Bog Garden Revisited and New Carnivorous Plant Garden

 Back in 2020, we made our very own bog garden from a discarded water closet following a bathroom upgrade. The pitcher plants thrived and produced several flowers...

The original and genuine bog garden

As chance would have it, another lavatory became available when we had our guest bathroom refurbished. Mary thought my wee idea of twin bog gardens was just potty so that suggestion went down the pan - does she think toilet humour is beneath her?

Long story short - Mary decided the original and genuine bog garden had to go. And when something has got to go, it has to go. The replacement looks a bit temporary but, on the plus side, now includes a Venus Fly Trap...

New Carnivorous Plant Garden

...and has become the new Carnivorous Plant Garden!

Of course, this meant we now needed a replacement Bog Garden - although the original Bog Garden was really a Carnivorous Plant Garden as it contained only pitcher plants. Since carnivorous plants get all their nutrients from their captives, they must be grown in a nutrient-deficient medium. Many bog plants, however, need to source their nutrients from the growing medium. So by keeping the carnivorous plants separate, we can grow a wider variety of plants in our new & improved Bog Garden II.

In order to maintain the moist soil conditions for a bog garden, we used a medium Salad/Veg Planter from Greenhouse Sensation. This comprises a 20 litre reservoir - holding water or a dilute nutrient solution - topped by a tray of growing medium. Strips of capillary matting draw water/nutrients from the reservoir into the growing medium. This watering system ensures water and nutrients are consistently and constantly available to the plants without the 'soil' medium becoming waterlogged and thereby inhibiting root development. I would expect the reservoir to need topping up about once a month - but I will monitor this. The reservoir will be topped up with water (rain or tap) most of the time with the occasional dilute nutrient solution when the plants are flowering. The Bog Garden II will also benefit from natural rainfall which may reduce watering frequency even more. 

I used a 50:50 mixture of home-made compost (sieved) and coir/perlite (4:1 by volume) recovered from a Salad/Veg Planter used the previous year to grow celery. The planter is situated with a South/Southwest aspect to benefit from long sunny days. This was Bog Garden II after planting up on 16th May 2022...

The Beginnings of Bog Garden II

... with Water Forget-Me-Not, Ragged Robin, Lady's Smock, Primula vialii (all from Kenchester Water Gardensand a Geum bought at the Broxwood Court Plant Fair. Nearly two weeks later, the plants have settled in and the Primula vialii certainly seems to be appreciating its new environs...

Bog Garden II (12 days later)

This is an experiment so we will see how it develops; hopefully, adding more plants when/where possible. One advantage of the Salad/Veg Planter system is that it can be converted into a small greenhouse which could offer extra winter/frost protection.

First Garden Strawberries (2022)

 First strawberries from the garden in 2022 and a full month before the Wimbledon Championships. Mind you, the weather is cool wet and windy at the moment and not suitable for tennis or butterflies.   

First Strawberry Crop (2022)

I find strawberries easy to grow but we never seem to get a bumper harvest because we have to share them with the birds, slugs/snails, woodlice, etc. At the moment I'm growing them using Wonderwall planters to (i) maximise space usage in the kitchen garden, and (ii) make the fruits less accessible to slugs and snails, even though the climbing abilities of these gastropods are legendary.

Strawberries in Wonderwall Planters (25/5/22)

I still have a problem with birds, mainly blackbirds to be fair, who enjoy the ripe fruit. So I will probably have to net the plants at some point. In the meantime, I'll continue to pick the fruits before they are fully ripe and finish the job on a sunny windowsill.

More Rubbish and a Response to a Freedom of Information (FoI) Request

Last month, I wrote a post on one of my pet hates - lack of context when quoting numerical data. When, for example, mainstream media (MSM) and politicians give you the 'facts', they often leave out the necessary context required to decide whether the information is important or relevant. For example, how often do you see claims that eating/drinking something doubles your chances of getting cancer - yet, when you look at the raw absolute data, this translates from a 1-in-100 chance to a 2-in-100 chance of getting cancer - probably not enough to warrant changing your lifestyle.

In the case of Herefordshire Council, just saying that 3000 tonnes of stuff put out for recycling had to go to landfill, because it was contaminated, does not paint a complete picture. We need to know whether 3000 tonnes is a big number or a small number (h/t More or Less). In practice, the 3000 tonnes of recyclables redirected to landfill represents less than 10% of the total recyclable material collected. We should still do everything we can to reduce the amount sent to landfill but a <10% wastage does not seem that great, considering Herefordshire operates a one-bin recycling scheme for glass, plastic, paper/cardboard, tins/cans.

I submitted a FoI request to Herefordshire Council on April 27th asking for more up-to-date data on waste/recycling tonnages because their website only reported upto 2018-19. I received a reply on 4th May containing the information I requested and a note to say the Council's website had been updated - I'm going to take credit for that update!

As can be seen from the bar chart above, in the first year of the pandemic (April 2020 to April 2021) there was a small increase in non-recycled household waste and slight decrease in recycled household waste. Could this be attributed to a move away from independent food shops (e.g. greengrocers, butchers) towards on-line supermarket orders (more packaging) and less eating-out and more home cooking during various lockdowns? 

Finally, Herefordshire Council provided a breakdown of the types and amounts of material that went through the recycling system. It is interesting to look at changes during the first year of the pandemic (2020-2021).

  • decrease in paper and card recycling - surprising considering increase in Amazon deliveries but, perhaps, fewer newspapers and magazines bought
  • increase in glass recycling (wine, beer and cider bottles?)
  • increase in plastic recycling - more supermarket shopping?
  • decrease in metal recycling - people drinking wine and spirits instead of tinned lager, coke?
  • drop in green waste recycling - a bit of a surprise that one as you might expect an uptake in gardening activities during lockdowns. Maybe more people composted at home though I wouldn't bet on that!

View from the Rear Window - April 2022

 When you think of April, what comes to mind first? Is it, like us, April Showers? Well, maybe, we are going to have to rethink that one. Our weather station recorded just 10.2 mm rainfall for April 2022 and our rainwater water butts nearly ran dry.

Perhaps we were unlucky (or lucky if you prefer dry weather) so I checked out the Met Office's report for April. England with 24.7 mm had less than half its average April rainfall and Wales (46.6 mm) just over half its normal precipitation. Although Herefordshire lies on the England-Wales border, clearly it associates itself more with the former than the latter! Digging a little deeper, the Met Office kindly provides a map showing which regions are the dryest/wettest. Sure enough, the city of Hereford falls in the 20-33% of average rainfall.

Interestingly, the lack of April showers is part of a recent trend with April 2020 and April 2021 both drier than 2022 in the UK. Meteorologically, it was all down to high pressure over the UK this April which kept the rain out.

At the beginning of April, we were enjoying the cherry blossom and tulips...

Back garden - 2/4/22

By the middle of the month, the wild cherry blossom had gone, the tulips were coming to an end - though still colourful - while the trees were leafing up nicely including the red acer...

Back garden - 19/4/22

Our fruiting cherry is now in full bloom with hopes of a half-decent crop if we get to the fruit before the birds...

Stella Cherry - 13/4/22

As April draws to a close, wisteria is in flower along with the photinia behind it...

Back Garden - 29/4/22

Jobs in the Garden

1. Planting seeds = aubergine, sweet pepper, tomatoes, chillies, etc
2. Water the onion sets, asparagus, strawberries due to unusually dry weather
3. Plant seed potatoes (Blue Danube)
4. As the weather warms and the chance of frost diminishes, move vegetable seedlings from indoors to the polytunnel (to acclimatize)
5. Dig up the last of the parsnips sown in 2021 on April 24th
6. Install apple and pear codling moth traps
7. First asparagus cut of 2022 on April 22nd - two spears!
8. Last of 2021 potato harvest used on April 24th
9. Composting ad nauseum as material starts to arrive from neighbours' gardens

April 2022 Weather

Weather parameters for April 2022 are summarised in the table below:

April 2022

Weather Parameter



Average Monthly Temperature 

10 oC

Maximum Monthly Temperature

23 oC


Minimum Monthly Temperature

-3 oC


Number of Air Frost Days


Number of Hot Days (> 25 oC)


Monthly Precipitation

10.2 mm

Greatest 24 h Precipitation

6.2 mm

12th - 13th

Number of Dry Days


Monthly Sunshine Hours (estimated)


Average Wind Speed

4 km/h

Highest Wind Speed

56 km/h


Maximum Barometric Pressure (Sea Level)

1033.1 hPa


Minimum Barometric Pressure (Sea Level)

983.0 hPa


Average Barometric Pressure (Sea Level)

1016.1 hPa

Daily maximum and minimum temperatures for April 2022 are shown below [click once on the image to see larger plot]. Generally, days were warm and nights mild except for a couple of cold spells in early April. With hindsight, it was safe to plant outside from mid-April onwards. 

The next plot [click for larger image] shows daily rainfall and solar radiation. Overall, April was a dry month with no rainfall in the second half of the month - a pattern similar to that observed in March. Average daily solar radiation values (aka sunshine hours) were up and down due to extensive and variable cloud cover during April.

Looking back over the past 3 years of weather data for the month of April, it is clear why April 2021 was less than favourable for gardeners - temperatures were lower and there were lots of air frost days. Fortunately, 2022 has returned to more 'normal' weather conditions with all the adverse weather events (frost, sub-zero temperatures) occurring at the beginning of the month.

The only downside to April 2022, from a gardeners' point of view, was a lack of rainfall.

And finally, some pictures from the garden...

Strawberry flowers on April 2nd

Spot the 'hare' among the daffodils staring at the moon - April 2nd

Acer tree after leafing up - April 20th

Water Garden - April 22nd

Paradise Garden - April 22nd

Holly Blue - April 21st

Delicate Scilla flowers - April 2nd

The Last Bluebell Blog of 2022


Bluebells covering the slopes of the Malverns - 8/5/22

This is definitely the last post this year about bluebells. It has been a spectacularly good year though; as it was for wild daffodils. The bluebells were prolific at Lea & Paget's Wood and we caught a glimpse of their splendour on the Malvern Hills after our visit to the Malvern Spring Show.

So after our Putley's Open Gardens visit, we decided to continue the journey to the Malvern Hills to have one last look.

Bluebells in the Woods - Malvern 2022

Bluebells - Malvern Hills 2022

Bluebells - Malvern Hills 2022

Just inspiring!

We also discovered a little bit of Scotland while we were there... the form of Highland and Belted Galloway cattle doing their bit to conserve the habitats of the Malvern Hills.

Future of Apple Orchards?

Not having enough gardens and gardening at the Malvern Spring Show, we attended the Putley Open Gardens event on the following day (Sunday 8th May). We've been a couple of times in the past but not for a few years. Most of the gardens were the same but there were a couple of new ones. In any case, it's always nice to see how gardens develop.

The day started well when we parked the car, next to the Village Hall, in a field full of meadow buttercup ...

Car Park for the Putley Open Gardens Day

We paid our £5 per person entrance fee and received a map showing the locations of the gardens. It was possible to drive between the gardens but we chose to walk the 3 miles, including walks through apple orchards in bloom. The first stop was the Parish Church where the morning service had just finished and then through an orchard to the first garden. To the right of us, apple trees in blossom...

Apple Trees in Blossom (vertical variety)

...and to the left total destruction...

Apple Trees in Blossom (horizontal variety)

We heard later that someone had bought a house in the village and then negotiated to buy a nearby plot of land from a local farmer to keep her horses in. Unfortunately, that land was an orchard so the trees had to be grubbed out. The destruction seemed more poignant because the apple trees were felled while full of blossom.

The impression we got was that the neighbours were less than happy about the situation. Cider orchards are in the DNA of the people of Herefordshire. It did seem a bit drastic and unnecessary when there are plenty of properties in a rural county such as Herefordshire that already cater for horses. The farmer was presumably happy to sell off a small part of his land and the trees opposite had been spared the axe.

It does raise a question, however, about the viability and sustainability of cider orchards in Herefordshire. The County has a large number of both traditional and modern orchards (see above); the former contains some very old trees and apple varieties while the latter, planted using GPS-controlled tractors, use more productive varieties that suit modern tastes.

The largest Herefordshire cider producer, Bulmers, is now part of Heineken. The production (fermentation) site is in Hereford, just a few hundred metres from where we live. When we moved here in 2001, all sorts of vehicles including tractors would trundle up to the Bulmers (as it then was) site to drop off their cider apples - sometimes a large trailer, sometimes just a couple of sacks. Once the apple juice was pressed from the apples, it would be concentrated to preserve it; to be diluted and fermented throughout the year until the next apple harvest. Every September we would enjoy the glorious 'apple pie' aroma as the boilers concentrated the apple juice. Unfortunately, that operation moved to Ledbury a few years ago and we lost the autumnal aroma.

There are still plenty of independent cider makers in Hereford such as Westons, Dunkertons and others. However, Bulmers is the largest by far producing 65% of the 500 million litres drunk in the UK each year.

In 2019, quite a few orchards were cut down or grubbed out. Everyone was blaming Heineken/Bulmers but the real issue was a lot more subtle. Consumers' taste buds had changed - moving away from traditional ciders towards sweeter, and fruitier, drinks. Some of the apple varieties planted 10-20 years ago to meet the perceived future demand and tastes were now out of fashion. So Heineken paid up the multi-year contracts and the farmers grubbed out the trees so they could plant other crops. Which just goes to show, prediction is hard, especially about the future.

Anyway, back to the Putley Open Gardens. The weather was warm and sunny (22 ℃ back in Hereford), and the gardens were wonderful and different. A feature of every garden was the multiple places to sit and relax...

A place to sit, relax and sip a G&T

And most of the gardens had a wild area for nature...

"No Mow May" to encourage wildflowers and pollinators

Several people asked which was our favourite garden. An impossible question as the gardens were all enjoyable yet different. In reality, we would be perfectly happy to get back to our own garden and enjoy its smells, sights, wild areas and numerous places to sit.


RHS Malvern Spring Show and more Bluebells

 Yesterday, we decided to visit the RHS Malvern Spring Show today (Saturday 7th May) at the Three Counties Showground near Malvern. Buying the tickets in advance saves time queuing at the gates although by the time we belatedly arrived (2.30 pm) there were no queues! The event shuts at 6 pm so we had 3½ hours to see as much as we could. With tickets costing £25 per person, we would normally arrive much earlier to get better value for our money.

Obviously, it is a gardening event and the attendees are reasonably well-off. Some interesting facts about the Spring Show:

  • 100,000 attend over 4 days
  • Average age is 52 years
  • 73% female and 27% male
  • 40% AB and 75% ABC1 (i.e. mainly the 'middle classes')
  • Average visit time is 6 hours
  • Average spend is £150 per person
  • The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mail and The Times are the most read by attendees
We go to look around the show gardens, buy a few interesting plants, listen to a few talks, watch a few demonstrations, and admire the flower exhibits and craft stalls. This year was a bit of a rush though.

With so many people around, photography is a little dificult especially if you are trying to avoid including people in the pictures. Here are a few photos I managed to snap to give a flavour of the occasion.

Bulb Stall

Show Garden

Local schools also have their show gardens and this year's theme was the Queen's Platinum Jubilee...

Although this 'model' of the Queen wasn't too flattering...

The Floral Marquee has fine displays from top nurseries...


Pitcher Plants

There were plenty of other things to see and do but time had caught up with us and it was time to leave as they shut the gates after us (not literally).

Feeling peckish and in need of a drink, we stopped at The Chase Inn, Upper Colwall for a tasty meal (risotto) and a pint of liquid refreshment (non-alcoholic for the driver!) in the garden. Staff were friendly and welcoming and there were excellent views from the beer garden looking towards Herefordshire...

View from The Chase Inn beer garden

On the way to the pub, we were treated to vistas of bluebells covering the slopes of the Malverns in the late afternoon sun...

Bluebells on the slopes of the Malvern Hills

Lea & Paget's Wood - Herefordshire Nature Reserve

 During our recent visit to Common Hill Nature Reserve on 24th April, we took a small detour to Lea & Paget's Wood. This nature reserve, in the care of Herefordshire Wildlife Trust, is described as "one of the finest, ancient, semi-natural broad-leaved woodlands in the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty".

At this time of year, it is always worth a visit for the bluebells...

Bluebells in Lea & Paget's Wood #1

which were here...

Bluebells in Lea & Paget's Wood #2


Bluebells in Lea & Paget's Wood #3

and everywhere (but not up there!)...

Bluebells in Lea & Paget's Wood #4

Photography doesn't catch the beauty and intensity of a carpet of bluebells so for good measure here is a close-up of English bluebells...

Bluebells in Lea & Paget's Wood #5

There were quite a few trees down and there are always signs up notifying visitors of ongoing forestry work...

Fallen tree- Lea & Paget's Wood

One such fallen log was decorated with King Alfred Cakes, an inedible fungi but a good firelighter. 

And finally, one of the specialities of Lea & Paget's: Herb-paris, a distinctive plant of wet and ancient woodlands situated on chalky soils and sometimes spotted among the bluebells...

Herb-paris, Lea & Paget's Wood

Flora (flowering):

  • Bluebell
  • Herb-paris
  • Dog's Mercury (male & female)
  • Celandine
  • Dandelion
  • Wood Anemone
  • Early Purple Orchid
  • Stitchwort
  • Wood Spurge
  • Yellow Archangel
  • Cuckooflower
  • Cuckoo Pint
  • Dog Violet
  • White Deadnettle

  • Holly Blue butterfly
  • Speckled Wood butterfly
  • Brimstone butterfly
  • Orange-tip butterfly
  • Buzzard,
  • Blackbird
  • Robin
  • Blue Tit
  • Chiffchaff
  • Goldcrest
  • Wren
  • White-tailed bumblebee
  • Large Red damselfly

Popular Posts

Blog Archive