Saturday, 20 June 2020


We are just over six months into this year. It's been quite a year so far, and we are tired, very tired. We haven't had a break from work for six months. The whole Covid thing has posed some seriously complicated logistical problems. When did gardening become so serious? For the last three months we have had to implement social distancing, masks, gloves, risk assessments, method statements, and on, and on, and on. Most people got it, but a lot simply haven't since day one. We work for a LOT of elderly people, and one place being a dementia care home, which, as you can imagine, brings a whole new meaning to social distancing. We have had to threaten to walk off site and lose some contracts if people didn't take the distancing thing seriously, not just for our own health, but also because those same properties had insisted on us signing various forms declaring that we would adhere to the 'Covid rules'. But we are still here, and although tensions between us and a very few customers have been raised, we haven't lost one  thankfully.

Restrictions are being lifted at a ridiculous rate now. Far too quickly. People aren't social distancing because they are just bored with it all. Beaches are packed. groups are meeting up and hugging. The pressure is on for those of us who still take the threat seriously, and first and foremost don't want to kill our friends and family because we are just 'bored with it all'. Even some of those same friends and family are pushing to 'get back to normal' far sooner than they should. Throw in the customers doing the same, and that idiot at the supermarket who just simply won't bother to move over to one side to create a two meter...ish distance, and  we are worried. People are stupid, and are creating a society in which those of us who don't agree with the restrictions being lifted, and actually care about this whole thing coming to an end at the earliest possible time, are becoming more and more alien.

The three of us, Amanda, myself and Bex are fried. We are shutting the business down for a week, in a couple of weeks. Some customers won't like the fact that there is no cover, if only to keep their grass cut at this point of the year, but if they don't care for us, then they can go. It's turned out that Bex is headed to Cornwall, and although in a different place, so are we. It's the place to get some R&R.

During these last six months I have also re-connected with three friends from my distant past. We have talked gardening, one has lent me her saxophone to learn to play, and I have had a taster lesson, and disturb the neighbours with my very bad practising. Another has lent me a book to read, which I am, but like the sax, finding 'head time' difficult at the moment. The third goes way back to my early school days, was a dear friend, and I look forward to meeting up with him, hopefully this year.

Foxes have a den that has an entrance in our neighbours garden, and the actual den under 'The Shack', which is the chalet at the end of our garden that is part art studio, and part meditation space. They come most years. Last time both the parents and five cubs developed mange, and it was so sad to see them deteriorate, and some become blind. This year things were/are so different thankfully. The parents were large and healthy, and again, five cubs were raised. They use are garden as a play run, because it is so full of plants, shrubs and trees to make them feel safe. Over time the parents disappeared, then most of the cubs (presumably because that's what they do), and we have had just the one beautiful cub left behind and visit for the last couple of weeks. It come onto the patio many times a day, and likes meat scraps, Bonio biscuits, and sausages. I was rewarded yesterday with him/her on one side of the patio window, eating our strawberries, while I was a few inches away on the other side, just staring intently. They are beautiful.

It's Saturday, and today will be spent firstly doing this, then a little breakfast and some good black coffee. Later some time at the end of the garden reading that book. This afternoon I must plant up the runner beans and tomatoes that have been sat where they were plonked a couple of weeks ago, and see what else needs doing in the garden.

Sunday, 7 June 2020


“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

It was back in 1995/1996 that both Amanda and me were involved in the re-landscaping of JRR Tolkiens last home near Branksome Chine. This extraordinary writer had sadly passed away some years previously, and his home, complete with 'blue plaque', was now owned by the last person to see it standing. To cut a story short, a developer bought the place, has since claimed that he had no idea that the address held any historical significance (blue plaque when he pulled it down, a little research (I am  'just' a gardener and new all this beforehand!) may just have been a giveaway! He then demolished it, built two new homes with no such history, and made lot's of money. This mindset is part of the reason why we became self employed 23 years ago

Tolkien spent his last days with his wife here, and staying at the Hotel Miramar on the East Cliff.. We were charged with not only hard landscaping the terraces at the back of the house, but also creating a 'river' out of plants to simulate the effect of the the River Bruinen. There was even a bridge over it, which, although not in the script, needed to be there.

I love the very simple quote above by Gandalf, and it couldn't be more emotive to us personally right now.

Sunday, 24 May 2020


Hope all of you are staying safe!

Our house is almost entirely covered in ivy. Parthenocissus tricuspidata to be exact. Mixed in with this is Hydrangea petiolaris. They are rampant at this time of year, and it all requires regular maintenance using a ladder to keep it from growing over the roof, or across our neighbours house.

Windows are also a problem, and these too have to be kept clear. The ivy in particular has a gorgeous green sheen to the leaves throughout the summer, followed by a deep redness in the autumn. In mid summer there are thousands upon thousands of fairly insignificant white flowers that attract hundreds upon hundreds of bees, which in turn create quite a mesmerising buzzing sound as they fly through the ivy collecting pollen.

The Hydrangea petiolaris continually throws out scores of woody growth outwards from the building, at the end of which are large, flat creamy white flower heads now. The leaves turn a bright yellow in the autumn. We were going to stop it from growing all the way round the back of the building, but have decided to just have a little underneath the bedroom window. It's amazing. To think that 22 years ago we purchased both of these, only about 2 feet high in their pots, and now they are like this.

Must remember to keep the back door clear!

Saturday, 2 May 2020

Life In Lockdown

Just enjoying our house and garden during this tricky time, and feel like sharing a little bit of it. 

Stay safe everyone.  💗

Sunday, 12 April 2020

A Day In The Life With Covid19

It's a very strange world we find ourselves in at the moment. As gardeners, we are allowed to carry on working, provided we take the necessary precautions. Already, we are being asked to supply updated risk assessments and method statements to take into account the current health risks. We work from two vans, Bex in one, and me and Amanda in the other. Both vehicles are wiped down daily, all tools are now completely separated between the two vehicles, and are also wiped down at the end of each day. 

Emails were sent to every customer and manager, stating that we were willing and able to continue working, provided EVERYONE kept the hell away from us, or we would immediately walk off site and not return until the threat was over. I have to say that everyone, and that is a total of nearly 4000 people, have stayed true to this, apart from one very elderly Spanish lady in a retirement complex. She just isn't understanding the current threat, and has to be told each time to back off. She is very isolated and lonely, and was in tears as she explained how lovely and helpful, and understanding we were when working in the garden. Normally I would just hug her, and reassure her, but my empathy had to be projected over the twelve feet between us. It was a difficult moment.

It's been a true blessing to be able to be outside in our gardens. Only a couple of very large contracts have been put on 'hold' by the agents. We are not sure why, but they do have there own reasons, and subsequent paperwork to fill. Bex had been signed off for two weeks due to her partner being sent home with a cough, all quite unrelated as it turned out, and she thankfully returned to the fold last week. It was a tough week work wise.

It's early spring, and warm, and things are growing. Nothing out of the ordinary, but with a man down previously, I was already tired out from the previous two weeks cover. There was however laughter. Normally each day is started with a coffee shop and plan for the day. Now, it's a 12 foot smile and chat on our pavement, Buddy has to do without stroking and nuzzling, and then we are off. 

Customers are being very supportive, and encouraging. Nothing but good wishes. One even recommended us to a new potential client whose gardeners are retiring, and we will make contact  tomorrow. The place looks exciting and very pleasant. We shall see.

As for our own garden, this bank holiday has afforded us a good opportunity to enjoy it. There has been sunbathing, reading, crafting and gardening. 

We even have some Echiums coming up big enough to flower! We initially purchased them fifteen years ago on a 'van tour' of Cornwall. They started well for the first couple of years, but since then we have only had a couple of new seedlings that were quickly destroyed by the wind, rain, cold and snow. We are having to stake the latest beauties, and one is already about to flower. Clouds and silver linings eh?

Be safe and healthy.