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Woodturning

Turned yew snowmen
Snowman families and Christmas trees turned in yew

Snowmen and families

4 December 2017

This group of snowmen flew off to Melanie for Christimas in Boylston, Massachusetts. There are four families each consisting of a snowman and snow woman, snow boy, snowgirl, and snowtoddler. At the back are Christmas trees. All turned in yew, with ebony and mahogany hats, and woven jute scarves. More on snow people.

Acorn gift
Acorn gift for a researcher at Sky Sports Rugby Union

Acorn gift

2 December 2017

Johnnie requested a leaving gift for a colleague, based upon aconr trophies seen elsewhere on this website. This one is turned in spalted beech, and has a somewhat cryptic inscription to the departing member of staff.

Acorns have a lot of symbolism, and can be used to the birth of ideas, the growth of mighty things from small beginnings, the hope of renewal. This is probably why they continue to prove popular.
More on acorn trophies.

Bud vases
Small bud vases on show at Ryedale Woodturners exhibition.
Woodturning exhibition
A selection of items on sale at Ryedale Woodturners exhibition. Some may still be for sale.

A few exhibits at Ryedale Woodturners show

25 November 2017

A selection of items at my woodturning club show. More from the turning exhibition.

Turned wooden mouse
Spalted beech mouse with matching box

Mouse and house

14 November 2017

A small mouse in front of his house, a lidded box made from the same spalted beech. He fits in snugly, if he curls up his tail. Leather eyes and tail, and African blackwood eyes.

Requested by Margaret for a Christmas present.

More on turned wooden mice.

Yew dishes
Three shallow dishes made from a single yew log.

Yew dishes

14 November 2017

Small dishes made from a yew log, retaining some of their natural bark around the rim. These are about 5 inches in diameter and a couple of inches high. They were made following a request from Margaret for a small bowl to put keys and coins in.

More on yew natural edge bowls.

Ball finial for summerhouse
Aged and worn ball finial in need of replacement.
Ball finial for summerhouse
Large oak ball finial - 6 inch diameter ball on an 11 inch base.

Ball finial in oak

8 November 2017

Richard asked for a ball finial to replace the rotted one on top of his summerhouse. An 18 cm diameter ball turned from 2 oak blocks, resting on a 27 cm base. Osmo oil finish. More on summerhouse finials.

Golf trophy in wood
Golf trophy based on a large driver

Golf pairs trophy

5 November 2017

Nigel asked if I could make a golf trophy based on a shortened wood. This one has the club carved from goncalo alves, an African blackwood handle, and an oak shaft. The plinth was made to a 2 inch depth to accommodate some engraving plaques at the rear. More on sports trophies.

Summerhouse finial
Ball finial for a summerhouse.

Ball finial

24 October 2017

Carol asked for a large ball finial for her summerhouse in Newcastle under Lyme, Staffordshire. This one is a six inch diameter, resting on a 10 inch diameter octagonal base. All in larch, left untreated ready for painting or staining.

More on summerhouse finials.

acorn trophy
Swimming trophy in the shape of an acorn.

Acorn trophy

24 October 2017

Andy in Auguerstertal, Switzerland, requested a trophy in the shape of an acorn on a circular plinth. This one is made from spalted beech. The acorn is 4 inches in diameter, the base 5 inches, and the whole trophy stands around 10 inches tall. It bears the inscription Baarbierians Open Water Swimming, and will be awarded by the Baarbierians club for swimming competitions in lakes surrounded by oak trees (hence the acorn). More on acorn trophies.

Turned wooden mice
Small mice turned from yew branches.

12 mice found in the shavings

20 October 2017

A dozen small mice found in my workshop amongst the shavings. As usual these are turned from yew branches, with African blackwood eyes and leather ears and tails. About 2 inches long. More on turned wooden mice.

Summerhouse finial
A 5 inch diameter larch acorn on an 18 inch diameter ash base.
Summerhouse finial
Chris's summerhouse in Braunton, Devon, with the finial in place.

Summerhouse finial - acorn

18 October 2017

Chris sent me a photo of his summerhouse in Braunton, Devon. One of the largest bases I have been asked to do, with a 45 cm diameter. In larch and ash. More on summerhouse finials

Summerhouse finial
Circular wooden trophies with pyrographed inscriptions and enamel badge TR210

21 disc trophies for Malton School

18 October 2017

Into production mode in recent days, producing 21 circular oak trophies for Malton School's annual Celebration evening for their Key Stage 3 students. Each has the winner's name pyrographed on, and an enamel school badge. More on disc trophies

Cricket trophy
Young cricketer of the Year individual trophy. In ash, with the ball in padauk. TR211
House Cup turned from wood.
House cup turned from horse chestnut. TR212

Young cricketer and House Cup trophies

10 October 2017

A Young Cricketer of the Year trophy turned from ash and padauk, and a House Cup in horse chestnut, presented to the student with the most housepoints in the year.
More on cricket trophies and trophy cups

Maths trophy
Fox and geese game presented as maths competition winners' prizes.

Fox and Geese maths trophies

18 October 2017

Two Fox and Geese pegboard games inscribed and presented as Maths trophies to the winners of the Junior and Intermediate maths challenge competitions at Malton School. Made from oak, with wooden golf tees used for the pegs. More on maths trophies

Summerhouse finial
A 5 inch diameter larch acorn on a 10 inch diameter ash base.
Summerhouse finial
Peter's summerhouse office in Tamworth, Staffordshire, with the finial in place.

Summerhouse finial - acorn in situ

10 October 2017

Peter was kind enough to send me a photo of his summerhouse in Tamworth, with the finial I made installed and painted to match the house. The summerhouse is used as an office, when Peter is not looking out of the windows!
More on summerhouse finials

orienteering trophy
A pair of orienteering trophies for Claro orienteering club, based around Harrogate.

Orienteering trophies

27 September2017

Linda requested two trophies for the Claro club orienteering league, based around the Harrogate area. These have the now standard features of a central orienteering compass, inscription, and a plinth for adding engraving plaques. About 8 inches in diameter, made from olive ash. More on orienteering trophies.

Summerhouse finial
A 5 inch diameter larch acorn on a 9 inch diameter larch base.
Summerhouse finial
Ian's summerhouse in Oundle, Northamptonshire, with the finial in place.

Summerhouse finial - acorn in situ

25 September 2017

'Tis the season for summerhouses! Another finial, this one for Ian in Oundle. Larch, 9" diameter and about 12" tall. Ian sent me a picture of it in place. More on summerhouse finials

Summerhouse finial
A 5 inch diameter larch acorn on a 12 inch diameter ash base.
Summerhouse finial
A 5 inch diameter ball on a 9 inch diameter octagonal base.

Summerhouse finial - acorn in situ

September 2017

Max sent me a picture of his finial sitting on top of a fine example of a summerhouse. The hope is that it will weather to the same grey tones as the cedar roof shingles. More on summerhouse finials

Acorn finial
An acorn finial for a summerhouse in

Acorn finial

6 August 2017

Peter requested an acorn finial on a ten inch diameter base, with some specific requirements for grooves on the base to enable it to fit comfortably on his summerhouse. The acorn is larch and the base is ash. The finial was provided unfinished, due to be stained to match the summerhouse.

More on acorn finials

Summerhouse finial
A 5 inch diameter larch acorn on a 12 inch diameter ash base.
Summerhouse finial
TA 5 inch diameter ball on a 9 inch diameter octagonal base.

Summerhouse finial - acorn stained to match

5 August 2017

A fniial for a summerhoue in Surrey. The owner, Colin, was kind enough to send a picture. More on summerhouse finials

money box
Personalised christening money box for Olivia Rose.

Money box

8 july 2017

Valerie requested a small money box barrel for Olivia Rose's forthcoming christening. This one is made from olive ash, and is about 4 inches wide by 6 inches high. There is an inscription giving the date of birth and other details on the underside of the barrel. The barrel is a tight push fit, so Olivia could get her money out when she is a little older, unless the top and bottom are glued together. More on money boxes

Growth mindset trophy
A duo of trophies, to be awarded for Growth Mindset and Christian Values, at Temple Grafton Church of England primary school

Growth Mindset Award

8 july 2017

Two trophies for Temple Grafton School. One is the Christian Values Award, the other the Growth Mindset Award. They are turned from olive ash, and the discs are 10 inch diameter. Small discs will be added around the trophy to mark the winners each year. The disc rests at a slight angle on a plinth, supported by a peg at the rear.

The Strategy of the Genes
Two ladies "playing chess" with the chess board and pieces in the Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh. Penelope Kay says: "The Strategy of the Genes is one realisation of the DNA codes [Dr Pipps Thomson] works with, the a,c,g and t notations given weight and volume as playing pieces in a game whose rules are obscure. The title of the piece is taken from the late Professor C.H.Waddington's book of the same name." ​

Strategy of the Genes

11 july 2017

Penelope tells me that the "chess set" I made back in April, now named The Strategy of the Genes, has been on tour around Edinburgh. It has been to the Assembly rooms - where the two ladies in the picture are looking at it - a shopping centre, and a conference with Dr Pippa Thomson, who originally inspired the work. It may next move to the foyer of the University psychology building in George's Square.

Uli Arndt trophy
A science trophy in memory of Uli Arndt. Presented by the Culver family to a primary school.

Uli Arndt trophy

8 july 2017

Annabel requested a science trophy for a primary school, to be presented in memory of her father Uli Arndt (1924-2006), who worked at the Medical Research Centre Laboratory of Molecular Biology, specialising in X ray crystallography.

The trophy is based on a similar version made in February of this year. This version is made from burr oak. More on science trophies.

Summerhouse finial
A 5 inch diameter acorn on a 7 inch diamer base. All in cedar.
Summerhouse finial
TA 5 inch diameter ball on a 9 inch diameter octagonal base.

Summerhouse finials - an acorn and a ball

1 july 2017

Two more large finials for the tops of summerhouses. The one on the left is made from cedar, on the right the ball is cedar, the octagonal base is larch (cedar is not always easy to source in the right size). More about summerhouse finials

Young Inventors trophy
Young inventors trophy

Young Inventor

17 June 2017

A request came from Ali for a Young Inventor's trophy for The Roche School. Made up of elements that a young inventor might use, all turned from spalted beech: two screwdrivers in a stand, a soldering iron and plug, a reel of solder and nuts and bolt. All standing on a pyrographed spalted beech plinth, inscribed with The Perry Prize for Creativity.

Golf trophy
Golf driver turned wooden golf trophy

Golf driver trophy

5 June 2017

A request from Gary to make a golf trophy which was based on the chisel trophies and a previous golf trophy, but with a driver head, and resting on a golf ball. The result was this trophy made from a variety of wood. Golf trophy

Leadership trophy
Individual leadership trophy

Leadership trophy

5 June 2017

A request came from Lyssa at Ringwood School to see if I could make an individual trophy for Leadership, to complement the larger perpetual trophy that I made for the school last year. The result is a four inch diameter trophy reflecting the shapes used in the original - chess pieces - and olive ash was used once again to tie in with the name of the lady who originally commissioned the trophy. More on this Leadership trophy

Mouse box ornaments
Three turned mice with matching boxes for them to nest in.

Mice in boxes

16 May 2017

A request for three mice with matching boxes came from Paul, for his granddaughters. His idea was to have ears and tail poking out of the lids, and for the mice to make their nests in felt inside the boxes. Ash, bubinga and oak were used. Mice in boxes

Football trophy
Clubman of the year, turned in spalted sycamore
Football trophy
Players' player of the year

Football trophies

26 April 2017

Two more trophies for the Fox football team in Derbyshire. The vase shaped version is in sycamore with the fox hiding inside the vase. The second is a disc standing on a triangular plinth, made from ash, with the fox cut from contrasting sapele wood. Football trophies

Genetics chess set
Pieces symbolic of genetic code letters, simulating a chess set.

Strategy of the Genes

26 April 2017

An unusual commission from Penelope, a sculptor who designed this piece for the Royal Edinburgh hospital. It is based on shapes created by revolving the four letters used in coding DNA - a c g and t - to form pieces similar to chessmen. These were then placed on a board made from 16 coloured squares. Strategy of the Genes

Key fobs
Key fobs turned in oak.

Oak key fobs

28 March 2017

Rather than a bunch of keys, here is a bunch of key fobs!

A second batch of 25 key fobs made to the same design as those below. This allows the hotel to have two key fobs for each room, plus a few spare for sale to guests.

Oak key fobs

Key fobs
Wooden key fobs turned in oak and pyrographed with room names.

Castle key fobs

22 February 2017

A batch of 25 key fobs, turned in oak and based on the shape of a Staunton chess castle. They were made for Amberley Castle Hotel in West Sussex, and each is pyrographed with the name of a castle, reflecting the names of their rooms. The design is based around a gold plated keyring set, and is obviously adaptable to other shapes. Oak key fobs

Duke of Edinburgh Award trophy
Duke of Edinburgh Award trophy, turned from ash.

Duke of Edinburgh

20 February 2017

A trophy made for Denefiled School in Reading, to be given to the best student on their Duke of Edinburgh Award programme. CHARACTER is an acronym for something, but I cannot remember what it stands for.

The trophy is made from ash, with a map reading compass in the centre. The base is designed to hold a 6 x 2 inch engraving plaque to record annual winners. D of E Trophy

Football trophy
Top goalscorer of the year trophy for a football club in Derbyshire. (Winners name deliberately blurred out.)

Football trophy

20 February 2017

This trophy was developed in consultation with Richard, a customer who provided an initial idea for his football club's Top Goalscorer trophy. A few emails back and forth and we agreed upon this as the final version. The ball is 5 inches in diameter, made of sycamore with 12 pyrographed pentagons, each with the club's fox logo. The three struts are rosewood, and it stands on a triangular olive ash base. Football trophy

Science trophy
Scientists of the year trophy for primary schools in London

Science trophy

15 February 2017

A request from David for a primary school science trophy resulted in this microscope design. The piece is all turned from oak, and stands about ten inches tall on a seven inch diameter base. Science trophy

Acorn finial
Finial made for a summerhouse, bare wood for painting, 8 inches by 11 inches

Acorn finial

12 February 2017

Another finial for a summerhouse. This one is on an 8 inch base and is about 11 inches tall. It was supplied untreated, so that the customer, Gary, can paint it to match his summerhouse. I am told the summerhouse is hexagonal in shape. Acorn finial

Summerhouse finial
Finial made for a summerhouse in London.

Summerhouse finial

12 February 2017

Linda sent a picture of the finial I made for her, on top of her newly built summerhouse in London. The room is cedar shingles, on top of painted walls. The finial was provided untreated, for painting to match the main summerhouse. This is one of the largest finials I have made to date. Summerhouse finial

Airsports trophy
Airsports trophy to be awarded for the first paraglider circuit of Rutland Water

Airsports trophy

5 February 2017

Hugh requested a trophy based on a design with a disc resting on a plinth, but with some specific details. An osprey pyrographed in the centre, space to attach a horseshoe on the front, a map of Rutland on top of the base, and an inscription on the base. This is to be awarded to the first person to complete a circuit of Rutland water by paraglider, a feat apparently as yet unachieved. Airsports trophy

Turned wooden pen gift
Pen turned in yew, with a pyrographed box with sun, moon and stars emblem

Maddie's pen

20 January 2017

A slimline pen turned in yew. The box is pyrographed with a sun, moon and stars emblem: the pen was made for Maddie, who is fascinated by the night sky and astronomy.

Wooden pen and box

Chisel retirement gift
Chisel turned from brown iveory, resting on an inscribed oak plinth.

"Chiseler" retirement gift

11 January 2017

My first use of a timber from Mozambique known as brown ivory. A hard, closely grained wood which turns well. Used for this retirement gift for champion chiseler Nick. Wooden chisel gift

Large burr oak bowl
Large burr oak bowl

16" burr oak bowl

30 December 2016

A large burr oak bowl, sixteen inches in diameter and standing about three inches tall. The multiple swirls of grain amongst pips and cracks brings this piece of timber to life, and no attempt has been made to fill any of the small fissures or bark intrusions. A unique piece: like a fingerprint, there will be many similar, but only one with this patterning.

Tea light holders in yew
A trio of tea light holders turned from a single branch of yew

Tea light trio

30 December 2016

Three tea light holders turned as a set, all from a single yew log. Heights are about 3, 4 and 5 inches. and base diameter 2.5 inches. A wax candle likeness comes from the creamy white sapwood of the log, while some character breaks through in the orange brown heartwood, revealed as the diameter decreases towards the top of the holders.
Yew tea light holders

There is a gallery of tea light and candle holders.

Christmas tree ornaments
Christmas trees turned from yew branches

Christmas trees

21 December 2016

Some Christmas trees, turned from single pieces of small branches of yew. They are about three inches tall, and about an inch in diameter.

The trees have been highly polished with three coats of wax, finishing with a hard wearing carnauba wax.

Wooden Christmas ornaments

Acorn keyrings
Acorn keyrings turned from evergreen oak.

Acorn keyrings

21 December 2016

Nine acorn keyrings, made just slightly larger than real acorns - about an inch long and half an inch wide. Made from evergreen oak, with the end pyrographed to resemble the acorn cup. All slightly different shapes, as real acorns would be.

The keyring is gold plated, fastened to a stud which slots into a tube that goes through the centre of the acorn. Acorn key rings

Mouse repairs
Severely chewed mouse - victim of a pet dog attack
Mouse turned in laburnum
Replacement mouse, turned from laburnum and warned to beware of the dog

Chewed mouse and replacement

15 December 2016

A little laburnum mouse turned in response to a plea for help. Gayle contacted me to ask if I could do a replacement for the one that her dog had got hold of and chewed. Her daughter's favourite. Wood mouse

Religious Studies trophy
Religious studies trophy in oak and yew
Science trophy
Science trophy in ash and yew

2016 School awards

14 December 2016

Malton School had a second Celebration Evening this week, with 31 trophies being presented for excellence, endeavour and representation in subjects and school life. Subject trophies attempt to symbolise some element of the subject - as for religion and science shown here. School trophies

Oak playing card holders
Oak playing card holders, about 30 cm long.

Card holders

9 December 2016

Sarah asked if I could make some card holders for playing card and board games. 30cm long with a 5mm groove at the top to slot the cards in. A slight taper from centre to ends, and slightly different ends give an individual style to each one. Playing card holders

Circular trophy shields
Two 10" diameter trophies, to be awarded for Design Technology and Computing work.

Computing and Design awards

5 December 2016

Sue commissioned two trophies to mark her retirement after 24 years as a higher level teaching assistant at a school in Devon. These two 10" diameter discs have a flat ring turned on them, to allow the placing of engraving shields annually to mark the winners.

Computing and design trophies

Oak nut acorn keyrings
Acorn keyrings, turned in oak of course.

Oak nut keyrings

1 December 2016

Andrew requested two acorn key rings with the simple inscription "Oak Nut". Apparently this is a family joke stemming from one autumn when his brother pointed out all the "oak nuts" under a large oak tree.

The acorns are about 2 inches long and over an inch wide, with a tube down the centre holding the pip and the ring. Acorn keyrngs

Acorn finial
Acorn finial with base for a summerhouse in London

28 November 2016

Linda requested a large acorn finial for her new summerhouse down in London. After some discussion as to how large would be appropriate, we settled on an 11 inch tall acorn on a 14 inch diameter base. To create the requested 4 inch thickness for the base, three pieces of ash were used, in the end amounting to about 5 inches high.

Acorn finial

Click for more news from 2016

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Click for news from 2012

Gardening

Queen wasp
Queen wasp with male wasp in an ambrace

Queen and male wasp

6 October 2017

We spotted this pair of wasps clasped together for at least half an hour, flying and on the ground. The larger one is a queen, the smaller one with the large wings is a male, who exists at this time of year simply to fertilise the queen who will then hibernate over winter and found a new colony next year.

Pears
A good crop of pears in Autumn 2017
Pear arch
Pears trained up and over a trellis arch

October pears

October 2017

This year seems to be a bumper one for pears. We have never had so many and in such good condition since we planted our Conference pear about 25 years ago. We have one bush planted and trained either side of a trellis arch. The trick now is to catch them just when they are ripe!

Box blight
Incinerating box blight casualty
Box blight
Box blight attacks established box topiary

Incineration of box badly affected by blight

4 Sept 2017

Severe box blight led to a decision to cut down and burn some 18 year old topiary. A hard choice. More details about this drastic treatment of box blight

Dyffryn Fernant
Cottage garden planting in front of the house at Dyffryn Fernant

Dyffryn Fernant garden

August 2017

Set in a valley near Fishguard in Pembrokeshire. A private garden open for people to ramble through the different named areas and enjoy the casual feel of a garden belonging to someone. Grasses, bog plants, cannas, ferns, are just some of the memorable features. More on Dyffryn Fernant garden

Colby Woodland Garden
The walled garden at Colby, Pembrokeshire.

Colby Woodland Garden

August 2017

A return visit to Colby Woodland garden near Amroth, Pembrokeshire - 20 years on from our last! Open spaces and wildflowers complement the ornamental walled garden near the entrance, with stone and trickling water offsetting the established planting. More on Colby Woodland garden

Laugharne Castle
A 19th century garden laid out in the ruins of medieval Laugharne Castle.

Laugharne Castle garden

August 2017

An unusual setting for a garden, inside the ruins of a medieval castle. This is actually a restoration by Cadw of what the gardens might have looked like when they were established in the early 19th century, as part of Castle House's grounds. More on Laugharne Castle

Tredegar House parterre
A parterre in the Orangery Garden at Tredegar House, made using minerals

Tredegar parterre

August 2017

A parterre in the Orangery Garden is shaped from different coloured sand, shells, lime, coal and other minerals, complementing the mown grass and minimal planting. Elsewhere is a wilder Orchard Garden and a colourful Cedar garden (dominated by an old cedar). More on Tredegar House

Hardwick Hall
A view of Hardwick Hall from the orchard area of the walled garden.

Hardwick Hall

17 August 2017

Hardwick Hall is a fine Elizabethan house in Derbyshire, not far from the M1 (sadly near enough to hear the constant drone of traffic). Since our last visit some years ago the stable block has become the entrance and cafe, leaving the ktichens in the house more authentic. There is fine herbaceous planting iin the courtyard at the front of the house, and a walled garden with a mix of wild areas, orchard and herb garden. More on Hardwick Hall

Hydrangeas
Hydrangeas in full bloom

Hydrangeas heavily laden

August 2017

Hydrangeas heavily laden with bloom this year, after a year without any flowers in 2016. Pruning at the wrong time was no doubt the cause of the missing blooms last year - I cut them back in winter. This year I didn't prune at all, and the flowers came in abundance, though on leggy stems.

Beningbrough Hall
Doorway from the herbaceous border to the restaurant area at Beningbrough Hall.

Beningbrough Hall

23 June 2017

Every time we visit Beningbrough Hall gardens there is something different that catches the eye, either because of the change of season or because of a new development. This corner has an enticing view through the doorway. More on Beningbrough Hall

Spiders' nest
Hundreds of tiny spiders in a nest

Baby spiders in their nest

7 June 2017

Two fuzzy balls appeared in the garden this week, both on the box plants. Closer inspection revealed hundreds of tiny spiders. When the bush was disturbed slightly they all spread out, only to regather in the ball once things had quietened down.

Red azalea
Brilliant red azaleas flowers cover the entire plant for a couple of weeks.
Purple azalea
A delicate purple variety purchased from Poets Cottage at Lealholm in 2016

Azaleas in pots

20 May 2017

I don't have acid soil, so azaleas need to be grown in pots, where they do quite well. They also have the advantage of being able to be moved into a position for best viewing during flowering, and then moved away to a shady area when they fade. As is often the case I cannot remember the varieties.

Sizergh Castle
Acers in the rock garden at Sizergh Castle

Acers at Sizergh

22 April 2017

Cold but sunny on a visit to Sizergh Castle, where the rock garden excelled with the old acers coming in to colour. Elsewhere the new stumpery was well planted, and now leads up to the long herbaceous bed in a natural progression on going through the gate to the gardens.

Levens Hall topiary
Topiary neatly clipped at Levens Hall

Topiary at Levens Hall

20 April 2017

Topiary at Levens Hall is amazing all year round, but particularly good in Spring, underplanted with primroses and with tulips. The structure of the garden comes to the fore, with hard pruning of limes and other shrubs, all waiting to burst back into growth. Blighted box borders have been replaced with ilex crenata and willow wands.

Muncaster Castle
Rhododendrons in bloom at Muncaster Castle

Rhododendron at Muncaster

18 April 2017

The rhododendrons, azaleas, camelias andmagnolias at Muncaster Castle in the western Lake District are enormous in places, and covered with colour at the end of April. This view is from the castle terrace, looking out towards the hills of Birker Fell.

Holker Hall
Tulips underplanting the ornamental hawthorns at Holker Hall

Tulips and structure Holker Hall

17 April 2017

Holker Hall is a stunning garden all year round, with something of interest always happening. The old tennis court garden was planted up with early tulips, and the bare structure of the shaped ornamental hawthorns is almost as appealing. As the daffodils were fading elsewhere, the rhododendron were coming in to bloom.

Forced rhubarb
Rhubarb forced under a terracotta pot.

Rhubarb forcer

April 2017

Two terracotta rhubarb forcers do their job in the vegetable plot, producing bright red and pink shoots on the new growth of rhubarb. We have to be careful though, if left too long the force their way out of the pot, knocking off the lid. Last year this resulted in a cracked lid as it landed on the path. The stalks taste much sweeter than if grown naturally, hardly needing any sugar when cooking.

Frogs in pond
Frogs gathering in the pond in early March.

Frogs' arrival

12 March 2017

The frogs arrived this week with the onset of a few days of mild weather and sunshine. Lots of frogspawn resulted in between the rushes and irises. Hopefully this will survive the inevitable frosty days yet to come. Newts are also in the pond - but harder to photograph!

Footprints in the snow
Footprints in the snow on a cold January morning. Mainly blackbirds.

Footprints in the snow

18 January 2017

Not much exciting happening in the garden at the moment, though the heathers are coming in to flower and snowdrops are beginning to push through. At least the birds provided some patterns in the brief snowfall last week, before the grey damp misty days returned.

Apple picker
Wolfcraft apple picker on extending pole

Apple picker

19 October 2016

Climbing apple trees for picking is not the easiest or safest pursuit, and waiting for them to drop if you have a hard surface underneath means cuts and bruises (to the apples), so this apple picker is a good find. Made by Wolfcraft, it fits on the end of their extending pole, and is simply a nylon bag with a toothed ring around the top. A twist and the apple is bagged. The pole doubles up with a saw attachment for high level pruning.

Sanvitalia Cuzco Yellow
Long lasting pot plant Sanvitalia Cuzco Yellow

Sanvitalia Cuzco Yellow

19 October 2016

The Cuzco Yellow continues to flower and increase in size, its flowers now dangling over the pot far enough to rest on the table. I am guessing the first frost is going to finish it off, unless I take it into the greenhouse and let it continue a while longer. Getting on for four months now since first planted up. It needs plenty of water, though a couple of times when it has dried up, it comes back to life once given some liquid.

Tulip tree, Dalemain
200 year old Liriodendron tulipifera in front of Dalemain house.
Holly trees, Wentworth Castle
Renovated holly trees in the Union Jack garden at Wentworth Castle

Tulip tree and holly stumps

15 October 2016

A little updating on the gallery of trees which is on this site, spotted on travels through the year. These two are a 200 year old tulip tree at Dalemain, near Penrith on the edge of the Lake District, and a renovated holly tree in the gardens at Wentworth Castle, near Barnsley. There are many more on the trees pages.

Dahlias at Newby Hall
Massed ranks of dahlias in borders at Newby Hall

Dahlias at Newby Hall

8 September 2016

There always seems to be something for all seasons at Newby Hall gardens, near Ripon. Lots of colour still in evidence on our last visit, including two shamelessly brilliant colourful dahlia borders near the restaurant. Also in evidence as cut flowers in the Hall itself, spotted on an interesting guided tour of the house.

Parcevall Hall Gardens
A quiet corner at the end of one of the terraces at Parcevall Hall.

A quiet corner at Parcevall Hall

6 September 2016

Parcevall Hall Gardens near Appletreewick in the Yorkshire Dales is not the easiest of places to visit, tucked away on a hill up a quiet valley. But that is no doubt part of its charm, a beautiful, tranquil place for calm and reflection, away from busy modern life.

Sanvitalia Cuzco Yellow
Long lasting pot plant Sanvitalia Cuzco yellow

Sanvitalia Cuzco Yellow

29 August 2016

This has been a good find this year. Savitalia Cuzco Yellow, sold as a patio plant or hanging basket plant. I bought four small plants and put them in a 12 inch pot and they have bushed out and flowered for a couple of months now. Still going strong..

Roof boss on pergola
A roof boss in a pergola in Thornton le Dale. Olive ash.

Roof boss in olive ash

20 August 2016

A new roof and turned roof boss for a twenty year old pergola. This is the underside of the acorn finial pictured in the woodturning section. The two pastimes occassionally merge. A few detals of the original building plus this year's renovation project are on the site. More on this roof boss.

Threave Gardens
The patio design area at Threave gardens

Threave garden in Scotland

2 August 2016

The patio garden at Threave in Dumfries and Galloway. A National Trust for Scotland training garden, it has different areas showcasing different types of garden design. A brilliant place for picking up ideas that might fit in your own garden.

Helmsley Walled Garden
One of the long herbacious borders at Helmsley Walled Garden

Helmsley Walled garden

30 July 2016

A delightful visit to Helmsley Walled Garden, on a sunny day when the massed colours were at their best. We visited this garden when Alison Ticehurst first started the renovation project in 1994, and have seen it mature into the brilliant garden it is today. We will be back!

Mirehouse garden
An old yew tree avenue and fernery in the beehive garden

Mirehouse beehive garden

23 June 2016

The Mirehouse is a beautiful light-filled country manor house near the shores of Bassenthwaite Lake. Frequented by Tennyson and other poets in the past. Today the gardens offer a pleasant walk through woodland, scented ornamental planting in the beehive garden (a rejuvenated walled garden) and other planting around the house.

Dalemain poppy
The Dalemain blue poppy, one of many delightful plants in the extensive gardens

Dalemain poppy

21 June 2016

The deep blue flowers of the Dalemain poppy, photographed on site at the impressive gardens at Dalemain House in the Lake District, near Penrith. Meconopsis grandis Dalemain grow in abundance in a semi-wild area of the gardens, two to three feet high.

Askham Hall gardens
Terraces planted with shrub roses and herbaceous plants. Yew topiary in the background.

Askham Hall

19 June 2016

Askham Hall near Penrith is now a boutique hotel, but the garden is open to visitors. And what a lovely garden, with meadow, woodland, long terraces, topiary, and a large, working kitchen garden. Providing food for a delightful cafe on site. Developing furhter, with new planting in evidence.

Lowther Castle Garden
Irises planted in the 2011 restoration and revelation garden in front of the old hall ruins.

Lowther Castle

18 June 2016

A visit to Lowther Castle near Penrith, where Dan Pearson has designed a garden around and inside the ruined stately home. Also in the woods are the remains of pleasure gardens and Japanese gardens - the outlines have been excavated, but not restored. A work in progress, it will be worth revisiting in a couple of years time

Muslin moth
Female muslin moth

Muslin moth

12 June 2016

This impressive visitor was found resting on our front door one day. A little internet research on ukMoths.org.uk reveals it was a female muslin moth, diaphora mendica. Apparently the male is a dull brown in comparison. Described as quite common, but it is the first time we have spotted this one in the garden. I hope its caterpillars eat the dock and chickweed that the website mentions, and not our plants.

Columbine
Granny's bonnets flowering in late May

Columbine

30 May 2016

Columbine, Granny's bonnets, or aquilega. These plants have been with us since we arrived 30 years ago. They self seed around the garden, and come up in a variety of colours ranging from dark purple to white. We let them grow where they want to, occasionally pulling out the odd plant that doesn't fit with its surroundings.

Fern
A tall upright fern. Not sure of its name.

Fern

23 May 2016

The ferns have been unfurling in their almost primeval way. We have a variety of different types, but sadly I forgot to make a note of what each one was as we planted them. This one has a tall, erect habit and is one of the last to unfurl.

Hazel catkins
Catkins on the hazel in early March

Catkins

18 March 2016

Almost the spring equinox, and a few days of sunshine (though not a lot of warmth otherwise) has brought out the catkins on the corkscrew hazel. This is a shrub for all seasons, with the contorted branches highlighted in winter, the catkins in spirng, the curious leaves in summer, and then the clusters of hazel nuts in autumn. Very popular with the birds as a perch..

Rhododendrons at Nawton Towers
One of 35 gardens mentioned in my Virtual Tour of Yorkshire Gardens talk

Rhododendrons at Nawton Towers

25 February 2016

I gave a talk to Boston Spa Gardening Society yesterday evening, entitled A Virtual Tour of Yorkshire Gardens, the first time I have given this talk for a few years now. Slides from the talk, plus a map of Yorkshire showing where the gardens are, and brief notes on each, are available in the Garden Talks section.

Snowdrops at Burton Agnes
Snowdrops in their millions throughout the woodland. Notice the carex pendula (weeping sedge) at the front of the picture. I wonder if it is invading, or under control?

Snowdrops at Burton Agnes

23 February 2016

A carpet of snowdrops covers the ground in the woodland at Burton Agnes Hall, near Driffield. The grounds are open to see this spectacle, although the house remains closed for a few more weeks. The snowdrop coverage is really very extensive, not just a few patches here and there.

Box blight
Is it the dreaded box blight

Bare patches on box

17 January 2016

Very worrying bare patches have developed on two low growing box hedges in the last two months. I have seen box blight in gardens around the country. Is this it? I have a lot of box topiary in the garden, I hope it is not all going to be attacked. Other bushes are not showing symptoms as yet.

Stick Man
Stick Man spotted in the garden.

Stick man

17 January 2016

Watching Julia Donaldson's and Axel Sheffler's Stick Man animation over Christmas made me look in the stick basket (I save reasonable sized twiggy clippings to use as kindling). And look who I should find - a friend of Stick Man. To be honest he is actually two sticks glued together, but please don't tell my granddaughters that I have cheated. Having watched the film, I will probably now spend every visit to the stick basket looking for potential stick friends.

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