I’ve had a really great Christmas and short break in Scotland. It’s been awesome to chillax and have a bit of time to myself, get outside and play with Buddy and my Christmas gifts.
Hope you have had a great festive time too. In this New Year blog I’m looking forward to gardening plans for 2018 and looking back at my 2017 highlights
Plans for 2018:
Up in the top garden – it’s all gone a bit quiet, but there’s plenty of work to be done in the coming months, with more landscaping and planting needed around the new pond to make it even more wildlife friendly. We planted a new apple tree this time last year and we’ll be increasing our fruit growing with some (bare root) raspberries.
Dad’s built a new compost area near the blackcurrant bush and in 2018 I’d really like to help him with more landscaping as I really want to learn these skills. I’d like to extend my gardening knowledge too, by learning some of the Latin names for plants.
New greenhouse – we haven’t got space for a huge greenhouse in our garden, so we’ve bought a ‘space saver’ one, for the backyard area – it’s more accessible and the best place really to catch the most sun. We assembled it just in time for my carnivorous plants to over winter.
I’d like to grow things more from seed, there’s such a buzz to grow a plant from seed, it gives you such enjoyment and excitement. My Mum has plans to keep a stock of herbs going in the new greenhouse, instead of buying them from the supermarket. She’s got some Greek basil seeds, which she really likes using in bruschetta; maybe we’ll have more success with tomatoes too !
Front yard – our next big gardening project for 2018 is the front yard; at the moment it’s partially flagged and the planting is a bit of a mess. We’re going to dig it all up and start again. We’re doing our bit for the RHS Greening Grey Britain Campaign by removing the flags and getting more pollinating plants in, in the spring.
House plants – I’ve swapped bedrooms and moved into the attic, so my house plants have a new home! I’ve rejigged all my cacti, skulls, fossils, minerals and crystals. It’s a bigger bedroom for all my stuff, which means I can get more plants!
My 2017 highlights:
Climate Change Conference – it was pretty epic to represent the RHS Campaign for School Gardening at the RHS climate change conference in London. It’s had a really positive impact on me and it’s really developed my understanding of the effects climate change is having on the planet and how gardening can help. I hope to set up a nature group at school in early 2018 – will keep you posted on that
Gotta mention the 3 RHS Flower Shows I went to – Chelsea, Chatsworth & Tatton – it’s too difficult to choose a fav ‘cos they are all so different. At Chelsea I met the coolest gardener, Mr Ishihara at his Artisan Garden and I absolutely love the Great Pavilion, it’s #TotallyAwesome. Being at the first ever Chatsworth Flower Show was really cool; it was great to be at a place we know and love so much. And Tatton is great, just for its size; this year I really loved the butterfly dome, now that was something else.
TV appearances – I filmed for Blue Peter 3 times this year and was around when Barney announced he was leaving the show, which made me feel quite sad.
I filmed for Newsround at Chelsea Flower Show, describing it as the ‘FA cup for the gardening world‘
I think the ultimate filming job was for Gardeners’ World with presenter Adam Frost at the Chatsworth Flower Show build. You can kinda guess how it feels to be on the show, I mean just to be on Gardeners’ World #EnoughSaid !!
School visits are part of my job as an RHS Ambassador and it was great to visit 2 this year.
I’m really glad that my first ever ‘official’ visit was to the school garden at Chaucer Junior School, run by Kerry Wheatley. It’s an amazing garden and the kids made me feel really welcomed.
I made a quick ‘pop-up’ appearance at St Christopher’s summer fair in July, which was a lovely honour. I really like doing school visits, this is my job and I really enjoy it
How do you choose a wildlife highlight when there’s been so many. I have to say though that my number one, was the nightjars on an evening bike ride with my Dad near RSPB Arne in August, they were just #Epic
Other highlights include a barn owl on the same night as the nightjars. Spotting a bittern at the Welsh Wildlife Centre. Dolphins were pretty awesome in Wales at Easter. Adders in Scotland was pretty special, as was my first sighting of the majestic hen harriers at the Dee Estuary in February. In our own garden the nuthatch and woodpecker have made a welcomed return and finally, I’ll never forget meeting the legend that is Chris Packham #WOW!
I’ve visited (and stayed at) a few farms in 2017, including Gazegill Organic Farm, where I learnt all about traditional farming methods, raw milk and care farming. I also headed up to Scotland as my ex-gardening teacher, Sarah, moved to Dumfries to start a new life. I described it as #LivingTheDream
I’m already looking forward to returning to my fav Welsh farm at Easter – see you then Garri & Debs!
I also visited two Community Gardening Projects where I learnt the traditional art of scything at St Luke’s in Leeds and discovered a really unique way of growing food, by aquaponics at Peak Organics in Derbyshire.
One of the best things ever this year, was when I visited Hampshire Carnivorous Plants. Trust me, if you’re a football fan, it would be like visiting your favourite team to watch them train.
It was an amazing experience, Matt the owner is so knowledgeable and was so patient in answering my 3 million questions!!
Finally to wrap up my round up of 2017, we got Buddy!!!!
He’s really growing up and hasn’t stopped stealing and eating everything in sight!
He got loads of Christmas presents, but enjoyed this juicy bone the most!
In the next few days I’m going to the High Tide Raptor Watch at Parkgate on the Dee Estuary, with my Dad. There’s a chance of seeing a range of birds of prey hunting over Parkgate Marsh. Speaking of birds, please don’t forget to feed them this winter
As for my other exciting plans in 2018, well, you’ll just have to wait and see……………