Thursday, 29 December 2011

Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll

Ok, not so much of the sex the past few months, but I am a busy lady and any spare time I have had for that, as been used to sleep. Where to start; well I attended the GMG awards, Some lovely new friends made and my eyes opened into the media world of gardening!

Spent the last few months in the company of a French man, who is staying with me to help with my life and give me the opportunity to work full time without my boys suffering, we all love him. Having anyone from a different country long term in your house is good for opening your eyes to a different point of view. He is a country lad so we get on well, same taste in music, he keeps me sane, makes a great lemon tart and he loves digging! A big bonus for me as I work to weekly deadlines and I am struggling with the work load in my garden like the rest of us normal gardeners. I am actually writing this, whilst my youngest screams in my ear,"When is Charles coming back? I miss him," (not the only one). This the rock and roll part of my life, by the way, spent much of my time in between photo shoots for work and rushed gardening, watching live music. The New Forest, Bournemouth and Christchurch very lively at the mo! Too lively, need a lie down and a rest!

As for the drugs, one busted shoulder, that due to years of physical abuse as a nurse, Army Officer and gardener has given me the opportunity to try out strong painkillers. Gardening will be the death of me, not the sex, drugs and rock and roll.

I feel I have missed loads out, but my mind is distracted on rectifying the mistakes in my garden, so next year they do not happen and space is given to make new ones.

Thursday, 25 August 2011


I have had a busy few weeks. I had the great honour of being on Woman's hour a couple of weeks ago, and gosh, was I nervous. Sitting in a sound booth with buttons in front of you, waiting for Jenni Murray to speak would make anyone feel sick with anticipation. It was also my first live radio broadcast. At the moment my learning curve in everything I do seems to be straight up. Whenever I am under pressure or feel swamped I remember working in casualty on a Friday night. Nothing is worse than that; life, death, abuse, happiness, so many emotions in a ten hour shift.
I know I am a very lucky person. I have had a career change and found a full time garden writers job in just a few years. I worked damn hard and filled every spare minute with my ambition to succeed as a professional modern gardener.
 I put my luck down to many things that have happened in life, but one episode changed me and my outlook and helped me get where I am today. I saw this moment in my plants this morning. The rose, 'Winchester Cathedral' which I had planted, and the other, a rogue seed from the year before. The rose was planted in memory of my boyfriend who passed away. He died in Winchester, and since then the city has always had a hold on me. This cultivar seemed the perfect choice. The other 'Love lies bleeding' summed up the feeling that never leaves me. No one ever stops grieving, but you learn to keep going.

Thank you Don and thank you my garden for helping me through my life when I am under pressure.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Pest Of The Week/Month/Whenever One Makes Me Swear

I have had very sticky hands rubbing these little beasts (scale), off a lime tree for the last few weeks. I am very, very annoyed. Bit like Boudica.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Sorry seems to be the hardest 'written' word

I have not written a blog for a while, no excuses; ok, just a small one, still getting used to my new post as garden writer with Amateur Gardening Magazine.
I think I am doing ok, only Kris (my new boss, the Gardening Editor at AG) knows.  He hasn't shouted at me yet, though I am sure that in a few months time we will be getting on each others nerves, like a old married couple. All humour aside we are working well together and have the same taste in BBC comedy programmes so we will be fine.

I have done rather a lot these past few weeks. There was the GQT party which was utterly brilliant. Everyone involved in the programme are exceptional people and so knowledgeable that I realised I have a lot more to learn about horticulture. Working with them is an honour. And as for Sparsholt it was in a way a sad day for me, I will no longer be learning there, well not during the day. My lecturers will be continuing to teach me so I can finish the rest of my level 3 modules and Wisley will be putting up with me in the not too distant future, when I complete the practical module of my diploma. This year has been hard work, bit like my veg patch, the winter months will be soon with us and I will be having a long think about all the mistakes I made and correcting them, though a twenty eight hour day might help.

Ten Michelle points to those of you who can spot two hunky gardeners in the last pic.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Gluttony with silence

I have had a glut. Does not happen often in my veg patch, largely due to me eating constantly and the usual attack of some pest or disease, but this year I have.

I  have always admired people with allotments, they are very hard work, and I know that I do not have the time or help to grow my food on that scale. Ironic really as I work on plots for clients, and although I enjoy working with the edibles in my spare time, alone (I can be quite grumpy), the thought of my own large area of mess to cope with in the few hours my Felco's leave my hand would be too much. Growing veg in my garden proves to me that I do not need a large area to grow food, it has it's advantages too. I can usually spot problems quickly and can be extremely lazy with my evenings pottering in my veg patch with my PJ's on.  I love my herbaceous border and random plants too much to convert the whole of my garden to food. So I grow enough for me to eat and over the years got better at only growing what I am going to eat. 

The glut of strawberries (Fragaria ananassa 'Marshmello') which grow in a small thin bed one metre by four metres have thoroughly enjoyed the April, glad something in my garden did. I made the effort this year to feed when flowering (nettle feed), and in the winter I added a peat free soil conditioner with some horse manure. Not a lot of effort put in but a big return made, well in jam.

 Rather enjoyed making 10 jars of strawberry jam from my little patch even if my kitchen did look like a set used in the Saw movies. Not many ingredients, so why is it such a messy task? And the exciting thing! Yes they are still more to come, more jam. It's either jam or Eton Mess, which I must add I never thought I would be sick of. I have proved myself wrong.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Pest Of The Week/Month/Whenever One Makes Me Swear

Why won't they die!!!!

Tried everything, the poor tree, and it has worse to come. Transplanting it in the autumn.

It is Cherry blackfly (Myzus cerasi), and it is really annoying me.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Busy June

My garden is a mess, weeds and pots everywhere. OK, my fault for not tidying up after every job I do. And the weeding, well I always teach clients to weed little and often and keep on top of them. At home I have not pulled a weed out for two weeks. Obviously the places where I work I tidy before I finish, not sure why I can't do it at home. I know I should finish a gardening task completely before starting the next one, just seem to be unable to do that at the moment. So many little jobs in my head and the evidence is beginning to show in my garden. June is such a busy month, we all know that. It's just that sometimes my own space overwhelms me. Never feel it at work, I have lists, and a Ops plan in my head, but the guilt of rushing jobs at home makes me wonder if I am any good at gardening for myself. The RHS has trained me to be the best, I feel like I have let them down this month with mine.

Life is busy, gardening is constantly in my mind, day and night. Same feeling I remember as when I fell in love with someone but they never told me if they felt the same. Frustration, love, guilt, anger. I need too satisfy my mind this week or scream. So the endless tip trips in my tiny car, washing trays, tidying up, and pulling up bindweed must be done.
  I was close to tears yesterday, thinking of everything I needed to do, but then nature thanked me for my inability to keep up with my overgrown herbaceous border.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Pest Of The Week

This is the winner of a new gardening award set up by me. Pest of the week, (monthly, if I am too busy). It is the Mealy Cabbage Aphid, (Brevicoryne brassicae). Obviously it's prize is death. Squirted with full fat Guernsey milk and washing up liquid. (Seeing which one I prefer).

Think there maybe Whitefly in there too. Looks like I disturbed a party.

Planted chives, (Allium schoenoprasum) and Tagetes (Tagetes tenuifolia) nearby to see if companion planting helps, sure it will work better than my poor Dalek impression which I did whilst squirting.

Monday, 23 May 2011

RHS Gets Funky

I felt very lucky to watch the clouds of pollen at Chelsea from Anne-Marie Powell's show garden whilst sitting on a bean bag,(getting up from the bean bag is a blog in itself).

Now I am not going to go into detail about designs and flowers. The BBC and other blogs will do a far better job than I could ever do. But I do want to share some photographs that show what a stunning day I had.

The one display that stood out and blew me away was the RHS experience. Oh my, it was stunning, modern and funky. The stand showed how the RHS is changing and becoming more accessible. I spent more time there then looking at some crane with a odd shaped Hula Hoop hanging from it.

My college Sparsholt did a cracking display which even had Narcissus!! Here is Chris Bird looking very smart.

A lovely Gentleman from Sri Lanka Tourism, Sanjika Perera, who won my heart with a bracelet.

This very funny chap who was in Cleve West's show garden. I cannot remember his name, but he made me laugh.

And that was my Chelsea, loads of new ideas that will never happen in my garden due to time, money and sanity, but happy memories that will give me more.

Monday, 16 May 2011

A New Path

I have a new job. It has not yet sunk in and it probably will not until I sit at my desk and twirl on the chair. It is Garden writer with Amateur Gardening Magazine.
I am having to take pauses in my daily life to register what has happened to me. It's been a long and sometimes fraught path. Anyone who has decided on a career change will know that it is not easy.
I could write about how I achieved my goals, where I worked, the tears and the stress but instead I just want to thank some people who have helped me get where I am today.
A very big thank you goes to the RHS and Sparsholt College, I have been taught by three of the finest lecturers Ray Broughton, Rosie Yeomans and Chris Bird. Without their passion and knowledge I really would not be where I am today. Patrick Fairweather who gave me the opportunity to work in the learning garden attached to his garden centre, and his family run commercial nursery. I learnt an awful lot, quickly. To all my Twitter followers who have read my inane babble, you were all with me throughout the hard work. My private clients who let me loose on their property. And of course to River Cottage and Mark Diacono. Mark saw the potential and dragged it out. I can't personally speak for Mark but we worked well together, bit like Catherine Tate and David Tennant.… Though it's me who is funny, he is just tall.
And lastly, (Gwyneth Paltrow eat you heart out), thank you to my family and friends. I have been told off already for not organising a cocktail party in celebration.

I suppose I should write about something informative. Or let the Natural History Museum do it for me.