Tuesday, 25 August 2009

UK Wasp Alert - Barbara has got it in the bag.

There seems to be lots of stories in the media about the huge amounts of wasps this year in the UK. We caught a news snippet on the BBC this morning that suggests the amount of Wasps around this year is the highest amount witnessed for 30 years.

The Abbey House Gardens have always had visiting Wasps in the summer months as they often get attracted by the smell of fallen fruit from our trees. One of the suggestions by a viewer made to the BBC was to use a paper bag, fill it with air and then tie it to a tree or object close to an area thats visited by wasps. The inflated bag is meant to represent a wasps nest, and as wasps are largely territorial our friends in the garden might politely find somewhere else to inhabit! Thats the plan anyway and Barbara is giving it a go. Watch this space for the results.

Spartan Apples & Art at the Abbey House Gardens

One of the most commonly asked questions we get in the Abbey House Gardens at this time of year is about our Spartan apple tree, one of the 180 different types of fruit that we have in our colonnade. The apples from a distance look totally red and can in some cases be mistaken for plums pre to a closer inspection.

Even more intriguing for our visitors is the collection of fibre glass rods that populate the Spartan apple tree. The sculptural art installation was the creative result of a few days work by American born sculptor Joan Edlis and represents linear lines contrasting against the organic shapes of the spartan apple tree. Its been housed in the gardens for a few years now. The rods are originally designed to hold wind socks in air fields but in the gardens the act as a great focal point in the distance to draw our visitors around to the rear of the fruit colonnade.

The spartan apple is most notable as its the first apple to be produced from a formal scientific breeding program. The apple was supposed to be a cross between the North American varieties, the McIntosh and the Newton Pippin, but recently, it was discovered through genetic and scientific analysis that it didnt have the Newton Pippin as one of the parents and its identity remains a mystery. The spartan is considered a good all purpose apple for eating and cooking, straight off the tree.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Plant of the week: Acanthus Spinosa or Bears breechs

Every now and then we plan on featuring a plant you would expect to find in the Abbey House Gardens and give a litte bit of background on its origins and a few tips you might find useful for maintenance. We tracked down one of our gardeners Kevin today to tap his Brains on Acanthus Spinosa commonly known as Bears breechs. Its a plant that always draws the questions from visitors to the Abbey House Gardens.

You can find this hardy plant in either full sun or partially shaded areas of the Abbey House Gardens. It can grow upto 150cm tall if planted in a well drained area with regular watering intervals.

You can see the large green leaves to the plant below, this type of leaf structure has traditionally influenced ancient architectural designs on corinthium columns. Its presence in any garden brings a strong sense of classical design.

The flowers themselves can often be mistaken for fox gloves from a distance. This is probably why we get asked about this plant a lot by visitors to our gardens. They tend to flower between the months of July and September and can be seeded in March and April.

Kevin's big tip is particularly useful if your thinking of moving or removing this Acanthus Spinosa (Bear Breeches) from your garden. If you leave even the smallest spore in the ground this plant will come back time and time again. Take your time and do a thorough job when extracting!


Barbara in the News - Western Daily Press - 'West hotspots enjoy a 'staycation boom' despite all the gloom.

A great little newspaper article was published yesterday (August 17th 2009) in the Western Daily Press. Local Malmesbury journalist Tristan Cork has canvassed Barbara for evidence on how the recession has actually helped the Wests tourist hot spots positively as more people opt to save cash and stay in the UK.

Amongst other things the poor exchange rate has adversely effected Brits from travelling abroad. According to National Statistics the number of British Citizens travelling abroad dropped by 17%. The British travel website Expedia reported that the areas experiencing highest growth for online searches included Bath and the Cotswold's.

Barbara was quoted 'The good weather in the late spring and early summer meant our visitor numbers were up 70% in the first half of the year. The weather hasn't helped more recently, but people are opting to holiday here or go on day trips'

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Artwork in Progress for the Abbey House Gardens October Exhibition

Its always exciting to get a preview of an artists latest work in progress. In October we are featuring the work of two artists in the Belverdere at the Abbey House Gardens.

The title of the show is 'Nature's Rich Weave: An exhibition of work by Liz Watts and Melissa Wishart.' The exhibition knits together paining, sculpture, texiles and words.

Between them Liz and Melissa use a wide range of materials and ideas to explore the rhythms, tensions and wonder that exist between man, woman and nature, with uch of the work finding its roots in Abbey House's arcadia.

The exhitibion and cafe layout allow you to relax over morning coffee, light lunch or afternoon tea either in the midst of the art or the midst of the gardens.

Lots more information and visuals to come nearer the date of the event in October.