Sunday, 28 May 2023


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.

Thursday, 9 February 2023

Another Year Begins

Things are starting to bud up. Camellias appear to be flowering early, here in the south of the UK anyway. The Edgeworthia in our garden (below) is now in full swing, and our Witch Hazels are looking good as well. 

Yesterday was 'A Good Day' as they say. We had various work things to get through on the telephone and computer, but we made it a restful day as things are still a little quiet.
We started off with a 6am visit to Branksome Chine to catch the sunrise. It was dark when we arrived, but already there were the usual bunch of dog walkers, meditators, and swimmers. We gave up on the swimming a month ago.....way too cold now, but the brave stalwarts who still persist made the hurried run in and out of the icy sea. Even the sand was covered in frost.
We strolled, made tea, and took a few photos. The horizon started off a deep red, before the sun came up and bathed everything in a bright orange. Photos never seem to do it justice.

A little later we headed to Christchurch. A town to the east of where we live, and an area where a lot of our work takes us. The priory, almost a thousand years old, is always a joy to visit. I remember Christmas carol services with the private school I attended as a child, Homefield School, and 'ladishly' singing our own adapted words to the original tunes. All in best trousers, shoes, caps and blazers. A beautiful church.

The grounds, although quite bare at this time of year, were lovely. They have recently undergone some major renovation, exposing some interesting old parts of the grounds originally hidden.

We walked along the stream by it to the nearby quay, and enjoyed the swans that always congregate their in large numbers. It was very cold, and so a latte and mint tea in the nearby Soho's warmed us up.

We finally made it back home, where more sorting of our own garden was continued. I worked my way through the tool shed in preparation for servicing all of the machinery ready for the summer, and Amanda started to jet wash the patio so that we could re-point it shortly.

What are you all doing to get ready for the spring?

Tuesday, 3 January 2023


 It was while we were looking out on our garden, and trying to come up with a 'game plan' for the coming year regarding additional planting, formative pruning and path re-routing, that our Edgeworthia, fairly prominant at this time of year, reminded me of a plan for the coming years that not only we, but all of us should perhaps bear in mind.

Edgeworthia grandiflora, just coming into flower now, will, in two weeks amaze us with it's beautiful, clear yellow flowers, an attraction to the few types of bees and butterflies around at this harsh time of year.

We must all plan any garden work to include those plants that bees and other insects rely on, regardless of whether or not they fit in with our overall plan of what we want to achieve as a finished product.

There was a time when none of this mattered. Agriculture and horticulture accommodated pollinating insects in abundance. But thanks, or no thanks to the likes of Monsanto, Bayer and other such corporations with their pesticides, farming techniques that are destroying dividing hedgerows resulting in vast barren areas, and our own self centred plans and projects within our own gardens, we are contributing to the problem in a devastating, and possibly irreversible way.

We need much more diverse planting within our gardens. Forget all of that 'fashionable' hard landscaping. More variety of plants I say!! Plan your new garden, or supplement your existing garden with a wide variety of shrubs and herbaceous perennials.

 Perhaps just simply think about purchasing a 1kg bag of mixed wild flower seeds, and just casting them about with wild abandonment amongst ANY borders you may have. Feel free to selectively weed out a few that may not look right in your own eyes, but try not to, and live with the results, and feel good about it.

If anyone one is interested, I can maybe give you some ideas based on what part of the country you live in. Or maybe you can give me some new ideas about plants that I haven't thought of?

Are you a Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter 'planty' person?

Do you have an absolute favourite plant?

Do you have a plant that you hate?

Monday, 19 December 2022


 It's been another year of extraordinarily tricky times, and the same by way of good times. Life eh? It would be a boring life without challenges, both good and bad. 

Work has been a challenge. Well, running a business in the current climate has, if truth be told. Gardening is still, well, gardening. Nothing has changed there. The dynamics within the business have changed, but it's still gardening. It brings, as always, hard work, time to reflect, to smile, get tired, to argue, to laugh. But the plants still grow. They all get along just fine, doing their own thing. Growing and trying to look their best whatever life throws at them....even, I feel smirking at us gardeners with our secateurs and stuff.

Our Buddha

What is, and has always been evident are people. They are the living things that can actually make the difference between a good day, an indifferent day.....and a hard day.

This year we have had some really hard meetings with people. All of them of 'the latter years', and completely unjustified in their rudeness. I dare say that in most cases it's just down to some sort of in depth bitterness brought about by old age, and maybe an awareness of years now ticking by, but we all face such challenges, and if only they knew it, possibly worse ones. But it's no excuse for the bluntness in comments that our team have had to face. I can't name specifics, because obviously if they read this, tomorrow would be a different day. Let's just say 'if the cap fits' eh?

We have also, thank you God, met and been involved with far more kind people through our work. Those with a soul full of kindness, generosity of spirit, an overall happiness and understanding that one can only ever hope to share time with. I personally thank them, and pray for next year to continue in those relationships. 
I shall personally continue to try and maintain the new friendships that I have found, both from my past and those that I have had for years. People matter, but it can be a difficult road to maintain. Let's face it, we get things wrong all of the time and can be misunderstood. But we must at least try.

Sunrise at Sandbanks

Sat in the van ready to leave early one morning, I think of our neighbours. A real mixture of characters, lives and interaction. They are all lovely and watch over one another where possible.

Travel Ted and the van Crimbo lights