Category Archives: My garden

The NGS opening

After months of panic the open garden has been and gone. Luckily the weather forecast of continuous heavy rain was wrong and the weather was perfect. The day started with light rain which gave the garden the look of summer freshness. My day started with putting up last minute posters. As the sun came out the stage was set and the garden looked superb.

My wonderfully generous army of helpers worked diligently with keeping everyone fed, watered and dealing with the mishaps. Without these wonderful people there would be no open garden. Somehow it doesn’t seem right that as they worked I basked in the glory.

The feedback has been tremendously kind as people have said such nice things about the garden and our hospitality. We had our best ever turnout. 210 people visited the garden and we raised £1,307.35 for the NGS charities, which for a tiny London garden is a fantastic figure. This year’s most FAQ was about the watering which as it’s been so dry wasn’t that surprising. This year’s most surprising question however, was the number of people who asked if I worked. Do I look like someone who should be retired?

To nurture a garden is to feed not just on the body, but the soul, Alfred Austin

Obsessed with gardening

Its official I am truly obsessed with gardening. The evidence is there to see. When I awake (which in the summer is 4.30 am) as soon as light permits I’m out inspecting the garden, observing looking at the sheer beauty of my tiny garden, looking for problems, making mental notes of things that need staking, chipping, weeding, feeding and/or watering or just pondering about jobs that need to be done and jobs that I can’t put off any longer. My friends despair at being forced to look at plants before they go over or at a single plant that has just flowered and which gives me so much joy that I want to share it with others.

As an addict I can’t understand why others don’t see what I do. The sense of contentment and tranquillity, that comes from observing a single flower or the beauty of a combination of plants. I am truly obsessed with gardening but I don’t care because the essence of why I garden is I love plants. Like many other people, my work is full of differing demands and working with range of personalities. So the sanctuary of my garden offers is a welcome contrast to my working life, which is the second reason I garden.

The joys of mid-summer are all around us as I worry and panic about the endless challenges that gardening raises that I call midsummer madness . This year for the first time the lilies have been hit by vine weevil which means I was unsure about the lilies flowering to their full glory. As they were meant to be the star of the show I was freighting about how to get around the dearth of gorgeous lilies. Its times like this that make me think, why oh, why, did I ever decide to open my garden to public security in midsummer.

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,

Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,

Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,

With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:

There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,

Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2.1.255-60)


“If sad and merry madness equal be”Twelfth Night

Joie de vivre

We finally had what I hope will be the first of many al fresco meals.  Fine dining kicked off with al fresco meal of beans on toast with a glass of beer. I’ve got a funny feeling the Gourmet Society isn’t going to writing about this anytime soon.


The joys of early summer

The garden is no way ready for inspection by the general public but bursting out all over: is a visual fest that hints at the wonders to come. The white foxgloves are a pure joy, that are headlining on my garden steps, which this year are themed as a tribute to Sissinghurst’s white garden.  Thus far friends tell me it’s looking more wedding cake then Sissinghurst so the steps are work in progress.

Below are some pictures of my favourite things basking in the glory of early summer






This year’s maxim could be “out with the old and in with the new”.  Any plant I’ve been kidding myself will work in a windy north facing garden and clearly isn’t will be be gifted to colleagues, friends and family. Anyone who suggests it’s an excuse to buy more plants such slander.

The Blowsy bloomers were back but are they worth it?

As we say goodbye to spring, I’m looking back beginning to wonder whether Rhododendrons are worth it. Once again, a freak shower and strong winds have brought a premature end to the flowering season.  Often out of vogue, I’ve been a big fan of these blowsy bloomers. I justify their space in my tiny garden by growing them in pots, which can be moved once flowering is over. I’m now thinking they would might lovely birthday gifts this year.

Slugs and Snails!

The first of the early Hostas are out and as ever they are a thing of beauty and wonder that give so much joy.  Protecting these beauties is challenging. So I’ve decided whilst I’ll never win the war I’m determined to win at least one battle. So, I’ve bought the big guns out, home made garlic spray, coffee grinds, wood ash, pellets, petroleum jelly, crushed egg shells, coffee spray, diatomaceous earth, copper tape and lots of hope. Watch this space!

Aster de la vista snails

For a host of reasons I didn’t get round to planting any tulips which I adore so I’ve adopted a friend’s lovely display as my own.

There was a real buzz when I was approached to take part in a new BBC gardening show but the excitement was short lived as the timing meant I couldn’t be fitted into the filming schedule.

Never mind here’s to glorious days that lay ahead for those of us who like gardens and those of us who maybe slightly addicted to gardening.

Update on my war with the snails and slugs 

My war with slugs and snails continues.  Whilst I don’t want to tempt fate, thus far I seem to be winning the battle as the Hostas seem to be in better condition than they were at this stage last year.  The next challenge is identifying which of my vast arsenal of weapons has been successful: was it the homemade garlic spray, the homemade coffee spray, coffee grounds, wood ash, pellets, petroleum jelly, crushed egg shells, diatomaceous earth or copper tape.  Perhaps I’ll worry about that later.

The naked banana

‘Gardening is playing with colours’ Oscar de la Renta

Welcome to my blog to promote my open garden that this year is on Sunday 19th July.

I open the garden to support the NGS charities and to share my garden with others. A so-called friend once suggested opening your own garden was a terribly vain thing to do but nothing could be further from the truth. I never thought my little garden would be accepted into the NGS. Over the past three years over 500 people have been kind enough to visit/revisit my garden and I’m still a little surprised when anyone says they like my garden

I was born in Jamaica and wanted my garden to remind me of my roots. But it’s not an exotic garden because I also love English cottages gardens. I wanted the fusion of the exotic living cheek by jowl with traditional cottage plants.

Thinking ahead to this year’s opening also means looking back and every winter means some things have struggled whilst others have surprised by simply surviving.

This winter I took the brave decision to not protect my larger banana plants [Musa Basjoo] and my tree ferns [Dicksonia Antarctica].  With the expectation of one tree fern (that damage that could be due to a lack of watering) this experiment seems to have gone very well as the bananas are once again beginning to show signs of life.

The Ensete ventricosum [Ethiopian banana] however, were protected by the top & tail method I’ve grown to embrace and would recommend to anyone. To the joy of everyone in my house the smaller banana plants are once again back in the garden after their annual bathroom winter holiday.

The realities of gardening means each growing season starts with the boring job of improving the soil as a little time now rewards later.

So in preparation of moving and replanting my gardening year started with shoveling manure.

What is it about gardeners never being satisfied? This year like every year I’ve moved and replanted a host of things that have either got to too big or no longer work in their original spaces.

‘The true gardener, like a true artist, is never satisfied.’ H.E. Bates.