Blackberries

Blackberries, mypottingbench, mypottingbenchblog, hedge, hedgerow, harvest, hedgerowharvest, autumn, autumnal, September, berry, fruit, native, native harvest, blackberry jam, blackberry pie, blackberry recipes, apple, Devon, countryside, gardening, gardeningblog, gardening blog, allotment, allotment blog, garden, seasonal, seasonal harvest, free food,

The first nip in the air signals a change of season and the start of the blackberry harvest

The turning of the year as we travel through the seasons was a huge factor in pulling us back to the UK. The recent change in the weather, with its wonderful chilly bright mornings and nippy evenings, has warmed my heart. Whilst the other seasons have their appeal I can’t love them half as much as I love Autumn.

Blackberries, mypottingbench, mypottingbenchblog, hedge, hedgerow, harvest, hedgerowharvest, autumn, autumnal, September, berry, fruit, native, native harvest, blackberry jam, blackberry pie, blackberry recipes, apple, Devon, countryside, gardening, gardeningblog, gardening blog, allotment, allotment blog, garden, seasonal, seasonal harvest, free food,
Blackberries

Autumn is our season. The most potent memories of the last ten years with my wife belong to this time of year. It is the season of our wedding, of our first kiss, and of our first meeting. It also marks the onset of a series of celebrations and birthdays stretching all the way to Christmas.

Blackberries, mypottingbench, mypottingbenchblog, hedge, hedgerow, harvest, hedgerowharvest, autumn, autumnal, September, berry, fruit, native, native harvest, blackberry jam, blackberry pie, blackberry recipes, apple, Devon, countryside, gardening, gardeningblog, gardening blog, allotment, allotment blog, garden, seasonal, seasonal harvest, free food,
Mollie our Golden Retriever enjoys a foray into the green lanes

I am not a summer child; the sight of me in shorts should be enough to banish any misunderstanding on that matter. Instead, I am happiest in warm jumpers, walking boots, and damp woodland. Days spent walking the dog under a tree canopy are my favourite. Also at this time of year comes the bounty of hedgerow harvests. Already this year I have Crabapple Vodka and Sloe Gin steeping in the larder, all collected from the hedgerows and trees around our village. The other important harvest of the season is blackberries.

This year I read Alys Fowler’s book on foraging and I’m making an effort to note the harvest when it presents itself. Already this year I have Crabapple Vodka and Sloe Gin steeping in the larder, all collected from the hedgerows and trees around our village. The other important harvest of the season is blackberries.

Blackberries, mypottingbench, mypottingbenchblog, hedge, hedgerow, harvest, hedgerowharvest, autumn, autumnal, September, berry, fruit, native, native harvest, blackberry jam, blackberry pie, blackberry recipes, apple, Devon, countryside, gardening, gardeningblog, gardening blog, allotment, allotment blog, garden, seasonal, seasonal harvest, free food,
A view over the Devon hills

Blackberries

I think the ritual of blackberry collecting, bound up as it is in the season, might be even better than the fresh berries themselves. I’m working my way through a jar of blackberry and apple jam made 3 years ago which I find infinitely more alluring than the fresh berries. September signals the start of hunting season for blackberries.

Blackberries, mypottingbench, mypottingbenchblog, hedge, hedgerow, harvest, hedgerowharvest, autumn, autumnal, September, berry, fruit, native, native harvest, blackberry jam, blackberry pie, blackberry recipes, apple, Devon, countryside, gardening, gardeningblog, gardening blog, allotment, allotment blog, garden, seasonal, seasonal harvest, free food,
Not all the berries ripen at the same time

So, with my jumper on for the first time since moving home, we ascend a local hill to find the best berries. Jewel-like berries gleam from the yellowing hedgerow senescence. The bunches of berries carry both mature and immature fruits. The rule of foraging that states you only take a third of the crop you find (the other two-thirds being left for wild animals and someone else) reinforced by the plant itself.

The light prickling on skin reminds you that no harvest comes for free. This only intensifies the sensory experience. You feel like the proverbial child in the sweetshop picking only the choicest fruits between thumb and forefinger. The idea to bring surgical gloves comes to me as I notice the purple staining on my fingertips, as it does every year but is never remembered.

It’s not long before my cheeks are chilled and the light becomes thinner. It’s time to go home.

Blackberries, mypottingbench, mypottingbenchblog, hedge, hedgerow, harvest, hedgerowharvest, autumn, autumnal, September, berry, fruit, native, native harvest, blackberry jam, blackberry pie, blackberry recipes, apple, Devon, countryside, gardening, gardeningblog, gardening blog, allotment, allotment blog, garden, seasonal, seasonal harvest, free food,
Blackberry harvest

Naughty of Nice: Noxious Weeds of NSW

Naughty of Nice: Noxious Weeds of NSW

Wildflower spotting on the road

During our recent road trip up the northern east coast of NSW, we came across lots of interesting wildflowers alongside the roadside and at the campsites. After getting some help identifying them by the internet and when that failed the really helpful community over on the GardenTags app stepped in like heroes.

Unfortunately, it seemed that all the interesting plants that caught my eye were introduced species and most of them are featured on the invasive species lists. Here’s a roundup.

Naughty of Nice: Noxious Weeds of NSW
Ricinus communis. Castor Oil Plant.

I love Ricinus and have tried a few times to get it to grow in Devon. This variety doesn’t have the beautiful bronzed and ruby leaves but had grown into a 6 foot tree in the Hunter Valley.

Naughty of Nice: Noxious Weeds of NSW
Senna pendula var glabrata. Easter Cassia.

This tree liked its position adjacent to the creek beside our campsite in Wooyung (just north of Byron Bay).

Naughty of Nice: Noxious Weeds of NSW
Euphorbia cyathophora – Painted Spurge. Coastal plant.

The heavy rain didn’t dampen our walk on the beach and the bright bracts on this Euphorbia shined out at Yamba.

Naughty of Nice: Noxious Weeds of NSW
Lilium formosanum in a national state forest

We get lots of this Lily in the southern NSW coast growing alongside the road and near woodland.

All is not lost

Naughty of Nice: Noxious Weeds of NSW
Thespesia thespesioides

This shrub seen alongside a creek at a campsite turns out to be native to Western Australia. It’s a relative of the Hibiscus and was looking great in the early morning light.

Where to get you gardening fix when you don’t have your own garden  

Finding opportunities for horticulture

Whatever your circumstances, if you have an interest in gardening and horticulture, there are many ways to find information and immerse yourself when your situation isn’t perfect. Lots of people have dreams of a rolling country estate with a perfect garden but most of us have to make do with what we’ve got. Whether our space is limited, if we are in a rental property where there is no access to proper soil, or if disability puts a limit to what can be achieved outside, here are some ways to join this wonderful community of gardeners.

Since moving to Australia 2 years ago I’ve come to rely on other sources of gardening entertainment when I haven’t been able to do much proper gardening as described here.

Blogs

Top of this list is blogs. If you want to experience what it’s like to garden in the UK or further afield just find yourself a useful blog and live vicariously through others. Here are a couple  of my favourites;

Real Men Sow  – Jono takes you through the year by showing how much he has been able to grow in his allotment. He’s recently moved to a new garden so watch this space for new adventures.

The Patient Gardener  – Helen gardens in Malvern and shares the changing seasons through her blog that I’ve followed for a couple of years.

Podcasts

Podcasts are a great way to infuse your day with some gardening when time or chores don’t allow proper hands in the dirt gardening. Here’s the list of my top 5 UK Podcasts.

Books

I brought a whole bookcase of gardening books with me when I moved. I’m always on the lookout for new releases and I have an amazon wishlist building for good Christmas and Birthday present ideas.

8 Books for my gardening bookshelf this Christmas

New gardening books for Christmas gifts 2016

Botanical Gardens

Wherever you find yourself there are always public and private gardens to visit. What always amazes me is how many of them offer free entry.

Melbourne Botanic Garden

Singapore Botanic Garden

Phuket Botanic Garden

Bicton Botanic Garden

Wildflower Hunting

Whether you’re in a rural or urban environment it doesn’t take much to explore your surroundings and find horticulture on your doorstep.

Singapore Airport

Down Under Wildflowers

Holiday Horticulture: Hayman Island

Holiday Horticulture: Italy 

 

How do you get your gardening fix?

 

Top 5 UK Podcasts for Gardeners  

Take gardening with you when you’re out of the garden

When you garden in the UK you have to accept that there will be some times when the weather makes it hard to spend as much time in the fresh air as you’d like. There’s a limit to what good wellies and a poncho can offer when it’s sub-zero and the wind wants you knocked off your feet! There’s also all the other demands on our time, be it commuting or house chores, so it’s not so easy to fully immerse yourself in gardening 24/7. This is where podcasts can come in handy.

I hate ironing. It’s one of the household chores that I actively avoid which explains why I’m often rifling through my wardrobe when it’s time to leave for work cursing my lack of forward planning when there’s nothing to wear. However, it’s a perfect task that can be completed whilst listening to the radio or, even better, a gardening podcast. Ironing is the perfect low-skill activity that uses the body without much supervision and can leave your mind open to taking in information. I have now expanded my podcast listening and incorporated it into my commute as well. Here are a few of my favourites.

My top 5 UK podcasts for gardeners

Gardeners’ Question Time

Publisher: BBC Radio 4

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qp2f/episodes/downloads

Gardeners' Question Time Podcast- BBC Radio 4
Gardeners’ Question Time Podcast- BBC Radio 4

This was the first podcast I ever listened to after catching the end of a program when driving from Surrey to Devon many years ago. It’s the perfect length for ironing as I manage to get through one load of washing per episode. It makes the chore go by so much faster.

It takes the form of a panel show with a rotating panel of experts answering questions from the audience. Each week comes from a new setting so there are varied conditions explored. They also have features when the panel go out to local landmarks/sites/gardens/nurseries and learn a little more. It’s good-natured and always guaranteed to raise a titter with inadvertent innuendo.

Gardens Illustrated Podcast

Publisher: Gardens Illustrated Magazine

Source: http://www.gardensillustrated.com/podcasts

Gardens Illustrated Podcast
Gardens Illustrated Podcast

This erratically released podcast comes from one of my favourite magazines. They have exclusive interviews and talks, often from world-leading garden designers, and coverage from gardening shows. My highlights last year were the episodes talking with Sarah Raven and Anna Pavord.

RHS Gardening Podcast

Publisher: The RHS

Source: https://www.rhs.org.uk/about-the-rhs/publications/podcasts

RHS Gardening Podcast
RHS Gardening Podcast

Great for beginners, but often too simplistic for enthusiastic amateurs and above, this podcast has a variety of elements including listeners questions and interviews with key RHS employees. It’s a useful way of keeping up to date with the events and shows that the RHS put on. A new episode is made each fortnight.

Sow, Grow, Repeat

Publisher: The Guardian

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/series/sow-grow-repeat

Sow, Grow, Repeat - The Guardian
Sow, Grow, Repeat – The Guardian

I haven’t been a long-term listener to this one but I’m working on it. Seasonal episodes presented by Jane Perrone with Alys Fowler answering reader questions. They focus on clear topics, be it seasonal tasks or a particular plant, with good information classily delivered.

The Sod Show

Publisher: The Sod Show

Source: http://www.sodshow.com/

The SodShow Garden Podcast
The SodShow Garden Podcast

Another new podcast that’s won its place on my regular list. This guy Peter Donegan actually made me laugh out loud whilst walking the dog the first time I listened. That’s a 5* outcome in my book. It takes the form of guest interviews with an impressive list of previous guests. They show no snobbery in inviting people on to speak; I’ve heard world-class nursery-folk and garden designers back to back with bloggers and authors. Peter has a way of asking just the question you’d like asked with an awesome turn of phrase. I’m looking forward to a pint of Guinness with him one day.

What’s your favourite UK Podcast?