Archives for category: gardening

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.



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.



September brings that satisfying Autumnal sharpness in the early morning air, combined with  dew on the grass  it is quite categorically my favourite  month within my gardening year. Many perennials have  gracefully moved from their full on Summer impact to their exquisite  Autumn form,.

My panasonic lumix and I are   partial to a  disintegrating flower and a sculptural seed head.   I garden along the lines of leave a perennial  in situ until  it has collapsed or  I am bored with looking at it.  It is generally the former, as it makes for a far more interesting border. If only  more people   gardened  this way,  rather than  hunting for their secateurs or loppers  at the first sign of petal defoliation and foliage pigment disintegration.

I recommend getting up early to take a slow walk around your garden,check out the dew covered  grass, cobwebs and flowers  it really is quite  stunning, and an extremely positive way  great to start your day.

These are images from the 24th June 2016 of  Judy and Martins garden, which sits on the slopes of Ironbridge Gorge. Tomorrow is Judy’s 70th birthday party.  For the last eight years I have  weeded,pruned and planted in this garden

I regularly use images for my  blog from Judy’s garden, as it is often picture perfect.


Judy asked us all to write a poem for her birthday.   I decided to write a blog.  Happy Birthday Judy.

With all my love Sal x (a.k.a the gardener)

I have been carefully observing Erythroniums.  They are also referred to as dog toothed violets, due to the fact that the bulbs look like an extracted dogs tooth. If you have a woodland style garden or shady spot in you garden, that has moisture retentive soil then this Spring bulb should be for you.  These  bulbs are  growing particularly well under  a group of Hydrangeas.  Images from a rainy work day  on Friday 15th  April 2016.  Enjoy.  013014.JPG015

Certain flowering bulbs  really do have the capacity to stop my in my  tracks. Erythronium Pagoda is definitely one of them.   Stunning.

Work continues in this dreary, grey  Winter. However Last week was  perfect for planting roses, moving  deciduous shrubs whilst musing on  what to grow from seed, as I sat in several greenhouses waiting for the rain to stop.

So, with time on my hands I contemplated  colour.  Coral, raspberry, primrose yellow, burgundy, chocolate brown and burnt orange are the main contenders at present. I took  this image last year.  I loved the  colour combination and the edible element it bought to the flower border.


Thompson and Morgan have a new Cosmos this year.  Xanthos  is described as soft yellow.  To date this  is the  only  definite on my must grow  list.

I  recently moved  a vast amount of  2015 seed sown Stipa tenusimma from one garden to another .  It  was grown specifically  for a new border that needed gapping up last year.   There is now a definite structure plan that does not include Stipa, so  it is  venturing elsewhere.  Sharing plants is such a great way to create beautiful gardens.


I firmly believe that in a large border, and  if soil conditions  and light levels permit, you can never have enough  Verbena bonariensis, Stipa tenuissima  or Globe Artichoke (Violet de Provence is a favorite of mine, and comes via Sarah Raven seeds).  I spent around £6.00 on seed,  ending up with at least  forty  decent sized plants last year.

Wednesday 13th January the frost finally arrived in Shropshire. At  long last some decent Winter pruning can begin in earnest.   Pruning is one of my favorite tasks. My  tools of choice are  as always  Niwaki secateurs and my Wolfgarten anvil loppers.

My favorite January images follow. Enjoy.








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.



018097090P1050606P1040424november 2013 100november 2013 099november 2013 104P1050586345When most people say ” I’m in the garden”  what they normally mean is that  they are sitting down and relaxing.  When I say  ” I’m  in the garden” I actually mean I am either  ankle, knee, thigh, or head deep in the border, with the latter being my favourite.  Towering  Rudbeckia herbstonne  provides  this heavenly  opportunity  regularly through the Summer.

It  is  a completely  different sensory experience  once  you  clamber  inside,  providing  a far greater sense of the dynamics of  the planting, rather than viewing from the sidelines.

Being the generous gardener I am,  this WInter  I will create  some  pathways enabling  my customers  to climb in,  so they too  can enjoy their gardens from within.

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 .