Conservatory news - and progress!

You might have been wondering what's happening with our Conservatory work, and you're right I have been rather quiet about it, other than telling you work has started.  And there's been a very good reason for that, which I can now explain.

[It really isn't that exciting, but my security conscious head prevented me from sharing before now]

The day the builders started work, I arrived home to this.

Our conservatory doors in the drive

Yes, that's our old, exterior conservatory doors in our drive.  I knew that the new doors weren't due to arrive for a week or so, so I was curious as to what I'd find (or not) inside.  But before that, when I left for work that morning, I'd left them taking out the window that needed replacing.  That had already given them some gyp, it was heavy - well it is a big window, but they also discovered it wasn't toughened glass as they struggled to break the unit.

The white dots are actually where it's been hit with a hammer

The white "dots" are where the window had been hit with a hammer (by the builders) in an attempt to smash the glass.  Not only was it heavy, but it was stubborn, but they did manage to get it into the black sacks show in the first photo. 

So there wasn't too much left of our conservatory...

Our new "open" look conservatory

It certainly had an open feel, and it did amuse me that our doormat had now moved to the other end of the conservatory, in front of some of the only doors we had left.  Thankfully the internal doors did lock, but nonetheless we did feel kind of exposed, which is why I've not shared more before.

A new home for the doormat

So this is where the window used to be: 

Where the window used to be

I also noticed a new lump of wood on the outside, this no longer looks like this after, but is the way our builders have devised of adding guttering to our structure.  Our conservatory has been up since 1996, and not had a piece of guttering even waved at it I'm sure in its lifetime.  That's not great and has contributed to the damage on the window and windowsill.  

A new addition to the exterior in preparation for guttering

And this is where the doors used to be.

Where the doors used to be

And the final piece of work for day one, was adding these roof bars where the laminated glass joins were starting to fail, as MOH and I were in agreement that there was little point in doing this work - and spending the money - if the roof were to start leaking soon (or relatively soon) after.

Repairing the roof

So that's the first day's work completed - great - which left us with no conservatory doors for the first Bank Holiday weekend.  Hmmmnnn, there is obviously more to come - and don't worry, there won't be a day by day update, the next update will cover all of the second week - and at least that was four days.

More soon..

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Highlights of my Chelsea (part 1!)

Ah, how I wished I'd not started my previous post with "what a weekend" as yesterday was really quite a day.  It wasn't the quite so early start I'd been contemplating (but really that shouldn't be any surprise) but it was a day full of the Chelsea Flower Show and my best experience yet of the show.  I'd applied for and been granted press accreditation for the show, and so off I went on Press Day, and the whole day had a friendly mix of formal and informality about it, and it worked rather well.

There was plenty of time and space to take pictures, photographers were courteous and the celebs and well known faces were also gracious. I unexpectedly caught up with some of the organisers and attendees of my Stihl press trip to Austria and it was great to see them. I had a chat with Elaine Paige on the corner of the Yorkshire garden, bumped into James Martin a couple of times, had a giggle with Su Pollard as she took charge of a photo and as you'll see towards the end of this post heard more than one voice I recognised, and of course saw some wonderful gardens and planting, and in the sun too.

I took way too many photos, we're talking hundreds here, walked over eleven kilometres which adds up to nearly seventeen thousand steps.  And with such a step count, I felt it was ok to get the bus back from the station.  Given I have so many photos to go through, I've split my highlights post into two, today I'll share my highlights from the gardens and will follow up with a highlights from the Great Pavilion, so let's get going shall we?

Artisan gardens

There are seven artisan gardens, but I only managed to see five on my visit - I could go back on Wednesday, but as I'm double booked it may not happen - if I do then I'll head along and find the remaining two.  I made a beeline for these as soon as I arrived as before when I've been they've been rammed, and you end up shuffling along the Serpentine Walk, which is never pleasant, so I planned to avoid that by heading there first.

It seems though Press Day was a little bit more relaxed, which if you think about it makes sense.  The first garden, the Viking Cruises Wellness garden includes a Nordic spa - a sauna, and a plunge pool and definitely had the feel of tranquility about it.  And it was here that I started to suspect things might be a little different today.  It was when Anneka Rice posed almost in front of me with two dogs, and all dutifully looked at everyone in the crowd.

 TRANQUIL PLANTING IN THE VIKING CRUISES IN THE GOLD MEDAL WINNING WELLNESS GARDEN 

TRANQUIL PLANTING IN THE VIKING CRUISES IN THE GOLD MEDAL WINNING WELLNESS GARDEN 

Moving along to the next artisan garden I got another feel for how the day might go, and while I did bump into Nick Knowles continually for the rest of the day, that wasn't it. Instead I'm talking about the film crew and interviews, neither were pushy but they were there to do a job.  When I got home yesterday this Nick Knowles interview was one of the ones covered in the afternoon show.

 NICK KNOWLES INTERVIEWING IN THE LACED WITH HOPE SILVER MEDAL GARDEN

NICK KNOWLES INTERVIEWING IN THE LACED WITH HOPE SILVER MEDAL GARDEN

Space to Grow gardens

There were eight of these gardens with the overall theme of health and wellbeing which are aimed at improving our own wellbeing "as well as displaying solutions to some of the environmental issues facing us today" - which will become clearer the more posts I share.  The Space to Grow gardens were a new category at this year's show and it'll be interesting to see if this category remains in future years - I hope so, I'm all about the gardens.

 THE TEXTURAL BLOCKS IN THE SILVER-GILT MEDAL SPACE TO GROW SKIN DEEP GARDEN

THE TEXTURAL BLOCKS IN THE SILVER-GILT MEDAL SPACE TO GROW SKIN DEEP GARDEN

The concrete blocks are certainly eye catching, especially with the traditional buildings and lovely blue sky behind them.  They represent people with varying skin conditions and is a "window into our genetic past" which all sounds very deep, until you realise it's a garden created for an established UK skincare company.

I liked the texture and fun they brought to the garden, and while it might not be something that could be replicated in domestic gardens on this scale, adding a concrete block or two and mixing the sizes is totally something that could be borrowed.

The concept of the Seedlip garden was easier for me to grasp, and that's to show how edibles can be grown beautifully at home.  If my edibles every looked anywhere near as pretty as this, then I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be on the allotment route we currently are, but that's a whole other story.

 YELLOW LUPINS AND GREEN PEAS IN THE APPROPRIATELY GOLD MEDAL SEEDLIP GARDEN

YELLOW LUPINS AND GREEN PEAS IN THE APPROPRIATELY GOLD MEDAL SEEDLIP GARDEN

The Chelsea gardens have an attention to detail that I'm unlikely to achieve in my own garden, in the Seedlip garden that was the pea motif used throughout the garden, and even split peas used in some of the paths and paving - I'll share more on this though another day.

I've included the sculpture from the Myeloma UK garden as it was so striking. It's heavy too, made of perspex it weighs 7.5 tonnes and that's not all the combined weight of the boulders in this garden weighs eighteen tonnes, so it's far from a lightweight garden. The sculpture was built by the team that constructed the London 2012 cauldron, so they've got form but on this occasion took home a medal colour not available in the Olympics, Silver-Gilt.

 THE SCULPTURE IN THE MYELOMA UK SILVER GILT SPACE TO GROW GARDEN

THE SCULPTURE IN THE MYELOMA UK SILVER GILT SPACE TO GROW GARDEN

The Urban Flow garden was one of my favourites, I am rather partial to a bit of Corten Steel, which there was plenty of at this Chelsea.  This installation shows its versatility as a material, it's a strong material that with the cut out detail can also look more delicate.  The judges, it seems, also approved of the garden which is designed with water conservation in mind and awarded it as the Best Space to Grow garden.

 LACE PATTERNED CORTEN STEEL IN THE GOLD MEDAL URBAN FLOW GARDEN

LACE PATTERNED CORTEN STEEL IN THE GOLD MEDAL URBAN FLOW GARDEN

Show gardens

I told you there was a fair bit of Corten Steel at the show didn't I?  This next garden is as it says on the RHS website "garden theatre" and shows how sculptures and planting can work so well together.  This was one of my favourite gardens so it was disappointing to learn that the judges awarded it only a Bronze, but of course we don't know exactly what they were judging it on.  But in all honesty, it won't spoil my enjoyment of it, nor will I'm sure spoil others' views either.

 STEEL STRUCTURES IN THE BRONZE MEDAL DAVID HARBER & SAVILLS GARDEN

STEEL STRUCTURES IN THE BRONZE MEDAL DAVID HARBER & SAVILLS GARDEN

The M&G garden is a garden of contrasts, how the plants play against the terracotta toned walls which are made of rammed earth and for me the beauty was those contrasts, and with yellow, lime green and pink plants it was always going to be popular with me.

 VIBRANT PLANTING IN THE GOLD MEDAL WINNING M&G GARDEN

VIBRANT PLANTING IN THE GOLD MEDAL WINNING M&G GARDEN

 SET AGAINST THE DUSKY PINK TERRACOTTA STRUCTURES

SET AGAINST THE DUSKY PINK TERRACOTTA STRUCTURES

The Morgan Stanley Garden for the NSPCC designed by Chris Beardshaw won the Best Show garden and now I know, it's easy to see why - it really was a delight.  The garden's design "is a metaphor for the emotional transition that takes place in a child as they experience the positive impact of the NSPCC’s work. At the start of the garden the direction of the path in the woodland is unclear. As it turns a corner it leads to a more open and tranquil space, filled with soft, textured perennials. The path steps up onto a bespoke cedar wood pavilion, enclosed, at the rear, by a calm, reflective canal".

It was a delight to see, and calming.
 

 PLANTING AROUND THE WOODEN PAVILION IN THE GOLD MEDAL AND BEST IN SHOW MORGAN STANLEY FOR NSPCC GARDEN

PLANTING AROUND THE WOODEN PAVILION IN THE GOLD MEDAL AND BEST IN SHOW MORGAN STANLEY FOR NSPCC GARDEN

In total contrast the Trailfinders South African Wine Estate garden was great fun, densely planted, but fun.  It uses plenty of plants that are native to South Africa that we regularly use in our own gardens - the red hot pokers, the agapanthus - yes, those garden staples come from South Africa.

 RED HOT POKERS IN THE SILVER-GILT TRAILFINDERS SOUTH AFRICAN WINE ESTATE GARDEN

RED HOT POKERS IN THE SILVER-GILT TRAILFINDERS SOUTH AFRICAN WINE ESTATE GARDEN

 BLACKENED REMAINS OF OLDER PLANTATION

BLACKENED REMAINS OF OLDER PLANTATION

 THE HOMESTEAD SECTION IN THE TRAILFINDERS SOUTH AFRICAN WINE ESTATE GARDEN

THE HOMESTEAD SECTION IN THE TRAILFINDERS SOUTH AFRICAN WINE ESTATE GARDEN

For me the LG Eco-City was a contender for my favourite garden - I may well have been swayed by the colour of the planting, but it's also a garden I would love to own, and I don't think you can ask for a better testimony than that, can you?  But perhaps it's practicalness wasn't quite for the judges as it was awarded Silver-Gilt.

 A VIEW OVER THE SUNKEN SEATING AREA IN THE LG ECO-CITY GARDEN WHICH WAS AWARDED SILVER-GILT

A VIEW OVER THE SUNKEN SEATING AREA IN THE LG ECO-CITY GARDEN WHICH WAS AWARDED SILVER-GILT

 A CLOSER LOOK AT THE PLANTING

A CLOSER LOOK AT THE PLANTING

 ADMIRING THE SCULPTURE IN THE LG ECO-CITY GARDEN

ADMIRING THE SCULPTURE IN THE LG ECO-CITY GARDEN

The shot above with the sculpture and moss bubbles was an element I loved.  Moss, because of its eco properties, it's great for combatting air pollution and obviously doesn't need mowing.  The sculpture because it's beautiful, but also because it reminded me of the giant hare I saw at Chatsworth back in 2014.  Looking back at that sculpture, it's easy to see why it jogged my memory isn't it?

Remember at the start of this post I said I heard many familiar voices, well I did, and on hearing yet another familiar voice I turned around to see Monty Don behind me, and I'm not embarrassed to admit I had a bit of a fan girl moment.  

 I HEARD A FAMILIAR VOICE BEHIND ME AND TURNED TO SEE MONTY

I HEARD A FAMILIAR VOICE BEHIND ME AND TURNED TO SEE MONTY

So there's part one, you can see why I'm splitting my highlights into two - it's been quite a jaunt around the show hasn't it?  I'll also share more from around the show, and from each of the gardens, but my next task is editing the photos from the Great Pavilion - wish me luck, and if you're going to the show, then have a great day and let me know which garden - or gardens - caught your eye.

Reflecting on my week #35

 

What a weekend! But before I get onto that, let me tell you that last week’s chocolate banana bread was a big hit here, so much so that MOH even asked if it was easy to make as he was thinking about taking one into work, as there’s been a flurry of cakes in his office - high praise indeed, although as it turns out he probably won’t be in the office until Thursday, so this week may not be cake week.

And in the greenhouse, some of my seeds are starting to grow.  The turnips, cauliflower and some of the cabbages have sprouted, and there’s bean activity where the soil is starting to make way for the seedling, but they’ve yet to show themselves properly yet.

So to celebrate I’ve potted on some tomatoes, which were reassuringly as small as the ones in the garden centre this weekend - I popped in for a bag of seed compost, and left with three! I’ve also sown  some lettuce and a greater selection of herbs and acquired some more tomato seedlings, and some beetroot seedlings from dad.  

I’m also the new owner of this in bud, what I think is an amaryllis.  It survived the car trip home and is now safely in my greenhouse, until the conservatory work is done, when I have another plan for it. 

 AN AMARYLLIS FROM DAD

AN AMARYLLIS FROM DAD

It’s got some history though as it’s a descendant of a plant from one of the ladies at our previous church, and considering it’s been over fifteen years since that was mum and dad’s church, that tells you something doesn’t it? 

In fact the lady who gave dad the plant that was related to this one, also bought me the Band Aid single (yes, the original one) for Christmas in 1984.  It seems her gifts have longevity!

During the week we made it back over to the plot armed with our strimmer and made more progress making it look more respectable, well until the strimmer’s battery ran out that is. I took some photos of our visit this time, and so I’ll share those this week or next I’m sure.

But before that here’s our bench, we knew it was a bit rickety, but thought it wasn’t that bad and had almost slotted it back together. On this visit though, we realised it was quite that bad and the next day promptly ordered a replacement, so that’s another job on the list!

 OOPS, IT'S SEEN BETTER DAYS

OOPS, IT'S SEEN BETTER DAYS

Back at home the conservatory work continues, the interior and exterior metalwork has been painted anthracite grey, and I’m hoping there’ll be a significant development this week. If there is, you’ll know all about it, and well if there isn’t I may have to resort to ‘bad cop’ mode, lets hope I don’t. 

Alongside the patio, the pink ‘climbing’ bush is finally flowering and was well worth the wait. It’s growing all over my lollipop-shaped holly bush, and when it’s finished flowering it’s for a bit of a chop.

 PRETTY IN PINK, AND WORTH THE WAIT 

PRETTY IN PINK, AND WORTH THE WAIT 

In my post last week I said the small Christmas tree looked to be heading for a growth spurt, and I was right - all of the bright green in the shot below is new growth, it’s amazing what can happen in just a few short days.

 NEW GROWTH ON THE SMALL CHRISTMAS TREE

NEW GROWTH ON THE SMALL CHRISTMAS TREE

The weather was good again, and it *almost* was too warm to stay inside and watch The Wedding, but I managed, MOH wasn’t interested in the slightest, and so I found myself catching up with it and all the arrivals, the service and the carriage ride via the recording I had the forethought to set, and with the added advantage of making good use of the fast-forward button...

Wasn't it fab, and we do do pageantry well, don’t we?

This week I’m off to Chelsea today - yay! -  and no doubt I’ll have hundreds of shots to sift through too. I’ve a busy week socialising too, so will need to get myself organised, whatever you’re up to this week I hope it’s mostly fun, and that the weather stays on the warm side!