My Blog List

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Back by popular demand: Crossrail's Bison to Bedlam exhibtion

Good news for anyone interested in London's history: finds from Crossrail’s archaeology programme are going on display again, after a hugely popular one-day showing in July. (see

As well as the 100-odd finds featured the first time - including amber, bison bones, a Roman silver coin, medieval ice skates and a skeleton from the Bedlam hospital site - the October exhibition will also include a small section of mammoth jaw bone.

The free event is being held at the Crossrail Visitors Information Centre, Tottenham Court Rd, from 2 October to 27 October on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11am to 7pm and Saturdays from 10am to 5pm. On Wednesday evenings at 6.30 there will also be a series of 25-minute seminars by archaeologists working on the project. Crossrail’s lead archaeologist Jay Carver be hosting the project’s first online Twitter Q&A event (#BisontoBedlam) on Tuesday 9 October between 2pm and 9pm to answer questions on the programme. The Crossrail project is halfway towards completion, so there should be further exciting finds to come.

The Crossrail Visitors Information Centre is at 16-18 St Giles High Street, London, WC2H 8LN

Saturday, 22 September 2012

A better way to grow strawberries?

This summer I tried growing strawberries in containers – and ended up with lots of runners, but no fruit. Now I’m looking at different planting methods to try next summer, and have been inspired by the kitchen garden at the National Trust’s Polesden Lacey, near Dorking in Surrey.
Tucked away beside a greenhouse, I found strawberries flourishing in long growing bags resting on planks which in turn were supported by knee-high brick walls (left).  Each bag was connected to a watering system.

Because the plants were elevated, there was no need for straw to keep the slugs away, and the bags would be easy to cover to keep the birds off.  It seemed like a good scheme, with no digging involved, and looked easy to replicate on a smaller scale with ordinary growbags.

Polesden Lacey was once the home of Edwardian society hostess Margaret Greville, and the grounds provided food for her lavish weekend parties (often attended by royalty) as well as the household and garden staff. Mindful of the estate’s productive past, the National Trust is currently creating a community kitchen garden there for people who’d like to grow produce but haven’t the time for an allotment. Work is scheduled to start this autumn, with the ground ready for new planting in the spring. More details at

Polesden Lacey’s gardens are beautiful all year round.  In the autumn, the herbaceous borders (above) are a blaze of colour. I also loved the wildflower meadow bordering the entrance path (below).