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!


Beautiful Vegetables

Well that was summer! I seem to spend month after cold month waiting for it to come only to find it fly past leaving my to do list barely dented. But there is still a lot of colour in the garden in September, and I’m talking about the vegetable garden!


Rainbow chard, of course, which I grow mostly because it looks so good


DSCN0037.JPG Radish French Breakfast. I’m not usually great at successive cropping but when the heatwave ended I sowed a few seeds and the slightly cooler, wetter weather has resulted in a later harvest.


The beans are having a second flush too. Mixed runner beans above and French, Ecosse violet, below.DSCN0041



The courgettes are still going, the flowers and courgettes adding colour and structure to the vegetable garden.


Beetroot, another one with vibrant stems

Squash, Potimarron, and a giant(ish) pumpkin, beautiful colours and strokeably smooth skin, or is that just me?


Not strictly grown for the flowers but this belongs to a carrot.


Curly kale. This is ready now and will continue through the winter. All the bumps put off the caterpillars too.

DSCN0047.JPG And in the greenhouse a small but beautifully formed cucamelon. I didn’t like them last year but I am willing to have another go!

Late summer harvest


Cox’s orange pippin.

It always happens but I can’t believe that it is the end of August already. It hasn’t been a particularly good vegetable year for me, I struggled with the watering and some crops like lettuce just bolted in the heat.


Grapes, not ready yet.

It is really comforting, therefore, to find that with a bit of moisture and cooler temperatures the surviving vegetables have picked themselves up and put a bit of effort into it.


Potimarron squash

The squashes in particular have gone from sulking and refusing to grow to taking over the plot suddenly masses of fruit appearing, (hope that’s the right term) about six on this plant and loads of flowers.


Turks turban

Unfortunately the growth spurt is too late to win me the village pumpkin competition with this one.


My late sown runner beans are doing better than the earlier ones which went over quickly without producing much.


Had some tonight for tea, very tender and fresh.


Courgette ‘Buckingham’

This is a new variety of yellow courgette for me this year. It has been prolific with courgettes, and a few marrows, all summer and still going.


I don’t like the end of summer but I do loved the fruits it brings. The apples and plums are just starting to ripen and the blackberries are ready in the hedgerows. The wasps and hornets are fond of the fruit too.


Hornet enjoying a fallen plum.

I will survive!

It looks like we are in for a bit more dry weather but before the downpours of the weekend finally broke the first heatwave, I had a look around the gardens to see what was surviving in the extreme dry and hot weather not usually experienced in an English summer.


Verbena bonariensis, no surprises here as it freely self seeds in gravel, It may be ubiquitous but I still love it, a welcome pop of colour without dominating the border.


Crocosmia, just a standard orange, unnamed variety but still looking fresh.


Agapanthus, very happy in the garden and also in pots.



Penstemon, probably garnet,putting on a good show with a bit of Dierama over the top. This one is at home I like a mishmash of plants.


Geranium Rozanne, always gives 100%, admittedly this is my shady corner where it gets huge, but also does well elsewhere.

DSCN3110 My giant, bought from Tesco a few years ago, lavender. Every time someone comes to the front door, the scent wafts into the house. Going to be useful if the summers continue like this.


Had a really good crop of raspberries this year. Originally one plant in a previous garden, I  brought a piece with me and now I have big tangle of canes.


Passiflora caerula, passionflower, looking suitably exotic and enjoying the heat.


Only a few days after the rain, the herbaceous plants which I cut down  are popping back up.


Nepeta six hills giant  (catmint

The grass is getting a bit greener too,DSCN3118

As, the climate changes, it may mean a change in what plants we can grow in the garden. I have lost some shrubs to the drought and even established ones can suffer. This is a  15ft cotoneaster which I hope will recover. DSCN3121

It could take until next year before I find out the true extent of the damage of the drought but it is going to be a challenge for the future, especially if we carry on with cold, wet springs as well.

Ah well, as long as the roses survive!


Garden catch up.


May went past so quickly that I never managed to finish my blog post so here are a few highlights of the last 6 weeks. It started like this with the glorious Auriculas followed by the first alliums and it has been a steady burst of colour ever since. There were a few sneaky cold nights but it has been mostly warm and dry.


With all the sunshine after a long, cold, wet spring the, everything grew really fast, weeds as well as flowers. I could still do with it slowing down a bit so that I can savour each moment such as the combination of forget-me-nots with all the bright spring greens.


And the Erysimum really brightening up a dull border.


The peonies have been good and the irises spectacular.



Now the roses are reaching a first peak and radishes, lettuces and courgettes are being harvested in the vegetable garden.


So now the borders are full, there is a profusion of flowers and it’s all go as I try to plant out the remaining vegetables and flowers grown from seeds and keep on top of the weeds and watering. At this time of year it’s a rewarding job and important to remind myself that I am a good gardener and I will catch up eventually.


And to enjoy it!


By the way, I got some new chickens at home and am enjoying actually getting some eggs for the first time in years, my two oldies are quite elderly in chicken years. But that’s a whole other story, when I ‘ve got time!

Spring plant fair-Helmingham Hall



I can’t believe that I left early to go to a plant fair all of a mile way from my house but 9.30 found us in the line waiting for the gates to open. Actually, it was worth it not to have to queue on the road for ages as once we were in we drove straight through to the parking area, and onward to the entrance gazebo. Interestingly, they don’t tell you about the free plant for the first 800 visitors, you have to use your iniative and find the  Plant Heritage marquee yourself. Penstemmon this time.

Plant of the day seemed to be Cirsium rivulare ‘Atropurpurem’ spotted on several stalls, and which I didn’t get a photo of, but these stunning poppies disappeared pretty quickly too.


The best thing about any plant fair is the wealth of specialist knowledge available. From carnivorous pitcher plants to cabbage seedlings and a wide variety of shrubs, perennials, herbs and grasses. I bought a black iris from this nursery and a lemon scented pelagonium from another.



Lovely Clematis from Katie’s Garden


A good selection of grasses

I was surprised the first time that I came to a plant fair how reasonable the prices were too, another benefit of independent nurseries. There is an independent plant nurseries guide if you want to find your nearest.

Also on offer, garden accessories especially decorative iron work.


These wonky photos really don’t do it justice but designs and bespoke orders by Kev Colbear Design .


Always a pleasure to visit, the gardens are still set out as described in my earlier blog Spring Plant Fair at Helmingham Hall(2016). There are new graphic information cards, by Helmingham gardener Chris Reeve, for when that plant name on the tip of your tongue won’t reach your brain.


View of the main pathway looking back towards the house.

Several waves of alliums, peonies and roses just coming out, I always find Helmingham a comfortable garden to visit. Obviously the long borders, vegetable patches and topiary are on a grand scale but the sight of flowers past their best and the odd weed is very reassuring.


The path forming the cross axis, nice edges!


Closer view of the Eremus and Aquilegia


The spring border on the outside of the walled garden.

Lots of early roses and tree peonies, irises, Thallitricum and herbaceous peonies.



And a poppy, Patty’s Plum, I think.

After a nice walk, following the moat around the house, wondering which bedroom the Queen sleeps in, you get to the knot garden on the other side. Surrounded by hedges and filled with herbs, it has a more intimate feel. Lots of hebaceous geraniums and roses coming into bloom.


View from the herb garden.

Pub garden 2018 – April


Ladybirds on celery leaves

The pub garden in April has mainly been about preparation. I have been steadily working my way through the vegetable beds trying to catch up with the weeding. These are red celery leaves from last year, obviously very hardy and a tasty addition to soups and stews



The red veined sorrel also overwintered well and looks like a permanent fixture now so may be moved to the new herb bed.



The broad beans have continued to grow and now have lots of flowers on.

Mummy blackbird was very busy collecting food as I dug each week, she did well, look at the size of the chick!


The off site greenhouse has been the place to be in the cold, wet weather at the beginning and end of the month, not so good in that sweltering week in the middle. I have struggled with quite a lot of seeds this year, especially pumpkins and cucumbers, for which I am blaming the weather!

Even so, the curly kale, spinach and beetroot are doing well. They can be planted out at the beginning of May if they are big enough.


At the end of the month, the wild garlic which I planted a couple of years ago, came into flower and it has filled up the bed a bit more.



This is the view at the end of April. I have started sowing a few seeds and not quite finished clearing the old vegetables, but it won’t be long before it is all filled.



The most exciting thing, however, was the tulips flowering. I’m most pleased because the planters look exactly how I imagined which is very satisfying. Incidently,  look out for that narrow window in the next update.


Columbine Hall

I came on here tonight to do a quick blog post to and found lots of lovely comments and new followers so thank you and sorry that I took so long to reply, I shouldn’t rely on my email notifications, obviously.


Well, life’s been a bit hectic recently, I have been preparing for a large gathering of my dad’s friends and relations to celebrate his life and my head is full if arrangements. Even though it was cold and raining I decided to have a break this afternoon and visit a garden at Columbine Hall not far from home. Thanks for telling me Perfect Perennials!

It’s a beautiful, moated 14th house with winding grassy paths and formal pleached limes.


We went through a lush wilderness and down a tree lined walk to the bog garden which follows a stream and was full of ferns and wild garlic.DSCN2636


In a newly planted herb garden there were the same mixture of tulips, in an old copper, as close to the house.



At the back of the house is a courtyard garden with a large prostrate rosemary and pretty fencing.


It was busy despite being such difficult weather so I hope that they did well. The warm barn for teas was a very welcome respite and the greenhouse looked busy.

On the way home I stopped to take a photo of these magnificent cherry trees, something that I have been meaning to do for years.






DSCN2601.jpgThis weekend I have made a bit of progress in my own garden. As it has been such a cold spring I held off sowing seeds until we had a bit of milder weather at the beginning of April, then it went cold again with little sunshine. The result has been that seeds haven’t germinated, and some have rotted in the pot, the sudden heatwave finished them off.

Now, the polytunnel is full of sprouting dahlia tubers, successfully overwintered despite the low temperatures, and newly sown seeds just emerging. I started chilli seeds in the heated propagator, then they moved to the windowsill and now in the polytunnel.  The free ones from Mr Fothergills are doing well, the Razzmatazz didn’t germinate very well so I have re-sown, fingers crossed for a good summer so that I get some chillies. With frost forecast for this week, I am glad that I didn’t put the fleece away.


I have also taken over my Dad’s plot at my parents house. He loved growing vegetables, long rows of runner beans which he shared with the village as there were always too many for the two of them. It’s good to carry on, although he wouldn’t think much of my wiggly lines, but hard too. The asparagus that I bought him a few years ago are just coming up.



On Sunday, sweltering in the heat, I sowed french beans, radish, carrot, beetroot and parsnips which won’t come up because they are last year’s seeds but I can’t just throw them away. There is still a bit of broccoli from last year under the netting. I am using his mesh which is the stuff used for plastering but works well.


At home, in the polytunnel, I sowed my giant pumpkin seeds from Matthew Oliver at RHS Hyde Hall. I have been too nervous to sow them in case they don’t come up, now I just have to stop myself rooting around in the pot to see if they germinate. I will post updates as hopefully they get bigger and bigger.


Giant pumpkin seeds, with normal one for comparison

Pub garden 2018 – March

This will be the third year growing vegetables for The Queen at Brandeston and I am going to try and keep a monthly update, this is the first.

DSCN2445.jpgThe edible planters at the front are not looking at their most spectacular but the primroses are flowering and the tulips that I planted in the autumn are coming up. Yes you can eat tulips!


Here is one of the tulips and a viola. I don’t seem to have much luck with the violas. I used good, big plants this time. Planted in flower, in the autumn to allow time to get established, but still something eats all the flowers before they are even out.


Out the back, one side is ready to go. There’s a bit of overwintered salad under the mesh, salsify, rhubarb, autumn sown broad beans, wild garlic and empty beds waiting for spring to hurry up.


Winter salad leaves


The broad beans have survived all the cold weather.


The rhubarb will soon be ready to harvest.


Wild garlic planted autumn 2016.

On the other side of the lavender lined pathway, there is still a bit of work to do.


Some of the beds still need to be cleared and the gravel weeded. The nearest bed is for herbs and the chives are doing well but there’s more to add. The furthest has mixed brassicas, the winter kale is coming to and end but there are a couple of broccoli just ready.


Chives ready for picking.


Purple sprouting broccoli protected by mesh.

In the greenhouse, not on site, I have planted a few seeds as I couldn’t wait any longer but I am well behind on my plan. I am now bracing myself for a big rush as soon as it warms up a bit.


In the greenhouse, one beetroot seedling so far!