Monday 4 December 2023

Why?????


It was during a recent trip around the wholesale nurseries that we wanted breakfast. It's no secret in the family that I'm a bit OCD when it comes to breakfast out. A full English with black pudding AND fried bread is a must to be included. No pine tables and chairs. Basically, the more 'old world' the establishment the better. Also, not tea, but Coca Cola.....WITH NO ICE!

On our travels we popped into a retail nursery, which although never offer plants in the quantities we need, do very often have a cafe attached. This one was at Parley, just down from our destination Plants For Trade.


We browsed the retail section to see what was being promoted now.

ASTRO TURF BL***Y CAMELS!!!!

At a cost of several thousand pounds!

A garden must. Please do add one to your garden. We need more plastic in the world.

Don't get me wrong. I love and promote the use of new and innovative garden features, But plastic sheep, and now full size plastic camels?? In Astro Turf??

Hang on while I breathe, take a sip of tea, and practise the techniques I have been advised on to focus.

Back again, feeling more zen like. A new quote this morning at 9am. It's a biggie. Not confident, because, as usual in this area, they have had the same one guy for 40 years. Their budget will almost certainly be a quarter of the current rate, Still, never say never.

Therapist at 2pm.





 

Thursday 16 November 2023

Where Did That One Go?

 Where did 2024 go? It seems to have flown by. For us, Four Seasons has flourished, with lot's of new and exciting projects coming forward. We are actually being sought after across the board. Very exciting!

Both me and Amanda should be comfortably retired now, sipping cocktails with umbrellas and chunks of pineapple and cherries in them by the poolside. But although that would be very nice, we love a challenge, and aren't ready to clean the uPVC windows and mow the lawn on a Sunday just yet.

We've taken on about ten more projects, some good, some...hummm....ok, but all moving in the right direction. Two days ago we revisited a garden that we originally landscaped, and has gone through multiple owners who rented, and therefore didn't want/couldn't afford a gardener to maintain. This is a VERY high end property, in the most expensive property area on the south coast, and the garden is on multiple levels. It is really quite stunning when properly maintained. We start on Friday, as the new owners want to be there for quite some time, and actually recognise the value of a garden space.

The gardens now have white marble flooring throughout, a sunken swimming pool on a huge raised area reaching out into the woodland, a sauna in the garden, and the once neglected lower slopes of Rhododendron ponticum have been opened up a little to create a maze of adventure for the kids.

The house is stunning, and we are looking forward to once again caring for the gardens. It's funny how life goes around and comes around eh?

Other projects include high end apartment blocks. Neglected by previous garden companies, and now brought up to speed by our team. Very, very exciting. The latest abandoned at the last minute without notice, and having been left with the grass fed very heavily for the next gardeners....us. No problem. This is a huge place, and all of us are looking forward to the new year when we can actually do more than clear months of leaves and rubbish that have built up. None of it helped by this windy and wet wet weather that appears to have taken over.

In the meantime, yep, trying to get some time out. Went to Salisbury for the weekend to see the church lit up inside and out, and our first visit to Old Sarum. A good weekend.

AND Abbotsbury.....and......and.......

and pumpkin soup!



Saturday 1 July 2023

Hidden Gems

We recently returned from taking the camper and Travel Ted around The Lizard and St.Mawes area.

So, so many little coves, and general beauty. We love Cornwall, as it's always so peaceful.


We stay in car parks mostly. Where possible in a beautiful spot, with a view. This was an impromptu stop at Pendennis Castle near Falmouth. Panoramic views of the estuary, coffee and croissants while watching a pod of dolphins just offshore. An excited young fisherman came running up to us and a couple 'overnighting' next to us. 'Sorry guys, have to tell you to come and see the dolphins'. It was another of those magical moments when complete strangers share something special.

The other couple sold everything they owned, bought the long wheel base/high top version of our van, installed shower etc etc, and have been on the road for six months so far. It's a good life.


Our travels took us to Lamorran Gardens. We've been trying to see them for ages, and have spent many a night sleeping next to St.Mawes Castle to do so. They open occasionally, and at this time they open for three days a week. One of the days when we where there! They are extraordinary. 


Upon entering, we met the gardener Jake. A lovely guy, obviously very smart and knowledgeable. The gardens are set on a very steep incline down towards the town of St. Mawes. Paths zigzag, steps descend, but none of it was as daunting as it first appears. A very clever design. One gets to see every part of this beautiful place without breaking a sweat. 



At every turn something wonderful to see. Generally I would say an Italian theme (the reason for the Egyptian bust becomes apparent, I think, when one reads a little of the gardens history).


We spent a glorious couple of hours just strolling, and having cold drinks and cake at The Terrazza. Sparkling water for Amanda, ginger beer for me, and we shared a delicious homemade lemon drizzle cake.


An old favourite that we like to revisit when in the area is the church at St. Just-in-Roseland. At the bottom of a hill, and surrounded by the river, whilst set in lovely gardens, it has such a sense of peace about it. We always make time to pray and give thanks when there.
A tree with personal prayers was there this year. I added my own very specific one.


Always in need of a cuppa at every opportunity, the kettle goes on at a moments notice.

We were hungry one lunchtime, and because of the heat couldn't be bothered to cook or prepare, so we went to a little ventre in a field above Kynance Cove. Ellies Soul Kitchen


A small caravan, but boy does she offer a fantastic choice of really good, healthy and homemade fresh food. There are plants for sale as well! Always a win win for us. If you are in the area please do go, you won't be disappointed.



Usually when back at the van and settling at the end of the day, we read, drink tea, or in my case pursue the very manly hobby of fower pressing. I have made my own, rather industrial press. Very effective indeed.


A blistering day.


Kynance Cove early one morning. There was nobody else around, and we enjoyed a lovely morning swim in the crystal clear water. It was going to be really hot, and getting clean and refreshed set us up for the day. Living in a small van for a week or more poses many challenges, and keeping clean has been sorted.


Every morning a kettle is boiled, and with shampoo, a bowl and towel. I wash Amandas hair. The left over soapy water can be used to wash our bodies. Needless to say we've got used to keeping our 'bits' hidden from inquisitive eyes!


Another night saw us staying in the car park at Gunwalloe. Virtually on the beach is Winwaloe Church. Small, wonderful, peaceful. It was a good night.


There were dozens of coves and beauty spots, and just a handful mentioned. Our time on the road is always an adventure.

This coming week Bex and Matt take our little van on their own adventure to St. Davids in Pembrokeshire. Gonna miss her (the van). A week of machinery and our own little collection of gardens to tend in the meantime.


Have a wonderful and special week.




Sunday 28 May 2023

Projects


We are bringing the garden a bit more to life this year. Previously it's just been a case of keeping it as tidy as we can, but now it's time to breathe some new life into it. Starting with bringing in all of the lamps we have built up over the years, and giving them a fresh coat of gold paint in some cases, and in others a complete clean and glass colour touch up. I think we have about thirty now, mostly because we just hate to wastefully throw stuff out and replace with new.


On a recent trip to the Yorkshire coast, we came across a vintage emporium in the middle of nowhere and was totally unexpected. It was a series of large sheds alongside the owners rather lovely house, and full to the brim with goodies. We came away with the stained glass window on the left, and the glass washboard in the middle. Both are in the process of cleaning and treating, and then candle holders installed behind. Then they shall be placed in amongst the planting in the garden to add interest both in the daytime and at night.
The large mirror we bought for a pittance at a car boot sale nearby today. Called 'Strawberry Field', it's a lovely place to wander around, and not full of hoards of travellers and eastern Europeans aggressively going about their business as at the other car boot sales. The journey to ours took us on a long and rather lovely drive through the New Forest, where afterwards we stopped for a cup of tea and a nap at a hill top viewpoint before returning home. 
The mirror? It's going to be mounted on the outside of the garden shed to reflect some of the garden back as one returns to the house.


Our quiet end of the garden has for many years been hidden from the house by a reed screen. Over time it had become somewhat sad and started to fall apart. We made the decision to remove it, and construct a much more sturdy and long lasting screen out of timber, in a much more formal style. We think it works nicely, and highlights the water feature and planting.


Other tasks have been to clean up, treat and re-paint two metal garden chairs. It was a long and laborious job, but will keep them going for some years to come. Also, Amanda had been promised free rein for many years to plant up rather a lot of our pots with herbaceous perennials of her choice completely, and as the years have gone by it hasn't happened. This year she has finally made a start, with various Hollyhocks, Solidago, Hemerocallis, Astilbe, Echinacea, Aruncus and Lobelia 'Queen Victoria' to name just a few.


Although far fewer this year, I have my usual mix of tomato varieties, purple French beans and stringless runner beans. 


Lots of new additions to the garden, and many older plants being re-potted and given a fresher lease of life. One of them is the Hydrangea villosa below. Soft purple flowers in early summer, and for now beautiful velvety leaves. One of my favourites.


There's also all of the indoor plants, but that's another story!

Have a lovely week all of you.

 

Saturday 29 April 2023

Life.......and Plants

 


Life can throw all sorts of difficulties and trials at us. My life at the moment?

A personal struggle, one challenge that MUST be overcome. The others are just the sort of crap that most are facing at the moment. Personal, financial, psychological, so many plates to spin.

We've been trying to future proof our home, and the main part to be worked on is, of course the garden. THE main room of any house. The house without a garden is like one without a front door. It's going to be quite a fundamental place for our "survival' this year.

Plants are so important, no, vital to our mental wellbeing. I thank God that He has blessed me with being a gardener. The benefits far outweigh the lack of money.