I am finding it difficult to curb enthusiasm for my new camera.

016 I planted  Gunnera manicata in a  stream side border.  My intention was for  Eleanor and James to eventually witness the giant foliage from their kitchen window  (which is about twenty metres from the original planting).  The Gunnera will reach around 2.5 metres in height this year so my aim will have been achieved.   Due to recent ground frosts, some of the fresh foliage was damaged, however,  there is plenty more to come.

  I recently cleared out blocks of montbretia in the rockery for Judy and Martin.  Verbena bonariensis, Tithonia rotundifolia ‘ The Torch’  and Salvia viridis ‘Blue’ will fill the gaps.   I am intrigued to see how the combinations of orange, blue and purple work this summer.

026 I particularly enjoy walking along this pathway to Treasa and Simon’s garden in Spring, due to a carpet of primroses which stretch its entirety.    The foliage of Knautia macedonia Purpurea and Japanese anemones are presently pushing their way through and around the box balls, and so my pathway enjoyment continues.

038Patty’s Plum looked stunning at Diane and Dom’s

022Suree’s  garden at the award-winning King and Thai restaurant in Broseley.

Sheila’s garden with its heavy clay is a perfect place for poppies and peonies.

Next week – five days of Shropshire gardens followed by the Wicks sisters annual visit to RHS Chelsea Flower Show.  I cannot wait!

My new camera has arrived.  I am delighted.

I recently constructed two new raised beds at home, which immediately heightened the enjoyment of my garden.

015 Throughout the week I spend somewhere between 35 and 40 hours working in other people’s gardens. I dig, weed, prune, design, plant and resolve gardening problems.  I truly love being a gardener, I find it good for my soul and well being, both physically and mentally.

When I get home,  my garden is an old brick paved farm yard.  Every year I spend a long time re-arranging the containers which are jam- packed full of my favourite plants, creating the garden I want to enjoy.  I am now able to get my hands in the soil as I plant in the large raised beds, rather than squeezing newly grown plants into containers.  I  feel I  am finally gardening in my own garden.  It makes me feel good.

I need a new kneeling pad. Geoff’s dog ate it. This was the best kneeler I have ever used, you can see all the layers.  Sadly it was not Spaniel proof …011

These belong to my friend Judy.  Every year we scour the Parkers catalogue to find perfect tulips for containers.  They are lifted with their stem and leaves intact when they have finished flowering and dried off in the greenhouse over summer.  In mid-November, they are replanted in raised beds in the lower section of the garden.

We would not choose to have this amount of mixed colour spread through the garden.  However, in one space, I  think it works well.

If you are wondering what to do with your spent containerised tulips why not give this a go?

Over the last four years, my ever faithful Panasonic DMXC-TZ18l  has enabled me to produce the images  for this blog.  I cannot believe it has managed to survive this long.  I have dropped it on numerous occasions, left it in the rain and  filled the zoom with soil on more than one occasion.  A truly great  camera.  Sadly last week system error (Zoom) was its downfall.  I thought I would share some of my favourite  images.

I have ordered a Lumix DMC-TZ60, which has now  been dispatched from Jessops.  I am quite excited.

 

 

The sharpness of Spring sunshine through fresh foliage finds me hunting through borders to find beautiful Spring flowers as I work through my customer’s gardens.

march 2013 021Admittedly this spring image is not from this year,  it is my favourite, though, and always has the capacity to make me smile.

This weekend will find me with one of my college friends at the Gardens Illustrated Spring Festival. Carolyn and I will discuss garden design for hours, whilst admiring gorgeous nursery and tool displays.  I cannot think of a better way to spend a day off work.

004I  wanted to learn the basics to enable me to start designing and making willow  structures in customers gardens.  I googled willow weaving workshops.

On Saturday 4th March 2017 I headed off  to Kings Cliffe in Peterborough to an open willow workshop. With  the assistance of Sue Kirk,  an  exceptional  tutor,   I definitely learnt the basics and made a  free-standing plant support.  It  stands  in pride of place in my garden

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Others  made complex pieces, which they very kindly allowed me to take  images of.  This is exactly  what I want to be able to create.

My annual visit to Chelsea always finds me on the look out for intricate willow designs. This incredible piece was from  2015.

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I have some hazel rods.  I have ordered some brown willow, and when time allows I am going to get into the weave.

Tuesday 27th October 2017.  I spent some time watching snowflakes.

To be precise these are Spring Snowflakes – Leucojum Vernum.  They are a stunning Spring bulb.   Their tiny Tiffany lampshade- like flowers have the capacity to stop me in my tracks.  They are planted under the hydrangeas with primulas  for neighbours in Geoff’s garden

I have not needed to divide these plants up over the last three years as they have flowered profusely, however  they have now formed a robust clump.  I think this will  definitely  be a job to add to my list. Later this Spring I will  divide, and replant the offsets in the woodland border.  I will then  have a shady border full of snowflakes next year.  I can imagine it already.

041With my pruning and mulching almost complete,  my   focus is  now  to  cut  back  all  that  remains of last years  perennials .    This  Veronicastrum in Judy’s garden has been given an extension of leave,  and continues  to  defiantly pack a visual punch with its enduring sturdy stem and seed head.

Unless  pest and disease ridden, I tend to leave spent deciduous  foliage on the borders over Winter.  Not only do they  provide temporary winter soil protection, mulch out weeds, but  then naturally decay down  to improve the soil’s fertility.  It is only now in  mid February, that I have started to remove  this  old foliage away from emerging bulbs,  whilst  ensuring  the leaf mulch is aside from the crowns of perennials.   I have a perfect Wolfgarten tool for this job,  which enables  me  to  leave  behind the delicate foliage,  buds and flowers of countless bulbs  in my care as I rake through.

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wheelbarrow loads of hellebore foliage have been cut back, to reveal some  truly stunning flowers.

Finally , and most importantly some of my favourite perennials are no longer subterranean, ” Hello  2017 ”  from  an emerging Euphorbia Fireglow  in Geoff’s garden.

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The majority of my  winter work  involves pruning and cutting back shrubs and trees in preparation for the coming year ;  but never  hacking  back.  I  regularly  drive past properties where the latter has been undertaken ( and often on a vast scale ).  It truly shocks and saddens  me  as  to what level of horticultural carnage has been   created.

Out of the vast number  of shrubs I look after,   over the last 9 years  this particular shrub rose (which belongs to Wendy and Alan in Much Wenlock)  has become   my favourite to prune and photograph.  Why ?  – the  flowers and hips are  stunning and copious, they also  make a great addition to any door garland.

On a practical note, pruning simply involves cutting out diseased and dead wood, removing crossing branches, weak   growth  and cutting back  to  ultimately promote healthy new growth on a balanced framework.  Hacking back  creates an image of  no knowledge as to how  it should be done,  no thought to the long term health or  aesthetic shape, whilst  using blunt tools. Oh yes, and not particularly caring either.

My pruning tools of choice are   the   super sharp Niwaki secateurs, Wolf Garten anvil  loppers  and pruning saw, and the   Royal Horticultural Society  pruning manual. I never travel without  them.

My lovely sister Louise, made me these  gloves for Christmas.  It made me laugh out loud, when I realised  they are an exact colour match with the cyclamen in Geoff’s’ garden.003

I think we should all make an effort to colour co-ordinate  with our gardens more.