Sunday, 31 March 2019

Blooming Malta

There aren't really any gardens of note on Malta. There are a couple of grand houses with pleasantly designed outdoor spaces, but nothing that cannot wait for another visit. The island was once described to me as a 'sunny Portland' (in Dorset UK for any Americans out there). I see where the statement came from, but do feel it to be a little harsh.

The east coast of the island is very developed, and probably best avoided, but the west is wonderfully wild. It's a small island, that can take only a day to drive around, but the scenery can be breathtaking, with everything being covered in wild flowers.

Even early in the year plant life is colourful and lush, one just has to venture out and see with open eyes. Some of the roads though can be a little challenging as you can see.

However, not as challenging as driving to the airport during a cyclone!

Friday, 4 January 2019


Yesterday, Amanda announced to me that we were off to Coverack Cove for a few days, that we were leaving today, and that I must pack some things.

It's no secret in my family that I love glass in all it's forms, and I love beach combing for it in small pieces, and mud larking for it in larger and more industrial bits. I also magnet fish and metal detect, and have found all manner of interesting artefacts. 

I make things with what I find, and along with the glass I also find small pieces of pottery, and just recently came across a bronze port hole surround from a ship. 

So far, I have been playing with clear epoxy resin, and have made my own version of a coloured window.

The pieces of tile and porcelain I make into tiles, which I find are a nice way to display them. I wonder with each piece who bought them when they were a new teacup, plate or such like, and why did they end up broken on a beach, sometimes up to 150 years later?

Some of my latest pieces of glass, found near Hurst Castle and Poole Quay are going to cover a pair of glass light domes like this one. I may even put up a picture if it works well.

As for now, we have just returned from a sumptuous meal out, have returned to our hotel, and are going to hunt for sea glass in Coverack Cove and other such places tomorrow. It's my birthday in a few days, and my lovely wife has brought me here for two entire glorious days of self indulgence on the beach combing front, hopefully returning home with plenty of material to work with.

Friday, 28 December 2018


 Over the last couple of weeks there has been all of the usual preparations and festivities, and I've come to the keyboard on several occasions to post about our goings on, but there are several things that are playing on my mind in rather a big way, and one of them is the misuse of conservation and planning laws. 

It was recently reported that a developer in Swansea had 'accidentally' felled a 200 year old redwood tree, with a Tree Preservation Order on mistake.

On Linkedin, throughout the various professional horticultural circles that appear to join endless people, there has been widespread contempt throughout the country, from garden companies, designers, tree officers and surgeons. head gardeners, nursery owners. You name it, and there has been a professional with the opinion that the culprit mentioned above, along with the so called professional tree surgeon that must have carried the work, should face a seriously heavy penalty. A jail term perhaps? The local authority appear somewhat predictably to be dragging their heals on the 'appropriate action' front.

We live and work in an area of the south coast where developers are like ants on the ground, and in particular one of our work areas Sandbanks.

Earlier in my career, I was fortunate enough to live and work at Compton Acres Gardens in the days when it was a proper estate, with a beautiful old house at the centre, and a team of dedicated gardeners. Sadly, in it's latter years while I was still there a developer bought the estate, and started to destroy it with the building of vast houses, and two huge blocks of flats right where the beautiful house once stood. Some of the gardeners left, others were 'let go', so that the staff were reduced to an absolute minimum. I stuck it out for a few years, as I loved the gardens and the life that they had given me, but there came a point at which there was just no soul left in the place, and they became like a dull necklace wrapped around the various building within. Both myself and Amanda left in 1997. Other owners have come and gone since, all in the property development business somewhere, and each has built yet more around and into the gardens. While there I saw scores of old trees being cut down to make way for the houses.

In my gardening days, time and time again I have witnessed trees 'accidentally' felled by developers, and as the area holds a blanket conservation status, most had/have TPO's on them. There are of course penalties for such illegal acts, and fines can be at the discretion of those in power, but a fine of £10,000 to £50.000 makes absolutely no difference whatsoever to a developer who is making twenty or thirty times that on the property.

It makes my blood boil.

But it also makes me sad, for those beautiful trees that have taken so long to grow.

I could spout off about the whole issue of the environment and global warming now, but I would be here until the New Year. What I would like to see, at least in the short term, are developers showing a heck of a lot less greed, so that they might see the world through eyes that can actually see and understand the natural world around them better. Maybe make that house or block of flats, or housing estate a little smaller, so that most of the existing trees can remain.

It appears that the beautiful 200 year old redwood was also outside the fenced off area of the building site, and it has been reported that the developer was in the process of taking down yet more trees when the local authority 'asked' him to stop, pending an investigation.

If fines aren't enough, I have the solution.

Wednesday, 26 December 2018


I have been quiet, and wanted to post so many things. There are issues on my mind, but I am tired, and need some head space to share some very real, and frustrating horticultural/legal issues properly.

So that can wait until tomorrow.

For now I have to relax, eat some left over pork roast dinner, and then watch 'Out of Africa' again.

And yes, while watching this, sob like a girl again.

Bring it on!

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Wonky Hedges and The Courts Garden

To help keep the horticultural juices flowing, we regularly take an official work trip to a well known garden, and recently it was The Courts Garden on the menu. Being autumn, there wasn't much in the way of flower colour, but the leaf colours were stunning.

The house is still occupied, and so in this case entry not permitted, but the gardens were open to the public. Not a particularly large garden by any means, but it is packed with different points of interest throughout the various 'garden rooms'.

One of my own particular interests, and pleasures in actually trimming, are odd shaped, wobbly, abstract hedges and shrubs, and this was a place that didn't disappoint.

During my gardening career I have trimmed more hedges and shrubs than I care to remember, and of all shapes and sizes. Some hedges have taken moments to trim, others months. 

So, that was The Courts Garden, what's my favourite wobbly hedge so far?

Hmmmmmm.....Yep!, got to be this one at Montacute House.