Archives for category: photography

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 ”

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002003005I have finally rounded the once sharp edges of my lightweight, tough and  ergonomically designed Fiskars spade. This has taken ten years of  border creation  and soil turning to achieve; and as a gardener I feel a true sense of pride and accomplishment.

Last week my  spade and I  dug out a new border, which now wraps around the Wilde’s home here in Shropshire, it was here that I observed this beautiful new curved edge.

In my constant quest for superlative planting inspiration for this particular new border, and all the gardens in my care,  I am off to Trentham Gardens  in Staffordshire with my great gardening friend Judy.  We will  immerse ourselves  within the stunning planting by  Nigel Dunnett, Piet Oudulf and Tom Stuart Smith.  There will be a  blog about our visit.

On my last visit to Trentham, these were  my favourite images.  I wonder what Judy and I will see next weekend ?

 

 

005I came across this stunning sculptural  Japanese anemone today in Diane and Dom’s garden in Much Wenlock.  I was particularly taken by the curvature of the stems.  This has now become my favourite flower image so far for this year.

 

 

This garden is particularly vertical,  to work here you definitely require a head for heights, as these earlier images hopefully depict.

 

 

Italy –  a magnificent fortnight of  searing blue sky ,art, architecture and gelatos.

I was also lucky to spend a  weekend in Barcelona shortly afterwards, where the intense light brought perspective, pattern and colour into sharp focus.

As a gardener, this is the start of my favourite season.  Autumnal sunlight saturates  foliage and flowers as they commence their natural demise.  Long may the sun shine!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the 26th March, I sowed these  Thompson and Morgan and Sarah Raven seeds in my unheated greenhouse,  I am so happy with the results,  flowering just in time for my recent 50th birthday.

 

 

 

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

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

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.