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Originally posted on Shine A Light Project:

You are a refined and well-mannered lady quietly sewing by the fireside contemplating the latest family scandal, but you find your face is turning a rather un-dignified shade of pink because of the heat of the fire. So what do you need? A fire screen of course!

firescreens blog pics 007

firescreens blog pics 008

We have many fire screens within Norfolk Museums Service and several excellent examples live at the Norfolk Museums Collection Centre. These objects are the quintessential showcase piece for domestic history. They are beautiful objects and it’s not hard to imagine the gentle lady of the house reclining in front of the fire with the screen to protect her delicate skin.

These objects are at once practical and decorative. They range from simple wicker screens to sumptuous embroidered spectacles. They sit proudly but quietly in every country house. So when you watch Downton Abbey next week take a moment to observe the surroundings of…

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Originally posted on Met Office News Blog:

We often get asked the question about where is the wettest town or city in the UK – and there are some news stories on this subject circulating in the media at the moment.

While the current stories use some of our figures, this isn’t an analysis by us and wasn’t done using our complete records from across the UK.

When it comes to answering what, on the face of it, is a relatively straightforward question – the reality is that it’s a lot more tricky than it first seems.

First of all, which measure should you use? There are rain days, which denote every day which sees more than 1mm of rain. Then there is total rainfall, which denotes the total accumulated rainfall over a period of time.

Which gives the better picture of a rainy city? There’s certainly room for debate.

Secondly, we have thousands of weather observation…

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Originally posted on Municipal Dreams:

In last week’s post, we left Balfron Tower just as its first residents were moving in, among them the Tower’s architect, Ernő Goldfinger, and his wife, Ursula.  That affluent couple moved out after a couple of months.  It’s a cruel irony that Balfron Tower, conceived in the twentieth century as decent housing for ordinary people, will in the twenty-first become the preserve solely of the most wealthy.  How did it come to this?

Balfron and the Brownfield Estate

Balfron and the Brownfield Estate

Back in 1968, the champagne parties thrown by the Goldfingers for their neighbours made it easy for some to condemn their stay as a piece of show-boating by a wealthy couple who would soon return to Hampstead but Goldfinger was serious in his intention to discover the strengths and weaknesses of his design.  This is clear in his own account and in the careful notes drawn up by Ursula – even if…

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Originally posted on National Trust Press Office:

In a nod to apple day, the National Trust’s Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire is celebrating its recent National Collection ‘award’ for its apple collection, making it just one of five collections culinary apples in the country.

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For most, Hallowe’en is a night of excitement, friendly frights and safe scares. But for the children of Syria the fear is very real. And it’s every night of the year.

The Syrian civil war is in its fourth year, and has stolen the childhoods of millions of children. Children like Hani, 8, have seen unspeakable horrors. They have witnessed the deaths of family members, endured sleepless nights of bombing and fighting, and now live in constant fear and uncertainty.

This Halloween, show the children of Syria that they have not been forgotten.

Follow this link to World Vision to find out more about how you can help…

Old School Gardener

Awesome Autumn!

Originally posted on nymansgardenblognt:

Acer + Hydrangea = Nymans in Autumn

Acer + Hydrangea = Nymans in Autumn

Nymans is often referred to as a garden for all seasons, but for many of our vistors and indeed members of the garden team, Autumn is perhaps the favourite of them all. The showy blooms of Summer may well have faded into memory but the kaleidoscope of colour at this time of year never ceases to dazzle and excite. Whether it’s the fiery foliage tones or the beautiful fruits that adorn the trees that you’re after, Nymans should certainly be top of your list of places to visit soon. In this week’s blog we’ll take you through some of the highlights that await you…

The view from the formal gardens to the Arboretum

The view from the formal gardens to the Arboretum

And here it is in some more detail

And here it is in some more detail

Perhaps the most obvious place to start looking for turning leaf colour is in our Arboretum and even if you can’t make…

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It’s a little while since I posted examples of useful (and attractive) garden or other outside projects created from recycled pallets or other materials. Here’s the first of a few posts by way of an update, courtesy of the Facebook site 1001 Pallets.

Old School Gardener

path to glory

A lovely example of how the most basic of materials can be turned into a thing of beauty – and practicality.

Old School Gardener

koelreutia pan fastig fruit Koelreuteria is a genus of three species of flowering trees; K. paniculata, K. bipinnata and K. elegans

Common name:  Common names include Golden Rain Tree, Pride of India, China tree, or varnish tree

Native areas: The tree is Native to China and southern and eastern Asia.

Koelreutia elegans subsp. formosa

Koelreutia elegans subsp. formosa

Historical notes: It’s discovery is credited to Pierre d’Incarville, a Jesuit missionary; who sent first seed from China to Russia in 1747. It was classified by Russian botanist Erich Laxmann who named it after Joseph Gottlieb Kolreuter,  from Karlsruhe, Germany, a contemporary and professor of natural history. It was later grown in Europe (by 1753) and reached America in 1811. The variety K. paniculata ‘Fastigiata’ was raised by Kew Gardens from seeds received in 1888 from Shanghai.

Koelreutia bipinnata

Koelreutia bipinnata

Features: Koelreuteria are medium-sized deciduous trees growing to 10–20 m (33–66 ft) tall, with spirally arranged pinnate or bipinnate leaves. Leaves are pinkish in spring, turning yellow in autumn. The flowers are small and yellow, produced in large branched panicles 20–50 cm (8–20 in) long. The fruit is a three-lobed inflated papery capsule or ‘bladder’ 3–6 cm long, containing several hard nut-like seeds 5–10 mm diameter. In some areas, notably parts of eastern North America, they have become invasive. the variety K. paniculata ‘Fastigiata’ tends to be shorter than the species (5-10 metres tall) and has a narrow columnar shape.

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Uses: Koelreuteria are popularly grown as ornamental trees in temperate regions all across the world because of the aesthetic appeal of their flowers, leaves and seed pods. Koelreuteria are commonly used as focal points in landscape design.  Several cultivars have been selected for garden planting, including ‘Fastigiata’ with a narrow crown, and ‘September Gold’,  flowering in late summer. The seeds are edible when roasted, but are not commonly consumed. The variety K. paniculata ‘Fastigiata’ is a good choice for restricted spaces and excellent as a specimen tree in a park. The clusters of small yellow flowers which it produces in July and August are popular with bees and are followed by lantern-shaped fruits in the autumn.

Koelreutia paniculata 'Fastigiata' growing at Barcham Trees

Koelreutia paniculata ‘Fastigiata’ growing at Barcham Trees

 Growing conditions:  Koelreuteria grow in nutritionally poor soil including: clay, sand, well drained, alkaline, loam; they require full sun but not a lot of watering, with a moderate aerosol salt tolerance. They tolerate wind, air pollution, salt, heat, and drought and grow at a moderate rate, but are sometimes fast growers. Koelreuteria produce seeds that are blown away and get germinated and this might result in the growing of more trees next to the original one.’Fastigiata’ does best in dry, calcareous soils and in a reasonably sheltered position, such as an urban courtyard garden.

Fruit and flowers of K. paniculata

Fruit and flowers of K. paniculata

Further information:

Wikipedia- Koelreuteria

Wikipedia- Koelreuteria paniculata

Wikipedia- Kolreuteria bipinnata

RHS- Koelreuteria paniculata

Barcham Trees Directory- Koelreuteria paniculata

Barcham trees directory-  Koelreuteria paniculata ‘Fastigiata’

Old School Gardener

Originally posted on greenbenchramblings:

As promised for the third in my week’s posts celebrating my 500th post we go down to Hertfordshire to explore Tom Stuart-Smith’s garden designs at his own home and the home of his sister. The family home at Serge Hill is surrounded by mature planting. The new gardens  designed by T S-S are within its grounds. When these gardens open they are very popular with thousands of visitors making an appearance. It looks very busy and taking photos is difficult as the gardens are only open for one day each year as part of the National Garden Scheme, so people find it in the famous Yellow Book. The friendly herd of Guernsey calves greeted every visitor. We wandered through the gardens around the house which had been there a long time but the influence of T S-S can be seen.

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In the gardens at Tom’s and his…

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