Journal 12.7.20

Welcome to a slice of my weekly gardening journey. I say weekly, yet this post comes after an unplanned three week break from writing. The last few months have weighed somewhat heavy and, to save a fuse blowing, I just needed to step back a little and to let a few things go…

That said, my gardens are overflowing with growth, the task list is as full as ever, I’ve nibbled some chocolate and have summoned enough energy to drag this journal into July – covering the period 21 June to July 11 2020 – three weeks for the price of one (but not three times as long I hope!)

Jet washing a tennis court in the sunshine
Making rainbows 🌈

Anyone for Tennis?
In late June I was able to have a final, focussed go at completing the cleaning of a full size astroturf style tennis court where I work. The task might not have been directly horticulture related, (if only it was a grass court,) although it is part of the scene and as such, needed to be useable and presentable.

The cleaning of a tennis court in a Cotswolds garden
Almost like new! 🎾

Power washing was begun with some very welcome volunteer help back in March, although ground to a halt when lockdown started. As Wimbledon week approached however, and as the commercial jet washing machine was again available for hire, it was time to get the job done. Suffice to say that with my hat pulled down tight and with some carefully chosen podcasts keeping me sane; the task was finally completed and the court, all but a fresh topping of sand is now ship shape and good to go.

Press Clippings
In other news, it was a real treat to be name checked and pictured in the dahlia border with Rachel de Thame in a Sunday Times Home article ‘A Fresh Start’ on June 21. Mind you, even before that brief moment in the sunshine faded, those very dahlias around our feet were shouting for attention as the windy weather arrived. The sweet peas were also not far behind in the attention seeking race as they stubbornly refused to climb without a share of attention. I’m glad to report that both the dahlias and sweet peas are doing very well indeed, and oh; I won’t let the stardom hasn’t changed me, much.

Happy Days 🌿

Task List
As this is a catch-up entry, I’ll pop a key tasks list below instead of the usual day by day list:
Espalier and cordon fruit – summer pruning.
Containers – watering, feeding, dead-heading, supporting.
Mowing – lots of mowing as growth rate increases.
Tulips – reclaiming bulbs from containers and storing.
Kitchen garden – raised bed preparation, feeding and pest control.
Herbaceous border – bedding plant maintenance.
Roadside – reclaiming verges from woody weed growth.
Topiary – trimming and feeding.
Auriculas – feeding, watering, cleaning.
Wisteria – pruning and tying in.

Spectacular Summer Colour
Like so many others recently, my family has also spent time discovering local footpaths for core daily exercise. (Exactly what I need after a day on my feet in the garden I can assure you!) One evening last week we retraced our steps along a local circular route and I was taken aback by the amount of colour from so called weeds, or wild flowers found growing beside the road, footpath, and alongside the brook – areas that appear to receive little attention but for an annual mash-down, and yet were there with an abundance of spectacular summer colour.

A selection of wild flowers spotted on a late June walk
Wild flowers of Warwickshire

The colour was brilliant, especially in the early evening sunlight, but what particularly struck me was their existence and accessibility so close to home, in an area that otherwise appears to be dominated by housing, roads and farmland. I felt a touch of guilt that I’d temporarily been blinded by the cosseted plants in my own garden, and had stopped looking beyond my garden gate. Indeed, as I look back on the colourful images, I am reminded of Horace Walpole’s quote about the landscape gardener/artist William Kent back in the 18th century: “He leaped the fence, and saw that all nature was a garden…”

Spider-Man at Hidcote Manor
Finally for this entry, I want to briefly mention a pre-booked trip out to the nearby garden Hidcote Manor. We were welcomed at the visitor reception gazebo to a short rendition of the Spider-Man theme tune from two cool ladies each wearing the oak leaf logo and a welcoming smile. I must add that they weren’t delirious, but full of spontaneity when seeing our youngest lad approach in his Spider-Man hoody! (On our next visit we might dress as the Von Trapp family so we can all join in with the singing!)

A view along one of the red borders at Hidcote Manor garden
Hidcote Garden Pavilions

In some ways it’s a sad time to be visiting gardens as the impact from a reduced workforce and maintenance becomes evident. As an example, beside the door into Hidcote’s garden, a blackboard informs that the garden staff and volunteer team contribute 30,000 hours of time annually to maintaining the gardens, and so far 5,000 hours have been lost this year. That’s five thousand hours of preening, planting and pruning and engaging. I can imagine how the loss of time is weighing heavy on the team, but can’t begin to imagine what they must be thinking about the upcoming trimming of the miles of important hedging within the garden…

On a lighter note, I have to say that the visit – a pre-determined one way route through most, but not all of the garden, was exceptional. It may not have been financially advantageous for the property, but for me, the reduced visitor numbers actually added to the ambience of the visit, and I’m very thankful for the efforts to get the garden open and to keep it all going. One last thing to say on the visit, about the decision to open the lawn between the Red Borders for closer examination; a rare treat indeed – and it kinda made my day too! 👏🏻

A view along one of the red borders at Hidcote Manor garden
Red border plants at Hidcote

Well, that’s it for this journal entry, I have to finish up as the garden jobs are calling. I hope you’re getting along OK in (and beyond) your garden; do let me know in the comments or elsewhere if you’d like. Until next time….

Journal 21.6.20

Welcome to a slice of my weekly gardening journey – a journal entry for the week leading up to June 21 2020. This week I’ve learned a major lesson about how not to mow grass, and made a shocking discovery in the engine room.

GardeningWays Journal Photo’s for 21 June 2020. Gary Webb.​
GardeningWays Journal Photo’s for 21 June 2020. Gary Webb.

On the whole, this week seems to have passed by in slow motion – like they do sometimes. Rain has (yes, he’s mentioning the weather already…) made its presence felt and the wind has blown scattering dropped foliage and immature fruits here and there. There has though been stunningly beautiful moments with tall billowing clouds above, and the lushest, freshest of garden scenes below.

Flowers have drooped heavily during rainfall and many blooms have been damaged beyond repair yet between the showers, even with the most fleeting of sun rays, blooms have opened and glistened with intensity and indeed, for those who’ve opted for scented plants in their garden I’ll just say Wow! – aren’t the roses delivering this year!

Pyramidal orchid photo
Pyramidal orchid me thinks…

It has been great though to see the much needed rain fall, as not only were many of our gardens becoming dust bowls, the plants just do prefer rain as opposed to mains water.

Picking up on my ‘major lesson learned’ comment, it came from a patch of ground that, through time running short, hadn’t had its once-a-fortnight mow. It’s generally a tree dominated space and whilst sunshine does penetrate the glade-like space, there’s little effect on the ground except for lush grass and a collection of docks.

However, on my ‘catch-up’ mowing round on Tuesday, I pootled around the space in ever decreasing circles, as you do, only for a little speck of purple to catch my eye. On closer inspection it turned out to be what I took for a pyramidal orchid, or Anacamptis pyramidalis – although I’m no orchid expert.

Naturally I steered clear of this exquisite little wild orchid, but didn’t I scold myself for not picking up on this earlier! As it happens, there has already been discussion about this particular area and the desire to encourage wild flowers, and although some mowing has happened regularly, it’s only been to hold the area until there’s time to give it proper attention. Suffice to say though, that this little discovery gives me hope for the potential of this space to deliver much more than presently meets the eye – and isn’t that often the case with a garden…

Before I leave the no-mow thread completely, the foliage from the oxeye daisies shown above became apparent to me many weeks ago. Its leaves stood out from the grassy crowd so to speak, and so I mowed around the patch. What a vivacious bunch of daises it turned into – not only do they look great but they’ll subsequently offer free seed for sowing in other wilder parts of the garden.

Next up is that ‘shocking discovery’. Even after years in gardening, plant identification challenges still like to appear on a weekly basis. Furthermore, there’s also the interesting and additional challenge of putting names to fungi, animals and insects that also live in ‘our’ gardens. Once you’ve made an identification, you can better understand how friendly or not, and how useful or not, an individual may be.

Well, I was working away in the garden’s ‘engine room’ as I like to call it – the compost bin area to every other normal person, when on moving a piece of cardboard, (yes cardboard and paper composts perfectly!) I was given a bit of a shock.

Grass snake in compost
A snake in the…..compost!

The shock was around a metre in length and it, a grass snake, refused to move as they usually do. A gentle lift with the muck fork only encouraged it to slide out between the slats, and back into the bin lower down, suggesting to me that she was shielding a nest.

Naturally, with four compost bays in production, there’s no need to disturb a nest, indeed it is enough to know roughly where it is and to ensure its protection. Whilst it was a shock at first, I soon read up and gained the knowledge to make an informed decision, and will in future go a little steadier when forking through the compost! For what it’s worth, over the years I’ve discovered mice, rats, slow worms and wasp nests in compost heaps, as they can offer dry and warm cavities in which to nest. It pays therefore to remain observant, to water the heap if necessary, and to turn those engines over regularly before anything moves in to throw a spanner in the works!

As seen on TV!

Elsewhere in my working garden, the stunning pots some of you may remember from BBC Gardeners World last year continue to delight and entertain. Under different none-COVID times it would have been nice to have added some fresh plant material, but I’m sure you’d agree that the plants originally chosen still look brilliant in their potted quarters, and but for a refreshing of the compost, regular feeding and a gravel mulch; look as good as ever.

Below is a lovely rambling rose called ‘Chevy Chase’ – I must admit to being a tad suspicious when I read its name label for the first time back in winter, but what a stunner it is! There was little I could do back then but tie in some wayward stems, adding a couple of wall pegs for good measure, but the growth since has been phenomenal and the weight of one stem and flowers even broke the string – hence the ladders to tie in a main lateral. My main learning point going forward is not to judge a plant by its name alone… and to use stronger string!

Rambling rose ‘Chevy Chase’ - Rose Chevy Chase
Rambling rose ‘Chevy Chase’

Before I move onto my final image, I like to record how my working week looked, as follows:

  • Monday – Day off!
  • Tuesday – Composting; photos for Sunday Times article; mowing & orchid discovery!
  • Wednesday – Tied in sweet peas; weeding; feeding; tree pruning; composting including snake charming!
  • Thursday – Cleaning; Machinery research; stone delivery.
  • Friday – Cleaning; potting up; watering and feeding; rambling rose attention.

Next up is not a simple tree image, but a snapshot of a day in the long history of a tree at an historic garden. It’s a mature and very solid sweet chestnut tree situated beside the Elizabethan gatehouse in Charlecote Park.

I was fortunate to visit last Sunday and with the central gardens closed, took the opportunity to look more closely at the parkland and its trees.

Sweet chestnut at Charlecote Park
Sweet chestnut at Charlecote Park

This particular tree was pollarded maybe ten years ago, and I remember seeing it pretty much straight after the work was complete. As harsh as it always seems, that is the cutting back of the main branches quite severely; a healthy tree of the right species very quickly responds with a host of new shoots from those chopped stems. Indeed, the image above shows the tree having again been pollarded to keep the system going – and I’m sure there would have been a host of useable stems from the cut wood.

I’m touched for some reason by the fact that pollarding, as for coppicing is an age old process, one that gives a renewable and useful product, and in cases where the activity ceases, can leave a tree that lasts much longer than if left to its own devices. Of course it depends on numerous factors but the very fact that centuries ago, people learned that certain trees could be pruned and manipulated to provide a renewable source of timber for construction, for tools, for firewood or as animal fodder is incredible. For me, viewing a tree like the chestnut above speaks of tradition and ingenuity, and it’s heartening to see an actively managed pollard such as this one. Long may it continue!

All of the above is by no means the entirety of my gardening experiences this week, but I’m sure is enough to capture the essence of my week for future reference. Until next time…

Journal 14.6.20

Welcome to a slice of my weekly gardening journey – a journal entry for the week leading up to June 14 2020. This week it’s a tale of three very different garden situations: my work garden at Broadwell, home garden in Warwickshire, & a first post-lockdown garden visit to the Elizabethan Garden at Kenilworth Castle – and what an experience that was!

At the beginning of the week it still very much felt as though irrigation was the order of the week both at home and work, as forecasted rain hadn’t materialised in any decent quantity previously – it turns out I have no influence upstairs after all…

Furthermore, rain was still expected but couldn’t be relied upon and so – off to water I did go. In the midst of this I rediscovered an old favourite plant of mine called Knautia macedonica, otherwise known as scabious.

It took but a few seconds to witness and remember how good these flowers are at attracting pollinators, for every flower had at least one, and more often two bees on it. It’s no coincidence that it gets the RHS’s ‘Plants For Pollinators’ badge of honour! As you can see from the image below, the intensity of the flower colour alone is reason enough for growing a scabious like this, let alone its attraction to bees… A top herbaceous plant for sure.

Macedonian Scabious (Knautia macedonica).

Moving onto other tasks, the working week looked a little like this: Monday – Watering. Strimming to edge-up or reduce long grass areas. Planted sweet peas. Tuesday – Collected Monday’s debris. Trimmed Pyracantha hedge. Fed sweet peas & weeded herbaceous border. Potted up seedlings. Wednesday – Compost bin emptying & border mulching. Thursday – Watering. Feeding kitchen garden plants. Auriculas. Composting. Mowing. Friday – Day off! No gardening at all – well just a little bit at home…

Compost clear out!

The image above shows one of four bins that I emptied on Wednesday. This was quite a task without the tractor and bucket I’m more used to, but a steady dig away was achievable and revealed some lovely, crumbly material that spread beautifully as a mulch around the recently planted dahlias.

Some material had become compressed at the bottom of the very full stack with the result that it hadn’t decayed completely, but this was easily worked into the remaining material when spreading, and the border worms will make short work of it I’m sure. I may not have started this compost heap, but I was glad to get it emptied and to finally see it begin to work its magic out in the border.

Sowing some beetroot…

In my garden at home, my ‘grow your own’ spirit has eased just a little because the space available has progressively reduced over recent weeks, yet my focus on all the plants hasn’t eased up at all – quite the opposite. As larger containers have emptied following spring bulb displays, options have opened up for planting out baby veg’ plants and for sowing a few more seeds, and it won’t be long before I’m emptying large (ish) pots of 1st early potatoes – and their pots will also be put straight into use. It seems like every pot and corner is important, and I’m loving the challenge!

The image above shows a new sowing of ‘Boltardy’ beetroot in a nicely formed tin container with room enough, after thinning, for a reasonable hoard. Beetroot can be sown in succession until July, and I’ll hopefully be sowing a few more in due course – as soon as I empty another pot that is!

Yellow loosestrife (Lysimachia punctata)

Above is another of my all time favourites, the yellow or dotted loosestrife. I’ve always admired the toughness of this plant, although I haven’t often seen it for sale. I begged a piece from my parents garden some while ago and as they’ve since moved house and left theirs behind, I’ll soon be well placed to offer them some back – unless they moved house just to be rid of the stuff of course!

The image below, taken on Saturday 13th of June marks the first ‘proper’ outing and visit since lockdown began. Knowing the venue well, and understanding that risks were mitigated as far as could be reasonably expected, we were relieved to take the opportunity to pre-book and visit Kenilworth Castle.

The Elizabethan Garden at Kenilworth Castle.

Believe me, it was with some trepidation that we ventured out, indeed it was the first time I’d taken my car off the now established work-home-supermarket-home routes. It was good though to be waved through the gate once the appropriate QR codes had been scanned, at a distance of course, and to head into a favourite heritage venue of ours.

There was a one way route in operation that flowed easily, and with enough space to social distance for those who chose to, which was most people, and we slowly glided along the inside of the curtain wall of the south court.

A fragrant ‘Gillyflower’ or Dianthus.

It felt weird, I have to say, but there was reassurance in being out amongst folk at a safe distance, and especially to walk amongst scented roses and pinks – the ‘gillyflowers’ of the sheltered Elizabethan garden.

Bright blue skies, fluffy clouds and sunshine looked kindly on our day. Our children were stretching their legs in an old haunt that possessed a new atmosphere, and along with us so called grown ups, were breathing fresh air deeply and smelling the flowers that seemed stronger than ever.

It must have been a big day for the staff as well as they adapted to that ‘new normal’ we keep hearing about; as if anything can be called normal. They collectively handled the visit efficiently, if tentatively, and our first step out on a reignited 2020 season was really enjoyable – it was an absolute treat and very much needed.

Plant vacation!

Last thing I want to cover is the break in weather that happened this weekend. Fortunately for us it was after our day out on Saturday and came mid-evening, giving me chance to set out some of the houseplants that would benefit from a good rain soaking – I trust.

Real, heavy, soak-you-through raindrops were dropping as I stowed away the garden chairs and moved plant pots into the open to take full advantage. The air felt charged and the thunder rolled which, although half hearted, added to the atmosphere that filled the garden. As I understand ‘petrichor’ is the smell of rain falling on dry ground, and I’d put a nugget on that being the scent present, and wasn’t it a delight. As long as foliage isn’t being battered to the ground or having flowering stems snapped, many plants thrive in that atmosphere, and I was very happy to see them enjoying the moment – it’s been a long time coming.

It’s been a late journal entry this week due to a lovely family weekend, so I hope the post knitted together well from your perspective. Until next time – enjoy your gardening and do get out and about if you can.

Kind regards, Gary Webb

Link to explore your visit to Kenilworth Castle & Elizabethan Garden

Journal 6.6.20

Welcome to a slice of my weekly gardening journey – a journal entry for the first week of June.

A week of changeable weather, & a variety of tasks to suit.

Well I suppose I was grumbling a bit about the weather last week – is it too late to take it all back? OK, maybe not, but the ‘balance’ I was essentially asking for has now thankfully arrived with a full mix of windy/sunny/rainy weather; maybe I do have some influence upstairs after all…

Moving on, I have to say that I’m not driven by targets for walking, but looking back on my step count for the week, (above picture) it’s clearly been another very full week – all 32+ miles of it!

There will be no apologies for Thursday’s low mileage, and it certainly felt like I covered the usual mileage on the day, but even allowing for some errors in recording the actual steps, it was clearly a well trodden week in the garden and elsewhere. Tuesday’s peak appears to have been due to a good dose of scything, which was mostly me walking in a funny manner around in circles, whilst hacking, sorry, scything faded daffodil foliage… I’ll leave that to your imagination!

Turk’s Cap Lily or Lilium martagon – heavily edited I’m afraid due to the shade.

During the week though, there have been some real peaks of enjoyment that have come purely from spending so much time out in the open.

Fleeting glimpses of what I think was a willow warbler, then a green woodpecker fleeing to the safety of a sycamore tree, and one day on the wind, the distant sound of a cuckoo. Then there was the discovery of Turk’s cap Lily under a dense tree canopy, shown above, the discovery of at least three types of wild orchid, and my first sighting of what I’m sure is common broomrape; a plant with a fascinating existence.

Common broomrape, (Orobanche minor) a parasitic plant taking its sustenance here it seems from the adjacent clover.

Above all this though, literally, was the changing skies and cloud formations that just kept drawing my eyes upwards in awe, way beyond the veteran trees. Although I didn’t capture a suitably magnificent cloudscape image, I’m sure you know what I mean.

Back on solid ground however, and shown below is another sneak peek of the developing kitchen garden. Vegetable plants are quietly growing away in their quarters whilst landscaping continues around and about. Seeds are germinating, shoots are stretching skywards, pea tendrils are gripping their sticks, and foliage is filling out nicely. Yes it’s a busy, noisy workspace, but productivity isn’t just restricted to gravel, mortar and Cotswold stone; those raised beds and plants are food factories in themselves, and productivity is up!

Produce filled beds and buckets in the kitchen garden…

Below is another of my bag-o-spuds trials. Again, it’s something I’ll cover more fully at another time, but essentially there was a surplus of maincrop seed potatoes, and with no extra ground available at the time, bags seemed the ideal alternative.

Several old compost bags were pressed into action, and with a few drainage holes cut in, were planted with two or three seed potatoes each and covered with topsoil. Bag tops were rolled down initially, but as the shoots grew, I continued to top up the bags with a mix of topsoil and mole heaps, (I’m nothing if not thrifty!) and I’ve continued to gradually unroll the bag tops as I go. Time will tell how productive this method is, but these bags certainly do take some filling, so I’m hopeful for a good crop.

Another of my ‘bag of spuds’ experiments…

Next up is a little tree guarding that proved necessary after one of these young birches was injured by a passing animal. Sharp nails or antlers – it’s hard to tell, but a good portion of the nearest tree was damaged. Whilst the damage was a few weeks back, the temporary chicken wire guard has now been upgraded to something more substantial, and so far the tree remains in full leaf, and with a new coating of mulch, well, let’s keep our fingers crossed…

You might just be able to make out the damage to the birch stem…

Lastly is a couple of images of orchids found recently, the first being a handsome bee orchid – always a treat to find. The flower has a lip that resembles a female bee, and is said to attract males who, in the process of landing and trying to mate, take part in an accidental pollination process. Crafty indeed, and but for the embarrassment of the duped male bee, is another miracle of nature! To me, I can’t quite see a bee shape, but can you see a little person waving both arms in the air at the top of the flower…?

Bee orchid (Ophrys apifera) growing in upper sections of the meadow.

Next up I chose to take a closer look at the orchids near to the pond, and have adjusted my earlier I.D. to that of early purple orchid. I’m still not 100% certain, as there’s some difference between flowers and leaf markings amongst all those to be found in the location, and it’s very likely there’s a mix of different species. Until I hear otherwise though, I’m going to stick with early purple orchid, which also sounds appealing, especially after reading that it was one of the flowers Shakespeare chose to drape over the drowned Ophelia in Hamlet. But you knew that already, right?!

I now think this is an early purple orchid (Orchis mascula) growing around the pond margins at Broadwell. (Any advances on this I.D. are welcome!)

A summary of my gardening week, the start of meteorological summer, reads like so: Monday – Watering. Cutting & fixing rods for beans. Tuesday – Scything daffodil areas & clearing. Mowing. Wednesday – Mowing. Watering. Stringing wigwams. Thursday – Foliar feeding. Composting. Planting. Friday – Watering, including Auriculas. Tree guarding. Potato bag earthing-up.

All in all, it’s been another week full of achievement, with countless tiny tasks completed, yet unmentioned. When I sit back and ponder my week and Broadwell, I can see that there’s many an area that is under, or is awaiting renovation.

There are also many areas that require a good deal of regular, ongoing, background maintenance. Ultimately, there are many plates to spin, and many challenges to face, but despite the strong flow of tasks it’s an absolute delight each week to get the job done whilst occasionally raising my head to really look the sky; whilst stopping randomly to stick my head amongst the mock orange flowers; whilst frequently pausing to watch butterflies on flowers; and to regularly carry out emergency stops when a bumblebee chooses to land right in front of the mower.

I think I’ll finish up there, because that list could roll on, and on. It’s a gardeners’ world eh… Enjoy!

Have a great week in the garden. Regards, Gary

Journal 31.5.20

Welcome to my garden journal for the last week in May.

A selection of key images from my gardening week.

It’s funny when you become aware that the default topic of conversation between people is often the weather. I suppose that whether we like it or not, weather affects most everything we do – and especially if you spend a lot of time outdoors. So, whilst I never want to admit it, it is often what I drop into my journal each week, not as a detailed record but as a general comment on how it has guided or impacted my week.

This week is therefore no different, and here’s my weather remark for the week at the end of May: Strewth it’s been bloody hot this week!

Gary Webb
Fun in the sun!

It was a slightly shorter week due to the Bank Holiday, but it was a tough one to get through simply because of the heat, of which I’m not altogether fond. I won’t dwell on it, as I have far more interesting things to record in the post, but I only hope the weather offers a bit more balance, and maybe some rain, and soon!

A summary of my gardening week both at work and home reads like so: Monday – Various potting on of veg plants at home. Trimming box topiary. Tuesday – Watering (Lots). Received large delivery of topsoil. Compost heap working. Mowing. Wednesday – Scything and grass clearing. Strung-up wigwams. Weeded through tulips beds. Thursday – Watering. Mowing. Began brewing compost tea. Potting up. Touch of topiary training. Friday – Watering, including auriculas. Cleared dell area to access pond pump. Cleared tulip bed & prepared for planting.

Early Purple Orchid?

The stunning flower above I took for a common spotted-orchid, (Dactylorhiza fuchsii) though on further investigation I’m now more inclined to see it as an early purple orchid. (As such I’ve focussed again on it in my journal entry for 6.6.20) It was a real treat to find a little collection growing alongside the pond at Broadwell. I didn’t pause for too long as I was midway through a mowing session, but they had a rich colouring to the flowers that really shone out from amongst the flag iris foliage where they were hiding, and as always, it was a real thrill to discover them somewhere new. My awareness is now heightened for sightings elsewhere!

Ragged Robin & my ‘circle of friends’

The next image shows an age old favourite called Ragged Robin (Silene flos-cuculi). Another beautiful flower but it doesn’t matter how hard I try, all I can see is a ring of pink suited little people…. Please tell me you can see it too!

Strawberry bucket planter.

Anyway, on with another moment, the first strawberry to ripen at home! It’s basically an old galvanised bucket, drilled for drainage, and planted with three strawberry ‘Honeoye’ plants that are apparently good in patio containers. The first one is now ripe, and is reserved for my youngest son who loves strawberries, in fact they were planted largely for him, although for some reason he’s not yet ready to try the first fruit… I can but try!

The next image picks up on one of my favourite occupations, that of scything. I’ve cherished my Austrian scythe for a few years now, although I’m the first to admit the correct technique still alludes me. I remember my tutor making the scything action look so effortless…

Scything Selfie

The task was the clearance of some undergrowth in order to access a water pump, but once this was finished I moved on to a brief session removing flowering stems, and a few thousand future seeds, from a good few docks growing amongst a grassy sward. “One years seed is seven years seed” as people say..

The scythe is excellent for both of the tasks mentioned, especially when used with the shorter ‘ditching’ blade, and where the docks are concerned it’s simply a task of swishing (none technical term!) the blade above the grass to take out the flowering dock stems. It may not be the complete answer, but it’s fuel and chemical free & it’ll stop them spreading ever further – a little bit of natural selection if you like.

A makeshift Silent Space

My last image above of sun setting behind the trees is an image of mine taken for use, along with some text, on the Silent Space website. The new web page added this week will grow as more articles are added, and is intended to offer views of how, during lockdown, some people have found calm and solace through nature.

If you haven’t discovered the Silent Space initiative as yet, you might like to explore the link at the end of this post. Essentially though, a most basic explanation is that Silent Space exists to help people find a space, usually in a park or garden, where they can properly relax and enjoy a few peaceful moments of peace. During lockdown however, most ‘arranged’ Silent Spaces in gardens have been closed to visitors.

I’m glad to say that Silent Space in general is set to go from strength to strength, and its need is more important than ever before now that many more people are discovering the restorative power of gardens and green spaces. Do please check the link below and see the incredible number of places that will soon be open again to offer their Silent Spaces.

Well that has to be it for this week, but needless to say I have another busy gardening week ahead, and will be back with more luscious images and text next week.

Regards, Gary.

Silent Space

Garden Journal 23.5.20

A week in my garden spaces. From flag iris at Broadwell to the first ‘Boscobel’ rose in my garden at home.

Hello and welcome to my garden journal covering the past week, where I trust that you, like me have taken more than a few moments to appreciate plants, to stroll in the fresh air, to sow some seeds or plant something?!

It’s been incredibly challenging for gardeners on the weather front recently. Following weeks of very little rainfall and warm temps, late frosts popped up to surprise a few who might not have caught the forecasts. How many times have we heard “there can always be a late frost in May;” well this year there was one…

Young plants that might have been hardening off were at real risk of damage and sure enough – many pictures on social media showed harsh proof of frost damage – tomatoes to beech leaves were frustratingly displayed showing the effects of weather. As if this were not enough, temperatures shot up this week to the upper 20s and again; establishing plants with their delicate leaves were at real risk of damage. And there’s more – now we have blustery, leaf desiccating and stem breaking winds coming at us that can be really damaging.

I only hope that you’ve kept your plants covered when it turned cold, shaded when things turned hot, and kept your pots well watered to bolster their strength and turgidity when the gales arrived.

Sneeboer spade
Digging-In’ a border at Broadwell. The spades are made by Sneeboer, I’m not getting any freebies for the mention, but I can honestly say they’re beautiful digging companions! (Tell them I sent you! 😉 )

On a personal front, it’s been a tough one for me as my key task was digging and planting along a rather warm south facing border. It was kind of time pressured because most of the 100+ pots of dahlias were beginning to struggle in their plastic pots which are quick to heat up and dry out. Therefore, when starting the week with a good few metres of soil to prepare and plant, and with temperatures predicted to rise, it was a head down and get stuck in week from the get-go on Monday.

By close of play Thursday, I was relieved to have puddled-in the very last dahlia, and to have tied in the lowest strings around 12 rather large wigwams – for the growing of sweet peas. On Friday I naively thought that the overdue mowing on a ride-on would at least give me a chance to take the weight off – although I hadn’t bargained for the bone shaking ride over concrete-like paddocks!

Flag Iris growing alongside the pond at Broadwell. Suffice to say, they’re very well established!

On the work summary front, : Monday – Watering. Digging. Tuesday – Divided & potted hellebores. Erected half of the wigwams for sweet peas. Wednesday – Cut fresh rods & erected remaining wigwams. Thursday – Planted dahlias. Mowing. Produced AMAZING TikTok video! (Check link at bottom of article!) Friday – Watering. Mowing. Received topsoil delivery. (It doesn’t sound like a busy week, but it was I can assure you!)

My final words this week pick up on the NoMowMay thread that is receiving lots of credit and support just now, and rightfully so. I’ve been a long term convert to the reduction of intensively managed grass, and to the embracing of all the wonderful plants and creatures that arrive when a patch of lawn is left to re-wild itself. However, as always when you begin to gain some knowledge about a subject; you quickly learn there is so much more to know – if only ‘no-mow’ were that easy!

If you’ve space to experiment, you can try out different mowing heights & frequencies to create varied habitats. I’d expect to find voles, frogs & grass snakes in that patch beyond the reeds, along with buttercups & cuckoo flowers.

I’ve been playing with mowing regimes for two decades now, and might write a more focussed article about it at some stage. For now though I can wholeheartedly agree that looking carefully at our traditional and regular mowing regimes is exactly what we should be doing at this point in time, and for so many positive reasons.

First and foremost, I do support the NoMowMay initiative, but… If the results don’t turn out as hoped for, what to do next? There are so many questions that can arise, such as: How can that hoped for wild flower patch be manipulated and improved? When is best to mow that long grass? When the grass has grown thick and lush and collapsed on itself, how can I cut it? How can I balance the wild look with the desire to keep things tidy? Why aren’t there many flowers? Is a dock or nettle allowed to stay? So many questions…!

Common knapweed I believe, getting stronger in this ‘no-mow’ patch (Centaurea nigra).

I can’t answer all these questions in this journal, but I will say that if those questions are seen as barriers, then push them aside, get the answer, and get your wild flower patch moving – you won’t look back, and here’s why:

I’m convinced that a wild flower patch can be every bit as interesting and plant-packed as a typical herbaceous border. On a windy day like today, in the second half of May, your patch could be studded with countless golden buttercups, daisies, or the prettiest of blue speedwell flowers. Taller grass stalks could register every wind blow like a choppy sea, and cow parsley might tempt you to walk through with your hands out stretched. Who knows, maybe next year an all important orchid may choose to appear, or a solitary bee or butterfly might stop by to say thanks.

Many wild flowers (buttercup shown here) will still find a way to flower, even with a reduced mowing frequency – area to left un-mown this season, area to right mown ten days previously. Note – watch out for bumblebees if you do mow – they’re slow to react & take off!

If you’re able to, and haven’t as yet created a little pocket of wild flower heaven, I’d urge you to give it a go – either by the first step of joining in the NoMowMay initiative, or by taking a little advice and actively managing a patch to encourage wild flowers*. I can definitely suggest looking at this Plantlife initiative for advice and guidance.

Until next week,
Regards, Gary

Check out that TikTok: https://vm.tiktok.com/wu5WEe/

*If you don’t have a patch of lawn, follow the great example of my friend Anne, and sow a packet of wild flower seeds into a container. It’s compact, easy to manage, and will be a perfect draw for pollinators! (There’s really no getting out of this – you’re committed now!)

Garden Journal 16.5.20

Broadwell Manor, Gloucestershire
Broadwell Manor

Today is a bit of an anniversary for me, marking the six month point working in a full-time role at Broadwell Manor. I had envisioned putting together a six-month-review sort of journal entry, although, and this is something I toy with daily – I feel the need to tread carefully where privacy is concerned, and as with my blog that continues to evolve, so is my gardening and social media output whilst I’m at Broadwell.

While I now work at an all-singing, dancing and traditional Cotswold Manor House garden, it is also a private home, so forgive me if I’m a little hesitant and changeable in the things that I post across Twitter, Instagram and now TikTok (Re. TikTok – Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it – it’s getting a great many people through the nightmare that lockdown created…!)

Previously, my social media ‘presence’ was structured heavily around my work at Compton Verney; posting things that were largely aimed at boosting the profile of natural, historical and horticultural elements, at a public venue I passionately cared for. Presently though, whilst I’m engaged in very similar nature and horticulture focussed activities, and at a venue that is steeped in historical features; the property itself doesn’t exist to attract thousands of visitors, and so my ‘content’, for want of a better word, continues but in subtle sort of way.

Beautifully scented Wisteria doing its thing on the south wall….

It must also be said that again, as much as I’ve a keen interest in sharing my love for gardens and where I’m at, I’m not employed to spend time creating ‘content’, and I have an awful lot of practical gardening work to be getting on with! If only I could walk around with a live web-cam on my hat – you’d probably still struggle to keep up!

Six months though… It seems like nothing compared to some time-served gardeners, but it’s been so full of activity that it does seem much longer, and so much has been achieved. After a much more public facing role at CV, it did feel for a while as though I had gone into hibernation, and I’m sure some people were questioning my sanity but, I think I’ve finally worked out why I needed to change my core, daily role, after putting in so much hard work over the years at CV.

Allium breaking its silence in a border at home…

I simply needed to step away from pressure that had built, and to reconnect with the very thing that had sustained me for so long – gardens, nature and growing. I had been losing my connection with the very things that had driven, excited, encouraged and engaged me for so long. Although I might not have realised it at the time, I ‘simply’ needed to step away, to refocus and reconnect – and look at the door that eventually opened…

And so to the present, where you’ll find me actively engaged each day and completely immersed in horticulture once again, both at home and at Broadwell – the added filming elements and working for such a supportive and respected TV gardener (and lovely family) just adds to the daily wonder!

Yes, there is too much to do, I’ve lost weight despite upping my food intake, and I’m knackered on a daily basis, but every day is different and more importantly; every day is full of plants and flowers and wildlife – I have indeed reconnected and I feel grounded on a daily basis… What an incredibly challenging and life affirming 6 month it has been! Now, back to a swift finish for the journal proper…

The past week has been really varied to say the least. I usually structure my journal entry with a look back to the previous Sunday, which last week coincided with #GardenDayUK, This explains my first random image below where I put common sense to one side, and joined in by making my version of a floral crown – or floral hat in my case!

Floral Crown #floralcrown
My floral creation for Garden Day UK, all cut from my garden!

Although the weather had turned cold, with the usual British resolve many folk joined in and supported the initiative through a range of zoom-style online activity from quizzes to demonstrations and live chat – it was good to see so much support from some high profile and entertaining garden characters, and I think that for me, the day’s success was the home-style presenting that everyone was forced into doing, which worked really well.

There was plenty of floral creativity through the many flower crowns, and whilst I had lots of other things to be getting on with I enjoyed tuning in frequently. The reliable gardening people and their ‘we’re-in-this-together’ attitude was very evident and a good day was seemingly had by all! Crowns off to the many folk and Candide who made GardenDayUK a success.

On the work summary front, the past frost-threatened week looked a little like this: Monday – Tidied tulip borders. Watering. Began scything perimeter boundary to facilitate access for stone wall repairs. Tuesday – Scything and clean-up of boundary. Shear cut Lonicera shrubs and tidied surrounding area. Wednesday – Auricula session. Relocated stored debris to compost. Received compost delivery (Yay!) Mowing. Thursday – Mowing. Began digging south herbaceous border. Friday – Watered. Continued digging.

Scything, mowing, composting, digging, hedge trimming - a busy week indeed!
Scything, mowing, composting, digging, hedge trimming – a busy week indeed!

So there we have it, a somewhat reflective post again. (I can see a theme developing here…) At least in my struggles to post a useful journal entry each week, I’m being forced to be more creative with its content – hopefully when I look back at some of these posts in the distant future, there will be enough intent and meaning in the words to time travel me, you or my children back to this unique time I’m experiencing.

Regards & Happy Gardening, Gary

Garden Journal 9.5.20

We’re in the month of May, an absolute favourite month of mine for the sheer vigour and exuberance of plants in gardens and across the land. After last week’s sidestep to write about my efforts at growing my own, I return, largely, to my regular post style which is recording my week in gardening.

Firstly therefore, I want to write my weekly summary of horticultural tasks and experiences that have taken priority this past week, then, I shall then move onto a more creative piece I’ve been wanting to write for a while.

Weeding in process with cleared fresh soil completed and weed encrusted soil awaiting a garden fork
A little weeding in a Broadwell border.

Monday – Mowing. Fixing tree guards following animal damage. Plant labelling. Weeding. Tuesday – Scything. Weeding. Watering. Harvested wild garlic. Mixed compost. Wednesday – Watering in KG. Removal of vine from eaves and guttering of house. Mowing. Thursday – Watering and feeding. Mowing. Composting. Friday – Upcycled a pallet to make a vertical garden.

A recycled pallet using to make a vertical planter
The half-pallet vertical planter awaiting decoration and sowing.

Now for that creative piece, where I want to record something that tops and tails each day of work*. This is of course, the journey itself. Don’t panic! I trust that this won’t be as strange as it might first sound…

You see, the roads emptied once lockdown tightened for so many people. I was used to giving way at the end of my road, to tip-toeing through my village whilst streams of kids and parents walked and cycled to school. Cars would criss-cross my path and lorries would have to double park to make deliveries. Then beyond the village, the road would open out into a cold, exposed and skeletonised landscape beyond. I think I made a new word there?! 🤔

Ribbons of traffic would thread along the Roman Fosseway as I headed south each day for the Cotswolds. I used to cross the Fosse on my previous journey to work, but for a while now I have been able to travel a good few miles along its route, where often I’ve marvelled at its engineering and historic associations. My historic imaginations whilst journeying though have always been momentary distractions, because the traffic always demanded focus.

Dandelions growing in the grass
Dandelions jagged teeth hidden in the grass…

A tracked tractor or tanker moving slowly. An artic’ lorry, with its steady speed adhered to rigidly mile-after-mile. Or worse by far, the ‘business’ folk who, with their evil eyed tourers or transit vans rapidly approached from behind, looking to dispense with my car as a piece of congestion that simply needed to move.

Some of these distractions are still there by the way, they never changed, for so many people just couldn’t ‘work from home’. In fact, in some ways the demon drivers just got worse, as I think they’ve acclimatised to emptier roads, and so the occasional obstruction like my self pooling along at the speed limit is even more intolerable, maybe. However, and here’s the thing, something so much bigger magically appeared during my journeying to work, and that was spring!

Dandelions speak on behalf of nature – do they love me, or love me not…?

With an amplified ‘SPRI’ and a ringing ‘NNNG!’, April arrived and SPRING surged forward with a strong push from behind by Mother Nature herself.

Previously mown roadside verges sprouted golden buttercups, dancing daisies and bright blue speedwell. As lush grass started to grow in the margins beyond, dandelions pushed their jagged leaves through, picking-up the sunshine yellow daisy centres with their beautiful bee feeding blooms.

Ditches became drained of their winter floodwaters and hedgerows beyond moved from a relative nought, to foliage, to flowering, in just a handful of weeks – even the blackthorn hung around to join the party.

Parts of my journey nearer to dwellings brought extraordinarily bountiful crops of cherry blossom that kept on blooming in the calm conditions, and as if in response, the hedgerows betwixt and between lit up with pure white hawthorn flowers that joined the blossom festival and continues to shine now into May.

Horse chestnuts, with dozens of flowers on each single candelabra-like panicle – just get up close to one if you can…

Larger and woodier specimens too have defied frosty mornings, surged sap, and their soft, verdant new season leaves have fully clothed the towering ash and richly textured oak trees. Although altogether more graceful and measured, the beech trees eventually joined in as well, although it’s the former two that appear most in the hedgerows that line the way and loop off over the gentle hills that run to the east and west of the Fosse.

Whilst I’m glad to be into my favoured May, I’ve had to take this moment to celebrate a spring that even for me, as someone used to being in and working with it, has been touched by its effect. Spring this year has arrived with such gravity and meaning that it’s been hard not to notice. The foliage and flowers have a new richness, and their presence this year in particular comes with more gravity and meaning than ever before.

These words have rattled around my head for a month now, because of my generally calmer journey to work. It’s as if the spring has paused everything, so that people could have a moment to really see what is going on outside our usual cocoons. Despite expert advice, I would say that the birds are singing louder to us, the lush new year foliage is greener and more calming than ever before, and the flowers are showing us their very best colours. Or maybe it’s just me?

When the road congestion builds anew and the general weight and pace of life returns to ‘a new normal’, I sincerely hope that new passions for plants and nature will play a bigger part for people. I personally look forward to watching the natural world around me continue to unfold, and I hope to more often be ‘in time’ wit the moment, with a new found sense of awareness – even if I do have to occasionally stop the car on the way to work, and take a moment to really look.

I think I’ll leave it there, for now…
Kind regards, Gary

*I’m thankful to be able to continue with my work over the past few weeks, I know this hasn’t been possible for so many people. From a working perspective, and as mentioned previously, I work at a single venue garden and pretty much ‘socially distance’ myself from the world on a daily basis! On the home front, I’ve only been able to continue working due to my good lady balancing childcare and home working – not an easy thing to achieve as you can imagine. But, things could be much worse, and we’re getting through Covid-19.

Garden Journal 2.5.20

All set up for working in the garden 😁

My working week was split in two this week with a lovely day off celebrating my youngest’s birthday. Either side of this I did squeeze in some gardening though, and I will briefly summarise this at the bottom of this journal entry as normal.

On an altogether different footing, and turning the clock back to when many people were said to be ‘panic buying’ at the beginning of the pandemic; I happened to find myself buying seeds and compost enough for spring growing. I knew it would take time to raise anything of substance, but concern over food supplies triggered some kind of inner desire to grow, or maybe I just needed something positive to focus on – I’m not sure which. With this in mind, and knowing that so many people have felt or are feeling the same, I thought I’d switch this journal entry to focus on my humble efforts at growing some food. In part, I don’t want to overlook this important time in my journal, but possibly and more importantly, I thought that my simple way of growing might also encourage others to have a grow too.

Onion setts are go!

It must be said that whilst I have grown produce in a professional capacity, I don’t generally grow food on a regular basis at home because space is restricted. I think this is why I never really refer to growing food myself. Until now that is – and I shall briefly explain why.

Last week I was inspired as I often am by a local gentleman called Charlie Budd, known on social as @thetallphotographer. His article pointed me to a series of PechaKucha presentations performed online with PKLeamington. One presentation in particular really grabbed me for its down-to-earth and honest approach by someone who essentially put aside the established approach to sourcing materials. That PechaKucha was given by Garima Dhawan, who refreshingly turned to her own kitchen and the shops to source the raw ingredients that could be grown on and increased – without resorting to spending lots of money on growing paraphernalia.

Mini greenhouse to offer a place to grow on young plants.

I’ll post a link to the PK at the bottom of this post, but in essence, what I found inspiring was the have-a-go attitude, and the way that Garima used minimal resources to get growing. It struck a chord with me because whilst I come with a professional gardeners outlook, with all the text book and guideline-following restrictive protocol that entails, I have an inner self that wants to garden using minimal resources, and I instinctively choose to recycle – minimal availability of space and cash encourages this too!

To this end, I thought I’d post a few pictures of my food growing in action, with a few words below each slide to explain what you’re actually seeing. There are no lengthy greenhouse potting benches full of neatly arranged seed trays, and there are no dug over borders awaiting plants. All that is perfectly fine, but here in my garden it’s just me and some simple, ‘un-complicated’ equipment including a mini greenhouse-like structure and a single heated propagator – although a warm windowsill will suffice.

Heated propagator gives a gentle warmth from below, whilst a clear plastic lid traps in moisture to create humidity.

This post alone is not a ‘how to do it’ guide, and seasoned food growers won’t learn much for sure. But if you are wondering whether to grow some food, I’d simply say ‘have a go’ and focus your efforts at growing one plant type, such as lettuce, that you want to eat. With any growing from seed, there can be tips and tricks to suit particular varieties, but label carefully, and follow seed packet instructions as closely as possible.

Ask around for seeds for that specific crop, buy a garden magazine with a free seed packet, or maybe order online or from a local garden centre that will post. There’s plenty of advice available through social media, or via a local radio garden phone in, and I’ll always try my best to guide you in the right direction – so do feel free to get in touch with any questions you may have – we can grow and learn together!

Clockwise from left: Peas starting their long climb, tiny Ruby Chard and Basil seedlings.

My list of ‘crops’ may be longer than my garden, but for reference here are the things I’m trying to grow in a host of random containers, and in the slimmest of garden borders in shade:

Potatoes: 2 types bought as ‘first early’ (Arran Pilot) and ‘second early’ (Osprey) seed potatoes. They’re just earlier to crop than the ‘maincrop’ varieties. (I’ll probably get sworn at for saying it, but if I hadn’t got hold of seed potatoes, I’d be growing some from the kitchen cupboard…) They were placed in egg boxes in a cool, light place as part of a ‘chitting’ process, and once small stalks and tiny leaves appeared, I planted them all in the bottom of the biggest containers I could find, two to three per container, ‘sandwiched’ in a layer of compost around 15cm deep. As their stalks grow through the compost, I’ll just add more compost to ‘earth-up’ around each stem, until each pot is full – I just hope to get more compost in due course! (It will seem like a lot of compost, but it will all be used to mulch flower borders afterwards, so won’t be wasted). I’ll keep the pots moist and allow each potato plant to grow until flowering, before I turn out a pot to see what I have. There better be potatoes for tea that night!

Potatoes  and garlic and onion plants growing
Clockwise from top left: potatoes in pots, French garlic, onions in ground and in a makeshift box planter.

Onions – bought as onion setts, or baby onions to you and I, called Stuttgarter – an heirloom variety no less. They were planted individually into small modules in trays filled with compost, and after roots and shoots appeared they were transferred; some into a wooden box, and the rest into the ground. The sunlight isn’t ideal in the ground situation but we’ll see how they go.

French garlic – bought as 2 bulbs. The cloves were broken up and planted individually into a larger container so each clove has room to grow. They’ll stay in that pot until they grow large enough to harvest – I trust.

Peas – bought as packet of dried peas called ‘Early Onward’. Instead of sowing direct into ground, I sowed around the edge of one larger container maybe 40cm in diameter; approx 20 seeds went in. As they started to grow I pushed ‘pea sticks’ or twigs of around a metre in height, into the pot, for the peas to scramble through. Sowed at the end of March they’re now 30cm in height and already starting to climb! I also evenly sowed a smaller pot with a dozen seeds or so, for pea shoots – which are already being picked and nibbled – I don’t know how long these will keep re-shooting, so I’ll be sowing another pot soon to ensure a regular supply – trust me they’re delicious!

Peas to the fore and lettuce behind, grown to enable regular cutting of pea shoots and lettuce leaves. Seeds sown direct into pots, they’ll be snipped until they produce no more!

Lettuce and Pak Choi – lettuce seed has been sown thinly into pots around 20cm in diameter, have sprouted thickly and are already being snipped for sandwiches and nibbling. Again, I’ll sow more of these in due course to ensure a good supply. The Pak Choi have only just been sown so we’ll see how they grow.

Tomatoes – I have tried two varieties, Alicante and Moskotka, one good for patio containers, one for the larger pots or grow bags of some description. Each are young plants at the moment, Alicante already potted up individually, and will be planted outside in their final containers once the weather is reliably warmer. Monty will be taking us through the growing of tomatoes over the coming weeks on BBC Gardeners World, so do watch back the episode from May 1st if you want to follow his step by step method – link at bottom of post.

Tomatoes: As they’re outside in the mini greenhouse, I need to be vigilant for slugs. This one felled a plant for breakfast before hiding under the tray for the day… If a late frost is forecast I’ll bring the tray indoors.

The last few pots include: Spinach (one larger pot sown); Chile peppers Cayenne (several young plants growing indoors); Radish (two pots and more to sow); Carrots (one pot but more to sow); Swiss Chard (seedling stage).

I wouldn’t say it’s overly ambitious by allotment standards, but on a homely scale it’s been more than enough to hold my attention, and will hopefully continue to offer some modest crops for the kitchen whilst keeping me engaged. Some – will – fail. Of that I have no doubt, but I’ll continue to play, tweak my growing methods, and I’ll be engaged and in-tune with the seasons as a result.

Moving forward, I’ll be looking to squeeze in some additional crops, and to sow a tray of this or that as space allows – I’m growing flowers too by the way, as you’d expect! To this end, I’d certainly hope that garden centres more widely will be able to offer access to composts and seeds more easily over the coming weeks – so if you haven’t yet started to grow anything, there’s time and opportunity yet!

I’ll finish up my food sermon there, and complete this week’s journal with my key task list for the last week:

Monday – Watering (believe it or not! Potting up auriculas for display. Weeding. Tuesday – Admin (during the rain!) following by all-day jet washing session. Wednesday – Day off! Thursday – Cleaned auricula theatre and arranged display. Continued jetwashing session. Friday – Logistical work for onsite garden activity. Planting nursery plants into borders. Collected mole heaps!

For now, I shall have to leave my journal there for this week… I hope in some way I’ve inspired someone to have a go at growing something to eat, and if I have, do get in touch and let me know how you get on.

Link to Garima Dhawan’s PechaKucha

Link to BBC GW 1st May on iPlayer

Watch these ⬆️ then get started! Kind regards, Gary

Do follow me on Twitter or Instagram, where you’ll most often find me in the garden somewhere!