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I have been a little quiet…….

img 1041 I have been a little quiet.......

It’s been a while since I lasted blogged. I supposed it’s been for many reasons but mainly based around that horrible word time!

I supposed I ended up trying to do too much with the blog and with the added pressures of having 4 kids, a partner, a life style change and a business, something had to give and for me it was sadly blogging. It didn’t mean I fell out of love with it but just the time it was taking out of my daily amount, leaving me stressed and feeling I had to write something.

But I have missed doing it and with the business a little less manic, I am hoping to start adding a few bits and pieces to the blog over the winter months. Tbh these bits will be more technical stuff using my own views and thoughts on things

img 1041 I have been a little quiet.......

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6 on Saturday 29/12/2018

Well it’s party time so I thought I would be fashionably late, not too late so all that is left is the alcohol that no one else wants but just so I wasn’t the first here. I must admit some was due to it still being dark outside and then I forgot I had a site meeting at 9am!

I can’t believe its been a week since last Saturday. this week has really flown by and I suppose it was helped by having Christmas in the middle of it. I hope you all had a great Christmas and got everything on your Christmas list, well that’s presuming you had been good for the past year.

its been nice to have a few days just well pottering around in the garden, well when I say days I suppose its been a odd hour or two here and there, a bit of weeding, tidying up the borders and just relaxing in my little space. yes it its a busmans holiday so to speak but there’s something different working in your own little space, in your own time and doing what you enjoy doing without the stresses of work included.

Any way here’s my little look into my garden here in Chandlers Ford, I hope you enjoy them

img 3934 6 on Saturday 29/12/2018

1) Its not often that you see a Salvia ‘Amistad’ in full flower in December but mine is still going strong and it was visited by a beautiful bumble bee, complete with full pollen sacks
img 3950 6 on Saturday 29/12/2018
2) or indeed a rose so full of colour although the name iceberg will be quite adapt for what’s soon coming

img 3949 1 6 on Saturday 29/12/2018
3) managed to get the front pots finished this week, nothing stunning as of yet, I find the polyanthus give a great display and I am rekindling my love for dwarf conifers. Of course what you don’t see is the bulbs that have been added!
img 3948 1 6 on Saturday 29/12/2018
4) sorry just a boring tidy up pick but it is well needed!
img 3945 6 on Saturday 29/12/2018
5) my first snowdrop to be nearly open, a beautiful form called green brush and it’s flourishing in its pot, so wonderful to see them once more 😀
img 3947 6 on Saturday 29/12/2018
6) sorry you may get bored of snowdrop pics soon but it’s something I never get bored of! One of my jobs this winter is to tidy up the pots, redo the gravel and relabel them all! First couple are now done, just a few more to do!

Well that’s me done for this week. I hope you enjoyed my six

For more six on Saturday, please see the great man himself The Propagator and see more links of other great people!

 6 on Saturday 29/12/2018

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Workshops and Speaker days at Sculpture by the lakes

IMG 5804 Workshops and Speaker days at Sculpture by the lakes

For the next year in conjunction with the very beautiful gardens, set in the rolling Dorset countryside, we are running garden workshops and talks, both utilising the gardens onsite. Sculpture by the lakes highlights the stunning sculptures of Simon Gudgeon and with the ex fishing lakes now moulded into the beautiful site it is now, by his wife, the very talented Head Gardener Monique Gudgeon

During the next few months, we shall be doing the following workshops and talks

These workshops take full use of the gardens, utilising them to demonstrate each subject. 

The dates are as follows

November 24th 10.30-3.30 Winter propagation workshop 

January the 16th 11am. Choosing  companions for your Roses, a talk 

January the 16th 2.30pm. Everything you ever wanted to ask about roses, a talk 

January 26th 10.30-3.30 fruit tree pruning workshop

January the 30th 11am. Hardy Geraniums_ the backbone of every garden. a talk

January the 30th 2.30pm. Discovering winter plants to brighten your garden a talk 

February the 9th 10.30-3.30. Rose pruning workshop.

May the 9th 10.30-4.30. Creating and maintaining a wildflower meadow

June the 13th 10.30-4.30, Gardening for wildlife workshop  

July the 11th, 10.30-4.30 Creative pruning workshop 

The price for the workshops is £75 for the day, that includes a light lunch, tea, coffee and free entry to the Sculpture by the Lakes 

The talks cost £15 for 1 or £25 for both talks on the same day. This includes free entry to the Sculpture by the lakes 

For more details on the talks and workshops, please visit or phone 07720637808

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Six on Saturday, 16th of June, 2018

img 3004 Six on Saturday, 16th of June, 2018

Ahh back to Saturday once more, it’s been a busy week to say the least and lead to not a lot of time spent in my own garden but that’s the delights for the time of the year, plants and ideas are there, just need to be added to the garden! I would do it this morning but off to work again this morning but at least I have fathers days off only thing that’s worrying me is the lack of rain, both my front and back gardens are looking a little tired already, even though I am watering young plants and recent planting’s, I won’t water the established plants as I hope they should be big enough to look after them selves, tough love

This weeks six comes from my own little space so I hope you will enjoy my little 6

img 3001 Six on Saturday, 16th of June, 2018

I have always had a soft spot for campanulas and it is many due to this lovely form called persicifolia and it’s a great form to grow with roses and in the front of the borders

img 3008 Six on Saturday, 16th of June, 2018

Rosa iceberg was in the garden when we started renting it about 8yrs ago now, was a rather poor specimen and now its stunning!

img 3003 Six on Saturday, 16th of June, 2018

Geranium palmatum is one of the half hardy hardy geraniums, confused? Well add me too that list, comes from the canary island but has been growing in mine for 4 years, could of been longer but it’s still going well. The foliage is stunning as well and evergreen!

img 3006 Six on Saturday, 16th of June, 2018

I have a huge soft spot for moss roses and this is one of my favourites, Eugenie Guinoiseau scented with a little bit of repeat flowering

img 3004 Six on Saturday, 16th of June, 2018

And how can anyone not love staychs Byzantina or lambs ear, these tactile plants to me are the unsung hero’s in my garden, their silver foliage does such great work in the borders and then it flowers

288e72c7 6d56 4aec b6de 42ebab7d5599 10136 00000706e7e5e74a file Six on Saturday, 16th of June, 2018

Cat mints are another favourite of mine (really need more space to grow all the plants I love!) this is a slightly different form called nepata nuda and is new this year

well that’s me done for this weeks six, next week I shall hopefully finished a couple of things in the garden so hopefully will showcase them but that said it’s another manic week planned but I hope you all have time to enjoy your gardens and are time out to read about others too, the memes founder has some great sixes every week so why not pop over to mr propagators and take a look

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Six on Saturday 2nd of June 2018

img 2861 Six on Saturday 2nd of June 2018

June! June! It can’t be be June already but the garden is proving me wrong, with so many of the June plants showing me it’s June, with the roses really starting to get going and their fragrance is starting to fill my garden. But what a week it has been, very hot and sunny and then it rained and boy did it rain! My glass left on the patio table, had 65mm in it after just being outside for 12hrs. This time last week I was heading up to Chelsea for the flower show and I had a great time there, so many stunning plants and gardens too see and inspire from. Not had to do much in the garden this week, it’s all just ticking by nicely, I do have some plants to add to the garden and now the soil is a little moist and I hopefully will get them in, I also need to plan and plant up my front door pots, just can’t decide what to put in there this summer, seen one plant I like to use and slowly adding a list together. One thing that has been decided is the removal of the forsythia in the front garden, that’s going by by this weekend!

Right enough waffling, I need my cuppa and weekend toast and the little one is of the same opinion! Again this weeks 6 is going to be a rose feast with a few others added but my roses are going away nicely now and need to be shown off!

img 2861 Six on Saturday 2nd of June 2018

First one is a rose I planted last year and is just so beautiful to look at and the scent is stunning. Champion of the world is a Hybrid perpetual rose and that will repeat flower all summer long, it’s been around since 1894

img 2862 Six on Saturday 2nd of June 2018

Let’s have a poppy now, never sowed them, they just appeared in extension of the flower bed when I did it last year. Poppy seeds last for years and years in the soil, just waiting to be exposed and when it does, boom there they are!

img 2863 Six on Saturday 2nd of June 2018

Rosa iceberg is one of the most popular hybrid teas grown, this is one of the only plants now left in the front garden I haven’t added too

img 2848 1 Six on Saturday 2nd of June 2018

Now this little sod has been in my first alpine container for the past 3 years, just sat there doing nothing and now it’s decided to flower and how lovely they are indeed, if you want to grow it and wait for 3years, it’s called Bergeranthus glenensis

img 0771 Six on Saturday 2nd of June 2018

Rosa little Gem is a beautiful moss rose, bred in 1840, flowers Just once but the scent and flowers are amazing and it works well in shade as well as full sun

img 0772 Six on Saturday 2nd of June 2018

Now this is one of my favourite roses, flowers on and off all summer with these scented flowers, pretty disease free and tough as old boots. It is a rose that should be and deserves to be grown wider, such a great garden plant, it’s name is Amanade paternotte!

Well that’s my six for this week, I hope you enjoyed them and have a great weekend gardening, I know I will 😀 and enjoy the other six on Saturday over at the hosts site

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Six on Saturday 26th of May

img 2832 Six on Saturday 26th of May

Another busy week in the sun, well mostly sun and warm, ideal for hoeing off the weeds and dying in a few minutes, one of my favourite jobs is hoeing, that feeling of going though the bed, in a smooth calm action, with the sun on your back, only thing that beats it, is of course, hoeing a bed full of scented roses, total bliss!

Anyway I am writing this on Friday evening, excited like a excited thing that is indeed very excited, why you may ask, well I am off to The RHS flower show at chelsea, all thanks to those great people at Griffin Glasshouses, who ran a competition for a couple of tickets on Saturday and my name came out! It’s made my week! I have only been once and that was many many years ago. I am sooo excited I could crush a grape!

Right on to the first of the six and I was going to apologise for the amount of Geraniums in this weeks 6 but I won’t, why? Cause they are all brilliant that’s why,

img 2832 Six on Saturday 26th of May

Geranium Orkney Pink, how stunning is that!

img 2825 Six on Saturday 26th of May

Time for a quick rose, this was the first one to flower for me last year, second this year Louis XIV, stunning colour, stunning scent, doesn’t stop flowering all summer

img 2827 Six on Saturday 26th of May

This six puts me in dreamland well Geranium dreamland, cracking newish form, featured in last years 6 but what a little stunner

img 2835 Six on Saturday 26th of May

Allium aflatunense is just starting to flower, moving on from the purple sensations that are just going over, cracking looking plants, supplied by Geetee bulbs

img 2834 1 Six on Saturday 26th of May

Geranium renardii is one of my favourites, the leaves are so tactile and soft and as pictured here, the flowers are so loved by bees as well as us. It makes great groundcover as well

img 2829 Six on Saturday 26th of May

Penstemon artic Fox is one of my favourite white penstemons and it works so well as white foil to many plants, great form indeed.

Well that’s my six for this week, I hope you enjoyed them, right I am off to the train station to catch a train! Will catch up with you all later, have a great weekend and enjoy the other six on Saturday over at the hosts site

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Davidia involucrata

davidia involucrata 5 Davidia involucrata

Davidia involucrata is now in full flower with the white blooms covering the trees almost like white doves fluttering in the branches or handkerchiefs that have been picked up by a big gust of wind and spread them all though the tree.

davidia involucrata 3 Davidia involucrataI can imagine how thrilling it must of been to first clap your eyes on this tree growing wild and seeing the stunning flowers for the first time just like the first Europeans discovering the tree for the first time. It was one lucky chap , a French missionary called father Armand David who first came across it, flowering away in a Chinese valley in 1871 and sent specimens back to France. The seeds didn’t arrive in Europe for a few more years indeed it was the first plant hunting trip by one of the greatest plant hunters of them all, Earnest Wilson who in 1901 managed to send back seeds to Kew Gardens. This was despite being attacked by bandits, suffering a deadly illness and recovering and finally nearly drowning! Damn glad I don’t have to suffer like that to get my hands on one!

davidia involucrata 7 Davidia involucrata

Never-less this beautiful tree with heart shaped leaves and seed pods that look like Christmas baubles hanging from the branches, is well worth the effort of going to see one in the next week or so, just admire its beauty!

davidia involucrata var vilmoriniana Davidia involucrata

Next week I will highlight another plant that is looking beautiful

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Finding a gardener! Part 1- the first steps

img 0951 Finding a gardener! Part 1  the first steps

img 0951 Finding a gardener! Part 1  the first steps

We all get to the point of needing a little help in the garden, whether it’s a total redesign, rebuild or maintenance. All these tasks can be just a one off or a regular just just getting someone in to do the boring bits we don’t enjoy or even the bits we can’t do, either from not having the skill sets or equipment to things in the garden.

During this little series, I am looking at this from not only the customers view but also as mine, working as a professional gardener covering practical gardening as well as planting plans and consultancy. Hopefully this will give you a little more information about the right questions to ask, what to look for and how to make a good choice for your garden and you.

For me the first thing would be to sit down with some paper and spend a bit of time working out what work you would like done in a little bit more detail. What may seem common sense to you, may not to someone else, coming into the garden for the first time. If it’s a new garden you would like done, double check boundary lines, who owns which fence/wall, think about how much you have to spend and plants or ideas you like. If it’s landscaping, again think about the size of area you would liked done, materials you like, money you have to spend and with maintenance, there is a little more to think about, work out what jobs you would like done, with grass, how often you want it mowed, the height, feeding, scarification etc and even with hedges, what height to trim at etc. You aren’t looking to produce a timetable for works just a list of the tasks you would like to have carried out, all this saves so much confusion when walking around the garden and saves the opps nearly forgot that bit there, that happens regularly.

img 5130 Finding a gardener! Part 1  the first steps

This list can also help you decide what type of gardening service you need. There are so many types of services, it can be confusing what service that may best suit your needs. So here’s a rough rundown about what they are and what they do.

  • Landscape architects or designers. They design bigger spaces that are mainly almost without boundaries, like large estates, new building estates, ideal to use if you have a very large estate.
  • Garden designers. They design garden and garden spaces, from full gardens to small sections including planting plans
  • Garden consultants. These help you solving problems in the garden, no matter what size you garden is. They advise on problems and give solutions. If you have had substandard work carried out in you garden, they will give a honest neutral report it on as well as advising on a smaller aspects of your garden
  • Landscapers. They are the builders in the garden, anything you would like built from a whole garden to just a small part, these are the ones to go for. They differ from general builders from a much greater understanding of materials and how things work within the garden. Some landscape companies do offer design as well.
  • Lawn maintenance. These companies look after the feeding and health of the lawn, most don’t cut grass
  • Gardeners. Gardeners can look after your garden, all the above indeed can be classed as gardeners as they all work within the garden, but the term gardeners generally means they maintain and develop the garden. All gardeners are different, some are able to carry out all the above while others just prefer to cut grass or indeed work on the more skilled areas of gardening like pruning.

Some of these areas can be mixed up, with gardeners being able to do garden design, landscaping, lawn maintenance and consultancy, landscapers offering design, build and aftercare and designers offering to do planting and aftercare too.

They also have trade bodies that either test them regularly to ensure good compliance or have a strict entry criteria that the company has to pass to be come a member. These are set out below

  • Charted institute of Horticulture. This covers all the above groups. To become a member, you must meet a set amount of points depending of qualifications and experience. Fellows are the highest form of members with a few gaining Charted memberships. Members are allowed to use Chort for chartered members, FCIHort for fellows, MCIHort for members or ACIHort for associate membership.
  • Institute of Landscape Design is the body for Landscape designers. It has a very strict entry requirement and ongoing training for members so they can become chartered landscape designers. Only chartered members can use CMLI, fellows FLI and teachers AMLI.
  • Society of garden designers. Is the main one for garden designers. It has two main categories for qualified designers. Pre-registered members are qualified designers working towards becoming a registered member, registered members have their work assessed and approved by the SGD.
  • Professional Garden Consultants Association is designed for professionals who offer consultancy as part of their service. Members have to be a member of of the Charted Institute of Horticulture and one other like Society of Garden Designers, The professional Gardeners Guild, have at least 10yrs experience in their chosen field and pass a Admittance and Standards Training Workshop.
  • Association of Professional Landscapers is one of two trade associations. The members are mainly focused on the domestic market. The members have to been trading for 2yrs, have at least 6 references from clients, agree to follow a strict code and have paperwork and work inspected once per year, indeed it is the only trade body that checks it’s members so vigorously that they are accepted into the governments Trade Mark scheme.
  • The British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI) covers landscapers, designers and maintenance. They cover all types of property from small gardens to big public areas. They have to agree to abide by a strict guidelines, have paperwork and quality of work checked, provide at least 10 customer and 2 trade references.
  • The Gardeners Guild is the only trade body just for those who provide garden maintenance and aftercare mainly focused on the domestic garden side. Most the members are sole traders or small companies. Each member has to prove they have a horticultural qualifications to at least RHS level 2.

These will have you understand the memberships they may have and can be a great place to find a new person that fits the bill perfectly. They are many talented people who aren’t members of any groups, they go by word of mouth many and are great if you here about them. But the above can be a good place to start. They all have member lists and also many of them have arbitration guild lines that will help you if there is a problem.

Next time I shall look into choosing someone or a firm to carry out the works you need, giving you clues on what to look for, what things the firms need to work legally in your garden.

img 1333 Finding a gardener! Part 1  the first steps

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Propagating dogwoods/Cornus from waste pruning

img 2369 Propagating dogwoods/Cornus from waste pruning

Well my job this week is pruning back the types of Cornus/dogwoods the delight us all winter with their stunning stem colours. Of course, one the delights from Cornus is that they tend to root petty easy from their stems just touching the ground. This trait means they are pretty easy to propagate from hard wood cuttings. Unlike most hard wood cuttings, an ideal time to to take these hardwood cuttings is just after you have pruned them, some of this waste material makes great cutting material and I have put together an easy step by step guide on how to do it

img 2366 Propagating dogwoods/Cornus from waste pruning

First of all choose your woody material, I prefer something that is about a year old, pencil thickness and straight. That’s not too say something thinner or thicker doesn’t work, it’s just I have found this size produces more plants

img 2367 Propagating dogwoods/Cornus from waste pruning

Then I make a cut at the bottom near a set of buds, a square cut us is fine but an angled one maybe better for the last stage

img 2369 Propagating dogwoods/Cornus from waste pruning

I like to have at least 4 sets of buds on each cutting, so I trim it down to just above the 4th bud and if the material is long enough, I sometimes can get a couple out of it

img 2370 Propagating dogwoods/Cornus from waste pruning

Next stage is to push the cutting into the ground, this is why an angled cut maybe easier to do. The ground doesn’t need to be too loose and can be even next to the dogwood you have just pruned down.

img 2373 Propagating dogwoods/Cornus from waste pruning

I push this stem down until it’s half between the 2nd and 3rd bud as per picture above, this leaves 2 buds under the soil and these buds are the areas the roots will grow from

img 2374 Propagating dogwoods/Cornus from waste pruning

A completed row, they don’t need to be in a row, can be done randomly around the area you require them but they are so easy to do and make such a great use of wood that would be burned or shredded. I would now leave these for a few months and when they are growing away strongly you know they have taken. Sometimes leaves break out and then die, this is the plant using up the stored water and then sadly dying afterwards. This also works with any Salix or willow with coloured stems

Good luck and I hope you get loads of free plants