Garden Journal 21.12.19

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 pick up on other horticultural highlights too.

The six-on-Saturday images below give a flavour of my gardening week, and what follows below is a little more background for each of the pictures.

Six on Saturday  gardening images from Gary Webb

To summarise my week, as for the preceding one, ‘rollercoaster’ yet again comes to mind – linked specifically to the weather and its effects on the working week. Yes, another week spent mostly in wellies and waterproofs! It was however another productive week where some key tasks were accomplished, and even allowing for a day out for Christmas shopping, I still managed to walk 19.4 miles around that garden over the four days!

Orchard grass  cutting

A small orchard is part of this wonderful garden, and one that has been very productive in past years. At this point in time however, the orchard grass had grown and collapsed upon itself, resulting in a tangled, matted surface, where even the moss had been crowded out and had died off!

Having previously cleared a good quantity of leaves from across the surface, my task this week was to start the grass clearance and really take things back to basics. Starting with a steady, tight, strimming session, the above image taken before a final clearance.

Pruning  an ivy clad wall
Ladder Selfie!

I’m up the top of a long ladder in this image, maintaining three points of contact I have to say, whilst giving some ivy a topping. At this point it was a relatively light pruning task to start the process of getting this ivy back to an acceptable height limit, for above this point it clothes the balustrading and needs gradual clearance from above – more of this to come!

Camassia bulb planting at Broadwell
The last of the bulbs going in!

Above, I’m relieved to say, is the last of the recently acquired bulbs before being planted. It was quite a tall order to get some areas cleared in time to get the bulbs in, but I have to say it’s given a good early opportunity to learn about the soil conditions, and to introduce myself to some of the weed species that ‘have’ enjoyed living at Broadwell – as far as the weeds are concerned; let the game commence!

Boxing up dahlia tubers for winter storage
Boxing up dahlia tubers

Another box I’m glad to have ticked this week is the boxing up of dahlia tubers for winter storage. Having previously released them from their summer containers, thoroughly cleaned and dried each tuber, here they finally get to rest. Numerous tubers boxed in dry compost will sit out the winter in this frost free shed for the winter. Sleep tight, as they say…

Raindrops  backlit by the setting sun at Broadwell
After the rain, came the sun-set.

With all the rain it wasn’t the most inspiring week for photographs, but as for last week, the weather threw us a late-on-Friday treat of an incredible sunset. I tried here to capture the last light through raindrops, the collective gracefully but fleetingly decorating the naked winter stems in the orchard.

A wrath for Christmas at Bradwell
Making an entrance!

Finally, it was a treat to be given the opportunity to create a wreath for another door to the house at Broadwell, which accompanies a stunning wreath given as a gift from a neighbouring property. Creating a wreath is a lovely way to spend some time in the lead up to Christmas, feeling appropriate as a traditional activity that many Head Gardeners of old would have carried out.

I also feel that it’s a good opportunity to bring together botanical elements from the very place where a wreath is going to hang; a lovely way for a gardener to capture the essence of what their winter garden has to offer. The above wreath contains the traditional holly and ivy, but also bay laurel, pittosporum, a little cypress and rose hips to enhance the natural colouring. (I’m glad to report the wreath was given the de Thame seal of approval, thankfully! 😅 )

In past years my wreaths for the tall studded front doors to Dunster Castle in Somerset aimed to capture the exotic nature of the gardens, and in recent years my wreaths at Compton Verney in Warwickshire were collected from its Georgian landscape garden and often tried to capture an exhibition of the moment. My most recent wreath for Broadwell was drawn from long established plants that fit perfectly in their Cotswolds garden.

A grand week all things considered, despite the wet stuff! Next week will be carved around a little due to the Christmas break, but I’ll be gardening intermittently and will aim, all being well, to post a journal entry if time allows. Until then, I wish you a very merry Christmas!

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