Google+ Followers

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

  Cold, dark water slowly flowing through beds of frost brittle reeds and past bleak bare trees. 
               This is July for me.

Proof that these pictures were really taken in Australia

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Plant of the moment.. Cotton Lavender

   I decided to tidy up the curving bed beside the front path today. As usual a simple trim and sweep became a major clear out as I found the Ivy roots and firethorn growing beneath the plastic sheet.  The sheet had clearly been covered in mulch at some point, but time and nature had turned the original mulch into a 5-10cm layer of topsoil.
  In the end the firethorn has been pulled out of that garden bed and a row of cotton lavender planted to provide a bit of continuity.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

  Seeds have been ordered! I will have a variety of seeds available for sale at Rowany festival and hopefully a number of books related to gardening, self sufficiency.
An Illustrated History of Gardening

I have a copy of this book which will be up for sale. I'm not sure what else I will have yet, we will just have to wait and see. This is a good introductory book with enough pictures of artefacts to educate and provide inspiration for your own creations.

I will have some dye seeds, some edibles and some medicinals. I'll  give more details later as I am still waiting to hear back about availability of the seeds I have ordered!

Thursday, 13 March 2014


A Profile of the

The Artichoke
Cynara cardunculus syn Cynara scolymus and
 Traditionally the artichoke has been considered to date back to Ancient Greece or Rome, more recently the development of the artichoke has been advanced to the 10th or 11th centuries.  Sicily is considered to be the most likely centre of origin, a location where there was certainly a thriving Arabic horticultural tradition (Sonnante 2007).
It is difficult to pinpoint a location for the domestication of the artichoke, however its wild ancestors are found throughout the Mediterranean region (Zohary 1975)


Iberian peninsula

The Gardeners Labrynth Thomas Hill
England (London)
Richard Gardner “Profitable instructions for the manuring, sowing, and planting of kitchin gardens
England (Shrewsbury)
Table 1 a list of combined culinary/horticultural texts and archaeological evidence for the presence of at specific times and regions.

Cultivation of the artichoke
Thomas hill describes the cultivation of artichokes from side shoots, a process which has changed little.

“Artichokes come of young plants taken from old stock…And when you would take the plants from the stock, dig the earth away half a foot deep about the stock, and pull the earth clean from the stock; Then thrust your thumbs between the stock and the plant, and slive them off, keeping the bottom whole and unbroken

Harvesting them
Thomas Hill
“You must gather your Artichokes (cutting them almost a foot from the ground) when their to beginneth to open a little; and with your foot break off the stalk left on the ground”

Richard Gardener an author also writing around the same period gives almost identical instructions, he does go to give instructions on how to produce large quantities of Artichoke slips (or cuttings) for sale by planting slightly below the surface in a hillock.

  • The Cultivated Artichoke: Cynara scolymus Its Probable Wild Ancestors Author(s): Daniel Zohary and Jehuda Basnizky Source: Economic Botany, Vol. 29, No. 3 (Jul. - Sep., 1975), pp. 233-235 Published by: Springer on behalf of New York Botanical Garden Press Stable URL: Accessed: 09/02/2010 00:22

  • Economic Botany and Ethnobotany in Al-Andalus (Iberian Peninsula: Tenth-Fifteenth Centuries), an Unknown Heritage of Mankind Author(s): J. Esteban Hernández Bermejo and Expiración García Sánchez Source: Economic Botany, Vol. 52, No. 1 (Jan. - Mar., 1998), pp. 15-26 Published by: Springer on behalf of New York Botanical Garden Press

  • SONNANTE G, PIGNONE D,HAMMER K 2007, The Domestication of Artichoke and Cardoon: From Roman Times to the Genomic Age, Annals of Botany 1–6, available online at
  • Gardiner, R 1599 “Profitable instructions for the manuring, sowing, and planting of kitchin gardens Very profitable for the commonwealth and greatly for the helpe and comfort of poore people. Gathered by Richard Gardner of Shrewsburie”. , Impinrted [sic] at London : By Edward Allde for Edward White, dwelling at the little north doore of Paules at the signe of the Gunne,   Bib name / number: STC (2nd ed.) / 11570.5 Physical description: [32] p. Copy from: Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery Acessed by EEBO

Hill, T, 1586. “     The gardeners labyrinth containing a discourse of the gardeners life, in the yearly trauels to be bestowed on his plot of earth, for the vse of a garden: with instructions for the choise of seedes, apt times for sowing, setting, planting, and watering, and the vessels and instrumentes seruing to that vse and purpose: wherein are set forth diuers herbers, knots and mazes, cunningly handled for the beautifying of gardens. Also the phisicke benefite of eche herbe, plant, and floure, with the vertues of the distilled waters of euery of them, as by the sequele may further appeare. Gathered out of the best approued writers of gardening, husbandrie, and phisicke: by Dydymus Mountaine”. , Printed at London : By Iohn VVolfe, 1586.
Bib name / number: STC (2nd ed.) / 13487
Copy from: Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Rowany Festival: Wombaroo Gallery part 2

A few Pictures of the new Rowany Festival site

Location Of Wombaroo in relation to Mittagong: it is possible to get both buses and trains to Mittagong

Satellite view

Festival 48-93 map MK VII2133846236
The site map from the Rowany festival page

The mature trees are impressive
The view from the Bardic circle

The Boating Dam (Lake Bourgogne)

The base for one of the water tanks

There are several big sandstone slabs around the site

The Dining Hall
The wood heater in the dining hall

Sunday, 9 March 2014


Part 1 

History and Types of Wheelbarrow

Festival is coming. For many years I have thought about making a barrow to move gear around, to carry goods to the market, to loan to fighters and quite possibly so that I can use one after dinner each night just like this :
This Barrow is a flatbed type with a box built above the bed/handles. It also fits the rustic stereotype of a  wooden wheelbarow : A glutton, a book of hours (PML M.1175, fol. 191r), c. 1525-1530 Bruges, Belgium
  But mainly I want one because Wheelbarrows are cool.  So here is part one of the research process, finding images and background information on the wheelbarrows of medieval Europe.

Wheelbarrows are known from at least the 1st century BC in China (Lewis 1994). however our first solid piece of evidence for the wheelbarrow in Medieval Europe comes from the  building accounts of King Henry III around 1222 A.d and concerns the purchase of eight wheel barrows to be used in the Kings works at Dover (Matthies 1991). Handbarrows which are essentially a stretcher appear to have remained popular for some time, despite an increase in the pictorial and financial evidence for the Use of wheelbarrows in Europe (Matthies 1991). Wheelbarrows in England were around 6 times the price of handbarrows, possibly a disincentive for their use.

This image from around 1250 A.d shows both a "handbarrow" or stretcher and a Wheelbarrow. (Vitae Offarum, Trinity College Library, Dublin MS 177

Wheelbarrows while varying widely in design can be split into 2 main types.
A crippled child on a flat wheelbarrow, the barrow pusher has a strap around his neck to help support the weight the Luttrell Psalter (British Library Add. 42130, fol. 186v), c. 1325-1340 Also Giant duck!!

  •   Flat bed wheelbarrows resembling the original handbarrows in that a flat surface created by the two handles create the basis of the barrow and support the load.
Detail from  the Berner Chronik 15th Century (MS Hist Helv I 16, fol. 35r, Stadtbibliothek, Bern), showing a wagon or box style wheelbarrow with a solid rather than spoked wheel.
  • Wagon/box bodied wheel barrows which have a box built into the barrow as a load holder. Some of these Barrows have solid wheels.

More of a  2 wheeled cart than a wheel barrow..... But check out those boots !!  Salvaging from the ashes, Konzil von Konstanz (ÖNB 3044, fol. 82r), c. 1465-1475

Dutch Market Scene C1550 Pieter Aertsen. Note the strap over the Barrow pushers shoulders.

What next?....

I intend to make a couple of Wheelbarrows, providing I can find someone to take them to festival for me. Hopefully I will have a post detailing my decisions regarding style, material and design and then another showing  construction. Hopefully! 

I will also be consulting this site quite a bit Building a 16th Century wheelbarrow


  •   Matthies A. 1991 "The Medieval Wheelbarrow" Technology and Culture Vol. 32, No. 2, Part 1  pp. 356-364    Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press: Available through JSTOR database which is available to Australian National library card holders online at no cost.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Pictures from Wombaroo, site for Rowany festival 2014

Tired and happy.
I just spent 3 days at Wombaroo and I'm absolutely exhausted! It was brilliant though, got to know more students and staff, climbed 2/3 of the vertical challenge and generally had fun.

 Many of you will be wandering what I think of the site, so I took pictures.
Here are the first few,
The road where it enters the camping area.

the area I think the troll booth will be set up
the paddock next to the above picture