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.

Sunday, 9 February 2020


I was going to do a post about the latest plant passport issues, legislation, and as a result 'pain in the arse time consuming paperwork crap' that comes with them as a garden company in 'the chain'. Instead, I thought I would just share 'A Day In The Life' at RHS Wisley.

We have always wanted to pay a visit. It's one of the most important gardens in the world, technically speaking, but also is really quite beautiful and intriguing in it's own right. The winter garden display in Seven Acres, although was made up of stuff we know about, had a few new varieties that we made note of, and also stopped us in our tracks with the overall planning and design. Marvellous!

It is still technically winter, and a lot of the specific garden areas were still laid bare until later in the year, but there was still plenty to see. The Glasshouse. Everything you would expect from a world class horticultural organisation, but with an extra twist on our visit.

The 'Giant Houseplant Takeover', a temporary display (such a shame). It features what all of the rooms of a house might look like if simply left and unchecked for a while, with a little artistic licence thrown in. 

The Glasshouse, for me, was filled with myriad innovative ideas. Dozens of terrariums suspended from the roof, stiletto heeled shoes planted with Sedums. A shower head with plants representing water flowing down, as others in the bath gave the appearance of water splashing up. so much. The was also a floor to ceiling spiral of Tillandsia. How easy could that be on even a small scale, and how wonderful and inspiring on such a large scale such as this?

There was so much, but one that particularly caught our eye was the display of Echeveria pictures. Again, such an easy and simple way to show these underestimated plants, and very easy to replicate, but as with all of this particular display, there needs to be the imagination and foresight to start with! One of these types of pictures will soon be on our wall.

Above is a pictue of the garden at Wisley that shows how many other plants other than Buxus can be used to a similar effect. I do have serious doubts about the Taxus baccata and Lonicera nitida used for obvious reasons. Even so, it was very uplifting to not only see that the recent epidemic of Buxus pests is not just being recognised, and ways to it's eradication being sought, but that the promotion of alternatives were being shown to the public.
 Box Tree Caterpiller and Box Blight have been a particular Buxus pest in the horticultural industry over the last five years or so, resulting in some cases of the loss of many, huge and historical parterres.Alternative Buxus with some resistance are being trialled at the moment, but it will take time to eradicate these two particularly veracious pests. Alongside trying to find a solution/cure to the immediate problem, the industry is looking at suitable alternatives to the Buxus as a small and tight 'edging' shrub. Indeed, we have recently been asked to create a border with small hardy fuchsia as the main centre planting, with a Magnolia as the focal point, with a Buxus edging. We have chosen Ilex crenata, and will keep you posted. 

The grass.....shit....pretty ******* good.....enough said on that matter! Want an argument, just message!"

It was a trying and laborious day. I have come to the conclusion that children over five today (grand kids excepted of course) are born without parents. They are tyrannical, without manners, care for nothing, and show no mercy. I suggest a pit, very deep, very cold, and endless. I needed some R&R after THAT particular ordeal. Found it at our overnight stay!

Friday, 27 December 2019

Turkish Delight and Tulips

Turkish Delight and Tulips. Don't they just attack the senses. The former visually, but mainly by smell and taste, the latter by their visual 'stampede', whether as just a single bloom, or en masse.

It's no secret within this family that I adore Turkish delight, sometimes with pistachio, but absolutely ALWAYS rose and lemon. It must be soft but not runny or too firm, slightly elastic, sweet, and exquisitely perfumed. I can eat this delicious sweetmeat within moments of acquiring it. Needless to say that I am never short at Christmas or shortly afterwards on my birthday.

Tulips on the other hand, are not exactly a favourite flower of mine, although like most plants that I dislike, they do have a place whether I like it or not. In their thousands they are just a block of colour, but there is no doubting the beauty and perfection in an individual bloom. In a few months they shall be rearing their gaudy little heads once more.

Originally from Kazakhstan, the Turkish sultans soon took a very strong liking to these flowers that were being shown to them from their traders coming from the far east.

They became more valuable than gold, and were soon used to display wealth and power to visiting nobles and dignitaries. In the palaces throughout Turkey, and most importantly Topkapi, they were used in their hundreds, an extravagance in terms of money that only Sultans could even dream of. In later years, when the Dutch started to get their hands on them, a single bulbs could be worth more than an entire house! To expand the visual effect in the sultans palaces, mirrors and candlelight were used, something that we ourselves use sometimes today.

A while ago we stayed in the old part of Istanbul, a stones throw from Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque, and a short walk from the magnificent Suleymaniye Mosque. The people, and their faith were extraordinary. I was very fortunate to be offered a chance to help the gardeners clear flower beds of existing plants, including tulips, and plant back up with summer bedding such as the begonias in the picture. I felt very lucky indeed as an outsider, clearly wearing a Christian symbol of faith, to be included in such a task in the present political climate. Everyone was so gracious.

My favourite? (yeah, I do like some individuals, nobody is perfect!)'s got to be 'West Point'

Now.....where the heck is my Turkish Delight??????