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Outdoors in the city

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Production team | 12:46 UK time, Friday, 24 April 2009

All that rain and then this warm weather has meant the slugs are having a lovely time and have munched through most of the Jerusalem artichokes and lettuce.

I've kept them so far off the peas and broad beans. However the early tats are appearing and need earthing up (drawing the soil around their necks to stop tubers from going green). My rocket has bolted and gone to flower, so I'm making the most of the flowers by adding them to salads and floating in soups. Oh and I made the first nettle soup of the season (I told my husband it was spinach as I knew he'd baulk at nettles) with some garlic mustard for extra kick.

Beyond the garden, as Isabel (the dog) is spending more time at home, I've had to up her walks. No longer can I rely on my rather lazy approach that coming to work was walk enough. Rather than this being a sad tale of no more frolicking in long grass and lazy afternoons chewing bit of stick, it's turned out rather well.

I've never spent so much time in my local park, but my morning and late evening walks are so enriching, so full of lovely things that I am almost as eager as the dog to get going. I am privileged to have two very lovely parks surrounding my neighbourhood, Highbury Park (very wild in bits with bee hives, allotments and a strange, if not beguiling pinetum) and Kings Heath Park (formal beddings, bowling greens and pond).

This morning I went to Kings Heath Park and wandered around the wilder bit looking at all the blossom and tender, soft green leaves unfurling. I love those spring leaves where the green seems almost iridescent and they look like they've been made out of silk.

I don't think it's just me that spending more time in the park. All this financial uncertainty, our economic foundation trembling, is forcing us, it seems, outside. Or at least outside of the rather selfish boundaries of consumerism (ah there it is all my political biased laid bare), which it seems, is dying on its feet.

Instead, in what's been recently dubbed, the we-conomy has arisen revealing humanity's talent for pulling together, forging companionship and keeping going. I read in a recent article that despite the downturn in the economy we've not stopped giving to charity and the uptake in community groups, time-share schemes (you bake me a cake and I'll mow your lawn) and volunteering is significant. Whether it's gardening together or knitting we want to be a part of something with other people.

I've lost count of how many neighbours have said, 'I've started cycling/walking/jogging in the park - it's full of people'. The indoor gym membership may be dwindling, but the free outside version, at least here, has had a huge increase.

Which is why it's all the more lovely that our parks are full of such pretty things as medlar trees and cherry blossom, heady, hectic bedding schemes and bowling greens.

A early morning walk in a deserted park is a rare moment of peace in city life, but an evening walk full of football games, gangs of kids on bikes, of lounging teenage lovers, joggers, dog walkers and promenaders-well that's a community.


  • 1. At 1:11pm on 24 Apr 2009, Fleshlight wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 2. At 11:08pm on 26 Apr 2009, Joweed wrote:

    I wonder if the production team realises that in Swansea, Gardeners World is usually squeezed in sometime on Saturday, to allow rugby to be shown on Fridays.
    As a consequence, Toby advertised this Saturday's visit of the Digin team to Swansea after the event. This is not a criticism of Toby, but of the programme schedulers who consider rugby to be more important than gardening.

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  • 3. At 2:14pm on 27 Apr 2009, Tactful_Cactus wrote:

    Alys, i've never known anyone make sowing carrott seeds so sexy and sensual!!! i think i've got a crush!! you've got one lucky husband there!

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  • 4. At 3:37pm on 27 Apr 2009, magiclyndylou wrote:

    Toby , you mentioned the problem with peach trees getting leaf blister(nasty red blister like growths) but didnt say how to get rid of it. I had this on my nectarine (i only bought it last year) i was told to take off all effected leaves but then it was bare! And it didnt fruit. This year is exactly the same what do i do???

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  • 5. At 11:29am on 28 Apr 2009, byrnesunit wrote:

    Great show on Friday, Alys. The courgette advice was timely - I was about to sow far too many for the family's needs.

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  • 6. At 5:22pm on 28 Apr 2009, veratrum wrote:

    hi its great hearing you on Womans Hour.I've already planted my rollo rossa, I shall now plant my carrots, and wait till next week to hear what you have to say about beetroot thanks

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  • 7. At 11:08am on 29 Apr 2009, phyll_ostachys wrote:

    Here's the link to Alys's on Woman's Hour: http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/whnews/

    Her interview starts at 35.52

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  • 8. At 5:36pm on 29 Apr 2009, largepatsmith wrote:

    To all the Team.

    Thanks for making gardening so interesting with expert guide lines in language I, as a novice, can understand. You've really got me inspired, the Beets are in, as are the Carrots. Now it's wait and see time, have I been a good sudent !

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  • 9. At 8:58pm on 29 Apr 2009, ravenjoy wrote:

    I am really enjoying this new series and have used quite a few of the tips you have all passed on. I have been gardening for about 10 years now and am learning all the time. I can't make out why there are all these complaints on the blogs and can only assume that all the satisfied viewers are out there in the garden getting on with it!!
    I like the emphasis on getting children interested and can't wait for my 3 little grandaughters to be old enough to help me in the greenhouse!
    Sorry you are not on air this Friday but will just have to make do with the new magazine until you are on again!

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  • 10. At 10:01pm on 29 Apr 2009, koala_girl wrote:

    I agree, walking the dog is good in lots of ways. 1)You have a good excuse to have a good nose at everyone else's gardens as you walk past. 2)It's always nice to walk round the park and admire the trees, etc. 3)You get to chat to other dog walkers.

    I would still like to see Isobel on the TV!

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  • 11. At 2:22pm on 01 May 2009, calire66 wrote:

    I am a new gardener and have just started my veg patch from seed. Having grown everything (with mixed success!) in a mini greenhouse using plastic 'cells', I transfered them all to the ground a week or so ago - and what a nightmare! when you have a full tray of seedlings, getting them out is impossible without disrupting the compost/roots or bending the neighbouring plant.

    I may be being clumsy or worrying unnecessarily (the seedlings should survive anything?) but I would to know how this is done properly.

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  • 12. At 8:48pm on 08 May 2009, shrinkurgarden wrote:

    It's a pity to see and say that Gardeners World has "upgraded" into a sales and personality show in which the human species is more decorated in space and time than the vegetable roots of the program. So out of date..
    This is crisistime: back to basics. Back to the roots!

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  • 13. At 10:51pm on 08 May 2009, Valgal wrote:

    I was a little comforted to read from Alys that slugs and smails have wreaked havoc in her garden. I was devastated to see the destruction, in one night, of my beautiful sink garden, and dear little border full of bedding dahlias (well, it was!). Can anyone offer some hints, tips, ideas?
    Last night, I did collect 96 snails and 12 slugs but I'm sure I've not exhausted the supply. Tonight I'm going out again, armed with torch, a bucket of eggshells and salt water, but my plants are laced or skeletal so I'm determined to prevent any more ruin.

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  • 14. At 3:55pm on 18 May 2009, rickmad wrote:

    Hi everyone I watched gardeners world on friday and was interested to see the item on a garden in suffolk particualy regarding equium plant? I am fortunate enough to have grown these in hertfordsire, my current one stands at 13ft and is in full flower, I would be gratefull if someone could give me the correct spelling

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  • 15. At 10:03am on 10 Jun 2009, MrTonyMurch wrote:

    I've been enjoying regular jogs at my local park in Milton Keynes which is very well looked after at the moment. Its a real pleasure to jog around - even when its raining.

    I agree that the current economical Doom and Gloom is certainly getting people out of there houses and into public places around the city besides the shops! Which is a refreshing change providing its respected and looked after.

    Hopefully an excellent summer will push this trend even more.


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