Ten Weeks to go! So little time, So much to do!

Ten weeks until NGS Open Gardens weekend at Weston and the list of jobs gets longer. Have you noticed that the more time you spend on the garden, the more there seems to do? Certainly, over the last four weeks I have spent a goodly amount of time on the list – Studio is painted; Trellis nearly all painted; lawns had their first cut of the year; roses pruned and fed; lots of shrubs moved around…. But many more jobs loom – the dreaded weeding and jet washing paths has become the ‘ironing pile’ of the garden, if you get my drift?! But I’m not complaining as the weather has been fairly kind, the plants are growing, birds are nesting and there are tadpoles in the pond a week earlier than last year – can I dare to predict we will have a nice Summer?

Today’s pictures are of my newly painted and positioned bird boxes and an insect hotel -the ‘duplex’ has a lower storey with entrance on the side, upper as you can see on the front and was hand-made by a friend’s father. This originally designed house has already attracted blue tits .  

 

‘Plant Zookeeper’ – a new name for gardener?

Good design should reflect the wishes, likes and dislikes of the garden owner – regardless of country or climate’ – RHS Encyclopaedia of Gardens – good advice and certainly one of the best books on my shelf for planning, building and planting ‘your perfect space’.

This week, with 19 weeks until Open Gardens, I am tidying borders, thinking about changes to the layout and considering the design advice in my gardening books.  I don’t have any horticultural training but have learned how to tend my garden through trial and error, friends and books.

‘Think of yourself as a kind of ‘plant zookeeper’ and learn about your plants’ natural habitats’  writes Carol Bruce who also opens for the NGS, her three acres at The Old Bladbean Stud, near Canterbury, and was featured in an excellent article in The English Garden magazine (May 2015).  

‘Never act on impulse – instead, plan on impulse then act on the plan’ advises Carol.  Great advice and I mean to take it on board but I have already bought ‘on impulse’ several ferns, two Leycestria formosa ‘Golden Lantern’ shrubs and a full grown Acer ‘Little Princess’.  This is a great time to trawl the garden centres for last year’s stock at a fraction of their usual price and, with a bit of care and good mulch, these bargains will reward you when the warmer weather comes.

I’ve been working my plot for fifteen years now,  and had the back garden professionally designed five years ago. It was worth every penny and I was completely involved at every stage from planning to planting. The design books helped a great deal in making me aware of the questions I needed to consider.

Looking through other design books on my shelf, I can see that there is a lot of duplication of information and usually the second half of a design book is a directory of plants to use. A different approach is ‘Rejuvenating a Garden’ by Stephen Anderson, in how to deal with a neglected existing plot.   The plant directory focus on the practical aspects of pruning the index of shrubs. 

I am keen to redesign some of the planting in the borders around the garden, so, over the next few weeks I will be reviewing my border planting planning books.  I’ll be taking pictures of each border, spending time reviewing the contents and then draw up a plan for moving some shrubs and perennials to better positions where they will have more space and to create harmony.

Have a good week in the garden or armchair planning, whatever the weather!

NGS Open Gardens – 20 Weeks until opening!

Yes, It is only January and it is very, very cold here in Warwickshire but I am already in gardening mode, having spent a full couple of days last week tidying up and pondering over what needs to be done between now and 10-11 June when I open my garden for the National Garden Scheme alongside Weston Village Group.

Some changes have been made since I last opened in 2015, and I will post photos and explain my reasoning behind ideas as I start to share my vision for this year’s event. Right now, my thoughts are on what the garden could look like, how I might achieve changes on a shoestring budget, and what could be moved where in order to gain best results with the space I have.  All will be revealed on this weekly gardening blog, together with a sprinkling of life at the allotment and my creative endeavours in the Studio.

Please stop by to see my progress and feel free to comment, advise or generally rally me along towards Open Gardens which is the second weekend of June this year.

Plant Labels are essential!

Creativity stuck? Let’s find the way forward

Glorious colours of Autumn
Glorious colours of Autumn
Take that you slugs!
Take that you slugs!
Love in the Mist
Love in the Mist
Sedums are so easy on the eye and low maintenance
Sedums are so easy on the eye and low maintenance
Patio Clematis climbing a rusty obelisk
Patio Clematis climbing a rusty obelisk
The allotment courgettes have been amazing this year.
The allotment courgettes have been amazing this year.
Beautiful peach and pale pink bloom
Beautiful peach and pale pink bloom
Pattern and inspiration everywhere - you just need to look
Pattern and inspiration everywhere – you just need to look
Gorgeous pink rose that has been blooming in the garden all summer long
Gorgeous pink rose that has been blooming in the garden all summer long
Pink delicate Clematis
Pink delicate Clematis

As every creative soul knows, when life becomes difficult, the first thing that seems to happen is the walk to the Studio becomes too long. We can’t seem to find the motivation to feed our artistic self, but find blocks instead – the ironing, the housework, the shopping…. you have your list of excuses and I do too. They go along the line of “I’ve been really busy and had no time to ….(paint/sketch/quilt/make anything). We punish ourselves by avoiding what we truly love because we can’t focus when life has got itself out of sorts.

So, this post, the first for nearly a year, is going to help me fast-track myself back into my Studio to start producing something. And Im hoping that you, dear reader and fellow creative being, will keep me company along the way. Post a comment, share your own artistic blocks, fears, and joys alongside mine. Let’s get back into the Studio together and find joy in creativity once again.

Inspiration – Colour, shape, texture, in fact all the key design elements are sitting there in the garden and on the allotment.  Yesterday, a visit from my lovely friend, artist Gerry Rooney, helped inspire me to take photos of some of my flowers in bloom. She admired some of my kitchen displays, grabbed my camera and snapped away, pointing out to me that its more important to be impulsive than to need to spend hours on ‘setting the scene/using light boxes/hours waiting for the right light’. This is, after all, the work of a moment! I had fun, we had fun and it inspired me to show some to you too.