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Things that p*** me off: No 1

This is probably the first in a LONG series of rants. To keep them under control, I shall confine them, dear readers, to gardening issues.
I went to a local branch of Wyevale Garden Centres yesterday, to buy some New Horizon peat-free compost. I'm not a huge fan of Wyevale because I think their plants are overpriced, but they do sell New Horizon, so that lures me in.
I was not surprised to find they were having a sale - most garden centres have some sort of price-cutting event towards the end of the summer.
What did surprise me was the "SALE" sign above the larger alpine pots, stating that they were £4 each, or £10 for three.
Wyevale ALWAYS sell their alpines like this (the smaller ones cost something like £2.50, and you can buy five for £10.) What made this a "SALE"?
I asked an assistant (poor woman), who said that it was perfectly legal to call it a "sale" because for the previous month, they had not had the "three for £10" offer. This com…

Rufus, canine star of German television

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My gardens (my old garden in London and the new one in the Cotswolds) have been featured on two television programmes, and I'm always intrigued by what the director wants to show, and what they don't show.

Unfortunately, the BBC Gardeners' World episode is no longer available, but it featured garden designer and television presenter Joe Swift, talking about exotic, or sub-tropical gardens.
Filming was great fun, partly because Joe (seen here in my London garden with the BBC film crew) is very friendly and funny.
The latest programme, MDR Garten, which is like a German version of the BBC's Gardeners' World, hardly showed anything of my garden in the Cotswolds, precisely because they had used long lingering shots of the Oxford gardens, and wanted something a bit more hands-on and active by the time they came to me. So there are lots of shots of me supposedly planting and/or weeding, or pottering around with the dog.

You can't actually hear much of what I am sayin…

There was an old lady (well, not that old) who bought a Kärcher hose extension

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You've probably heard the song about the old lady who swallowed a fly.
"I don't know why
she swallowed a fly.
Perhaps she'll die".
The song goes on to relate how she swallowed a spider to catch the fly, then swallowed a bird to catch the spider, then swallowed a cat to catch the bird, and so on, and so on.
I felt a bit like that today. I have a Kärcher pressure washer, which is about 10 years old. They don't make the exact model I have any more, but this is vaguely what it looks like.

It works fine, but it doesn't have a very long high-pressure hose, which means that if you want to reach a particularly awkward corner, you keep having to unplug it and plug the whole thing in again. Pressure washers have three connections: the hose that supplies the water from the tap, the power cable, and the high-pressure hose. You can plug the power cable into an extension lead, and you can use a longer hose to supply water to the machine. But what I wanted was to be able t…

Wildflowers in Texas (believe it or not)

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When The Patient Gardener and I announced to our friends in the UK that we were travelling to Austin, Texas to see not only gardens, but wildflowers, we were greeted with reactions that ranged from mystified to downright sceptical.
"Do they have gardens in Texas?" people would ask. "Isn't it just desert?" And as for wildflowers: "Is this a joke? Are you winding me up?" they would say.
I'm not sure whether these responses are due to Western movie imagery, or just general ignorance about America, but to confound the disbelievers, here are some pictures from my first days on the annual Garden Bloggers Fling.


The jolly chaps in this picture are blanket flowers (Gaillardia aristata), and these are growing in the garden of Laura Wills, one of the Austin Fling hosts. Laura very kindly invited those of us who had flown in early (which always means the Brits!) to brunch at her house, which is an urban farm.


The first day of the Fling included a visit to th…

More tulips

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I thought that instead of wittering on in my usual fashion, I would just post tulip photographs. These are all either from or in my garden.




Tulips and bins

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Two things are guaranteed to irritate me at this time of year: tulips and refuse collections.
How on earth can tulips be irritating, I hear you ask. Well, maybe it's me, or maybe it's my soil, or maybe – having made a huge effort to plant them and label them in an orderly fashion - I've made a mistake somewhere. Whatever, at least one lot of tulips each year come up a totally different colour from the description. So this year, I've compiled a list of the worst offenders and I eagerly await your comments.

Tulipa 'Jenny'
I'm not quite sure why I bought this tulip, because what I desperately need are tulips in deep, moody colours like purple and maroon, not yellow ones. This is what comes of reading bulb catalogues in the autumn, when your garden is full of russet and yellow and orange.
Description: Sarah Raven catalogue says "beautiful golden tulip, feathered with the colours of a sunset".
Actual colour in my garden: a brilliant orange-scarlet.
Qu…

And they're off!

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Ascot racecourse launched its first-ever spring garden show on Friday 13 April (OK, the gala evening was the night before), and I went along with my daughter and my friend Helen, aka The Patient Gardener.
To be honest, we weren't sure what to expect. There didn't seem to be a lot of advance chatter about it on social media, so our hopes were not high, especially as the weather in the UK has been so awful this winter.


So we were pleasantly surprised to find that we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Everything seemed to be well-organised for a start - it was easy to park, we manage to locate the press desk and get our passes without any trouble, and there was a lovely friendly lady looking after the press tent refreshments.
It is sad but true that if you can get the press into your event, and give them tea and cake, you are halfway to a critical success. I am always a pushover for tea and cake, but I genuinely felt this was an event I'd like to visit again.
First, the exhibitors…