A garden emerges - a begining #1


Here we go… writing a few words about the making of a new garden.

This imaginary garden has been taking shape in my mind over the last few years and bit by bit I have started to pick at the edges of an overgrown wasteland to try and reclaim the space and mold it into something different. This will be a log of that journey where ever it may take me.

I thought if I start recording my effort, firstly it might make it easier to see that although slow, I am progressing, and secondly I can look back and see how it all came about, the mistakes I made, the plants that got swallowed by the clay and those that thrived. It will also be valuable as a reminder of what plants I have planted where as my memory is awful.

A certain amount has been done over the last few years and I will start by running through the work so far until I reach the present day. We are somewhere in a wet November in the year 2019 today and when I get this ramble up to present day I shall then continue as and when developments take place and let’s see where we get to.



Above left, the view down the paddock showing where part of the new gardens will be, showing spoil heaps from the house build and below the cloud the giant sequoia in the photo on right.

Above right, The maturing tea room garden, behind the yew hedge is where the new gardens will start.



Designs of life

Not that you would believe it with the emphasis on designed gardens on telly and the Chelsea flower show, etc. but a garden should never be finished, they are not postcards; they are entities that live, breath and transform with the effort and ever changing mind of their guardian. As the climate changes so will the garden, as the owners change so will the garden and as fashions change so will the garden (whether embracing the new or making a stance against it).

So although I will talk of ‘designing’ the garden, anyone that knows me and knows my style at the nursery knows I like things to develop organically.

I don’t particularly like a blank canvas I like to work around the existing.

I don’t  buy everything in to complete a design, I like to look around and see what I can reuse, recycle and reinvent.

If a tree comes down in a storm the first thing I would do is (after a brief period of mourning) see if it is any use as it has landed, if not then is the stump any use or if the stump has been pulled from the ground is the hole any use. We have recently lost a part of a very old field maple in the garden, after much contemplation we decided to leave the trunk where it fell. The prostrate trunk makes a fantastic backdrop to a small stone urn and now in its second year of decay the trunk has small areas of rot where fungi are growing and beetles scurry about and the hole from the root ball has been planted with ferns. At the moment it looks fantastic, in a few years’ time it might need to go.

A garden without time is nothing. So I am constantly drawing plans, sketches and ideas for the new gardens but I never expect to have a final design, when the 2D plan is converted to the land it will change and continued to change hopefully years to come.




Above left, houseplants back in vogue, in my cafe, propagating in jars of water which is a great way of displaying them.

Above right, the highly sought after trilliums, the sorts of plants more and more people are desperate to get there hands on.




Spelling Lamprocapnos spectabilis and other problems for a dyslexic

I am no writer, with dyslexia and a one fingered technique on the keyboard it takes me a long time to get anything down and when I do, I tend to put ‘,.” All in the wrong places or nowhere at all and jumble the letters too. Quite often even these clever computers predictive text can’t even work out what the word is I’m trying to spell, but he-ho, I want this to be about the earth and the placement of the plants and what I can create with them not so much about the placement of the apostrophes. So please excuse the poor grammar, etc.

What this will really be about though is plants; first I need to set the scene, so I will do a few words about the development of the gardens design so far and the hard landscaping. A lot of this has been done over the last couple of years which leaves us to the point of it all, the plants. I have loved running a nursery over the last few years.

Something has changed in the UK recently and it’s brilliant.

  • A 10 year old comes into the nursery and is so excited because they see the range of cactus I sell.
  • A millennial comes in and goes nuts for the houseplants, the strings of pearls, the pileas, the monsterea and the phlebodiums.
  • The young parents are after herbs and veg plants to inspire and teach their children.
  • And the older generations are more discerning and informed than ever before and are after interesting and unusual varieties.

Obviously I am generalizing with the age groups, but in the years I have been running a nursery never before have I had so few customers being dragged along by their mums. They are here willingly to engage and be inspired by plants.





Above left, The utterly gorgeous semiaquilegia escalarta, not so often seen and much more delicate than its chunky cousin.

Above right, the iconic leaf of monstera, hardly seen since the 70's and now back in every London flat (and country house, thats my one).

Above left, Every youngsters bedroom seems to be filled with prickles these days

Above right, Even in the bedding plant sector customers are more picky than ever about colour and form.