Old house garden round up: 6 on Saturday 21/10/17

It’s a quick round-up today of 6 things in my garden. Storm Brian is about to hit this afternoon but I took these this morning in the old house garden.


I captured this lovely Red Admiral butterfly that seemed to follow me before settling on the wall.


Tilly loves outside most of the time but likes to follow me when I’m in the garden as she likes a cuddle!


The new rose garden is looking very Autumnal! I still love this new area though. My pumpkins are ready too.


I moved this Hydrangea 3 weeks ago and was worried that it wasn’t happy but it seems to be fine now. Phew! I will trim it back in the Spring.


The recent windy weather has blown the last of the Bramley apples off the tree!


I took this last night as there was a beautiful sunset.

Well there we have it!

My 6 on Saturday.

This started over on the propagator’s blog

Happy Gardening! 🙂

#MyGloriousGardens: Stourhead in Autumn.

Stourhead is a National Trust property and garden that we have visited on numerous occasions. As National Trust members we thought we would visit in the Autumn as the trees are looking glorious at the moment. I love that with our family membership, we can explore an area for a day or for a quick dog walk.



The view towards The Pantheon is like a work of art.

Stourhead is a national treasure with a famous garden. It has been described as a work of art and I can see why! Visiting in Autumn allows you to see the landscape with all it’s beautiful colours on display. We visited on a rainy day but it was still glorious!


This is the Rock Arch which is fun to explore. It leads up to the Temple of Apollo. 

The Stourhead garden was made by a wealthy English banker, Henry Hoare II who owned the nearby house. The garden was made in the valley behind the house and you can see the influence of his trips to Italy within the garden. The Temple of Flora at Stourhead was made in 1745 and the grotto in 1748. The lake and the Pantheon were made in 1754. It is based on the Pantheon in Rome and the planned walk through the estate is based on the journey of Rome’s legendary founder, Aeneas. The five-arched bridge was made in 1762 and the Temple of Apollo in 1765. Various other features such as the gothic cottage and the Rhododendrons  were added later adding to the wonderful yet unique atmosphere that is Stourhead.


The Pantheon


Inside the Pantheon with it’s statues



View from the Pantheon towards the lake.

In October there are various Autumn tours to take and warming refreshments offered in The Gothic Cottage. There are also trails for children to follow. The paths are well laid out and accessible for wheelchairs and buggies a like.


The Gothic Cottage with it’s gorgeous Acers and Maple Trees outside. Inside you can buy warm refreshments.

The Grotto resembles a cave and was built as a summer retreat from the heat. We found this statue of a river God inside as well as a Nymph.


River God statue inside the Grotto


View from the Grotto of the Autumn colours.


The Temple of Apollo in the distance.

We really enjoyed the few hours we spent here. We didn’t visit the house this time but we did grab some lunch in the main restaurant which was excellent. Nearest the gardens is the quaint little pub called ‘The Spread Eagle’ which provided food and picnics to take away. There are toilets, an ice-cream parlour, picnic tables and an Art gallery here too.


The Spread Eagle pub


Stourhead; a national treasure and a lovely walk!

We would recommend visiting Stourhead soon as the trees are looking splendid at the moment. It is a great day out for all the family. Dogs are only allowed after 4pm though.

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#MyGloriousGardens Westonbirt Arboretum in Autumn.

This weekend we decided to visit Westonbirt Arboretum as the weather was so good and it is the perfect time to go to see the Autumn colours. The Arboretum is 3 miles from the lovely town of Tetbury in Gloucestershire and has over 15,000 trees in it’s 17 miles of pathways through the woodlands. There are 2 main parts to the Arboretum; the old Arboretum which was planted in the 1850’s and Silk Wood which is a semi-natural woodland. Silk Wood welcomes dogs so we took Dottie with us. it costs £10 per adult and £4 for children which we thought was excellent as you could easily stay all day here. There are restaurants, cafes, a shop, toilets and picnic areas plus a playground for children.


Dottie could be off the lead in Silk Wood

The trees were absolutely stunning and many were showing beautiful Autumn colours. It was busy with lots of visitors but we could still find places to walk alone. A map guides you through the best parts and the walks range from 40 minutes to over 3 hours depending on what you want to see.


The treetop walkway allows you look across the tree tops.


Crows nests allow for a better view!

The Treetop walk was great fun and allowed you to see across the Arboretum. There were different maps and trails for children including lift the flap type information along the walkway.


Dogs are welcome in Silk Wood

Dogs are welcome in Silk Wood and there were lots! Dottie had a great time meeting all the different dogs. The paths are well signposted and easily accessible for people in wheelchairs and babies in buggies. There were even lots of children on scooters and bicycles which was lovely as it is quite flat.

I will leave you with lots of photographs but do visit if you get the chance as it is well worth it! They are also planning an Enchanted Christmas show there which is when the Winter woodlands are lit up in the evening and look amazing.


The Autumn light was beautiful; just look at the shadows of the leaves on the tree here.


I love the way the light filters through the needles.


The light hitting the bark on this Maple is stunning.


My favourite place was The Acer Glade with lots of mature specimens.


Acer Palmatum.


The ground looked like it was covered in jewels.


I loved this combination of yellow and red.


Some of the trees were quite mature.


October is the perfect time to visit.


It was a beautiful sunny day -perfect for taking photos!


Views through the Acers.


Autumn Light


Lovely place to visit!

Visit soon as this Autumn display will soon be over.

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My Glorious Gardens series: Lacock Abbey Gardens in June.

Lacock Abbey is a National Trust property that started life as a nunnery and was last lived in by the Talbot family. It is also the birthplace of photography. Many films have been filmed here including Harry Potter, The other Boleyn girl and Wolf Hall. We have visited the Abbey many times but haven’t really wandered around the gardens so that’s what we did on this visit. We did wander into the Cloisters as they are particularly beautiful and interesting.


The view of the Abbey as you enter to go in.


This beautiful Gothic arch leads you into towards the Abbey.

The outside is absolutely stunning and you can see the history of the building in the different windows and architecture. As this is the place where William Henry Fox Talbot took the first ever photographic negative, there are lots of frames around the grounds for you to take photographs of you own. A fun idea for children I thought.


If you have seen Harry Potter, you will know this corridor!


The beautiful Cloisters


Some of this part of the Abbey are 800 years old.


This is the Sacristy, dating back to the 1230’s.

The gardens are laid out as parkland with rolling hills and fields. The house itself is surrounded by a Ha-Ha wall. We wandered into the Botanical Gardens and took some lovely photos here.


Cottage style planting


Beautiful delphiniums!


I love the shades of blue of the different delphiniums.


The bees were loving them!


My delphiniums always get eaten by slugs…….


I love the black centre to these delphiniums.


In the greenhouse there was this huge vine and bougainvillea

We walked through the orchard and sat for a while before visiting the new rose garden.


The orchard.


The new rose garden.


We sat for a while in this fabulous gothic seat.


Beautiful, mature trees

Lacock Abbey can be combined to a visit to the village of Lacock. The whole estate, including the village, were gifted to The National Trust in 1944. It is a ridiculously pretty and unspoilt village with no overhead power lines giving it a timeless quality. There are a couple of great pubs and places to buy ice-creams. It also has a delightful “Stall on the wall”, a place to buy home-made cakes, meringues and jams all made by a local resident.


10 ways to deal with slugs and snails in the garden without using chemicals.

Snails and slugs have eaten my Delphiniums again! They have also munched some of my vegetables and it’s quite a problem!

We garden without chemicals in the old house garden. We have pets but we also have a resident hedgehog as well as slow worms, bats, pond life and birds. We want to encourage this wildlife and using chemicals is not an option. I also think that if you have young children you should think very carefully about using chemicals.


Slugs and snails are a nuisance in the garden

So how do we deal with slugs and snails?

1. Encourage wildlife that eat them! Make homes for hedgehogs, leave a wild patch, make homes for insects and make a hole in your fence so that hedgehogs can get in and out. See my post on how to create a wildlife garden Here

2. Make sure your plants are as healthy as they can be. Use mulch, make your own compost and water your plants regularly (using water from your water butt of course!)

3. Make raised beds surrounded by gravel to make it trickier for the snails and slugs to reach your vegetables in the first place.

4. Make beer traps. Basically put some beer into a jar or pot. It needs to be deep enough so they can’t get out. Put this amongst your vegetables. The snails and slugs like the yeast in the beer and will choose this over your plants. Tip the snails and slugs in the compost bin.

5. Use crushed egg shells or crushed pistachio nuts around the base of your plants. They don’t like it all over them when they move.

6. Use coffee grounds, sawdust, ash or sand around the base of your delicate plants. I’ve actually never found these work but some people swear by them!

7. Put out strips of cardboard at night and in the morning, you will find the snails and slugs underneath and you can pop them into the compost, cardboard and all.

8. Smear petroleum jelly around the base of plants in pots. The snails and slugs can’t cross the jelly to reach your plants.

9. Plant “sacrifice” plants such as lettuces. In other words, the snails and slugs will eat these instead.

10. If in doubt, go out! I go out in the early evening (with a torch…..🤔) And pick off the slugs and snails. I then put them where the hedgehogs live or straight into the compost bin.


You don’t need chemicals to deal with snails and slugs.

I hope this post was useful to you!





The old house garden: a weekly round up. 31st May 2017

Ive been so busy that I haven’t written the weekly round up of the old house garden! May is such a busy month in the english garden and the old house garden is no exception! It has grown so much since my last post that I am sure you will really see the difference.
Anyway, here are the photos!


I only planted this border last year and it is looking at it’s best at the moment!


The lupins are looking superb!


The lupins (I have to pick off the snails and slugs every night!)


Lupins close up


A close up of Clematis Vyvyan Pennell


Clematis Vyvyan Pennell climbing over the arch.


Red oriental Poppy


The rain has damaged my white oriental poppies but they still look lovely!


Astrantia Major Pink


Astrantia Minor with Forget-me-nots (and the odd wild strawberry which the hedgehog loves so I allow!)


Purple Iris (this was a surprise!)


My blue poppies are still going although now looking paler in colour.


The bees are loving the Scabious!




The irises around the pond are flowering now.


The pond area is looking a little battered from all the rain.


Yellow rose


I haven’t planted much in the new border but these plants were transported last year and seem to be doing well! They are all yellow, orange and red.


I repotted the Bay Tree as it was totally pot bound and it’s so much happier!


The fruit trees are beginning to grow


Tomatoes are in their grow bags in the Greenhouse.


The peas and beans are doing really well. I have planted out 2 pumpkins too.


The other vegetables are growing well but some have been attacked by slugs and snails.


Primrose came to stay. She is my mum’s dog and is very cute! Here she is with my rather bedraggled looking Peonies!


We had a cinema night with friends! It was so much fun!



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My Glorious Gardens Series: Chelsea Flower show 2017: The other gardens we loved.

At Chelsea Flower Show 2017, there were the Show Gardens which I blogged about in my previous post. There were also Artisan Gardens, Feel Good Gardens and Fresh Gardens which, in some ways were even better!


Gosho No Niwa No Wall, No War Garden. Chelsea Flower Show 2017.

This was the Gosho No Niwa No Wall, No War, Garden part of the Artisan Gardens. It was very busy when we visited here as they were about to film but here is the designer, Kazuyuki  Ishihara. The garden was exquisite in its detail. Each rock looked at if it had been polished and each piece of moss delicately plumped up! It was inspired by the historical gardens of Kyoto with Acer’s, sedums and a cool pool with contemporary structure with a glass floor. We both really loved this garden; what a shame we couldn’t view it properly! This garden won a gold award and it is easy to see why.


The Chris Evans Taste Garden. Chelsea Flower Show 2017.

This was a simple, yet clean and crisp garden full of gorgeous and perfect vegetables! This was inspired by Mary Berry and was very popular with the visitors. As beginners at growing vegetables, it was a bit annoying to see such perfection to be honest but we were impressed that there were over 50 different ones in this small space!


The Jeremy Vine Texture Garden. Chelsea Flower Show 2017.

This was the Jeremy Vine Texture Garden. You could see the work that had gone into creating them his garden immediately. Unfortunately, this is a textured garden and one that should be felt as well as looked at! I just wanted to get in there but we obviously couldn’t! I loved the clipped hedging and smooth pathways.


Mind Trap. Chelsea Flower Show 2017.

This garden was called Mind trap and was created from experiences with mental health. We could see what this garden was trying to create but it just didn’t work in our opinion. We really thought that other Gardens deserved the Gold award it was given (sorry!).  It was just too obvious and tried too hard.


The poetry lovers garden. Chelsea Flower Show 2017. Here is the designer Fiona Cadwallader.


The poetry lovers garden. Chelsea Flower Show 2017.

My photographs do not do this garden justice. This was one of the best garden at the entire show in our opinion! I absolutely loved the planting and the dry stone walls. I expect it reminded me of the old house garden in that respect. We spent quite a while admiring it hence the lack of quality photos! I loved the colours and the tranquil feel to the garden. This contrasted so well to the contemporary ,metal water feature and lounger. This is the one garden we went back to a few times!

Chelsea Flower Show is a glorious place to visit!

In my next post, I shall review the sites of the Main Pavilion!

These are my own opinions. I am not a garden designer or horticulturalist but I do know what I like!

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How to create a family friendly wildlife garden

I make no secret of the fact I love gardening and helping local wildlife in my garden. I love that we have hedgehogs, toads, frogs, newts, slow worms, butterflies, bats and bees in the old house garden. I do not use chemicals at all and always try to find other, organic ways to overcome pests or problems.


A bee visiting a peony in the old house garden

Many people ask me how I created my wildlife friendly garden. Well, I didn’t! We have only lived in the old house for less than 2 years but in that time we have enhanced a previously overgrown and dark space into the beautiful garden it is today. The wildlife was here already but I like to think we are encouraging more creatures to come and visit.

I thought I would share with you my top tips for creating a wildlife garden that is also child friendly.

1. Save Water

Add a water butt to your garden will help in times of dry weather. You can even add sprinklers to some which children will love playing in! Use this water to fill up the paddling pool but add a teaspoon of Milton for very young children as the rain water could be dirty.


The pond at the old house with a dog/ child proof fence

2. Ponds

Wildlife gardens are best with a pond but these can be very dangerous for young children. I went to a neighbours recently and was dismayed to see that they had poured sand into their pond as they were worried for their toddler. Whilst I understand this, I could only think of all the damage they had done to the pond’s ecosystem! Instead cover existing ponds with a good quality mesh above the pond or, better still, fence off your pond AND add a mesh. In this way creatures can still access your pond BUT your child will be safe. When your child is older or with supervision, you will be amazed at what creatures you can see together. Ponds are good for children to learn about life cycles and to see many animals from their books. Ponds attract a multitude of different animals but do not add a pump as this will only cause problems for tadpoles and other small creatures. For this reason, I would not add fish either as they eat tadpoles.

3. No Chemicals

I do not use any chemicals. Nothing to kill aphids. Nothing to prevent rose rust. Nothing to kill the weeds in my lawn. You really don’t need them. Add ladybird houses and encourage other insects into the garden will help to beat the pests. Make sure the soil is healthy by adding home grown compost. I will talk about other ideas in another post such as how to get rid of aphids the organic way! Chemicals are not just harmful to the garden ecosystem but also for our families.

4. Plant some seeds and give a patch to your children.

Give a patch of garden to your children to grow their own seeds on. It could be a pot or raised bed if you have a smaller garden. Children love to plant, water and care for plants. They don’t mind what kind of plant it is! I love growing sunflowers, nasturtiums, marigolds, sweet peas and nigellas with children as they are all easy to grow from seeds. If you want to plant some now, I love nasturtiums. The seeds are larger for young children to handle and they grow quickly producing lots of lovely orange/red/yellow flowers. They have the added bonus of attracting the cabbage white butterfly so you may get caterpillars too!

5. Grow your own food

There is nothing better than eating your own vegetables and fruits. It also helps children to see where their food comes from. You don’t need a garden to grow tomatoes; a window sill will do. You can buy small vegetable plants at this time of year which saves you growing from seed if you are a new gardener. We still do this sometimes as it saves space in the greenhouse! Easy vegetables to grow are cucumbers, peppers, peas, beans, onions, strawberries, carrots and pumpkins. I love growing pumpkins with children because they are always amazed at their size!


6. Feed the birds

We have lots of different bird feeders in the garden and even with cats, get lots of visitors. Children love to watch the birds that come to the garden. We always do the Big Garden Bird Watch in school and the children are ALWAYS thrilled to see all the different birds! You can make bird cakes with children which are very easy -put a hole in a yoghurt pot and add a piece of string (so that you can hang your feeder). Then, melt lard in a pan and add birdseed to it. Add the mixture to the yoghurt pot and leave to cool before hanging. Make a area of your garden for birds and you may be lucky to see other visitors such as squirrels!


Squirrel visiting the bird feeders

7. Create a den or “hide”

Children love making dens so make a permanent one in the garden where your children can hide and watch the birds! You can use bamboo plants as they grow quickly (but can be invasive) or you could make one from willow sticks. Even adding a den from materials and chairs is a great way to encourage children to sit quietly to watch wildlife (for about 5 minutes!)

8. Add animal homes

Add nesting boxes, ladybird houses, bat boxes and hedgehog homes to encourage wildlife to stay. Making a bee hotel is always a fun project to do with children and they are easy to make. Get lots of plastic drinking straws and let your child bundle the straws together and tie them using string or an elastic band. Then cut the straws to the size they want (great for snipping skills!). Hang these on a sunny wall and watch the solitary bees come to make their nests. Perhaps read stories about the animals and this will enable your child to see what they may look like.

9. Plant food for the insects

Planting a range of plants that flower throughout the year not only makes your garden look good, it also provided food all year round for bees, moths and other insects. My favourites are lavender, forget-me-nots, primroses, buddleja, sedums, sunflowers, clover, honeysuckle, jasmine, asters, black eyed susan, phlox and crab apple blossoms. Variety is key and personally, I love the cottage garden look anyway!


Children looking at ladybirds! *

10. Don’t be too tidy!

The perfect wildlife gardens are a little untidy in places and have patches of nettles or wild bits! It’s tricky to do this in a small garden but I tend to think that if the grass is a little long or if there a few weeds, it doesn’t really matter. Enjoyment of our green spaces is key so that we can spend as much time outside in the fresh air as we can. If we can do that and help local wildlife as well, surely we will all live in a better world and will be teaching our children than wildlife matters.

Happy gardening everyone!


*photo found at http://gratisography.com/

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Garden Round Up May 1st.

A few photos of the garden to share with you. The garden has changed so much during this past month. This is the second year that we have lived at the old house so it’s easy to forget what it looked like then! Do have a look at older posts to see more pictures.


Bark Mulch

I have finally begun to weed the older beds and mulched with bark. It’s a long process and I don’t want to be too tidy but this looks much better. I can also see when Hubbard the Hedgehog has visited as he likes to dig in the mulch!


My ericaceous bed with Acer’s.

The acid soil raised bed is planted up. We had lots of inspiration from visits to Exbury and Bowood. We now have Acer’s which I’m so pleased with!


The established bed with yellow Tree Peony


Yellow Peony with a visiting bee

The Tree Peony flowered which was beautiful. The bees loved it!


New fence for roses.

We put up the fence on the other side of the garden and I have planted 3 rambling roses in white and pink here which will look glorious once established.


Red currants


Rhubarb is growing happily

We planted a new red currant bush along the dog proof fence and the rhubarb that we planted last year is growing happily.


Support for my cucumbers

Hubbie made a cucumber support so that we can still grow things underneath it. I planted those out today as I think the frosts are now passed. In the greenhouse we also have peas, tomatoes and peppers growing happily.


Giant Allium

The alliums I planted as bulbs in October are beginning to appear. I had forgotten I had planted these so it’s so great to see them!


Clematis Montana

I have many Clematis in the garden but the Montana is looking splendid. I only planted this last Spring so it is flowering beautifully!

Let’s see what May will bring….





Great things to do outside with your children right now.

This is getting lots of views at the moment as it’s relevent for all this lovely weather we are having so I’m reblogging it. Enjoy!

Old house in the Shires

What to do with young children when they are bored? Want to keep them away from the Playstation or iPad? Feel like they haven’t been outside in ages and need some fresh air? Feel you haven’t any money for treats and days out?

If the answer is yes, then this blog post is for you!

Things to do in the woods or in your garden or at the park….and they are all free!

  • Find a stick! Children love sticks and they can be really fun. Draw in the mud with it. Pretend it’s Stick Man, is it a wand? is it a sword? Collect loads and make a giant nest with them or a den. Fun with sticks is endless.
  • Hide and Seek is still a great favourite of mine. Young children have Not become bored by the old games remember so this is a fun game to play in…

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