Journal 24.1.21

As I type this week’s Journal to the sound of Jean Michel Jarre’s ‘Oxygene’, I look back across a week of early starts, work commitments and a large dose of home schooling. Week three is now done, lockdown continues and finally the new weekly pattern settles into a rhythm.

Cyclamen coum from Caucasus region.

All has been very quiet on the home gardening front, with everything in its place and all ticking over nicely – there’s lots of activity to come but for now, this ultra slow pace is fine. Some grass seed that I sowed over the festive period is just starting to show through, and whilst the gravel-topped spring flower containers move not, the Miscanthus grasses frequently do with each chilly, passing breeze.

Journal 17.1.21

OK, so there goes week two, another unbalancing week in my world of gardening – and life in general come to that.

Last weekend brought much reflection on the ever developing Covid and work situation, and by Monday morning I was resigned to the fact that some things would need further tightening. Indeed, within an hour of the week getting underway, conversations were taking place that encouraged a decision to officially pause volunteering. Now, whilst this brought some comfort for all involved, it obviously meant a lack of gardening activity for some time ahead – for a team that was already limited in number to maintain social distancing.

Potted plants in a glasshouse
Keeping a watchful eye on over-wintering cuttings, the stars of summer next.

A check in gardening activity, even as challenging as it is to the constant flow of seasonal tasks; is something that can be won back over the months ahead. It might not be easy, or desirable, but it’s perfectly achievable if we adapt, manage our expectations and keep a close eye on priorities. Possibly more important though is the resulting pause to the social interaction for all garden team members – including the assistant gardener and myself with a new furlough arrangement going into place.

Journal 10.1.21

Hello and Happy New Year! Okay, so here I am at the end of week one 2021 with the first ‘Journal’ post of my revised blog format.

I’ll be creating this style of post every week going forward and shall look to include a handful of images grabbed during the week, with some supporting text to record my week of gardening ways, and hopefully to encourage yours!

This week has been a tough one to get my head around and not just because it’s the chilly first week of a new year. It is because, since the beginning of November, I’ve been furloughed for two days per week. This has now been extended through January.

Now, I’m a person that weighs up the pros and cons in any situation, and in the end I always plough on and keep things moving forward. This time however, and I don’t mind saying; it’s really challenging to get my head around things – especially now that schools are closed – if only I could clone myself!

Gardens and the Best of Times

Welcome to another GardeningWays post, where this week I’m going to say a little, wait for it – about the importance of gardens.

Oh here we go again I hear you say! Seriously though, gardening for me feels somewhat different this year. Times have changed – but then I’m sure they have for everyone.

Sunrise over the Sphinx bridge at Compton Verney in Warwickshire
Sunrise beyond the Sphinx Bridge at Compton Verney ©️Gary Webb

When I look back, just one year has passed since I released myself from a working role which, through ten years of growing, saw me change immeasurably as a person. When thinking of this last year, I hardly need close my eyes before vivid images across those four seasons come to my mind; a time of intense and very rewarding activity I have to say.

Journal 3.10.20

Welcome to a slice of my weekly gardening journal – the next chapter…

In my last garden journal entry, I looked back on my previous working position. After posting that entry and sharing I was really humbled by the positive and supportive responses, every one of which helped to reassure me that my decision to move on was the right thing to do at this point in time.

Something also pointed out in some of the feedback was that I had accidentally, or maybe purposely, neglected to say where I would be working. How naughty I was, or more accurately, how careful I was in not wanting to be dismissive of my last year whilst pushing on to the next.

Man! Just tell us where you’re going?” You must be thinking, so with no further ado I’m excited to reveal that my new horticultural playground is the marvellous Sulgrave Manor and Garden, where I’ll be joining the team as a good old fashioned Head Gardener.

Sulgrave Manor, Northamptonshire.​ The front approach to the porch beyond peacock topiary specimens.
Sulgrave Manor, Northamptonshire.

Now if your first thought was ‘I’ve never heard of it,’ then I have my work cut out haven’t I! Don’t feel bad, as for many things you don’t know it until you know it – if that makes sense. I can assure you though, that once encountered this prettiest rural Northamptonshire property is sure to leave a positive and lasting impression, if for no other reason that it is the home of George Washington’s ancestors – yes, the founding father and the first president of the United States of America from 1789 to 1797. (For additional info I’ll signpost you to a little more through a link at the bottom of this post).

Journal 30.9.20

Welcome to a slice of my weekly gardening journal – this entry a little later than planned, but an important entry nonetheless; as you find me on the last page of my chapter gardening in the Cotswolds.

Essentially it’s change of job time, equalling new days and new challenges ahead. My boots though are not yet cold from tearing around the works garden, preparing things as best I could for the inevitable gap between me and the next gardener. Therefore, for this journal entry, unlike my usual format of reviewing and looking back over the previous week, I want to be a little more creative with a look back over my last year.

Broadwell Manor, East Front in the Cotswolds in September
A reflective post….

Not wanting to assume that you know anything about the place, I shall try, at the risk of under-selling, to explain in one paragraph the garden as I see it.

Situated in the rural Cotswolds, the mellow stoned Manor House with its formal east facing Georgian façade has owned its place in the landscape for more than three centuries. Lichen and moss enriched dry stone walls and mature woodland wrap their arms around the garden, where plants ornament every corner, and iron fixings pepper every available garden wall. Fully grown walnut, beech, lime and oak trees anchor the garden firmly to the limestone packed soil, and sweeping lawns roll away from the house to a reflective pond and farmland beyond. Did I mention the kitchen garden…?

Moving into a working position there took some time, with my notice period taking a full three months to navigate. Apart from brief visits to keep things going therefore, my start was held back until mid-November, about when the rains arrived – and seemingly for the whole winter.

Garden Journal 19.9.20

Welcome to a slice of my weekly gardening journal – this entry spanning two weeks and leading up to Saturday September 19th. This week the journal includes Sunny Scarborough, Productive Days, and Another Garden Door Opens.

A fortnight has passed since I last posted and I now sit down to write with so many things whirring around my head that I hardly know where to start.

Don’t look down they say… a little ivy trimming.

South Cliff Gardens GQT Discussion
OK, first up is some YouTube footage of yours truly in action. Don’t get too excited, I mean, it’s only me sitting there and talking about managing heritage gardens and such like, but the longer video clips and experts are fascinating and, dare I say, quite entertaining! I’ll explain…

Garden Journal 5.9.20

Welcome to a slice of my weekly gardening journal – an entry for the week leading up to Saturday September 5th. This week I’ve re-potted, twisted timber, and some fruit that’s ripe for picking.

Gardening ways images for first week in September; an orchard and ripening fruit
A week in view…

Crikey what a week it has been. We went to bed after Monday’s August bank holiday sunshine, the calendar flipped to September and meteorological autumn, and the weather changed instantly to match the season! To be true though, the sunshine hasn’t gone far away this week, despite the rain clouds holding it back, and the garden is definitely thriving in the conditions.

Garden Journal 29.8.20

Welcome to a slice of my weekly gardening journal – an entry for the week leading up to Saturday August 29. This week there’s a bit about barrow pushing and a bit more about pressure points!

Barrow Pushing
This week has been quite a whirlwind – after arriving home from our travels late last Sunday to heading into work early doors the next day to get the week underway. From Friday to Monday I had literally gone from leisurely strolling around the garden paths at Wallington, and without a care in the world, to barrow pushing along the garden paths at Broadwell in the Cotswolds.

Up the garden path at Wallington Hall in Northumberland
Up the garden path at Wallington.

To touch on the weather, ‘turbulent’ is how I’d describe the week, for most garden folk it’s been a Karate Kid situation of ‘jacket on, jacket off’ to beat the showers. Mind you, despite the lowering light levels and shortening days, humidity and moisture levels have been up, meaning the growth rate for many plants (grass in particular…) seems high.