Hops, fuchsias, cake!

More hops
More hops

These hops are sadly beyond their best now… Oh well, just cut them right down to the ground and either compost, weave or decorate the house with the dead stems and the actual plant will start all over again with prodigious growth next Spring.  Fabulous.


Let’s take a moment to enjoy the zingy colour of the Fuchsia on a dull grey day…


Tea break entails me tucking into a rather alcoholic fruit cake which was so scrummy and because Sophie was not keen on fruit cake, she was offered fresh hot scones straight from the oven with Carols’ delicious home made raspberry jam.  Oh wow, we thought we had died and gone to heaven.  Thank you Carol (our lovely client)!

Jobs to do



There are 2 square flower beds at the front of the house, both had purely red roses in them but unfortunately the roses in one bed started dying off.  Slowly, each year, 2 or more would die and it just looked sad.  We decided it was probably honey fungus doing the damage, as a tree close by had recently been taken down and potentially the roots were left to rot underground and this is where honey fungus can start.  Anything in the Rosa family becomes a target of this fungus.  So we have replanted the bed with ‘freebies’ to test what can actually live in a soil infested by honey fungus.

In the centre we have the lovely Euphorbia mellifera…. if you have one, you usually have seedlings near-by.  Ironically this is sometimes called the ‘honey bush’ due to the sweet smell of its insignificant flowers.  It is a very versatile evergreen shrub. I love it – and it survives honey fungus!!!!.  Surrounding that we have some gorgeous ferns .. I think they are Matteucia strutheopteris and they survive honey-fungus and then some fabulous bulbs .. Scilla peruviana (Cuban Lily)  These are fantastic ground cover.  They come up now, flower in the Spring and continue to thrive for a couple more months before we cut them back.  What a great plant for difficult conditions. And…. they survive honey fungus

Then we have the gorgeous Dahlia Hillcrest Royal – if anything would beat off competition with a pure red rose garden this is a serious contender


We have dug them up this year to divide in the spring and also to propagate from:


Here they are drying out upside down in the shed



Other Dahlias in the garden we leave in throughout the winter..

We have a pretty good success rate.  We cut them right back and find something else in the garden to mulch them with… it could be leaves but today it was Osmunda ferns:

Osmunda regalis
Osmunda regalis



With a small piece of chicken wire and a couple of sticks, the Dahlias are quickly and easily protected from the savages of winter…

What’s been HOT in the garden this week!

Not usually  known for flowering in November the Chaenomeles, the flowering quince (featured image) was looking especially bright and beautiful against its leafless stems and dull light of a grey day.  I hope it will flower again in Spring.

More expected autumn colour abounded the garden looking no less splendid:

Cotinus coggygria
Gingko biloba
Gingko biloba
Sedum spectabile
Sedum spectabile
Osmunda regalis
Osmunda regalis
Decaying Physallis
Decaying Physallis


Mary Mary quite contrary, how does your Gunnera grow?


As the massive leaves of the Gunnera start to wilt, we have chosen today to cut them back to the base of the plant and pile them up, upside down, over the crown .

You may have flower spikes too,  which should also be cut off.  We use them as weights on top of the pile of leaves. The old leaves  protect the crown of the plant from severe winter weather.

In the Spring we will unveil the plant again to reveal the new young shoots.

Keep your eyes peeled

The festive season is drawing near and soon we’ll be out gathering bits and pieces for our Christmas wreaths.

This week I spotted the mistletoe in the crab apple tree with lovely white berries.  I saw moss in the woodland,  plenty of ivy and ruby red berries on the Holly.  It’s too soon to start collecting anything yet but it’s good to know where it is.





I even thought of adding the peeling bark of this Acer…

So easy and satisfying to remove and leaves the tree trunk all shiny

and polished.



That was the week that was…

Dreadful weather and I feel a cold coming on.

However, we did manage to fit in a number of maintenance tasks so all is not lost.


We started with an over-haul of an urban garden.  Since it was a one-off, we had to fit as much in as possible even though it might not be exactly ‘timely’.


In this corner we cut back the unruly ivy climbing over the wall using a hedge-trimmer, this is the quickest, easiest way and gives the neatest finish. The clematis growing in a pot at the base of the arch was pruned, untangled and repotted into a larger pot with new compost- it was really root bound and lacked nutrients. It was then tied back onto the arch. The rose was hard pruned and tied into the arch.  The Mahonia, looking its best with yellow scented flowers was left to be pruned in January after flowering. We then weeded the borders.


The bright green Hebe was pruned using shears to a nice rounded shape making sure we didn’t cut too deeply which would have removed all the foliage.  We took a third off the Budleja davidii behind, which should be pruned again in Spring.


In this corner we took off the top of the bay to keep it at a manageable height and shaped it as it was getting top heavy.

The black bamboo behind the Bay has gorgeous stems that can’t be seen, so we thinned out all the weedy young growth right to the ground and removed the foliage from a metre from the ground to reveal the stems.

Around the rest of the garden, we emptied pots of weeds and plants that hadn’t survived.  pruned more roses, a vine, a tree peony and re-potted a camellia that had also out grown its container. We swept up all the fallen leaves and weeded the patio.  All in a mornings work.

Now the exciting part – coming up with some suggestions for new planting next year.


All on my own today, back on the estate… but here is a job that needs doing

The Darmera peltata that has looked so stunning again this Spring, Summer and Autumn:





is finally over and needs cutting down to the ground all ready again for next year.  All good for the compost though.


It will flower in May before the leaves grow and loves damp conditions in full sun.



The morning was spent cleaning the greenhouse.  The weather was lovely by the time we had finished






The day was way to dull and wet to take any pictures but we managed to do a little bit of weeding, bulb planting in containers and rose pruning before we slunk back to the van and went home.  The rest of the day was spent ordering a few more bulbs as we still have time to get them in and they are currently half-price, so… fantastic 🙂


After an early night I am up with the larks and it is still raining.  That’s fine as it is time to write this post,  research some plants for the urban garden and look at Kickstarter for funding for my next project… Watch this Space!


Autumn beauty around the garden and in my home













OMG Why is that bed so weedy again?

Oh no it’s not weeds, it’s Forget- me -not seedlings and they are everywhere.

Annually this is a problem for us. We love them when they are flowering in Spring and hate them when they are over. We pull up all the blackened plants that are dying back (very easy to pull out) but then the seeds get stuck on our gloves and clothes and start irritating those of us with sensitive skin.  We can’t FORGET about them  though, as the seeds start germinating very soon after.  We keep on weeding them out and then more grow.  Eventually they win, they start to take hold and we give up.

This is our solution this year:



Cercis siliquastrum, the tree of love



….at the top of it’s game right now.

Why the tree of love?

Check out its heart- shaped leaves 🙂

OK November is here

I have to say ‘wow’ to the stunning Rhus typhina glade in my friends garden:





When Louis, my eldest son was born on November 10th,  I wanted to dedicate a tree to his birth. I didn’t want to buy a tree just in case it died and would be a bit of an omen, so I just chose one.  This is it.

That was in my pre-gardening days.

When I saw this glade yesterday it brought back that emotion.  I was in awe of the beauty of this tree, as I was of my son. The wonder of nature overwhelmed me and wonderfully continues to do so, year after year.

Happy Birthday Louis, 22 this year…