Garden Journal 7.3.20

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 covers another very full and physical week in the garden at Broadwell, and I thought I’d start by adding a new and simple summary feature from here onwards to help me track the range of tasks that are being carried out on a daily basis.

In summary: Monday – Ordering supplies, backfilling trial pits, and gravel filling a raised bed. Tuesday – Completing hedge trimming, removing sticks from lawns and first ‘proper’ mowing of main lawns. Wednesday – Conifer hedge cleanup, and first attempt to clean-up lawn edge around pond with help from Alex and Mary. Thursday – Relocating delivery of 2 tons of topsoil and compost, (from roadside – the lorry couldn’t make it through the gate…) and preparing a raised bed for planting. Friday – Chris, Anne and Jill joined me for a thorough tidy of south border (previously cut material,) with bonfire to clear dry debris.

Creamy coloured crocus flower, posibyl ‘Creme Beauty‘
Crocus flower studded lawn at Charlecote Park.

Looking to the above image, I’m taken swiftly back to last Sunday on a visit to a local garden when a drift of crocus captured my attention. Potentially ‘Creme Beauty’, their flowers were intensified by a mustard coloured centre and a vivid, pumpkin orange stigma – exquisitely simple.

My next image below is from Wednesday’s pond edge clearance, with an aim to curb the growth that is marching steadily into the lawn. Alex and Mary thankfully joined me, and continued in the rain, and together we cut woody stems hard back and tightly trimmed other vegetation. I was particularly happy to get my very effective scythe back in action!

Scythe action in the garden
My kind of cut-backs in the garden…

The pond is completely contrived and an aesthetic feature, yet it’s clear that wildlife has come to depend on it – indeed the coots and geese were quite vocal about us disturbing their peace! Naturally there is a balance to be found between this as a wildlife resource and garden feature, but I’m certain this will continue to thrive and tick both boxes more effectively as we move forward.

Bird box being fitted in a tree
Sterilised bird box in place for spring 2020

Looking up, literally, is a quick view to remind me that the boxes should have been up already, ideally before February is out – better late than never as people say! This box was very kindly made and donated by Alwyn Knapton who dropped in recently to compile a first bird list for me at Broadwell – a stellar individual and wildlife champion personified.

Next up, I can’t help but introduce the ‘Sunshine Crew’, for on Friday they arrived with a special offer of a day’s volunteer work – and how grateful I was! You’re looking at a south facing border that has been heavily ‘pruned’ around a month ago, with the tangled, dried up debris having been left to dry as much as possible before a bonfire could clear the way. (I already have a large compost stack of decaying woody material elsewhere!)

The Sunshine Crew!

The work is part of a longer term renovation of this border. Having identified key plants for retention, and having moved a couple of shrubs to new locations, this is another phase of ground preparation before the ground is ready for new introductions over the coming months. More to come from this little spot for sure!

Below I just had to feature another of the gorgeous Chionodoxa flowers, known commonly as glory-of-the-snow. They’ve clearly very happy in the conditions on offer in this Cotswolds garden as they’ve seeded themselves here, there and seemingly everywhere – such a none-delicate beauty!

Chionodoxa, happy in the sunshine.

In my final image for this week, I have the sun setting over the distant hill, after a very productive week at Broadwell. Even for just that day, it finally felt like spring had arrived.

Another exquisite Cotswold sunset.
Sun setting behind the hill…

Wider afield gardeners are sowing seeds for a productive year, and like me they’re full of hope for the winter chills to be gone and for another vibrant growing year ahead. Social media channels are packed with gardening productivity and creation from balconies, allotments and back yards, to grand gardens and estates. For me they all have something in common – they each have someone taking care of the garden, someone growing, someone nurturing life in a special place.

There may be some serious challenges coming our way from the wider world, but I think you’ll know what I mean when I say that being in the garden is likely to take each of us to a special place; a place for finding balance, for re-focusing and for restoration. I sincerely hope you’re able to find your special place through a garden, however great or small. 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 8.2.20

Six gardening images to illustrate my gardening week

Welcome to my garden journal entry for February 8th 2020. If you’re new to my journal you’ll find that I’m a professional gardener and I post here to record some of my gardening activity and discoveries from the past week. I contribute and channel my memories through the ever popular SixonSaturday gardening meme, so please remember to check out some of the inspiring SoS hashtags on Twitter and Instagram.

This week I’ve again been beavering away in the garden at Broadwell, but before I mention more I’m going to mention the snowdrop weekend that I did manage to attend last weekend at Hill Close Gardens.

A Warwickshire named snowdro variety
Galanthus elwesii var. monostictus ‘Warwickshire Gemini’

There’s simply no holding back the love and appreciation people have for these charming little flowers, and on the day I visited the hedged Victorian gardens in Warwick the visitor numbers had reached record levels – to the point where the cakes had run out – yes – there was no cake! (Which means I was able to buy more snowdrops…)

The welcoming and the very tidy gardens however were as good as ever, along with a collection of snowdrop varieties that is now 130 strong – yes I became snowdrop blind after the first five groups.

Anyway, I’d love to visit and write about gardens all week long, but on Monday it was most definitely back to the weeding for me, with a brand new area to tackle. I say the word tackle, for five days on from those tentative first steps into the border, I find myself with aches where I haven’t ached before and hands that have still to relinquish bramble thorns – brambles don’t give up their ground easily!

It was hard to capture a tell-all image but a large mixed border it was, that had simply been left for a while to its own devices. By the end of the week I’d worked through 75% of the unwanted vegetation, and it was clear to see that the obviously deep and fertile soil had encouraged strong weed growth, so things do bode well for future growing activity – once the unwanted specimens are taken care of.

Garrya elliptica shrub in an English garden
Garrya elliptica

Above I snapped a picture of a Garrya elliptica, a visitor from the California coastal area as I learned during some brief research. The Garrya was looking handsome with the setting sun behind, A sun that has worked its magic across gardens this week. Things may be about to change with a storm moving in but for now, lets revel in the sunshine!

It’s all too easy to keep your focus on the job in hand, but one of the wonders of working outdoors is the moment you stop to straighten your back, only to notice a spectacular scene that may sometimes be seconds in duration. The crocus below is another example. Drifts of these little beauties embellish the lawns at Broadwell just now, along with aconites, hellebores and more, but this single wide open flower caught my attention as I walked by – it would have been rude not to record the moment!

“Give me all the sun you’ve got!”

Last of my floral pictures below this week brings another snowdrop moment, but with a little soil splatter and a spider web or two for added reality. Tough as they may be, the humble snowdrop does its thing at the muckiest time of year, but it doesn’t make them any less perfect. It’ll soon be time to think about lifting and dividing some to share the joy.

And finally…. is an image that tried to capture the mist that hung beautifully around for much of Thursday. Well, not that successful in capturing the mist but a nice image nonetheless, with the sun shining down through lime branches dripping with moisture. I guess you had to be there…

A very active week it was, and an enjoyable one for sure. Whilst I continue to beaver away in the borders, plans for ‘bigger’ garden developments are moving quickly along and foundations are literally being laid; from which a new garden will soon be created – it’s all very exciting and I look forward to posting some news as soon as I can.

Next week will see a continuation of border clearing, more rose pruning and a range of hedging activity to name but a few tasks. Oh yes, I’ll also be surveying an area to inform planning for a new glasshouse no less! Let’s cross fingers that the storm passes swiftly over and leaves us free to continue spring preparations – my goodness, I do believe that 2020 has really started!

Hope your garden is blossoming too. Regards, Gary Webb, GardeningWays.

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