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Warning! Broken Fences and Falling Trees- Monday 28th October 2013

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

Tomorrow’s forecast storm ( Monday 28th October) is set to reek havoc in the SE with heavy rain over night on Sunday and gusts of wind reaching 60-80mph on Monday morning. The latest Met Office forecast suggests that the eye of the storm is most likely to run across country to East Anglia with collateral damage to the south. There could also be localised flooding.

Best to avoid any unnecessary car journeys whilst the storm is passing and take care if you venture out afterwards.

The last time we suffered such a severe storm in October 2010 trees came down and fences were damaged.

If you have any such problems and live in the Tunbridge Wells area then do call Gardenproud and we will do our best to assist you.

Call Tim Sykes on 07725 173820.

Prague Castle Gardens

Monday, September 2nd, 2013
Sunday 1st September 2013, by Tim Sykes, Gardenproud

We’ve just returned from visiting Prague.
There are a number of gardens to see here, but one I recommend is attached to the world famous Prague Castle situated in Prague 1.
Prague Castle dates back to the 9th century, it was originally the residence of Bohemian princes and rulers, and since 1918 the seat of the president. It is one of the largest castles in the whole of Europe.
The guides warn you about the amount of time you need to dedicate to a Castle visit. With visits of c 4 – 5 hrs often suggested. We only had 3 hrs, so decided to not join one of the guided tours. Instead planning our own tour. Suffice to say the Castle complex is so vast we nearly spent 4.5 hrs there!
The Castle stands high above the City commanding superb views.
If you are walking, cross over the Charles Bridge then up the cobbled streets until you reach the steps. The steps, don’t attempt these unless you are feeling fit! You can take the tram to the top. The number 22 or 18 tram will get you up there.
Alternatively take a taxi ride. It was a sunny morning so we walked. I didn’t count how many hundred steps there were but the views of the city were breathtaking(not that we had any breath to take by then)!
One of the highlights you must see at the Castle is the St Vitus Cathedral. The stained glass windows are incredible. They are vast (as is the Cathedral) and so beautiful.
Not surprisingly, an attraction for me were the Royal Gardens. These were originally created by the last crowned Czech king, Ferdinand V.  He chose Prague Castle as his residence upon his abdication in 1848. Apart from music he was
especially interested in nature.
Ferdinand V and his wife, Maria Anna of Sardinia
Having learned about botany in his youth he remained interested in gardens and following his move to the Castle he became interested in the strip of land above the Deer Moat. He rented this land together with a small garden house and farm buildings. He had 3 greenhouses, one of which was devoted to growing camillias, another to rhododendrons and azaleas.
A new feature of the Royal Gardens is the Orangery. This is a futuristic looking piece of prize-winning architecture.
The Orangery features a computer controlled environment designed to create just the right climate for the many tropical plants that flourish inside. Lemon and Lime trees, palms, yuccas, phormiums, figs and orange trees all thrive in the humid climate.
Outside the gardens feature some remarkable garden buildings including the Queen Anne Summer Palace, adorning Czech statues and plasterwork typical of the Prague landscape.
There are formal and semi formal areas reminiscent of park landscapes.
We travelled to Prague with Easyjet, and stayed in the Barcelo Hotel in Prague 5. This was very good. If you go treat yourself to a Junior Suite. There is also a Barcelo in the City Centre, currently being refurbished. Maybe worth a look on our next visit!
For information about the Prague Castle Gardens see www.hrad.cz/en/ Also see more about Barcelo Hotels at www.barcelo.com If you are visiting Prague for the first time make sure you pre-book a taxi transfer. We used Prague Airport Transfer, booked through Easyjet. They were very good.
For further information about Gardenproud contact Tim Sykes on 07725 173820

Don’t throw away your old ride on, race it instead!

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

Don’t throw away your old ride on, race it instead, says Tim Sykes of Gardenproud.

My son Harry and I were treated to the whole new world of lawn mower racing yesterday .

We’ve got an old ride on which we’ve been wondering what to do with for sometime and by chance we heard about the British Lawn Mower Racing Association from our local equipment supplier in Tunbridge Wells.

We checked out their website www.blmra.co.uk and found it to be a very lively organisation.

Yesterday they were running a 12 hour endurance race at Five Oaks, West Sussex. So we packed the camera and turned on the Sat Nav and headed out to find out as much as possible about this exciting new sport.

Click on this video link  IMG_9226

Click on this video link  IMG_9227

There was no problem finding the event as apart from the wonders of Sat Nav the AA had helped signpost the way. Once at Five Oaks, West Sussex the race circuit was well laid out and marshalled. It was £5 a head to get in and there were refreshment tents, souvenir tents. Everything you’d expect at a properly organised event. Various people had taken their tents so they could camp out and stay with the race as it hurtled through the night.

We watched the timed trails. These took place in the afternoon from 3.15pm. To the layman these looked just like the race although I suspect the actual thing is more competitive and pretty hairy during the night. You will be surprised to see just how fast these machines zoo round the grass tracks, often spinning round corners on just 2 wheels! The drivers wear all the kit too. So they are as safe as can be, plus look the part. At first sight the racing mowers look a bit heath robinson, but on closer inspection have been souped up to carrier round the tracks.

There are 3 main types of racing machine:

Group 3 and Group 4  both use 13.5 hp engines and these include vehicles that look like tuned mini tractors, and other lower gravity machines that are more reminiscent of go-karts than mowers. Anyway I’m assured they were mowers once upon a time! Actually they have to have been, otherwise you wouldn’t be allowed to race them.

The third category I really loved. This is Group 2. These machines started out life as cylinder or roller based machines, but they now look more like a cross between an old fashioned bob sleigh and a cricket mower. The cylinder contraption sits in front and tows a small chariot on which the driver sits. They lie low on the track and no doubt take some handling, but look the business!

For the endurance race you need a team of drivers. Plus a skilled team of mechanics and lots of spare parts. The pitstop area was arranged just like a Formula One area, with teams stopping off for essential repairs and driver changes.

The BLMRA was founded in 1973 by a bunch of beer drinking enthusiasts in Wisborough Green. They hold a number of events each year including a Grand Prix, National and World Championships, plus a 12 hour Endurance Race. Apart from the UK events have been held in Ireland, France, Luxembourg and USA.

Lawn Mower Racing has attracted all manner of drivers including some of the greatest such as Stirling Moss ( who I was once very privileged to share the cockpit of a Lola with – very scary) and Derek Bell – the UK’s greatest Le Mans winner. Both of whom have won the 12 hour endurance race twice!

So if you take this up you’d be in great company.

Well after yesterday we are thinking  very seriously about starting a Gardenproud Racing Team during the 2014 season.

Let me know if you have a ride-on mower you might like to donate to us.

Contact Tim Sykes on 07725 173820 at Gardenproud, or go to the BLMRA website if you would like further information.

King Charles Summer Fete – Plants Stall Blossoms

Saturday, June 15th, 2013

By Tim Sykes,

Well it’s time to enjoy The King Charles the Martyr Summer Fete!

Along with Richard Still gardener supremo at King Charles I ran the plant stall today (Saturday 15th June). Here’s Richard pictured with the famous Tunbridge Wells Town Crier who opened the Fete.

We thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Our stall was set amongst the flourishing gardens at the Church Hall, tended with loving care by Richard.

We were lucky enough to have a whole host of plants donated to us by members of the congregation. Salvias, Courgettes, Geraniums, Cosmos, Japanese Blood Grass, Bamboo, Squash and Ophiopogon were among the wide range of species on sale.

A box of assorted French Marigolds

Some beautiful Red Salvias.

It was a really successful event enjoyed by all.

We look forward to next years event.

For further information about events at King Charles the Martyr check out their website at www.kcmtw.org/

It’s May so what’s going on in the garden?

Saturday, May 4th, 2013

Typically May is one of the busiest months in the garden. The grass is growing, the weeds are growing and the spring flowers are all coming into bloom.

The tree blossom is out and early leaves are starting to appear.

Well if the weather continues to improve then these things will all happen, probably with vengeance! There is so much water in the ground that I can only imagine that as the temperature rises and the sun pokes its head above the clouds that it’s all going to go berserk.

We seem to be running a month behind at present, but it could all suddenly catch up. So for what to do in the garden this May you could refer back to my April column and combine this with these few tips……

- It’s typically the time to increase the frequency of the mowing, it’s also a good time to over seed any bare patches, and give the lawn a good feed. My tip is not to mow your lawn too short, as this will hinder the root structure and lead to weaker grass

- If your Daffs and Tulips have flowered, then dead head them, but leave the leaves for 5-6 weeks before you cut these back

On the subject of Tulips. If you haven’t already visited the Tulip Festival at Pashley Manor, then you haven’t lived! This year the festival is open from Wednesday 24th April and runs every day until Monday 6th May. Pashley Manor is open 11am – 5pm.

It’s a sight to see with over 20,000 blooms on show. It’s well worth a visit as we discovered and the tulip festival is just the splash of colour we all need after the dreariness of that long cold winter. The gardens and setting are beautiful, with a wide range of plants and sculptures on show, plus a real find is the restaurant. Expect to queue, but the wait is worth it! So take your debit cards and get there just before lunch.

Pashley Manor is a short drive away from Tunbridge Wells, situated just out of Ticehurst village on the B2099. You can easily access it from Wadhurst, or via the A21.

You can see more about Pashley Manor at their website www.pashleymanorgardens.com

Plants to look out for include Delphiniums, Euphorbia, Peonies including those wonderful Tree Peonies, early Alliums, Choisya, Rhododendrons and Azaleas. If you are lucky the Wisteria might also come into bloom.

Here a few more gardening tasks you might consider for May:

-       Prepare containers and borders for Summer planting

-       Keep a check on any pest activity and spray roses/shrubs/fruit if necessary

-       Plant up your hanging baskets, but keep them in the greenhouse or under glass until there’s no risk of frost

-       Keep on top of the weeding

In the vegetable garden look out for Asparagus as this is one of the most exciting harvests for May. The other May favourite for me is Spinach.

Enjoy May in your garden

If you have any questions, or are interested in Gardenproud providing you with some advice or help in the garden then contact Tim Sykes on 07725 173820 or at info@reallygardenproud.com

7.4m Brits are too ashamed to use their Gardens

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

Some of you will have read the article in the Daily Mail. It’s almost unbelievable but maybe true!

Recent research reveals that an amazing 7.4million Brits never spend time in their courtyard or back garden. That’s 12 percent of us. 40% say it’s in a real state with weeds, poorly cared for plants etc. So a rather embarrassing place!

More than 25% of householders admit to finding mowing the lawn or planting flowers more difficult than doing a spot of DIY.

Well if this describes your experience then look no further!

Apart from helping you look after your garden on a regular basis we can turn that weed ridden wasteland back into a garden you’ll be proud of and enjoy.

We have a dedicated GARDEN BLITZ team, plus a team of regular gardeners who can take on the regular maintenance task.

Costs start from as little as £13.00 + VAT per hour

So if you live in Kent contact Tim Sykes at Gardenproud on 07725 173820 for a free estimate.

Gardenproud braves today’s blizzard conditions

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

Today in Tunbridge Wells. Gardenproud 4 wheel drive vehicles switched from their everyday role of ferrying gardening equipment to helping sister company Houseproud get their cleaning staff to clients homes.

The weather in and around Tunbridge Wells turned particularly bad overnight and many roads were impassable this morning.

But the Jeep and Land Rover trucks came into their own and battled through the icy weather to clients homes.

Here Sarah, MD of Houseproud stands bracing herself against the fierce blizzard conditions. See Houseproud at

www.reallyhouseproud.com

The latest edition of View is out now!

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

The latest edition of the Gardenproud Newsletter is out now.

Entitled “View” the newsletter is a quarterly perspective on what’s new in the garden.

View looks at the latest news from Gardenproud considering both garden maintenance challenges and solutions. It also looks at the opportunities for design and landscaping that will help bring you more enjoyment to your outdoor space, whether it’s a small town garden, or a large country estate.

View is available as a pdf or as a printed copy. Either of which we are happy to email or post directly to you.

To receive your copy just contact us at info@reallygardenproud.com stating whether you prefer an emailed or posted copy. In the case of the latter please provide us with your name, address and postcode.

Alternatively you can go to the “Contact” section of our website and complete a request form there.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Enjoy your garden this year.

Tim Sykes
Editor

Lamb House – Home of Henry James

Sunday, September 2nd, 2012

Lamb House was built in 1723 by James Lamb, an important citizen of Rye and 13 times mayor. The house remained in the family until 1864.

The author Henry James who fell in love with the house then took on a lease in 1898 and lived there until his death in 1916. The house and gardens were to provide the quiet and peaceful retreat from which he wrote many of his novels from a garden house in the grounds (this was destroyed in an air raid on 18th August 1940), including The Wings of the Dove, The Ambassadors and The Golden Bowl.

The writer E.F.Benson, an admirer of James, came to live in the house after Henry James died. He shared the tenancy with his brother (also a writer) famous for having written the words to Elgar’s ” Land of Hope and Glory”. E.F. Benson went onto live in the house until his death in 1940.

Today the house and gardens are looked after by The National Trust. If you are staying at The Mermaid or one of the other superb hotels and guest houses in Rye, Lamb House is conveniently placed and definitely worth a visit!

Despite having no prior knowledge ( ” I am hopeless about the garden, which I don’t know what to do with and shall never, never know – I am densely ignorant.”), Henry James secured the help of a friend Alfred Parsons – a landscape gardener, to help create a beautiful walled garden, leading from a pair of french doors on one side of the house.

The layout of the garden is much the same as in James’s time with a large sweeping lawn, various flower beds, shrubs and a rose garden and kitchen garden situated behind an attractive trellis supporting climbing roses.

Various attractive benches adorn the grounds acting as resting and focal points…

Other features added by Henry James to the house and garden help give a unique perspective and charm..

At the back of the shrubbery, in the South-West corner of the garden, you can still see the dog cemetery where he buried many of his favourite dogs.

James’s favourite Mulberry tree was blown down in a gale, this has now been replaced and he’d be very pleased to note is bearing lots of fruit!

The gardens were a delight…

When you consider this oasis sat within the beauty of Rye, you can easily understand how the setting gave Henry James so much inspiration for his great works.

Lamb House, house and gardens are open from 24th March to 27th October, Tuesday and Saturdays, 2 – 6pm ( last admissions 5.30pm). For further information see The National Trust website at www.nationaltrust.org.uk and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_James

Smallhythe Place Gardens

Sunday, September 2nd, 2012

A beautiful little cottage garden run by The National Trust in Smallhythe, Kent situated close to Tenterton.

We were fortunate enough to visit Smallhythe Place today as part of a weekend away in Rye ( we treated ourselves to a stay at The Mermaid Inn, which I can well recommend).

Smallhythe Place is the home of the late Dame Ellen Terry GBE (1847 – 1928).

Dame Ellen Terry sitting with friends and relatives at the back door of the Priest House at Smallhythe from a painting by Clare Atwood.

Dame Ellen Terry was probably the most famous Victorian actress of her day, from an acting perspective she might be seen as a sort of latter day Dame Judy Dench! From a personal perspective she married three times, had numerous affairs and two illegitimate children and was associated with the rich, talented and famous. For the last thirty years of her life she lived at Smallhythe Place, a timbered, medieval house on the edge of Romney Marsh.

Thanks to The National Trust the house has retained it’s charm.

The house is surrounded by pretty cottage garden style borders…….

There are a number of different compartments to the garden including a rose garden, a lawned area and 2 large ponds that surround the barn theatre, an orchard, and a small nuttery.

I had never seen such an interesting nuttery. Planted in a unique pattern ” The Platt” featuring Cobnuts and Filberts.

So the story goes the plants are grown for their shoots which are strong and straight and these are harvested to be used in the garden as sticks that can support roses or be weaved, hence the proximity to the Rose Garden. At Smallhythe Place the nuts are also harvested and sold in the Autumn.

It’s probably the Rose Garden that attracts most avid gardeners……

The Rose Garden is split into four main beds with lawned pathways running between and bordering each section. There are a whole host of wonderful rose specimens planted among other cottage garden plants. We were seeing the end of the flowering but there were still many fine examples…

Among the varieties is the “Ellen Terry Rose”. We were shown a photograph of the rose, but saw no flowering evidence. However the bud below seems to be from a plant that is standing on the very spot that the Ellen Terry Rose is supposed to stand! So who knows it could be the very thing!!

The “Ellen Terry Rose” was produced by W.E.Chaplin in their Waltham Cross nursery in 1925. It is a pale yellow, sweetly scented tea rose.

The closest example of a similar tea rose I could find is this rather beautiful example….

As you can see Smallhythe Place is well worth a visit. It is cared for by The National Trust and the house and gardens are open from 3rd March – 31st October, Saturday to Wednesday (closed Thursday and Friday), 11am – 5pm or dusk if earlier.

Further information can be found on the National Trust website at www.nationaltrust.org.uk and also at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ellen_Terry