BBC Radio Manchester gardening experts look forward to courgette cake

As some of you may be aware, I have recently acquired the rather grand title of ‘BBC radio Manchester gardening expert’. It’s not just me, there are a few of us including landscape gardener Andy Hewitt and the utterly delightful Harry from Kersal allotments in Salford. There are, I suspect, a few others I have yet to meet.

Being a BBC radio Manchester gardening expert, oh how I wish there was an acronym for this, involves rocking up at a pre-arranged destination of a horticultural persuasion and chatting to like minded individuals. It’s chaotic; microphones, headphones and gardeners make for an unusual mix but none the less it’s lots of fun.

Tomorrow morning Harry and I will be broadcasting live from my allotment on Grosvenor Road in Ashton on Mersey. Laziness on my part I confess, I can just roll out of bed, potter down the road and I’m there. In light of this occasion I thought it best to go and tidy up my plot as it’s been a little neglected of late. Not for any lack of desire you understand I have just been swamped with other people’s gardens, that dirty little word called ‘work’. Although to be fair I have had a very enjoyable week out in the warm sunshine making gardens beautiful and clients happy and getting paid for it so I won’t moan.


Photo of clients garden

However when I looked at my plot I remembered that I am a deluded chronoptimist and didn’t have a cat’s chance of getting it into any sort of order. Also this is radio so no-one’s going to see it anyway!!!

My allotment is scruffy. Feathery tufts of mare’s tail waft gaily through the strawberry patch while bindweed twirls and dances up the raspberry canes. The grass at the back hasn’t been cut for ages and the shed still sports a broken window from last winter’s storms. But it’s still beautiful. Beautiful in its abundant wantonness, its desire to grow, wild and free.


Butterflies flit and dance across the lavender that fills the air with intoxicating perfume. Brightly coloured nasturtiums pop up unexpectedly, lost seeds from last years harvest. Umbelliferous fennel flowers in buttery yellow punctuate the butterfly border festooned with seeding grasses.

IMG_0531My crops are still there in rows, like regimented soldiers ready for battle, natures yin and IMG_0528yang. Giant, golden flowers that signal an endless supply of courgettes shine out against the shocking pink begonias I grow just for fun. Fluffy rows of marigolds mark the spot where carrots grow, a failed attempt to fool the carrot fly. And the dahlias, the gorgeous, austere dahlias, tall and regal amongst the runner beans, a new addition this year and definitely one to be repeated.

IMG_0526So you see this is a crazy plot where order and control has gone out of the window and loveliness has moved in. A colourful tangle of happiness that I wouldn’t change for all the time in the world.

Harry and I will be on BBC radio Manchester 95.1 FM between 11 am and 12 pm Saturday July 19th July. Amongst other gardening mayhem we will be discussing our favourite plot to plate recipes and eating delicious courgette cake. Mmmmmm

Spiced courgette cake recipe can be found in my recipes at the top of the page.



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