A clean break

Sometimes fate conspires to take us in an unexpected direction, just like it has with my quest for fitness this year. In the last five minutes of a 5 week trial of walking netball, my feet got carried away in chasing after a ball. I eventually crashed into a cupboard then onto the concrete floor. Ouch.

I've got off relatively lightly. My pride at playing a better and swifter game suddenly came crashing down, which is a good lesson to learn. The more obvious results are a goth-like face without the need for make-up, minor concussion, bruised knees and a fractured wrist. 10 days later, yesterday at last brought good news... the bone has stayed in place without pinning, so I can look forward to 5 more weeks in a plaster cast. No driving in that time and no return to netball for around 3 months.

As is my usual wont, I'm concentrating on what I can do rather than what I can't. However, I'm also having to face up to reality. What I need to do in the garden is out of the que…

How not to look after your Pilea peperomioides

I was really happy when Barbara gave me an unusual looking Pilea peperomiodes aka Chinese Money Plant last summer. Little did I know then just how cool and trendy they are, being at the forefront of the houseplant revival. They even have a dedicated Pilea Lovers page on Instagram with over 21,000 Followers - it's not often you'll find me amongst the hipsters!

I nearly wrote an article on my new treasure back then, but Jane beat me to it with a far more comprehensive guide than I could have managed with loads of links to further information. Jack's written a great blog post on how to divide them too.

When I noticed my plant wasn't looking quite as happy as it should as you can see above photo, I knew just the right people to consult on Twitter, along with Andrew who's acquired quite a houseplant collection recently.

From their replies it's clear I am a perfect example of how not to look after a Pilea as follows:
Place it on your sunniest windowsill - south facin…

Garden Bloggers' Muse Day: Do Something Today...

"Do something today your future self will thank you for" ~ Unknown. This is a great quote for New Year's Day and the ultimate resolution!

Looking at the last few Muse Days I've posted, it's obvious I'm ripe for trying out new things, just like I was when I started this blog. I've signed up to try walking netball and Rock Choir already, and I'm looking forward to the Try Something New event at the Neeld Hall soon. I wonder if this is the year I finally pluck up my courage and go to the Chippenham Ukuleles sessions ('scuse pun).

Garden and travelwise, I'm looking forward to a trip to Ashwood Nurseries in February and the Garden Bloggers Fling in Texas in May. It'll be interesting to see gardens from a totally different climate to mine, as well as experiencing what Texas has to offer, Austin in particular.

I'm going to try growing Lithops from seed in Jane's Houseplant sowalong and my Flowers for Mum project is set to morph into Toma…

Unusual Front Gardens: Baubles

Decorating your garden for Christmas isn't a new idea, but I've found a new variation in the form of giant baubles dangling on trees in various locations.

The pictured ones are from Tetbury on Boxing Day last year after we'd gone for a walk at Westonbirt Arboretum with friends. They and the crisp winter's day added a real sparkle to my mood; I also have tree seat envy.

Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year, wherever you may be :)

Unusual Front Gardens: Christmas Greenery

Christmas wreaths are increasingly common feature on front doors in my corner of the world, and to make your own is a popular workshop (here's my attempt from a couple of years ago - I made something similar on Saturday).

I think this simple arrangement of Aucuba japonica and red Cornus stems tied together with ribbon is an equally effective seasonal welcome. It's an easy idea to source and copy using festive looking greenery and stems foraged from your own garden or nearby.

The doorway hails from Holt and it isn't the first time this delightful Wiltshire village has featured in my Unusual Gardens strand. I found an equally beguiling Statue nearby in 2014.

Postcard from Hampshire

Holiday postcards are sometimes received after the sender comes home, and so it is with my virtual one from Hampshire. My immediate return was taken up with #mygardenrightnow*, but I didn't want to ignore last week's much needed break.

We rented a cottage in Milford on Sea and fulfilled my dream of living in a place where there are marvellous walks to be had simply by stepping out of the door. The sea looms large in this dream, just like it does in the above view of The Needles. This scene is from the only duff day we had weatherwise, and shows scenery can still look good even on a grey day. The rest of the week was bracing and sunny, not bad for the end of November.

I relished the coastal scenery and the quite different wildlife on view to that of home. Milford borders the National Nature Reserve at Keyhaven and there were plenty of wading birds to spot, plus egrets and huge numbers of overwintering Brent geese. This was combined with an energy sapping** but welcome walk to

#mygardenrightnow: there's still plenty going on!

The great thing about memes like #mygardenrightnow is they let us pause and have a proper look at the garden. I've been on holiday this week and I thought the recent cold snap would mean a wintery drabness on my return. Yesterday's inspection showed the garden's having none of it. There's still plenty to see, plus a few surprises.

Autumn hasn't quite finished here at VP Gardens, which means there are flashes of colour and some floral delights everywhere I look. True, they're on a smaller scale than previous editions of #mygardenrightnow, but the current season means they're especially welcome. Those fat hellebore buds shown bottom right in the collage also show promise of winter delights to come.

We've only just got home, so I'll have to leave the festive part of this edition of #mygardenrightnow to other contributors. I'll focus on the hope part instead...

...I was delighted with the efforts of Clematis urophylla 'Winter Beauty' in Feb…

Garden Bloggers' Muse Day: Winter-time

For the first day of the winter months, here's a poem* which acknowledges how spectacular the sky can be at this time of the year. This was the scene from my bedroom window early one morning last week. I was struck by how much the sun moves around the sky according to the season. For us it currently rises straight ahead, rather than at summer's extreme left of the picture.

* = you can read the whole poem called Winter-timehere.

Coming soon: #mygardenrightnow

Our final #mygardenrightnow is a chance to show off the festive edition of your garden and to seek out any hope during the darkest time of the year. You may be surprised how much life you find! That's the beauty of this meme; it gives us a chance to go out and really look at at what we have out there.

Whether my autumn leaves are still yellow, or have started their transformation into a dark, rich mulch remains to be seen...

All you need to do is take one photo of yourself in the garden - more if you want - and post it on your blog or favourite social media. Don't worry if your garden is looking bare or a mess, we want to see real gardeners and gardens! Christmas decorations or green shoots pushing their way through the soil, plus any floral or winter structure you want to show off are especially welcome. Your favourite coffee cups/tea mugs and winter attire will be fun additions.

Use the hashtag #mygardenrightnow so we can find you and come a-visiting. The fun starts at the w…

Weekend Wandering: Chippenham's Public Art

The past few months I've been wandering all over Chippenham looking for its public art. According to Wikipedia there are just 7 pieces for me to photograph. I currently have 49 items on my spreadsheet and the war memorial on Wikipedia's list is excluded from the scope of my survey.

It's a heartening quest as I thought there'd be just 15-20 items for me to discover, though as the sole Chippenham volunteer on Creative Wiltshire's project, progress is slower than I'd like. I'm also questioning exactly what counts as art; it's quite broad in the project's scope, so I've included transient items such as festivals, art exhibitions, graffiti and yarnbombing.

The ownership section is proving quite tricky. Who exactly owns a piece created via a community project? In some instances the Town Council maintains these pieces on the community's behalf but doesn't claim ownership. Other pieces were commissioned by North Wiltshire District Council, whic…