Category Archives: Seasonal Ideas

Today we were…

Pruning the Wisteria.  There are 3 in this garden, all very established plants that flower well and grow like monsters.  One is trained up the front of the house, one trained as a hedge (much like at Sissinghurst), and one trained up a post on the pergola in the shape of a tree.

Wisteria needs pruning twice a year, in the summer and winter.

Last year, when I didn’t prune one of the Wisterias as we simply ran out of time, the flowers and the leaves came together.  The reason for pruning now is that a flowering spur also contains leaf buds.  By pruning the spur back to 2 buds now should promote flowering before leaf growth.

We shall see.


An ice early start..

Please forgive me for my fortnight break – but you know how it is when the festivities and their organisation interrupt the gardeners’ journey and put pay to taking stock of  British beauty at it’s alternative best.

That doesn’t actually mean we stopped gardening at all though, just the recording of the days have gone amiss.

I couldn’t resist returning to my blog IMG_2406

on a day of opportunity to capture Jack Frost working his fingers of magic





I finally remembered some food for the robin today, in the form of crumbs of cheddar cheese.  I hope that and the mealworms we dug for him keep him going through these lean days.

Views of the Winter garden






Today the garden was just magical…

So what do you do when the garden is all frosty?


Well my advice is… do anything that will keep you warm for the first couple of hours of the day, as the sun comes up and starts to take the chill out of the air.

Raking is perfect on an ice cold morning.  The leaves are easy to rake up and collect.

Turning the compost, emptying the bins and mulching the beds.  That really gets the internal heat burning and blood pumping to fingers and toes.

Starting the day like this, I felt energised and ready to go,   The sun shining across the lawns and through the tree skeletons was a sight to behold.

I even fed 4 robins a couple of days worth of mealworms from the compost.

One robin (our favourite) sat on the wheelbarrow and sang along to La Boheme on the radio and then sat on my shoulder.

Well that really made my day, I couldn’t ask for more.


An eye for the roses





I really wish my photography could do this more justice.

Sophie’s passion is pruning roses, particularly climbing ones.  Yesterday afternoon I was busy with the compost and she decided to sort out one of the roses on the pergola.  When I went over at break time, I was bowled over by the beauty of the structure of the rose that she had pruned and ‘created’. It was  twined, wrapped and carefully wound round the timber posts in such a stylish romantic way, almost like an illustration from a fairy tale….

She surely is the best in all the land!


Autumn beauty around the garden and in my home













Another busy day clearing and time for reflection…


Spring on the Moat Walk






and finally today.

We cut down an old fallen Berberis (that was still alive) at the back of the border. It provided a year round dark green back-drop to the vibrant plants in front and a warm, contrasting , orange glow of flowers in Spring. Taking it down has made way for fresh new growth at the base.

Immediately it has given us more space to rearrange the planting in front and given us an opportunity to refresh and renew.

It gives me a sense of renewal too.  To see how deep this border actually is and realise its potential.

Alix and I have been working in this garden together now for 7 years. Every year we discuss, move, divide and replant different areas in the autumn and the excitement to see the changes the following year keep us going through the darkness of the winter months.

This is the biggest change we have done so far and it coincides with Alix moving to pastures new next Spring.

We didn’t know each other very well when we first started out but have shared the highs and lows of our lives in intimate detail ever since that first day. There is always plenty of time to chat during a session in the garden.

Performing tasks together we have recognised our strengths and hardly needed to communicate at all, as we read each other like  books.

My highlight was seeing Alix weeding whilst on all fours at 9 months pregnant, determined and confident that it was good for her and the baby. She was right, as 24 hours later she held her beautiful baby in her arms, at home, having had the easiest of births.

We will always have great memories of wading through the pond trying to catch escaped fish, laughing as we balance as much as we can on the wheelbarrow so we need only make a single journey, chasing away the  squawking Guinea foul, eating yoghurt with a plant label as neither us had a spoon and sitting in the van watching the rain dribbling down the windscreen, waiting for our chance to start again. Going home at the end of a day weary, mucky but almost always happy.

Our loss is Gloucestershire’s gain. I’m sad she will not be here to witness and wonder at the border once more with me next year and enjoy our vision together.

The end of the gardening year and an end of our era together.

Here’s to Spring and optimism and new beginnings… This is what gardening is all about and what, as gardeners, we become very good at.



Late September foliage

Whilst the weather is still warm down in the South the England, the weeds still keep growing and the ephemeral weeds (those that flower/ set seed/ grow/ flower/ set seed grow- several times during a year) are continuing to flower so our jobs this week have included more weeding.

We are still in the process of cutting back perennial foliage that is dying back and flower stems that have gone over e.g. Day lilies, Iris, Crocosmia, Phlox, Inula, some Clematis, Geraniums and Alchemilla to name but a few. This certainly gives more clarification to well planted areas and we are beginning to see bare earth again around the remaining plants.

I always enjoy the borders as much at this time of year and contemplate removing some more plants for good or reducing the size of clumps for next year.  Within this new found space, our eyes are drawn more easily and with greater focus to individual plants – some still flowering away and some where the beauty and subtlety  of the leaf shapes stand out against each other and the deep brown newly groomed and weedless soil.

Foliage of Galega, Oregano and Nasturtiums
Foliage of Galega, Oregano and Nasturtiums
Liriope muscari
Liriope muscari
Gadiolus murielae with grasses – Stipa tenuissima


Polyganum orientale

Late season Box clipping

Today Alix and I attended a lovely new garden to us, in the Mid-Sussex countryside.  The owner has lived there for 22 years and more or less planted and maintained the garden all that time on her own.  It is fabulous because she has many unusual varieties of plants shrubs and trees.  Every other summer she opens her garden to the public in aid of charity and you can wander around the beautiful space early evening with a glass of wine in hand.

Not us, we were on a mission to get chopping

In some areas it may be too late in the year to give the topiary a second trim, as the new growth after clipping could be susceptible  to frost damage.  However we have looked at the forecast and reckon it will be fine.

Generally I forget to take ‘before’ photos until it is too late and yet again that happened  today – as always we just want to dive in.. so here we are at the end of the day…

IMG_1511 IMG_1519


After clipping, the box should be well watered and given a good nitrogen feed to encourage more green growth.


And to cap it off today we saw the amazing caterpillar of the wackily named Elephant-hawk Moth:

IMG_1970 IMG_1976

and I’ve never seen anything like it.  Hugely impressive with its fake eyes to  hopefully intimidate potential foes and they are surprisingly not un-common. Wonderful shape size and colouration. Rumour has it that the Elephant-Hawk moth ain’t too bad either with it’s big 70mm wing span in pretty pink and grey



An early morning walk in the South Downs National Park

We were rewarded with the sight of plenty of wild flowers still livening up the landscape of these beautiful chalky hills this morning…




IMG_1427 IMG_1428 IMG_1433