Thursday, 31 January 2013

After the snow its business as normal this week for the Lupin gardening team

This week has seen a full return to garden maintenance work for the Lupin lady gardeners. 

The Lupin Team

Here is a diary of their week maintaining gardens;


Today we are in Henley-in-Arden, in a garden we have been developing for several years (see photos). It was redesigned and implemented by the usual team - Mel at Gardenplan, Mick at Avalon Landscapes and planted by Lupin. We maintain this garden on a quarterly basis and it seems to have come through the winter. Nice to see the end of the snow, though rain apparently on the way...

Henley-In-Arden Garden in Summer

Monday, 28 January 2013

Viburnum opulus attracts a special winter visitor to the garden – right on cue for ‘Birdwatch’!

It was the RSPB ‘Big Garden Birdwatch’ this weekend and I thought that the contrary birds would, as in previous years, lie low and only visit in small numbers, frustrating the people who were on their annual bird monitoring mission! 

Well, they did this as I predicted, but to compensate we did have a fantastic treat a first time sighting - a new visitor to our garden!

It was early on Saturday morning and the local fox had paid us a visit and gave a bark prompting an early garden viewing. At first, without the binoculars, I thought these birds were pigeons.  However, on closer inspection they were definitely not, as they had a stunning yellow beak and a speckled chest, some of the features of a thrush, a bird that unfortunately eludes us. These birds, four in total, were taking it in turns to feast on the Viburnum opulus berries. (I am now so glad that I was lazy and didn’t remove them earlier to make a jelly). These beautiful birds, still to be identified, were very nervous and moved off at the slightest sound. Out came the bird books and even after much deliberating we still didn’t have a definite identification, but it was a bird clearly form the Thrush family. Thank goodness for Internet images as a positive match was made. The Fieldfare family had paid us a visit on this important day of bird watching! Apparently, according to the RSPB, they will visit gardens if snow covers the countryside. Living in urban Birmingham, we were lucky to catch this winter visitor! Oh! and thank you Mr Fox for your little bark to alert us to looking out on Saturday morning! 

The Fieldfare in our Viburnum, well disguised with its beautiful plumage.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

National Trust Gardens to revisit and discover in 2013

I received the new National Trust book and magazine in the post this morning, which is always exciting! After fighting over the car sticker, (I always win!), hub and I scan the book to see what’s new, making a mental list of what properties we should visit this year. I can’t remember how long I have been a member of the National Trust but it’s a very long time and the only regret I have, is that I should have taken the ‘Life Long’ membership for about £400 when it was offered way back when!

I never tire of the Trust’s gardens and regularly visit local properties, which have become like old friends and part of the extended Mel Smith estate!,
 Hanbury Hall , Packwood House  and Dudmaston are great for walks and garden visits. I have watched with great pleasure and admiration the reconstruction of Hanbury’s laid out parterres, sauntered through Packwood’s clipped yews, which have great presence, so much so that I imagine they might come to life and dance around the garden at night! Dudmaston has so much to offer both inside and out, the great modern art collection and the lovely walks. My first priority for a visit here this year will be the Dingle Snowdrop walk, which is lovely.

I have been truly inspired by the National Trust gardens that I have visited over the years; offering an inordinate variety of historic styles, quirky designs and copious plant collections, that delight the senses. So heavily impressed are they in my subconscious, I’m certain that any garden I design will have a bit of National Trust in there somewhere!

Packwood House Yews 

Here are a few of my favourites;

Monday, 14 January 2013

Winter garden planning - you know it makes sense!

If you haven’t started thinking about your garden for this summer then now is the ideal time to get stuck in! My advice is that preparation and planning is what is crucial, so time spent carefully thinking about what you want from your outdoor space will make your garden the best it has ever been. Winter time is difficult for those of us who love to spend time in our gardens. We try to cheer ourselves up by endlessly flicking through those seed catalogues, which are by now heavily embossed with biro ticks or rushing out to the garden centre the minute the weather starts to pick up to buy trolleys full of plants, which turn out to be wholly unsuitable for the space you don’t really have! 
Hold fire on the quick fix plant buying - it can turn out be a costly mistake; start thinking instead about the structure and functionality of your garden and putting a plan together. Snuggle down on the sofa and start making lists of plants and plant combinations that you would like to include and look at books, other peoples gardens and the internet for inspiration.