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??????

Sunday, 1 December 2019

"The Poorly Guarded Girl"

I was once fortunate enough to see these two astounding dancers perform at the ROH. Carlos Acosta and Marianela Nunez performing the lead parts in La Fille mal gardee.

It gave me goosebumps all the way through, and there was nothing but good feelings in me from start to finish. They were exquisite.

For the most part, gardening affords me similar feelings when the chance occurs.

At this time of year. October, November, and part of December, hit like a steam train. Leaf clearing, planting schemes, nursery visits, client demands, lawn treatments....all on top of end of year trimming, path moss treatments, pruning...and...and...and....

Everyone wants things done by Christmas for some strange reason. I'm not sure why, because everything will still be there in 2020. The gardens will be doing what they do, and expecting us gardeners to become part of them once more.

As gardeners, we shall rest for a while, just as our gardens do, despite their owners demands. We shall return in the New Year, and dance our dance, just as Carlos and Marienela do.

I am tired and waiting for some rest. Our gardens are shutting down. Tree and shrubs going dormant for their winter sleep. We are planting new schemes madly, ready to see the results blossom in the spring, when we as gardeners can once again put on our dancing shoes and join in the plant madness for another year.

Sunday, 13 October 2019

A Little Respite

It's been a couple of weeks since we went away. The journey there wasn't easy to say the least. In theory, we would stay in a London hotel for the night, before catching an early flight with British Airways, dropping us in Florence at around 11am, where a hire car was waiting, and then a comfortable arrival at our castle for lunch.

Stuff rarely goes as planned, and we adjust our thoughts accordingly. However, while sipping a coffee mid flight on our way, the captain informed us that we must turn around and land back at London City Airport. It was supposed to be a quick fix, we re-board, and then head back on our way a couple of hours late. That didn't happen, as a flight attendant refused to work over his shift time, and so the flight was cancelled, and the entire group of passengers had to somehow re-schedule.

To cut a long story short, we moaned, we complained, and eventually the airline put us in a private car to Heathrow, a one and a half hour drive away at that point, and just in time for a connecting flight to Pisa. We arrived, only to find that one piece of luggage had been mislaid, along with other passengers luggage it appeared. We thought 'ok', inconvenient, but went to re-arrange our hire car, only to find that they had no more cars available, except for a huge people carrier at a price that made even me, lets just say 'exclaim'.

We discovered at this point, early evening by now, that the missing baggage was arriving on the next flight in. Texts to apologise and help had never told us this, and we found out by badgering and talking to another passenger from our flight, but they arrived and we were intact at least. The other car hire company, now 9pm, hire us a car at five times the price of the original, but fuel was included, and insurance covered everything, and I mean everything, and so we were sorted. I must add that we were at Pisa airport for about six hours, and due to Amanda's current health problem, had spent a lot of it in the car park feeling pretty desperate and hopeless, and almost gave up and returned home, if indeed we could.

It was a very tired me who drove to our destination that night. Events meant that it was much further than planned, and all we had to go on was to look for a pair of rusty gates on the road in the middle of nowhere. Tricky in the day, more tricky when it's dark and we are over tired. It was a fractious drive. Italian motorists not giving any leeway as usual, me over-compensating in unlit mountain roads, and Amanda shouting at me when her life was quite frankly in danger........but we got there.

The owners had left a light on in our place, a bottle of their own wine on the table, and two glasses with a note telling us to drink the wine with indulgence. It was 11.30pm now, and we just hugged each other....really, and nearly cried.....really. It has been a tough year in all sorts of ways. We stood outside with our glasses of wine and looked at this view of Florence as we drank with indulgence. It felt like home. Then we slept for a long time.

We had planned to do a few things on our first whole day, but because of the travelling stuff and health things the day before, we enforced a day of rest.

The village was at the end of the drive, and we introduced ourselves to the locals, bought all manner of things to see us through for the day, had a coffee and chatted with a German couple about Harley Davidson and Triumph motorcycles, politics, Brexit, luxury hotels, work and you do. Strangely one of those special moments in life. We returned and spent the entire day in garden chairs, eating good food, drinking good wine, reading, sleeping, and looking out on the view.

The 'castle and it's history are extraordinary. It has been the the same family for generations, and now the current member of the family Majla, along with her husband Marco, let out a couple of areas within it. 

We made friends with four cats, and 'Emma', a very old Jack Russel. She was on a special diet for her heart, and I only found out after sharing a couple of lunches with her......sorry Majla! Emma was beautiful.

We have been to Florence before, but had to return, and will do again next year. It's an extraordinary city. I could post so many things that are experienced there, but let's just say that on this occasion we slowed down, walked the streets endlessly, enjoyed the smells, people, food, graffiti, history, flowers.

And daily cocktails at our 'local' at the Piazza della Signoria, as we people watched and giggled at the various 'selfies' being taken.

Can't wait to go back yet again

Thursday, 12 September 2019

24 Hours

Friday 13th

Final emails to customers

Go to Eco Composting to dump the weeks garden rubbish

Gardening at three special places until midday

Return home to pack suitcases

Train to Waterloo

Taxi to airport

Fly to Florence

Planes, Trains and Automobiles