Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Guildford Castle this Season


Thanks for popping in.

It's always a treat to visit Guildford, especially the castle grounds which are beautifully kept and planted with a different colour  scheme twice a year.  It takes two weeks for the changeover as the old plants are removed and the beds carefully prepared for the new ones.  What colour would it be this year?

The wildflowers around the keep were just beginning, later in the year this bank will be covered.

The Indian Bean Tree up on the hill was only just breaking into leaf but the view to the Cathedral in the distance was really clear over the rooftops.

The soft, ethereal colours of the blue and pink forget-me-nots with tulips interspersed and beds of wallflowers were quite a change from the vivid primary colours used in other displays.

Leaving the castle and heading for the High Street, we came across Milkhouse Gate, a really narrow alley, I haven't spotted this before in all the times I've visited Guildford.  In the 10th Century, Guildford's town was laid out with a bank and ditch encircling the town and a main street through the middle, passages or gates would run from the main street to the ditch and Milkhouse Gate is an example of a domestic gate.

Time for a cuppa and some toast in the Tea Terrace up in the Jellicoe Roof Garden of the House of Fraser.


Monday, 21 May 2018

Chair Crochet


Thanks for popping in.

Crafty crochet posts have been a bit thin on the ground here on Crimson Kettle lately but the wool had been flying to recover the seats of our dining room chairs to add a bit of pizazz!

Cheerful chairs.


Friday, 18 May 2018

Virginia Water


Thanks for popping in.

Blue sky, I know, amazing isn't it!  It's twice as marvellous here than in countries that have blue sky every day because they haven't got all the antici............pation. Ha ha!

The Royal Park of Virginia Water between Ascot and Windsor is a particular delight at this time of year when all the rhododendrons are flowering.

Bluebells too!

The Punch Bowl within the Valley Gardens is undergoing a 5 year restoration so it's not at its usual level of gorgeousness.

Here's the lake . . .

. . . and the Cascade (all man made).

Right, where's the café?

Only a few miles from here tomorrow at St Georges Chapel, Windsor Castle, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will get married.  The sun will be shining.  It will be a splendid, colourful day full of pageantry.  Many Congratulations to the happy couple.


Thursday, 17 May 2018

The Poison Garden


Thanks for popping in.

It's time for another talk, all about poisonous plants. I'm going to refer you straightaway to the Poison Garden website, full of detailed information about lots of plants I don't mention here.

Thinking about plants that you shouldn't eat, ragwort (Jacobaea vulgaris) is one that will damage the liver if a lot is eaten.  It tastes horrible, animals won't eat it, it's even more toxic for quite a while after it's been cut down especially if it gets into hay as it will have lost its bitter taste.

Yew  (taxus baccata) is another plant that is still toxic after cutting down, the whole plant plus the seeds are poisonous except the red flesh which tastes slimy.


Woody Nightshade (solanum dulcamara) has horribly bitter but very toxic red berries so people aren't able to eat too many to damage themselves.

On the other hand Deadly Nightshade (atropa belladonna) has slightly sweet and not unpleasant juicy purple berries and just a couple of these are extremely harmful/fatal.

Daffodils - bulbs are often mistaken for onions - are not fatal but will cause 24/48 hours of stomach upset.  The leaves are also toxic.

There are plants that you shouldn't touch which cause burns.  Giant Hogweed (heracleum mantegazzian) has chemicals that remove ultra violet protection from skin causing burns.  It has these chemicals to protect its roots from root fungus.
Parsnip can very rarely do the same thing particularly in bright sunlight.

Next a plant that you shouldn't smell - White Hellebore (veratrum album) which used to be used in sneezing powder but was found to damage the nasal passages.

Aristolochia Clematitis, Birthwort, used to be given during pregnancy and childbirth purely because the plant had the appearance of a womb but it causes irreversible damage to the kidneys and urinary tract cancer. It is one of the most poisonous and most harmful plants around.

Looking at the most poisonous plants, foxglove (digitalis) , which has a medicinal use, has to be treated very carefully.  It wasn't a traditional medicine, not appearing in John Gerrard's plant book which contained 1400 plants.  In 1775 Dr William  Withering researching dropsy experimented on the poor with different strengths of foxglove and recorded 140 case studies including of those who had died, which was the beginning of a more scientific approach.

Water Dropwort Hemlock (oenanthe crocata) is a quick killer.

Poison Hemlock (conium maculatum) is a slow killer, killing from the outside in- numbness of the extremities becomes paralysis but there is no effect on the brain.  This is how Socrates died.

Black Henbane (hyoscyamus niger) is hallucinogenic and affects short term memory.

Monkshood (aconitum napellus) is the most poisonous plant is the garden but is less harmful as there's nothing about it that would attract people to eat it especially its unpleasant taste.

The Castor Oil plant (ricinus communis)  has beans inside the red fruit which are crushed to give castor oil which in itself is a laxative and could be harmful in excess, but the residue left behind contains ricin which only becomes harmful if it enters the bloodstream.

The Phantastica - these addictive plants affect the brain - tea, coffee, cocaine, opium poppies (recorded on a 1500 B.C. Egyptian papyrus  showing that opium poppies were mixed with fly excrement and given to small children to help them sleep), cannabis grows 10/12 feet high in a couple of weeks.  The biggest killer is the tobacco plant which shortens the lives of 50% of those who smoke cigarettes.

Almost any plant can be harmful if too concentrated an amount is taken, rosemary, for instance, can cause miscarriage.

My notes from the interesting talk by the Alnwick Poison Garden Warden.  Do see the website above for much more information.


Wednesday, 16 May 2018

May Fair


Thanks for popping in.

Soaring temperatures greeted the May Fair goers this year, another temperature record broken!  It makes a change from the mud and rain.  Everyone was in a jolly mood with plenty to do and various acts to listen to and watch.  You could try your arm at the pineapple shy, have a go at the pop-up crazy golf, scoot round on the tiddly train or just sit somewhere in the shade and take it all in.

I've recorded a couple of snippets of the Yateley Morris Men for you, do excuse the camera work, especially the grass at the beginning of one of them! Ha ha

If you missed it, fear not, it'll be carnival time before we know it.


Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Bookham and the Auricula Show


Thanks for visiting.

You are in for a treat today as we're off to the National Auricula and Primrose Society's Spring Show in Bookham.  Apart from the traffic squeezing through the pretty village, Bookham is a charming place with National Trust Commons around it.  Walking up from the station, it's the cow parsley that stuns you first.

Passing the church surrounded by blossoming trees and the High Street with its eclectic mix of shops, going up the hill brings more countryside to admire.

But we are going to the Old Barn Hall to see the ariculas and wonder at the precise nature of their petals and the abundance of colour.

The joy of growing these pretty plants was written all over the faces of the competitors, especially those with First Prize cards next to their exhibit.  One person proudly told of looking in on his newly flowering plants and at the back of the frame, there was a brand new stripy variety, now gaining a First Prize.

As with all Flower Shows, the number of entries are going down each year, which is a pity so we have to make the most of them while the enthusiastic participants still continue or maybe try and grow some ourselves.