Cyclamen confusion

Round & About


Cathie Welch explains how to distinguish between the types of Cyclamens available

It’s that time of year again when the garden centres are bombarding us with a beautiful array of houseplants for the festive season. Every year it’s the same and I find myself having to clarify to students and clients how to distinguish between the types of Cyclamens available, so here goes…

Cyclamen hederifolium

These little beauties are 100% hardy and tolerate our climate outside. They’re fabulous for colonising shady areas particularly under trees. They grow from corms and ants help to disperse the seeds. Coming in various shades of pink and white and the leaves vary their variegation between plants. This species is fairly vigorous if it likes its location and flowers in late Summer and Autumn. Ivy is Hedera and these Cyclamen have leaves like ivy forming a beautiful green carpet once the flowers have finished.

Cyclamen coum

These are another species of hardy Cyclamen although a little less vigorous than hederifolium. They flower in the Spring followed by little round leaves, also varying slightly between plants. Shades of pink and white too and similar in their cultivation requirements. Grow the two species in separate swathes or you’ll find that the C. hederifoium takes over. You can see both types growing successfully in many public gardens.

Cyclamen persicum

These are the ones that are in the houseplant section. They can be grown outside briefly but aren’t frost hardy and don’t like our wet winters. Very rarely will they survive outside. I’m tempted by the gorgeous array of colours on offer but that can only be grown in cool conditions inside. A porch or protected area outside is perfect but water carefully!

It’s in the name!

I hope this helps to unravel the confusion. The clue is in the name. They are all in the Cyclamen genus, but the species differ.

Points of sale aren’t always specific but if you’re buying something from a greenhouse or polytunnel at this time of year, check before you plant it in the garden. The hardy Cyclamen will be outside with the perennials whatever the weather. They’re all gorgeous but like I say to my students, you need to do your homework! Happy shopping!

Cathie’s Gardening School Services

Pruning is the skill I am asked most about so I will be running pruning courses and master classes throughout the Summer and Autumn next year. Please come and meet me at Ashdene to discuss your gardening requirements and join in the learning, it’s addictive!



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Cranford House students make the grade

Karen Neville


Inaugural A-level results at Cranford see students achieving top marks

Following the launch of their new Sixth Form in 2020, students at Cranford House in Moulsford, are celebrating an outstanding set of A-level results with 70% of all grades awarded at A*-B and 42% A*/A, alongside a 100% Pass Rate.

Headmaster, Dr James Raymond paid tribute to the hard work and dedication of the school’s students and the efforts of teaching staff, saying: “I am delighted to be able to celebrate the wonderful achievements of our first cohort of Sixth Form students. I am especially pleased that 91% of pupils are heading off to their chosen university.

We are very proud of each and every student: they richly deserve their success

“Our students have worked exceptionally hard against the backdrop of the pandemic, showing a real thirst for knowledge, creativity and resilience, whilst retaining their sense of fun to achieve an exceptional collection of A-level results.

“We are very proud of each and every student: they richly deserve their success and we are excited to watch them head off to the next steps in the world beyond school. I’m also very proud of the teaching team who have worked so hard to support the students through their A-levels this summer and throughout their time at Cranford.”

Dr Raymond and Georgie Cranford

As a leading co-educational day school (3-18), with a strong emphasis on co-curricular provision and pastoral care that really values each individual student, these results underline and reflect the academic excellence that the school has built a reputation for in the Junior School and at GCSE (average value add of +1.6) over the last 5 years.

A busy A-level Results Day has seen families and students celebrating their success in style.

Deputy Head, Megan Carter said: “it is wonderful to see the success enjoyed across Humanities and the Arts with History, Religious Studies, Psychology, Art, Textiles and Music achieving 100% A*-B and English 100% A*/A. Equally impressive, 65% A*-B were awarded across the Sciences. These set of results truly reflect the hard work of the pupils and the academic rigour of the teaching team.”

Sixth Form students at Cranford

Bear Grylls Kids Survival Guide

Liz Nicholls


Bear Grylls’ Survival Academy has created The Go Wild guide – developed with snack brand Nature Valley – with eight free ways to keep active kids satisfied this summer in their own home or the local park.

1. Try foraging for food

Fall in love with nature by foraging for herbs in your own garden, terrace, or kitchen, or look outside to try and find some wild plants growing! To get set up for foraging, you’ll need a basket and some gloves before heading out to your local park, field, wood, or nature reserve.

Any of these could be growing nearby:

• Purslane – also known as hogweed, purslane is a leafy green plant which can be used as an herb and salad vegetable. Will be in season mid-summer!

• Raspberries – wild raspberries can grow in hedgerows from mid-August and may be smaller than shop bought but are just as tasty!

• Blackberries – similar to raspberries but darker purpley-black in colour, these will also be ripe and ready for picking from midsummer

• Wild Garlic – although this may not be growing in the summer, it’s a good one to know as will be ready to pick and in season next Spring!

2. Get to know the skies

(Great for small children) – the clouds are full of all sorts of hidden animals; you just need to look carefully for them! To try your hand at zookeeper, pick a nice spot in the garden or the local park with a picnic and try spotting as many animal-shaped clouds as you can. Essential to take a notebook and pen or pencil so that you can draw them too.

If you’re waiting to learn a bit more about the clouds, they can also be used to try and predict the weather!

Simply look to the skies to identify these five formations:

• Cumulus: Detached clumps of cloud composed of water droplets that form low and indicate fair weather. Have flat bases and heaped tops and look a dazzling white in the sunshine.

• Altocumulus: Appears as rolls of cloud, or layered patches in the mid-level region. Commonly found between warm and cold fronts, so can precede bad weather.

• Cirrus: Detached, wispy clouds, formed of ice crystals. Wavy appearance is caused by wind movement. Can indicate a change in the weather. Also known as mares’ tails.

• Cirrocumulus: High patches of cloudlets made up of ice crystals that never cast self-shadows. Usually seen after rain, indicating improving weather.

• Cumulonimbus: Known as thunderclouds, these have low dark bases and extend many miles up into the atmosphere. Produce brief, heavy downpours, and sometimes lead to hail and lightning.

And you can also do this at night! Test your navigation skills by looking to the skies!

In the northern hemisphere, look for a distinctive winter constellation – Orion. He is easy to spot as there are 3 prominent stars more or less equal distance apart in a line and that is Orion’s belt. Under his belt there is 3 start that represent his sword. When the stars of Orion’s sword are vertical in the night sky, and you are facing him, you are facing South.

In the southern hemisphere, scan the skies for one of the brightest constellations – the Southern Cross (or ‘Crux’). This video illustrates how easy it is to find South…

3. Learn how to read and create maps

Prevent yourself from ever getting lost by mastering the art of Cartography and learning how to draw and make maps. This may help you map out your local nature spot or create a fun game where you can hide messages in the park for friends to find later on.

Today, most maps are printed on computers, but you can try making one the traditional way, by grabbing a compass and some paper and pens and getting outside. Start by carefully mapping and naming landmarks you see such as ponds, interesting or weird looking trees, and places where certain animals live. You can make a general map with physical landmarks or try out a thematic map with a specific theme to suit your friends.

4. Tell the time from the sun

Make a DIY sundial and compass to see where you are and the time!


A long stick to use as the central shadow marker
Some rocks to mark North, East, South, and West
A watch, as a timer!


1. Place your stick in the ground and mark the end of the shadow with one rock

2. Wait 30 minutes and then mark the end of the shadow with the second rock

3. The first rock will be your West point, and the second East. Now mark North and South

4. There you go – you have a compass!

5. Make the ultimate den

A simple and fun thing to do in your back garden, on a picnic, when camping – or even in your bedroom – here’s a simple guide from the den making masters at BGSA on how to make the best den


A sheet
Two trees or structures at home that are safe to attach the sheet to
Some rope
Decorations of your choice


1. Select a suitable area between any two trees or points for your den

2. If outside, check for any loose branches then run the rope between the trees

3. Drape the sheet over the rope, and then weigh down each corner with a rock, log, or something heavy to hold it

4. Inside your structure, add blankets, leaves, or anything else to make the den cosy and fun inside!

6. Go incognito!

Try and make yourself invisible by learning the five s’s of effective camouflage.

When we’re in the wilderness and our survival relies on us remaining hidden and hard to find, there are five key aspects you need to ensure you’re addressing as you make your way to safety. Helpfully, they all begin with the letter S!


Find ways to break up your shape with foliage from your immediate surroundings so that the outline of a human figure is no longer obvious.


Look carefully at your clothes and equipment to conceal any shine. This could be anything from your watch to the lace ringlets on your boots – use mud to cover everything you can (including your face and exposed skin) but don’t go overboard with the mud either as this in itself could also draw attention.


Your smell will often betray you long before you’re seen or heard. To minimise exposure, eat all your food raw – if you can! – as the smell of cooked food (and your fire) will carry.


Where possible, do as much of your movement at night, where your shadow or silhouette will not expose you.


All your movements should be slow and purposeful so as not to attract any unwanted attention. If you are moving with someone else, use hand signals instead of your voice to communicate

As long as you are mindful of the above five elements, you’re well on your way to making it to safety and having an incredible story to tell on the other side!

7. Learn the essential knots

Knot tying is an essential part of outdoor adventures, whether you’re building camp, tying your laces, or flying a kite!

Practise these three knots at home until you can master them:

A person holding a bow and arrow Description automatically generated

• Overhand Knot – this is the easiest one of all and is what our hands would automatically do if we were handed a piece of rope or string and told to put a knot in it. A key thing to know about this one, if you tie it around something, it can be undone easily. So, this one is primarily used as a ‘stopper knot’ – useful for stopping the end of a rope slipping through a hold or to stop the ends of a rope fraying.

• Bowline Knot – a BGSA favourite and used by adventurers worldwide, the bowline is made by a loop at the end of a rope which won’t slip or tighten.Also known as the ‘king of knots’, the Bowline is perfect for constructing a hammock at home, making dens, or setting up rope swings.

• Clove Hitch – this one’s a quick and memorable knot that can be used to attach a rope to a pole or a carabiner. Fun fact about the clove hitch, it’s one of the most commonly used knots by the Scouts!

8. Finally, test your knowledge with wild camping

Now that you’ve mastered these survival skills and a summer of challenges, finish off the holidays with a wild camping trip! Even if it’s just outside in your garden, it’s time to put what you’ve learnt into practice and get some experience as a true adventurer.

More info...

To further encourage get people out more, this year will see the return of Nature Valley’s partnership with the Gone Wild Festival with Bear Grylls in Powderham Castle, Devon from 25th to 28th August 2022. Gone Wild Festival with Bear Grylls is an action-packed family friendly festival for adults and children aged 6-18-years.

Southern Pro Musica’s two new concerts

Round & About


Southern Pro Musica has two exciting concerts for the new year. Songs from the Shows: Musical highlights from stage and screen on Friday, 14th January

Start the new year with a sensational show featuring Songs from the Shows courtesy of Southern Pro Musica at Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre.

Following the last two sell-out collaborations with the superb singers from Guildford School of Acting, Southern Pro Musica is delighted to return on Friday, 14th January, to once again present an evening of musical dazzle. There’ll be numbers from the very best Broadway and West End hits, as well as the most enduring film scores, compèred by Julian Woolford and under the baton of renowned conductor Jonathan Willcocks.

The audience will enjoy spirited ensemble numbers such as ‘Hello, Dolly!’, ‘The Best of Times’ and ‘I won’t send roses’ by Jerry Herman; ‘Puttin’ on the Ritz’ and ‘Alexander’s Ragtime Band’ by Irving Berlin and much more. The orchestra will bring you iconic film music by John Williams – Superman and Raiders of the Lost Ark; the Great Escape music by Elmer Bernstein; the Pink Panther theme, to name a few. This will be an evening for all lovers of music theatre and film.

To purchase tickets go to, call 01483 440 000.

G Live will host Family Classics: Fun with classical music for all the family on Sunday, 20th March.

This popular annual event provides the opportunity for people of all ages to have a go at trying all sorts of musical and percussion instruments in workshops led by Southern Pro Musica musicians. The afternoon will be rounded off with a fun classical concert performed by the full professional SPM orchestra with exciting, family-friendly classical music, a narrated musical story and a song for the audience to join in with. There’ll also be guest appearances by SPM’s ‘Strictly Strings’ scheme pupils from Sandfield, St Thomas, Boxgrove and RGS Prep School, as well Guildford High Junior School Lower Choir.

To purchase tickets go to, call 0343 310 0055.

Southern Pro Musica is firmly established as one of the leading freelance professional chamber orchestras in the south of England. It includes among its core players many of the finest orchestral players to base their work in the south. In 2013 Southern Pro Musica was appointed by Guildford Borough Council as their ‘principal provider of Classical music’, encompassing a broad range of orchestral concerts and educational outreach work in Guildford.

Entrance is FREE to all Music for Guildford concerts for 18s and under.

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Half term fun for families

Liz Nicholls


Half term fun for families & children with Surrey Wildlife Trust

Half term is here: Hurray! We know it’s been tough times for parents this winter & that (whisper it) you might not exactly be jumping for joy at the prospect of filling extra time with your children.

But Surrey Wildlife Trust have some great resources to help you spot & encourage wildlife in your own garden or outdoor space, as well as activities you can enjoy online or in one of the 70 Surrey wildlife reserves the charity manages.

England’s most wooded county, Surrey is impressively diverse and possibly the richest of all land-locked counties in terms of numbers of recorded species.

This includes a stunning mixture of landscapes to explore in Surrey, from the beautiful chalk meadows and rolling hills of the North Downs, to the vast heathlands of the Thames Basin and sprawling wetlands in the east of the county.

Visit & keep your eye on our social media feed to find out about courses & how you can identify nationally scarce mammals, birds, insects and reptiles that share this gorgeous county with us.

Another half term idea is building a family time capsule with the kids, read our tips here

Wildlife Trusts online

Round & About


The Wildlife Trusts have created wonderful online nature activities to encourage everyone to tune in to wildlife at home this spring – and to help people find solace in nature during tough times

Spot bees, butterflies, bats and birds during your permitted local walk, keep children entertained with nature-themed crafts, or tune in to look at fabulous wildlife footage and photos! 

The Wildlife Trusts are also offering plenty of practical outdoor advice to inspire us to do more for wildlife in gardens, balconies or window boxes. 

Tune in at The Wildlife Trusts launched a weekly wildlife programme on YouTube last week for kids and parents. A new video will be uploaded to Wildlife Watch UK every Wednesday at 10am. The channel will feature wildlife experts, home-school help and seasonal species to spot at 

Future videos will include:

• How to build a pond

• Be a garden scientist  – exploring your garden wildlife

• How to identify insects in your garden

• How to make a bug hotel

• What is marine pollution?

• Why birds sing and how to recognise their songs.

Wildlife Trusts across the UK are providing new ways of helping us feel more connected to the wider world and each other, via their online and social channels.

Wildlife experts who are usually leading school visits, events or talking to visitors on reserves have had to down tools and work from home – and so they can now be found online leading wildlife-spotting tours through their gardens, blogging about the life cycle of oil beetles or sharing heart-warming sounds of a dawn chorus on a sunny April morning.

For example:

Follow over 20 webcams from nests and locations around the UK and watch puffins in Alderney, peregrines in Nottingham, bats in Essex and ospreys on their nests

Join Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust’s mini-beast expert Ben Keywood talk about frogspawn and springtime insects from his own garden. Help the Wildlife Trust record sightings of wildlife and follow their advice for helping in your garden.

Daily wildlife diaries from Sussex Wildlife Trust’s Michael Blencowe who talks about the wildlife in his gorgeous garden.

Worcestershire Wildlife Trust is advising people about feeding birds, watching wildlife in the garden and learning how to identify it.

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust is producing a series of videos called Bringing Nature to You. Join education officer Susan Symmonds and hear about the life cycle of an oil beetle.

Go to Surrey Wildlife Trust’s website where you’ll find spotter sheets and activities to help identify local wildlife.

Sign up for Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust’s Wild at Home ideas for regular activities and inspiration to help people stay connected with wildlife.

Keep an eye out for #EverydayWildlife across social media, an outlet to share local wildlife, big, small, grand or often overlooked.

Get guidance on how to create a butterfly haven in our Wild About Gardens campaign with the RHS, by downloading a handy booklet full of inspiration.

Leanne Manchester, wildlife gardener and digital communications manager at The Wildlife Trusts, says: “More people than ever are tuning into our wildlife webcams – more than double the figure for this time last year – and we’re seeing people have a lot of fun wildlife-watching in their gardens.

“Spring has arrived in splendid colour and sound, and over the past few days, hundreds of people have told us that they’ve spotted their first butterflies. These are joyful moments that people hold dear at this difficult time.

“Everyone can share and follow on social media using #EverydayWildlife – swapping such experiences can be a lovely way of keeping in touch.

“Do keep an eye on our channels in the coming weeks – we’ve got lots of lovely ideas and activities to help you stay connected to nature and still feel the health benefits of being outside in your garden or neighbourhood.”

Museum & Jigsaw

Round & About


Haslemere Museum and Jigsaw School have teamed up to help special needs visitors get the most out of museum visits.

Autism gives people a special view of the world which can make unexpected events and visits to unfamiliar places very challenging but this initiative can help with that.

Hayley Locke, a senior teacher at Jigsaw, visited the museum, which already had many facilities for school visits, after being approached by them.

She said it felt like a safe place “with lots of interactive activities”. Hayley added: “I could see our pupils enjoying a trip there, including those I wouldn’t usually suggest to visit a museum.”

Kay Topping, the museum’s education officer, visited Jigsaw to watch some classroom sessions as the school worked on preparing pupils to visit the museum’s dinosaurs gallery. The class teacher demonstrated the four-step format used, based on a method called Attention Autism. This ranged from handling dinosaur and fossil toys to making fossils.

“It was great to see the children in their own environment and see how a session works at school,” said Kay.

“I learnt not to expect them to engage too much, and that engagement is more likely to be with individuals rather than as a group.”

Six pupils aged six to 11 went on the museum visit – which was a great success and included a session on dinosaurs, handling the toys and making fossils. The children were prepared with the visual schedule and social story and arrived to a familiar face.

“The trip went well, especially as this was a totally new environment for the children,” Kay said.

Hayley agreed: “It was lovely to see each pupil engaging with the activities. The preparation and the familiar learning format certainly helped them get a lot more out of it.

“One pupil was nervous of the new place but once calm he enjoyed stirring the plaster to make fossils. Another loved all the dinosaur toys and is now keen to explore other animals in the museum.”

Further visits are planned including to the African exhibition.

Photos show Harry exploring dinosaur toys and Tristan getting to grips with the ammonite 

More information

Find out more about the Jigsaw School and what they do here

Learn to Play Day

Round & About


Photo credit: Indigo James

Pick up an instrument and Learn to Play this weekend for free

Feel there’s a budding Eric Clapton or Charlie Watts just trying to get out or maybe you just want to give your guitar or drumming skills an outing? This is the perfect opportunity to give it a go…

Share in the joy of music on Learn to Play Day – actually two days – Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th,  as venues all over the country encourage thousands to pick up and play a musical instrument, whether you’ve never played before or once did as a child this is your chance to have a go for free.

The event has been running for eight years and in that time music shops, teachers, venues and schools have given tens of thousands of free lessons, including 10,000 last year alone.

Learn to Play Day (or two days to be precise) is run by charity Music For All and supported by a host of big names including Jools Holland, patron of the Music For All charity.

“I’m delighted to lend my support to National Learn to Play Day on March 23rd and 24th,” says Jools. “It’s a pleasure to be able to share the joy of music and this special day allows thousands to get involved as venues all over the country offer music lessons for free.”

Jazz star Jamie Cullum is another supporting the event. He says: “National Learn to Play Day gives everyone a chance to play an instrument, even if they’ve never played before. This wonderful day introduces thousands to the magic of music making, and often reunites people with a lost passion for playing. Get involved and perhaps discover a skill you thought you didn’t have.”

Spreading the joy of playing an instrument is the key element of the two days, as Music For All CEO Paul McManus explains: “While we all may have different tastes and preferred genres, there is no doubt that music is something that is universally loved around the world.

“Our Learn to Play Day events are all about spreading the joy of playing and inspiring those of all ages to take up something that will not only have health benefits for the future, but that also brings so many people together.”

Other Music For All ambassadors include Rick Astley, Aled Jones and Gareth Malone and who knows this could be your first foray into following in their footsteps!

Photo credit: Brian Slater

Photo credit: Alan Fletcher

There are various locations where you can begin your musical journey across the region:

Hickies Music Store, Reading 0118 957 5771
Hogan Music, Newbury 01635 37868
PMT Oxford, Cowley Road 01865 725221
Langdale Hall, Market Square, Witney 07904 397603
Archway School, Stroud 01452 330300
ACM, Bridge Street, Guildford 01483 501212
The College of Richard Collyer, Horsham 07470 964369
Westmount Music, Marlow 01628 481510
Unity Centre, Balham 020 8672 8095
Musicroom London, Denmark Street 020 7632 3950
Yamaha Music London, Wardour Street 020 7432 4400
PMT Music, Clerkenwell 020 7253 3283

Spectacular science

Round & About


Science and art come alive this March at Innovate Guildford 2019

Our science and arts festival, Innovate Guildford is back for its fourth year and this year’s event promises to be the biggest and best yet!

Innovate Guildford celebrates the best in innovation in Guildford and beyond. Building on the success of previous events, there are exhibitors from across the local area – Innovate Guildford will inspire and delight people of all ages. There’s plenty for the kids to do and best of all the event is completely free!

Already confirmed this year are McLaren Cars, The Pirbright Institute, a pop-up Planetarium and the Academy of Contemporary Music. They will also be interactive exhibits and workshops for lots of hands-on fun.

Proving there really is something for everyone at this year’s Innovate Guildford, visitors will be able to take part in a wide range of activities including slime design, coding, Minecraft, robotics and even step inside a planetarium.

Plus we’ve got a special treat for computer gamers – Guildford’s megastar game company Media Molecule will be at the show with brand new entertainment!

The event which showcases technology, innovation and creativity in the region, will run from 10am to 5pm on Saturday 23rd March at G Live, so save the date for a day out with a difference.

To find out more about the day, exhibitors and workshops visit