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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.

Things to do in February

Ah February, the last month of winter, and whilst there are signs here and there that plants are stirring from their slumber the weather is going to be cold for quite a while yet but don’t worry, there are still plenty of things you can be doing!

St. Timothee (Jan 2020)

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.

Waterperry Gardens Apple Orchard - January 2020

10 Things I Learned from the Fruit Pruning Workshop

After roses, fruit trees are up there with the plants people are most afraid to prune. Left to their own devices, you will soon have an unwieldy mess and yet they just need a bit of care. I needed to get an experts view so booked myself on the Waterperry Pruning Fruit workshop and here I am sharing my top ten tips from the day.

Hamamelis mollis - Chinese witch hazel

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.

Snowdrops - January 2019

Things to do in January

As January is the mid-Winter month this means it is likely to be the coldest month of the year so in theory there isn’t a lot to do… or is there?

Things to do in December

It might be cold and dark and wet and grey and damp and really not a lot of fun but there are still plenty of things you can be doing in your garden. Others have more detailed suggestions (see end of article) but I have a few to offer.

Miguel Barclay’s Butternut Squash Tagliatelle

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!).

Me maximising the green waste bin capacity

What I have learned from my first year as a gardener

I am one year old. A couple of years ago I decided to give up one profession and do something which, on paper, looked like a really smart thing to do. Looking back, on my first year I thought I might share ten of things I have found out.

The Roasting Tin: Simple One Dish Dinners

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

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.

South Stoke Open Gardens 2019

South Stoke Open Gardens

With the last bank holiday almost upon us you might want to spend a pleasant afternoon doing what all gardeners love doing – mooching around other peoples gardens!  Many of the gardens in South Stoke (between Goring & Wallingford) will be open to visit and enjoy on Monday 26 August.

Harwell Village Produce Show 2019

Harwell Village Produce Show

Should you find yourself at a loose end on Saturday 14th September why not head over to the Harwell Village Produce Show and admire the efforts of local growers young and old.  The show is at Harwell School and opens at 3pm.  For more details, see the photo.

Postcard from Abbeywood Estate, Cheshire

There are no shortage of gardens to visit and if nothing else, even in the height of summer, they provide inspiration and ideas for next year as well chance to admire the hard work of others.  And so on a visit to the parents we went to Abbeywood Gardens near Delamere (Cheshire, North-West England for those from other parts). Now if you visit the Abbeywood Website you may come away thinking this is just some wedding venue but don’t be fooled, these gardens are wonderful and bold with huge drifts of grasses, perennials and evergreens and that is before you get to the woodlands.  It really is well worth a visit.