Winter finds me spending considerable time deliberating over how I will transform my garden for summer.  The heady scent of damp compost and freshly germinated seedlings will shortly be filling the greenhouse.  I can hardly contain my excitement.

050Anemanthele lessoniana (in the background) continues to self seed freely through our garden.   My big idea for this year is for all my new seed grown plants to sit in containers between the clumps of this grass.  I cannot wait to see my 2018 seed raised honka dahlias emerging through the burn’t orange tinted foliage this coming late summer.            l

Molina Transparent and giant fennel plants are shortly to be acquired.  They will definitely provide height and structural definition to my garden.

033037035I am still working on finalising my must have list.  Fiona likes to help out, using her long pointy greyhound nose to show me her favourites.  In all honesty I  would like to grow the lot !

p.s my next blog will be my definitve list, and why they made it onto it.



017016014The willow was in need of renovation.  Undecided whether to coppice or pollard I undertook both.  February is quite the perfect time to do either, as the sap has not  risen and birds have not started nesting.

Coppicing may look quite severe, however, the rate of growth will be vigorous –  new growth will reach at least a  metre this year.


I am feverishly removing spent foliage to reveal the growth tips of  bulbs in customers gardens.  Spring is definitely on the way !

018030025February continues to  be  wet, cold, windy, muddy, snow and sleet filled.  However daily sightings of  Hellebores, Crocus, Snowdrops, Cyclamen coum and Cornus Midwinter Fire constantly remind me why I chose to make my career as a gardener.






Bare root  Amelanchier canadensis and Betula pendula have now joined  Eleanor’s garden.

005 These silver  birch were around 80cm in height when planted six years ago.  They now stand at a good three metres, with their  white bark looking  stunning from the house – particularly  in  winter.

Amelanchier canadensis are a new addition this winter.  They  have been planted in semi shade and with the  garden soil being acidic and moist  they should be happy.  By planting closely in groups of three I have created a multi stemmed effect.  Truly   beautiful white spring blossom  and rich autumnal colour in variations of purple, red and orange makes this one of my favourite trees to plant.

Bare root plants are available in most garden centres and nurseries through the winter planting season.  They are incredibly economical to buy, really simple to plant and grow away fast.    I  use a spade to make a notch and then  drop the roots in, covering up to the point of where the sapling  had previously been growing in the ground.

If you have sufficient space, planting bare root is a really affordable way to add structure to your garden this winter.  Why not give it a go ?


030 I am sure there are only a few who would readily admit to having  “borrowed something”  from the office stationary cupboard. Due to no such cupboard self- employment has cost me a fortune in  biros and notebooks.

I fully admit to borrowing.  I really do mean borrow as they will be returned and replanted in the gardens they came from once they have rooted  –  I am talking about hard wood cutting material.

032Since Christmas, my willow decorations have remained on my kitchen window sill.  By  keeping  the florists foam wet  the cuttings  started to  root within a month.


Today I noticed due to insufficient light the new growth is becoming etiolated.  I need to pot them up and grow them on  in my unheated greenhouse for a month or so, before I harden them off and plant them out  in late spring.


Vases containing willow have started to root within a fortnight.  Hardwood cuttings  are a really simple and affordable ways to either bulk up an existing garden or start a new one, why not give it a go?






January finds me planting trees, pruning dozens of deciduous shrubs and  mulching.  Raking away vast amounts of collapsed spent foliage appears to be my main task though.


Gardens with narrow borders pose no problem,  these jobs can be undertaken from the  edge.  Wide borders pose a  gardening dilemma, should  I stride through them to complete my winter work?  the answer is no – I will not be the person responsible for damaging the soil structure and leaving  a mud bath in my wake as I do so.  Instead, I  choose to stretch in as far as I can reach,  the rest will have to wait until it is a little drier underfoot.

However I am striding through Geoff’s large borders pruning as I go,  due to countless small stepping stones which have been set into the border.   Over the years they have become well camouflaged by encroaching planting and earth.  In fact I would go as far to say you probably wouldn’t know they were there if I hadn’t  mentioned them.  I like the fact that they are unobtrusive, yet extremely useful, and when well placed don’t affect the aesthetics of a border.


January finds me surrounded by the immense beauty of bark, sharp winter sunlight, flowering shrubs, magnolia buds and racing streams.  Believe me,  gardening is good for the soul  throughout the entire year.



009 I recently came across  Witch Hazel ‘Orange Peel’.  The combination of magnificent spider- like burnt orange flowers plus the heady scent of strong marmalade has turned it into a must-have new shrub for my garden.    I fully intend to buy and plant one in a very large container by our front door as research tells me it can grow up to 8ft in height and width, and prefers neutral to slightly acidic soil.  If only I could find a marmite scented winter flowering shrub, I would be in horticultural heaven.

007004009020006January finds me pruning, mulching, cutting back perennials and carefully removing spent foliage from borders.  I am constantly reminded how much new life is waiting for the year ahead.  I am truly looking forward to another year of gardening.

003My favourite image of the week  – it was cold on Tuesday – four  layers is generally my norm for this time of year; five if it is raining.

My Panasonic Lumix and I have seen (and taken) countless images this year.  These  are my top twelve, I hope you enjoy them.005191043273005037026025099103138038

This is my overall favourite image as I still cannot believe I managed to capture the water droplets on the show garden designed by James Alexander Sinclair at Chelsea Flower Show 2017



Snow followed by frost, it was all quite magical.  Gardens are now soggy and squelching towards the end of the year  – thank goodness I am on my Christmas break.

Willow, dogwood and birch have been my plants of choice for presents.   Wendy  (my upholsterer friend ) has a chair spring included within hers.

Tiny flower candles became my inspiration for this table arrangement.


I love  these curved willow arrangements, and with being inserted into florist foam, they are highly likely to take root –  what a  bonus !


Why not step into your garden and return with a handful of stems and make your own ?

Deep winter snow, a true rarity in Shropshire, which brought my working life as a self employed gardener to an abrupt holt for five days.

These images will remain etched in my memory for a very long time.  Believe me it has been breathtakingly beautiful.

Income generation recommences tomorrow, as sadly it all melted today.



041 I always wait for a frost or two before commencing my winter work.  In addition to pruning and removing perennials which have outstayed their welcome,  I am mulching borders and  placing  vast amounts of bamboo canes in gardens to imagine places for new plants and trees.

Amelanchier, Birch, Magnolia and  Sumach are amongst my favourite garden trees –  I particularly like their multi-stemmed forms.  Sadly, not everyone I work for  is as enthusiastic for planting  trees in their borders as I am –  which I consider to be a great opportunity missed.

Recent December  images of gardens in my care include.

My recommendation is ” make a realistic winter garden plan, and within that plan attempt to plant at least a couple of trees, and vast amounts of bulbs ”