Things to do in May

At last May is here which is one of my favourite months for gardening – flowers starting to burst and there is the lush green of new leaves everywhere. Oh and two bank holidays of course! There is plenty to do around the garden and a little work now will pay dividends in spadefuls when summer arrives.

Understanding shade in an unfamiliar garden

If you are looking to move to a new house it can be a challenge to understand how the shade will play across an unfamiliar garden and so in this second article dealing with shade I am going to explain why south facing gardens are not always the best but also give you a quick and simple way to work which parts of a garden are always going to be in the shade.

Things to do in April

Yey it is April again and you now need to be shifting yourself up a gear as spring starts to find its stride. The frosts are few and far between, the temperatures are slowly rising and the ground is nice and soft – perfect for weeds so time to get ahead of the little rascals and set out your stall for the season.

Things to do in March

Spring has sprung – well sort of. March is the early spring month and whilst there is still more cold and wet weather to come, the daffodils are up and about and telling everyone else to wake up and that includes you – there is plenty to do!

10 things I learned from the experts at David Austin Roses

Every garden needs roses because they are, well, so wonderful but unfortunately they have a reputation as being “difficult”. The reality is they are really easy to look after.  I enjoyed a day at David Austin Roses along with other gardeners (including those from the National Trust, English Heritage and Sandringham) learning from the rose experts and here are 10 things I think you need to know.

Postcard from St. Timothee

Gardening is a passion and being responsible for a garden however big or small shouldn’t be anything less than a pleasure.  I was lucky enough to be able to visit the garden at St. Timothee today and apart from the wonderful garden, it was the passion of the owner and the pleasure it clearly gave them that shone through above all – that is what really makes garden a great garden.  Here is my post card from St. Timothee.

Postcard from Harcourt Arboretum

Looking out of the window, the world doesn’t seem very inviting at this time of year but get your boots on, wrap up warm, head out and there are many winter delights to be found at almost every turn.  We had a lovely walk around Harcourt Arboretum a few days ago and enjoyed the flowering witch hazels, the wonderful bark that shines in the winter gloom and signs all around that far from sleeping, the plants were busy doing their thing.

Autumn on a plate

This is one of our favourite recipes because it is just so simple, so easy and it ticks all the boxes for food at this time of year.  From Miguel Barclay’s £1 meals, his Butternut Squash Tagliatelle is something you really must try – you won’t be disappointed.

Hagbourne Garden Club – Blewbury Manor Through the Seasons

Blewbury Manor is a garden that is on my doorstep but I haven’t yet managed to get to visit. Set in 10-acres, I am told it is a must visit as it offers something for everyone and so I am really keen to have a look around.  Fortunately, Richard Roslyn, the head gardener, will be speaking on Thursday 27 November at the Hagbourne Garden Club and it will be interesting to hear how they manage the garden and find out how I can get myself there.

The Garden without a Journey

Sometimes we spend too much time stuffing the garden with plants rather than thinking about the people and so making the garden an experience to be enjoyed. One of my first jobs as a gardener was to help a busy professional couple find their garden again and really all that was needed was to give them a journey to enjoy together and the rest would fall into place.

Postcard from my week

A friend asked me whether I was putting my feet up now the wet weather had arrived.  I had to have a little laugh to myself.  No, I am not, in fact I am probably busier now than during the summer when gardens are largely left to their own devices.  Now is a great time for lots pruning and dividing as well as all those maintenance jobs and projects that you keep adding to your diary.  So I thought it might be good to keep a little pictorial diary of the past week or so and just a few of the things I have been up to.

Postcard from The Japanese Tea Garden

I suspect every gardener dreads this question… so “What is your favourite garden?” Why because it is so difficult to pick from so many wonderful memories and places. However when put on the spot, for me there are two answers – a cheat I know.  First up is the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco and I hope you enjoy the photos we took.  The second, well that is the last garden I visited (whether for work or for pleasure) because each garden, each plot of land always has something unique and special to offer and so that is my answer (but the Tea Garden is a really close second!).

The Autumn Cookbook

One of the great things about autumn is you have (if lucky) a wonderful spread of produce but absolutely no idea of what to do with it all. At the moment, I can’t walk around the house without bumping into a butternut squash or finding a bunch of tomatoes hanging out.  So I thought I might share three really simple things we have done with our harvest.

Postcard from RHS Wisley

With a few days off, one of the things we were determined to do was finally go to RHS Wisley and it did not disappoint at all.  Like Kew, you really can’t do it justice in one visit – fortunately I am an RHS Member and we live relatively close so many return visits are planned.  In the mean time, here is my very first postcard from RHS Wisley just a few highlights from the visit.

Postcard from Oxford’s Window Boxes

Front gardens come in all shapes and sizes from those with huge vistas and long sweeping driveways to those with nothing more (and nothing less) than a window box.  As the centre of Oxford doesn’t really have enough space for those long sweeping driveways, for many the window box is their floral welcome mat. Here is my postcard from the window boxes of Oxford.

Chocolate Courgette Loaf Cake

You know that you have a glut of courgettes when friends don’t answer the door and fellow allotment holders suddenly remember urgent dentists appointments.  However a glut of anything means you have to get a bit creative.  So, should you find yourself with courgette and the need for a lovely moist chocolate cake then the Chocolate Courgette Loaf Cake is the answer to your (and my) prayers.