Journal 7.3.21

A brilliant book if you love history and tulips!

Just an ordinary week in gardening you could say…

On the flip side, the weather has remained pretty steady all week with temperatures – being all-important to the gardener, staying reassuringly stable around my area. Yes there were the odd nights of frost, but on the whole it’s been mild and calm, meaning early spring flowers continue in the best of health.

Cornus mas, or Cornelian Cherry to you and I…

The days though are noticeably drawing out now, and on occasion I’ve certainly enjoyed feeling the sun’s first real warmth on my cheeks. Around the gardens I’ve been cheered by the sights of hellebores and primroses, scillas, snowdrops and glory of the snow, along of course with the first of the daffodils. Just in case you didn’t know it already, the flowering season I can confirm is well and truly under way – there’s no holding it back now!

In the glasshouse at my work’s garden at Sulgrave Manor, the first of the seeds sown in the closing days of February have already burst from the compost. Sown into trays and put into heated propagators two varieties have germinated quickly, having sprouted in little more than four days. It’s incredible the difference a little bottom heat can make – butt I’ll leave you to make the bottom jokes!

So far then I have beetroot, leeks and onions, plus sweet peas, Mexican sunflower and pot marigolds on the go, with many more in mind. As the next few weeks come to pass therefore, activity will increase in line with the growing season, but at least in a week or so I shall have another pair of hands to help, with more in April.

Greenscape view from a bridge at Charlecote Park…

Outside of work, physical gardening activity has been nonexistent, although a pre-booked trip down the lane to Charlecote Park on Thursday afternoon was hugely refreshing. Walking much of the park that is open to visitors, it was a delight as always to watch the deer nibbling the grass, and to stand watching the weighty River Avon flow past towards Shakespeare’s Stratford.

Mind you, whilst I peeked through the Victorian balustrade around the old croquet lawn, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of pity for the gardener responsible for the lawn, because spread across the surface were numerous mole heaps. I know from experience how challenging it is to balance presentation of a formal garden feature with the desire to welcome wildlife, so hopefully, for the gardener’s sake I hope the little critter moves on soon to the other side of the wall, where a vast parkland is available to play in!

I feel their pain

Before I close this week’s journal entry I want to touch briefly on the webinar I mentioned above with John Phibbs. You may remember one of his recent books Place-making, The art of Capability Brown, which was published in association with English Heritage and the National Trust in 2017.

Having been lucky enough to work at two Brown landscape gardens, I shall never cease to be amazed at the complexity of the design work and at the scale of projects that were undertaken. In equal measure I can also say that I’m equally amazed how much of Brown’s work remains hidden and misunderstood. It was heartening once again then to see John continuing to explore and interrogate Brown’s landscapes for history’s sake – if not for our entertainment.

Two books, of which I have but one…so far!

Unfortunately though I’ll have to stop here before I start waxing lyrical about historic landscape, but not before I offer one little takeaway from that webinar. It is regarding the lack of written evidence from Brown about how his landscapes were constructed. One theory that came through, at least to me, was that he might simply have been trying to avoid giving away too many secrets!

Let’s face it, Brown knew he was on to a good thing, even if his style was initially built upon the work of others. But what if the lack of information published by him wasn’t because he didn’t get around to penning it, or that he didn’t want to expose himself to even more criticism, but more because he was protecting his investment, so to speak.

Well, maybe we’re way off the mark, but it’s reassuring to know that folks like John are chasing down the information and testing the evidence. Who knows, maybe one day Brown’s lost diaries will come to light and reveal all!

Until next week, take care of yourself and look for the flowers!

Regards, Gary

One thought on “Journal 7.3.21

  1. The mole hills made me chuckle. We spend our gardening life trying to embrace nature but contain it in equal measure! Happy is the mole who is oblivious to our cares.


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