Welcome respite

Posted on: 19th March 2015


Yesterday was one of those days when you just know Winter is over and that Spring is definitely here.  I had  much needed time away from the Brewin Dolphin garden work and spent the day getting 6 large Olive trees in to a garden we are developing in St Mawes.

The garden has very limited access so we had to have a crane lift in a 3 ton digger before lifting all the trees in too.  Once in the garden the trees had to be slid on boards, being either pulled uphill or pushed by the swing shovel.

The day could not have gone better.  With perfect conditions we  were able to get all the trees planted and the machinery out of the site by 6 pm and although it was a long day it was one of those days when a camera goes off in your mind and you are aware that this is a day you’ll remember.


Working with good people

Posted on: 3rd March 2015

It is so thrilling to be working with excellent people. Everyone involved with the Brewin garden this far has proved to be beyond compare. Kelways have been really vigilant in managing my expectations and visiting the nursery yesterday was such a pleasure. To see everything so well ordered, clean and managed is a relief. It’s quite clear that in the middle of February I’m not going to see masses of foliage and colour but to see that great care has been taken in potting on plants with good amounts of quality compost, that each pot has adequate space and is the having the correct levels of watering tells me everything I need to know. Soon the nursery team are going to be so busy moving pots from one area to another that they won’t know which way is up. To see that they are as prepared as possible for this rush which will fall upon them is all I can ask, and gives me great confidence that we’ll have some absolute show stoppers to play with. That said James Basson and Ruth Wilmotts plants look bloody lovely too!

In the same 24 hrs I had to discuss some issues with Bowles and Wyer about details that I have overlooked to date. No sooner had I mentioned these issues to Dan he knew exactly what I was talking about. To be in the position where there is back up, where other people have as good an understanding of what’s going on as I do is illuminating. It makes me realise that surrounding yourself with people who understand not only what you’re trying to explain but go away, digest it and come back to you with good questions and positive suggestions is both energising and exciting.

My own team at Wheelbarrow are faultless, they consistently work their socks off and are committed to our projects beyond what can be hoped for and for the first day in many weeks I am feeling like it might all be possible again.  Thanks to them all.

Plants, plants, plants

Posted on: 20th February 2015

Working through the Chelsea project at this stage is so much about logistics, planning and budgets as well as managing the build of the prefabricated elements that are being built by Wheelbarrow, my landscaping company is just a total head mash!

Tomorrow I’m spending my second weekend working with Leighton sourcing the stone for our dry stone walls. Any one would be forgiven for thinking it’s just a big building project ( and yes, it is ) but I’m in the office now at ten to seven on a Friday night and I’ve just done the most lovely thing all week. I’m starting to put together the team that will help with all the planting ( about 5000 plants ) and I was just looking through the list again. I need reminding of the plants I’ve chosen as I can’t keep all the information in my head right now so was looking at the list and checking back to images I’d collated months ago. A particular Aquilegia that grows in my garden is so pretty and understated is one that I have never identified. Months ago I showed Dave Root at Kelways a picture of it on my phone and as the true plant finder he is  managed to get his hands on some for Chelsea. Aquilegia v. Tower Blue is a charming, old fashioned and feminine Aquiligea. It’s colour, the softest of old ladies pink/mauve, is something that in any other media I’d be repulsed by, but I just love it. Seeing this again and looking at some of the other plant images just relaxed me completely.

Regardless of how the layout of the space works or the materials, just seeing these pretty colours like pins in a pin cushion will be beautiful. Leaving nature to do its thing and trusting those plants to just be free and sing their tune is key. Maybe next time I’ll just tip a load of rubbish on the plot and then plant it beautifully! Next time? What am I saying?!!!

48 hrs more please!

Posted on: 27th January 2015


How can it be that we are in the depths of winter and are as busy as ever?  Often in conversation with people one has just met, questions about work always come accompanied by the statement ‘ It must be tough throughout the Winter. Yes, of course we are at the mercy of the weather but in the UK we all know that rain can stop play at Wimbledon just as easily as frozen pitches force lower league football to postpone games in January.  In gardening, there are so many jobs that are best done throughout our dormant period.

Despite reading lots of articles about ‘top ten tips for the organised mind’ I find I have two modes of productivity.  One is a pleasant state that I occupy when I’m in the middle of practical work – this weekend pruning the Wisteria outside our house was one such example. I should have been doing construction drawings but the afternoon sun was shining and I formed the opinion there was simply no alternative but to make a cup of tea, and begin the process.

The other state is when I’m fire fighting, – I can work at lightening speed either drawing up a plan or detailing a spec. The trouble with age and experience is that if the natural pattern of ones behaviour brings successful results, it’s very difficult to break.

I would love to be the sort of person who could compartmentalise, allotting time for specific tasks, but I just can’t seem to stick to it.  I see a problem looming and I’m in knee deep having abandoned my to-do list for the thrill of fulfilling a simple task. I should have done the construction drawings instead of the Wisteria but the pleasure just isn’t the same.

I ask for 48 hrs. in the day so that I can follow my whim during the normal working day and then have another chance to do Monday again where I take myself away and work through my list with no distractions !

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