Opening our garden to the public to raise money for the National Garden Scheme (NGS) was both an honour and a total mind-blitz to the senses. After all these years blogging about the NGS, it’s funny to add the ‘NGS’ tag to our own garden. It’s even funnier and lovely seeing other people’s photos of the garden after being the only person to photograph it over the last four years. Continue reading Our first NGS open day: a weather miracle, cake and allotment cut flowers
A quick reminder that we are opening our garden and flat, 2 Littlebury Road in Clapham, this Sunday afternoon (23 July)! It may be small but it’s packed to the brim with unusual and weird plants that I’ve grown from seed or collected over the years. I’m hoping it will give ideas to other renters and owners of small flats and balconies in London – you really CAN grow A LOT of beautiful things in tiny spaces.
All money raised will go to care charities via the National Garden Scheme (the NGS). It costs £3.50 to come in and we are selling cakes, teas, coffees, cold drinks and prosecco to help raise more money. Our fabulous and talented friend Rosanna Falconer has been an absolute trooper in helping us with the cakes – and she’s an amazing cook so do come and try some.
Please pop down for a bit, and please help spread the word by telling people! The more people who come, the more we will all raise (at the moment I’m worried no one will turn up!)
Personally, I cannot wait to meet fellow gardeners to talk about plants, gardening and everything bright and bloomy! Or we can just talk about Brexit… just kidding. Hopefully see you on Sunday.
Jack and Chris xx
Monty Don always says it’s important to pick only what you’re about to eat to reduce the time between plot and plate. James Wong often tweets and writes in the Guardian about the way sugars in vegetables quickly turn to starch – often in surprisingly short spaces of time. Continue reading Allotment month 20: it’s in the flavour – new potatoes, carrots, Florence fennel, beetroot and more
California is a magical place, Chris and I love it. One minute you can be in the oven of a 43C desert, a few hours later atop a snow covered mountain among giant trees. While it’s the wild areas that I love, the gardens are fascinating for the differences to those found in the UK. They seem to either be tropical or arid, extravagant or minimalist with very little in between. Oh, actually there is weird – weird is in between. It’s in a garden in Los Angeles that we first saw hummingbirds for the first time; one of those euphoric moments that last a lifetime. Below is a gallery of some of the Californian gardens we’ve visited during our trips from 2012 – 2017. Continue reading 56 Photos of Californian Gardens: from Facebook and Google to Hollywood via Alcatraz
Sorry for the lack of updates about our garden recently, I’ve been so busy opening my garden design studio it’s been hard to keep up. Also, with our open day but two weeks away today, all focus is now on making that a good day for everyone in order to raise lots of money for the care charities the National Open Garden Sheme support. Continue reading Pot’s Growing On? High summer in Clapham
Chris and I have just come back from a trip to LA, Vegas and Malibu visiting for a wedding. Once you enter the kingdom of plants, the world you see through green-tinged glasses changes radically and this latest trip to the states felt like stepping into an alternate universe due in part to the choice of plants used in urban plantings and people’s front gardens. In this post I’m going to document some of my observations from the streets of California. Continue reading From the streets of California
I can be my own worst enemy sometimes, in fact, a lot of the time. I can be so focussed that I become blinkered. At times like this it takes those around me to bring me back down to earth and point me back in the right direction. Continue reading Solstice in the city – Clapham Common
A selection of photos from my perambulations over the last few months. Continue reading Come into my world
An upfront confession: I’ve never seen nor heard of any of Derek Jarman’s films. A film director before my time. I first heard of him after reading about his home, Prospect Cottage, found in Dungeness on the south coast, a couple of years ago. Quickly I became obsessed with the garden and our friend David gave me Jarman’s book about it as a gift. While short, it’s one of my favourite gardening books – or any book. Continue reading At the end of the earth, plants – Prospect Cottage, Dungeness
Who knows how the laws of the universe work. Across the entire site my allotment is on I’ve never seen any foxgloves at all. Last summer I chose to leave a tiny weed in the middle of my brassica bed, who knows why. Continue reading Allotment Month 18: a visitor, weedageddon, cutflowers, vegetables and perennial produce
One of my bugbears around Chelsea time are the naysayers proclaiming the gardens are unrealistic and impossible to recreate at home. You know what I always say to that? Poppycock! (Incidentally, what is a ‘poppycock’ or am I best not asking?) Continue reading 15 sensational plant combinations you can try at home from the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2017
The Chelsea Flower Show is nuts. People on stilts dressed only in flowers, cactus jackets, astro turf lions, stands of rare plants grown to utter perfection by collectors and nurseries, every millimetre of gardens designed and fussed over, landscaping built in a week to be knocked down a week later, flowers arranged into hats… Continue reading 23 things at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2017
There are some garden designers we see at RHS shows regularly. James Basson is one that came on my radar in 2015 with his naturalistic, authentic style that really stood out from the gloss of the rest of the show. Like a fine wine, at first I was unsure if I liked the style but I have grown to truly love it. Continue reading James Basson’s road to ‘best in show’ at Chelsea Flower Show 2017
It’s hard to take in the brain blitz that is the Chelsea Flower Show in one day – particularly when you keep bumping into Joanna Lumley and Mary Berry – so I’ll reserve full thoughts for later blog posts. Please check back in the week for design and plant picks. For now, I thought I’d quickly share some highlights from the press day today. Continue reading RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2017 – Press Day Highlights
May? Mayhem more like. So much is going on this month I feel like Dorothy whizzing around in a plant filled whirlwind. Different gardens I designed in winter are coming to fruition now, Chelsea’s next week and our open day is somehow only 8 weeks away! Continue reading Pot’s Growing On in May: getting ready for a show-stopping summer!
Note: since the day I published this the heavens opened dumping over 4cm of water in 72 hours in south London. So for us at least, crisis averted. No more hose pipe ban worries for the time being – now its slug war.
It has barely rained in London now for six weeks. The soil in my garden, allotment and my clients’ gardens is like dust, on the surface and inches down. Plants are hanging on thanks to the cooler nights without supplemental water but barely. My mind is turning to what will happen when the weather hots up for summer. Continue reading Dry winter and spring, what does it mean for summer?
In a few weeks the above Chelsea grounds will be filled with the wonders of the plant world. This year will be my fourth visit to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show – hard to believe. It’s an interesting milestone by which I can measure my advancement in garden design. Continue reading RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2017 – what to expect?
[Warning: major plant geekage ahead] One of the best things to happen over the last year has been meeting people who love plants as much as I do; who get why it’s so exciting to discover a plant you’ve not seen before, to understand how it grows and why. Even better, I’ve met people who know far more than me about plants and, like a naughty school boy, I feel mischievous hanging out with the experts who introduce me to deep secrets of the plant world. Continue reading Plantaholics Anonymous
I made a painfully short trip to RHS Wisley at lunch today in between visiting nurseries sourcing plants for my clients’ gardens – it’s looking stunning right now. Better than I’ve seen it before and very exciting for the year ahead. If you can, get down there this weekend, if not here is a tiny snapshot of what you’ll see. Continue reading RHS Wisley in late April
This blog post was originally titled “education = better vegetation” but the new rhyme is more appropriate. Last week I found out I passed my RHS Level 3 Certificate in Garden Planning, Construction and Planting with commendations. Continue reading The liberation of education
I didn’t think there would be anything more nerve-wracking than having Monty Don coming around to see our garden expecting it to look finished. But then, I hadn’t reckoned on opening our garden on the National Open Garden Scheme (NGS). Continue reading Pot’s Growing On: winners and losers
It’s year two for my allotment and the layout I created for it originally is really working. The beds have been easy to keep weed free with weed suppressant membrane and rotating crops is a doddle. Everything is planted in little rows in a simple structure, the paths have nice grass along them now. With each weekend it’s all starting to feel neater and a step closer to how I want it. Continue reading Allotment Month 17: dahlias, prairie and produce
Bright flowers of Tulips – sumptuous blobs of paint on an artist’s palette. Continue reading Tulip flux
If you’re anything like me, you’ll be wondering how on earth it’s April when you thought it was still January while looking at spent Daffodils unsure of how you missed them. Well, the signs are here – spring has sprung and it sprunged faster than ever here in London. It’s time to get outside and enjoy the season before it passes us all by. Continue reading Spring-a-ling-a-ling
being thrown head first heading into my second season on the allotment and this year, my mind has turned to my stomach. Quite a different mindset to last year’s “must grow everything possible! Yay!” approach. I’ve actually come up with the below formula to decide what to grow, which I thought would be helpful to share: Continue reading 7 easy pickings for grow your own keenos
One tip I’d like to share is: do not visit more than two gardens in one day otherwise the third will inevitably have the least of your attention. This is what happened when we stumbled upon Le Jardin Secret on our last day in Marrakesh. Continue reading Marrakesh (Part Five): Le Jardin Secret by Tom Stuart-Smith
Today I’m talking surprise appearances, broccoli and rhubarb starting to crop, my new cut flower bed is underway, only a small moan about problems and a little froggy friend. Continue reading Allotment Month 16: surprise, surprise
It’s been niggling me for yonks: people calling Lupins “cottage garden” plants. Continue reading Who died and made Lupins a ‘cottage garden’ plant?
There’s one thing I will guarantee right now: you are going to see many more green flowers this year. In magazines, on TV and at the design shows. For gardeners it’s like we’ve discovered a new seam of Jade, luminous gems that really do grow on trees. Continue reading Let’s make green flowers our naughty little secret