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 .  


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!

Open Gardens and Warwickshire Open Studios Update

As Open Gardens and Open Studios fast approaches my priorities are easily decided for me – if its sunny, I will be gardening; if its rain and wind, I will be  painting and stitching garden inspired pictures in the Studio. There is much to occupy me as I prepare to open the garden for charity, alongside eight other garden owners in our village Weston-under-Wetherley as part of the NGS Scheme for two days, Saturday-Sunday 6-7 June 12.30pm – 5.00pm. I shall also have my garden studio open to show and sell my artworks alongside Nicola Richards, smoke-fired Ceramics and have a Plant Stall. The Village Hall will serve teas and homemade cakes, raffle and plant stall.  Nearby, Hilltop Farm at Hunningham has a Beer & Cider Festival with Pig Road and live music, so there is plenty going on to make your visit really enjoyable!

Warwickshire Open Studios brochures are now in circulation and you can enjoy free admission to over 120 venues across the county where you can meet local artists and designer makers. I am exhibiting at Nicola Richards Open Studios, 28 Acacia Road, Leamington Spa CV32 6EF, alongside Nicola’s hand built, burnished and smoke-fired pots with Jenny brook, RoKKoNN ceramic Jewellery. Dates Thurs-Sun 9-12 July 11.00am-5.00pm All these days.

Allotment Plot 13 is doing well and my confidence is growing, having installed an IBC water tank, 1000 Litres of water sits at the ready to quench the thirst of my tiny little seedlings.

Allotment Vegetables planting Rhubarb
Allotment Vegetables planting Rhubarb

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Tree Surgeons plus How to learn Plant Names and Labels that Last

Local Tree Surgeons – highly recommended:

Yesterday, the local tree surgeons, Element Tree Care with owner, Chris Eastaff came to tidy up the huge Maple Tree in my front garden. It all looked terrifying, men up ladders, actually in the tree (see picture!) but thats why you hire the experts rather than attempt it yourself! I was highly impressed with their service – Chris responded quickly to my phone call, came to discuss the work, and emailed me a detailed quote. They are busy but he found me a slot, they did the work, chipped the wood, cleared up and were cheerful and polite throughout……… what we all wish from our workmen. I highly recommend them! The ladders are the amazing Japanese, Niwaki Ladders – Im saving up for one to prune the Wisterias.

Plants Indexing System and a place to store all the cardboard labels:

Professional Tree Surgeons
Professional Tree Surgeons


Starting something is easy; continuing it is not! How I love to start a new project but how challenging it is to maintain the motivation to keep going with it, especially when the project is indexing all my plants. I’ve carefully kept every plant label for the last five years in various filing methods, from piles in shoe boxes to clipping them onto office style index cards and finally, computerised as a spreadsheet with the original labels clipped onto A4 Index Sheets. Seven 40 Pocket Indexed A4 Display Books categorised into Perennials, Shrubs and Trees, hold all the sheets with a separate book for Pond plants. The easy to clean books hold 151 different varieties of Shrubs; 196 different Perennials; and 25 different Pond Plants all in alphabetical order, so its helping me already to quickly look through the books to find location and care details about each plant and I can write in additional information such as pruning times. I designed the layout based on an American Plant Indexing System not available in the UK and happy to share my template if you email me a request, just comment on this blog so I can link to you. This filing task has taken me a good while, mainly due to stopping and starting it over the Winter months, but now its up to date. Good system now in place.

Jumbo Black Plastic Plant Labels and a Silver Pen:

And no cardboard labels flying around the garden. When I plant something new, or move it, I label it using a pen with permanent silver ink and a jumbo black plastic label. For Trees and tall pots I use the Large T-Labels, from the same supplier, The Essentials Company.  These are longer than the usual seed labels, don’t rot like the wooden type, break like the fancy slate ones, stay put in the winds and the writing can still be read a year later. They are nice and discreet too unlike white.  Yesterday, weeding and tidying a border, I spotted little shoots coming up and was able to see from the black labels that they are  Tulips – Apricot Foxx, Purissima and Queen of Night – quick trip to the Studio to look at the index sheets, tells me I planted 14 No. 20 No. 10 No. in the Autumn of 2013! You may not want all this detail, but it certainly helps when you are wondering where you put the bulbs, if the slugs have been busy or deciding what to buy to add to your colourful display! The Index Books and the plastic labels are certainly helping me learn my plant names, all towards Open Gardens in June.

Maintenance Sheet for plant label and care details
Maintenance Sheet for plant label and care details