Archives for category: garden photography

Every November, for at least an hour or two, I question why I chose to become a gardener?   The answer is always quite simple in that  I have packed neither my ever faithful thermals or waterproofs, and I  am either cold or wet.   Once found  I am set for any winter gardening eventuality as a  happy, warm and dry gardener.

Gardens are gaining their winter definition, whether through their sturdy structural form or the demise and decay of soft plant material.   I love being an all year round gardener








Where there was once turf,  gravel parking areas,  forgotten borders and gardens in need of drastic renovation,  there are now  vast tracts of colour, shape and form. Over the last ten years these gardens have all  become special and memorable places.  Why ?   Because the owners have allowed me to create great big beautiful borders for them.

Intense colour vibrancy for Selina.

A true sense of  place, peace and elegance for Martin and Judy.

I spend half a day each week pruning, weeding and being immersed in the heady scent of  countless roses, spectacular Spring Magnolias, Peonies and Cherry Blossom expertly chosen and planted by Mary – Geoff’s late wife.

Ten years ago the flowering period had almost finished in Wendy and Alan’s garden by mid-May  – not now.

Being able to plant Gunnera and create  borders that stretch as far as the eye can see for Eleanor and James.024 A chance conversation six years ago led me to work for Diane and Dom.  A head for heights and balancing on the top of narrow walls is essential, this garden is  particularly vertical in places.080

Growing the majority of the flowers, both for the table decorations and the garnishes for Suree at The King and Thai restaurant in Brosely.

What excites me, and will keep me as a professional gardener and horticulturalist for life, is knowing  that there will always be an alteration that can be made through new planting  to continue the development of these gardens.

I read garden design journals by the mound, and visit specialist nurseries searching out plants to increase my knowledge.

With this in mind I recently made my first visit to the Wildegoose Nursery in Shropshire.  What an incredible horticultural find.  This place will definitely provide the answer for my decisions on how I can continue to improve the structure and visual impact of many a garden.  The plants are incredibly well sourced, beautiful and extremely well priced.  There is also a great cafe.

My only other decision is which mug to have my first cup of tea from ?   I think it might be my Waltons mug.  After a long hot summers working day a shed load of tea will sort me out.040

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.007


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