Friday, 22 August 2014

August bank holiday weekend activities - some suggestions

Saturday 23rd August

Lido Open Air Cinema - Stoke Road GuildfordSurrey GU1 1HB

This summer, Guildford Lido is proud to present its first ever Open Air Cinema. The popular family film 'Grease' will be screened in the beautifully landscaped gardens of the Lido on Saturday 23rd August. The evening will also include a swimming session from 7pm - 8pm as well as a bar, BBQ and of course fancy dress! The film will start at 9pm.
Standard £10.00
Standard with deckchair £12.00

Sunday 24th August

Wild Wood Adventure - Peacock Wood Stoke Guildford GU1 1HB

Book online and join in the fun of challenging yourself high in the trees. Let our staff look after you and kit you up with our Swiss made ‘Saferoller’ system that keeps you totally secure on the course while you have fun.
Our adult course is designed for anyone above 1.4m high and over 11 years old, there are wobbly bridges, balancing logs, gaps to jump, zips to zip and all kinds of different challenges to try. Some are easy, some not so easy and some really fiendish - but whatever your ability we have designed it to be exhilarating!
We have nearly 40 obstacles in the trees at various heights as you travel around in two huge loops into the woods both coming back to our 15m central tower where you can finish by trying our twin fast 100m zip wires. . . or dare to walk the plank on our 15m free fall descender or - if you really want - the stairs.

Monday 25th August

Bocketts Farm  Park - Young Street Fetcham Leatherhead Surrey KT22 9BS

Daily activities include pony rides, tractor rides, gold panning, animal handling, goat milking and our famous pig racing! In addition, the Small Animal Village and Big Animal Barn are open where you can meet and feed all of the friendly farm animals.
£9.20 adults, £9.80 children 3-17years, £8.00 children 2yrs, £8.60 Seniors

Saturday and Sunday

Wings and Wheels 2014 - Dunsfold Park Cranleigh GU6 8TB

The sensational summer event for the whole family, Wings & Wheels, returns on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th August 2014 at Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey (home to BBC’s Top Gear) to celebrate its 10th show. Famous favourites in the air and on the ground will blow your mind, whilst the attractions and Zones in the Arena will keep you entertained and buzzing with delight the WHOLE weekend

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Gardens to visit in Surrey

As it is still the summer holidays (for many), I thought it would be nice to look up some places, gardens to visit in Surrey.

The Sculputre Park - Jumps Road, Churt, Farnham GU10 2LH

The Sculpture Park has been open to the public from April 2003 and has been an ongoing project since the year 2000. Over the years thousands of sculptures have been exhibited and the show is constantly changing with sculptures selling all through the year.
At first visitors walk right into the centre of the park where they will collect their guide from reception and start the two miles of trail, which on average takes around two hours to complete. All set within a valley fed by two natural springs the ten acres of arboretum and wildlife inhabited water gardens has set the stage for one of the finest and most eclectic selections of sculpture in Britain today.

Open 10 - 5
Tickets Adults £10, Concessions £5, Children under 5 free

Painshill - Portsmouth Road, Cobham KT11 1JE

Discover the crystal Grotto (limited opening times) and other mystical follies including the Gothic Temple, Ruined Abbey, Turkish Tent and Gothic Tower. See historic plantings and learn all about the John Bartram Heritage Collection of North American trees and shrubs (Plant Heritage, NCCPG). Other features include a restored Waterwheel, a Hermitage hidden in the woods and a Vineyard and amazing wildlife.

Frimley Lodge Park - Strut Road, Frimley, Camberley GU16 6HY

Its unspoilt natural beauty and character continues to attract large numbers of visitors with opportunities for families with, woodland and lots of open space, picnic areas, two children's playgrounds, a trim trail, miniature railway and meadows. There are also football, cricket pitches and a pitch and putt course available to hire.

Brooklands Museum - Brooklands Road, Weybridge, Surrey KT13 0QN

The Museum displays a wide range of Brooklands-related motoring and aviation exhibits ranging from giant racing cars, motorcycles and bicycles to an unparalleled collection of Hawker and Vickers/ BAC-built aircraft, including the Second World War Wellington Bomber, Viking, Varsity, Viscount, Vanguard, VC10, BAC One-Eleven and the only Concorde with public access in South East England.

Strawberry Hill House - 268 Waldegrave Road, Twickenham TW1 4ST

Horace Walpole created from 1747 the first landscape garden to be connected to a picturesque house. His 9 acres (3.64 hectares) contained a lawn and a meadow beyond, flanked by trees and an open terrace with views of the River Thames.

Denbies Wine Estate - London Road, Dorking, Surrey RH5 6AA

The Denbies Estate has been family owned and run since 1984. Denbies vineyard was planted in 1986, and since then has become one of the largest wine producers in the UK. Denbies core business is agriculture and we are pleased to be able to offer visitors an insight into wine production in the UK.

Hatchlands Park - East Clandon, Guildford, Surrey GU4 7RT

Hatchlands is set in a beautiful 430 acre Repton park offering a variety of parkland and woodland walks and a mini natural adventure area for children. It is renowned for its stunning display of bluebells in spring in the ancient woodland

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Autmunal feel

The weather today has a slightly Autumnal feel to it, a brisk wind.
Wondering about plants to have in the garden that provide flowering colour into Autmn.

Chrysthamemum :  flowering September - October 

Winter flowering Pansys 


Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Lemon balm - member of the mint family

Melissa officinalis

Lemon balm

Common names:
Lemon balm
Balm leaf
Balm oil plant
Barm leaf
Bee balm
Honey plant
Sweet balm
Sweet Mary
Tea balm

Melissa are herbaceous perennials with broadly ovate, aromatic leaves and small 2-lipped white flowers in spikes in summer.

In any moist soil, in full sun or partial shade. Protect from excessive winter wet

As its name suggests, this leafy, green herb has a lemony flavour and fragrance. It works well with fish, poultry and vegetables as well as in salads, stuffings and drinks. It’s a member of the mint family and makes a very refreshing infusion or tea. Only buy it fresh however as it loses virtually all of its flavour when dried

Tuesday, 12 August 2014


Elderflower -
Sambucus nigra, flattened panicles of scented white flowers followed by small glossy, round black berries. Upright, bushy shrubs in hedgerows, woods and thickets.
Flowers in early summer, fruits in late summer.

Easy to grow in moderately fertile, humus-rich, moist but well-drained soils and also thrives on extremely chalky sites

Flowers are used in cordials and wine, berries are only edible when cooked and can be used in wine and jellies.

Elderflower cordial

By mid-May the elderflower will be coming into blossom and while not strictly a herb, it is a refreshing summer drink you can make yourself. Best made with fresh flowers, which have been picked on a sunny day when they are still creamy in colour before they fade to white. At this time they have the highest amount of pollen, which contains the yeast.
  • 4.5 litres (1 gallon) of water
  • 1.8kg (4lb) cane sugar
  • Juice and thinly peeled rind of 6 unwaxed lemons
  • 30ml (2 tblsp) of cider or wine vinegar
  • 40 elderflower heads. Shake them well to remove live insects and only wash if picked beside a road.
Method: Bring the water to the boil and pour into a sterilised container. Add the sugar, stirring until dissolved. When cool add the lemon rind and juice, also the vinegar and elderflowers. Cover with several layers of muslin and leave for 24 hours. Filter through muslin into strong glass bottles. The drink is ready after two weeks. Serve chilled, diluted with still or carbonated water to taste. Use within three months

Monday, 11 August 2014

Growing herbs

Herbs are fragrant plants whose leaves are used to add flavour to dishes.

Basil -  plant grows well in warm climates.
Sweet Basil -  Ocimum basilium can be aromatic annuals, evergreen perennials or shrubs with opposite, linear to broadly ovate leaves and small tubular white or pinkish flowers in whorls forming a spike

Treat as an annual and grow in a light, well-drained, fertile soil in a sheltered position in full sun. Best grown containerised. May be grown as a short-lived sub-shrub if over-wintered under glass. Water freely in summer

There are numerous species of basil;  In Mediterranean regions, basil and tomato is a classic combination. Pesto, made from basil leaves and pine nuts, with parmesan or pecorino cheese and olive oil (traditionally pounded together in a mortar and pestle – the latter lends pesto its name) is another classic dish.

Mint -
Common names: Apple mint, Round-leaved mint, Woolly mint                        
Mentha are aromatic, rhizomatous perennials with opposite, toothed leaves and small tubular flowers in spikes of whorls in summer.

In poor, moist soil in full sun. To prevent mint becoming invasive, plant in deep containers and plunge these into the soil.                                                                      

There are many different species of mint, but the one used most widely in Western cooking is spearmint, native to the Mediterranean and widely cultivated in the UK. It can be ground into mint sauce or jelly - the ultimate accompaniment to roast lamb. Peppermint has dark green leaves and is used to flavour ice cream, sweets and confectionary

Parsley -
Common names: Flat-leaved, Italian, Plain-leaved, Ache, Devil-and-back-ten-times, Garden parsley,
Herb of death, Herb Venus.

In fertile, moist, but well-drained soil in full sun or partial shade. Normally grown as an annual it can be overwintered although leaves become coarser in the second year

It can be used as a garnish and flavouring and as a vegetable. There are two main varieties: curly leaf and flatleaf. Both can be used for the same purposes although flatleaf parsley has a stronger flavour and tends to be favoured in Mediterranean cooking

Rosemary -
Rosmarinus are evergreen shrubs with narrow, aromatic leaves and 2-lipped blue flowers borne in small clusters in the leaf axils.

Easy to grow aromatic, evergreen shrub. Prefers poor, well-drained soil and may be used as a formal or informal low hedge which should be trimmed after flowering

Rosemary is a robust and most versatile herb with a flavour that complements a wide variety of dishes and ingredients. Native to the Mediterranean, its bittersweet green leaves resemble pine needles. The plant is an evergreen shrub, so the leaves are available fresh all year round.


Friday, 8 August 2014

Flowers to pretty the garden and the home

  A garden full of flowers is a sight to behold, but it is nice to be able to take some of that colour and variety into the house in the form of cut flowers. Here are a selection;

Salvia (Perenial Sage)
Perenial Sage (salvia)  -  It starts flowering in early summer and continues through early autumn if you keep cutting the faded flowers off

Yarrow - it's beautiful and tough, producing flat-topped clusters of yellow, orange, red, pink, or white flowers throughout the summer.

Garden Phlox
Garden Phlox - large truses of fragrant flowers from summer to autumn.
Star Gazer
Lily- Lilies such as 'Star Gazer'. Their star-shaped blooms appear in a number of shades, from pink and red to orange, yellow, and bicolors
Bearded Iris
Bearded iris (also called German iris) provides a striking vertical accent with its stiff sword-shaped leaves. Flowers colours run the rainbow from deep burgundy red to pastel pinks and yellows, to every shade of blue and violet

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Growing your own - if you don't have a garden you can still grow fruit and vegetables.

Cucumbers can be grown in the soil, pots or grow bags.

Marketmore’ AGM: Ridge cucumber with trailing habit; yields well outdoors. Do not remove male flower. Good yield of short, attractive, dark fruits

 keep the soil constantly moist by watering around the plants – not over them.

Potatoes can be grown in soil, pots, or potato grow bags

Seed tubers of potatoes should be planted around late March for first earlies, early to mid-April for second earlies and mid- to late April for maincrops. This varies slightly depending on where you are in the country.
The traditional way is to dig a narrow trench 12.5cm (5in) deep, place the seed tubers are spaced 30cm (12in) apart for earlies and 37.5cm (15in) for maincrop varieties in rows 24in (60cm) apart for earlies and 75cm (30in) apart for maincrop. Sprinkle slug pellets or other slug deterrents between the tubers as keel slugs can be a problem.
Potatoes need a sunny site away from frost pockets.
It's important to keep light away from the developing new potatoes as light turns them green and green potatoes are poisonous.

Runner beans Quintessentially British, runner beans are one of the easiest of all vegetables to grow.

Runner beans need a support to climb up. The traditional method is to grow them individually up inwardly sloping tall bamboo canes tied near their top to a horizontal cane. If you slope the bamboo canes so that they meet in the middle and tie them here so that the ends of the canes extend beyond the row you will find picking is easier and the yield is usually better.
When growing in beds and borders a wigwam of canes takes up less room and helps produce an ornamental feature.
Loosely tie the plants to their supports after planting; after that they will climb naturally.
Remove the growing point once the plants reach the top of their support

Tomatoes can be grown in soil, pots, grow bags or hanging baskets

Growing your own tomatoes is simple – just a couple of plants will reward you with plenty of sweet-tasting tomatoes in the summer. Tomatoes come in all kinds of colours too – red, of course, but also green and orange, even purple tomatoes or striped tomatoes.

Produce from my garden

With all this glorious sunshine my vegetable patch has been growing nicely.

I have a blackberry bush in the corner of my garden which so far this year has already produced a few Tupperware wear boxes full and that is still leaving some for the birds (the very high and hard to reach berries).

I have also picked my first cucumber , hopefully with many more to follow 

The runner beans and tomatoes also appear to flourishing in the summer sunshine. 

I have also unearthed my potato crop (of which I did not actually plant any, I didn't do a good job of unearthing all of them last year, so they reseeded themselves), not bad I'd say. 

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Benefits of gardening for children

Gardening provides different forms of engagement for children, including designing, planting and maintaining gardens; harvesting, preparing and sharing food. Working cooperatively in groups, learning about science and nutrition. Developing their imagination, creating are and stories inspired by gardens.

Grow carrots and runner beans from seeds. Tomotoes and lettuces and herbs are great for small pots and window boxes. All easy to grow and can pick and eat them.

When we were kids I remember growing cress from seed on a bit of wet cotton wool in half an egg shell (which we had decorated to look like a face, so that when the cress grew it was the hair).

The BBC gardening page has a number of projects and activities that are great for children to have a go at;

Monday, 4 August 2014

Building a home for a bee

Unlike the familiar bumblebee, mason bees are solitary. After hatching in spring, the female spends most of her life searching for hollow stems in which to lay her eggs. If you can provide something suitable, she’ll come to you.
To make a nest you’ll need:
  • An untreated wooden plank, at least four inches (100mm) wide;
  • Plenty of hollow stems such as bramble, hogweed, reed or bamboo. Japanese knotweed is a dreadful pest, but its dead stems are easy to gather and cut, and available in a wide range of diameters including the bee’s preferred 3-5mm;
  • Saw, drill, screws and secateurs;
  • A mirror fixing to hang the finished nest up.
Half-built bee hotel. Credit: Rupert Paul
Half-built bee hotel. Credit: Rupert Paul

Next stage

Cut the plank into four to make a rectangular frame. Drill guide holes for the screws (to stop the wood splitting) and assemble the frame. Snip your stems into plank-width lengths, discarding any bent or knobbly ones. It’s a good idea to include some really big stems (cut with a fine saw), even though they’re no use to the bees; they speed up the assembly stage, look attractive and help shelter lacewings and ladybirds over winter.
Lay your frame on a tilted surface and carefully pack it with stems. Only as you add the final few does the whole thing suddenly lock solid.

Next stage

Hang your nest on a sunny wall, sheltered from rain, and wait for the bees to investigate in spring. The female selects a stem and lays an egg inside with a store of pollen for the grub to eat when it hatches. Then she seals up the cell with a plug of mud, and starts again. A stem can end up with several cells. The young bees won’t emerge until next year

Friday, 1 August 2014

Bumble and Honey Bees

Bumble Bee                                                      Honey Bee

  • Fat and furry appearance.
  • Smaller and slim appearance, like a wasp.
  • 24 different species of bumblebee in the UK.
  • Only one species of honeybee in Europe.
  • Different species have different lengths of tongue. This means they feed from different shaped flowers.
  • All honeybees have short tongues so they prefer open flowers.
  • Bumblebees live in nests with 50-400 bees.
  • Honeybees live in hives of up to 50,000 – 60,000 bees.
  • Only the queen hibernates, in a hole in the ground.
  • The queen and many of her daughters live in the hive all year
  • The queen lives for one year, but the other bumblebees only live for a few months.
  • The queen can live for three - four years.
  • They live in the wild, e.g. in gardens and the countryside.
  • Most honeybees are looked after by beekeepers, but there are some wild colonies.
  • Bumblebees only make small amounts of a honey-like substance to eat themselves.
  • Honeybees make lots of honey, which beekeepers can harvest to eat or sell.
  • Bumblebee populations are declining due to a shortage of flowers to feed from and places to nest in the countryside.
  • Honeybees are mainly declining due to diseases and mites, such as the Varroa mite.
  • They can sting more than once but only sting if aggravated.
  • Honeybees die after they have stung as their stinger is barbed and sticks in the skin.
  • Don't dance but may communicate by passing pollen between worker bees.
  • Use a 'waggle dance' to communicate - passing on information about flower locations

Find out more about bees;

Taking down nettles

Handy tips for removing unwanted nettles from your garden