What a week…

Spring has finally sprung.

On Monday at Hampton Court we threw the windows open and bathed in the warm air that flowed into the studio.  (To be fair we didn’t actually throw the windows open. They are so ancient that if we were to throw them open there would be a very real danger that they would drop off and plunge to the ground, killing a few visitors on their way. So we had to ask Humaira to open them for us, which she did rather gingerly! But you get the general drift…..)

My favourite yew trees.
My favourite yew trees.

It’s hard to feel down when the sun is transforming the world, bare branches are bursting into colour in waves of glorious green, and the magnolia blossom I pass on the way to college is worth stopping the car for.

In my garden, (which is always a little late thanks to heavy clay soil and a north facing aspect,) it’s been my tubs which have been the show stoppers.


IMG_1984Certainly the bees seem to think so…..IMG_2021

Structure and Form

This week has been a quiet one on the blog front. Tomorrow is the day that all eighteen of us present our planting plans for the Balham garden project so I’ve had my head down. I know this will get easier as we become more experienced, but it’s really nerve wracking.

My planting plan uses shrubs to create year round structure and interest. So earlier this week, before setting off for Hampton Court, I went out into my own garden to have a look at how the structure is working in the winter months.

It was a beautiful morning, frosty and bright. IMG_0481The snowdrops were looking very pleased with themselves, shimmying up to the red stems of the cornus.

IMG_0470Without the foliage and flowers of spring and summer it was interesting to see how the trees and shrubs were doing on their own.

I’m using Fatsia japonica, Nandina domestica and Euonymus in my plan so it was good to see the three of them looking so sprightly.

And it was a really good exercise to focus on the structure and form in my own garden.


IMG_0479I’m learning to see things with new eyes and I’m loving it…….

February action

I’m not spending a lot of time in my garden at the moment. It’s cold outside, it’s grey outside – and I’ve got the planting plans for the Project 2 Balham garden, ten planting combinations for our Project 1, and a trip to Everest to prepare for…… And only three weeks to fit them all in before I leave for Khatmandu on March 23rd.  Aaaaaaaaaargh.

But yesterday morning I took time out to put into action the cunning construction plan I’ve had in mind ever since I visited Pashley Manor last year.

I have a bed by the garden gate which is the first thing you see when you come into my garden.  Last year I decided to reinvent it and planted it up with lots of lovely colourful herbaceous goodies. But my beautiful bed was not to be. There was non stop rain, a decorator with his scaffolding – boy, did we chose the worst ever year to get the outside of the house painted.

And last but by no means least there was a small cocker spaniel with very big feet.IMG_0024

This year I’ve got my fingers crossed for the rain to give up and go somewhere else. The house is painted and the scaffolding gone. But the one thing we are left with is the small cocker spaniel. Hence the cunning plan.

If you’ve never been to Pashley Manor I suggest you go. It’s the most beautiful house nestling in rolling hills on the Kent/East Sussex border. The gardens are stunning at any time of year but it’s when the tulips are out that it is particularly spectacular.

So last April I went to see the tulips. And was stunned and amazed.IMG_0457 IMG_0456IMG_0453









(And I love the fact that the ducks there are so sophisticated they have their own swimming pool!)


IMG_0463But I was also rather taken with their ideas for low level fencing……







So we’ve had a go at home.

IMG_0453Quick to construct thanks to Stewart (who is the person who does all the hard work in my garden!)

Spaniel proof (we hope).


And rather funky, don’t you think.

Watch this space for summer pictures…….