Review: Gardeners’ Barrier Bar

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I don’t generally do product reviews as I really believe that you need to try something thoroughly before you endorse it.  However, when I was contacted by Janiro enquiring if I was interested in trying their Barrier Bar  aimed at those of us whose hands suffer from too much work I jumped at the chance.

I get terribly dry hands when I am gardening, especially if I am potting plants up.  I think it has something to do with the compost.  I have tried all sorts of soaps aimed at gardeners but they never quite deliver.  It’s not only the dryness its the ingrained dirt that I struggle with which is a nightmare when you spend your evenings embroidering – not an ideal combination!  I have tried gardening in gloves but it just doesn’t work for me as I enjoy the feel of working with the soil just not the state of my hands afterwards.  I often wonder how the professional gardeners/horticulturists cope.

Anyway back to the product – the Barrier Bar is part of the Sheila’s Natural Products range.  You apply it to your hands, without water, before you go gardening creating a barrier – clue is in the name! The barrier dries in seconds with no stickiness and you are completely unaware of it.  After you have finished gardening you simply wash your hands and hey presto no dryness and no ingrained dirt; well apart from under the nails.

In addition the Barrier Bar is made completely from natural ingredients and handmade. The literature that came with my sample bar says that you can use the barrier on your feet, elbows and knees if you suffer with rough skin and that it can help protect age affected wafer thin skin.  The Barrier Bar is available via Janiro and does seem pricey for the size you get – £21.00 for 30g – which I expect reflects that the product is hand-made. It also comes in a tin as opposed to my sample above.   I have used my sample several times now and the bar seems to be almost the same size so I am guessing that a bar would last for some time.

Mine is now by the back door ready for my next foray into the garden.

 

Going state-side 2017

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I’m rather thrilled that I have registered this weekend to attend the 2017 Garden Bloggers Fling which will be hosted in the Capital Region of the US.

I loved the 2013 GB Fling in San Francisco and made lots of new friends, who I am still in touch with and who are, wonderfully, also going in 2017.  It also opened my eyes to different gardening styles and plants that I wouldn’t normally encounter here in the UK. I came home inspired and enthused and to a degree liberated from UK traditional gardening approaches.

Places are limited but if you are a garden blogger and fancy meeting up with lots of other garden bloggers for 3.5 days of intense garden visiting then check out the website.  I’m planning on extending my stay to at least 7 days so I can take in some of the Washington DC sights as well.

 

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day – October 2016

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I’m amazed at how much colour there is in the garden at the moment, especially as there seemed to be very little back in August.  Of course some of the colour is courtesy of the autumn leaves and various berries but there is still a significant floral contribution. This hydrangea is one of those supermarket finds from a year or so ago which to be honest I had forgotten about until I got to the top of the garden today and spotted it.  Such a lovely combination of dark leaves and flower – I think I need to find a better location to show it off better.

Salvia involucrata boutin

Salvia involucrata boutin

Part of the reason I struggle to get to the top of the garden is this Salvia which is going for world domination – its huge.  So much so that I have left it in situ the last few winters with just a mulch to protect it roots.

Salvia 'Phyllis Fancy'

Salvia ‘Phyllis Fancy’

I actually prefer Salvia ‘Phyllis Fancy’ as the flowers are more delicate and I like the two-tone effect which brings a special light to the border.

Aster lateriflorus 'Lady in Black'

Aster lateriflorus ‘Lady in Black’

Although the majority of the asters have been moved to the front garden there are still a few adding to the colour in the back garden.  I think Lady in Black is my favourite aster, it has wonderful dark stems and whatever the weather it remains upright, just wafting around in the wind.

Symphytrochium novea-angliae 'St Michaels'

Symphytrochium novae-angliae ‘St Michaels’

Symphytrochium novae-angliae ‘St Michaels’ is a good strong purple and I like the larger daisy flowers; I also like it as it is named after a local hospice.  This is also doing well in the RHS trial of Symphytrochium novae-angliae which I am acting as recorder for at the local Old Court Nursery.

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I do like Japanese Anemones, this pale pink one is a new addition to the garden and lightens a very green border.

Kirengeshoma palmata

Kirengeshoma palmata

The Japanese Anemone is adjacent to the Kirengeshoma palmata – that pink and yellow combination abhorred by many but to be honest I quite like; well if it’s the right pink and the right yellow.

Colchicum 'Dick Trotter'

Colchicum ‘Dick Trotter’

The second group of Colchicums are flowering.  I bought the corms for these at the Malvern Autumn Show last month.  I do think Colchicums are underrated, yes they have large leaves but they bring so much colour to the garden at this time of year.

Cyclamen hederifolium

Cyclamen hederifolium

As well as Colchicums there are Cyclamen hederifoliums flowering around the garden.  I particularly like this group and the way they appear to be lining up behind the leaves.

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Another discovery in the depth of the back of the garden – a begonia of some sort bought from a charity plant sale, which seems to be thriving.  I love the way the flowers add pin pricks of colour amongst the foliage.

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Finally, high up above the back planting the Abutilon is flowering.  I can’t remember the variety but I do like the way the flowers look like they are made out of silk and velvet.

Thanks to Carol over at May Dream Gardens for hosting the GBBD meme each month.

My Garden This Weekend – 9th October 2016

Amarine belladiva

Amarine belladiva

So its been many weeks, no months, since I wrote a ‘My garden this weekend’ post. I won’t bore you yet again with my emotional struggles with the garden and my lack of enthusiasm.  Suffice to say that this weekend I had to really push myself to get on with some of the tasks that are needed.  The patio is full of purchases from the summer that need planting out or I will be struggling over the winter to protect the plants.  However, of course it’s not that simple.  I bought the plants for a particular project – the Big Border revamp – but I haven’t made as much progress as I had hoped.

I think I may have mentioned before that I want to replant the Big Border to benefit from the soil which drains very well. My plan is to use it for the various bulbs that I have a weakness for.  I think last weekend I reported that I had started to relocate some of the peonies to Hugh’s Border and I have added a couple of Miscanthus to the Big Border which weren’t happy behind the shed.

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Bits of it are coming together but the main part of the project is to formalise the lower edge of the Big Border.  The path has for some years been edged with Malvern stone found in the garden or logs from  tree pruning.  I have always gardened on a shoestring and never had funds for major landscaping so the garden has developed through hard work and making do with what was to hand.  When the Big Border went in around 4 years ago I wasn’t sure about the path and waited to see where the natural path appeared.  It’s all been a little Heath Robinson.  Originally the path was finished with woodchips but over the years this has disintegrated and the stone edging isn’t strong enough to clearly define the border from the path.  I need it to look smart and tidy.

The trouble is that I have concluded that I need structure and tidiness in my life or I become stressed.  With less time, energy or enthusiasm for the garden this year it has become untidy and this in turn has made it harder for me to re-engage as I just don’t know where to start.  I feel that if I can get some good structure or bones in place then the messiness won’t be so bad – just like edging the lawn makes a huge difference to a garden without you doing much else.  Thankfully funds are a little more plentiful these days and my long-suffering eldest has ‘volunteered’ to help me with putting in some thick wood edging.  Then, probably in the Spring, we will put some wood edging on the other side of the path but probably something thinner.  I will then cover the path probably with wood chip – the cat doesn’t approve of gravel!

img_6741I have moved all the plants along the path edge and the Malvern stone so my eldest can get on with the improvements.  We now have a large pile of Malvern stone to find something to do with. A suggestion has been made that I could use them to create a home for my hardy succulents, alpines and tiny bulbs.  I am resisting using the word ‘rockery’ as I really dislike rockeries but there is a small gem of an idea mumbling away at the back of my mind.

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In my bid to take control of the garden again I have seized the day and removed a couple of large shrubs that I haven’t liked for years.  One went from the border above, as did a large persicaria and some common ferns which swamped the area and used up all the moisture.  The photo doesn’t quite show you how much space there is here but  I am quietly excited as it’s quite a big space and will, after some feeding and soil improvement, provide a home for the remaining peonies that need rehoming.

Hopefully with all our efforts this Autumn the garden will be more manageable next year so I don’t feel I need to spend as much time working in it and I can do some of the other things I want to do without feeling guilty or maybe even just sit and enjoy the garden.

End of Month View – September 2016

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Seriously how is it October? I’m sure it’s only midway through September! But at least I have kinda remembered this month to do the End of Month View, albeit a day late.  I forgot all together last month – sorry.

Anyway, Hugh’s Border isn’t doing too bad considering the general neglect of the garden for some months now.  Things are getting back on an even keel and changes are afoot.  I’m always happier in the garden when I can relocate plants – poor plants.  Because my new neighbours have cleared the boundary line there is now a wealth of sunlight streaming in from the south which means the lighting in the garden has changed giving me new opportunities.

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The shady areas have significantly decreased which is good as it means I have more areas where I can plant more sun-loving plants and most plants that do well in shade don’t mind a bit more sun.  It does mean that the Big Border which was always sunny is now much more sunny and some plants have struggled this year as it is has been too dry for them.  The Big Border has good drainage so I am going to use it for my hardy Mediterranean and Southern Hemisphere plants and bulbs which are one of my plant weaknesses.  I am slowly but surely relocating the more traditional border inhabitants such as the peonies and roses from the Big Border into the surrounding borders where they should benefit from the improved light but with more moisture retentive soil. If you peer closely at the photo above you will see the rusty metal obelisk which was in the Big Border and hosts a rose and clematis.  They have all been moved to Hugh’s Border and had a good dollop of horse manure to get them going.  I like the vertical accent that the obelisk gives this area.

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To be quite honest the improved lighting has, I think, made my gardening life easier.  I have really struggled over the years to get good seasonal interest in the shady parts of the garden.  I love foliage but it gets a little dull being the same, more or less, all year.  So for example in Hugh’s Border I will be adding some peonies, some more Japanese Anemones, and probably some Pacific Coast irises, as well as more bulbs for Spring.

I’ve a lot of relocations to do over the coming weeks so I am hoping for some dry weekends as my gardening time is really minimal these days.   And then there is the tidying up and the bulb planting to get on top of ….it is nice to feel enthused again.

 

Malvern Autumn Show 2016

Old Court Nursery

Old Court Nursery

I am so lucky to live where I do and days like today just remind me of this.  My eldest and I decided at very short notice that we fancied going to the Malvern Autumn Show.  It is literally a 5 minute drive from home so we were able to arrive as the second day of the show was opening and beat the crowds.

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I haven’t been to the Autumn Show for some years, there always seems to be something clashing with it.  We stopped first in the Harvest Pavilion where the serious showing happens.  As you can see we have everything from vegetables through to dahlias.  To the other side of this pavilion is the ‘Open Competition’ for a whole range of plants such as succulents, alpines, foliage, roses etc.  I have quite a few pics of these as I have been thinking for a few years now of entering.  We sussed out the competition so now I have a good idea of the standard I am aiming for.

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Whilst I might be thinking of entering an aeonium or two I really take my hat off to those growers who can produce a trug of vegetables like these – sheer perfection.  I would be chuffed to get 4 ripe tomatoes let alone 5 matching ones or even a whole trug of matching perfection.

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Its not all competitive vegetable and flower growing; the show is very much a local country show that has grown over the years.  Elsewhere there are pigs being paraded, as well as sheep, cows, rabbits and goats  but our preference was to watch the agility dogs and later the gun dogs who were having a lovely time showing off.

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But much as I could watch the dogs for ages the plants inevitably call and we found ourselves in another pavilion which focussed on growing your own (I think).  As you entered there was this display by the National Dahlia Society which I thought was pretty special.  It really shows how dahlias can be used to create a wonderful exotic look – the colour seems a little blown on this photo possibly due to the lighting in the marquee.

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Whilst the dahlias were impressive I was quickly distracted by the Jacques Armand display.  My poor son was suffering from my bulb addiction as I had already bought a considerable number of bulbs from Rose Cottage who had been relocated to the Produce Pavilion having lost their marquee in the wind yesterday. There is always something interesting to buy and between the two nurseries I came away with a good haul of tulips for the front garden, some more colchicums – Nancy Lindsay and Dick Trotter, a large Scilla and some punky looking muscari.

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At the far side of the show ground to where we parked we came to the nurseries.  The number of nurseries both inside and out have grown considerably over the 15 years I have been going to the show.  There is now a reasonable number exhibiting inside under cover with large displays.  I was really pleased for my friend Helen Picton who was awarded another Gold for her display of asters.  I was also rather entranced my the Tale Valley display as it combined all the plants I love; ferns and bulbs and lots of wonderful foliage – food for thought.

 

 

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day – September 2016

 

Grevillea victoriae

Grevillea victoriae

I’ve decided not to focus on the asters this month but to showcase four plants which have just started to flower and whose flowers I am always thrilled to see.  They all need to be sought out in the garden as they can be a little shy.

First up is Grevillea victoriae which has wonderful exotic orange flowers. Similar to Grevillea ‘Canberra Gem’ but flowering later.  Last year I thought it hadn’t flowered but discovered all the flowers at the bottom of the shrub.  This year the shrub is a year older and has been moved into a sunnier location and the flowers are beginning to appear higher on the shrub so I am hoping that next year it will look amazing.

Unknown Nerine

Unknown Nerine

I have started to extend the bulb season in my garden with the inclusion of Nerines.  This is the first to flower and is from a hugh pot full of bulbs that I bought for a couple of pounds last year at the local HPS group.  I was really thrilled to see it, and its fellow flowers, as it shows that I have found a good location for it and confirms my plan to plant more Southern Hemisphere bulbs in this particular area.

Massonia

Massonia

I am always pleased when the Massonia flowers in the greenhouse.  I had a Massonia pustulata but I think I lost that and as its name indicates the leaves were quite blistered looking so its not that variety, maybe I will find the label one day but either way I am pleased it has flowered again.

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I have various Colchicums of differing quality and these are always the first to flower and are slowly but surely beginning to spread.  They are one of those plants whose flowers appear under the foliage of other plants but as you pass something catches you eye and you find yourself on your hands and knees looking to see what the colour is from.

So those are my 4 secret gems for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day – for more GBBD posts visit Carol at May Dream Gardens