Friday, 31 July 2015

Sacrewell Mill

I am a designer!well of sorts anyway. I am currently undertaking a fabulous project with Sacrewell Mill, near Peterborough on a restoration of the Mill and gardens. I have had the amazing fortune to be designing the raised beds ensuring that the garden will accessible to all, able bodied and those with disabilities alike.

A lottery heritage fund was granted for the project and finally after months of painstaking rebuilding and restoring the Mill re opened on 19th July this year (2015)

So far only two raised beds are up and running but there are more to come. The second batch of beds will be far more suitable to wheelchair users. the current ones are going to be great for children, and people whose disabilities require a raised area, such as those with eye sight problems, arthritis and that sort of thing, no bending required here. It has been hard to try and make sure this garden will actually be fully accessible to all but I have loved every minute so far and can't wait to meet with the carpenters at the local college to start on the second raised beds.

There is also going to be a fabulous Heritage Orchard and a sensory garden that I hope to be part of too.

I got quite the surprise I can tell you when out of the blue I received a Facebook message from the lovely Jane Harrison (project manager) to say that I had been recommended to her! me?? really? I really was chuffed. After out first meeting it was clear we would get on like a house on fire, we never stopped giggling especially when I happened to mention that I adore penguins and was about to go to Birmingham sea life to feed them for my birthday. We both broke into a Brummy accent and now believe all penguins speak with a Birmingham accent :):) What a right pair we are.

On the day the private party arrived to show off the results so far I spent most of the time blushing. It sounded very strange to hear myself being introduced as "the designer" I soon got used to it though. It was a wonderful party with THE best hog roast I have ever tasted!

There is much much more to come on this project and I really can't wait to see the next beds, but for now here are a few photos of the project so far, they even have their own beehive high up on a chimney stack!

Saturday, 27 September 2014

New Amateur gardening features! exciting times ahead

Oh yes indeed my fellow gardeners I am one very happy garden writer as I have been commissioned to write a further two features for the great garden magazine that is Amateur Gardening :) This sort of makes me part of the official team now which is really great.

I can't say much on the features as yet, so you will have to hang on for a bit longer but the first one will be in in November or December so I have to get my writing skates on. One thing I can say is that of the garden centres so far visited all have given me permission to take photos, one manager was a little reluctant as its company policy for NO photos but I talked her round :) So all is going well at the moment.

I do love being able to write about the things I love and the things I know about e.g. gardening and disability!

Thanks AG for all your continuing support over the last three years, I can't believe it has been three years since my first feature!

Anyway nothing more can said right now so here's a few garden shots to keep you going :)

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Garden News article for early September, without the published changes

Here is my Garden News article for last month, however it was changed quite a lot when it was published and it did not make much sense nor did it read well due to the changes made. Here is what I actually wrote.

GN Sept 2014-08-27

Sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming, I am so lucky in many ways and one of those is the products that are very kindly sent to me to test and review. The latest product is more of a therapy garden item from that so far is proving worth its weight in gold for a less able gardener such as me. It really is a self contained garden with everything included to make gardening, say from a wheelchair 100% accessible, it has removable sections from holding a hanging basket whilst planting up to mini allotments and cane section holders. So far I am really impressed and am looking forward to giving it a thorough test.

The garden is still full of colour which is really pleasing as we have put in a lot of hard work and I love it when you get months of flowery rewards for your trouble. The newly planted viola basket is helping to keep the colour going while the absolutely fabulous Campsis Radicans Grandiflora is a blaze with glorious orange trumpets. Fortunately we managed to avert disaster when this huge specimen nearly fell on me in the recent high winds; I would have been gutted to lose it.

I have noticed that the cosmos cranberry double is looking particularly colourful all around the garden and appears to be able to blend in with everything it is near from the vibrant yellows and oranges of the marigolds to the grand height of the verbena bonariensis. Even sitting looking through it from behind is quite a sight. I am definitely going to collect plenty of seeds and sow masses of it again next year.

One of the best places to be at the moment though is tending my favourite raised from underneath the campsis, not only does it afford me plenty of cover when I look up from my hard work, deadheading, weeding and generally messing about it looks so beautiful it is hard to tear myself away. I can honestly say the more I garden the more I love it, I mean who wouldn’t enjoy all this colour and peacefulness?

Monday, 14 July 2014

Gardeners World appearance

I spent the whole day on Friday in a state of panic, I really had no idea what being on Gardeners World would be like. When the show started I was a huge bag of nerves but once it began and I saw how amazing the production team had made the garden look I relaxed and just enjoyed it. As soon as the show was over my phone went nuts with lots of supportive texts and Facebook was taken over by amazing comments from all over the country. Twitter was on fire with tweets from so many people saying how inspiring they thought I was. I was overwhelmed by the amount of people who said it made them cry. I don't think for one minute I am inspirational at all, just me being me and getting on with life, but if I have helped anyone get out in the garden even to look after one pot or raised bed then I am happy with that.

A huge thank you to everyone who has sent me messages in whichever way it was. I truly appreciate everyone's positive support.

Hopefully the link below will take you to the episode (for two weeks anyway)

Happy gardening

Thursday, 10 July 2014

The Time Of My Life

Well the last few months have simply flown by and oh boy what a time I have had!

Firstly James and I went to Chelsea Flower Show courtesy of Amateur Gardening Magazine. It was an incredible day and not only did i get recognised I also got to meet Toby Buckland, who for some bizarre reason actually knew who I was? I blushed. A four page article in Amateur gardening followed all about my experience as a mobility scooter user trying to get around the show. There were a few hiccups and several bumps to negotiate but we made it through the day and escaped the horrendous down pour by a few minutes.

The second and most exciting thing to happen to me by far so far in my career as a gardener/writer is my upcoming appearance on GARDENERS' WORLD.

11th July 2014 9PM BBC 2  I make my first TV appearance

Filming in my garden was an incredible experience if not a bit surreal. I had to fight my giggles when I heard "action" and I had to wander about like no one was there, i soon settled into it though and even though I nearly boiled to death in the greenhouse so the lovely cameraman could get the best shots I truly truly loved every minute of the filming and Jo Robinson the Producer said I was a natural :):) Thanks Jo if Carol is ever busy you know where I am :)

Anyway as our gorgeous Campsis fell over last night I must dash and have a look and see if we can save it. Don't forget to tune in, or if you missed it there's always iplayer.

Happy gardening

The Two Fingered Gardener

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Arthritis Research UK final article of the week :)

Growing your own pain relief herb garden with Niki Preston

Growing your own pain relief herb garden with Niki Preston

Herbs for pain relief is very new to me so I have done a fair bit of research and asked those in the know what kinds of herbs are helpful for joint pain relief.
Niki 7I have it on good authority that turmeric eaten with black pepper is an excellent pain reliever, James Wong himself let me into that little secret so it must be worth a go, if anyone knows there stuff it is him. One word of caution however, please always ask your doctor before trying anything new and never take yourself of any medication without consulting your doctor.
Along with turmeric I have learned that cayenne pepper has excellent anti-inflammatory benefits and this is an easy and fun plant to grow too, great to add into curries, salads and dressing. With its bright red peppers it will add great colour to your herb garden as well.
One thing that I am definitely going to try to grow is pineapple; apparently the bromelain in the juice and stem of a pineapple is known to ease the pain and inflammation that comes with Arthritis. As far as I am aware you can grow a new pineapple from a whole pineapple bought in your supermarket. Firstly cut off the leafy part of the pineapple, leaving about an inch or so of the flesh, pop it on a plate and of course eat the rest of the pineapple. Pick a good spot to grow your pineapple, sunny and with space, they can grow quite large.
Niki 6
Get your pot and bury the pineapple so that all the flesh is buried and the leafy parts are showing, give it a good water and that’s about it, wait but be patient it can take 2 years for the plant to fruit, if you live in a frost prone area remember to give it shelter in the winter. This might seem like a long time just for a pineapple but think how proud you will be if you manage it, and free pain relief into the bargain.
Ginger is another great pain and anti inflammatory herb. Again this can grown from ginger roots bought is the local supermarket. Ginger contains an active substance called gingerols which are said to stop the body creating the process that leads to inflammation. I am no expert though so please don’t just take my word for this.
So here are just a few ideas to get your joint pain herb garden started, I think I would also include some heavenly scented lavender for its relaxing benefits and possibly some thyme, rosemary and bay just to add some interest, colour and of course for their culinary uses.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Article 5 for Arthritis research UK

Planting and pruning with Niki Preston

Planting and pruning with Niki Preston

When it comes to planting and pruning some thought needs to go into how much you can really do and how much time have you got to tend your plants. Perennials are always a great way to have a stunning garden with little work.
Most perennial flowers need very little pruning, just a bit of deadheading and then a chop right down when news shoots appear in the spring. It’s as easy as that. I would suggest some Achillea Millefolium which will spread itself easily and has superb flat heads which are great for attracting insects, bees and butterflies into your garden or perhaps some Perovskia “blue Spire” which is a beautifully vibrant violet blue tall deciduous shrub that only needs pruning in spring.
Niki 6Little work for a big reward. These are just two examples but perennials are by far the easiest way to garden and you can always add in a few annual bedding plants, such as Primula, fuchsia, lobelia and begonias for that instant splash of colour.
Consider the positioning of your perennials too, I didn’t do this in the beginning and we are now having to re-site some of our beds as I can’t get near them at pruning time, they say you learn from your mistakes, I certainly have and poor old James has to move everything again.
Long handled tools are fabulous to reduce bending or kneeling and they help you to reach just that bit further. Personally I would recommend who make the most wonderful tools especially for those with arthritis and or disabilities. Genny at PETA-UK very kindly sent me one of their long reach tools with the attachable cuff to test for this very article and I can honestly say it is great. I have no way of gripping so don’t usually plant anything at ground level, but with this tool and the cuff attached I get plenty of support and the cuff helps me to pull the tool back out of the ground.
These then are perfect if you have weak grip and weak wrists, James uses these tools all the time and he doesn’t have arthritis but he loves the way they reduce the amount of effort needed, of course that leads to us fighting over who gets their hands on them first. It is usually me as I pull my “oh that’s not fair” face and he gives in.
So once you have thought about which plants where for maximum impact and ease of pruning you are ready to plant plant plant, with a little bit of pruning thrown in.