Garden Journal 16.5.20

Broadwell Manor, Gloucestershire
Broadwell Manor

Today is a bit of an anniversary for me, marking the six month point working in a full-time role at Broadwell Manor. I had envisioned putting together a six-month-review sort of journal entry, although, and this is something I toy with daily – I feel the need to tread carefully where privacy is concerned, and as with my blog that continues to evolve, so is my gardening and social media output whilst I’m at Broadwell.

While I now work at an all-singing, dancing and traditional Cotswold Manor House garden, it is also a private home, so forgive me if I’m a little hesitant and changeable in the things that I post across Twitter, Instagram and now TikTok (Re. TikTok – Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it – it’s getting a great many people through the nightmare that lockdown created…!)

Previously, my social media ‘presence’ was structured heavily around my work at Compton Verney; posting things that were largely aimed at boosting the profile of natural, historical and horticultural elements, at a public venue I passionately cared for. Presently though, whilst I’m engaged in very similar nature and horticulture focussed activities, and at a venue that is steeped in historical features; the property itself doesn’t exist to attract thousands of visitors, and so my ‘content’, for want of a better word, continues but in subtle sort of way.

Beautifully scented Wisteria doing its thing on the south wall….

It must also be said that again, as much as I’ve a keen interest in sharing my love for gardens and where I’m at, I’m not employed to spend time creating ‘content’, and I have an awful lot of practical gardening work to be getting on with! If only I could walk around with a live web-cam on my hat – you’d probably still struggle to keep up!

Six months though… It seems like nothing compared to some time-served gardeners, but it’s been so full of activity that it does seem much longer, and so much has been achieved. After a much more public facing role at CV, it did feel for a while as though I had gone into hibernation, and I’m sure some people were questioning my sanity but, I think I’ve finally worked out why I needed to change my core, daily role, after putting in so much hard work over the years at CV.

Allium breaking its silence in a border at home…

I simply needed to step away from pressure that had built, and to reconnect with the very thing that had sustained me for so long – gardens, nature and growing. I had been losing my connection with the very things that had driven, excited, encouraged and engaged me for so long. Although I might not have realised it at the time, I ‘simply’ needed to step away, to refocus and reconnect – and look at the door that eventually opened…

And so to the present, where you’ll find me actively engaged each day and completely immersed in horticulture once again, both at home and at Broadwell – the added filming elements and working for such a supportive and respected TV gardener (and lovely family) just adds to the daily wonder!

Yes, there is too much to do, I’ve lost weight despite upping my food intake, and I’m knackered on a daily basis, but every day is different and more importantly; every day is full of plants and flowers and wildlife – I have indeed reconnected and I feel grounded on a daily basis… What an incredibly challenging and life affirming 6 month it has been! Now, back to a swift finish for the journal proper…

The past week has been really varied to say the least. I usually structure my journal entry with a look back to the previous Sunday, which last week coincided with #GardenDayUK, This explains my first random image below where I put common sense to one side, and joined in by making my version of a floral crown – or floral hat in my case!

Floral Crown #floralcrown
My floral creation for Garden Day UK, all cut from my garden!

Although the weather had turned cold, with the usual British resolve many folk joined in and supported the initiative through a range of zoom-style online activity from quizzes to demonstrations and live chat – it was good to see so much support from some high profile and entertaining garden characters, and I think that for me, the day’s success was the home-style presenting that everyone was forced into doing, which worked really well.

There was plenty of floral creativity through the many flower crowns, and whilst I had lots of other things to be getting on with I enjoyed tuning in frequently. The reliable gardening people and their ‘we’re-in-this-together’ attitude was very evident and a good day was seemingly had by all! Crowns off to the many folk and Candide who made GardenDayUK a success.

On the work summary front, the past frost-threatened week looked a little like this: Monday – Tidied tulip borders. Watering. Began scything perimeter boundary to facilitate access for stone wall repairs. Tuesday – Scything and clean-up of boundary. Shear cut Lonicera shrubs and tidied surrounding area. Wednesday – Auricula session. Relocated stored debris to compost. Received compost delivery (Yay!) Mowing. Thursday – Mowing. Began digging south herbaceous border. Friday – Watered. Continued digging.

Scything, mowing, composting, digging, hedge trimming - a busy week indeed!
Scything, mowing, composting, digging, hedge trimming – a busy week indeed!

So there we have it, a somewhat reflective post again. (I can see a theme developing here…) At least in my struggles to post a useful journal entry each week, I’m being forced to be more creative with its content – hopefully when I look back at some of these posts in the distant future, there will be enough intent and meaning in the words to time travel me, you or my children back to this unique time I’m experiencing.

Regards & Happy Gardening, Gary

Garden Journal 21.3.20

Garden tasks from Gary Webb’s  Garden Journal 21.3.20

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.

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.

A range of grow-your-own seeds for containers.

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.

Chitting potatoes
Chitty chitty bang!

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.

Pots of  freshly sown vegetable seeds
Pots of joy!

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.

Keep Calm, and Carry On Gardening!
Keep Calm and Carry On Gardening!

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!

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.

Garden Journal 29.2.20

Welcome to my garden journal entry for February 29th 2020.

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

This week’s garden journal entry should be re-titled ‘close encounters of the weather kind,’ for every day has seemingly thrown something different at us. The sharpest of sharp days with temperatures barely above freezing to start the week, which tailed off into the constant rain that moved in for Friday – and looks to be staying very close for the weekend.

If you could have copied my image in the murk that was Friday, you could have pasted me seamlessly on to a Lowry canvas, so was the mood in the garden. However, I shall swiftly say that before the dreariness that became Friday, there were some exquisite hours, minutes and moments that I’ll focus on from here onward.

I started the week in Sunderland – my adopted home in the north east, and whilst I had fostered a somewhat naïve hope to get out and visit one of the many brilliant gardens in the area, this wasn’t a key reason for the trip – and I guess the first image might be giving it away already! (Pardon the selfie – I’m not a comfortable selfie taker!)

Proudly wearing my new Barbour made, and purchased in South Shields
‘EST. 1894’ – the company, not the gardener…

Outdoors is where I spend most of my time and as such, I seem to have forever searched for the key item of workwear that is ‘the winter coat’. I’ve tried many types and I don’t know what you’ve found, but I have to say it’s sometimes hard to tell between fashion and working gear.

Well, although I wear a wax jacket for knocking around generally, I had for many years overlooked the option of a wax for workwear, and was genuinely surprised recently to rediscover this as a serious gardening option. If they’re good enough for farmers and all that…

My search for a good supplier started last autumn, and to my joy I was ultimately delivered, last weekend, to the South Shields home of Barbour to make the not insignificant investment. I had become fascinated and lured by the history of Barbour as a British company – a story that began in 1894 in South Shields, where the jackets are still handmade to this day.

Daisy flower in the sunshine
An already nibbled daisy enjoying the sunshine

Suffice to say that I made the presumption that my new jacket would signal end of winter and it would stay unused for the months ahead, but how wrong I was! My jacket has already been pressed into snowy action on Thursday and in the torrential rain on Friday. I’m certainly no victim of fashion, but all things considered, I’ll be wearing my Barbour Beaufort with pride – and I hope our friendship is a long and productive one!

Back in the garden, the ‘tube of tubes’ in the image below is an item released from its place on the tool room shelf this week, and fixed to a south facing wall to provide a nesting place for some species of bee such as the red mason bee (Osmia bicornis).

I’m always looking for ways to improve a garden’s attraction to wildlife and this little product couldn’t make things any easier, offering perfect nesting tubes for some species of solitary bee. Quite by accident I’ve already discovered ground nesting bees, and many of the walls on nearby buildings are peppered with cavities and potential nesting places, so there’s very likely no need for additional nests such as this one – but if it’s not there we won’t know will we…

The way solitary bees operate, and the benefits they bring for our gardens is incredible. For example, as Grow Wild UK states ‘a single red mason bee is equivalent to 120 worker honeybees in the pollination it provides’. It’s therefore surely not too much trouble to place out an additional nesting opportunity.

Yes, the tube shown above is pre-made and simple to install, but it’s relatively easy to make your own too. For tips on making yours, and for more fascinating information on solitary bees and more, I’ll waste no time in directing you to a website from those knowledgeable folk at Kew. If you love wildlife and gardens, and not visited this site before – you’re in for a treat! (Grow-Wild UK Link at bottom of page).

In terms of gardening, what became the task of the week was a trim of a conifer hedge – whilst being aware at every moment the potential for nesting birds to be present. Along the whole hedge length there was but one redundant twiggy nest long-since consumed by woody growth. There’s a little more to finish yet, but I’m conscious that the grass is growing all around now and for that reason I’ll be glad to leave this hedge to its own devices as we head into March.

The machine pictured above is a very useful tool, and on Thursday morning we became very close as I sharpened every one of its 140 teeth. Whilst it works perfectly, I couldn’t help but wonder that with the establishment of battery powered kit, how long it would be until these machines become silent and smokeless museum exhibits…

The final two images I’ve chosen to remind me of this week in the garden. Above was a photo snapped quickly of this bumblebee spotted crawling across some meadow grass – a ‘Buff-tailed bumblebee‘ I believe – and I’m happy to be corrected if you can tell from my image. Although sunny, it was pretty nippy, which is probably why this bee was keeping on the move!

Lastly, are some decorative primulas growing in a lawn at Broadwell not very far away from where the bumblebee was crawling. Such a pretty sight that can’t help but focus the mind on spring, and especially on a dull day.

A garden primula bejewelled lawn
Garden primulas

To round up my garden journal this week, I have to state that it’s been a tough one. Although not starting my working week until Tuesday, I seemed to fast track into the latter end of the week due to two days of simple but heavy going hedge cutting – and I mean hedge cutting as opposed to hedge trimming!

The week finished with a much needed but weather enforced planning session, where I firmed up my plan for March, at least in terms of the range and scope of known tasks that would need looking at – scheduling these in is another matter entirely! Garden tasks, mixed with project work will ensure next week, the first week of spring, will be a busy one.

Before I finish, I have to return to the weather for one last comment. As a gardener I’ve always been a firm believer that the weather, as Monty says, “just is,” and I’ve always took it as it comes – rain, shine or whatever. This winter though has been one to test my resilience to the core. There have been blindingly sunny moments working in shirtsleeves atop the ladder, and moments of extreme dreariness, in full weather gear, with puddles and gloom all around.

Focus on the ever changing seasons I say, for it will pass, and before long we’ll be knee deep in meadow grass, butterflies will be flitting across flowers, and fruits, if we cherish the pollinators, will grow to feed our souls.

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

Let’s hope my wellies dry over the weekend! Have a good one. Gary

Links: GrowWildUKBarbour

Garden Journal 14.12.19

Welcome! Join me here regularly to catch up on my gardening endeavours through my #GARDENINGWAYS Journal! I spend much of my time gardening professionally for Rachel de Thame at Broadwell, in Gloucestershire, and my journal updates aim to cover progress and experiences in this role, and other horticultural highlights too.

SixOnSaturday  images from my gardening ways journal for 14th December 2019

The above six-on-Saturday images give a flavour of my week working in a wonderful Cotswolds Garden. What follows below is a little more background for each of the pictures – merely hint at the depth and richness of each experience.

To summarise my gardening week, ‘rollercoaster’ comes to mind, especially concerning the weather and how it impacted the tasks I undertook. Days of persistent rain fused with very cool, sunny and windy ones – on the whole, I didn’t spend many hours out of wellies and waterproofs!

63 and 64…

These two stunning trees were first up in my review of a previously compiled tree survey. The nearest is a straight and true horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) with a sizeable diameter of around 1.3m.

The trunk and branches of this chestnut feature more scars than I suspect we’d find on James Bond, and my closer study suggest that for this tree and its neighbouring beech tree sidekick, it is clearly time for a more detailed inspection by an arborist. To be continued…!

East front border

Following a thorough weeding session during the previous week, I was here setting out the tulip bulbs prior to planting. The weather forecast suggested time was of the essence, indeed rain set in as I was finishing. Timed almost to perfection – almost…

An auricula theatre
Clearing the stage…

A pretty swift task all things considered, was that of clearing off and cleaning the Auricula theatre ahead of next season. It’s a recently created and very nicely built theatre, and it’s with some excitement (Plus a little apprehension!) as I look forward to programming some star performances in 2020.

Scrubbing the front step…

In theory, I’m liking my activity in the image above to that of scrubbing the front step. Prior to my starting work in the above space, the front approach, the area was encrusted in decaying foliage across much of the area. Whilst this is to be expected, and encouraged to some extent back in autumn, the dense layer was beginning to affect grass growth and hide the drive.

At last therefore, the image records the new, somewhat cleaner approach, after surplus leaves have been cleared to a new leaf mould stack – these will be recycled for mulching purposes in due course. It’s good to once again present an entrance more appropriate to such a wonderful property.

Jelly Ear or Auricularia auricle-Judaea  fruiting body
Jelly Ear fruiting body

I’m certainly no fungi expert, but noticed what I believe to be a ‘jelly ear’ fungus living quietly on a stick, and thought I’d record it as the first one on my list of fungi at Broadwell. Not particularly rare, but a fascinating form nonetheless.

Scientifically known as Auricularia auricula-judae, it apparently prefers to grow on elder wood, and is edible – although I think even the celeb’s on Ant and Dec’s program would turn their nose up if this appeared in a bush tucker trial!

The sun setting behind Broadwell Manor in the Cotswolds, sunset
The sun sets on another busy week at Broadwell.

And so to my final image, capturing the fading light and a fabulous sunset as I hurried to ‘finish’ work to the front drive.

The week was a steady yet productive one, dictated largely by the weather. But then, pretty much every gardening day is defined by its weather I guess. I’ve had many small wins as you’d say, and have on the whole continued to move forward with my ‘putting the garden to bed’ routine.

Next week, the last full working week before Christmas (!) I’ll be hitting the orchard grass hard to get this in order, boxing up dahlia tubers, and all being well, will be exploring the archaeology of the walled garden to see what can be found under foot.

You might like to observe or follow my progress on the fascinating journey via twitter @GaryWebb1 or on Instagram @Gary_Webb1

Bye for now, Gary

Garden Journal 7.12.19

Join me here regularly to catch up on my #GARDENINGWAYS Journal! I spend much of my time gardening professionally for Rachel de Thame at Broadwell, in Gloucestershire, but my journal updates aim to take in not only this role but other horticultural highlights too.

Gary Webb’s SixonSaturday 7th Deember 2019

Well I’m back for my second garden journal entry, and starting with my six on Saturday, the above cluster of images pretty much details the key achievements during my third week at Broadwell.

As we all know, gardens need regular care and attention, but following something of a gap in garden help during late summer and autumn, my ‘settling-in’ period has largely been divided between border preparation for bulb planting, and in collecting up large quantities of leaf litter from lawn areas.

Sunshine filtering though morning mist at Broadwell Manor
Early morning sun looks over the walled garden into the orchard.

This has made for challenging days, especially with the weather moving from rain to frost and back to rain again. However, between the showers there been some absolutely breathtaking moments in the garden. I’ve tried hard to capture this in photographs this week, and in the image above, low winter sunlight pushes through the morning mist and into the orchard.

The Bothy at Broadwell
The Bothy

‘The Bothy’ image, which takes in the walled garden ahead of restoration, is for me a small record of things before the changes begin. It is also a record showing the extent of shade and sitting frost in December; in this 9am image the shade covers two thirds of the walled garden width – one to remember when planning the beds…

Tulip planting with my Hori Hori trowel
A tulip bulb moment…

Now, onto those bulbs. After some border clearance, this image is a momentary down-tools moment whilst catching my breath. During planting birds shrieked from nearby woodland, a pilot practised aerobatics in the clear blue skies above, and my newly acquired Hori Hori trowel (purchased after much thought and consideration!) created perfectly sized planting pockets for each bulb.

Woodapuss the garden cat at Broadwell
Woodapuss keeping a close eye on proceedings!

Following partial clearance of another border, laying out the bulbs was in progress, under the careful gaze of the resident Head of Gardens Woodapuss, who checked and signed off all varieties!

Leaf clearing  in the orchard at Broadwell
‘Leaving’ things nice and tidy…

Yes, I dislike leaf blowers as much as the next person, noisy smelly things that they are, but when you’ve a sizeable area to clear, they’re an invaluable tool in the gardener’s armoury. I’m busy here collecting the leaf litter which was added to a large and growing leaf mould stack – recycling in action.

Digging the East Front flower border at Broadwell
Weeding and learning…

Having not been around long enough to really know this border, this weeding and tidying process was something of a voyage of discovery. It was essentially required to facilitate further bulb planting, and has served as a good learning opportunity as I worked, fork by fork, around each perennial. Another four barrow loads of weeds for the long compost stack!

All-in-all, an enjoyable and productive gardening week, and a good way towards putting the garden to bed for the rest of winter. I’m looking forward to Resting my back-hinge this weekend, and completing bulb planting next week. Oh yes, I’ll also be having some conversations with some of the larger trees at Broadwell to see if all’s well.

Until next time… You might also like to observe my #GardeningWays journey via twitter @GaryWebb1 or on Instagram @Gary_Webb1

Regards, Gary