Nationale Tulpendag

Today is National tulip day in Holland. This is an event within Amsterdam in preparation for the tulip season. The event takes place within Dam Square. Over the morning people can see the tulips displayed, then in the afternoon they can pick the flowers for free. A rather delightful celebration of the unofficial National flower.

I never bothered with tulips in my last garden. Thin borders and clay soil gave me limited space. The soil in the current garden is still clay, but with slightly better drainage. So this year I’ve got a few varieties on the go. I went with black parrots in a container on the patio. These are rich, black tulips with frilly petals. These have been planted round a red stemmed prunus angustfoilia. I’m hoping the red stems and fruit will contrast nicely with the tulips. Then mixed in the border are a dark scarlet variety called red riding hood and the ever popular queen of the night tulip. This should flower around April or May, so hoping for a solid display around Alice’s birthday.


Previous years I’ve had bulbs for school through They supply bulbs and planting kits for free. I moved schools though before as the shoots were coming up, so didn’t get to see them flower. The registration is past for bulbs for this year, but worth following if you are a teacher for next years registration. They supply a good set of tools and a healthy quantity of bulbs.

Blue Monday

Today is Blue Monday. A day supposedly the most depressing of the year. The idea coming from Christmas having gone, weather being wet and cold and motivation being generally low. While the calculation for the date is clearly rather ridiculous pseudo-science it can be a grim time of year and it does no harm trying to cheer people up.

This year Summer garden photos are being shared on twitter to give a burst of colour and a grey point of the year. I saw it posted through Hugh Cassidy on twitter, so thank you to Hugh for this little bit of cheer.

So here is a look back at colour from last year that we can look forward to again.

For anyone feeling glum Samaritans are offering support with their Brew Monday. Get together with people and share a cuppa.

Hopefully everyone has a good day and doesn’t struggle with Monday Motivation.

I have sent out some emails for the nature book swap. I currently have an odd number, so if anyone else wants to take part I will add them in. Emails have been sent out to all, but one who expressed an interest. Basic gist following from the short list of the UK’s favourite nature book I’ve organised a book swap. If you have a nature book to pass on I will email you an address and you will receive a book from someone else. Email me at if interested or message me here.

Wildflower hour-Winter heliotrope

From my New Years plant hunt I found winter heliotrope. It apparently favours damp spots such as river banks, damp meadows and woodland. I found it on a cliff edge with strong winds, so there you go.

It has small mauve flowers, rather delicate in nature. It apparently has a pleasant vanilla scent, but Alice on my back I didn’t go close enough to check. It can be grown in the garden, but can quickly become a pest as it spreads vigorously. As a non-native invasive species much of the advice on it is connected in to other plants considered pests such as bindweed and Japanese Knotweed and Himalayan Balsalm. It spreads by rhizomes (underground stems) spreading out to form clumps of leaves out competing other native species.  It flowers November until February, while the foliage is evergreen remaining all year.

Winter heliotrope

Originally from North Africa it spread through Europe before making its way to Britain. It was introduced formally in 1806 grown as an ornamental in gardens and some churchyards. So far only the male form is present in Britain.

So looks like I’ve gone for another non-native invasive species. I need to try an find something native for future. Advice is given here should you wish to remove it from your garden.

If you haven’t checked out the proposed nature book swap check out the blog. Looking for expressions of interest until Next weekend when I will look at sending out details for people to swap books.

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Grow wild free seed

It’s the start of the year so Grow Wild seed kit applications are open. Grow wild have been running a campaign for several years to transform local areas with native, pollinator friendly wildflowers. The seed mixes weren’t just generic shop mixes. They were made for different areas of the country to promote flowers that would have grown in each region originally.


I’ve had the seed kits in 2016 and I grew them in a pot. That little pot attracted in a mass number of insects particularly bees. The goldfinches loved sitting on them too. Not all applications will be successful, but well worth supporting if you can. If successful I have an area at school in mind to assign as meadow. With the fruit trees and garden area I’ve started it will bring in a god variety of insects.

In other news the Nature Book Swap has its first expressions of interest. If you fancy some nature books take a look here.

Nature Book Swap

The arts and humanities research council have announced the short list of the UK’s favourite nature book.


The list is an interesting mix of fiction and non-fiction and old and new. The books are all ones that have touched people in different ways. They all have some emotional impact.

I read a lot of nature books both fiction and non-fiction and as part of this blog I have shared many I’ve enjoyed. Following on from the dark is rising book group, the AHRC book list and the seed swap I wondered if anyone was interested in a secret nature book swap? You may have ended up with duplicates for Christmas. So here is a use for them.

The concept was done during the 30 days wild. Emails of interest are collected. People are sent an address to send on a nature book too. In this way people encounter new nature books and share their love of the written word.

If you receive a book you own or have read pass it to a friend or family member you think might like it. If you can’t think of anyone give it to charity. No harm having charity shops filled with quality nature writing. Someone will enjoy it.

So initially just looking for who is interested. If you are email me your name and address. All information will remain confidential except who you are sending a book too. I can’t except any liability for anyone who doesn’t receive a book. This relies on trust and goodwill. UK only so no one has excessive postage.

I’ll set a deadline of interest to next Friday 12th January. So anyone interested email:

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Secret Seed Swap 2018

Today I encountered the seed swap. The basic idea is you register. You are sent an address. You choose seeds you have collected or bought and send them on. In return you recieve a suprise seed packet from a stranger. To add another dimension people create their own seed envelopes. Looking at the website some of these are mini works of art. A lovely idea for bringing gardeners in the digital age together.

Once you recieve the seeds you can post progress growing using the hashtag #secretseedswap

Registration is open through January. I’ve registered. Now the hard choice of what to send.

New Year at the Bay

For New Years Eve we had a quiet night in as Alice isn’t quite ready for parties. New Years Day we headed up the coast to Amy’s dad’s house at Robin Hood’s Bay where we had a lovely meal at the Hare and Hounds in Hawker. Amy had the trio of pork and I had the home made burger with goats cheese. I just expected a few pieces crumbled on the top, but it was a solid slice of grilled goats cheese. It was all delicious. Alice had a good wait, so had walked back and forth across the pub multiple times before food. But she did quite well for her age. She has decided to reject booster seats now. She wants either a chair to herself or my knees to sit on. She knows her own mind for a one and a half year old.

The next day saw a good sunrise over the bay with breathtaking skies. I think I said it last time I went, but photos don’t do it justice.

The next day we got out for a walk. I was taking photos as we went for the New Year Plant Hunt organised by the BSBI. The aim being to monitor what wildflowers are in bloom in Winter.

A few seen on the way.

Red Valerian

The winter heliotrope. A rather delightful low laying wildflower.

Plenty of gorse along cliff faces.

We had a nice walk along the beach. We didn’t quite make it to Boggle Hole, just down the coast. Boggle is a local name for a hobgoblin, a mischievous little person. Boggle Hole was one of the spots the smugglers on this stretch of coast used, thus the name.

Alice was keen to get in the howdah today trying to clamber in before we were ready.

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