Ne’er cast a clout till May be out!

IMG_1769And so the saying goes, but ….. does it mean The month of May or when the Hawthorn fills its branches with ‘May’ blossom?

It seems on this we mortals are divided, but whatever your preference our ‘May’ Hawthorn blossom is out in all its glory, however I am still wearing scarf and fleece, and if the last two weeks are anything to go by I will not be casting them off any time soon!

For the last six weeks or so summer bedding and vegetable seedlings have been available to purchase alongside the weekly grocery shop as well as the usual horticultural outlets. I wonder how many new enthusiastic gardeners were caught out by the late frosts of a fortnight ago, and then watched as they blackened and died, or sat and sulked becoming slug bait in their weakened state.

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I myself got itchy fingers with a cold frame bursting at the seams but luckily common sense prevailed on that occasion.

Instead my attentions went elsewhere in the garden specifically to my outdoor summer-house.  Until a couple of weeks ago it had become a second shed with folding garden chairs/tables, empty plastic plant pots and anything else that never made it back to the actual garden shed!

The idea was to create a calm space to read, write, paint or retreat to when I am either too jiggered to work in my own garden after toiling away in my clients, or long-suffering has his all things sporting day(s) on the TV!

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First a complete clear out of items to be stored elsewhere, the remainder sat outside waiting while I brushed and swept, disappearing in a cloud of dust sending any resident spiders heading for cover deep in any vacant nook or cranny.

An old table I up-cycled years ago was to become – with modification – my desk, all I needed was an upright chair to sit on……. Oh the beauty of the internet, at the touch of a button – or two – a second-hand furniture store was located in Dorchester not far from us.

Dorchester Curiosity Centre trading from the Old Bus Depot. An Aladdin’s cave greeted us as we moved from room to room full with furniture, bric-a-brac, collectibles and more. It was easy to lose yourself there for a couple of hours especially with the added temptation of a hot cuppa and glorious home-made cakes to die for!

In the end decisions had to be made and we settled on a painted chair for the desk, a comfy ‘Lloyd loom’ style chair to relax in and an old milking stool to use as a side table.

My ‘haven’ is now complete with gardening, art and writing books/magazines, there is power too extending the hours I can indulge out there!

IMG_1806This last weekend although sunny, was cooled by a chilly breeze, the welcome 12mm of rain did much to perk things up! The Dahlias in the cutting patch have come through the winter and are showing strong – if a little munched – growth, hopefully the late addition of copper rings will help keep invadors at bay! Long-suffering has given my retreat a fresh coat of paint – giving up Saturday afternoon sport fixtures to do so!

The autumn sown onion sett’s planted before our Road Trip have not been a success, appearing to my eye neither strong or prolific, in our reduced plot there is not room for more! Saturday I succumbed although ‘May is not out’ to the planting in the veg plot of runner & french beans, along with nurtured flower seedlings for the cutting patch. The courgettes will be waiting another week yet though!

The fleece is ready should frost threaten although the weather man is predicting rain for the days ahead. Fingers crossed then!

Some new – car boot and bargain basement new – additions to the garden for the toddler – from the house of two halves in Cyprus. Hopefully come August when next she comes to stay pressure on the wooden duck in the border who is almost headless from being continually thrown down the slide will be relieved.

Some May flowers in the garden……….

And a Sunday morning breezy steep coastal walk to keep the hip from getting complacent at West Bay Bridport……..

Inspiration

My parents both loved to garden although my mother had less time to indulge busy as she was running their village stores and off licence.  My father was twenty years older than my mother.  As I grew up – the youngest of four, he was by then semi-retired. His main jobs in the business were newspaper man, stocking up and serving on occasion in the off licence and all the general maintenance in and around the property.  This left plenty of time for looking after us younger children.

School holidays and weekends I was often to be found pottering outside in the garden with my father.  Sweet Peas and Snapdragons were his favourite, not for him the tricky latin names – Lathyrus odoratus and Antirrhinum respectively,  I was encouraged to learn throughout my horticultural training and working.

His way to garden was a relaxed romantic style, plants billowing over the edges every bit of earth planted, in contrast my Mothers preferred style was and still is of controlled formality.  Shrubs are kept small and regularly shaped, only plants that behave in an orderly fashion are allowed to stay, Hydrangeas rule.  Flopping is never allowed only bare earth between, devoid of all weeds and in autumn every last leaf!

However when it came to propagation my mother ruled.  Not for her following rigid instructions, she was an opportunist.  Cuttings, seeds, seedlings, the latter stuck in anyhow and any where grew strong healthy and productive, indeed her tomatoes were of show quality.  My father on the other hand following meticulous instruction from his trusty Readers Digest ‘The Gardening Year’ could only look on in despair as his carefully tended plants never quite showed the same promise or yield.

I like to think both their styles and techniques have been instrumental in shaping the type of gardener I am today.  My personal gardening style follows more my fathers relaxed approach, my own borders billow and undulate in an unruly fashion, that is on the surface…… Behind the scenes though I do exercise some of my mothers ‘crowd control’, thinning the thugs to allow the weaker plants to shine through.

My everyday work in Design and maintenance of gardens requires me to adopt both my parents approaches this manifests itself in design styles as Contemporary, Country, Formal, Informal and more besides.  Because of them I am able to shift easily between different styles respecting my clients individual tastes.

A few of my clients are new gardeners tentative, unsure where to start, many are elderly and have great knowledge and technique but not the strength to work as hard.  I hope to teach and inspire the learners as my elders continue to teach and inspire me.

Our gardens like us gardeners are all different and we like our gardens have to adapt to new and sometimes harsh challenges throughout the ever changing cycle of life.