Archives for category: garden photography

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?

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.


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.


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.

Have you ever looked in detail at an Autumn cyclamen?

In addition to their stunning flowers,  they have a fascinating method of seed dispersal; with the spent flower stem, coiling back, bringing  the seed closer to the ground for localised seed dispersal.

How clever is that ?  (very)

Take some time to look in detail at the plants in your own garden; look under  shrubs and  in woodland areas on your travels.  You won’t  be disappointed.



Friday 1st July 2016 it rained, and then the sun came out, and so did the bees in Wendy’s garden. At  the moment these are in pole position for being my favorite garden images of 2016.  Sally x

To be honest working as a full time gardener this winter  has been quite a long wet slog.  Thankfully the 12th March brought the onset of  spring with bright sunlight and warmer  breezes making  work far more enjoyable . Horticultural treasures are beginning to punch their way out through the earth in celebration.P1050111My favorite spring garden belongs to  Treasa, Simon,Theo,Nathan and Zag (their dog)  This  was the first garden I started  working  in when we moved to Shropshire 8 years ago.  Primroses and toy dinosaurs feature quite  heavily at the moment.april 2013 110Images from gardens this week include – an almost black hellebore013Narcissi Bulbocodium Conspicuous018Euphorbia rigida and  Scillia015Leucojum Vernum012Cardimine quinquefolia 011Today we visited our good friend Paul, who has   created  a   beautiful and productive space within  his polytunnel.  It is  a treasure trove for both the eye and palate, providing a  great space for grazing  on an eclectic mix of salad leaves, or sitting under a  peach tree and relaxing with a book.001Enjoy your garden treasures, whatever their shape, size or form.



Like any self employed person I often find myself time short. Today I had my first labour saving idea of the year

Albeit a little over due I was planting bulbs, and wondering what to attach my  copper tags to.  Even though it is the simplest propagation  method I very rarely get round to taking hard wood cuttings. However today they became the post for my tags, and  this  year I will hopefully have the willow for my  winter door garlands in abundance.  I can just leave them in these containers, so there will be no need to pot them up again.


I use to make  these  rolls with college students years ago. You will need a bin bag, a 50/50 mix of  compost and horticultural grit, string,secateurs and your chosen hard wood cutting material.


1.Take your cutting from the previous  years growth, pencil thick (if possible), and about 15cm long.

2.Make a straight  cut  at the base just below a node, and a  diagonal cut at top, just above a node.

3. Line them up along the grit mix with as much of the cutting below the growing media as is possible.  You just need a couple of nodes above the growing media.  Roll them up, tie with twine.  Cut in some drainage  holes.

4. Put the roll in a plant pot to keep it upright then  leave outside, and check on in late Spring  by rolling out to check for for signs of root growth. Just roll them up again if root hairs have not developed.  Once your cuttings have roots from the base of the cutting material it is time to pot them up, or plant into the ground.  Your little cuttings should be ready to pot on by Autumn.

Whatever you do, don’t pot them on, when  the first roots appear, as these will be on the stem alone, and not the base.  Just wait.

I find this to be a particularly fool proof method, as the  amount of cuttings I have pulled tiny root hairs off, as I pull on them in a container to see what they are up to.


You can use a wide range of deciduous  material for hard wood cuttings,  including – dog wood, flowering black currant, roses,hazel, willow – to name but a few.

Happy hardwood propagating everyone.



During this  incredibly wet  week in Shropshire  I  have found beautiful  berries,hips and leaves on my gardening  travels.

november   2013 102

Rose hips.

Full on wild weather, full on colour.


Cyclamen and Ginkho biloba


Acer palmatum and Asplenium


Acer campestre and cotoneaster berry


Summer stem and seed head of allium

As   much as I enjoy  creating, tending  and watching  vast  borders change with the seasons, I am particularly taken by Autumn.  Soft plant material begins  to  disintegrate, seed heads form, pigments start to fail,and berries become visually dominant. This is an incredibly vibrant and exciting  time of the gardening year.


090October  appears  in the main  to be consisting of  removing plants that have outgrown both their allotted  space and visual interest, in so creating space for new interesting additions.  Kniphofia and Persicaria are presently  at the top of my interesting plant list, with  Persicaria  Red Dragon topping my  favorite foliage plant of the year.


Kniphofia  – there is just something very special about their statement  colour that appeals to me.  Recent acquisitions include Kniphofia  Lemon Bees

082  and  Kniphofia Mango Surprise

044. These Kniphofia belong to  Wendy, they looked pretty amazing in June.


There is no point in keeping plants that bore you, gardens need to be inspirational places of visual beauty, whether that is in flower, seed, stem, or berry. or  a butterfly resting on Rudbeckia herbstonne.


Enjoy your autumn gardens.   I will enjoy fourteen .


Garden borders  are looking quite remarkable as  their colour and visual presence increases  exponentially.  If perennials keep on growing at this rate, I will find it difficult to wade in without squashing some prized dahlia.. This week I have mainly spent my time with  deliciously heady scented roses,  the combination of zingy citrus and  heavy musk  –  quite  a heavenly horticultural privilege.

I once designed the soft landscaping for a couple whose only remit was that I could not include roses, it was not their plant of choice.  On this occasion it was difficult to think that the customer was right,  in reality it was a tragic loss.  Roses are a  fantastic addition  in all their forms, and one that we should all give thought to.  I recently read an article  in Gardening  Which,  until now  I have always pruned   spent rose  flowers  reasonably far back down the stem. from now on in,  I will  just remove  the flowers., you  can   save yourself a week or two of waiting for new flowers to form. 080This was my favorite rose at Chelsea this year –  Jacqueline du Pre.  It was highly memorable  –  quite  beautiful in its  delicate form. Hopefully there will still be some in stock at David Austins when my sister Lou and I  pop in for tea and cake shortly

A week of some of my favorite images follow.  Sisyrinchium has self seeded, not that I am complaining.  Allium Atropurpureum is starting to make quite a statement.  Red hot pokers are doing their horticultural  thing ,  and so am I.    018030010009031 019020DSCN1008DSCN1053 Enjoy your Summer gardens.