Allan Blackburn column

Allan Blackburn.
Allan Blackburn.

So that’s it for another year.

No more bank holidays.

Although it doesn’t affect us work wise because the centre is open and we run on a full staff because we are so busy, I still take note of the bank holidays and I’ll treat myself to a long weekend soon.

The bank holidays see a surge of visitors to the centre, buying gardening antiques.

It doesn’t matter what the weather’s like, I’m sure there must be something in our psyche that thinks “It’s a bank holiday, I must sort the garden out!!”

We are apparently spending more money than ever on our gardens, so it’s wonderful for me to see items from our centre that were valued and used by previous generations enjoying a new lease of life in today’s gardens.

One of the pleasures of collecting gardening antiques is that we do not need to worry too much about looking after them,

A 100 year old antique wheel barrow can be used as a pretty planter and doesn’t need to be renovated, restored or pampered like our indoor antiques.

These items also have the benefit of costing as much as new (and probably inferior) modern day equivalents, so your garden can be distinctive without costing a fortune.

Sun dials make an interesting feature or a centre-piece in any garden.

Some are engraved on walls or set up on pedestals.

After the Industrial Revolution in the late 19th century, sun dials became less popular as a means of telling the time.

Industry needed minutes as well as hours.

The ultimate gardening ornament has to be the gnome.

The earliest gnomes date from the 18th century, but they became established during the Victorian era thanks to Sir Charles Isham who developed a miniature rock garden at his home.

This garden was populated by terracotta gnomes.

Gnome fancying was, at this time, an upper class pursuit, but as production peaked in the 1930s, they became a symbol of the suburban middle classes.

Victorian terracotta gnomes like those so loved by Sir Charles could be worth £500.