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Archives for August 22, 2017

Call the Gardeners! Miranda and her mum are a blooming hoot…: CHRISOPHER STEVENS reviews last night’s TV

Christopher Stevens for the Daily Mail



All Gardens Great And Small  


Jamie’s Quick And Easy Food 


Such fun! Miranda Hart’s mum is teaching her galumphing girl how to garden.

But it isn’t Patricia Hodge wielding the secateurs, though the actress frequently stole the show as Miranda’s bossy mother in her eponymous sitcom. 

The star of All Gardens Great And Small (More4) really is Miss Hart’s venerable parent, the horticulture expert Dee Hart Dyke.

Miranda insists she didn’t inherit the gardening gene, which explains why Hart Snr is a judge for the Royal Horticultural Society while Hart Jnr claims she doesn’t ‘even know what a plant is’.

In All Gardens Great And Small, pictured, Miranda Hart’s mum is teaching her galumphing girl how to garden. The two women are straight out of the same mould, writes Christopher Stevens

But it’s obvious that a filthy sense of humour runs in the family.

The two of them were in fits as soon as they started pruning the ivy in Miranda’s overgrown back yard. ‘It’s rampant!’ snorted Dee, a word they repeated till they were breathless.

When Mum proposed that what her daughter’s foliage really needed was a good sorting-out from a burly man, both women doubled over in hysterics.

The gardening tips are entertaining, if often daft — for example, donkey dung is just the thing to keep aphids off your box hedges. 

But the real interest lies in seeing how similar mother and daughter are, and guessing how much of real life creeps into Miranda’s comedy.

Dee is ridiculously posh, the sort of upper-middle blue-blood who secretly thinks the Royal Family are a bit arriviste. She drives an old banger, a 1968 Singer estate, with nearly 200,000 miles on the clock. You have to be seriously aristocratic to do that and look dotty instead of skint.

Inspecting one gardener’s summerhouse, a wooden platform overlooking his collection of banana plants, she declared that it wouldn’t look out of place ‘in Keen-yah’.

In All Gardens Great And Small, pictured, Miranda Hart’s mum is teaching her galumphing girl how to garden. The two women are straight out of the same mould, writes Christopher Stevens

Most people say ‘Ken-ya’. To get away with the White Mischief pronunciation, you need to have at least a baronet and a castle in the family. The Hart Dykes have both.

Dee takes British politeness to an extreme, just like her daughter. When she steps backwards and accidentally treads on a plant, she apologises effusively to it: ‘Oh, I am so awfully sorry!’

Snack of the night 

Nadiya Hussain went out foraging in Scotland on her British Food Adventure (BBC2) and plucked hawthorn leaves, once a schoolchild’s treat. She wasn’t convinced. 

‘I used to have a bag of crisps,’ she reminisced.

The two women are straight out of the same mould, then. But we did catch one hint of a difference: they might not agree about Brexit.

Tutting over her daughter’s flowerbeds, Dee warned: ‘You don’t want those bluebells — they are Spanish and they’ll seed themselves everywhere.’

Miranda looked aghast: ‘Heaven forfend we have some Europeans in my garden, mother!’

If it’s posh you wanted, though, the best place to look was Jamie Oliver’s new series, Quick And Easy Food (C4). 

The fat-lipped Essex chef might not be able to master basic words like ‘perfection’ — he says ‘prefection’ — but he uses only ingredients so exclusive, they come with their own Michelin star.

Jamie Oliver’s new series, Quick And Easy Food (C4), pictured, uses ingredients so exclusive they come with their own Michelin star, writes Christopher Stevens

Take his first dish of seafood and mash. Jamie insisted on ‘hand-dived scallops’ as one of his five ingredients, which he fried with black pudding.

Scallops and black pudding is the sort of hoity-toity dish that Dave and Sam Cam might order in Cornwall’s most upper-class fish and chip shop to look like ‘normal people’ on holiday.

And why did the shellfish have to be ‘hand-dived’ — plucked off the ocean bed one at a time, instead of factory-farmed? It would be cheaper to fry £50 notes.

Jamie has lost touch with reality. At one point, he urged us to ‘add a simple splash of red wine vinegar from your store cupboard’, as though we all live in delicatessens. This show is for lottery winners only. 

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Garden Tips: Dry plants? Maybe you need ‘wetter’ water – Tri

Are wetting agents worth the money?

Depends, say Washington State University soil and irrigation specialists in the fact sheet “Does Wetter Water Make Fatter Wallets?”.

Wetting agents are chemicals used to overcome the repellence of water in hydrophobic soils, potting mixes or soils high in organic matter, or thatch in lawns. They are sometimes recommended when gardeners complain that water is not penetrating the soil, either staying on the surface or running off.

Ophardt RGB columnist.jpg

Before using a wetting agent as a miracle cure for the problem, a gardener should investigate the reason for poor absorption. A wetting agent may help if the problem arises from hydrophobic conditions, but often there are other reasons that water is not easily penetrating the soil surface. In these situations — such as when the soil is compacted — wetting agents will not help.

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Garden tips for the harvest season – Courier

The time is here to harvest a number of garden crops. First, let’s look at garlic.

Pull garlic when three-quarters of the stems have become dry and yellow. It won’t hurt to pull earlier, though, and given the current spate of dry conditions, I pulled my garlic when only the top few inches of stem and leaves had turned yellow. This was because garlic need lots of water, and I preferred to pull the garlic early rather than continue watering.

Now here’s a real helpful tip. Many people try to remove clinging dirt and debris from garlic bulbs by tapping on a hard object. I have done this myself, but last year had to pay the price. My usual practice was to hold the garlic by the stem and with some degree of force, tap the bulb on the wooden frame of a raised bed.

But that’s a risky practice and every so often, garlic so handled will not last through the winter. Indeed, my garlic last season became soft and the bulbs broke apart on their own, no help from me. Also, the individual cloves became mildewed, rendering them unfit for use.

So handle your garlic cloves gently. Remove clinging dirt by rubbing lightly with your fingers. After that, spread your garlic out on a table or something similar and leave in the sun for one or two days. Then bring in and place in a shaded, dry place for the final cure. After the remnant of stem has thoroughly dried, place the bulbs in an onion bag and store in a cool, dry area.

Summer squash

Pick zucchini and yellow summer squash when the fruits are about 6 inches long. Do your best not to allow any individual squashes to grow much larger. And keep ‘em coming. That is, pick as frequently as needed. This will assure continued production right up to frost time.

So what do we do with all those summer squash? Well, I just learned from a friend that the yellow variety (and probably zucchini as well) make excellent pickles. Use a bread-and-butter pickle recipe and substitute summer squash for cucumbers.

I used to slice summer squash into rounds and then sauté them for a minute or so. After that, the squash would be placed on a baking sheet so that none were touching. The sheet, with its complement of squash, then went in the freezer. When fully frozen, the squash slices are easily removed from the baking sheet and placed in a plastic freezer bag for winter storage.

To use, just partially thaw and then sauté as per fresh squash.

Summer squash is tasty when sliced and briefly boiled. One gardener likes to mix cut-up onions with squash slices. It’s easy, then, to parboil summer squash, drain and place in freezer bags for storage in the freezer. To use, just get a slight amount of water boiling in a saucepan and drop in the frozen slices.

And then we have friends, neighbors and food pantries. Where there’s a will there’s a way, so keep picking and enjoying those little squash. And remember, in winter any summer squash we find in the produce aisles will probably be soft and half-gone by. I’d rather have my own frozen product than a wizened squash from the store.

Bush beans

This year I tried a new, for me, bush bean called “Strike.” I give these top rating because they have a fine, delicate taste and remain straight and tender even as they get larger. But it’s best not to let them get too large. Better to pick all beans of a harvestable size than to leave medium-size ones on the vines to become too large.

I like to buy bush beans that continue producing over a long time. The best way to encourage long-term production is to keep the beans picked. Does this sound familiar? It should, because that’s the same way we need to treat our summer squash.

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, I plan on planting Strike bush beans next year, too. They are delicious and worthy of our attention.

Sometimes despite our efforts to keep beans picked, some of them manage to grow to an exceptional size. That’s when I break out my cast-iron bean slicing (Frenching) device. Even the toughest old bean tastes fine and becomes tender after going through a bean-Frenching device.


What goes for summer squash and bush beans also holds true for cucumbers. Try your best to keep eating-size cucumbers picked and the plants will reward you with increased production.

As mentioned in a past column, I grow my cukes on a trellis. This keeps the fruits clean, off the ground and easy to find. My two cucumber types for this season were Summer Dance and Delikatesse. Summer Dance are long and thin, making them great for slicing. Delikatesse is a rather short, thick cucumber that serves equally well for fresh eating (even when rather large) and pickling.

But cucumbers are prone to a debilitating plant disease called bacterial wilt. This occurs when bacteria enter the plant stem through insect-caused wounds. Those yellow-and-black striped cucumber beetles are prime culprits and can transfer bacterial wilt by feeding on the plants. Rotenone works to solve this problem.

But controlling insects represents just part of the cure. The bacteria can linger in the soil, so if your plants become infected, pull them and burn them. Then next year, plant in a different location.

I grow my cucumbers in an EarthBox and have always done well until last year one of my plants developed bacterial wilt. Thinking that I had somehow damaged the plant, I didn’t take remedial measures. But now with the disease confirmed (stems dry and leaves wilt), I must empty the potting soil in my EarthBox and sterilize the inside of the water receptacle. The old soil will be disposed of far from my garden, and before planting next year, I will add new, clean soil. The soil in this EarthBox has served me for more than 10 years, so it’s past time for a change.


Did you plant your Swiss chard so thick that now it only produces lots of little leaves? Well, don’t despair, since chard responds well to thinning. It’s not too late to begin thinning and I suggest leaving at least one foot between plants in a row. So thin now, water, and in only a few days your chard will begin to take on new life. Before too long you will only need one or two leaves for a meal.

Tom’s tips

Do you like how things went with your garden this year? Or does it seem apparent that some things ought to change, perhaps certain plants need to grow in a new location to avoid depleting soil. The best way to remember all of this is to write it down. I like to make line drawings depicting what grew where. This comes in quite handy for future reference.

In addition to taking notes, it helps to take photographs of your garden from different angles. That way, it’s easy to see at a glance just how the garden was set up. Next winter, when snow flies and temperatures plummet, those garden photos will help to relieve winter blues. It works for me, and I’m sure it will do the same for you.

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Residents get ready for spring with garden tips

The wind and rain did not deter over 100 green thumb (and a few brown thumb) gardeners from turning up at Belswan Lifestyle Villages in Pinjarra to absorb the insightful and, at times, amusing presentation by gardening personality Sabrina Hahn.

Titled ‘Get Set for Spring’, Ms Hahn covered everything from soil preparation to the removal of non-performing trees and shrubs.

Western Australia’s sandy soils lack the ability to retain water, so she explained now was the time to spread soil-wetting agents to get plants off to a good start in spring.

Ms Hahn commented on the gardens at the village, which are maintained by ‘Ben the Gardener’, and the residents’ veggie patch, both of which contribute to a healthy living environment.

She also spoke of her love of the North West and her work with indigenous groups to develop sustainable gardens for food production.

Question time caused a few laughs and everyone who posed a question got detailed information on how to proceed with their problem or query.

Guests then moved from the Grand Lounge in the village’s clubhouse to the restaurant and were treated to an indulgent afternoon tea, while some took the opportunity to tour the village facilities.

Belswan Lifestyle Villages Managing Director Kevin Phillips was overwhelmed by the response to the open day event and was considering future interesting subjects and personalities as a follow-up to Ms Hahn’s presentation.

Belswan Lifestyle Villages in Pinjarra is open for viewing on Sundays and Wednesdays from 10.30am-12pm, or any other time by appointment.

Contact Belswan Lifestyle Villages | 9531 0368

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Around Lexington

End of the Summer Party: 5:30 p.m. Aug. 25, Lexington Community Center, 39 Marrett Road. The second End of the Summer Party will feature a DJ with games and prizes, outdoor yard games, a 40-foot inflatable obstacle course and a free raffle every 30 minutes. There will also be a food truck and dessert for purchase, as will as a movie played on a 20-foot inflatable screen. The movie will start at dusk. Sponsors include Lexington Lions Club, DCU Bank of Lexington, Lexington Police Department, Lexington Fire Department, Lexington Human Services Department and Lexington Recreation Community Programs. Free. For information:

Venture Crew 1775 open house: 7:30-9 p.m. Aug. 30, 3 Forbes Road, Lexington. Venture Crew 1775 will hold an open house featuring free pizza for those interesting in co-ed scouting. Venturing is the co-ed and youth lead part of Boy Scouts of America for ages 14-21. Venture Crew 1775 is sponsored by MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory and focuses on STEM, High Adventure and community service. They have skied in Switzerland, sailed in Florida and climbed Mount Katahdin. They have also toured the Boston Dynamics robotics facility, the Silk Lab at Tufts and the aviation research hangar at Hanscom AFB. For information:

Lexington Pops Chorus Open Rehearsals: 7:30-9:30 p.m. Sept. 5 and 12, Hancock Church, Clarke Hall, 1912 Mass. Ave., Lexington. Lexington Pops Chorus will hold non-audition open rehearsals. The fall program will include “Old American Songs” by Aaron Copland and choral selections from “The King and I.” For information:

Outdoor Concert at Youville Place — Basin Street Dixieland Band: 2:30-3:30 p.m. Sept. 5, Youville Place, 10 Pelham Road, Suite 1000, Lexington. As part of the Outdoor Concert Series at Youville Place, the Basin Street Dixieland Band will play jazz songs from the 1930s and 1940s, including “Sweet Georgia Brown,” “Bill Bailey,” “I’ve Got Rhythm” and “I Found a New Baby.”. Free. For information: 761-861-3535;

Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Series — ‘Entering Their World’: 6:30-8 p.m. Sept. 7, Youville Place, 10 Pelham Road, Suite 1000, Lexington. Mal Allard, director of The Courtyard at Youville Place, will present “Entering Their World” as part of her ongoing Caregiver Support Series at Youville Place. Following this presentation, attendees will have opportunities for conversation and QA. Free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be provided. Free. For information: 781-861-3535;

Art in the Garden: 3-5 p.m. Sept. 10, 17 Solomon Pierce Road, Lexington. The Lexington Field Garden will sponsor an Art in the Garden event to raise funds to maintain and replenish the plantings at the town’s Emery Park at the home of Christina and George Gamota. The event will be in the Gamotas’ landscaped private Lexington garden, surrounded by the artwork of five local artists. The artists include Teresa Deible, Tracy Fischer, Ronnie Gould, Alison Lauriat and Molly Nye. There will be an e-catalogue with photos, descriptions and prices of each of the five artist’s inventory. It can be found on the club’s website, People will be able to purchase ahead of time if they cannot attend the event itself. LFGC will use the proceeds from this afternoon to maintain and refurbish Emery park, the largest public space in Lexington Center. Admissions is $25 for LFGC members; $30 for nonmembers.

‘Forever Fit’ information session: 1:15 p.m. Sept. 11, Fitness Room, Lexington Community Center, 39 Marrett Road. Funded by a grant from the Dana Home Foundation, Lexington Recreation and Community Programs will offer an information session for “Forever Fit.” During the session, participants will learn about the program, taught by Judy Whitney, personal trainer with over 30 years’ experience in the fitness industry. “Forever Fit” will provide individual assessments followed by one-on-one and group training sessions on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons. Individuals interested in committing to the fitness program may do so after the information session for the administrative fee of $10.

Flu clinic for seniors: 10 a.m-1 p.m. Sept. 13, St. Brigid’s Keilty Hall, 1997 Massachusetts Ave., Lexington. Influenza vaccine will be available for Lexington residents 60 and older. Residents are asked to bring their Medicare Part B or other health insurance card, but can still be vaccinated if they do not have one. All vaccines will be provided at the upcoming clinic free of charge to Lexington residents on a first-come, first-serve basis. Future clinic dates are being planned, including family clinics and they will be announced as soon as additional doses of vaccine arrive. For information: 781-698-4503.

Bird-Friendly Gardens: 10 a.m. Sept. 13, Lexington Depot, 13 Depot Square. Landscape designer Nanette Masi will share her expertise in designing gardens to attract birds, butterflies and other insects with the Lexington Field and Garden Club. Masi uses native plants, works with organic materials and techniques and designs gardens to stay healthy from spring through winter. Her designs feature native plants, natural garden design and beauty for humans, as well as bounty that attracts wildlife. Refreshments are served at 9:30 a.m. The program is open to all. For information:

Pan-Mass Challenge Kids Ride: Sept. 17, Bowman School, 9 Philip Road, Lexington. Lexington will hold its third annual Pan-Mass Challenge Kids Ride, a bike-a-thon that crosses the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, to benefit cancer research and treatment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Since its founding in 1980, the PMC has melded support from cyclists, volunteers, corporate sponsors and individual contributors. For information:


Caregiver support group: 7 p.m. second Thursdays, Youville Place Assisted Living Residence, 10 Pelham Road. The residence will offer a monthly support group for caregivers of individuals affected by Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Led by Mal Allard, director of The Courtyard at Youville Place and Una Barrett, a senior living specialist with Positive Living Solutions, the support group will meet monthly. Youville family caregivers, as well as caregivers from the community, are invited to register for the first meeting.

Toastmasters International: Noon-1 p.m. Thursdays, lower level, Cambridge Savings Bank, 1781 Mass. Ave., Lexington. The Lexington Toastmasters meet every Thursday to work with others on communication and leadership skills. Open to all community members. For information:

Call for Artists — Lexington’s Autumn ArtWalk: Members of the Lexington Center Alliance, Lexington Arts Crafts Society, Lexington Council for the Arts and the Munroe Center for the Arts are coming together to plan another display of artwork throughout Lexington for this year’s Foot-by-Foot ArtWalk. This year’s theme is “affordable art.” Submissions are requested to be 12 by 12 inches in size, and priced $250 or less. Larger works may be submitted along with smaller pieces, however, large pieces will only be selected for a small number of windows. This year the priority is to fill Lexington with small, 12 by 12 works (for 3D works, this is 12 by 12 by 12). Art will be displayed Nov. 6-26 (during the seasonal celebrations of the Lexington Retail Association, and the Thanksgiving weekend). Artwork will be selected based on quality and available display space. Artists are required to have a Lexington connection either as a resident, affiliation with Lexington through work, etc. Deadline for submission: Sept. 12. To get an entry form, email

National Alliance on Mental Illness Family Support Group: 6:30-8:30 p.m., first and third Tuesday of each month, Brookhaven at Lexington, 1010 Waltham St., Lexington. Family members and caregivers of people living with mental illness are invited to the National Alliance on Mental Illness confidential Family Support Group. Facilitated by NAMI trained volunteers who have experience with mental health concerns. Ongoing, drop in, free to participants. Contact Janet at 781-761-5287 or For information: Free.

Lex Eat Together: 5:15-6:30 p.m. Wednesdays, Church of Our Redeemer, 6 Meriam St., Lexington. Lex Eat Together offers a weekly dinner in the heart of Lexington for anyone in need of a meal or companionship. Their mission is to provide a setting which respects privacy and dignity. All are welcome to this community event. For information:

First Friday suppers: 6:30 p.m. first Fridays, 2 Hayes Lane, Lexington. Every First Friday of the month except holidays, join the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3007 for a free supper. Reservations are a must. Call 781-862-1370 for a will-call ticket number. Exclusively for veterans and their family members. Ample parking on premises.

Irish step dance classes: 5-7 p.m. Wednesdays, First Baptist Church of Lexington, 1580 Massachusetts Ave., Lexington. Weekly classes for children held at 5 p.m.; adults at 6 p.m. Traditional solo and social dances to Irish jigs, reels and hornpipes. For information:

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Gardening symposium set for Sept. 23 at Westford Academy

WESTFORD — The Massachusetts Master Gardener Association will hold its second annual Massachusetts Gardening Symposium, a daylong educational event, on Saturday, Sept. 23, at Westford Academy, 30 Patten Road.

Themed “Inspiration for Next Year’s Garden,” the program emphasizes 2018 garden design and plant selection. Gardeners of all levels of experience are welcome.

The agenda features presentations by four nationally recognized horticultural experts: Thomas Rainer, landscape architect and author of “Planting in a Post-Wild World: Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes”; David L. Culp, plant hybridizer, vice president of Sunn Border Nurseries and author of “The Layered Garden”; Kathleen Gagan, owner of Peony’s Envy, a 7-acre New Jersey retailer, nursery and display garden; and Janet Macunovich, online, broadcast and hands-on gardening educator and author of “Designing Your Gardens and Landscapes.”

Cost of the symposium is $90 per person. Reserve tickets at For more information go to, or email

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This is what happens when acclaimed artists design a garden

By Harriet Verney CNN

(CNN) — From Michelangelo’s Renaissance-era scenes from Eden to Monet’s 19th century landscapes, the garden has been a focal point to centuries of art movements.

But what happens when rather than simply depicting gardens, artists try gardening themselves?

A new triennial at the ARoS Aarhus Art Museum in Denmark hopes to explore exactly this through a three-part exhibition that looks at the past, the present and the future.

“The Garden – End of Times; Beginning of Time,” will be staged in venues in an around Aarhus, with some installations stationed the coast as far as five miles out of the city.

“When they look upon nature, (artists) see the possibility but also the challenges in a different way than we would,” said Erlend Hoyersten, the director of ARoS.

“It’s not just the visuality of nature, it’s the question of what exactly is nature and what is man-made because we tend to forget the difference between the two. Driving though Denmark we have fields of wheat and different kinds of crops growing and it feels like nature but it’s actually green industry.”

Though the city only has a population of just over 300,000, Hoyersten anticipates visitors in excess of 1.1 million due to the subject’s universality.

“Everybody has an opinion of what nature is or what a garden is,” he said.

“You have an attitude towards it, you have an experience with it.”

TM © 2017 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

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