Some jobs you don’t want to do, have their benefits…

We knew the courtyard needed to be weeded again. This is one of those jobs that make you heart sink…IMG_2983

Because it is next to the moat we daren’t use weedkiller, so the only way is the organic way. Down on our hands and knees and we scrape.

However, when you go from this:


to this:


there is some reward.

There is also a certain fascination with the fluorescent lime of the moss


And then you look at this:


and find this sweet mother duck tucked in the corner


sitting on 12 freshly laid eggs


Your heart just melts. it doesn’t seem such a hard job after all!

Other pleasures of the day include the early blooming peony


Peaonia mlokosewitchshii



Grape hyacinths


Corylopsis pauciflora AGM (deciduous shrub)

and then be able to take home a beautiful bunch of spring flowers for the table.. – Featured image.






Where would we be without it?



We are still eating our lovely leeks from last year. Chopped and sautéed in butter. So sweet, so tender, so delicious … and today we sowed some more. Directly into the soil outside.


Leeks from last year
Leeks from last year

The rest of our day was spent weeding and preparing beds for our cutting garden this year.

I think we, as gardeners, as much as the plants, are looking for the sun to give us energy and invigorate us from the winter doldrums.

Today we were rewarded.


Introducing a new ‘babe’ to the team. The Fabulous Frenchy…Pauline

Pauline brings bundles of style, colour and enthusiasm to the gardening team.  I love listening to her wonderful, lilting, french accent when discussing  all things horticultural.


Today Pauline gathered low growing bulbs and perennials, including primroses, Ipheion uniflorum or Spring Star and Cyclamen, and the small Hart’s tongue fern from around the garden to carefully plant up the gaps between the  steps.

I am hoping they won’t be overwhelmed by those Spanish Bluebells and Camassia that have found their way there too.


We also went into the woods to collect Hazel sticks for plant supports. These will be made in the coming weeks, as the perennials start emerging again in the warmer soil and longer days…

Hazel and Dogwood stems
Hazel and Dogwood stems

An early start at one of our jobs last week allowed me to share a cup of coffee with the client.  You know how much someone loves their flowers when you see them languishing in jars and vases on the kitchen table basking in the spring sunshine.





and finally, more by accident than design, this combination of a grass and white crocus in a pot together… on some level, it works!!






Here we go..

If I find you sitting around thinking there is nothing to do…???

…then I need to correct you right now!!!

Certainly buy some seed. Tomatoes are so easy to grow on a window sill right now.  No excuses!!

Prepare some beds

Get rid of unwanted, un productive plants..

Think about what you really want. You can really grow it.  If you don’t believe me, just prove me wrong.  Now is the the time to try..

You’ve heard about car share, well this is pot share.. well recommended

This sad old broken terracotta pot still offers life to two plants that make their mark at opposite seasons of the year.  Leucojum gravetye – a bulb that produces a snowdrop lookalike that is longer lasting than a snowdrop, taller, with strap like green foliage which really comes into its own now.  It looks great naturalised in a woodland setting but at the same time looks fab in a pot.  So I have just cut down the pot sharer, Miscanthus.  This has produced loveley fresh leaves summer to Autumn with flowers that have lasted all winter. It is quite happy in a pot and generously shares the space.


Just as the early bird catches the worm….

so  the early flower attracts the bee..

Interestingly I have only ever just glanced at these Hellebores, absolutely enjoying the lime fresh flowers against the dark soil and taking in their early value in the Spring garden.

Taking more of an interest and a bit more time, I couldn’t believe the bee activity they created – particularly for the big fat early bumble bees.

Big -up Hellebore foetidus, the ‘stinking’ hellebore, a member of the buttercup family – Ranunculaceae.

Actually it isn’t noticeably malodorous, self seeds quite easily without being a nuisance, is an evergreen and of great value to the Spring garden and in Summer makes a great ‘foil’ for other plants providing a dark green backdrop and companion plant to nasturtiums for example.

All in all, I love it.

Willow Control (and other stems that are over-staying their welcome)


These Willow trees provide a welcome dappled shade to the bog garden in summer, however they also cast  unwanted shadows over the neighbouring property. Tree surgeons can be a costly affair over the lifetime of a Willow in the wrong place so it comes down to us, the gardeners, to pollard them each Spring.

Today was that day.




These bright orange stems from another Willow were used originally to create a wig-wam for the evergreen sweet pea to scramble up in the summer.  The wig wam then took root…Such a lovely colour in the Winter picking up the orangey hues of the Euphorbia milifera behind.

Again, left to their own devices they would create unwanted shade in this lovely sunny border.  So these are now coppiced annually in the Spring.  They will grow back strongly over the year, just beating the everlasting sweet pea, to create a new support for it every year.

This Cornus ‘Midwinter fire’ has enjoyed another year of growth providing a dazzling feature over the dull months – as the name suggests.

I would plant many more, if there was space,  as they look even better en masse.


Time for you to be coppiced too.


Along with more Miscanthus

And turning every corner now, colour is creeping back into our gardens..





Easing our eyes gently into new fresh beginnings.