Category Archives: Our garden

Diary and pictures from our little urban garden in Clapham.

Pot’s Growing On in May: getting ready for a show-stopping summer!

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!

44 Future gardening moments of 2016

Future gardening is the phrase I use to describe my personal take on the world. Be forward thinking. Be big thinking. Looking at gardening and garden design with a serious eye to combine humans and nature in a way that suits both. Sustainable, enjoyable, beautiful, progressive. My future gardening journey to date has been organic in its perambulations, with many great gardeners helping and inspiring me. I have much to do in 2017 but at this time of year I like to pause and reflect on the moments from the recent past (small things and big things) that will no doubt influence my garden designs in future. It’s been a fun year, so below is a mini diary of 44 moments that meant a lot to me personally in 2016. Continue reading 44 Future gardening moments of 2016

December: Hellebores, cat grass, sweet peas, ferns and shooting alliums

It’s almost Christmas so I’m crazy busy wrapping up work, getting ready for the family arriving and trying to revise for my next RHS exams in February. There’s still time to squeeze in the odd few essential jobs in our small urban garden in central London though. Continue reading December: Hellebores, cat grass, sweet peas, ferns and shooting alliums

Why I’ve fallen for cut flowers

I used to be a foliage boy. I’ve changed (well, a bit). In the past I saw flowers as extravagant, expensive purchases that didn’t last for more than a couple of days. Now I grow my own – especially the flowers I like – my world is different. Bringing flowers into the house is fun and highlights the strength, colour and architecture of each flower – particularly the Dahlias I love. Fresh, they last for ages too. There’s something so precious about a flower in a little vase. Showing off each individual flower was my key discovery, rather than losing them in a large bunch. Focus on fewer stems is purer, bringing out the fragility and wonder. Here are some of our cut flowers from our garden and allotment this year.  Continue reading Why I’ve fallen for cut flowers

Having fun with shade and sun

Down the side of our Victorian maisonette is a narrow alley way. It’s where I started our garden so I know its seasonal patterns well. The side wall is pretty much south facing so gets blasted with full sun in the summer. The alley is only 1.5 m wide at one end and 2m wide at the other. The six foot boundary fence creating full shade on the other side. This creates two opposing conditions packed tightly next to each other, something very common in urban gardens. Continue reading Having fun with shade and sun

Summer highlights in our garden

Our experimental garden is now in its third year with lots to fix but standing back and overall the atmosphere is coming together. Only two real issues so far this year: first one heavy rain shower in June that flattened all of the new growth on Salvias, Briza media and Allium sphaerocephalon – they didn’t recover. Second was too many Nicotiana ‘Lime Green’. It looks a bit gaudy but you know, I like a bit of ridiculousness in my life, so I have kept them in for this year anyway, using fewer next year. Onwards to late summer and autumn and new levels of OTTness. Continue reading Summer highlights in our garden

Tulips – worth the bother?

This year I planted over 100 tulips. I love tulips. However, while they last for a good three-ish weeks in flower, that’s quite a short amount of time for quite a lot of effort. I’m not lazy or anti brief flowers, it’s the fact they’re unlikely to flower reliably for a second year so you really have to dig them all up and get rid. It feels wasteful and excessive. One thing’s for sure, I won’t be planting them throughout the border again because trying to get them out from between the roots of growing perennials was a nightmare. Next year, I’ll only grow tulips in some pots for little splodges of colour. I’ll save enjoying the big displays at professional public gardens instead.

Pot’s Growing On: April 2016

Someone pointed out I haven’t done an update about our own garden for a while, clearly I’ve been bleating on about my allotment and other people’s gardens too much. Well, in April there is quite a lot to report as the garden is in full spring now. Please do let me know in the comments if there is anything you would like me to write more or less about, would really appreciate any tips on making my blog more useful. Continue reading Pot’s Growing On: April 2016

Getting to grips with grasses

In 2016 I want to get to grips with ornamental grasses. In particular, using them in mixed plantings  to achieve that blended, wispy look I see the pros doing so well at Chelsea Flower Show. After reading Planting in a Post Wild World, I’m especially interested in finding small ground cover grasses (or Carex) to weave through borders harmlessly. Continue reading Getting to grips with grasses

Fernatic: 50 fern species, 1 living wall!

Why we created a diverse 50 species collection of ferns on one modern living wall and how we did it. I’ve always been drawn to ferns. If fairies and pixies exist, they will be found sitting on a mushroom under a fern in the woods. Ferns are otherworldly and ethereal. Transporting you to another time and place. Continue reading Fernatic: 50 fern species, 1 living wall!

Big Dreams, Small Spaces

In 2015 we took part in series two of the BBC’s Big Dreams, Small Spaces presented by Monty Don. It really was a dream come true for us. We’re so grateful. For our memory and anyone interested we kept a photo diary:

It’s fair to say 2015 was a big year for us and we’ll never forget it. Big Dreams, Small Spaces became a focal point of a tough twelve months.

The dream was perhaps even bigger than the garden itself. It was important to me to become a good gardener quickly, and Big Dreams helped make that happen. I started the year with no real experience and finished it with a garden we love, hundreds of plants and an RHS level 2 qualification!

We both loved being surrounded by plants and views at National Trust properties we’d visited, but we live in London, so the plants had to come to us in Clapham. The house renovation transformed our flat and opened it up to the garden allowing this dream to become a reality.

Monty Don, Big Dreams Small SpacesA big thank you to Monty for taking an interest in our garden, for the reassurance at key points, and not to mention the ‘little bit of pressure’ his visits added to get things done! The TV show’s team  were always encouraging and our days with them were great fun. Big thanks to our family (building the fern wall!) and friends who helped and supported us. Special mention to friends on Gardener’s Corner and the talented UK plant nurseries we bought plants off of, you fueled our excitement.

Now we have our first home together, and despite being in the middle of a big metropolis, we sit having breakfast looking out of the new windows surrounded by hundreds of plants, watching birds hopping about and our cat chasing bees.

Big Dreams, Small Spaces is a really happy and fun memory for us and despite the stressful moments a wonderful journey we will treasure. Hopefully ours and the other amazing gardens featured on Big Dreams prove how fun and life improving gardening can be. Especially to other Londoners, whether renting or not – it is worth getting gardening 🙂

Chris and Jack and Rumbles

Dahlia experiment: cultivars put to the test!

In late 2013 I discovered Dahlias. As unbelievable as that might sound to gardeners who have grown up with them for decades, somehow I’d missed them throughout my life. I don’t think I’d even simply ‘not recognised them’, I’m fairly sure I had avoided them almost completely – perhaps a sign of how out of fashion they had become? Continue reading Dahlia experiment: cultivars put to the test!

The Plant & Flower Database 2015

While we had dreams of a little Victorian neon jungle of a garden, my main personal dream for 2015 was: make up for lost time and grow as many different types of plant as possible to expand my plant knowledge rapidly, and to see and learn how they grow. So most plants you see on the show (except ferns) were grown from seed or small cuttings. Continue reading The Plant & Flower Database 2015

Big Dreams, Small Spaces Diary 4: Finished! (Late Summer)

To cut to the chase, we did it. We had a silly dream that meant everything to us to make come true. With lots of help from Chris especially, both with his cleverness, limitless kindness and patience and his support. From Monty for taking an interest in our project, offering guidance and a healthy amount of pressure to get it right. Our builders, my parents, friends, Hilary the programme’s director, Roland and the rest of the team. Our small space is now a big dream realised. Continue reading Big Dreams, Small Spaces Diary 4: Finished! (Late Summer)