Journal 17.1.21

The many chats and discussions, the questions and debates; they all serve to entertain and engage – and it’s this we’ll all miss the most. Indeed I know it’s already had an impact on the wider staff team. Still, we’ll endeavour to keep in touch, and as I move through the next few weeks working in isolation, except for zoom meetings of course – I’ll also be working to keep the garden team as engaged, informed as possible.

Snowdrops glistening with raindrops
Snowdrops minding their own business at the foot of a very, very tall yew hedge.

On the gardening front I have yet to engage properly, as I would say, with physical work – although this will come this week for certain. I have though tuned into the garden and have worked out my priorities for the weeks ahead. Suffice to say that fruit tree pruning, tree surveying and border work are in the mixing pot, with a splash of glasshouse activity, a sprinkling of mulch, a scoop of weeding and measures of health and safety and administration. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep things simmering along nicely as we move towards spring.

Outside of work I’ve finally found my head space to get back to a voluntary garden design I began last autumn, and have progressed to the point where I now need to present to the garden owner – which shall now have to be a virtual tour via zoom.

Design & drawing – an absolute delight however I look at it… and it can only get better.

It’s been a real reawakening of my design techniques, which haven’t been properly utilised for some years, but in the sessions where I’ve knuckled down and focussed, I’ve had an absolutely brilliant time ‘walking’ through the design in my mind, placing the structural plants in their places, and seeing the design grow over the coming years.

Whether or not this design or another gets built remains to be seen, but I’ve certainly enjoyed the design journey so far – even if my skills are a little rusty! Oh and on the subject of drawing skills, I’ve also rekindled my sketching aims in a very small way – something which again requires much focus, even though I know it brings worthwhile rewards. Maybe I need to get me an online tutor to keep me on track…

Beside the design work, my home gardening was very minimal this week and simply consisted of lifting a few more containers off the ground to protect them from frost. I like to use the terracotta pot feet for this but anything stable can be used – I also use off-cuts of wood and a cast iron grate to similar effect. Whatever material, they essentially work to create an air gap between the base of the container and the ground, which reduces the chance of some frost moving up into the pot, and also helps the pot to drain more efficiently.

Details details details…

One word of caution though – if the pot contains a tall plant, be sure that the pot is evenly and securely weighted, or maybe even tied in to aid its stability. This is something I once again learned to my cost over Christmas after moving such a pot to a new and windier position than expected. A freak gust of wind toppled the pot off its feet and reduced its life substantially through the addition of some lovely new cracks – and it was a tough pot!

Evergreen oak trees at Charlecote Park in Warwickshire
A ‘clump’ or group of evergreen oak trees at Charlecote Park grown to create a substantial screen, to interrupt the landscape view, and to provide cover for grazing animals. Incredible foresight...

Finally, at the end of a very long week, we managed a family visit to our very local Charlecote Park – the last of our pre-booked outings. We are all blessed to have such a great venue on our doorstep, and even with massively reduced numbers, we’re thankful for the opportunity to get out and explore such a rich and beautiful landscape – you could feel the pressure of the week’s work and home schooling release as we carefully elbowed our way through the split chestnut gateway. I was going to describe my visit in detail but I’ll return to this in a post later this week.

Until next time then, thanks for dropping by and getting to the end of another Gardening Ways Journal entry. Best wishes, Gary

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