Shanklin Town Council Elections – Thursday May 4th

I am letting you know that I am re-standing for Shanklin Town Council Elections on Thursday 4th  May.  I was co-opted onto the Council around 18 months ago and will be a candidate for election in the Shanklin South Ward.

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I am standing as an independent.  Shanklin Town Council has traditionally not been about party politics.  This enables us to ensure that we are able to get things done for the benefit of all Shanklin residents.  With the Council elections going on the same day and with some town council candidates also standing as party representatives for the IOW Council there is a danger that this could give the Shanklin elections a political bias which could be detrimental to the town.

With more aspects of the Council’s work being devolved locally the role of the town council is becoming increasingly important.  I can offer stability as I am already a council member, enthusiasm and drive to ensure Shanklin continues to thrive.  I have spent seventeen years in the tourism industry and know how important tourism is for Shanklin’s success.  I have recently sold my guest house to move onto new challenges and I have moved to the Shanklin South area I wish to continue to represent.  I am now self-employed as a professional artist.   I hope this also gives me a creative vision towards the future of Shanklin. Public money may be tight on the island but with energy, determination and imagination we can get things done.

Please include Karl Stedman in your choices for Shanklin Town Council Election – South Ward. I would be grateful if you could share with Shanklin South voters.  I am not intending to produce a leaflet as I do not feel it is appropriate and it is less recycling for you!

An evening at Ventnor Botanical Gardens

Yesterday evening I was very lucky to have an after hours guided walk around the wonderful Ventnor Botanical Gardens. It was the perfect weather to enjoy the magnificent planting and made very  special by being shown around by a passionate gardener eager to point out the rare and unusual blooms. There have been a number of changes since I was last there, the main one being that it’s no longer run by the IOW Council. The gardens are managed by only a few full-time staff with the help of volunteers and they are achieving amazing things. The micro climate at Ventnor means that plants grow here that don’t elsewhere in the British Isles.

 

A day at Lisle Combe

Thanks to the Isle of Wight Gardens Trust I spent a very enjoyable day at Lisle Combe a lovely house at the Undercliff just past Ventnor Botanical Gardens. The reason was for a talk by Kate Harwood a garden historian and lecturer. Lisle Combe is an early 19th century cottage orne (no, I’d never heard of one of those either!) and the home of the poet Albert Noyes (no, I’ve never heard of him).

The talk was titled….Gardens of the Picturesque and Recency Period.

I hadn’t known what to expect but in fact it was a terrific day. Amazingly it was  sunny and warm. The group were lovely. Kate certainly knew her stuff and how to share it with us in an entertaining and informative way. The house was fascinating and the owners pulled out all the stops to make us welcome and wonderfully well fed.

The gardens are overgrown and in a sad state but it’s still possible to imagine how they once were and hopefully can be again. Like all these old houses and gardens upkeep is a huge job and restoring and maintaining the house should probably come first but it would be wonderful to see the gardens looking fabulous again.

I have even been inspired to do a little pencil drawing of the house, something that I’ve not done for a very long time…….IMG_20170323_1751519_rewind_kindlephoto-605451760

A little trip to Bath

If we were going to move house and had a couple of million in the bank then Bath would be pretty high on our list of places to move to, unfortunately we don’t have that kind of money and there is no way that we are ever moving again………………..

The architecture is sublime and the shopping is somewhat better than on the Island.

The secret garden in February

It’s been a beautiful day here on the Island, warm, sunny and dry. I’ve not really been able to get into the secret garden for a few weeks so today was a bit of a treat. I’ve started to cut down some of saplings and prune some very wild branches. Clearing the brambles is well underway and I’m managing to to dig up some of the roots, though that’s not so easy to do. Although I’ve got some plants waiting in the wings ready to plant it’s going to be a while until I’ve got all the ivy and bramble roots cleared and the ground suitable for planting again.

I’m going to need to find some plants to hide the fence, I’ve put a call out for some bamboo so hopefully before long it’ll be hidden.

Secret garden update!

I’m still clearing the ground and the compost heap is getting higher. I’m starting to lop off some branches from the larger trees to get more light into the space. In this January sunshine we’ve been having on the Island its all looking lovely.

I’m still discovering new things like these plaques. I’ve no idea what they say or even which way up they should hang….but that’s for the future!img_20170122_1523000_rewind

I made a trip to Ventnor Botanical Gardens this week as they had a pre season plant sale.

When we moved to the Island ten years we took on a garden that was just a couple of old bushes and a big lawn. Bit by bit we filled it with plants, mostly from the botanical gardens. Our theory was that if they thrived just along the road then we would be pretty safe with them in our garden. When we left the house everything went into storage and we simply had to say goodbye to all the lovely plants we had collected……so it’s back to square one. img_20170122_1520275_rewind

We had the Lampanthus all along the outside hedge hanging over the wall along the front of the house. It thrived in the poor soil and in full sun. The almost day glow colour of the flowers could hardly be photographed as they were so bright . Lots of people took cuttings and then complained that they had died. They’d put the cuttings in potting compost, kept them in the greenhouse and watered them regularly but still the cuttings had died? We had to explain that in fact they thrive in poor soil and don’t need watering….just stick them in a sunny spot and leave them! I’ll be able to take loads of cuttings from this and so we’ll soon have plenty around the garden.

The Agave (filifera) is a baby from a plant that they are excited about at the botanical gardens as it shoots up a dramatic flower (eventually) so I’m looking forward to how that develops.

The Hebe (brachysiphon) is another of those terrific plant that once planted can just be left alone and will be soon be covered in lovely flowers.

The other plant is labelled as being Euryops but looks nothing like the plant I looked up on Google so I’ll just have to wait and see what develops.

It was a lovely day so after looking round the gardens I made my way down to Steephill Cove which is at the bottom of a steep path below the botanical gardens.

I was the only person there (well I didn’t see anyone else anyway) and it was really magical. The sun was shining, the sea was calm and the little collection of houses, shacks and beach huts looked wonderful.

Rain stops play in the secret garden this afternoon

It rained quite heavily last night but it was dry this morning so armed with my loppers and new gardening gloves (why has it taken me so long to get a pair?) I ventured into the secret garden. It’s hard going but we’re really starting to see some results now. The heap of cut down undergrowth and branches runs along the end of the garden and is getting higher daily but will soon break down………….well it will do eventually!

An hour ago the rain came back and I got soaked and filthy however with my clothes in the washing machine and my gloves drying out on the boiler I’m going to spend a bit of time looking at the gardening books for planting inspiration.

I think that if you compare these two photos taken today with these….

taken last week you can begin to see just how far we’ve come!

Another amazing discovery in the secret garden!

OK so it’s not a particularly amazing discovery but it certainly gave me a surprise! Pulling away at the undergrowth in our secret garden this morning I uncovered something looking back at me………..a concrete crocodile. No classical piece of sculpture for me, no marble urn or column………..a concrete crocodile closely followed by a concrete lizard with glass eyes!

These items may not find themselves included in the new design and planting scheme.

It’s a slow processes but I’m making progress, mind you the compost heap is massive!

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