After the big announcement in my last post about NOT being a garden designer, I’ve got a confession to make. Because I think I might have been a bit hasty.

I’ve just spent the last few hours doing planting plans for my garden. I’ve taken photos, done some sketches, brushed the cobwebs off my CAD design skills, pulled out a few plant guides, and hallelujah…

You know what? I love doing planting plans… I really do. Which is pretty amazing considering that trying to do them as part of the ****ing garden design course I embarked on a couple of years ago nearly finished me off, made me think that I was the most useless person this side of Uselesstown, and turned me into a garden hater.

But it’s amazing what a bit of rest and recuperation can do. I realised things were beginning to turn around when I was able to look through the window at my garden without a feeling of dread; when, after deciding that topiarising my yew hedge into football supporters was a really bad idea, I went out and had a look at the uncut growth and saw Chelsea fans waiting to emerge;

Yew hedge in waiting
Yew hedge in waiting

when I heard my greenhouse calling to me in a welcoming tone, rather than sitting petulantly in the corner of the garden threatening me with all sorts of dire consequences if I didn’t get out there and get going.

The love of my life....
Last summer! The love of my life….

I think it was when Chris (the pruning expert you really need when your climbing plants have gone awol), arrived this morning to give me a hand with rejuvenating the roses and wisteria on the pergola, that I finally knew I was back in business.

Serious pruning
Serious pruning

I was out there in the wind and the rain, loving every minute of it (I KNOW!). And, when it finally got too cold and too wet to carry on, I came in, went straight to my desk, and started plant planningTa-dah!


And now I feel like writing about it. So maybe I am a garden designer… Of a sort. I know I said I wasn’t sure if I was going to carry on with this blog. But that was before. And this is now. And writing is what I love doing. And so is gardening.


Watch this space!

Blotting Paper….

So…. my greenhouse….

You remember when you were little, and you did that thing with blotting paper and cress? Soak the blotting paper, put it on a plate, sprinkle it with seeds, keep it damp. A few days later….

Something extraordinary has happened. Spidery green shoots curling their way out of the seed cases. Wait a few more days – and there are slender fronds, each with its own hat of tiny leaves, waving gently at you and saying look, how amazing are we? Which is a miracle in itself. But it doesn’t stop there. Because when those little fronds are big enough, you get to eat them.

Well, my first greenhouse year has been the blotting paper experience on a grand scale. I started with nothing but a few packets of husky little brown things. Messed around with soil and pots. Sprinkled the husky brown things around a bit. Got busy with the watering can. After a few days extraordinary things began to happen.

Where it begins....
Where it begins…

And they went on happening. Every day something new and wonderful. And every week the vegetable garden turns into a new and completely different space.

Start with bare earth
Start with bare earth
Add a bit of cane construction....
Add a bit of cane construction….
Mix with sunshine and rain....
Mix with sunshine and rain….
And leave to rise....
And leave to rise….

And then you can start picking.

Amazing Aubergines
Amazing Aubergines
Preposterous peppers
Preposterous peppers
Tempting Tomatoes
Tempting Tomatoes
Colourful Kale
Colourful Kale

So the thing is…. what I can’t get my head around…. is how does it happen? I’ve done the science; I’ve sat the exam. But it still feels like magic to me.



Fairweather Friend….

So you know that friend, the really good one, the one you see all the time, do stuff with, text, email, meet for coffee….

…. until the day they disappear off the face of the earth.

Suddenly you don’t hear from them, they don’t return your calls, reply to your texts, turn up when they say they will. You begin to worry. Have they emigrated? Found religion? Been kidnapped?

But then you find out that it’s none of these. Because you know what’s happened? They’ve fallen in love. And suddenly they don’t need you anymore.

So, now it’s me. I’m the guilty ‘what happened to you?’, ‘haven’t seen you around much’ party. For weeks, months, years even, (ok, just one year, but it’s felt like more to me) you’ve had posts appearing on a regular basis. Weekly updates on the things that catch my eye, tickle my fancy, get me thinking. But for the last couple of months there’s been nothing. Apart from the occasional message promising the earth…. I’ll be there for you…. I’ve been away but now I’m back…. Better than ever…. etc, etc, etc.

So what’s been going on?

Deep breath…. finally…. it’s time to come clean. I am in love…. With…. Very loud drumroll….

My greenhouse.

The love of my life....
The love of my life….



It could have gone either way. If I’m honest I was really worried. That it was going to be another thing I didn’t have time for, a commitment too far, a stick to beat myself with, an impulse purchase to regret when I remembered that it was out there in my garden abandoned and unloved.

But it’s neither abandoned or unloved. In fact it’s my favourite thing in the whole world. I’m never happier than when I’m watering my tomatoes and cultivating my cucumbers. I spend every moment I can in it. I want to move into it.


I’ve finally owned up. And I feel so much better.

Now you can look forward to lots of posts about vegetables….

Or maybe not.

And I’m aware that there is a ‘Whatever Happened to Garden Design?’ issue to address. And a ‘Where’s this book you’ve been threatening to release onto an unsuspecting world?” question to answer.

I just hope you’re willing to stick with me.

Friends in love don’t have to disappear. They just have to make more of an effort.


Greenhouse geek….

So the weather outside is frightful…. But the fire is so delightful….

Actually there’s no fire but the weather is truly horrendous and I’m sitting here like one of the three little pigs with the wind and the rain doing their best to blow the house down. Hopefully, since we’ve been sensible and built our house out of bricks, we’ll see this stormy weather out. But in the meantime there’s not a whole lot to write about in the garden. Apart that is from….

Big drumroll….

!*!*!MY GREENHOUSE!*!*!*

Is it sad to be so excited about a greenhouse? Yes it probably is…. But I don’t care. This is something I’ve been planning for years. And it’s finally happened. So let me talk you through it….

If you’ve read the page about my garden you’ll know that when we moved into this house the garden was a little lacking in…. well it was a little lacking in anything really. Apart from grass and fence, that is.

Lovely huh....
Lovely huh….

The house nestles at the bottom of a north facing slope, most of which is our field and a section of which was the garden. While the developers had their contractors in shifting earth around for the other properties next door we asked them to level out a section of field on the far side of the fence to give us a flat area to use for….

We're talking about the area on the far side of the fence....
We’re talking about the area on the far side of the fence….

Well we weren’t exactly sure what we wanted to use it for but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Over the years we’ve kept chickens there, put a trampoline up there and then got rid of it when the children grew out of it, (actually before they grew out of it but it had to go because it was so ugly), and we had a marquee for a mega party to celebrate my 50th, my son James’s 21st and Hattie and Emma’s 18th birthdays, which all occurred in the same year (James and my big birthdays on the same day) which was about as good a reason to have a mega party as I can think of….

This is where I planted the yew hedge a few years ago,

Chelsea supporters in waiting....
Chelsea supporters in waiting….

which is coming along nicely – apart from the section I lost to rot last year – and getting ready to be topiarised into Chelsea supporters for Graham. (Which I just love the idea of as you may have gathered from other posts and am ridiculously excited about.)

So a couple of years ago when the veg habit beckoned I (or rather Stuart) dug out some beds and planted some fruit trees as the start of my vegetable garden.

The embryo....
The embryo….

Then everything got left for a couple of years while life got in the way. But now that I’m back and better than ever the grand plans are swinging into action.

So first the greenhouse.

Don't you just love it....
Don’t you just love it….

It went up in the mud and the rain a month ago and at the moment it’s looking a bit stark. But just you wait. I’m showing you the pictures now so that you’ll appreciate that we have a way to go before this part of the garden achieves the effect I’m looking for.

Then there’s the section of mixed hedge to go on the far side of the new raised bed and the replacement for the section of yew hedge that I lost – the away team supporters. At the moment they’re heeled in, waiting for the trench to be dug so we can plant them.

Away team in waiting....
Away team in waiting….

The intention is that the veg garden will be surrounded by hedge so that it is separate from the rest of the garden and has an identity of it’s own. Another room so to speak.

One day it will be beautiful....
One day it will be beautiful….

We’re going to expand the existing beds and edge them with wooden planks, turning them into two large beds rather than four small, and adding another for the perennial veg like asparagus and rhubarb.

I’m thinking of planting a group of silver birch on the near side of the new section of mixed hedge to block off the roof of the greenhouse which will still be visible even when the hedge has established. And I’ve got a mad idea about planting hornbeam and topiarising them into cones in a row along the hedge leading down to the veg garden. Although this may be a step too far.

And then of course there’s the greenhouse itself and what to do with it inside and out.

So much to think about….

If you’re interested I’ll keep you posted….