AN INTRIGUIGING little Polish package found its way to my postbox the other day.
It arrived as a result of BT, a fortnight ago, digging up what had been our lovely little meadow at the top of the road — until the IW Council decided to scalp it and return the land to a featureless grass wasteland as part of a ruthless mowing regime.
The fibre broadband people imported some lovely topsoil and seeded it with grass, so what to do?
I tried to source some meadow mix on the Island to take advantage of the recent rain — ideal seeding conditions — and failed.
It was the internet which came up trumps, though.
I first found 40 grammes of commercial, packeted seed, which promised a few varieties. I should have read the description more carefully, though.
There were four grammes of seed and 36 of vermiculite 'packing material’. Yes, it makes it easier to spread evenly, but no more so than adding sand myself and not paying for the material.
Switching from eBay to Amazon I bought a true 40 grammes of pure seed, some of which I had never seen before — 21 varieties of meadow plant in all at a very reasonable price.
They were duly sprinkled and raked in on the barren patch — and we shall see the results.
l If anyone can tell me the significance of the Polish postage stamp, I’d be interested. It appears to have a man with a paper bag over his leg with cats’ ears stuck to it.
Any answers welcomed
TWO friends posed questions I reckon readers can answer better than I can.
The first wants to know where he can source Island organic — or at least chemical free — fruit and vegetables after the sad demise of Godshill Organics.
The second has a little garden oasis in the centre of Ryde and wants to add the Mexican Fire Plant (Euphorbia cyanthophora) to it.
The only seed she has so far found is in America and they won’t send it to her.
Any ideas on the above, or any other gardening hints or stories can be sent to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or the County Press, Brannon House, 123 Pyle Street, Newport PO30 1ST.
Be patient, though, I have a bit of a backlog.
Hundreds of visitors raise cash for charity
HERE are a trio of success stories from open gardens.
Judith Hunt, from Freshwater Bay Residents’ Association, thanked me for arranging glorious weather which attracted more than 200 people to the seven gardens — raising more than £1,000 for the association’s project fund and the lifeboat.
What a difference a few weeks and a lot of hard work make.
The gardens at Badminton in Clatterford Shute were flooded in the winter but, now largely recovered, a couple of weeks ago they were deluged with people.
Even a riot of new blooms chimed in to help raise a total of £1,016 for charity.
Westover at Calbourne was the biggest pull, attracting more than 500 people and raising £2,250 for the village church roof appeal.
Organisers are hoping for a similar response to Calbourne Open Gardens Day on June 29, which will also raise funds to repair the fabric of the church.
The salty cause of dying conifers
CHRISTINE Hyland, from Yarmouth, e-mailed me with an observation I had already made in her neck of the woods.
"I have noticed a lot of dying conifers in the Wilmingham area of Freshwater," she said.
"The whole of the Wilmingham Plantation seems to be affected. Whatever it is has affected a dwarf conifer in my garden. I wondered if you could throw any light on what is happening as it seems to be on a fairly widespread scale."
Two experts confirmed what I suspected.
Dr Colin Pope, the IW Council’s senior ecology officer, and the curator of Ventnor Botanic Garden, Chris Kidd, concurred.
Chris said: "Yes, I know what it is. It is, simply, salt damage.
"There was a particular day during the winter when we had a very high wind among the storms that wasn’t accompanied by rain. Salt water from the sea was wind blown into the Island and sat on many trees on the windward side where it desiccated the leaf cells.
"As we had no rain at the same time it wasn’t washed off. Some heavily doused trees may have had a lot of salt subsequently wash into the soil and caused sodium toxicity."
Colin added: "I suspect the trees that are perceived to be dying are those that are most exposed to south-westerly winds.
"Deciduous trees, of course, wouldn’t have been affected by this because they were not in leaf."
Three very different gardens open their gates
A TRIO of gardens offer something other than music for the IW Festival weekend.
The Friends of Holy Trinity, Bembridge, invite everyone to Tyne Hall Gardens and Fair on Sunday from 2pm to 5pm.
It is a stunning year for roses, and Peter and Davinia Grimaldi open their Love Lane rose garden — and much more.
This year theirs will be more than just an open garden with stunning views. Extra attractions include the Jazz Tones, 'made in Bembridge’ crafts, watercolour paintings and cakes courtesy of the Bembridge scouts, a tombola, bric-a-brac stall, plants and activities for children provided by Windmill Pre-School, and Stevo will be creating magic.
Entrance is £3 per person and accompanied children get in free. Car parking is £5.
Davinia said: "It is a great pleasure to be able to open our garden for the Friends, who do so much to support Holy Trinity and the community."
Thorley Manor’s three acres open under the charity National Gardens Scheme on Sunday.
Informality is the key to the number of walled 'rooms’ and herb garden, colourful perennial and self-seeded borders and an unusual Island croquet lawn.
The NGS said the venue was renowned for its home-made teas and its eccentric head gardener. It is open from 2.30pm to 5pm with admission £3.50, children free.
From grand gardens to one where every inch is used to best advantage — Salterns Cottage, Salterns Road, Seaview, is open tomorrow (Saturday) evening between 6pm and 8.30pm under the NGS.
The garden was created by Susan Dobbs nine years ago and has been featured in the English Garden magazine, among others.
Her husband, Noel’s, grandmother, Florence, married Bram Stoker. So, in addition to a glass of wine, elderflower fizz and canapes, there will be a Dracula exhibition too.
Admission is £10 (children free) including refreshments.