Wednesday, 26 May 2010

And if your head explodes with dark forebodings too I'll see you on the dark side of the moon

There has been some discussion on Thinking Gardens as to whether or not themed gardens at Chelsea are a good thing.  This got the Sock thinking... and wandering around the Courtyard gardens at Chelsea she pondered on exactly what journeys these themed gardens were taking her....

'Lights and Colours of the Alps' was a garden of  rocks and pyramids of 'ice' created from mirrors.

To the Sock they represented her own fractured mind, her intense brilliance and darkness of soul reflected back.  The mirrors breaking her down into mere reflections of her splintered self,  not knowing where one started and another finished. Shards of shattered illusions screaming for the sky only to be muffled with moss and ultimately rendered 'pointless'. The sparkling slopes of experience dulled and decayed by the passing of time..........

The 'Welcome to Yorkshire's Rhubarb Crumble & Custard Garden made the Sock feel hungry.

Pudding anyone?

And I won't get any older now the angels wanna wear my red shoes


Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Oh Yes You're Beautiful, Beautiful, Didn't I tell you?

The Sock was just making her way to the Chelsea Champagne tent for a top up when who should she spot but Landscape Man striding manfully down the Eastern Avenue.  Rather than get a sneaky pap pic, the Sock decided to just pose as another star smitten stalker and ask him directly if she could take his photo for her bloggywog!  Ooops.. Matthew wasn't fooled and knew A Sock when he saw one but nevertheless he helpfully removed his dark glasses and smiled nicely for the picture before saying "You are always cruel to me - I'll bet that will turn up with a caption 'Who ate all the pies'!"

As if the Sock would do something as childish as that!

It is a rather lovely picture of Matthew Wilson and gives lie to the rumour going around that he is still using that ancient picture of himself  (you know the one, blue jacket, green background) because in more recent ones he is beginning to look a bit frazzled - or does the Sock mean grizzled.

Anyway enjoy the picture because we are going to have to wait a while to see him again in the next series of Landscape Man.

Monday, 24 May 2010

A Catastrophe of Cacti

Some of my aeonium and succulent loving readers may be familiar with Holly Gate Cactus  nursery in West Sussex  - it holds a huge collection of cacti and succulents built up over 40 years and housed in a large glasshouse and sells a variety of smaller versions of these in it's shop.   A couple of weeks ago the Socks, in search of unusual aeoniums to replace the winter losses, decide to pay them a visit.  Worryingly, the brown visitor attraction road signs for Holly Gate Cactus had been painted over and driving up to the glass houses the area, never pristine,  looked even more decayed and overgrown than usual.

A lady greeted us and explained that they weren't really open any more and that the winter snow had broken through many of the glass roof panes rendering the area  unsafe.  Undeterred the Socks wandered around the glasshouse with the plants for sale but there was little there of interest. We had never visited the large glasshouse housing the cactus collection and although this area was now closed off the Socks were curious to see how it was faring.  The lady owner agreed saying we could wander around if we were careful  and that if there was anything we wanted she was selling everything she could off and would dig stuff up for us.

A forlorn and astonishing sight greeted us as we entered what had once been a fabulous and unique collection of over 30,000 exotic plants was now a neglected, overgrown, decaying  cactus cemetery! What had once boasted "rare plants from the more arid areas of the world, USA, Mexico, South America and Africa as well as sub-tropical epiphytic cactic from the Central and Southern American jungles"  was now a scene of death and dereliction.

But not all of it!! In between the dried out carcasses of cacti there was life or half life calling out to be saved!

Some of the larger specimens,  like the once magnificent beast below, had been bought low but had somehow still survived the broken roof panes that had set a cold, cold winter upon them.

It wasn't just the winter though - this process of neglect and decay had clearly been going on for some time and the Socks wondered at the sad story behind it but didn't like to ask.  Clearly the original cactus collector was no longer able to take care of it.

We found one beautiful blue 4ft specimen which seemed to be surviving intact.  On asking the owner how much she would want for it we were told it would be over a hundred pounds - still much cheaper than at the fabulous Architectural Plants but too big for our garden in any case and no obvious way we could have moved it.

We did take one of its tiny 'pups' though.  We found another medium-sized agave with not too much damage which we were offered for £20 but unfortunately it was so deeply rooted we were unable to dig it up. (Note: if you visit with a view to saving an agave take a decent garden fork/spade with you.)  Eventually we found another one in a toppled over pot and paid £20 for that.  It didn't look much until I stripped off the decaying and damaged growth to find a decent plant with 'pups' springing from it.  The brute is now about to be planted in our front gravel garden.

The owner said we were welcome to just help ourselves to some of the pots of 'possibly' live succulents - to literally take pot-luck that they may have survived and regrow.

The Socks hardened their hearts.  Viewing cactus is one thing.  Taking them home and filling the already burgeoning greenhouse with half dead plants and nursing them back to health is another. 

If you want to save a succulent then you could try contacting the owner at the address on this website link.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Chelsea gets the 3 men treatment

Don't miss another fantabulous production from 3 Men Went to Mow.

3Men went to Chelsea

Just in case you are confuzzled the Sock doesn't make  the 3Men... films! The Sock just puts links on her blog to stuff that is funny so that her dear readers don't miss out on treats elsewhere.

The Sock did make the 'Malvern Movie' (see post below) which is obviously even funnier!

Monday, 17 May 2010

Malvern the Movie!

As you may know at this year's Malvern show the Chris Beardshaw Mentoring Scholarship had a 'Circus' theme for the gardens.  The Sock captured in her imagination some of the characters you may have missed at the show..

Be afraid children, be very afraid....

Speakers on for the


Thursday, 13 May 2010

Virtual Reality at Malvern

The Sock has been in something of a blogging malaise this year or perhaps just a general one.  There has been little inspiration for blogs and then when inspiration has come a lack of impetus to blog them.  Although blog viewing figures were quite high the Sock imagined that most of them were googlebots, random viewers or people coming to see the most googled image from the bloggywog which for some unknown reason is the one of James A-S bearing an astonishing resemblance to Jim Carrey in The Mask.

The garden blogosphere itself has seemed subdued with less comments and the feeling that the Sock was blogging into a void. Was the Sea of Immeasurable Gravy all washed up?

Then Malvern!

The Socks arrived on Thursday night to get an early(ish) start on the Friday show and stayed at Treherne House.  Not cheap but lovely room, excellent breakfast, friendly owners and not far from the show ground.  Slightly stuffed from our greedy devoural of "a full English" the Socks arrived at the show ground having time for a quick peek at the Plant Marquee before catching the first 3menwent2mow performance.  Whilst it is always a delight for the Socks to be together there is a slight problem with plant purchasing. The Bedsock is invariably drawn to those plants needing damp, shady, woodland conditions (and there were a lot of gorgeous ones of those at Malvern that the Sock loved too!).  There are only so many times he can say "Can we have one of these, Arabella?" to be told "No - they won't grow in our garden" before the Sock can't bear the look of disappointment on the Bedsock's face and gives in to a plant that has no hope of making it in our dry, sunny, chalk soil.

Despite telling the Bedsock to avoid any plants on a stand with damp ferns, logs and moss (a strong hint on the growing conditions front) we ended up with a beautiful pleione and a sarracenia carniverous plant which the Bedsock is convinced will eat all the flies in our greenhouse.  The Sock has no great hopes for either's survival.

Before we had even done two aisles of the Plant Marquee it was time to join the massing crowds in the Design Theatre.  As the Bedsock went off to get some hot coffee to warm us through the Sock noticed a little group of familiar faces and despite a previous intention to just lurk in the background the draw to introduce herself was irresistible and the Sock unmasked.  A good decision.

The Three Men show with Jekka was fun.  Why three men messing about like naughty schoolboys on stage is so entertaining is difficult to explain - Jekka talking about herbs is always going to be a winner.

We emerged from the physical and mental warmth of the theatre to the bitterly cold show ground.  The Socks managed to buy a garden bench which was on their 'planned purchase' list.  Nearly got mown down by Princess Anne's  protection squad in their black windowed cars. Caught a glimpse of a few show gardens.
The Sock saw the one below and thought of YOU (you know who you are!!!!!).

Felt gutted by the absence of Chris Beardshaw. Bought loads of seeds from Jekka's stand. Said hello to Jooles at Heucheraholics. Had a rather nasty cheese and ham crepe from one of the food stalls. Froze.

Watched the afternoon performance of 3mentwent2mow painting botanicals and narrowly avoided bidding in an auction for the 3Mens pictures (proceeds to NGS Charity which Joe Swift is now president of).  James' winning 'painting' finally went to the Man from Dobbies who actually coughed up over a 'ton' for the picture but we all knew he was really bidding for the hug!

Ha ha! The Sock got her hugs for free!!!!

The Socks had fully intended to nose from a distance at the blogger's meeting tent but again couldn't resist the temptation to say hello and turn virtual friends into reality.  We were rewarded with meeting yet more of the créme de la créme of the blogging world. It wasn't just the pleasure of meeting everyone - so many people wanted to meet the Sock and said they loved the bloggywog!!! The Sock's posts weren't going out into a void - there were real and lovely people out there who enjoyed them.  Most thrilling of all was meeting the two American ladies Gail from Limestone and Clay and Frances from Faire Garden - who, despite the fact that they don't receive our TV programmes and surely can't make out what is happening with all the 'in' humour, said they loved my blog!! This meant so much - it makes all the work the Sock puts into it worth while.  Whilst the main purpose of the blog is to provide the Sock herself with some interest and amusement there is also a huge reward in finding that other people share in that too.

Sadly our meetings were all too brief no time to chat enough, no time to see all the show gardens, no time at all for the crafts marquee..  Next year we may plan our Malvern Show visit over two days and we will pray that the weather is somewhat warmer for us southern softies.

But the best bit of the day for the Sock came when the Bedsock told her "I am really, really, proud of you and what you have achieved with your blog!"  Sometimes blogging seems so very, very, worthwhile..

Wednesday, 12 May 2010


Wednesday, 5 May 2010

MAKE YOUR VOTE COUNT!!! Clash of the Titans

Some of you may have realised that there is an incredibly important event taking place this week, one that we all have a duty as right-thinking citizens to participate in!

Yes - on Sunday at 7.00pm on Channel 4** Landscape Man (aka Ted the Badger) goes head to head with the frontman for B&Q the one, the only, the unutterably ubiquitous Sir*** Alan Titchmarsh's new vehicle 'The Seasons' on ITV1

You the viewer can make YOUR choice, by pressing YOUR channel button on Sunday to show what We the viewing public really, really want.

Will it be gorgeous, hunky, manly Matthew Wilson (aka the poor woman's Antonio Banderas) demonstrating his prowess moving mountains with machinery?  This is a man who knows how to dig!!!!!

Do we dig him? Yes we do!!!

Or Titchmarsh waffling on about the passing seasons and fishing for sad old trout.

Come on down the choice is yours!

Please cast your pre-viewing vote in the
 poll box to the right!

** The Sock is informed that despite what is printed in the Radio Times Landscape Man is on as usual this Thursday May 6th at 8.00pm and then goes head to head with Alan Titchmarsh on Sunday 16th May nine days later.
I should just set the damn thing on record series and hope for the best!!

*** Only a matter of time shurely?

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Excelling at Excel

To see Landscape Man or 3Menwent2Mow....  3Menwent2Mow or Landscape Man

decisions.. decisions

both were appearing on different days at Grand Designs Live over the weekend.  Obviously in the end it was a no-brainer...

but unfortunately it turned out the Socks had a prior engagement on the day Badgerman was appearing so they went to see 3Men in their inaugural performance instead.

Grand Designs was at Excel at London's Royal Victoria Dock an area the Socks have never explored before and doubtless never will again.  A frisson of excitement as we drove past the Millenium Dome, a landmark we have only viewed from above before when flying over London on our return from distant lands. Then into the drear of Docklands and the soulless emptiness of the Excel centre itself.  Except it wasn't empty - it was full of zombies which shouldn't have been surprising as the whole place was reminiscent of the mall scenes from 'Dawn of Dead'.

As well as stealing a march on the Malvern 50 and seeing 3Men in advance, the Sock was quite looking forward to the Grand Designs Exhibition itself.  Memories of the Ideal Home Exhibition visited as a child when the Sock got to meet a real Dalek and spent a lot of time fascinated by a doughnut making machine.

 The reality was an extraordinary amount of stands selling various different home gym machines that you stand on and vibrate your weight away in different ways   (Apparently Madonna uses one!!!!) Watching wobbly bottomed people wibble about on these was hypnotically horrific! (The Sock, who was luckily wearing a bottom-covering top confesses she did try one just to see and it felt slightly unpleasantly weird).  Worse, there were various different chairs that were vibro-massaging some of the living dead and even one that seemed to be sucking in the incumbent zombie so that it appeared to be eating him!  Shades of Dr. Who again and an unpleasant futuristic vision of a world with no space for proper outdoor exercise populated by TV-watching zombies in fat destroying furniture!

The Socks survived these horrors (remember zombies move without speed or intelligence) only to come
 across this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Then at last we came upon a little oasis of happy humanity.  A small and intimate theatre stand where a crowd of living beings were amassing to watch the very first performance of 3MenWent2Mow.

The Sock thought it was brave of the 3Men to start their performances at such a venue where, unlike a show more specifically aimed at gardeners, passing punters wouldn't necessarily be drawn in.  The Sock needn't have worried, the audience seemed happy - although it was possible a proportion of it was made up of Joe's relatives.  The Sock won't give away too much about the 3Menwent2mow routine other than both the Socks very much enjoyed it.  Joe was funny and loud, James was confident, charming, charismatic, and Cleve, lovely Cleve reminded the Sock of what Jackie Wilson said "I'm in heaven, I'm in heaven, I'm in heaven when you smile".*

And then it was over and the Socks snuck off before the 3Men could discover exactly who it was had interjected Chris Beardshaw's name into the performance....

As the Socks were about to leave later in the afternoon they caught the end of 3Men's second performance in the large theatre area.  Just as the Sock thought she would escape with her mystery intact the Bedsock checked his tweets and reported that Arabella "would be in serious trouble" if she didn't say hello. There was nothing for it but to introduce myself.....

And that dear reader is as much as you are getting! You didn't really think the Sock was going to share her precious 3menmoments with all and very sundry did you?  No - she will just report that she was well and truly hugged by two out of three lovely, lovely men and she will hug the memory to herself.  Let us just say that the Sock was very glad that for a moment she let her cashmere disguise slip..........

* the Van Morrison version of 'Jackie Wilson said' obviously

Sunday, 2 May 2010

You've been told!

clic on the letter to enlarge