Wednesday, 27 February 2013

1001 Uses of Balls……

It is with great cunning that we seamlessly slot the latest entry into our Blog.
February 28this soon to be upon us and although the next Leap Year is not due until 2016 we will persevere and use this date phenomenon as our starting point.
On a recent visit to Greenwich Observatory Stoneballs Company couldn’t help but be fascinated by the red Time Ball installed on the roof of Flamsteed House. (see where we have gone with this?)

This is the original Observatory building at Greenwich, designed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1675 on the instructions of King Charles II as a scientific institution for navigational research. The Royal Observatory also became the source of the Prime Meridien of the world, Longitude 0° 0' 0''. Every place on the Earth is measured in terms of its distance east or west from this point.Since the late 19th century, the Prime Meridian at Greenwich has served as the co-ordinate base for the calculation of Greenwich Mean Time. Before this, almost every town in the world kept its own local time.The Time ball station sets its clocks according to transit observations of the positions of the sun and stars and in this way keep world times and therefore dates accurate.

The bright red Time Ball on top of Flamsteed House is one of the world's earliest public time signals, informing ships on the Thames and many Londoners of the correct time. (The red ball, with a winch,was originally made of leather, which must have become like lead when soaked.) Each day, at 12.55, the time ball rises half way up its mast and at 13.00 exactly, the ball falls, and so provides a signal to anyone who happens to be looking.

Of course, if you were distracted and looking the wrong way, you had to wait until the next day before it happened again!

Always keep your eyes on the ball.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Valentine's Day

Perhaps this day should be renamed Hallmark Day or Interflora Day.
Most of the red roses available in the UK for Valentine’s Day are exported from Kenya where 120 million cut rose stems are shipped, most of them destined for Britain.

 Stoneballs Company could now fill its blog with information about roses but no, we have resisted that easy journal entry temptation.

If you don't want to spend vast sums on extravagantly arranged blousy red roses or the cheap garage forecourt flowers are already hanging their heads in shame on the front seat of your car, (turn the heater down) then read on.....

An alternative to show your love you have really put a great deal of thought in to a Valentine gift is an almond tree.

Van Gogh
The name Valentine is associated with the Christian Saint named Valentinus who was a priest near Rome in 270 A.D. Valentinus was imprisoned for holding wedding ceremonies for soldiers who were forbidden to marry as they were considered to be better fighters if they were single.
Before being executed for his ‘crime’ he healed the daughter of his jailer, Julia who was blind and whom he had befriended.
On the eve of his death Valentinus wrote a last note to Julia, urging her to stay close to God. He signed it, "From your Valentine." His sentence was carried out the next day, February 14, 270 A.D.

It is said that Julia planted a pink-blossomed almond tree near his grave. The almond tree remains a symbol of abiding love and friendship.

Some facts to consider before the purchase of this truly romantic gift:
· Almond trees are in the same family as peaches and plums and the nuts grow as kernels within the fruit in the same wa
· Almonds can be grown from the nut (or seed) but it is more reliable to buy young tree, either bare root or pot grown, which will fruit in its second or third year
· Easy to grow but cropping will be light unless the right weather conditions prevail: warm, dry summers and frost-free winters
· Good drought resistance once established.
(with thanks to

Alternatively, a bag of almonds may be a compromise gift…..but perhaps that’s straying a tad far for some people …… healthy though.

Disclaimer: Stoneballs Company Blog can be held in no way responsible if the gift of a bag of almonds is not received in a welcoming manner by the recipient.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Shrove Tuesday / Lenten Rose

Lenten Rose at Ordnance House
The word shrove is from the English verb shrive, which means to obtain absolution for sins by way of confession and penance. Shrove gets its name from the shriving that Christians were expected to do in order to to receive absolution before Lent begins. Shrove Tuesday is the last day of "shrovetide".Pancakes are associated with Shrove Tuesday, the day preceding Lent because they were a way to use up rich foods such as eggs, milk, and sugar, before the fasting season of the 40 days of Lent.

So, to take your mind of food if you are fasting for Lent, take a walk round the garden and gaze in wonder (similar symptom to low blood sugar level) at the gorgeous injection of colour provided by the Lenten Rose (you may need to take several walks to fully take your mind away from food if you are partaking of a serious fast, but it will be worth it to see these flowers in all their glory).

Just to confuse the Lenten Rose is actually a member of the Hellebore family (the flowers are simlar to small roses) whose early blooming season happens to coincide with Lent - injecting colour into the early spring garden after a long, bleak and dull winter-scape.
The petals of the Lenten rose are actually sepals, and do not drop as with other flowers, but last for a couple of months. Darker purple blooms often fade to a pastel pink over the 8- to 10-week bloom and fruiting period.They have coarse-textured, dissected evergreen foliage, which combines especially well with delicate foliage such as ferns or rounded foliage of hosta. Eagerly self seeding, soon small seedlings will appear in dense clusters around the plant which can be easily be transplanted to additional sites.

Enjoy this plant as spring is definitely on the way.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Chinese New Year / Feng Shui

The Chinese New Year on the 10th February will be the year of the snake. The Chinese will buy presents, decoration, material, food, and clothing. It is also traditional for every family to clean the house in order to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for good incoming luck. Windows and doors will be decorated with red banners wishing good fortune, happiness, wealth and longevity. Much feasting will take place with families getting together to celebrate ending the night with firecrackers. The Chinese New Year tradition is to reconcile, forget all grudges and sincerely wish peace and happiness for everyone.
So, with a Chinese theme in mind we are taking a look at Feng Shui in the garden. We could have gone down the snake path (but as one who would concrete over the entire garden if one encountered a snake – deep fear and revulsion I’m afraid- I know they are perfectly harmless and good for the garden but no amount of persuasion would effect relaxation if a snake made an appearance) so for those who would prefer the snake option we refer you to the following link:

Meanwhile, back to Feng Shui……..
Chinese Feng Shui is both a science and philosophy, created to understand the harmony of nature and the natural world.
Applied to landscaping ideas or small garden design, Feng Shui offers a unique method of creating peaceful outdoor areas and proper arrangement of garden sculptures, objects and plants to attract abundance and wealth.

The theory of Chinese Feng Shui in design is that your personal spaces should work for you, providing relaxation and should bring comfort, peace and joy into your life. Design is an important element that protects the house and occupants and attracts wealth whilst being relaxing and pleasing to the eyes, radiating positive energy.

Good Feng Shui in the garden means a dynamic harmony of sounds, colours, images and movements using the 5 natural elements.  And what better way to bring good energy than with beautiful garden sculptures – especially those using the Earth element which is represented by soil, rock and stone.

Our favourite way to add the Earth element to a garden is with stone balls.  The round shape of the garden ball provides the Feng Shui energy of completion, while the surface colour and texture bring additional elements for each area of your garden. The sphere shape in Feng Shui reduces negative energy and helps in the flow of energy around the garden. All good stuff.

                       Stoneballs Company wish you all a Happy Chinese New Year 2013