Saturday, 4 March 2017

Road Trip

Well she is serviced and tuned, and ready for our long awaited road trip in June. France here we come!

Friday, 24 February 2017

Project 1

A nice, slow, and interesting start to the new gardening year. There have been a couple of projects to get under way, the first of which is this place. 

We have worked for several members of this family, at various locations, since we first ever started Four Seasons twenty years ago. The garden to this house was never really thought out properly when the place was built. The house itself is really quite beautiful, and set in a vast garden, mostly of which is to the rear, and 90% of which is itself sloping woodland. That area is getting some attention in the next four to five years, but for now we have upgraded the smaller front garden.

The main issue was with the original planting carried out by the builders during construction of the property, which given the ground and location were totally inappropriate. There is a surrounding wall, which, because of it's size meant that the concrete footings extended out into the garden about two and a half feet. Planted along this were Cupressus sempervirens, which in themselves are really quite stunning trees, that offer a formality that the whole site requires. One problem, and perhaps the main one is that they don't have a very large and strong root system, and so, what with the concrete being in the way only six inches under the surface of the soil, they grew, but were never going to be very secure in their new surroundings. Sure enough, last winter there were strong winds, and the already wobbly trees could take it no more and leaned all over the place.

Another issue we faced was the large trampoline needed by the family for their young children. It needed to remain, but we felt that it didn't need to dominate the garden such as it did.

A proposal was put forward, it was accepted, and last month we set about the work. The right hand border was lined with disused railway sleepers, and first we rearranged these to create a much larger border to the end of the garden. To prevent them from moving, we had to drive steel bars through them and into the ground.

Next, the corner area was built up, and the trampoline secured and levelled.

Any grass was sprayed off to prevent further growth......

....and then the soil and bark mulch were delivered, all fourteen tons of it. Rebecca handled the placing of it, while myself and Amanda discussed any complications that may occur during the day.

Everybody grabbed a spade, and soon enough the soil was in place to build up the new border.

We had taken out every single plant beforehand, and saved a selection of the existing shrubs according to their size and interest. Due to the fact that the house itself has a slightly oriental look to it because of it's shape and roof, we wanted to maintain the formality along the long white wall, and provide something that in appearance offered the same shape as the cupressus, had some colour throughout the year, but more importantly grew more securely.

We chose Prunus 'Amanogawa', a fastigiate Japanese flowering cherry tree that offers up fragrant flowers in the spring, and richly coloured leaves in the autumn. The root system is also more appropriate to where they are being planted, and given that they will be leafless during the wildest times of the year, should hold up better to any winds than their predecessors.

Under planted with a low hedge of Euonymus japonicus 'Aureo Marginata', the plan is for the formal line to lead the eye to the much less formal border at the end, which will in itself provide an array of colour and shapes throughout the year.

A timber edged path was created for access to the trampoline, which will be hidden by the use of some existing large shrubs that we transplanted, and will allow to grow even bigger.

It needs about three years to establish properly, but it should work.

Sunday, 25 September 2016


Our beautiful, handsome feline geezer cat is silvering with age. The George Clooney of the cat world. He's nearly 20 years old, and still sprightly enough to be waiting for me to exit the bedroom at 6am, and lead me (all be it a little more carefully now) down the stairs for his breakfast. Absolutely my first job of the day, and the most important. He still howls loudly and often, since his sister passed away 18 months ago, and is spending more time sleeping. He has only been to the vet on a handful of occasions for a check up. He's THE best, and rather needy.......thank he is a key member of our household.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Traditional English Fayre

I wasn't going to get her back on the road because of the risk of a bleed out should I happen to crash, but I was fed up with the concessions already restricting my life now, and so got her serviced and MOT'd. The beast is back, and it was wonderful to spend a solitary morning speeding along on all of her 1200cc power. Like a horse to it's owner, she hadn't forgotten me, and riding her again came smoothly and naturally. I went over to the Purbeck Hills, past Wareham, through Creech, and eventually through the hills that follow the army live firing ranges around Lulworth. It felt good.

That was a couple of weeks ago, and oddly enough we found ourselves back at Creech today, and more specifically Creech Grange, the old manor house of the area. They were having a traditionally English fayre in the grounds. Tombola, raffles, vintage Morgan sports cars, donkey rides, cream teas and Pimms were just a few of the distractions on offer.

Of course we started off with a glass of Pimms before wandering around.

People were invited to guess where Ted had been for his holiday, and the winner would receive a prize. My number was on Alaska, and Amanda's was on Thailand.

In a raffle we unexpectedly won a rather nice bottle of red wine, and so carried off our spoils to the garden and lake for a rest, and to finish off our Pimms.

It was all very nice and 'English', and the estate owners allowed everyone to wander and explore their delightful grounds.

We also met a couple who live in this beautifully restored vintage caravan, hidden within the woods. It transpired that they divide their time between here and London, preferring the simplicity of a small space, wood stove, and only Radio 4 and books. Transport was provided by the pale blue vintage Ford Mustang. Rather a cool couple, and I felt quite jealous of their lifestyle. 

Work is still full on, but will quieten down after October/November,

We have however managed to take the big step of employing somebody full time. They start in October, and I shall make a proper introduction on here then.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Whitesands Bay

It's been a struggle, I can't deny that, but the body does what it does, and we have to cope the best we can. Energy and motivation are quite low still, and so we took ourselves off for a week with the family to a place of retreat that as a couple we go to now and again. Celia, Claire, Dom, Joshua, Ella, Bex and Matt, and us two made for an interesting mix, as we have never all been together for more than just a few hours at a time, but it all went rather well.

We travelled in three vehicles as a convoy to St. David's in Pembrokeshire, and prepared to set up our tents for the week. As a first for me, we forgot the tent poles, but hastily turned the van into our home complete with fairy lights and heater. 

We had all come to this place with our various issues and tensions, but over the first couple of day's it was good to see people slowly 'switch off' and find their own head space.

We took them to one particular place that is close to both of our hearts, a headland that faces Ramsey Island, and here we talked, ate and rested. 

Matt has made this movie of it.