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.

Saturday, 6 October 2018

Where did the summer go?

One lazy day on Shell Bay in summer

Where DID the summer go?

Normally at this point in the year, we are remembering the long hot slog at work during the months of heat, rain, logistical problems and difficult people. It seems to have just come and gone without a trace this time, and many others in the industry have been feeling the same.

Once again Autumn is upon us. Every year I provide a laugh to Amanda and Rebecca by stating that the leaves on the trees are dropping early, and that all of the heavy leaf clearing, an enormous task that can go on for two months or more, will in fact be over well before Christmas. This year they have conceded and agree with me.

The long dry summer has caused havoc in the plant world. Root systems of even the biggest plants have been damaged through lack of water, and leaves everywhere are indeed coming down in droves already.

A cliff top garden in Highcliffe during summer

In what brief respites we manage to get, there has been some river kayaking, where it's been quite cold, but fun to explore some local rivers a little more intimately (Thanks Mike for the tip about Iford!)

I have been able to finally start making things from the sea glass and tiles found throughout the years beach combing. 

Long, windy walks along the sea front and beaches, with tea and coffee.

And the occasional light lunch during antique wine glass hunting in Southbourne and Boscombe.

We have a couple of very powerful knapsack blowers, and a couple of smaller blowers at the we come! 

Monday, 9 July 2018

Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2018

So, here we were, on the very first day of the show.

It's an exciting time in the gardening world. We prefer Hampton Court to Chelsea, as the latter is, to put it plainly, a little 'Knobby'

We had battled an M3 jam, but arrived in East Molesey in perfect time to have a coffee, before getting the boat that would take us to this years show. It was the first for Rebecca, and we hoped that it would inspire her, and not come across as just a 'trade show' or such like.

The emphasis this year was distinctly more on the retail outlets, of which there were many, but very unique and enticing. Although there were some 40 garden designs on display, most were fairly small, and consisted of very predictable 'fluffy' summer planting. It would seem that garden designers have ceased to take any real innovative chances.

One exhibit that caught my eye consisted of a rusty metal box, that when entered, shocked with an interior of mirrored walls, and a path that was flanked by flower meadows (all be it on a small scale). Not something that one would want to have in their own garden to come home to and relax with a beer at the end of a hard days work, but a unique idea.

We held back on the spending, as we wanted to see just what was on offer. An idea to replicate these ribbons in our Acacia trees was agreed upon.

One garden design, 'Brilliance in Bloom', designed by Charlie Bloom, was a little busy for our taste, but like most designs, had aspects that we liked. The mosaic in the floor was good, and the water feature was something that we have to have. We have been looking for a water feature like this, that we can both agree upon. Amanda prefers more contemporary designs, and I like things more along the lions head spewing water, or a tiered rock effect. This satisfied both of us, and we have since been in touch with Charlie Bloom and are going to try and get one.

The three of us scrutinised each design as we came upon them. Rebecca didn't like the bold yellow backdrop of this one. I did, and all made for some interesting discussion.

The detail in these rusty panels was beautiful (it would appear that I have a 2018 'Rust Thing' going on. If you can magnify the image, you may hopefully appreciate the detail even more.

Rotating pods, what can I say. Amanda and Rebecca like them, I could be persuaded, but not for £9000.00

Lunch was a simple affair. Sandwiches, crisps, and a bottle of Moet, taken by the cooling fountains on the lake.

This sculptors work was a little unsettling, but pulled us in nonetheless. I particularly liked this one, but couldn't face him in my garden of a morning.

It was a hot day, 30 degrees, and people wandered about slowly. No rushing. 

My own personal favourite garden design was by Rosemary Goldsmith. 'Best Of Both Worlds' was a design that could actually be adapted to any garden. It's described as being split into two halves, for two very different people. Jack and Sam, but I saw it as a very well proportioned quadrant, with each section offering something specifically different depending on ones mood. A low seating area around a table with a fire installation in the middle, for cool days with friends. Another area that had a cold pool surrounded by slabs, where one could relax on a hot day, with a book, thoughts, or in pleasant company.  A third area, with a simple table and a couple of chairs, for morning coffee, and/or a glass of wine at the end of the day. The fourth and final section had a simple pot water feature, that brought a gentle and peaceful sound to everything. Stand by it, stare at it, and think, if ones mind can allow.

The hands were very nicely made, and very tactile, but not sure what I would do with them. I did like them. Maybe in a border somewhere?

This glass panel designer is always here, and we always make a beeline to see what's the latest on offer. Seriously good work, seriously good prices, but one day we will have a shower screen made like this!

My overall verdict on the garden designs on display?  Lacking, safe, and sometimes concentrating far more on a 'message', than on what it is to be a garden that someone could enjoy in it's own right, and for themselves.

We didn't enter the vast area where plants were for sale. I think Amanda took pity on me, and decided that time was too short. We did however settle on this huge Buddha. Beautiful colouring, we had been after one, and picked it up for a snip. It was heavy, but that's the price of love. Further love was called upon for all of the ridicule I took when boarding the boat, and the bus to the park and ride. But it was worth it.

The girls toasted it with a couple of cocktails before we left. Appropriate? Don't care. It's a stone head.

And he looks rather good at the end of our garden!

Monday, 11 June 2018


Friday evening is when we are invited into the home of our Pilates instructor. We planned it for the end of the week, so that any lumps, bumps and aches can be pin pointed and sorted. May/June in general are when everything starts to grow, and we have to seriously shift up a gear. 

It's also a time when the plant world is at it's most beautiful. We get to work in some of the most wonderful garden spaces in the area, and spend lunch breaks along some of the most stunning coastline in the UK.

Our clients afford us the freedom to pretty much do as we please in their gardens, and in return, we have hopefully crested some places for them to find a similar kind of peace.

Next week we take a 'works' trip to Mottisfont, to see their rose collection. Amanda and I have seen it before, but Rebecca has yet to take in a truly magnificent and historic rose collection. 

The following month is the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, where new designs will be scrutinised, business contacts made, plants purchased, and champagne quaffed.

Life ain't so bad. The body is being worked on.......the mind, well, gardens kind of take care of that.

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Several Zed's

Last week was a good week, filled with sunshine, beautiful places to work, sea breezes at lunchtime.
I was going to blog about that, but it will have to wait until tomorrow, as this weekend has also been good.

Apart from an excursion into Christchurch for some lunch on Saturday, our time has been spent........yes, gardening. This time in our own garden. We have bought new plants, some rare and exotic, and have tidied thing's in our own space up a bit. It's now 3pm on Sunday, and after a lunch at the end of the garden of various Italian meats, olives, breads and oils, I am indulging in a glass or two of one of my favourite Sicilian wines whilst continuing to read my latest book. I feel a nap coming on shortly!