Chippenham Park Gardens – February 8th 2020


Chippenham Park Gardens is in Cambridgeshire, not far from Newmarket, and shouldn’t be confused with the other Chippenham in Wiltshire! I found it in the RHS The Garden magazine and was delighted to find it was open on my birthday and less than an hour from home. It’s not open all the time so check the website before visiting Here


It started with a walled kitchen garden, a bit bare in February, but we were able to peek at the pelagoniums overwintering in the greenhouse and admire the brassicas, then out into trees and grass and the snowdrops begin. You can make your own way round the garden, so we started with the fountain garden at the front.


We meandered past the tennis court to the lake and then over the Japanese bridge into the trees. Here there were lots of snowdrops and they got denser the further we went.



This area is ‘The Wilderness’ and ‘Snowdrops walks’



We took lots of photos!



Walking back to the tearooms we spotted bees in the crocus.

After warming up with lunch we walked along the long border and went through the wall to the Hare Hall gardens.

The leylandii arches from the mound and we enjoyed spinning the seat round to get a panoramic view.

We walked back along ‘Adrians Walk’ which goes round both sides of the top of the lake. It is packed with hellebores and dwarf irises and more bees enjoying the afternoon sun and sweet scents of the  Daphne and Sarcococca.


I will definitely be back, maybe to see the roses in the summer or the Acer walk in the autumn.


January – back to work.


It was hard getting up in the dark to go back to work on Monday morning, after having two weeks off, but these snowdrops were a welcome surprise.


Also the hellebores were starting to flower. Is it me or is it all a bit early because we have had such a mild winter so far.

In another garden winter aconites and sweet smelling Lonicera fragrantissima living up to it’s name. And rose pruning for me.

Prunus autumalis is a lovely winter flowering cherry with it’s delicate pink blossoms in the middle of winter. Yellow, native hazel catkins are pretty bright too especially when they move in the wind and the powdery pollen wafts out in clouds.


The first primroses are out!


Petasites, coltsfoot, the smell is amazing and the flower quite pretty but it spreads uncontrollably and it has  very tough roots. You can see how much there is in the background, this is one small area.


In this garden, giant molehills!


Second week, still dark in the mornings although much lighter in the afternoons now. Muck spreading to keep me busy and more snowdrops out.



New Year Catch Up January 1st 2020

Hello, Happy New Year! It looks like I need a bit of a catch up as I haven’t posted for a while. Writing on my phone proved a bit tricky, I thought that I could write it throughout the month but the photos kept deleting, and it is a very small screen. I’m going to do a quick summary of November and December because I did still take photos.



November carried on in the same spirit as October being mostly wet and grey. There was a bit of autumn colour creeping in.

I picked the final dahlia flowers and moved the tubers in to the greenhouse to dry off.


I tried to make leaf raking more interesting.

Seedlings and lettuce plants in the poly tunnel, doing well but needing some attention.

On the 19th November we had a frost and some actual sunshine.


The broad beans came up.


It rained again and the river got quite full.

At the end of the month, I saw violets, mahonia and periwinkle flowering in a customers garden.




Chicory in the vegetable garden.

I took the family to see the Helmingham Hall illuminated garden trail just up the road. It was fantastic!

Did a massive pond clearing job with a customer and man with a chainsaw.

It got really wet in the gardens but I still managed to harvest parsnip and cabbage.


Bulbs coming up. These are Leucojum, spring snowflake.

I can to cancel the last day’s work before my Christmas break because the road was flooded.


Visited the allotment to pick parsley for the stuffing.


I had high hopes of getting on in my own garden over the holidays but I have only done a very small amount of potting on in the polytunnel and brought some of the pelagoniums into the house. I haven’t even planted the sack of tulip bu;lbs yet. It is still vey wet underfoot although we have had a few dry days. I have a lot of seeds that I can’t wait to plant and I have flowers to grow for a wedding in the summer which I am most excited about.


October Diary 2019



So excited, those hardy annuals which I have sown at the allotment have started to germinate. It looks like there will be a lot of eschschlozia!


Also courgettes still going and baby leeks, bought as plants, planted out.


Oct 7th


Lots of rain so far this month and a good crop of parasol mushrooms on the lawn.

Oct 8th



Customers veg garden mostly clear now and liriope flowering in the borders.

Oct 10th


In this garden, I have been planting daffodil  bulbs. Much easier than when I started 2 weeks ago because of the rain. You may be spotting a weather related theme here! Anyway, I took this photo as I was planting at the top of the slope and I wanted to check that they could be seen from the patio at the bottom as that is where the house is. It helped me bring them a bit further down.



Flowering in the front garden, toad lilies and aconitum. And hey look the sun is shining!



Laybirds in the last of the helianthus and lovely skeletal poppies.

Oct 12th



Planted winter lettuce in the polytunnel at home and sowed some salad crops, pak choi, chicory, fennel (er, not sure why so much now) and kale. You can also see pelagonium cuttings and sweet William seedlings brought under cover. There are still tomato plants  but I don’t think that they will ripen out here now.

15th Oct

Spindle berries, very exotic looking despite being a native, Euomymus europeaus



Going back through the borders now for  more thorough cut back and tidy up. Also thinking what can be moved around  while the soil is relatively warm.

I am going to reduce these michaelmas daisies, because they can take over, but they do look good en masse and the bees were very happy to find some late flowers.



At the allotment, one side nearly done and the other with lots of work still to do.



Oct 16th


Nerines where they like it at the base of a sunny wall.

Oct 18th


More of the same, sunshine and showers.

Oct 22nd


They took their time but the cosmos are still flowering.

Oct 28



After rain every day in October finally a few dry ones. Today started with frost but then the sun came out. Time to get rid of all the courgettes and squashes on the allotment.

Oct 31st



Last day of October and still a bit of colour. Dahlias in one garden and fuchsia in another.

October has been a damp month, not much autumn colour yet. It finishes as always with the woodland group Halloween event, pumpkins and sausages round the fire pit.





September Diary 2019

Sept 1st


Sweet corn from the allotment.

Sept 2nd


Much cooler mornings now, a great opportunity to have a tidy up in the greenhouse. Picked the garden pearl as they were flopping all over the place and tied up and trimmed the others. Note new ball of string!

September 3rd


This outdoor cucumber is Marketer. I can’t keep up with supply, luckily the guinea pigs help out.


Still picking strawberries from the allotment.

Sept 10th


Good haul of produce from a customer’s garden. Keeping the tomatoes under control this year has worked well.


The plums may be on their way out but apples are ripe now in the orchard.

Sept 11th

First conker!


Sept 16th

Gardening in the drizzle but it makes for dewy photos. I planted these dahlias in a different place this year and they have been quite successful, for some reason the rabbits haven’t eaten them as much as in the main borders. And a beautiful unnamed rose.


Cleared a bit more pink geranium, a bit goes each year, and planted these rudbeckia to add a bit more autumn colour.

Sunday 22nd

Went to the allotment to squeeze an hour in before tea, 15 minutes later the heavens opened but we managed to pick cucumbers, courgettes and strawberries and dig some more potatoes.

Tuesday 24th

Allotment this afternoon. It rained all morning but when I turned over the soil there were still dry patches.  Cut back a bit more lavender and planted my Higgledy Garden hardy annuals using hazel plant labels from Woodview Gardens.


Shifting a leafmold pile for an elderly customer and then raking the leaves up and starting all over again. Cyclamen and autumn crocus in the same garden.


Courgettes still flowering and the Muscat squashes harvested and ripening on the wall.

August 2019


Myrtle flowering 2nd August


August 7th

One side cut back one still to go.




First plums in the hedge, sadly out of reach.


August 12th

Tomatoes doing well in the greenhouse. Some ripe and the marmande still growing.

The first taste of the new season plums is always the best. They bring out clouds of Butterflies, especially red admirals who like the sweet juice.

These are the seedheads of the nigella African bride and I like them as much as the flowers. I picked some to save the seeds as I want to grow them again.


August 13th

Crinium looking good in the border. I took this to remind myself that some more on the other side would look good.


Had a bit of a heave-ho to get this rose back on to the pergola. I ended up pushing it with my fork then going up the ladder to secure a bit then down again to do a bit more.


I’m so proud of these gazanias because I grew them from seed. Not bad for a random old packet in an unheated greenhouse.


August 15th

Enlisted the help of my son and mother to harvest as much as possible before going on holiday. Also planted out the beetroot and chard seedlings to take their chances while I’m away.


August 26th

Back to the allotment and it’s a bit untidy but still productive. I made a start on the herb bed to try and get one small area done bit mostly it needed watering.

Lots of lovely beans picked, French,green and purple, and runner. Also courgettes, cucumbers and a few late strawberries. The potatoes are not so happy but still managing to kèep us supplied.

August 27th

The roses that I pruned a few weeks ago have come back really well. With the catmint underneath the weeds are being hidden for the moment.


August 29th

It’s been a generally warm month with a bit of rain and some very high temperatures to finish. The gardens are all dry and still need lots of tidying up but the growth has slowed a lot and I feel that I might actually achieve it now.


Field of sunflowers on my way to work.

July diary 2019

1st July

Started the big chopping back. First the catmint by the pond taking care not to fall in!


3rd July 20190703_143333

8th July 20190708_093620

Good harvest of beans and courgettes from my Monday garden.


This was my only Rouge vif d’etampes pumpkin!

9th July


Having a good sort out in the rose garden. Pulled out the poppies and deadheaded the roses fairly hard.

10th July


Dieramas over the pond and magnificent Clematis at the back.


This customer really likes Clematis!

16th July


When the fence was renewed in the veg patch over winter, it was moved back along this edge, and I gained a new strip of earth. I have enjoyed using the space for annual flowers which wouldn’t stand a chance in the tightly packed borders. The sunflowers and sweet peas have done well and I particularly like this Nigella African Bride


17th July20190717_172902

First bean harvest from the allotment. The yellow ones were seeds from Lidl and the purple possibly Blauhilde. I’ve had the saved seeds in a jar for ages and I can’t remember.

18th July


Hot and sticky evening visit to the allotment. Pulled out lots of weeds. The artichokes look great in the late sun.

24th July20190724_104954

It has been so hot this week, in the 30’s everyday. I have spent as much time as I can in the shade and drunks loads of water. I don’t seem to have taken many photos. Just too hot!

27th July


And today the heatwave ended. It has rained much of the day. This is a self sown sunflower doing well at the allotment and the very late sown onions doing their best.


Sowed some seeds! I’ve never managed to do this before in July. Here we have Sweet William, saved seeds, various salad leaves, kale and beetroot.

End of the month.

Still cutting back and planting a few cosmos in the gaps. They may survive the rabbits, we’ll see. It’s a funny time of year with the first lot of flowers over and the late summer ones not quite out yet. All this rain and warm weather will encourage it back for a second flush. Had a quick look round to note what is looking good at the end of July.


Shasta daisy and Echinops. Verbena bonariensis and Echinacea.


Kniphofia and lovely, lovely Agapanthus.


By the way I’m on my third pumpkin seed, which hasn’t germinated so that’s it for this year.

June diary 2019

Lettuce and broad beans on the allotment

Sunday 2nd

Took Xand up to the allotment to water while I planted some very late potatoes and onions sets given to me by someone who had ordered too many. Harvested all the autumn sown peas, enough for a meal, and the first of the strawberries.


Tuesday 4th

No watering this afternoon as pouring with rain, good for planting out the lettuce seedlings. Also accomplished my mission of planting the brassicas and covering with netting.

Sunday 9th

Planted Cecil at the allotment.


Tuesday 11th

Warm and sticky but at least it has stopped raining. The rose borders are blooming abundantly and the peonies are magnificent too. Everything is growing  rapidly and there is a lot to do, I have to remind myself that I will get on top it and it will slow down.

Tuesday 18th

What a week, I’ve never worn my waterproofs so much! Finally got a proper sunny day yesterday and got tormented by horseflies and hayfever. Remembered the insect repellent today.

The garden is at it’s best, in the sunshine, with the sysirinchium out and the weeds mostly hidden. Still planting in the allotment, replacement pumpkins as Cecil turned out to be a courgette, and some celariac given to me by a friend. Not impressed with the seed company, they have not replied to my email, may have to tweet them.

Still lots to do, weeds growing like mad and a thunderstorm forecast for tonight. Picked broad beans and peas for tea.

June 20th


This isn’t gardening but I had to share this wonderful field of daisies.

June 25th

First courgettes and the second sowing of potatoes has survived. I still don’t know what ate the first lot but when I planted these, in May, I sprinkled the trenches with chives and blackcurrant leaves, to disguise the smell, and put netting on top.

The tomatoes in the greenhouse are gettig bigger and, keeping it real, the allotment is fill of weeds.

June 30th

Planted Atlantic Giant pumpkin seeds again. My friend gave me 2 but one died so I am hoping 3rd time lucky. Monty said it wasn’t too late on Gardeners World on Friday so here’s hoping.



May Diary 2019


Saturday May 4th

At home, dodging the hail showers,  planted out my poor sweet peas they have been neglected and needed planting weeks ago. Sowed salad seeds in the raised bed and planted out the watercress.

Weekend 11th/12th May

Reached that point where everything has to be sown or it will be too late. Struggling with salad in the raised bed. Although early sowings are ready to pick, nothing else has come up. There was a lot of heavy rain last week and now it is  supposed to be getting warmer so fingers crossed. Still those chilly nights though. Can’t get runner beans to germinate at all this year but have some French bean plants and more seeds sown. Lots of squashes and courgettes ready to go out soon.


Tuesday 21st May.

Last week we had cold nights and one frost but temperatures of 14°c and above in the day.  Quite a lot of moving plants in and out of the poly tunnel went on. This week is more settled so plants are able to stay out but there is more watering now.

The garden exploded into bloom and I wowed at all the new flowers and all the butterflies.

Today I saw the first few blackfly on the broad beans so I pinched out all the tops. They are doing really well with beans forming now.

Moved a lot of the dahlias from the greenhouse into the beds making space for the tomato plants. Used very sturdy supports this year!



End of the month

It’s getting full on now with the Irises, peonies and poppies in bloom. Lupins in full flower ready for the first wedding of the season.


April Diary 2019


Tuesday 9th April

In the greenhouse, the French marigolds are up and the Gypsophila, pricked out last week, are doing well.  Sowed more squash seeds.

Started checking the dahlias. I usually pot them up at this stage but I have decided to water the dry soil that they have overwintered in, and move them from there if they grow.

Outside, pulled up the last of the brassicas and planted the next lot of peas. Put pea sticks in.

Friday 12th May


Planting seedlings in my raised bed

Managed to get the teenage daughter into the polytunnel to re-sow the failed sunflowers and also start the giant pumpkins. Planted spinach and lettuce seedlings into my raised bed. Still a bit cold at night so hoping they survive.

Found vine weevil in pots so tipped out completely in the chicken run.

Easter Holidays


Made use of the light evenings to sow squash, courgettes and beans in the polytunnel while learning Macbeth.

Visited allotment to water, first potato up so starting earthing up. The broccoli are too infested with aphids now to bother eating, so gradually bringing a couple of sticks home at a time for the chickens. Car also has aphids now!

Tuesday 23rd April

After a hot dry Easter break, it is back to grey weather and chilly nights.

Ready to eat, rocket, radish and baby spinach. Broad beans, not really but I can see the little beans forming.

The dahlias, that I bury in the bone dry greenhouse beds over winter, are beginning to shoot. I have been storing them like this for several years and it is really successful but you have to have a large, brick built greenhouse to do it! My customer is very lucky.


In the orchard, the apple blossom is divine, see top photo,  and I love the quince flowers, above, too. Saw my first speckled wood of the year.

Monday 29th April


Not a single potato left at the Hall. Not sure what has eaten them, possibly rats. The squashes are doing well, no germination on cucumbers, maybe the seed is too old now.

Tuesday 30th April


Saw the first damsel flies emerging from the pond. It is still cold though.