The nicest email I have ever received

October 23rd, 2014
email received 18.15  23/10/14

Hello Angela

I just wanted to email – I have just gone through the plant list, one by one, looking at all the plants listed and I am overjoyed with your choice. In fact, I am totally amazed that one person can get the choice 100% perfect for another one. I only had time today to go through the list from start to finish.

For instance, you have chosen delicate little nodding flowers in the clearest blue, gorgeous bulbs, fabulous climbers and my most wanted plant a daphne odora – I am so pleased Angela.

It will take me a while to be able to thank you properly, which I will do when the garden starts to wake up next year, but in the meantime, thanks so much to you and Mike too for making our garden take shape and look so much more how I dreamt it could.


That is Mike from Castle Gardens, Sherborne

Pub garden

October 11th, 2014

Last autumn I designed a pub garden, the brief changed many times as did the budget, eventually I only worked on the concept and planting.  I planted in April this year, in fact the budget was so tight I even raised  a lot of the plants myself.  Yesterday I was passing by and was delighted to see how established the planting is  looking, it struck me that the strong organic shape of the paths had a hint of Oudolf Meadow about them  (Piet Oudolf’s new garden at Hauser and Wirth near Bruton)!

Garden leaves

September 15th, 2014

Leaves of Hemerocallis, Iris, Crocosmia, bluebell and reed from the pond can be put to second use.  At this time of year I have a quick tidy up of my collection of Iris and Hemerocallis plants in the garden.   Once the leaves have faded, I dry them out and store them until I have some time to do some weaving, then I soften them in a damp towel for up to 6 hours then weave away…

Wildlife garden progressing well – Devon

September 10th, 2014

One year on in the build, two years on in the design and we are almost ready for planting.  The garden has been levelled, using low retaining stone walls, into 4 separate gardens based on the original slope of site.  A rill garden, a canal and an upper pool garden will all be enclosed with yew hedging this autumn.  The majestic kitchen garden lime mortar walls are almost finished.  There are many beautiful details in the stonework in this garden and a huge boulder serves as a stepping stone through the canal via the central axis path.

This is a wildlife garden designed for low maintenance and low impact on the environment.  The canal already attracts swallows, they create stunning acrobatic displays as they swoop down and drink from the canal.  All the pools have egress points for the creatures it may attract.  The kitchen garden walls have nesting holes built into them, all the other walls have recessed pointing to encourage plants to grow in them and to offer shelter to small creatures.  Lime mortar  is used throughout.  Lawns will be planted with daisy and Prunella and cut less frequently than most lawns.  There will be trees and hedges which are beneficial to wildlife on so many different levels and borders will be planted with plants providing a long season  pollen and nectar.

Months of hard work have gone into this garden already by an excellent team of builders.  The design of the garden is the result of a partnership between myself and my client – a very exciting project.

Somerset Arts Weeks approaching fast

August 28th, 2014

Nearly finished this swing for Somerset Arts Weeks – you will be able to see it at Venue 146 (Pylle Village Hall)

I will also be running willow dragonfly workshops on Sunday 28th September and Thursday 2nd October 2014 – 11.15am to 2.45pm.  £30 per person, advance booking essential

Dragon making – Nr Bath

July 4th, 2014

I have just completed a very enjoyable 3 day residency in a local school during which time we built a 6 metre long dragon!

Nimbyism – I am talking snakes

June 16th, 2014

Most of us enjoy the birds, hedgehogs, dragonflies, frogs, newts and butterflies that visit our gardens but I also have rabbits, deer, moles and voles to tolerate not to mention the large grass snakes that have taken up residence this summer. Surely this means I am a successful wildlife gardener?

There is usually a flip side to success and when it comes to snakes most of us do not want to share our gardens with these cool, long, slick creatures, me included. However these discreet sun worshipers have been squeezed out of their own habitat as hedgerows and woodland are ploughed or built over. I don’t therefore feel it would be correct for me to turf them out of my garden as much as I would like to. There is only one thing for it and that is to get used to the new occupants but it might take me a while.

Surprisingly I have come across a distinct lack of sympathy to my plight “Oh grass snakes are not venomous, I don’t know what you’re worried about”. I can only put this down to the fact that most people are not as intimate with their gardens as I am – or am I just being wimpish? You must agree that it is rather a shock when, after a long days work, you find yourself squatting next to a neatly coiled up grass snake in the polytunnel whilst weeding the tomatoes. However this is the best news ever for the common Natrix natrix if people really are as tolerant of snakes in their gardens as they are trying to lead me to believe. Hoorah!

For a great read on wildlife gardening “No Nettles Required” by Ken Thompson

Productive plot

June 9th, 2014

My productive vegetable garden reclaimed from scrub land 5 years ago – the hedgerows are harvested for logs by coppicing and hedge laying, there are hens, compost bins, fruit trees, log storage, polytunnels willow beds and Phormium (for weaving).  Birds nest in the trees and hedges (goldfinch, bullfinch, chaffinch, greenfinch, blackbirds, wrens, pigeons, thrushes, etc…), a huge grass snake has decided to make its home here too.

High labour inputs this time of year but there will be food for the house right through until next spring.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

June 4th, 2014

I have been wowed by the perfection of the naturalistic planting schemes presented to us by leading designers at Chelsea this year. This is a style of planting that I particularly like; complex, textural, dynamic herbaceous perennials bolstered by strong structural forms such as carved stone or wood and clipped living buttons, balls, cubes, rectangles, cones, spirals and clouds.

At this time of year it is the herbaceous perennials that are the stars of the show, be that in our gardens at home or at Chelsea. However these are just the final detail in the overall design, put in to soften the functional elements such as pools, paths, hedges and garden buildings. Get the layout right and then you can have fun with the planting.

During Chelsea week I scrutinised my own garden borders which are naturalistic in style but planted in drifts for easier maintenance, not surprisingly they left me with a sense of disappointment. My budget for the garden has not stretched to finished topiary shapes and unless I partake in daily tinkering there will be few days in the year when the beds will look like perfection. Scrutiny is good however, it helps me to see what needs to be done and if I am to be master of my borders that means regular input and time.

Unlike in the house, nothing stays the same for long in the garden, plants don’t stay where you put them, weeds sprout up, things flop, lawns get shaggy, flower spikes fade, rabbits and slugs nibble, etc… None of this occurs in a show garden, gardening at home is a process over time, enmeshing the gardener with the seasons where rewards are directly related to effort.

The magic is that most of us see beyond our efforts, our minds bending what is reality into a beautiful finished picture possibly like one of the gardens at Chelsea?

The Laurent-Perrier Garden 2014 Laurent-Perrier garden designed by Luciano Giubbilei

Building the garden – Devon

May 27th, 2014

This garden is progressing well after the wet weather halted work between December and February.

Early stages of the rill garden in October 2013

The rill garden in May 2014 awaits the custom welded liner.  Steel edged beds will be planted with pleached Malus.