An October Medley

pear tree

Ordinarily, we plan the Dobies blog content three months in advance, but felt that such a method was too constraining when something  interesting or particularly exciting pops up. And even though the schedule was devised only around three weeks ago, such is the case already.
Campaign to Save our Countryside. Politics aside, do you recall the time we asked for readers’ help to “save our woodlands”? (See post of 20th April.) Those of you who kindly signed the petition organized by 38 Degrees helped achieve the goal of reaching half a million signatures and the government agreed to drop the planned sell-off. Everyone counts, and now your help is sought again; viz:

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Books for Enthusiastic DIY Gardeners

We plan our Dobies newsletter and blog topics three months in advance – something we will be changing for October to December, because what we intend to write about frequently needs to change, as weather or other circumstances dictate. This last post for September (yes, it should have been written yesterday) is one such, for the culmination of the summer season and this last post for ‘handyman / woman in the garden month’ is to be on books for the enthusiastic DIY gardener. And with the glorious unseasonably hot weather we are having right now, who wants to think of reading? So save what follows for a rainy day – four titles to set the creative juices working – click on the highlighted links to take you to the online Amazon bookshop for more details.


Concrete Garden Projects is both fascinating and highly practical. Written by Swedish designers Malin Nilsson & Camilla Ardvisson and just published by Timber Press, it offers exceptionally clear, illustrated instructions on making inexpensive containers, furniture, water features and more. You would not believe that a product that has existed since Roman times could be so beautiful – and all you basically need are shaped bowls or similar to act as formers, cooking oil to brush onto the moulds so the hardened concrete will release easily, a bag of ready-mixed dry concrete, water, and protective gloves. Once started, why not make some of the projects as Christmas gifts?


build it with pallets book

Build it! … With Pallets‘ by farmer Joe Jacobs (published by The Good Life Press) is equally intriguing. All you need to make some useful – and recycled – items for the garden (chairs, tables, fences, gates, planters, compost bins, chicken coops and many other functional items) are basic DIY skills, plus some discarded wooden pallets and standard woodworking tools. Take the pallets apart carefully, and re-fashion them into some of the artifacts suggested by Joe, following his measurements and instructions, or devise your own.



scrapbook's handwriting workshop book

Maybe you have begun keeping a hand-made garden journal or scrapbook to record your sowing and harvesting but are unhappy with the quality of your writing. Take a look at ‘The Scrapbooker’s Handwriting Workshop’ by Crystal Jeffrey Rieger. Published in 2009 by F&W Media, it’s really clever in its concept – a spiral-bound stand-up flip-over PRACTICE book – not meant to be read, as such, but to be worked in. Twenty unique hand-lettered alphabets (fonts) are provided with very clear instructions as to how each letter should be formed. It’s as just like being back at school, but more fun!


creative vegetable gardening book

Finally, for those who want to be creative in the garden with plants rather than DIY, take a look at an old favourite by Joy Larcom. ‘Creative Vegetable Gardening‘ was first published by Mitchell Beazley in 1997 but has been re-issued many times since then. Joy has always been queen of the potager and this book takes vegetable gardening one stage further – veg to eat but to look beautiful as well, with so many design ideas, and workable suggestions for dramatic effects, texture, colour, inter cropping, climbers, fruit for ornament as well as eating, and overall potager management.
Your new 2012 Dobies catalogue should be with you in the coming week; and is packed full of delights and surprises. 

Autumn at Malvern

Early morning Malvern Showground

Early morning in one corner if the Showground

It doesn’t matter how often I return to gardening shows at Malvern, there is always something new to delight and inspire me. And this latest RHS Autumn Show is no exception. Situated in the lee of the beautiful Malvern Hills, every RHS show here provides a grand day out for the keen and dedicated gardener.

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Sunflowers – and Cupcake Heaven

So tempting!

I had no idea when walking into a room full of garden journalists a week ago that a tier of cupcakes was considered “the ultimate in contemporary cool”, but a centerpiece of realistic sunflowers had me intrigued. The occasion was to announce seeds and plants that would be appearing in the 2012 Dobies of Devon catalogue, due for release at the beginning of October.

Sunflowers: they make you smile, and bring sunlight and joy to a garden on even the dullest day. Most varieties are tall and need staking but are nevertheless a delight to wild-birds (watch them pecking out the ripe seeds from a spent flower-head and de-hulling the seeds to get to the edible heart or kernel).

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Summer harvest – and SPECIAL OFFER

extension to the potager

The extension to the potager had a problem – a blackbird that kept uprooting all the plants! Now solved – the raised bed is now backed with flower pots which will be shortly filled with spring flowering bulbs. The herb patch has been augmented with herbs that will self-seed, thus extending the intended natural look. (Note the spring greens and autumn lettuce in the raised potager bed – just one corner of it shows.

I’ve spent the last few days in our garden harvesting and preserving produce, taking stock of tasks that I really should do this autumn, and planning additions and changes to the various mini-plots within our acre. Not all will be achieved, I know, but one thing I must do immediately is to take advantage of a very special Dobies’ offer. Whether you want to stock up on flower seeds, order winter bedding plants or splash out on some gardening accessories, then make sure to claim your 10% discount by using the code DOBBANK11 at the basket stage. But HURRY, you only have until mid-day tomorrow  (Wednesday 31st), and the offer only applies to orders placed online.

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