I retired in 2008 from a long career in sales and marketing in the housebuilding industry but old habits die hard and I still need to keep my mind and body active, focus on tasks and projects and achieve goals every day. I am an enthusiastic amateur gardener who doesn’t always follow conventional rules. I try lots of things, celebrate my successes, make some mistakes and try to learn from them. I enjoy reading, but not fiction, and subscribe to many gardening journals. I research every day in books and on the internet and I love writing and photography, so this blog serves many purposes for me. It helps to clarify my thoughts and plans, organise my tasks and projects, and has become an outlet for my ideas and thoughts on gardening and to share my experiences with anybody else who cares to read, follow or comment.
I belong to the National Trust, the Cottage Garden Society, the Royal Horticultural Society, the Cheltenham Horticultural Society, the National Council for the Conservation of Plants & Gardens and the Hardy Plant Society. I contribute a monthly review to Garden News, a national weekly garden newspaper, and write occasional articles for various magazines, newsletters and periodicals.
My wife and I moved into our present home in 2009, cleared the garden completely and started again from scratch. The soil is alkaline clay, difficult to work with but very fertile. We add loads of manure and compost every year as both a soil improver and a mulch. We are gradually finding out what thrives and what struggles. I don’t believe in flogging a dead horse!
As well as my garden, I enjoy fly fishing for trout and grayling, golf in the summer, visiting RHS shows, garden open days and National Trust Houses and Gardens. We are very lucky to have many of the best gardens and arboretums in the country within a short drive; Hidcote, Kiftsgate, Mill Dene, Bourton House, Westbury Court, Batsford and Westonbirt Arboretums to name just a few.
I am looking forward to a long, happy and fulfilling retirement enjoying my garden, learning new things every day, travelling to new places, keeping in touch with friends, keeping as fit as possible and loving and caring for my wonderful wife of almost 43 years, our 3 grown up children and family Labradors!
Wow! You are certainly very active and showing no sign of slowing down at all.
Thank you for sharing photos of your plants and flowers. Happy September!
Someone sent your blog to me about your experience with biochar. Please check out our web site, that will explain how we started making pellets from overgrown field ag biomass for fuel. We expanded into a fantastic natural mulch and soil enchacement and now have gone into turning these, all natural, pellets into bichar and [although we are not ready to add biochar to the website yet] we have pictures of an amazing experiment we did using it on tomatoes and other veggies. This even in soil that was already fairly furtile from our soil enhancement.
At Straight plc we run the getcomposting.com web sites in association with English Local Authorities. People simply go onto the web site, enter their postcode details, and are taken to a web site in association with their local council promoting composting and associated goods.
The objective of the site is to demonstrate that composting is an affordable way to turn most kitchen and garden waste into rich compost that wil keep the garden blooming year after year.
We have come across your blog and have been impressed by the nature and content contained within it.
We would like to offer you one of our own composters free of charge and would only ask you to blog about your experiences, good or bad, when composting.
We are a commercial company and would like to sell more of our products however we are also actively committed to the wider environment; promoting composting and its benefits.
We would like everyone to use our own Compost Converters but are happy as long as the word is being spread and the number of people composting is on the increase.
If you do want to take up this offer, with absolutely no commitment on your part, please email me with the address details of where you would like your composter delivering (please note we can not deliver to allotments).
I look forward to hearing from you.
You have a beautiful garden. You have given me so much inspiration. Please let me know if you have any lost souls (seeds) that I can try next year.
Let me know what you want and I’ll see what I can do.
Enjoyed seeing your lovely plants
Thank you Margaret.
10 years on from your blog about bidens aurea honey drop this was very popular at plant fairs like great dixter as well as solid yellow and ivory seemed at first like a very obedient plant but I’ve learnt with horror what a thug it can become on clay soil I’ve had in both my house gardens I love it but you have to keep it in containers I would say. Even then don’t place it on your soil as it will be in your ground like a flash.
Hi I see from one of your blogs that you have Diascia personata in your garden. I have 2 plants. They get really tall in the border but look amazing. Can I split them and if so when would be the best time to do it. Can’t find any info on this plant much at all.
To be honest, I haven’t tried to split them, they seem to have a very small crown. However, they are really easy from cuttings (if you can find any non-flowering side shoots!) I grew 12 plants this way last year. Now is the perfect time to propagate them.
Hi David – just saw your blog post on the “Union Jack” Dahlia. I lost mine over the winter and I am trying to get hold of another – do you know anywhere that supplies tubers or cuttings of this variety? I can’t seem to see anywhere…
Hi Jon. You are unlikely to find it for sale as it is now a threatened plant and not in production. I am its Plant Guardian for Plant Heritage but, like you, I am wondering if it survived the very cold winter in my shed.
If I get shoots appearing I will take cuttings and will happily send you one if you wish. However, I would point out that I am not very impressed with it! The flower colours are not consistent and too large for the thin stems it produces. No wonder it went out of production!
That would be very much appreciated if you would, and if it has survived – I’m very keen on this one, despite its flaws.
Ok Jon, I will try to remember to let you know the outcome. Perhaps you could diarise a nudge in a month or so. I assume you have also searched for its synonym, ‘Star of Denmark’? It might be more widely available under that name.
Yes I did try under that name too, but I will double check again. I will diarise and get back to you 🙂 thank you!
Hi David – has your Union Jack revived after winter?
Hi Jon. One little shoot appeared last week so it is alive. Hopefully more shoots to come. Will strike some cuttings as soon as they do. 🤞
I have taken 6 cuttings of Union Jack today and they are in the propagator. Fingers crossed! I will keep you informed.
thanks so much 🙂
Hi Jon. Half the cuttings have rooted and I will shortly be in a position to send you one as agreed. I am not entirely happy with the parent plant because, although it is now growing away strongly, some of the leaves are distorted and I am concerned the tuber may have become infected with a disease. However, perhaps if you grow your cutting and let me know how it performs for you. I need your address please and I will get it off to you as soon as it is robust enough to cope with the post and packing!
Fantastic, thank you – is there a way to direct message or email you my address?
Hi Jon. Send me an email. firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi, was interested to read on your recent blog the cold damage to your potisporum. I have a whole hedge with similar damage and can’t see any sign of life, did you cut yours down to ground level & have there been any signs of life?
Hi Andy. I have left my Pittosporum for now and will trim the dead areas out in April before new growth really starts. They do grow back from old wood so don’t despair yet, give them a chance. I chopped an unruly one down to a stump two years ago and it is 6 feet tall again now!
Thanks for the response David, will give cutting them back a go before removing them. Nice photo of your Labradors by the way, every garden needs one (or three).