From our Correspondent

“Spring” at Ashwell by Jeanette Pearce

Just a few days before the equinox and the clocks about to go forward – it should have been nearly spring. But why did the garden look a funny colour? Are Devon gardens meant to be covered 20cm deep with fluffy white stuff in mid-March? So much for my list of 20 things to do in the garden before the end of March.

At least I had the comfort of knowing that when I could get through to Newton Abbot, early March’s pruning and clearing efforts in a corner of Ashwell’s front garden, filling four builder’s dumpy bags, would only take two car trips to the recycling dump. Yes, I know I could shred and compost them – but hauling large and heavy bags up steps, gravel paths and slopes to the top of the garden is now beyond me.
Anyway, the compost bins will soon be full of shredded vine prunings from three months ago, when it stops raining. Continue reading

Bedding Plants

The March talk was on Bedding Plants, by David Usher

David spent much of his earlier career working for Bath Parks Department before being appointed Head Gardener at the famous Hestercombe Garden in Somerset. At Hestercombe the Victorian Terrace was replanted using colours recommended by Gertrude Jekyll.

He suggested that a great use of bedding plants is to create seasonal change around more permanent plants, and recommended using plug plants for good results. David emphasised the importance of pinching out the growing tip of young plants to ensure well shaped plants. He also recommended planting media such as Sutton’s Sow and Grow Pellets, which are particularly good for cuttings.

Good air circulation is essential in the greenhouse, so don’t shut the door unless the weather is particularly bad.

David then showed examples of useful bedding plants and the growing conditions they like.

Euryops pectinatus – one of the plants recommended by David


From our Correspondent

Our thanks to Nigel Gillingham, our new Vice-Chairman, for providing posts for From Our Correspondent for the last year. I wonder how many of you guessed that Professor Maurice Bard was Nigel.

Nigel in Show mode

Writing monthly posts is quite a demanding job, especially when the garden is awaiting your attention. From now on I plan seasonal posts, and am pleased to say that Jeanette Pearce wil be doing Spring, Susan Oliver Summer and our President Angela Tibbs will write the Autumn post.

From our Correspondent


It has been a while since I put pen to paper, or should I say ‘fingers to keyboard’ to tell you what has been happening in my garden. Then, suddenly it’s autumn and we are all clearing ground and preparing for winter and perhaps being a bit less busy.

Perhaps a reflection on the recent season would be a good start. Generally, not bad! But of course, gardeners are never completely happy with what they produce, and always want to try and do better next year. To begin with the broad beans planted last autumn produced a good crop, and I had no problem with blackfly which can be a pain. The potatoes grew well on the surface but I was disappointed with my first early crop, a variety called ‘Winston’. They produced a large potato for a first early, but only one or two on a plant – and the flavour was not wonderful. The second earlies, ‘Nicola’ were much better, and tasted like a new potato should, although I have to admit not as good as ‘Charlotte’. Continue reading

From our Correspondent


Readers of these scribblings may remember me talking in a previous epistle of ‘pretty little May’ (from the musical ‘Carousel’). Well, it would seem that in no time at all it has arrived! What a change! After the moaning about the weather, the rain, the cold, suddenly everything has started to grow. The plants carefully nurtured have been planted out, and the tomatoes in the greenhouse appear to be growing every day, and, I have to admit it is all very satisfying.

Of course, it has been a very busy time in the garden to enable us to get to this rapturous stage. The much discussed bean trench has now been filled in, sticks erected and the new bean plants planted. This year I am being very brave and trying a new variety called ‘Benchmaster’. According to the catalogue they are particularly suitable for entering in produce shows. At this early stage they are looking good, so we shall see. My sweetcorn has also been planted, an F1 variety called ‘Sundance’ which I grew from seed. It is normally advised that you plant sweetcorn in a square or similar to aid cross fertilisation, but this year because of my bad garden planning space was limited so they are in a double row – but I’m sure they will grow successfully.

Continue reading

From our Correspondent 


At long last it has stopped raining and real gardening weather has arrived. After the cold and the wet of the earlier months this is excellent news , but you suddenly realise that the down side of this is there is too much to do!

What do I put in first? Where shall I put it? What is happening in the greenhouse, and have I got all the seeds I need? As I said this all seems a bit too much at times, but we all know that spring is a very busy time for the gardener, and as they are usually quite dogged and persistent people it will all get done……eventually. Continue reading

From our Correspondent 


If you know your old musicals, you will know a song from ‘Carousel’ which talks about the wonders of the month of June. One of the lines says; ‘March comes in like a lion, whippin’ up the waters in the bay’…  Well, March certainly did come in like a lion for us this year, but sadly the lion has not gone away and continues to bother and delay we gardeners.

Luckily I was able to get the garden cleared and the digging done and ready for the planting, but then it continued to rain. I even got last years sprouts  and leeks cleared, and so I have virgin ground ready to go. But, of course it is still raining from time to time, and the ground remains cold and damp which is not ideal for sowing new seeds. So, we have to remain patient even though the ‘biological clock’ is ticking and you think everything is going to be late. I remain optimistic that a decent weather window will eventually come and we can really get started on filling the garden with goodness. Continue reading


I find February is a frustrating month for the gardener. You have got rid of January and can start thinking about the spring, and all the good things you are going to plant and enjoy. But then the weather kicks in.
So far this month we have already had some very cold weather and heavy frosts, and this sets you thinking , “well it’s certainly cold, but it’s dry and I could get some ground turned over”. Then the next low pressure rolls in and we get days of rain and mist. Certainly it’s warmer, but the ground is far too wet to work on, so it still doesn’t get done! Then you have to content yourself with the fact that it is still only early February and believe it or not –‘there is still plenty of time’. Continue reading