Watering , watering watering.

Another gardening week (yes we are still working!) and the show must go on.

The day begins with a watering schedule that takes us all around the gardens. The greenhouse, cold frames, pots of tulips, pots of lilies, pots with herbs, perennials recently divided and replanted, newly bought and planted perennials (hollyhocks and delphiniums), new seed beds of veg and flowers and recently planted sweet peas from the greenhouse at the foot of their frames. Plus there are all the containers of topiary at doors and entrances.

In one garden there are 20 new roses planted all over the place, up high banks, along walls, at the base of trees. Each takes half a can of water once a week to get established and are planted a long long way from the tap…

The watering alone can take an hour at each of our gardens and is certainly a wonderful start the day, an opportunity to take in all the detail.

When I first started gardening I was always looking forward to what was coming out next, as you are always preparing for the next season. As the years have gone by, I now realise that the gardens are at their very best today, the day you are there enjoying them.

Seed Parcels

Following a global trend to ‘buy local’ in recent years, I have concentrated efforts in growing flowers for cutting, in my clients’ gardens. Planting one garden for a summer wedding this year fuelled my excitement to buy and grow lots of beautiful annuals from seed.

Last week I came to a screeching halt and a quick about turn. Covid 19 has changed everything, not least in my gardening world. We all need food and freshly picked vegetables from the garden are an absolute imperative. At least for us in the UK we are at the beginning of our growing season.

When everyone else was out buying pasta and loo rolls, I was at the local garden centre buying compost, vegetable seeds and seedlings. Today I was on a mission, busily emptying the greenhouse of flowers and throwing them into the borders with a wing and a prayer.

I managed to turn it around in a day and now the tomatoes, peppers and chillies are in, the beans and carrots are sown in pots and potatoes planted. Thats a start.

My enthusiasm has rubbed off on others too. The seed packets always contain more than I need, so I spent an evening packing up mini vegetable garden parcels to share.

Not only was I rewarded by the eagerness of friends and family but that translated immediately into action when I received a photo today of a new vegetable plot, built today, all ready to plant up.

and another, all marked out and on its way…

and one more project has just come in tonight… I’m loving this:

Let this be an inspiration to everybody. I can’t wait to see how these gardens grow…

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The Willow harvest

About 4 or 5 years ago now, I spent a day learning the basics of willow basketry. It is a skill that requires patience and many hours of practice to actually achieve a fine result. You need plenty of space to weave the rods without them catching on the furniture and you also need very strong hands to push, pull, wedge, squeeze and hold the material in position, whilst keeping it neat, tidy and regular.

The main reason I tried to learn this skill is for techniques to build plant supports. Each Spring we need to provide supports for our floppy perennials and for this we mainly use coppiced hazel from the woods, held together with more pliable willow. Fortunately for me the finished product isn’t as fiddly as a fine basket, can be constructed quickly in situ and only needs to last a year.

Over the last couple of weeks I have been rained off work on more than one occasion and have found myself indoors for the odd morning or afternoon and in need of a project. As we have harvested our willow, thoughts turned to making a trug-like basket. Last year we had nothing to collect our produce in from the veg patch except plastic bags and boxes, which somehow just didn’t feel right with me.

I started with weaving the base and preparing the stakes
The stakes are inserted and the fun begins…
and hey presto! I’ve got a basket.
and another

And another!

Home grown willow to home made baskets. Far from perfection but a very satisfying process, an enjoyable way to pass the time on rainy days and a useful product at the end of it. All for free.

What made me smile this week

There was plenty of sad news this week with coronavirus affecting the global community. Some caught up directly, others indirectly but I think we are all held slightly in a suspension of time and confusion.

I’ve never been in a ‘pandemic’ before and it’s like I’m taking one very long slow breath in, watching and waiting….

Meanwhile my working life and routine marches on and nature’s growth waits for no man. Keep calm.

This week’s fascination include 1) my little spring favourite… Ipheion (Feature picture) Perfect at the front of a border or naturalised in grass around the base of a tree. Awful in a posy as it smells quite oniony

and 2) the slightly prehistoric flame-like new growth of Gunnera

Gunnera
Gunnera
Chris and the Gunnera

3) So many tiny seedlings doing their thing in the greenhouse which is so satisfying (apart from most of the sunflower seeds that were found and eaten by a hungry mouse). And then there’s the potted Lilies in the cold frame growing great guns and sprayed with Grazers4 (organic control) to prevent Lily Beetle damage. Fingers crossed!

The Ammi majus, Sweet peas, Marigolds and Broadbeans that were sown in November, have all now found places either just outside the greenhouse or in the garden where they are to flower.

Sweet Violets

“Spring is Sprung, the grass is riz.

I wonder where the birdie is.

They say the boidie’s on the wing.

But that’s absoid. The wing is on the bird.”

Anonymous



Whenever I hear the mention of Spring, I remember my Mother chanting this little ditty to me as a child. I now quietly say it to myself over and over again, rather annoyingly. However if it brings a memory of her lovely kind face to mind, then that’s ok with me.

We’ve had a few hours in the last week when I actually thought it felt
like the weight of winter was lifting and ‘Spring is Sprung’ only to be cast down again into a wet quagmire of despair…

Wandering along with my head bowed, I noticed a patch of purple in the boggy grass. I’ve never really looked closely at violets so I got right down to take a picture and was overwhelmed by the delicious scent. Again I had a flashback and was reminded of a small bottle of violet perfume I was given as a child. It smelt so good I tried to drink it. Obviously not the best idea as sadly it didn’t taste as good as it smelled.

I urge everyone now, as you are wandering around with your head down, if you spot a patch of violets, to get right down and sniff. Singularly, the perfume of the flower is fairly undetectable but ‘en masse’ it is an absolute joy.

Magnificent Cherry

Just when the buds are swelling on the cascading branches of this tree, is the perfect time to cut away all the dead wood.

It feels symbolic in my gardening year to end the winter with this job and get up close to this beautiful old specimen with its crazy interwoven limbs.

There’s a discarded nest cradled in the crook of a branch. The lime green moss and lichen cling to the splitting bark. It’s an honour to clean up the silhouette and leave it ready to blossom with abundance heralding the arrival of Spring.