Category Archives: Garden Reviews

Garden visits to read about.

In a field in Surrey…

Somewhere in the middle of a field in Surrey: (Loseley Park, Guildford), to be precise.

Potting up wine tasting glasses at Seed Pantry/Cono Sur

That is where I found myself today – along with my other half and the smalls. The reason we were there? To investigate what the ‘Grow Your Own Show’ had to offer us. I was intrigued to check it out, as it targeted the expanding ‘grow your own’ community (which I’m very happy to be part of). It will be interesting to see how this event develops (this is its first year). It may even turn into a kind of ‘Glastonbury’ for the grow your own community!

What did we see? Edible snails, pigs, goats, chickens, hen houses, urban gardening initiatives, dog poo composting (don’t ask), bee keeping, wine tasting, the secret seed society, square metre gardening, mini allotment bed building, vertical gardening, heritage seed companies and pop-up poly tunnels.

I was delighted to meet the Secret Seed Society (

The Secret Seed Society

For those of you who haven’t yet heard of them, they’re on a mission to get kids curious about the food they eat. Amy Cooper, the creative director of the company was on her secret seed museum stand, dressed as a carrot and smiling at all the kids, which got my vote of course. This lady is onto something here, she understands enquiring minds and has produced a beautifully illustrated set of secret agent kits. I’m not easily parted with my cash, but was so impressed, that I bought ‘The Mighty Messenger’ a pack containing a story about Mingo Mung, seeds, and props to help propagate). Hooray for ‘Adventures in Vegetables’…

Another favourite company of mine is ‘Seed Pantry,’ ( who specialise in everything for the urban garden (no matter how tiny your outdoor space is).

Seed Pantry

A big draw for me is their design aesthetic: superb graphics printed on eco friendly packaging. (I am now indoctrinated in all things graphic, type and line – having an art director for a husband). As well as selling their wares, (seeds, compost blocks, veg kits, kids growing kits, windowsill boxes etc) they were also planting seeds in wine tasting glasses. From running my own workshops, I have an affinity with any company supporting kids and gardening, so was interested to see them teaming up with ‘Cono Sur’ (an award winning winery), recycling plastic wine glasses and repotting them with radish and sunflower seeds. It really makes a difference when you engage with your customers and do more than just ‘sell’ a product. This is what good branding is about and why I would recommend Seed Pantry and the Secret Seed Society. They know their market, and are passionate about their products and customer base – it makes such a difference to potential consumers. #justsaying… 

Did anyone else go the Grow Your Own Show? What did you see? What caught your eye?  Let me know your thoughts!



Downderry Lavender Nursery, Pillar Box Lane, Hadlow, Tonbridge, Kent, TN11 9SW

T: 01732 810 081

Open Tuesday – Sundays (plus Bank holiday mondays) 10 – 5pm. Open from 1st May – 31st October.

Prices: Admission free. Guided Tours £5 per adult (under 16’s free) including refreshments.

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Hidden away down winding country lanes and beautiful countryside is the lovely ‘Downderry Lavender’ nursery. It’s a really interesting place to visit for an hour or so and will inspire and delight all lavender enthusiasts. Situated in a Victorian walled garden, the nursery is essentially a large courtyard containing lots of fragrant lavender, sculptures, mirrors and symmetrical paths.

If you’re a Beth Chatto fan or enjoy dry, mediterranean and gravel gardens – this should interest you. They propagate 95% of the plants they sell and produce a wonderful lavender essential oil (£5.95) (the quality of the aroma and oil is second-to-none). You can also buy a selection of their lavenders there – a beautiful white lavender and dark violet caught my eye.

There are tables outside in the summer and a little gift shop which also sells ‘lavender ice-cream.’ An acquired taste, but interesting nevertheless.

GIRLWITHASPADE VERDICT: A nice way to spend an hour or two (and pick up some lavender whilst you’re at it).

Leeds Castle

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Leeds castle, Maidstone, Kent, ME17 1PL T: 01622 765 400

Open daily 10am. Last entry 4.30pm.

Prices: Adults £17.50, Children under 4 (free), Children 4 – 15 £10, Concessions £15

A visit to Leeds Castle. Welcome to the first post detailing gardens to visit. Whether you’re going with friends or family and small children. I can let you know about facilities (including toilets!), plants of interest, playgrounds, historic buildings, cafe’s (if the food is up to scratch!) etc…

Leeds Castle is well worth a visit. Although £17.50 per adult is expensive, you can use these tickets for a year for free entry – so keep your tickets! Set in 500 acres of land, it has something to amuse everybody. You can easily spend a whole day there. It’s child friendly – there is an aviary with parrots, toucans and tropical birds a-plenty. There are two fantastic playgrounds: one toddler playground and a more sophisticated giant wooden fort for the most adventurous kids (and parents!) aged 5 year and up.

There are wonderful woodland walks, a selection of cafes (with highchairs) and even a maze with an underground grotto. Be warned – it does take about half an hour to solve the way out!! The ‘ culpeper garden’ features formal bedding with lovely, rambling English cottage garden planting, designed by Russell Page in 1980 (named after the Culpepers – who owned the castle in the 17th century).

Perfect for summer picnics, winter walks, spring or autumn Leeds castle makes a great day out. They often have events (when we visited they had a falconry event, with a beautiful white owl).