Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Buckingham Palace

So this week I was invited to a garden party at Buckingham Palace which was nice.  Very nice indeed.

We were invited through the palace and in to the gardens at the back of the palace.  Here is the back of Buckingham Palace as seen from the gardens.

We were then offered tea or chocolate coffee (gorge!) and lots of lovely canapes and cakes before being allowed to wander the gardens freely with the other guests - which was hilarious because the other guests included...

Cilla Black (amazing!)

Rolf Harris (seen here with Marawa The Amazing)

Esther Rantzen

(I felt weird asking for pictures with the celebs so I just got out my camera phone from a distance)...

And.....Debbie McGee (?) (not sure where Paul Daniels was...)

You might not recognise these celebrities but I assure you they are all icons of British stage and screen (even Rolf who is Australian).

So we wandered the gardens which one man described as 'camp' - evidenced here by this giant faux grecian urn..

And this bonkers pergola thing...

There is however a lovely lake in the middle of the palace gardens...

Not sure about strange Vulture Sculpture...

Or the plastic Herons...

But other than that there were some nice rose gardens and Marawa got to meet a beefeater...

After we perused the gardens The Princess Royal showed up to say cooey.

Anne is actually my new favourite Princess.  When she was 24 she was almost kidnapped, and despite the kidnapper having just shot her chauffeur, a policeman and a journalist - when the kidnapper came for Anne she responded 'not bloody likely' and dived out the limo to escape.

Here she is looking fabulous at the garden party (she was wearing a rather nice fascinator too, which you can't see)

I would have liked to have gone as Princess Diana but I'm not sure it would've been appropriate...

Fabulous.  I can't wait to return.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Buckingham Palace...I mean Hackney Council

Now we all have unwelcome visitors in our garden from time to time - slugs, snails, caterpillars - for example.  Worse than these invertebrates however - I have men from Hackney Council!!!!.

I was very excited this morning as I'd been invited to a garden party at Buckingham Palace and I doubt you get a garden more glamorous than the palace garden.  Unfortunately my day was slightly ruined by men climbing over my fence.

I had already blogged about the council sending two men over who clambered over my fence unannounced and trampled my plants here....

Then the same thing happened a second time and I called the council complaints line to complain.  Not the best idea as the woman who operates the complaints desk doesn't seem to appreciate you complaining and is likely to take your complaint as a personal attack on her and continue the conversation with a sarcastic tone in her voice.  The complaints desk it would appear is only there to redirect you to somewhere else anyway or to tell you it's better to complain in writing or via email.  I chose the email option...

That was a mistake though - unsurprisingly my email was returned unsent (I have a feeling that their inbox is full but that is mere speculation).

So then just this morning as I'm getting ready to go to Buckingham Palace - this appears over my fence...

followed by this...

Which basically scared the S*£T out of me

and then he leaves, the same way he came...(don't watch all of this, it goes on and on and on.  Tres boring.

Just so you know - they are discussing how many weights they can lift at the gym, not how fabulous my garden is looking.

Lord, it feels like I'm on an episode of that cowboy builders programme....

Now the frustrating thing here is, they only need to knock on my door, or give me a little warning and I can unlock my back gate.  But clearly there's far too much organisation involved for Hackney Council - trespass and property damage is a much easier option.

So I complained again this morning - cue woman with attitude problem as I dare to phone the complaints line with a complaint.  Do not be irate, emotional or angry whilst complaining to Hackney Council.  In fact don't bother complaining - just move boroughs...or cities...or better yet countries (my friends had such bad dealings with Hackney Council they moved here... )

Now my complaint is apparently in 'stage one' now, which is exciting (and I have no idea what 'stage one' is - I think it means nothing much will be done).  Anyway - my complaint was passed to my 'neighbourhood office' (I'm putting lots of apostrophes everywhere because I know not what any of these things mean)

My neighbourhood office did call me however, and this is basically how the conversation went...

Neighbourhood office 'Hello, is this....[me]?"

Me: Yes

N.O : well the problem is - we do not have the address of the property you are complaining about

Me: Ok, you want my address then?

N.O No, we have your address, we want the address of the property you are complaining about

Me: um? I'm not following you.

N.O it just says here that you want to make a complaint about 2 men climbing in to a property

Me: I do yes, I want to complain about two men climbing in to MY property (um...obviously? no? perhaps not?).

N.O oh ok.  We will investigate.

Hang up.

Wow, investigate, that sounds thrilling.  I can't wait to find out what you discover.

To be continued.  Probably for a very long time.

I'll tell you all about Buckingham Palace soon - which will be a much more cheery blog post.  Princess Anne looked wonderful.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Front Gardens

I love it when people cram hundreds of plants in to the tiniest spaces.  Necessary for city-living often but I also love it when people lumbered with a north facing garden, take full advantage of the sun by filling their front garden with piles of plants.  Take this house in Herne Hill, South London for example -

Front Garden of House in Herne Hill

Plants are much better replacements for net curtains and to stop those nosey neighbours prying eyes - blind them with a buddleia (or buddleja as it is supposed to be spelled according to wikepedia).

Here's another example of plenty of planting

Plenty of planting

contrast this with their next door neighbours who are clearly having a hard time keeping up with the Jones's -

The next-door neighbours house.

That's almost like a 'before and after' but it's not - they are neighbours.  So see why it is important to keep the front of your house in check?.  First impressions matter! - there is no way you would see me dead at the next door neighbours house.  Unless ofcourse they happen to be some sort of transvestite killer (that is to say a person who kills transvestites - not a transvestite who kills people), and who knows? I mean if you were a cop hunting down a killer you'd go in to the neighbours house first wouldn't you? I mean you just assume that whoever lives at the house whose front garden is filled with flowers is a nice old lady or a nice someone - not a killer at all.  I bet house number 2 has a patio too, we all know what happens under patios don't we...

Brookside - Patio

Thursday, 30 June 2011


I have a mini obsession with artichokes.  I absolutely adore them.

You have to peel back many layers to get to the heart of the artichoke but when you do it is an absolute delight.  I think this is a metaphor for me.  Not really, I have no heart, but I like to pretend I do just to give people something to do when they meet me.

Anyway, I always walk past a house on the way to a park by me and I'm always jealous of their majestic artichoke plant...

I'm jealous of their garden generally, but mostly jealous of their artichoke plant.  I've circled the artichokes in red as it's a bit tricky to make out where they are on the photo.

Artichoke plant I'm jealous of

Close up of artichoke plant

As you may notice, the artichoke is very similar to a thistle - and this is because they are both of the same genus Cynara.  Which may explain my obsession with them as I am in-fact Scottish and the thistle is a symbol of Scotland.

This year I thought I'd attempt to grow some artichoke plants from seed - and I have to say they're doing pretty well...

Artichoke plant seeds

Baby artichoke plant

The man who makes my coffee in the morning has a tattoo of an artichoke on his arm.  I don't normally like tattoos but obviously I love this one.

Artichoke tattoo

Once he made me this coffee below, which is wholly inappropriate but witty nonetheless.

Inappropriate coffee

Now I've had a look in to Artichokes on the net, and it would appear lots of people love artichokes.  Especially Castroville which is in Monterey county, California in the US.  Most of America's Artichokes are grown here and every year they have an artichoke festival!!!

At the artichoke festival, 2 people are given the titles of artichoke king and queen, and in 1948 the artichoke queen was....MARILYN MONROE!

Marilyn Monroe enjoying artichoke


Now there's lots of ways I love to eat an artichoke - this is one of my favourite ways here when I had it with mackerel and rhubarb.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Shady Lady

As I have a West facing garden I mostly get afternoon and evening sun.  Because there is a wall on the south-side of my garden I have an are that is pretty much in shade all day.  I had attempted grow Lavender but as you can see here - it didn't really work .

I've now planted some plants that don't mind a bit of shade such as the Camellia -


This is a nice plant for shade as it actually flowers like a real flower (see below) and for some reason I always believed that plants for shade could only be things such as ferns...which I've also planted.

Camelia Flower


Oops sorry wrong Fern... (what is she doing though...??)


I also happened to have planted a Nasturtium seed which seems to be doing pretty well in the same area - I love Nasturtiums, they go mad and self seed everywhere - plus you can eat the flowers in salad and the leaves look like frogs would sit on them


Ages ago in the same area I also planted some Blackthorn plants because I wanted to make some Sloe Gin (see here).  These are doing pretty well though are still a bit young to have fruited.

Blackthorn plant

Also, my Geranium seems to be doing OK in it's hanging basket above, though I think that gets a little more light than down below...


I even don't mind the weeds in the shady area, I like to think of it as woodland.


I think it's all looking ok, and once the Camellia's flower and the Blackthorn grows some more it should look peachy :)

Shady Lady 

Saturday, 18 June 2011


I just wanted to have a quick little bitch about Jasmine.  I absolutely LOVE the smell of Jasmine and purrrrchased some a few years ago to go under my bedroom window so that when I opened it the fragrance would envelop my room.  Now in the first year it flowered and smelled delightful, but since then it has done little except take over my garden and choke my climbing rose.

Jasmine taking over the garden

Choked rose bush

This is now a total weed, I think it's hideous.  I realise this may be because the plant is called 'common' Jasmine.  You should never put anything common in your garden unless they're geraniums and even then you should have a more unique variety.

Now to anyone wanting the sweet smell of Jasmine I would suggest you don't buy this common variety and instead go for this one (warning - latin name for plant coming up)...trachelospermum 

The trachelospermum jasminoides is more of a bush like plant and has lovely pale green shiny leaves. It's easier to manage and as far as I've seen so far - flowers prolifically year after year.

Trachelospermum Jasminoides


We do not want to live like common people and do whatever common people do - like buy common Jasmine.

Common People

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Timberlina dropping in 16 June..

Dear Russella,

I've just made some flapjack- it's just out the oven so I'm going to have to go and slip it off the tray in a minute.  I think it could be the best flapjack yet!  I used oat meal mixed with oats and they look like cookies so I feel very Martha Stewart...
... in fact I think she has used my flapjack in the layer cake you see on the front of her book!  Anyway Russella, I have spent the last couple of days tidying a couple of gardens in Rye, where I live.  I've been so happy scraping away, tugging out the weeds and carefully keeping nice the Lavenders, Snow in Summers, Thymes and wild Strawberries that creep across the flower beds.  Today I found a giant fuse, and ancient tuppence and an antique bottle top... which will all go towards a very attractive and fabulous new trinket bracelet.

The weather has behaved admirably and I have a beautiful crescent sunburn where as it turns out the sun does shine!

I can inform you that the flapjack is a resounding success!  Nice and chewy, the linseed providing a necessary crunch and the rub in of sea salt and ginger providing extra zing.

Not only have the last two days been a joy to have a good snoop around other people's gardens and houses, but I have been mostly using a paving weed scrape- here's one available at B&Q (or from you local non-chain supplier) for £3.98.  For some reason it won't let me upload the actual image of a paving weed scrape (they're basically like a small, hand held leaf rake), I also couldn't upload a picture of Hugh Grant who's my hero of the day speaking out against the paps, so here's a picture of a kitten.  If you can imagine the kitten as a hand held device (-say you hold the hind legs- the front providing the clawy 'rakes)' with which to scrape a patio, or cobbled surface, or even a lawn, it might look like this...
In short, hand held patio rakes and a sturdy knife (even an old one from the kitchen) are all you need to take it out on the undergrowth and weedle out those very frustrating dandelion roots... and at £3.98 from B&Q (or from your local non-chain supplier) they're a worthy addition for the city, or country gardener, providing hours of no-frills fun to expel any anxieties,  They are a boon!

Something else I've learned is that I'm very bad at knowing plant names and have decided that a trip to the local agriculture college might well be the way forward!  It's fine if it's foreign tourists asking questions about plants and techniques of which you know very little but appear miraculously through a good dollop of common sense, cos you can just nod and make things up.  Actually you can get away with the latter more often than not if you supply a handsome and resolute- and above all polite and authoritative disposition.  But I do wish I actually knew what I was doing.

Now, the veg patch on the other hand.  I'm thrilled to report that my Nasturtiums and Chrysanthemums are really kicking up a storm around my brassicas and carrots to keep the black fly et al at bay.  To which end the carrots are now flourishing (thanks the lord, earth mother, fate, whatever) for the rain.  With the exception of a very disappointing bean turn out (new ones propagating as we speak!), it's all coming along nicely.

And with that, after a long day on my knees followed by a bit of yoga to stretch the muscles, a hot bath with Radio 4, a cheese omelette accompanied by home grown salad (those bags of variety 'watch and grow' salad seeds are amazing!) a bottle of cider and a whole lot of procrastinating about learning lines for my show, I shall now retreat with a large plate of falpjack to the projector and watch series 1 of Modern Family... yet again!  It's my opium!

By the way my show, Timberlina Cares, is on at the RVT on Wednesday July 6th.  I hope you can come... Eek!

See you soon love!!

Ms Txx

PS here's a picture of me and Dolly Parton

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Timberlina drops in...

Please let me introduce Timberlina.  Timberlina is a fellow glamorous gardener and performer who I've asked to guest blog as s/he lives in an idyllic village called Rye with husband Mr Timberlina.  S/he loves to grow things.  I thought it might be nice for you to hear what she's up to as it will be in stark contrast to my bitching about city-gardening life.  Here s/he is.

Hi Russella! I thought i would drop in with an update from the countryside- earlier on I was able to spen a good couple of hours in the Garden at Rye before the heavens opened! I was very struck by your last post suggesting now is the time to plant salad.

Well funnily enough that's exactly what I was doing today as well as:
Remove a dead frog from a water butt
Remove a 12 Lovage-roots 'n' all to make way for more salad
Plant up some parsnips and beetroots
Bring the laundry in.

I don't know about you but here in Sussex we're on drought watch here. While it's been nice having summer weather in Spring, it's raised havoc with the veg planting and everything in general just doesn't know what to do with itself. The dryness has made lettuces and spinach bolt... Now Russella you'll just have to bear with me because Mr Timberlina is threatening to take me to pub for a local Perry and some Cheesey Moments and i've just realized that I can't upload pics to your blog from my I-phone... So in the meantime I will leave you with a link to my environmentalist and vegetable gardening Tumblr blog And oh the irony Russella- ever since I posted a thing about cultivating grey water it's been posing it down, so there's no choice but to go ant
Get tipsy and then come home and watch Burlesque featuring Cher and Christina... LATERS!

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Regents Park

The Roses are in bloom in Regents Park, London - so it's time to visit if you're nearby.

The Rose garden in Regents park is part of Queen Mary's gardens - I think named after Mary of Teck (as is Queen Mary's Uni and Queen Mary's hospital).   I don't believe they are named after Queen Mary I - who was a mass murderer (I doubt it'd be very appropriate to name a Rose garden after a mass murderer).

This is London's best rose garden and the most fun can be had from guessing the names of the different types of roses.  I found two varieties named after me -

Lovely Lady

Simply The Best

There's some real stunners...

'Heart of Gold Rose'

I forgot the name of this one but it looks like the kind of rose you think of when you think of a rose...if you get my drift...

Juliets theory that 'A Rose by any other name would smell as sweet' is not true - This Rose below - 'The Velvet Fragrance'  smelled deeeeeelightful (as it's name suggests)

Whilst this one smelled of nothing -

and this one smelled of Pineapples...?

Don't you just love this song?

That song takes me back - makes me feel nostalgic.