Friday, 7 February 2014

Weathering the storms

Well anything that lives outdoors, or has had to spend any length of time outdoors recently, has been tried and tested beyond anything we could have ever imagined. Enduring prolonged rainfall, gales, and erratic weather has been the order of the day - EVERY day, for as long as I can remember!

Seems an eternity.

Of course it hasn't really been that long, but when you experience something so intense, almost traumatic (and definitely traumatic for the more unfortunate amongst us), it is difficult to remember time before it.

I thought I'd been blown off my feet by the wind before but after attempting to walk my dog the other night I realise previous occasions had been merely a light breeze. Mother nature REALLY showed what she's capable of the other night.

Many I've talked to have observed the power of the sea (from afar I should say) at this turbulent time, around the beautiful Cornish coastline. You can't help but be in awe. Porthleven, which has succumbed to the harsh reality of these testing times, with broken harbour barriers, sunken boats and general destruction to its picture perfect quality, has provided one perfect exemplar.

Click on image to go to source.

Me. I've had a very lucky escape. Sad looking primrose pots (and a questionable looking chimney) are just about the extent of my troubles.

I always feel for those outdoor industries reliant on seasonal stability, and there's been a little more impact on a few of the local plant nurseries I hold dear here in Cornwall like Trevena Cross and Burncoose . Fallen trees, ripped polytunnels and power shortages have presented unfortunate but not sustaining challenges, and when you look at the seemingly impossible situations other people have been forced into, the mantra 'it could have been a lot worse' always rings true.

Thoughts are with everyone dealing with the aftermath of the destruction to date - as we brace ourselves for what's to come...

Friday, 24 January 2014

Happy (not so) New Year

A very belated Happy New Year! I suppose this post comes some weeks late...the year no longer feels 'new', and the ringing out of Auld Lang Syne is all but a distant memory.

As we return to the 'normal routine' and seek to be inspired by new challenges and experiences in 2014, I can't help but wonder what the year will bring - will it be very different from the last? Will I get stuck into something I haven't before or will I stand on the sidelines and let it play out before me?

One area I'm determined to get stuck into and have already gone some way to doing so is the garden. Preparations for the spring are in motion and plans afoot.

To date potting and deadheading primrose pots, power washing walls and steps and clearing and re-laying areas of gravel have taken priority. Amazing the work of a power hose - I'd completely forgotten what colour paving had been laid until it was revealed in a moment of great - if not wet - satisfaction.

When I start to think 'plants' will be when things start to get exciting... watch this space.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Christmas Gift List

My Christmas gift list and gift ideas revolve around plant subject matter! Surprise huh!

RHS Gift Membership
The crux of the gardening community, the RHS, provides membership, which as they say, allows you to "treat someone to a whole year of gardening adventures". Need say no more!

Burncoose Gift Vouchers
Give the gift of choice with the Burncoose online plant nursery at your recipient's fingertips - and until Christmas save 15% when you buy them - giving your friend or loved one a little extra to spend without coughing it up yourself (they never have to know!)

Gardener's World Subscription
We never stop learning or fine-tuning those green fingers, so with five issues for five pounds... give the gift of gardening knowledge to others this Christmas!

Quite literally! Great Christmas plant ideas with guidance to help you choose the right gift for different family members. Give something a little different this year, 'giftaplant'!

Books from Sutton's Seeds
Novel books like '100 flowers to knit & crochet' - for the creative type to create something beautiful from scraps of yarn!

Christmas Daffodils...mmm!
And that's not an edible 'mmm' just a mmm I love daffs so much! And what's wrong with a bit of cheery sunshine at Christmas time?! For many, a very unexpected gift! Well done Fentongollan.

And just for fun:

Gnome Soap on a Rope! courtesy of the RHS
Topiary Plant Pets! courtesy of T&M
Zombie Gnome (perhaps a tad freaky but certainly fun!) courtesy of find me a gift

Friday, 6 December 2013

Christmas Mayhem

This is something I've most definitely been admiring from afar. Christmas chaos, mayhem, commotion... too many descriptives to ponder over.

I'm not a bah humbug or anything close, but taking a step back and watching the whirlwind of Christmas preparations get under way around me is quite astonishing and in a way mesmerising. It's not a negative experience. Being played out before me are deep rooted Christmas traditions that are shared by so many of us; and then handled in uniquely personal ways, defining our own experience of Christmas.

Take going out to choose the Christmas tree. Now this one is really about to kick off during the next couple of weeks. Many of us will make this traditional family outing to the garden centre or other local stockist, and spend close to HOURS choosing the RIGHT tree for the 'Smith' Household's Christmas 2013. We'll undergo competition with the 'Jones' Household to secure the BEST tree - even if that involves shoulder bashing and the hands of every family member to temporarily 'reserve' a tree, just in case there isn't another out of the hundreds of trees available that can trump it on shape, size, style, and numerous other factors taken into consideration when choosing 'THE' tree.

Image source: 

Then take Christmas shopping. A time when even the calmest of shoppers suddenly become headless chickens, immersed in the Christmas craziness that is the world of retail. Traffic, queueing, the ability to get from A-B amongst a sea of shoppers - all challenges we face as the festive season draws close.

There is certainly something to be said for online shopping. But would I do it all online? Of course not! As frustrating and tiring as it can be at times, a little bit of the Christmas magic would be lost without the hustle and bustle of the shops at Christmas time.

There comes a time when one must stop admiring from afar, but bite the bullet and jump in head first to join the chaos, mayhem, commotion... For me, it will just be a little bit nearer to Christmas.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Getting up close and personal with a real softie

There's one plant I've been glad to get to know and learn more about over the past few weeks - one of those 'nuggets' I mentioned in my first blog post

No longer at arm's length or admired from afar!...A Mahonia with all the beauty and interest of its predecessors but with an appearance and 'soft touch' that gives this unique variety its alluring name. Who wouldn't want to own a Mahonia 'Soft Caress'? And that's before you've even set eyes on it! A pleasure to handle and interact with as the first with spine-free leaves, it's no wonder this plant was awarded “Plant of the Year” at Chelsea Flower Show 2013, an accolade that's tough to beat for a 'newbie' in the marketplace. This candidate and its competition rivals are discussed here.

For those who have come into contact with; or who are in frequent contact with Mahonias, you will know just what a breakthrough this soft leaved variety is.

Image taken from RHS website.

Its unique, 'painless' characteristics of course bring with it a multitude of other advantages – opening up a whole host of possibilities with regards to positioning. Bring it to the foreground and show it off next to a pathway or in a large pot by the doorway – being scratched to pieces is no longer a fear and that should be overtly celebrated in my opinion! Compact and evergreen it goes far to meet all the requirements of a 'well behaved', desirable plant, providing interest year round in sunny or partially shady spot.

Of course it isn't just the unusual, delicate ferny foliage that draws the plant fanatic in - spikes of fragrant lemon yellow flower blooms in summer are followed by striking spherical blue berries in autumn for extended interest. Put this beauty to bed in a moderately fertile, humus rich well drained soil in your own garden and it's sure to be 'the plant of your year' - just as it is mine.

As you can tell from my above ramblings, even the amateur that I consider myself to be can appreciate the merits of this plant, just as the most knowledgeable horticultural institution has. You know a plant has really made it when it is universally admired - by anyone and everyone.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Why 'admiring from afar'?

Hello, I'm Lucy and this is 'Admiring from afar'; my blog.

Why the strange title you ask? Well for a number of years now I have been spending my days working in a world that I still feel I am 'admiring from afar'. The world of horticulture.

Surrounded by keen plants people, a frenzy of social media surrounding the industry, as well as the plants themselves of course; I have developed a deep admiration for something which I still feel very much 'out the know' about.

It's not that I'm deliberately keeping my distance or consciously refusing to 'absorb like a sponge'. My day to day life just doesn't involve drilling below the surface for copious nuggets of inspirational knowledge, that I can apply in my spare time. I'm office based and not around the 'keen plants people' I referred to earlier, all that much. They pass fleetingly near my workstation before disappearing again, on a daily basis. Paths cross but never really cross if you know what I mean.

I am therefore on a quest. To share my musings, opinions, and the few nuggets of knowledge that I am lucky enough to pick up along the way, here. And why limit my ramblings to one subject area?... When you think about it, there are actually many other areas of life that we all 'admire from afar' without even realising it. My example may be the most obvious to me, but there are plenty of other examples of 'admiring from afar' in our daily lives - things we keep at arms length, for whatever reason. Got you thinking now haven't I?

Thanks for reading, and for bearing with me while I become accustomed to the 'blogging world'!