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.

March Diary 2019.


Ladybird on overwintered parsley enjoying the spring sunshine.

Here we go with my attempt at a gardening diary.  I am making a few notes, on actual paper and on my phone, as I go along and then transferring them to here at the end of the month.  It will include gardening at home and work, mostly work this month and mostly lists of seeds!

Tuesday 4th March.


Autumn sown peas in the foreground, broad beans at the back.

Everything is growing! Pulled up the overwintered rocket to transplant the new lot in the greenhouse.  Also pricked out some into pots. Planted radishes outside!

Sowed Calvalo Nero, butternut squash, maybe, and borage to try and use up packets, bronze fennel to sell and parsley for the pub herb garden.

Saturday 9th March.


Home. Seeds- salad leaves, spring onion, giant sunflower, purple sprouting broccoli, plain parsley, dill, watercress. Put the sweet peas outside after pinching out.

Tuesday 12th March

Another list of seeds! First time I’ve grown Gypsophila. Transplanted sprouts, and had to ditch a few as I really don’t want this many.

Monday 18th/Tuesday 19th March


I keep writing ‘the peas are doing well!’ So here they are.

The radishes have survived. Planted out rocket, mass seed sowing beginning. Outside, parsnip, spring onion and winter density lettuce. Inside, 1st lot of French beans. Cornflowers outside to harden off.

Saturday 23rd March 

Planted potatoes. Some that I got at a potato day in February and some ordered online. Buying them at the potato day means I have 5 tubers of several different varieties.


Potato day at Stonham Barns



Planting potatoes on the allotment.


Tuesday 26th March

Lots more seeds including some squash and courgette in the greenhouse although it is still cold some nights. Planted out sweet peas.


The daffodils are out in the orchard.



Fritillary time.


Well that was March, I didn’t put all the lists of seeds in, in the end and it obviously doesn’t include every bit of gardening that I did.








Early Spring 2019

I am posting this in early March, getting towards mid March now, having intended to do a bit of a diary catch up at the end of February. That month is so short that it caught me unawares! dscn2661

So,here is a quick summary of what I have been up to and some flowery pictures of what is out now.

At the end of last year, I was given the opportunity to take over, what I have previously called, the pub garden to use as an allotment. Last year was a difficult one weather wise and I just didn’t get enough paid time to get control of it. I think that all the time that I did get there, I spent watering. I am hoping that I will get to spend more ‘free’ time there, my son has been helping me and it is looking better already.


I have some Autumn sown broad beans, too much kale and I have planted some fruit. This side is pretty much under control the other six beds not so much but I have picked my first rhubarb of the season.


In January, I started keeping a garden journal. I glanced through my previous attempts, there were several January entries for preceding years, all talking about sorting through the seed packets, then nothing else.

This year I have managed to keep a list of what I have sown, I have done this before it usually lasts until about mid April when everything is growing and I can’t keep up. I try to write notes when I have spent a bit of time or done something specific in my garden, as opposed to work.

I have also made a couple of very rough sketches of the vegetable gardens so that I have an idea where everything is supposed to go, it is subject to change!


The sowing has begun in the greenhouse at The Hall and in the polytunnel at home. The first lot of seedlings are up, rocket, beetroot, radish and a whole packet of very old Brussels sprouts which have all germinated.

January sown sweet peas have been pinched and put outside although I should protect them from the frost due next week. Later sweet peas are just coming up.

I am picking rocket leaves from the polytunnel, sown in the autumn but only just getting going. As soon as the weather warms up they will flower and be over very quickly.

Now for the photos of all the lovely flowers appearing now.


Sweet violets, scilla and Leucojum (snowflake).


Hellebores, narcissus and dogwood.

This week has been wet and very windy, hoping  for a better one to come with lots more gardening.


January 8th 2019

First day with any length of sunshine since Christmas day, and it felt weirdly like March as it was so mild, about 10 degrees.


Garrya elliptica.


 Good to be back at work and time to burn off a few of those excess pounds by barrowing muck to spread on the garden, and it was big garden today so good exercise.


Iris unguicularis

After being away for a couple of weeks I like to make a tour and see what has changed. We’ve really only had one or two proper frosts so far this winter so things are getting advanced already.


Always a thrill to see the first snowdrops out, there are a lot more to come.


Bergenia and Viburnham tinus putting on a good show.


Nearly but not quite, Pulmonaria and hellebores still in bud.


Even a great tit singing his ‘teacher teacher’ song.


Of course things will change, there is already cold weather in the forecast. I don’t mind a bit of frost or snow, to set the seasons straight, kill a few pests and make everything look photogenic; as long as it doesn’t last too long.

Meanwhile I am enjoying the slightly longer day length and the promise of things to come.


Looking Back

New year seems a good time to look back on the last twelve months of gardening. I started at Kenton Hall in January 2018 so this presents itself as a perfect opportunity to look at the changes over a year of extremes. Unfortunately I don’t have any of the snow as I didn’t go that week! The gardens of Kenton Hall provide a stunning location for weddings in the summer months and my job was to keep them up to standard.



It seems so long ago! I can remember being very cold and the first day that I did here there was a heavy rainstorm. I could see it coming but it was my first day and I didn’t want to give up until it was raining badly enough. I got soaked through to the skin. So what was here was overgrown shrubs and herbaceous perennials. I love a challenge!



Getting stuck in. Cutting back everything, perennials, grasses and shrubs, including evergreen ones as much as I dare, just so that I can see what is there.



Things start greening up. The primroses look fabulous along the moat.


The first wedding of the season was in May so lots of weeding in preparation, fortunately the owner does the hedging and grass as there is a lot of it. The house provides a stunning backdrop for photos, and the lupins came out, hurrah!






The beginning of the heatwave. The borders are full and the grass is just about hanging on. Flowering now Stipa gigantia, catmint, Achillea cloth of gold.





Still looking green, the main flower here was the almost complete bed of Japanese anemones but also shrubby potentilla and the grasses were looking good. I had been coming regularly, but not that frequently, mainly in the week before each wedding.




The wedding season had finished now, and I had started to cut back the finished flowers. A lot of plants were just getting to their best, especially the asters (michaelmas daisies) and fuchsia. The leaves were starting to fall off the trees at the back.





You can see that whereas mid afternoon in summer is still scorching hot, at the same time in November the shadows are really lengthening and the light is fading.


The seedheads did look good in the golden sunlight, they are still there, and there were a few late flowers on the lupins having a second flush. Feeling a bit more in control of the square borders, I got a chance to work in the rose garden and found a Clematis cirrhosa ‘Freckles in full bloom.


Almost full circle and back to a very wintry looking garden and a late flowering rose. January will start with less cutting back and shrub shaping to do than last year so maybe a chance to divide some of the perennials and make the beds more of a mix. At the moment there are big blocks of colour which look effective but then all die back at once.

It goes without saying that I was easily distracted by the beautiful house and trying to get it in the pictures. There are also views over the surrounding countryside.

For wedding venue details and photos I would suggest the website, link in first paragraph, or the Instagram account @kentonhallestate.


A year on.


This is a border at one of my customers houses last September. It had been annoying me for a while. DSCN1482

The lavender at the front wasn’t happy, always leggy and not easy to cut on the edge of the pond.  It also seemed to die off easily, going all the way along originally.DSCN1479

At it’s worst it was full of bindweed and ground elder, this must be after I had weeded it and it doesn’t look that great even then. I always like to stress to my clients that I am not a designer but I like to think that I can do a planting plan.

With a bit of advice from my knowledgeable Allhorts colleagues, social media group, I came up with an idea.


DSCN2313This is in February, with the roses pruned hard, and sleeting!


And here with the lavender dug out and the first Stipa tenuissima planted in March. These were the only plants that I bought and I divided each one before planting. Along the edge of the pond I put catmint, Nepeta ‘six hills giant’, dug up from the main borders and in between the roses Verbena bonariensis, self-seeded seedlings also from the garden.

And now, in October.




I’m really pleased with how it looks, that it only cost about £20 and you can’t see the ground elder anymore!