Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Prep Time

March is fast approaching, and although the weather is still very dry and cold (can you believe that the powers that be have mentioned hosepipe February?), there is still plenty of stuff to be doing in the gardens in preparation for when things start to grow in a month or so. Before the practicals however, a little about the week so far.

The February schedule is still in force, and so the visits to the various gardens are still dropped quite dramatically. Generally, places are attended either fortnightly or weekly from March to October, and then mostly monthly from November to December, as there is less to do. As with all my competitors, a flat monthly rate is charged throughout the year, so that a guaranteed income can be worked on, and so winter really can be quite a nice time, although as I've found this year, not so good for the waistline through lack of physical activity. Still, that will HAVE to go within a few weeks as we have the ladies sponsored run to prepare for in June!

The diary up until then is filling up, and has to be planned out of necessity, as it is also the time of year for one-off random garden requests. Scattered throughout the scheduled maintenance visits are various planting schemes to do, private garden tidy-ups, hedge cutting (loads of that!) and nursery visits. We also need to plan our main fun life as well, something that really bugs me, as I have got used to spending most days on an add hock basis throughout the winter. However, needs must, and tomorrow evening we are off to a performance of Swan Lake by the Moscow City Ballet. There are also horse riding lessons to take up, Carlos Acosta performing in La Fille Mal Gardee in April at the Royal Opera House (brownie points for me from Amanda for this one as I worked three phones simultaneously as soon as the tickets became available, and got two of THE best seats!), a holiday in Istanbul in May, the Eden Project at the end of next month, a visit to a brewery/vineyard courtesy of the eldest daughter, and no doubt a few visits to some NT properties thrown in for good measure. Not a cheap few months, and so we had better start to get our hands dirty! And so, time to shove the fingers into the soil so to speak, and share a bit about what has happened this week, what is happening today, and what will be going on tomorrow and Friday.

 You might remember back in this post that we showed the first half of a planting scheme. The job was quite expensive, and so the residents had asked if we could complete half of it at that point, and discuss the other half at a later date. Well, the good news is that on our last visit we were told that the final part could go ahead, and depending on some unavoidable circumstances will either happen this spring, or in the autumn, as watering through the summer can be a major problem in the area.

I always love this garden on a sunny day, especially at this time of year.
The Sarcococca confusa, although not a treat to look at, has an incredibly strong and sweet scent, seconded only by the Daphne, and the back garden was delicately perfumed by the few that were here.

As with most of our places, nobody minds if we just take a few minutes to wander or sit, and just enjoy the results of our labour. The picture below was taken near the Sarcococca, and in the distance are the apple trees to be pruned on Friday, surrounded by the conifer hedge to be trimmed in April, only the top mind, as the sides were done at the end of last year.

Although most of the thirty or so properties are just as big, not all are as grand. This one in Christchurch only has a basic 'keep roughly tidy' approach throughout the winter months, and then a let's get it all going' one now. Everything in the borders needed trimming or pruning to bring them into some sort of tidy state, and the borders needed turning over to freshen them up, and so we made a start. First off, this sweet bay needed a trim.

And while I was on that, Amanda had made a start on the pruning, just around the corner.

Pretty much everything needed something doing. Hydrangeas to prune down if needed, or just dead-headed, Fuschias had to be pruned down, Hypericum reduced, Cornus and roses pruned etc, plenty to do.

And so, after a couple of hours, the first of the three garden section had been done, and we moved onto the second. The allotted time had already been spent, but it was a nice day, we were enjoying it, and so decided to spend some more time doing what we enjoy. Only a start was made at one end, with Hydrangeas, Fuschias and a Pyracantha being worked on, and last but by no means least, this annoying Clematis that was growing though a very large and thorny rose. Why do people insist on planting the two together?


I'm writng this whole post on a day off, and there is more to tell. We went to the nursery yeaterday to pick up twenty five hanging baskets for the nursing home garden. On arriving and looking around it became quite evident that whilst there must have been hundreds of the blighters, there were not twenty five the same. What to do? Well, panic over, we decided to load up the trailer with primroses and make them ourselves. They were duly brought back and dumped on the patio overnight, and in a short while we are off firstly to the nursing home to pick up the baskets that are already there, but not looking fresh, then over to Fordingbridge to get more plants from the nursery, and then back home to treat the baskets and plant them up....I shall continue this post later!.............

 We are back!..........We headed out to Fordingbridge, about a forty minute drive, and decided to have a coffee at The Old Beams at Ibsley first. A lovely warm, open fire was enjoyed, whilst reclining in sumptuous comfy chairs. The weather outside was dull, cold, windy, and now raining hard.....not exactly inspiring us to head out and get the bedding plants, but we have to pay for that coffee somehow, and so dragged our sorry backsides out into the cold, and drove the remaining short distance to the nursery.

 We needed 700 Primroses for hanging baskets and a couple of bedding schemes, and so grabbed a dozen trollies and started to load up. It was quite good fun working our way through the stock, watching the other customers get disgruntled, as we picked the best stock out quickly, with trained eyes.

Finally, they were all on board the trailer and inside the van, along with some rather nice conical shaped wicker baskets for ourselves, and some pots of daffs, muscari, and hyacinths.

 It was then over to the nursing home to collect the old hanging baskets, then to our allotment to empty the said baskets into the new compost bins, and finally back home, where the primroses will take up residence for a few days, until they are dealt with. Still, the patio, although now disgustingly garish, is a bit brighter!
Tomorrow, it's over to a nursery in Wimborne for some shrubs really early in the morning, then looking after the grand daughter while elder daughter goes to the doctors, then the afternoon spent creating a new border at one of the gardens, with the shrubs bought earlier....let's hope for some nice weather.

Now, well it's time for the lounge, our fireplace, a warm blanket, some hot sweet tea, the cats........oh crikey, am I getting old?

Thanks for visiting...have a good one!


  1. Gary,
    Reading about the fullness of your diary has left me slightly dizzy headed and weak kneed as well as a little giddy and also very much jealous, lol.

    As for the shown gardens, they are strikingly beautiful for this time of year, which can only be, accredited to your skill and knowledge, again a little jealousy here, lol. And though you find you patio a bit “garish” at present it makes for a wonderful photography and is just shy of breath taken in its beauty. Then again, I am not the one that has to carefully tip toe around the plants but I can still admire it for both the beauty and the work it represents both now and forthcoming.

    After this read I too shall repose by the fire and think of my own rose, hydrangea, and hibiscus pruning that I need to be onto shortly. Have a good remainder of the week. – gary

  2. Hi Gary,
    Thanks for all of your kind and generous words. I must admit that the bedding plants in their present position had our cat Hobie stumped. He usually jumps onto the oven to get over the fence, but he looked baffled and turned around.

  3. You certainly work on some lovely gardens. They look so good because of your efforts. So many fun plans in your future. Love the punch of color on your patio right now.

  4. Breathless and bone-tired just READING about your day's work! Jealous though of the beauty you create and in which you labor.

    Too early for color here...but, MY! You've given me the garden bug for sure!

  5. Alright , No. 1 , you don't need to lose any weight, not a pound. No. 2-you and Amanda are exhausting to watch, No. 3-I am also very envious of your exciting plans( always romantic) for the future months, no. 4-take care ! Gina P.S.wait ! get rid of the word verification for this comment section, drives us all bonkers on blogs

  6. I agree about the Sarcoccoca, there is some a few blocks from where I work and I've walked past it every day for over a year, never noticing it...but it's blooming now...and NOW I notice it :-)

  7. I love hearing about your work Gary but it does make me feel tired just to read about the size of the gardens and the quantity of plants that you deal with daily. I sure would need hot tea, blankets and my cats after one of your days! As it is, now I just tell my gardener what to do while I sit and watch! :-) I even let him prune the roses this year.