I dream of summer…

The Hidden Gardens of Calverley interweb page

The Hidden Gardens of Calverley interweb page

The wind is howling down the chimney, snow flurries are blasting the windows in their frames, and the lights are flickering a Morse code message that says ‘quick, find the torch, we’re not going to be on much longer’. Yet as I type this in my fingerless gloves, my laptop resting on two layers of blankets to keep out the cold, my thoughts turn to the sun, summer and glorious gardens.

Just a few months ago when the days were long and lazy and the sun just kept on coming back for more, I set myself the task of photographing hidden gardens in Calverley, my home village. We’re very proud of our gardens here, but despite going all-out for gold in Britain in Bloom, we are also a very humble lot, some saving our gardens just for a few to see.

Of course, the trouble with hidden gardens is that they are hidden so my task wasn’t easy. I knew they were somewhere, but couldn’t just barge through gates, fences and gaps in ginnels. I did manage to track six down, though one is a cheat because it’s mine, but it’s a start and hopefully I will find more this year, should we ever have a summer again.

In the old days, before the interweb, photographs would be printed and displayed, but thanks to the miracle of HTML and WordPress, plus a lot of help from my own personal technical support, I’ve made a website and there they are for all to see – and remember the summer of 2013.

Hidden gardens and a new project

A hidden garden - how many more can I find?

A hidden garden – how many more can I find?

As well as being a place of many ginnels and, for some inexplicable reason a home to many cats, nine out of ten of them black and white, Calverley has many beautiful hidden gardens. I have made it my mission to find and photograph them while the good weather lasts, so not much time left before the snows, then.

Hidden garden with hidden goal!

Hidden garden with hidden goal!

The plan is to find ten or so, take their photos, then put them together into an online book. If you live in Calverley, have a hidden garden and would like it photographed, let me know.


Three reasons to blub at Tatton

Cancer Research UK's Shine Garden

The first blub came as we walked through Cancer Research’s Shine Garden to the black pool and threw in silver tokens. It was symbolic, the silver will cover the black, a new light, new hope. Ya boo sucks to cancer.

For a modest donation, visitors to the garden at the Tatton Park RHS Flower Show could walk a miniature version of Manchester’s Shine night-time marathon where light symbolises the fight against cancer.   We walked the walk, cast our coins, thought about loved ones we’d lost and, well, we blubbed.

Save a Life, Drop the Knife

The best show garden was full of graffiti, knives, razor wire and beer cans. There was a prison-like feel to it at first, hardly surprising as the concept for Save a Life, Drop the Knife was developed with offenders at HM Prison Everthorpe. They helped the designers build it at the prison, then some of the lower category offenders joined them at Tatton. One had been released some months earlier and took holiday from his job to help put the final touches to the garden. Another blub.

Just around the corner we came face to face with a polar bear in a wheelchair. The Accessible Arctic Garden, is a disability awareness project between Oaklands School and Chester Council’s Occupational Therapy, Visual Impairment and Learning Disabilities Departments. The schoolchildren visited a centre for adults with learning disabilities and learned about how some people were different. Third blub.

Of course, it wasn’t all blubbing, the coffee’s good, if you choose wisely, and we had a stonking rant with one of the designers at the football gardens where we were told on good authority that no-one from any of the four featured teams, Liverpool, the two Manchesters and Blackpool had shown the slightest interest in the floral representation of their clubs. One had even threatened legal action for misuse of a name…. Football was definitely not the winner here today.

The Anfield Garden