I obviously hope you enjoy browsing through the postings on here - do feel free to leave comments as it's always good to see who's visiting and to hear about other people's experiences - after all you never stop learning do you?

If you've any gardening questions or you live in Brittany and are looking for some gardening help - be it design work, planting or general gardening or you simply would like some advice, please don't hesitate to CONTACT ME or call me on 0033 661 77 23 89 (from UK) or 0661 77 23 89 (from France).

Happy gardening!

Monday 3 March 2014

Spring time has finally arrived in Brittany...

Better late than never!  I love this time of year with all the Hellebores out - seeing the sunlight shining through their delicate petals... so beautiful.  It's very easy getting bogged down with all dreadful weather we've had (and we have!) but good to start seeing some colour returning to the garden after our so called winter - I think I can count up the frosty mornings we've had on one hand which is very unusual for Brittany.

I've had the Hellebores in the garden now for the last 6 years and am now starting to get some really interesting varieties coming through -  such intricate markings on the petals!  They're great for areas of mixed sun and shade or even in light woodland and are prolific self seeders too... I tend to remove the large leaves from the previous year's growth - this allows the blooms more space to grow straight and taller and gives a much better display.


These are a one of the many clumps we have of the double flowered Primula which was in the garden here before we arrived.

One of my favorites for scent at this time of year - Daphne odora "Aureomarginata" - a very small plant we bought on our honeymoon - now nearly 10 years ago!

This is another wonderful plant for fragrance - Lonicera fragrantissima - producing beautiful blooms on bear stems to begin with. This has been in flower since January and provides essential nectar to an bees that area around early in the year - a must for any garden.

My final picture is of the flowers of Hellebore foetidus - again the bees love this early flowering plant - it's evergreen and so quickly fills empty spaces in the herbaceous border and is like other Hellebores a prolific self seeders - great to be able to share with friends and neighbours alike.

I hope you've enjoyed a quick tour of all that is flowering in our garden here in Brittany and hope to be able to share some more as the months unfold... have a great week!

Saturday 1 March 2014

The dying art of good letter writing....

"Companion planting" is a term I often come across - a method of organic gardening where you plant certain plants together to enable them to flourish by protecting each other from unnecessary pests.  I think there should be a similar term "Companion Gardeners" as this would best describe the beautiful friendship I discovered that existed between Beth Chatto and Christopher Lloyd in the book "Dear Friend and Gardener".

Lloyd and Chatto, two of Britain's best known and loved gardeners, share their extraordinary passion and experience of gardening as well as life in general through their regular letter writing to each other during the final decade of the 20th Century. They are also clearly a great source of encouragement and support to each other.

Their correspondence represents many aspects of their lives, often sharing their recommendations to one another of plant varieties, their successes (and failures) in the vegetable garden and the different recipes they'd enjoyed experimenting with when using their home grown produce.  It is difficult to list all the extensive range of topics of their exchanges, but it certainly makes for insightful reading!

This book goes way beyond most normal gardening books In that you really feel a part of their lives in the broadest sense.  One subject that is never absent in a "garden-centred" book is that of the British weather which comes up time and time again - never enough rain when you need it and too much at other times - nothing much changes does it!?

It was funny to read Lloyd's early reference to the then-unknown Sarah Raven: "Sarah is keen on plants and gardens and intends doing some volunteer work here quite soon" - looking at how her career as a gardener has developed since then is amazing.  There is also a great description early on in the book of the six day trip taken by Lloyd and Pip, his student gardener at the time to visit gardens and nurseries.  One of their experiences was taking in the discovery of  Snakeshead Fritillaries (Fritillaria meleagris) in their native habitat in the exotic location of.... just south of Reading, Berkshire!  They really are stunning plants but a real bonus I'm sure when seen growing in the wild.

This book is an absolute delight as well as a mine of information offering a small window into the lives of these two inspiring people. And of course as emails have replaced letter-writing in the years since, one wonders whether such books will continue to exist in the future! It is also a book that can easily be read in small bite-sized chunks which is ideal for most of us with ever-hectic lives. This new illustrated hardback edition also contains an introduction by Fergus Garrett, Head Gardener at Great Dixter.  If you're looking for an inspirational read or a gift for a gardening friend, you should look no further.

To order a copy of Dear Friend and Gardener for £16 including p&p* (RRP £20), telephone 01903 828503 or email mailorders@lbsltd.co.uk
, and quote the offer code APG16.

Alternatively, send a cheque made payable to:
Littlehampton Book Services Mail Order Department,
Littlehampton Book Services,
PO Box 4264,
Worthing, West Sussex
BN13 3RB.

Please quote the offer code
 and include your name and address details.

*UK only - Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas.