos of the opening by Deidre McSharry and prize giving in the presence of Deputy Mayor of Bath, Cllr Lisa Brett, it was really the speech by Tim Carroll that I really wanted to hear and photograph!!
I ended up as far away from where the speeches took place, as it was possible to be, so photos are a bit mixed this year.
Firstly, 3 photos of the crush:

Then photos of Tim Carroll's 3 pieces:
 Above 'Mars and Venus' and 'Pendine Sands', at a bit of angle, but at least no decapitated heads.
I haven't got a very good of 'The Meeting', it was hard to get near it, I'm visiting the exhibition next Monday as part of a Frameworks event held in Bath, so may be able to get better photos then.

Jane Milner-Barry had this painting exhibited:
 and Ken White had a couple of lino cuts on show, to be photographed soon.
The fabulous exhibition continues until 27 June, do go and have a look.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Visiting TWIGS to buy some Perennials for the PARA planting

My local residents' association,  Pipers Area Residents' Association, or PARA now have 7 community beds which we weed and plant with a mixture of perennials and annuals, with spring bulbs at each site. We aim to reduce the need to add more plants at each of our spring and autumn sessions, we have increasingly been filling gaps with perennials. I visited TWIGS Community Gardens, the amazing therapeutic gardens situated behind the Manor Gardens, Swindon SN2 2QJ on Cheney Manor industrial estate, to buy some of their extremely healthy, home raised, perennials.
It was a bit like Chelsea a few days early! There are about 12 different themed gardens off the main path just like at Chelsea. Before looking at the plants for our community event, now named 'Let's Look After' because it's been enlarged to include the local Croft School, and nearby playgroup, and we've been joined by Incredible Edible gardeners as well, I took some photos of the gardens.
If you've already visited TWIGS, go again, the gardens are looking fab at the moment, their NGS open day coincided with our event, and they had certainly made sure the gardens were looking wonderful.
Here are a few photos:
 Here's the main avenue, more of a path, and a garden with an enticing path below
 Further down the path
 Structures make a garden look more inviting don't they?
  There were some fabulous pink Aquilegias in several of the gardens, seen below, must ask for some seeds, although they probably won't breed true.

 A couple of views of the same garden with a lovely semi circular structure

 These willow twirly things are rather lovely aren't they?
 The hens looked happy scratching around:
 Here's the area where teas are served when the gardens are open for an event
 Below the plant sales office:
 The plant sales area:
 And the plants I bought
Thank you TWIGS for supplying some wonderful plants this year. We also are grateful to Rose Earle in Newport Street for supplying lots of colourful annuals, and supplying us with water. Photos of the results of the planting and tidying up to follow.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

22nd Swindon Festival of Literature

When I looked at the programme, I thought it looked like the best ever selection of speakers, with some excellent double bills. It was hard making a decision about which talks to go to, the choice was excellent and varied. My festival started with the Dawn Chorus on 4 May, and then I resisted going to too many talks, these listed were unmissable as far as I was concerned
First things first, the books I bought:
The first talk was 'Empathy' by Roman Krznaric on the power and place of empathy, below the empty stage as we waited for Roman
 and here he is struggling to connect with the audience because he can't see them against the bright lights. He made a lot of sense when talking about human connections and communication and I bought the book.
 I had a ticket for Daisy Christodoulou's talk on 7 myths about education, but had to give my ticket for that talk away because I was needed elsewhere.
On so onto a very powerful couple of speakers on Sunday evening:

Will Hutton on how we can improve things for the majority in this country, rather than just the minority. He was excellent, I bought his book 'How Good We Can Be'.
And next came Danny Dorling, on injustice, inequality and where our children will make a home. He also made a lot of sense, and made me see things in a different way. I bought his book, 'Inequality and the 1%' which I am reading now.
I have included 2 photos of Danny because they both show him emphasising  apoint in a slightly different way:
Monday night, Helen Lederer did some brilliant autobiographical stand up pieces, and was generally very funny, here she is after the signing. It seems flippant to say I loved her hair, how does she get it like that? And her eyes are a fabulous piercing blue.
After Helen came Peter Tatchell, a brilliantly passionate, fluent speaker. I could listen to him all day. How does he get ideas so straightened out in his head? He didn't have a book to promote, he was invited to talk about his journey form Christianity to Humanism.
Another day, another 2 speakers, Tuesday evening brought Robert Hewison seen below talking to Matt Holland, festival organiser, about the importance of culture in our society, he was very convincing and I bought the book, 'Cultural Capital.
Here's the second 'act', Julian Spalding talking about discovering, seeing and understanding art. He's a former director of galleries in Manchester, Sheffield and Glasgow, and has some interesting ideas. Two people who are reading his book say he's inspired.
And just as I thought I'd never have time to upload these photos to the blog, or have a night in at home, it was the last night, for me, although the festival formally ended on Saturday evening.
Shami Chakrabarti talked about human rights past present and future, encouraging us all to join the group Liberty. Shami was an inspirational, witty and energetic speaker. She spoke with great clarity and many examples of what she was talking about, and described Swindon as the political centre of the UK, always a good touch. I bought the book, 'On Liberty'.
And last but not least Jacqueline Rose talking about visionary women like Rosa Luxembourg and Marilyn Monroe change our thinking about feminism.
Phew, what a great festival, and I only attended a fraction of things happening. For more information, please visit and have a look at their blog: where you will find many more, better quality photographs and more detailed coverage of each event.