Has The Chelsea Flower Show Lost Its Mojo?

I’ve grown a little bored of the Chelsea Flower Show. There, I’ve said it. Once upon a time I used to love the anticipation, researching the show gardens, planning my visit, watching the television coverage and reviewing the event afterwards. Now I find I that I can scarcely be bothered. Could it be that I’ve […]

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Planting A Container for Autumn Colour

By mid-September, many summer-flowering annuals have started to burn themselves out. They’ve given their all, and their natural instinct is now to produce seed before the weather gets colder and they die. This can leave pots and containers planted in late spring looking rather forlorn. If you’re not ready to resign yourself to the onset […]

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Now is the Time to Plant Spring Bulbs

Whilst tempting to lament the summer that never was, now is the time to be looking ahead and planting your spring-flowering bulbs. The first 2022 catalogues seemed to arrive earlier than ever this year, some of them well before the last tulips had faded in our garden. With no opportunity to impress customers at the […]

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A Stroll Around The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Work brought me to Edinburgh this week. I could not pay a visit to one of my favourite cities in the world without a visit to ‘The Botanics’, as they are known locally. Situated just north of the city centre, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh extends over 70 acres of gently undulating terrain around Inverleith […]

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Teeming Down at Tremenheere

Anyone who has spent time holidaying in Cornwall will know that the county’s weather can be relied upon to dictate your itinerary from start to finish. Rarely does a day start as it means to go on: ‘four seasons in one day’ is not so much a concept as a way of life on the […]

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The Late, Late Tulip Show

Cold weather in spring can only hold our gardens back for so long. It’s like a catapult, the further the sling is pulled back – i.e the longer the cold days continue – the faster the shot flies when conditions improve. For the last week, every night has been over 5ºC and daytime temperatures have […]

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The Late, Late Daffodil Show

In a normal year, I’d consider myself lucky to have one or two daffodils blooming in May. By May Day their dominion is over and tulips reign supreme. This year is an exception; I have more daffodils in flower now than at any time previously. An Entente Cordiale has been reached between the two exalted […]

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Arctic April

It has been the strangest month; cold – indeed the frostiest April in sixty years – and desert-dry. Although we’ve escaped spring frosts here on the East Kent coast, it has been bitter day-in, day-out, with desiccating winds blowing in from the north and east. Most days I have returned from walking the dogs feeling […]

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Discovering Daffodils

It’s a little known fact – so little known that one might almost call it a secret – that the first job I ever applied for was with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. As a Landscape Architect I would be travelling the world, recommending how to look after these historically important sites. The main attraction […]

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How To Prepare Your Garden For A Spring Cold Snap

Over the last week we’ve been blessed with glorious spring weather. Sunshine and temperatures in the high teens and twenties (ºC) have, quite literally, made the garden blossom. It’s been a delight to be outside, getting jobs done and feeling the warmth on our backs, but don’t let a mild spell lull you into a […]

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Hurrah! the Ides of March

Our garden is at its lowest ebb from early February until the Ides of March, on the 15th of the month. Battered by gales laden with salt and sand, scorched by snow and starved of light, everything but the eternal evergreens* is pale, frazzled or mushy. I try to like what I see, but I […]

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Book Review – The Kinfolk Garden

I am generally reticent about writing book reviews. However, when the first couple of critiques I read online are comedically scathing, my interest is piqued. Can a book really be that awful, or is it the reviewers that I should call into question? I must judge for myself. Having received my copy of The Kinfolk […]

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Iris Reticulata ‘Pauline’

In an exciting new development, the following post can now be enjoyed as a podcast as well as in text and photographs. Cultivars of Iris reticulata have enjoyed regular and enthusiastic coverage in this blog over the years. There are two good reasons for this. First, they bloom in February when few other plants are […]

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The Beast Is Back

Our garden is not designed for snow. In the fifteen years I’ve lived at The Watch House, I can only recall it snowing four times. The first occasion was during the build in 2008, when it snowed in April. This struck me as unusual. Perhaps it was a sign that I should choose my plants […]

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February Flowers

It’s that time of year when galanthophiles (the polite name for snowdrop bores) start to bombard social media with images of their pearly-white treasures. Whilst I would not go as far as to say ‘they all look the same to me’, it’s certainly the case that one must be a) an ardent lover of winter, […]

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Baby steps (towards spring)

Every weekend is pretty much the same during the lockdown. A time to catch up on sleep, to read, phone friends and family, make lists, walk the dogs, eat, drink and do a few jobs outside. There are a great many substantial projects that need to be tackled at The Watch House: fixing the roof, […]

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Hairnets and Harry Wheatcroft – The Chelsea Flower Show in 1973

The Beau is a thoughtful chap. For my birthday earlier this week he managed to track down a copy of the Chelsea Flower Show catalogue from the year of my birth, 1973. Whilst the cover design leaves much to be desired, the contents allow me to draw some fascinating comparisons with the modern-day. Most striking […]

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A Bookish Birthday

You might well assume that I’d had enough of being busy doing nothing over the Christmas holidays. That’s certainly not the case. Over the last year I have embraced ‘down time’ like never before. Perhaps it’s my age, or The Beau’s positive influence; maybe it’s simply having the time to entertain periods of relaxation instead […]

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Going Potty

If the pandemic has taught us one thing, it’s to look after our mental health. If it’s taught us another, it’s to look out for others’ wellbeing at the same time. Having been vulnerable to depression and anxiety in my youth, these days I consider myself fairly robust. Even so, at the start of this […]

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A Year of Plotting

January 2020 After waiting only four months, we got the news that we had reached the top of the allotment waiting list: if we were still interested, would we like to come and choose the one we wanted? Yes, we were still very much interested, although, I have to admit, I was a little hesitant […]

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BITTERSWEET MEMORIES OF 2020

The year 2020. Where to begin? It’s tempting to dive straight into the obvious negatives – and let’s face it that would be rich territory – but I’m prepared to stick my neck out and say that in many respects it has been a good year, for us at least. I hope you won’t think […]

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SEASON’S GREETINGS FROM THE WATCH HOUSE

Hello One and All! It’s been a while. Like everyone else, The Beau and I have been ducking and diving, trying to tackle this crazy year unscathed. Arriving at the eve of Christmas feels like an achievement in itself, although it’s not come a moment too soon for our sanity. That said, we are all […]

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planting ahead

The first draft of this post began with a rather gloomy assessment of the year’s events. By the time I reached the third paragraph I had bored myself, which is never a good start. Besides, who really needs reminding of 2020’s shortcomings? Shortly after beginning again I learned of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ victory […]

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Whatever the Weather

Since the end of August the garden has taken one battering after another. In Broadstairs we have experienced gales from every point on the compass, heavy rain and unusually chilly nights. By the end of September both the Jungle Garden and the Gin & Tonic Garden looked more like they usually do in early November. […]

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The House by the Lane

‘Chyanvounder’: ‘Chy’ meaning house and ‘vounder’ meaning lane in the Cornish language. We have made three attempts to visit Cornwall this year. The first was thwarted by the untimely demise of The Beau‘s ill fated Mini Cooper. Dreams of a second sojourn were ended by lockdown. Thankfully it was to be third time lucky this […]

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Getting Away From It All

Like many folk, we’ve barely spent a night away from home since the New Year. I love The Watch House with all my heart, but being there is not a holiday. Everywhere I look there’s a job to be done: a plant to be watered, a bulb to be planted, a wall to be painted […]

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Glut Instinct

“Growing your own produce is great if you want no food, then 400 tomatoes, then nothing, then 120 cucumbers, then nothing, then 3 carrots that weren’t eaten by the local wildlife, then 40 weird looking courgettes, of which only 3 are edible.” This quote pretty accurately describes where we are right now with our allotment. We […]

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