Garden Journal 14.3.20

The Intro… I’m a professional gardener/horticulturist and post weekly to record my gardening experiences and journey. My main workplace is Broadwell Manor, Gloucestershire, and needless to say – this journal is independent and does not represent views of my employer or any organisation.

This week’s garden journal represents a week that seems to have moved very slowly to begin with, just to gain pace with more varied and random tasks from Wednesday onwards.

In summary: Monday – Complete re-potting of a large container where vine weevil activity had been discovered, followed by work to begin renovating a tennis court. Tuesday – More tennis court. Wednesday – Even more tennis court work, but also work began to create a new fruit border, and some additional border mulching (Thankfully supported by volunteers). Thursday – Key task was further ground preparation for that fruit border, and acquisition and fitting of wires for tying in fruit. Friday – A little support for an onsite event, some border hoeing and maintenance, and container work – relocating, removing protective wire and some cutting back.

Skipping back to last Sunday, I made a brief visit to Packwood House to breathe in some cool fresh air, to soak up some early spring sunshine and to simply enjoy being in a quality garden space. Packwood’s garden like many others is still holding its strong winter structure, something particularly brought to the fore in my image below of yew hedges being restored.

Yes hedge renovation at Packwood House, Warwickshire.
Yes hedges in a renovation programme at Packwood House

Knowing the garden in its summer clothes however, it’s incredible to think just how much it will change over the coming weeks. Plastic tubes and protective cloaks will soon be lifted off tender plants and exotics presently hidden away in glasshouses will take their place in the borders. Visitors will (hopefully) return in numbers to crunch along the paths, insects will zip around the mount in search of hot coloured herbaceous flowers on the terrace walk, and Instagramers will be seen crouching here and there in search of that one spectacular photo. I’m wishing myself there already…

Daffodil, or Narcissus RIP van Winkle
Narcissus ‘RIP van Winkle’

Moving to my garden at home, I had to add this image of a dwarf Narcissus called RIP van Winkle, an old cultivar known from as early as 1884/5. I’m not generally drawn to the larger attention grabbing daffodils, although I can’t deny their worth, but I was drawn to try this little beauty, and I’m so glad I put a few bulbs in a pot all those months ago – very much worth the wait.

Next image to illustrate my week shows what difference a pressure washer makes to moss buildup on artificial grass. OK so the court hasn’t been used in a while, and it’s not exactly gardening, but as part of the fabric of the site it needs to look good, for sure. Time constraints and the pace of the task meant it could only be half completed, so more of this in due course but for now, as Mr Robson used to say – it’s back to the weeding!

Tennis Court Shenanigans…

Next up is a simple image that I am glad to share as a reminder that the soil, depending on where you are, might be good enough to begin hoeing. This tulip border was mulched thinly after planting, although was already showing a sprinkling of weed seedlings. Therefore, for this border, now is the ideal time to gently get amongst the plants, to push the hoe, and to dislodge those pesky little weeds. Very satisfying indeed!

Hoeing through the flower border
Time to get hoeing…

Amongst the border shown above and across the surface of many containers, tulip foliage is well advanced now and the next image just brings attention a little closer.

The waxy coating on each leaf tends to send tiny globules of rain water down to the base, but while my image doesn’t exactly capture the detail as I’d like, I hope in the least that it encourages you to nip out and have a closer look if you haven’t already – it’s a pure delight, and for a good while now, there’s been plenty of rainfall to top up those little reservoirs!

Beads of water at the base of a tulip

My next and final image gives a flavour of the border work we started on Wednesday and completed on Thursday. Essentially, a new border has been cut and dug over, and a wire network fixed to the wall to tie plants into – quite an intense piece of work that will be in place for many years to come, so it had to be done just so.

The work shown above signals a change in activity from the cutting back and sorting out period that I feel I’ve been in since the autumn, to the putting back and the creative period that we are now entering in the garden at Broadwell.

Border work well under way, and materials for wall support…

I’m thankful and hugely appreciative for the support from those around me, both physically in the garden and also online. We all know of the pitfalls of social media but I find it heartening how the online gardening community in particular has developed. Yes it can judge and scold people, but above that it can work to offer a nurturing, encouraging environment – and one that certainly spurs me on.

Whilst I do a lot of social media, some people do much less and some much more. It’s taken me a while to figure out what I want to do on social, and to work out what to contribute, and if truth be known I’m still figuring it out and adapting daily – you can tell that by seeing how often I change my bio! But without wishing to get sidetracked, I do question what life would be like for the countless solo gardeners and self employed people who spend much time working alone in complete isolation:

– what would it be like to get home after a dreary, rain soaked day, and to not draw encouragement from other folk in similar situations.

– what would it be like to not draw inspiration from pictures of blossom buds bursting across each nation in spring.

– what would it be like to not chuckle at a gardeners Instagram story during a much needed sit down and coffee break.

– and what would it be like to not get a like – that seal of approval for a horticultural highlight you captured; and especially after you had to peal off sodden gloves and risk your precious smart phone in the process!

Whatever we draw from using social media, it certainly has an incredible ability to do good and share positivity, and whatever you draw from it, I hope it continues to serve the community well in the days ahead. Just remember – days are stretching out, temperatures are lifting, seeds need nurturing and bees are already busy pollinating. I hope we will all continue to share our gardening passion and positivity over the coming days and weeks – we’re going to need it more than ever!

In mind of my comments above, do look for inspiration from some of the online communities. I can recommend the #SixOnSaturday Twitter hashtag meme that Encourages the sharing of garden and floral action every Saturday. There’s also GardensHour every Monday evening between 9 and 10pm, and amongst the many focus groups on Facebook, for horticultural types there’s All Horts!! – Which offers a really supportive and useful forum (I’m a recent convert to AllHorts!! After it was suggested in The Plant Based Podcast – another great place to learn about and engage with horticulture).

Do check these out if you haven’t already, and do feel free to point us to more groups in my comments – I’ll happily share. Until next week, have a good one…! Gary

If you want to follow my gardening progress, you can also find me on Twitter and Instagram.

4 thoughts on “Garden Journal 14.3.20

  1. Lovely read again Gary, how you manage to do this blog with everything else , I don’t know. Wish I could do something similar over on mine. Any tips? Rocky 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s something of a labour of love. I enjoy writing, & considering that 99% of my gardening has always been through other people’s gardens, my photos & blog have become my main creative outlet – so I try very hard to keep it going! Time is the hardest thing to find if I’m honest, especially with two not so quiet boys around..


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