• Allergies,  Book Reviews,  Podcasts

    Suffering from Allergies?

    Ann and I were fortunate to interview Tom Ogren.

    Tom is the author of a fascinating ,very informative book about Allergies in the garden.

    This is a must read for avid gardeners everywhere. Especially if you are one of the many suffering from allergies.

    Allergy-Fighting Garden, cover

    You can hear our interview with Tom below or at www.growingtrends.org or on iTunes at Growing Trends

    We would love to hear your thoughts and comments, please spend a moment sending us your thoughts and suggestions.

    Ann & Chris

      Views: 281

    • A little light reading

      Remembering the early years.

      Over the years many events have shaped my days, some have been unusual, some really amusing, some scary and some just plain out of this world.

      As I try to remember each, or find another scribbled note in one of my many journals, I’ll try and add them for your amusement.

      Early Days in Henley on Thames.

                                                                                                                                                 Henley Bridge.

      So, in no particular order I’m going to try and write them down, just as I remember them today.

      If my mother were alive today she would say “How frightfully Interesting” one of her favorite expressions when raising her eyebrows in feigned acceptance.

      Now I should start by suggesting all these little ‘pearls’ were probably her fault, after all she was the one that let go of my perambulator as we took our morning walk along the towpath alongside the river Thames in Henley on Thames at the tender age of eighteen months.

      The ‘pram’ proceeded at increasing velocity across the footpath until it met the kerb by the rivers edge. 

      It came to an abrupt stop.

      Catapulting its contents – me – into the river !

      I was fortunate that we were near a boatyard at the time, a kindly boatman from Hobbs Boatyard fished me out of the river with a boat hook in fairly short order.

      I’m told that there was no lasting damage, perhaps though you may decide otherwise.


      Around the age of two

      We lived in St Marks Rd, not too far from the town center.

      After all those years I still remember a number of events from back then.

      The one that stands out was of the milkman – he used to deliver milk with a horse drawn cart.

      Anyway this particular day he was almost at the point of delivering our milk, we were heading out for a walk.

      I had been given a boiled sweet which I proceeded to try and swallow whole.

      It wasn’t long before I was choking.

      The resultant panic from mother drew his attention to me, whence he came over picked me up turned me upside down and vigorously tapped my back, out popped the boiled sweet.

      To be on the safe side my mother then took me to the top of the road and into the small cottage hospital where I was given an xray.

      I still remember this because in those days you had to rest on a white enamel like frame, it was really, really cold.

      The lady in a white overcoat then hid behind a screen while the machine made all manner of noises – quite scary for a young lad!

      Happily, I was fine, we continued on our daily walk.


      Around the age of five.


      We had a large number of relatives living in Henley in those days so after we moved to Caversham some 7 miles away we were often returning to visit.

      On this occasion we used the train, my brother had come along by now.

      He was 18 months younger than me so mum used a pushchair and I walked alongside with some reins attached so that I wouldn’t run off.

      I cannot remember us arriving by train, but I do remember leaving in the early evening, it was just getting dark.

      The journey entailed using the branch line from Henley on Thames, via Wargrave to Twyford where we would catch the train to Reading.

      We arrived in Twyford on time, and changed trains, as we left the station.

      I remember saying to mum that we had been here before, sure enough we no sooner arrived in Wargrave.

      Mum got off here hoping to get another train back, unfortunately the next train was the one we had been on, and it wasn’t due to return until very much later.

      The stationmaster allowed us to keep warm by his office coal fire. It was very, very late by the time we arrived home.


      My first taste of 7up, about age 8

                                                                                                                                  SS Sunrhea – a buaxite carrier from McKensie to Alcan in Canada.

      My father was a merchant sea Captain, one of his first commands was a grain ship that sailed from the Great Lakes to Bristol Avonmouth.

      As a special treat we were going to visit him on his ship and stay for a few days.

      I guess I was perhaps 8 years old, my brother 6 and a bit.

      After being given a tour of the ship, a 10 open holds –  grain carrier it seemed huge to us, although I doubt if it was much more than about 12000 tons – the engine room was very noisy and seemed enormous to us kids.

      I vividly recall watching the crew handle the giant vacuums that sucked the grain from toe hold in storage bins on the dock.

      The operators used wide mesh shoes to stop themselves from falling into the grain – which would be very dangerous.

      Every lunch time we were detailed to go around the men’s quarters with a xylophone to announce lunchtime… as we passed the first officers cabins he always came out and gave us a bottle of 7up each – we had never had it before as it wasn’t sold in England.


      Just plain hard when you are only aged 10

                                                                                                                                                 Bearwood College

      My father was often away at sea for many months, it meant that us kids were quite a lot of work for mum, so we ended up being packed off to boarding school.

      I was the first to leave at the tender age of 10 and a bit, I’m not sure if I had taken my 11 plus by then, but I do know I passed the exams.

      The school seemed miles away ,very big and foreboding, it was rumored to have ghosts.

      For a ten-year old it was initially unfriendly, scary, a lonely place.

      Fortunately everyone else had experienced the same feelings at one time or another.

      You soon fell into, got kicked into, or just went along with the routine that was designed to remove much of your free time.

      The training was excellent for later life as you were able easily to compartmentalize each day.

      It didn’t always work, especially if you had just come back from a day out and didn’t have another one for another  6 weeks.

      As a footnote..

      As we became older, wiser and more used to the conditions, we did learn that it was very beneficial to be at such an amazing school , with friends from all over the world, experiences that just a few were lucky enough to have.


      Around age 11

      I was a chorister, with a pleasant treble voice so it seemed natural to be picked to perform in a musical called ‘Oliver’ Lionel Blair had just written a modern score and he donated its use to us.

      Apart from singing and acting the play in the school theater, we traveled all across London to various venues performing for groups.


      Around the age of 12

      My first trip abroad ( in 1965) was to a small Austrian town of Lech high up in the Voralberg.

      In those days you reached Lech using the Osterriche Poste bus which picked you up from the railway station after a two-day train journey that commenced in London, included a ferry across the English Channel and then on through France, Germany and finally Austria.

      I still remember playing ping-pong on a concrete outside table, very interesting bounce.

      There was also a spring fed swimming pool, very ‘fresh’ water temperature.

      On the plus side the bedroom duvets were amazingly warm – convinced me to use them always.

      Seem to recall the food was pretty good.

      Early Jobs

      It was around this time that I started working with a friend for his dad’s forestry company.

      During the Christmas break we would finish planting young saplings in the mixed woodlands he was creating.

      We also dug up small ‘Christmas Trees, and cut down larger ones which we would them ‘stick’ into pine logs and wrap.

      I think Yattendon Estate stills does this.

      During the Spring break, we would complete any planting that was hanging over – as long as it was before Easter.

      After Easter we would repair fence lines so that Deer, Rabbits etc didn’t eat the newly bursting buds.

      In the summer armed with a long handle ‘hook’  sometimes known as a ‘slasher’ we would ‘weed’ the long rows of saplings planted usually at 5ft centers that ran up and down the hillsides.

      The weeds were often over 5ft tall, the digitalis was home to way too many ground wasps that would attack you if you let them.

      The scariest animal though was the pheasant, at close quarters and 6 inches from the ground they give you a heart attack as they launch themselves out-of-the-way.

      Of course the trick is to weed all along each row without cutting down the newly planted trees – the first job in the autumn is to replant those saplings that either die or are chopped off in the weeding process.

      During the summer season, we would often ‘weed’ an area around half and acre in size each day.

        Views: 85

      • Book Reviews,  Face Time

        Journey to Dreamtime

        The professor takes Sophie, Dylan and their two pets Monty and Naomi on a wild adventure
        The professor takes Sophie, Dylan and their two pets Monty and Naomi on a wild adventure

        I’ve been writing this blog for a few years now, in addition with my wonderful co-host Ann we have been interviewing the fascinating people we find for our podcast www.growingtrends.org

        Last year I was asked if we might develop a learning aid for children based on how we grow food, develop sustainable approaches to agriculture and cope with modern city life. I agreed because I felt we do need to help this planet of ours every so often.

        After much thinking coupled with the odd glass of wine – I’m fairly partial to a nice burgundy. This along with late night chats with friends and my lovely wife the small light bulb ( well it has to be an LED these days) began to flicker.

        “Why not make the learning an adventure story?”

        Journey to Dreamtime was born, currently available as an eBook it will soon be available as a paperback, you can see more here…www.journeytodreamtime.com


        Now available in a paperback, you can order either on Amazon or from BookLocker

        Please do let me know what you think…. book two is going to be based in America.

        Thank you.

        Views: 50

      • Book Reviews,  Healthy Living,  Podcasts

        The Cancer Survivor’s Garden Companion

        Cancer Survivors Garden Companion1

        Ann and I were fortunate to interview Jenny Peterson, just after her new book was published. Jenny is an amazing, extremely positive lady who is an inspiration for us all.

        A Garden that Heals.

        Pittsburgh, Pa. (October 5, 2015): When Jenny Peterson was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012, it rocked her world. Her cancer treatment was hard, emotional and often deeply depressing. But Peterson, a garden designer and Master Gardener, did not let the cancer diagnosis define her. She used her desire to garden and dig in the dirt again to pull her out of the darkness. And she discovered that gardening is good medicine –for the body, mind and spirit.

        The Cancer Survivor’s Garden Companion:

        Cultivating Hope, Healing and Joy in the Ground Beneath Your Feet
        (St. Lynn’s Press, January 2016) tells Peterson’s story and explores the therapeutic benefits of this vital “earth connection,” including inspirational profiles of other cancer survivors, both men and women, whose gardens became their partners in healing.

        With gentle empathy, beautiful photographs and easy how-to steps. Peterson shows others how to create their own backyard haven for healing – a personal restorative garden – with well-grounded guidance about diet, exercise, mental focus and spiritual renewal. Her book adds a fresh voice to the growing fields of horticultural therapy and therapeutic gardens.

        What others are saying about The Cancer Survivor’s Garden Companion:

        “Jenny’s tips for incorporating gardening into your life for mind, body, and spiritual health are ingenious!


        What other authors are saying.

        As a cancer coach, I will definitely be suggesting this book to my clients.” – Susan Gonzalez, BSN, CPCC, co-author of 100 Perks of Having Cancer Plus 100 Health Tips for Surviving It, and editor of The Savvy Sister blog

        “Jenny’s beautiful book reminds us all that life can be found in the healing, meditative act of gardening. By lovingly tending a garden, we can learn to nurture ourselves, restoring our mind, body and spirit in the process.” – Ray Anne Evans, Executive Director, Breast Cancer Resource Centers of Texas

        “Jenny’s connection with gardening, garden design, and simply being in nature remained strong throughout her cancer diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. In fact, it was part of what helped her through. And now she is helping others to learn from her powerful experience.” – Naomi A. Sachs, Founding Director, Therapeutic Landscapes Network; co-author, Therapeutic Landscapes: An Evidence-Based Approach to Designing Healing Gardens and Restorative Outdoor Spaces

        The Cancer Survivor’s Garden Companion will teach readers how to use the garden to heal, find hope and feel joy.

        About the Author.

        Jenny Peterson is a landscape designer and Master Gardener specializing in xeriscaping and small urban spaces. She is a cancer survivor who found hope and healing in her garden, even during the darkest days of chemotherapy and radiation. In the process, she made deep connections with the cancer support community, including physicians, nutritionists, bodywork practitioners, psychologists and spiritual counselors.

        Peterson co-authored Indoor Plant Décor: The Design Stylebook for Houseplants (St. Lynn’s Press, 2013) with Kylee Baumle. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her fiancé, 19 chickens, two dogs, two quails and a goat.

        You can listen to the interview here :   Interviewing Jenny Peterson

        If you would like to purchase the book : The Cancer Survivors Garden Companion

        Views: 146

      • Book Reviews,  Face Time,  Podcasts

        Grandy’s Long walk – The Bibbulmun Track, Western Australia

        Grandy's long walk 1


        Ann and I had the pleasure of interviewing Linda Stanley  after she had completed this 1000km walk.

        Linda undertook this walk on her own, it took the best part of 8 weeks to complete and more than three months to prepare for.

        Linda isn’t your average walker by any means,  she suffered some serious injuries  breaking her back in an accident. Being a somewhat determined lady she set about challenging herself  to literally get back on her feet again.

        We interviewed Linda in her new home, a beautiful chestnut farm in Nannup, Western Australia just after the launch of  the children’s book she wrote about her journey.

        ‘Grandy’s Long Walk’ is written for young children, superbly illustrated about her walk.

        Linda wrote the book out of a concern that children today spending less and less time with nature and more and more time in front of the small screen. She hopes to encourage more children to get outside and discover the same senses of wonder and joy of nature that she had experienced on her long walk in the forest.

        You can listen to her telling us all about this amazing journey below.

        We were so curious about this really long walk that during our research we found some youtube videos of other people who travel from all over the world to walk this track.

        Darren is one such person, he created  a video and kindly gave us permission to include it in this article. His video is just a part of the walk, you can view it here Bibbulmun track video   Darren is raising money for Diabetes  you can see his web site here   Darren’s website

        There is also a specialist web site filled with information for those who want to plan their own walk..The BIbbulman Track


        Views: 74

      • Face Time,  Podcasts

        Growing Trends interviews Bill Sosinsky on his recent trip to China

        Growing trends logo

        Hello everyone, we hope you like our new logo ?

        We have some great interviews planned for the next few months.

        Our first is with Bill Sosinsky , CEO of Energime University. Bill has recently returned from a trip to China. He talks to us about how the Chinese are adapting, planning and coping with the enormous growth the country has seen over the past few years.

        Cities of 5 – 10 million people built in under 10 years !

        This type of growth brings staggering infrastructure issues or as Bill says ” This is a big deal !”

        The interview is one of those must listen to events…  we all have seen or heard of the Great Wall of China, a quite amazing feat of building, as seen here.


        I wonder how many of us can comprehend the current building program?

        100 million homes in the next 5- 10 years…!

        That’s almost one third of the total housing in the USA


        Truly a monumental task of ingenuity, engineering and collaboration, Ann and I were just amazed  talking to Bill about the growing issues they are trying to solve.

        We will have two parts to this fascinating interview you can listen to the first part here….

        We would love to hear from you with ideas or suggestions on programs, either fill in the form below or just send us an email to info@grotrends.com

        Ann & Chris


        Views: 102

      • Face Time,  Gardenesque,  Podcasts

        Ann visits the Chelsea Physic garden

        It’s not often you find a garden that was founded in 1673 as The Apothecaries’ Garden

        Ann was on a trip to Europe recently and dropped in on the beautiful Chelsea Physic Garden on the side of the river Thames in London.

        The garden’s purpose was to train apprentices in identifying plants. The gardens’ location close to the river created a warmer microclimate, significantly increasing the many non-native plants that could be grown.

        chelsea physic garden

        In 1700 the garden had started an international botanical garden seed exchange system, which continues to this day.

        The gardens cover some four acres and are leased on what is known as a peppercorn rent in perpetuity.

        They are without doubt one of London’s secret ‘gems’ and thoroughly worth a visit.

        chelsea physic garden

        The garden’s mission ” Linking people with plants and nature”

        The interview starts with Ann talking for around 8 minutes to a group of school children on a field trip, the gardens have over 100 such visits a year.  Ann then talks to Michael a very knowledgeable and extremely helpful member of staff. We kept all the typical inner city sounds on the recording – the enthusiasm of the children is very heartening.

        Integrated pest management is the preferred method of bug control…

        They have a project called “Shelf Life’ it is just an incredible way to show children where their food comes from

        You can also listen to Ann’s interview on iTunes at Growing Trends

        We would love to hear your comments and suggestions for a show… just send us an email to Growing Trends


        Views: 88

      • Book Reviews,  Face Time,  Podcasts

        Growing Trends : How we look at Food Tourism today

        Ann and I interviewed John Stanley of John Stanley Associates  recently about his new book, he jointly wrote with his wife Linda,

         Food Tourism – A Practical Marketing Guide.

        Food tourism

        The fastest growth in tourism today is the culinary sector.

        Listen to John as he explains the overall direction of food tourism, including how he sees future development.

        A few snip bits:

        Do you grow soil?

        25% of the food we buy comes from 2% of the farmland around our cities, which is being swallowed up by development.

        Farmers used to make 38 cents on every dollar now its down to an average of just 6 cents

        Eating local seasonal food saves you around 25%, and is actually healthier for you!

        You can hear this really informative interview here (click below) or on iTunes at Growing Trends

        Views: 49

      • Book Reviews,  Face Time,  Podcasts

        Heaven is a Garden – Jan Johnsen

        A few years ago I read a paper about how grasses ‘moved’ to music, then I read about the effects of harmonious sounds on plant growth.

        Just using white summer bedding is very effective in such a large garden

        Why do I mention this?

        Well a few weeks ago we were talking about Tesla and his discoveries, which led us to talking about vibrations, sound waves, force fields etc., then a strange thing happened.

        Ann and I interviewed a wonderful lady landscape architect Jan Johnsen, about her new book “Heaven is a Garden” we talked a little about how at a very young age she discovered during a science fair competition – which against all the odds she won – the effects early morning birds singing have on plants. The sound waves, which are similar to a violin stimulate a plant to open its stomata taking in carbon-dioxide to help it grow quicker.


        Jan has written a book called Heaven is a Garden, it’s a really fascinating and informative read.  Jan has ‘connected’ the dots so as to speak, between the natural world and our emotions. How the Four Winds are important when laying out a space,the careful use of curves, and my favorite Golden Rectangles and the Divine Proportion. – Phi is the mathematical proportion ( 1 : 1.618) we see in every natural form. Using this proportion ensures a sense of harmony in any outdoor space that contains it. I’ve always tried to use these proportions in my designs.

        Jan then talks about Trees – natures rechargers as she puts it… The Celts  shunnache,  the Hindu tree devas, and Greek dryads are really references to light energy? The Chinese call this energy chi…the Japanese consider the health giving properties of trees the basis of a medical therapy called ‘ Forest bathing’, it helps reduce stress.

        Jan then discusses the magnetic attraction in a Zen garden – rocks in these gardens reflect a deep understanding of the geomagnetic properties of stone and its impact on a place.

        Finally the benefits of color in a garden.

        Be inspired by Jan Johnsen's Book
        You can listen to our truly fascinating interview with Jan Johnsen  or if you prefer on iTunes at Growing Trends  or just click on the arrow below to start the interview

        We would love to hear from you if you like this interview

        Ann and Chris,


          Views: 139

        • Face Time,  Podcasts,  World Wide WEsponsibility

          Growing Potential for Algae – Part one

          Our interview this week is with Bill Sosinsky and Joe Ravet, it’s all about the amazing properties of algae and  the work being done today that could transform many areas of our lives. This fascinating interview is in two parts, with the second part coming next week.



          Algae has some fascinating uses :-

          As an Energy Source –  a 737 plane flew from Houston to Chicago on fuel derived from algae, way back in 2011

          algae for jet fuel

          As a Fertilizer – from as long ago as the 16th century, seaweed has been used a fertilizer.

          As a source of Nutrition – China has been consuming Algae for over 2000 years, they harvest over 70 species as does Japan, Ireland, Chile, Wales,Korea, California, New Zealand, Hawaii, Scotland, Greenland and Iceland to name a few. It was an ingredient in Aztec foods.

          Oils obtained from some algae  have high levels of unsaturated fatty acids,others essential omega 3 fatty acids.

          As a Pollution control –  treating sewage with algae, reducing the use of toxic chemicals that would be used. They can absorb fertilizer run off from fields. Aquariums can be filtered by algae

          As a Pigment  – alternative to chemical dyes

          As a Medicine – helping fight malnutrition, immune health, reducing cholesterol

          algae 3

          Amazingly  there could be more than 72000 algae species worldwide.

          You can hear our interview with Bill Sosinsky and Joe Ravet on iTunes at Growing Trends or here on our podcast just click below to hear 

          We would love to hear from you,

            Views: 59

          • Book Reviews,  Podcasts,  Time to Eat

            Did you know you can ‘Eat your Roses?’

            A Gardening lover’s recipe book….

            It’s that time of year again, as we move from Spring into Summer all sorts of tasty treats abound in our gardens, our interview today is with a lady who has taken this to a new dimension.

            Eat your roses

            Ann & I caught up with Denise Shreiber, recently to interview her about her fascinating book, all about edible flowers.

            Being a transplanted ‘Brit’ it was interesting to hear that her book was born after a trip to England where she sampled ‘Rose Petal Ice Cream’,

            Here I was, under the illusion that everyone visited our wonderful gardens and stately homes for the good old English “cuppa” with perhaps a scone, butter, jam and clotted cream !

            You can listen to Denise here..

            It’s that time of year again, as we move from Spring into Summer all sorts of tasty treats abound in our gardens, our interview today is with a lady who has taken this to a new dimension. Ann & I … Continue reading


            Views: 1

          • Podcasts,  Time to Eat,  World Wide WEsponsibility

            School Garden Projects have many positives, you can hear many of them here


            Is this really salad ? it tastes so good like this !

            Ann & I were fortunate to talk to three amazing ladies from Tennessee a little while ago. They wanted to start a school garden at their school, here is their story, the school garden is now in its third year.

            Raised beds

            Some of the main points we heard were:-

            It’s essential to have teacher as well as parent support.

            Take time to plan carefully

            Initially growing from seed is harder , due to the school calendar. 

            Choose plants that will fit into this schedule.

            The children want to take ownership of their plants !

            Educating children in the different choices of produce increases the varieties they will eat.

            Children really take pride in taking home to their family the produce they have grown.

            In a blind radish test, the children could tell which were home grown as opposed to store bought and much preferred home grown !

            strawberry picking

            Ann & I would love to hear from you.  info@grotrends.com

            If you would like us to put you in touch with these wonderful ladies,or if you would like more information on starting your own school garden just send us an email to Growing Trends and we will be in touch. If you would like us to interview you, send us a picture of your garden along with contact details, we will be adding a section to our web site www.grotrends.com specially on School garden projects.

            Thank you Penny, Peggy and Emily, this was a fascinating interview.

            Ann & Chris





            Views: 52