Not every Manor house garden is a picture of perfection. In fact, most of the Manor House gardens we don’t get to see are being looked after as best people can but there are those gardens where a tipping point has been reached and they are slowly being lost.  You have to admire these owners for their previous efforts and more importantly opening up their garden which we recently visited.  This is my postcard from a fading Manor house garden.

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With the heat of mid-summer hopefully behind us, August is a time to enjoy those longer warmer evenings in your garden or at the allotment. Whether it is a session tackling those pesky weeds or just sitting down with a glass of wine and watching nature go by whilst the sun goes down, the only thing you really need to do is enjoy this time.

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The arrival of the puppy means visits are fewer this year, but the Green & Gorgeous Flower Farm Open Day was one that we didn’t want to miss (so the puppy had a lazy Sunday afternoon napping). Behind the scenes, where the magic happens, this is ultimately a business but my oh my, so many lovely flowers to see and share so, here is my postcard from the Green & Gorgeous Flower Farm Open Day.

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If you want productive apple and pear trees then winter is a key time in the gardening calendar – what you do now will be heavily reflected in the fruits you harvest later in the year. One topic that has come up recently is winter washing and in particular should “wash”, when to do it and whether that is before or after pruning. Estate and Orchard Gardeners rarely offer up their expertise on these kind of topics so I needed to come up with my own view.

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Another year hurtles by and so, this year, I am 4 and a bit and I thought it would be interesting to look back over one year of my work and some of the numbers that have been totted up. Obviously, this being Christmas, it is going to be a bit light-hearted because hey people we survived another rock and roll year (drought, downpours, freezing etc.).  However, what follow are, as accurate as I can get them, and for those that are “estimated”, they are done so with… well stories in mind. 

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I come across this often – the assumption that once the clocks go back or the winter weather is in full flow that your gardener will shut up shop until they emerge once more from the cocoon of winter into the warmth of spring.  The reality is rather different, for a gardener, whilst it is not quite as manic as the May’s and September’s of the year, winter is a seriously busy time. So with my Santa hat on I have booked myself on a disability in garden design course as well as an emergency first aid course.  No rest for this mouse.

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Metal Watering Can with distorted/bowed out base/bottom

Sometimes, finding the answer to what seems a simple question is very difficult (whether it is gardening or really any other aspect of life). So my simple question was, why did I keep finding metal watering cans with bowed out, distorted bottoms? The answer it seems is equally simple and logical when you think about it… ice.

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The Sceptical Gardener - Ken Thompson

Should you be looking for a Christmas gift for a garden loving person or ideas for others who might be stuck then I would thoroughly recommend “The Sceptical Gardener” by Ken Thompson. It is a no-nonsense approach to gardening and various associated topics. The articles are short and thoroughly researched, well written and with the quite a lot off-beat facts and figures (5,000 people each year are injured by flowerpots apparently) as well as debunking many gardening myths. Definitely one to have to hand.

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Leaf mould from last year

It is that time of year when the trickle of falling leaves will soon become an avalanche and so now is the time to get your leafmould cage ready.  All you need is four posts lightly knocked into the ground and some chicken wire and a few nail staples to hold the wire on and then you are in ready for action.

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Whilst there are many “for the nation houses and gardens” open to us folk, there are also a multitude of private homes and gardens also available to visit. Whilst they may not be open every moment of the year they are nonetheless worth hunting out because they often are a personal endeavour and for that reason always very special. Kingston Bagpuize House, near Abingdon, is just such a place and to be honest though the gardens are very modest to say the least they are well done and the walks in the area around just enough for a lovely afternoon. Here is my postcard from the Kingston Bagpuize House.

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Dead-heading a rose

I looked high and low but couldn’t find a anything short and simple on deadheading for common garden flowers and if I am doing something for my clients I want to be doing it in the best possible way.  So having consulted various sources, including professional growers on how to deadhead common garden flowers I have compiled this short and simple guide – I hope you find it useful.

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Hare Hill in Cheshire is a wonderfully tranquil wooded garden, surrounded by historic parkland and that has a delightful walled garden at its heart. Unlike many National Trust properties, you can only visit the garden and I think that makes it all the better. Should you ever be passing by I thoroughly recommend a visit – especially during the summer when the white perennial borders are in full swing. Here is my postcard from the Hare Hill.

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Faded daffodil in need of deadheading

One of the heralds that spring is on its way are the daffodils and their cheerful chatter but once they have done their bit they do look a sorry lot and so it is time to get dead-heading. It may seem a bit daunting if you have hundreds of the little mites to deal with but there is a quick and easy way to dead-head daffodils and in no time at all you are helping them concentrate on the show for next year.

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Snowdrops are one of the first signs that winter is starting to draw to a close and spring is around the corner and one of the best places to see snowdrops at their best is Welford Park near Newbury.  It is a lovely place to wander around at this time of the year and the snowdrop woods are fabulous with the winter aconites also putting on a great show.  If you miss it this year, you must make a note in your diary for next because you won’t be disappointed.  Here is my postcard from the Snowdrop Woods of Welford Park.

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Now there are many drinks that are associated with Christmas but when all the hullaballoo of bright colours and bubbles have been and gone and you are sitting there just wanting to enjoy a quite moment then you just cannot beat Sloe Gin because… it is Christmas in a bottle. We “foraged” some Sloes last year and now, at long last, we got to enjoy the harvest as Christmas.

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There I was digging out a compost bin and the spade hit something rather solid which was a bit unexpected but not necessarily unusual. When emptying a compost bin – you never know what you will find but it seems on this occasion it was going to be a pair of very rough secateurs but what was even better – they were not mine for a change!  Anyway, question is can we rescue and restore this gardening artefact to its former glory?

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My leaf sweeper makes its mark

Autumn, I love autumn but sorry, not so keen on the leaves. No sir.  However this year, having waited in the hope the price would come down (it didn’t), I invested in a leaf sweeper (which one of my clients described to their other half as looking like a pram). Ignore that – if you have lots of leaves then a leaf sweeper may well be the answer to your prayers because it was to mine.

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