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4:56pm Thursday 16th May 2013
There is a mid-17th century adage that says “if you would be happy for a week take wife; if you would happy for a month kill a pig; but if you would be happy all your life plant a garden” and I couldn’t agree more. Having your own garden is delight, but having a garden in mid-May is a double trillion delight, for it’s full of promise and interest. My pleasure shows in my face, weather-worn and wind-beaten though it is, with laughter lines spread over it like a map. I recommend it to all potential hedonists for gardening isn’t all work!
4:40pm Thursday 9th May 2013
The tulips are a little late this year, but worth the wait. Most of mine are randomly planted in oak half barrels, with blends that contain oranges, black and pinks. I have a mixture of April Triumphs and later May-flowering single lates, doubles and very ornate parrots. These should give me four weeks of sock-it-to you colour, if the weather behaves. I’m growing several that I adore and tend to reorder year after year, but others are new experiments. My regulars include ‘Cairo’ which is apparently the colour of burnished Saharan sand at sunset and sadly the nearest I will probably ever get to to the Sahara. ‘Cairo’ should flower in late-April in most years and it develops an almost metallic sheen as it ages. I am also growing ‘Orange Emperor’, a fresh vision of orange and green that flowers early on. This is quite perennial when planted in borders. Finally I always grow the very warm-orange single early called ‘Prinses Irene’ for its purple flaming because this highlights pinks and purples really well. I have added a similar parrot form, named ‘Irene Parrot’, and ‘Couleur Cardinal’, a shorter red. The latter produced ‘Prinses Irene’ as a sport, or genetic mutation. I am also entirely confident that my ‘Black Hero’, a double form of ‘Queen of the Night’, will do well with its sultry, artichoke-shaped flowers that last forever.
1:27pm Monday 1st October 2012
12:15pm Thursday 13th September 2012
12:04pm Thursday 13th September 2012
Many of you will know Farmoor Reservoir as a major county stopping-off point for migrating birds. Probably fewer people know that it’s also an important inland gull roost and the western perimeter has an enhanced environment of scrapes, bird seed strips and herbage that has been specially planted to attract and harbour all forms of wildlife.
9:00am Thursday 16th August 2012
8:00am Thursday 9th August 2012
8:00am Thursday 26th July 2012
Intrepid wildlife explorer Steve Backshall is just at home hunting for beetles and frogs in a nature reserve in Didcot as he is tracking tigers in Nepal; and Sutton Courtenay Environmental Education Centre is exactly where dozens of children found their wildlife hero last week.
7:00am Thursday 26th July 2012
Warblers have been a topic of conversation among birding folk in Oxfordshire recently who have noticed a depletion of numbers with the once common willow warbler now markedly reduced and even the most common of the warblers the chiffchaff not as abundant as it once was.
4:02pm Thursday 19th July 2012