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.
What an incredible week filled for many with anticipation, worry and uncertainty. I’ve pondered as the days passed how I could even attempt this week’s journal entry by simply talking about my gardening. But, and here’s the thing – I’ve come to understand that it’s more important to me now than at any point ever.
I’m aware as much as the next person how being outdoors and the process of gardening is increasingly being known for the health benefits they can provide – the all important ‘wellbeing’ we seek. Therefore with the global situation set to continue, it wasn’t a great leap for me to see how much more important growing and our green spaces will become for some of us over the weeks ahead.
Now, I’m not suddenly going to change into a veg expert and preach to you, that’s not what this journal is about. Added to this, I know that many people are already in self isolation with heavily reduced options.
I was fortunate though to get out over the last fortnight to collect some seeds and compost (peat free of course – we have standards to maintain!) and as the weeks pass I’ll be featuring a bit of this growing both at home, and hopefully at work too. If in the process it inspires anyone else to have a go, then it can’t be a bad thing, surely – maybe you have a spare packet of seeds down the sofa… (Or, do check out the website of your local plant nursery or garden centre, as many will deliver necessary items to get you gardening over the coming weeks).
The first image above therefore, shows my initial material acquisitions which over the coming weeks I will put into production at home – in a range of containers I hasten to add!
Getting this journal entry back onto its normal footing though, the above image simply records the process of top-dressing some containers. On the whole the pots are in great shape and have performed really well over winter – due entirely to the the expertise and careful selection by their planter – not myself I hasten to add! However, as is often the way, a couple that featured Heuchera showed vine weevil activity, so complete re-potting has been necessary.
Aside from this ongoing task, here’s my weekly summary of activity: Monday – made a start on top dressing and re-potting some key containers. Tuesday – a good deal of mowing and more container work. Wednesday – a day supported by volunteers Alex and Mary – we dug out two shrubs as part of a border renovation project and moved onto selective thinning of an informal cherry laurel hedge. Thursday – Strimming, to follow up mowing, then moved onto seed sowing into pots. Friday – A day off! Although a few more garden supplies collected to fuel sowing projects over coming days.
Images both above and below show seed activity, with seed potatoes set out for chitting – they’re now placed in good light on a cool window sill. The pots shown below contain French bean and courgette seeds, and these are now enjoying the sunlight on another slightly warmer windowsill too. A small start to food growing at Broadwell, but more to come for sure with seed sowing and ground preparation from Monday.
Stepping out of the works garden, I seemed to be here there and everywhere on Friday – something that already seems too much of a luxury… One of the many highlights of the day, pictured below, was this fancy Prunus ‘Amanogawa’ – an upright or ‘fastigiate’ tree growing just around the corner from me.
One of many floral highlights of the week, it reminded me in the moment that the day was indeed the vernal equinox, something of which I’m more informed thanks in part to Lia Leendertz’ wonderful Almanac. The vernal or spring equinox, or first day of spring to some, is one of those stepping stones for gardeners when day length becomes equal to night.
In short – longer days combined with increasing temperatures result in more plant growth – so expect some exciting developments outdoors over the coming weeks. Even Monty referred to the equinox in last night’s first 2020 episode of BBC Gardeners World – an absolute delight to have back on our Friday night screens btw!
Coming up over the remainder of the weekend and through next week I’ve a great deal of gardening lodged in the mind, including more seed sowing, a touch of mowing and more container work. Some of it might even get done if I can just finish typing!
The week ahead does hold uncertainty though. But, although it won’t solve all our problems, if I can throw anything into the mix it would be this: look to plants, and look to nature. Spring is here, plants are bursting into growth and bees, birds and insects are already busily preparing for the year ahead. If you have to isolate then look outside and try to be part of that cycle – sow something, tend something, or simply observe.
Regards, And take care, Gary
If you want to follow my gardening progress through these crazy times, you can also find me on Twitter and Instagram. I’ll be trying my best to stay out in the garden!