RHS Companion to Scented Plants : Book Review & Give Away

There is nothing more evocative than a scent, it will remind us of people, places and events.   Our olfactory senses work overtime with recognised smells.  They can bring back a flood of memories, affect our mood and even help us relax and sleep.   Some of us can’t abide the perfume from lilies, chlorine from swimming pools but I think we would all agree that there is no point of a rose without a scent.

I believe that the majority of gardeners take scent and colour into the equation when choosing plants for our gardens. It is absolutely wonderful to walk into a garden in the evening to be met with heady aromas wafting in the air.   To help us select the ideal plants, be they trees, shrubs, perennials or roses, it is always helpful to have a book to refer to and give us ideas and planting information.

Frances Lincoln Publishers released the RHS Companion to Scented Plants on 16 October 2014. The author of this book is Stephen Lacey is a well known garden writer and the book is complimented with photographs by Andrew Lawson.

RHS Companion to Scented Plants lrThis is a large hardback book with 320 pages, measuring 250 x 190 mm.  The first chapters “Scent & the Gardener” and “The Nature of Scent” cover the basics of planting in sun and shade, the types of floral scent and even covers unpleasant odours, such as the flowering currant Ribes smelling like cat’s urine, which is always an issue I have with my Ribes.  At least I was sensible enough not to plant it anywhere near to my Jasmine!

I always like a gardening book that provides planning ideas and there is no disappointment here.  We are given four plans, all with interesting scented plants.

image1 (1)

Most of the chapters are set out in the form of a catalogue, broken down into trees, shrubs, bulbs, perennials and herbs to name but a few.

image2 (1)

The chapter on roses is detailed with beautiful photographs, and the roses are categorised into the type of rose, Gallica, Alba, Bourbon etc. with information about each type before listing what I think are probably the popular varieties with the strongest scents. I couldn’t find the two roses I have in my garden, Compassion and Peace which is sad because they have beautiful perfumes also.  I have learned that Buff Beauty is a Hybrid Musk and Charles de Mills is a Gallica rose and where they grow best and the size they are.

image1 (2)

I can do no better than quote Frances Lincoln Publishers who, quite rightly, describe the RHS Companion to Scented Plants as “An authoritative guide to creating beautiful, well designed gardens that are highly scented and shows how scent can turn a good-looking garden into an unforgettable one.”

Win a copy of this beautiful book by entering into the Book Give Away competition.  You can do this by leaving a comment to say you wish to be entered into the draw.   As usual this is open only to those with a UK address.


I will announce the winner on Saturday 25 October 2014.  If you are unlucky in the draw or live abroad all is not lost, the lovely people at Frances Lincoln have a readers offer for you:

To order RHS Companion to Scented Plants at the discounted price of £20.00 including p&p* (RRP: £25.00), telephone 01903 828503 or email mailorders@lbsltd.co.uk and quote the offer code APG238. 
*UK ONLY – Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas.

Are You a Starter or a Finisher?

Some people are natural “starters.” They live for the creative beginning of projects, but not the day-to-day execution or the follow through. I start things but don’t always finish. My energy comes from seeing new ideas and kicking things off. Apparently Starters love prototyping an idea, but once they’ve figured it out, they’re ready to move on to something else.

That definition makes me a Starter, especially when it comes to knitting. Although there is an enormous sense of achievement when I do finish a project, I have several projects waiting in the wings along with some collecting dust because I just lost interest.

Knitting yarns are a draw to me like a bee to pollen. I can spend as long in a wool shop as many do in a book shop. Online wool shops are also my downfall and I have boxes of wool and half made projects. I suppose strictly speaking I should refer to my stash of wool as a ‘stash of yarn’, not all is actually wool, a lot is a mixture of acrylic and wool and some is 100% acrylic. I do have some skeins of alpaca because I love the feel of it but don’t actually have anything in mind to use it for – yet.

This is my stash of yarn. If you look carefully you will see an unfinished crochet Minion, which seemed like a good idea at the time and I hope to have finished by Christmas. In fairness there are a lot of odds and ends following the actual completion of projects.

There are three parts to every project, starting, finishing and everything in between. It is the everything in between bit I stumble over.

My problem is that I see a pattern I like and order the yarn without really thinking things through or taking into account what else I have on the go. A good example of this is when I saw an attractive and different cardigan pattern by Bergere De France with the wool on offer and rashly bought it. This was about 4 months ago and I am yet to start it, so on this occasion I am not even a Starter.

The other issue is my liking for unusual random dyed wools, such as Sirdar Crofter DK. Having never made socks before I bought some of the Crofter wool and pattern. I did actually finish soon after I started, but only one sock and that was at the end of August. Yesterday, the beginning of October, I started its pair. Silly really as they don’t take that long to knit.

I suppose I could call myself a procastinating finisher, I need to set myself goals. Spurred on by my imminent stay with my daughter and grandchildren, this cardigan for my granddaughter, also knitted in Sirdar Crofter, which I started in July, was completed a few days ago.

Around about the same time I was carried away with the idea of a cable jumper for my grandson, that way they would both have something knitted by Grannie given to them at the same time. You can see how far I have got with this one. I have set myself a goal for completion – It will be a Christmas present for him, that is December 2014.

I don’t always buy wool for new projects I do start things using yarn from my stash. There are some great and quick ways of using up leftover yarns, such as tea cosies. This is one I finished recently, despite the fact I am not sure what to do with it. I just liked the pattern, which was an on-line freebie. I can’t even make them to sell and recoup some of the cost of the wool, as patterns like this one specifically state they are only be used for personal use and not for commercial purposes.   I suppose I could give them away on the condition that a donation to a charity such as Macmillan is made, that’s an idea!  Anyone want a tea cosy?

Then there are the red mittens I decided to make last night for my grandson to go with his Bristol City football scarf, which I gave him last Christmas. Just one mitten to finish by Thursday but as it only took one evening for one mitten this will be achievable.

Not everything I make is knitted, I do crochet sometimes. This last photo is not only a great stash buster, jargon for using up yarn, but also started and finished with everything in between done without a break. My eldest daughter saw this on Kirstie Allsopp’s Fill Your House For Free and asked me if I had time would I make one. I did on both counts.

If this post manages anything it will succeed in prompting me into finishing my outstanding projects, whilst I wait for my next purchase of exciting wool to be delivered.

Are you a Starter or Finisher?

Book Give Away and Review: “BREAD”

Now for something completely different.

In a bid to show that the Hurtled to 60 blog is more than just about gardens, I accepted the offer from Jacqui Small Publishers/ Quarto Publishing Group UK to review a pre-release copy of ‘BREAD’ by the professional baker and pâtissier, Dean Brettschneider.  Dean, amongst other things, is the founder of Baker & Cook, an artisan bakery chain and is a consultant for major supermarket chains in the uk, www.globalbaker.com.

Encouraged by programs such as The Great British Bake Off and the electric blue eyed, silver fox, masterbaker, Paul Hollywood, many are turning to, or thinking about, making our own bread.   Some of us are lucky enough to have an artisan baker nearby, but in the main if we want a rustic, healthy, loaf we bake at home.  There is nothing more evocative than the smell of home made bread.

Now look no further for an inspirational book.


This hardback book contains a collection of 60 recipes from all over the world, such as a delicious looking “Brie & Caramelised Garlic Pain Miche” with mouthwatering full page colour photographs.

image1 (800x598)

With comprehensive step-by-step guides on making and baking breads, clearly written and accompanied by detailed photographs, even I believe I could make a decent loaf.

image2 (800x591)

The chapters include recipes for Savoury Breads, Sourdoughs, Quick Breads & Scones.  The Sweet Breads chapter has tantalising recipes for Blueberry & Cranberry Bagels, Chocolate Kugelhopf and a heavenly looking Tarte Tropezienne, made with a brioche base and filled with Creme Pâtissière.  I am tempted by the Swedish Christmas Rye Crackers in the Festive Breads chapter.

image3 (800x593)

When I Googled Dean Brettschneider, I saw that “Bread” was published in New Zealand on 24 July.   It  is due to be published in the UK on 16 October 2014.  Win a pre-release copy before the 16 October by entering into the Book Give Away competition.  You can do this by leaving a comment to say you wish to be entered into the draw.   As usual this is open only to those with a UK address.


I will announce the winner on Thursday 9 October 2014.  If you are unlucky in the draw or live abroad all is not lost.  Jacqui Small Publishers have a reader’s offer:

To order Bread at the discounted price of £20.00 including p&p* (RRP: £25.00), telephone 01903 828503 or email mailorders@lbsltd.co.uk and quote the offer code APG232. 
*UK ONLY – Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas.

End of Month View: September 2014

I have contributed to the End of Month View meme hosted by Helen at Patient Gardener since 2011, so it is with interest to go back three September EOMV’s to assess if the garden this year is behind or ahead of itself which is about average with no surprises.  Despite a cold August, we have had a very warm and dry September.  I heard on the radio this morning the weatherman saying that September 2014 may well be the driest September since 1910.   The empty water butts are testament to this.  Today I woke to rain which was pleasing to see, but it didn’t last long.  However, I did manage to loosen the hard impacted soil with a hoe and had a bit of a tidy up.  The trouble with soft soil it is an open invitation to every cat in the neighbourhood to use it as a public convenience!

In the last few EOMVs I have concentrated on plants and not really given an overall resume of the garden and what it looks like as a whole.   This month is a warts and all post.

First, are the roses which are still looking good and continue to produce buds which is always pleasing.  Most of the roses are in the flowerbed which is in the middle of the garden and in full sun all day.   As soon as the ground is soft enough to work, I want to round off that bed by about 2ft/3ft to plant more perennials.   I have ordered a lot of spring bulbs from J Parker & Sons and would like to make a show of the tulips and daffodils.   Parkers seem to be taking their time in delivering them though and I have already chased them once to be told I should receive them shortly.

DSC_0127 (800x533) (800x533)


DSC_0135 (800x533)

At the back of the house the raspberries have been incredible this  year.  Supposedly autumn raspberries, I have been picking fruit since early July and can’t give them away quickly enough.   Last week when the window cleaners came I gave them plastic bags and told them to help themselves – they were delighted.   I know it has been a good year for fruit but I also wonder how much a good helping of fish blood and bone in the spring has had a lot to do with how prolific they have been.

DSC_0140 (800x533) (2)

If you follow my blog you will know what a nightmare time I have with ivy, most of which comes from neighbours either side.   I have started to cut down some of it on the left hand side of the garden, but the previous owners have now moved and the buyer has not yet moved in.  Once he has established himself I will try to pick a good moment to ask if he could cut his side down.    Meanwhile in desperation tried to spray some of the new shoots with weed killer but to my annoyance it made no difference!

DSC_0139 (800x533)

He will get a lot more sunshine in his garden as I have found when my other lovely neighbour has started to remove the ivy from his side.  Although it is only a small section at the moment, it has made a considerable difference to the amount of sun and light in the garden.

DSC_0132 (800x533)

The left border, which is south facing, is a bit bare having lost a lot of plants this year.  They suffered from a combination of drought, snails and an element of the ivy sapping goodness from the soil.   This is where, last year, I had Echinacia, Rudbekia, and Geums, all of which were lost.

DSC_0134 (800x533)

A the bottom of the garden, west facing, the Dahlias and Cosmos are still in flower, although I cut the only magenta dahlia flower for my previous post “In a Vase Monday”, so it is looking a bit bland.

The compost bin is next next job especially having read Helen’s recent post about compost.  Also I am going to make some leaf mould in bags this year, whereas I usually just throw the leaves into the compost bin.

DSC_0136 (800x527)


DSC_0137 (800x533)

The right-hand border, north facing, is looking lush.   In the spring when it was so wet this part of the garden was really boggy and then, being clay soil, became rock solid.   The Alchemilla Mollis is spreading, but does fill in what would otherwise be gaps.   The Elderflower (Sambucus Nigra – Black Lace) needs a good prune at some time, it has grown into a bit of a beast.   It needs careful attention because it only flowered at the top of the tree this year and wasn’t so impressive.   In the spring when visiting The Harold Hillier Gardens in Romsey, it was interesting to see that they had cut their Sambucus down to about 3ft.  I wonder if that was just to get a good shape and leaves only, or if they flowered also.    Because of its size it blocked out a lot of sun this year so I will bring it down to below the height of the wall.

DSC_0138 (800x533)

I’ve got some brown patches on the lawn which look a bit ugly.  I think this is thanks to foxes but I am not certain, anyway  it needs a lot of attention, as this year lots of weeds have also appeared.   It is full of clover and “mind-your-own-business” Soleirolia soleirolii as well.   There are times I am minded just to leave it as it does make for a green lawn, but now these brown patches have appeared a trip to the garden centre will be on the cards.

DSC_0133 (800x533)

The patio is retaining its jungle quality and the passion flower  growing over the water butt is still flowering.  I was looking at the Japanese Anemones and have put off cutting them down today, however, I am having the side window replaced on Friday and the men are going to need to access it so they will have to be  pruned by then which  is a bit sad as they are still flowering.

DSC_0141 (800x518)

I will leave you with another pic of the garden this last day of September 2014, bathed in sunshine after a wet morning.

DSC_0131 (800x533)

As always, thank you Helen for hosting this great and exceptionally useful meme.   Click HERE to visit her Patient Gardener blog and read all about how other gardens are doing at this time of the year.


In a Vase Monday

I love the idea of the weekly meme “In a Vase Monday” run by Cathy at Rambling In the Garden and despite all my good intentions to be a regular contributor I have failed to do so. This week I am putting that right.

It is becoming more difficult as autumn draws near to collect flowers for posies to show indoors. I find now that I am suffering from the conflict between do I leave the few remaining flowers in the garden, or do I enjoy them in the lounge before they finish completely and the winter months leave us flowerless. All is not lost though, we can make up for this with coloured branches of evergreens and berries so there will be many weeks and months ahead for In A Vase Monday.

I wandered around the garden this morning viewing the bedraggled floral remains, looking sad and dropping under the recent rain. Yes we have had some rain! In the bottom flowerbed stands a dahlia plant with one solitary magenta flower, the size of a saucer, which I decided to being into the lounge where I can see and admire it on a regular basis.

The next step was to find a suitable vase. The single stem is not very long and the flowerhead is heavy, so the right size and shape was a challenge. Also I wanted a vase that would be in keeping with the colour of the dahlia flower. As I scanned the array of various shapes and sizes on the top of my kitchen cabinet my eyes fell upon a vase I bought from Spain many years ago. It needed a bit of dusting off as I don’t use it very often, I have no idea why as it’s a rather nice one, and it has colourful dahlia type flowers painted on it.

Here we are then, this is my In A Vase On Monday.

Thank you Cathy for hosting this meme. Please pop over to her blog to see the other contributions. http://ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com/2014/09/29/ina-vase-on-monday-all-things-bright-and-beautiful/