Spring is on its way!

The days are beginning to pull out, lighter mornings and also evenings too. Yippee!

Washbrook church with daffodils

Washbrook Church

I love getting wrapped up and walking over the fields in our village with the kids and hubby this time of the year.  We love to visit St Mary’s Church in Washbrook which is in an isolated position among the fields, about three miles west from the centre of Ipswich. The church is now redundant and is under the care of the Churches Conservation Trust.  There are parts of the church which dates to the 12th century but the majority is the 14th century. Well worth a visit!

Snowdrops in the graveyard

Snowdrops in the graveyard

My focus, this month are the beautiful graceful Galanthus. The children love exploring the snowdrops at their different growing stages. The graveyard is littered with these beauties and when they die back, they make room for decandant Daffodils.

More snowdrops out and about!

More snowdrops out and about!

The snowdrops have been cross polinating and there are doubles and singles, the way they sweep and cover the ground, it is truly a sight to see and worth the walk.

My mother in law is a “Galanthophile” (an enthusiastic collector of snowdrops species and cultivars).

A few years ago, for her birthday, (also in February) we bought her an expensive, highly sought after Galanthus plicatus “Wendys Gold”.

‘Wendy’s Gold’ is a bulbous perennial to 20cm with broad, grey-green leaves. The white flowers have a yellow-green ovary, and a long, yellow-green mark on the inner petals. She now has a couple of lovely clumps.

Wendy's Gold snowdrops

Wendy’s Gold snowdrops

She has a new Galanthus plicatus, it has wider leaves and delicately, dimpled white petals, which catch the light.

Mum's prized snowdrops!

Mum’s prized snowdrops!

 

 

There are so many beautiful snowdrops out there to admire and explore.

My advice, wrap up warm and get out there!

Sue Russell

One of my earliest memories; helping my Mum and Dad weed the veggie plot and collecting chicken eggs from the chooks at the end of the garden. I grew up on a farm as a child and always had my own piece of land to grow and learn with, so I suppose its in the blood!
In my mid twenties, I re trained in Horticulture (Professional Gardening ANCH) and set up my own Gardening business working for clients in the Suffolk/Essex area. For the last thirteen years Ive had the pleasure of working on a private twenty five acre estate tending to the grounds.
Most recently, eighteen months ago, I joined the team at Thompson and Morgan in the Customer Care department.
Also season ticket holder at Ipswich Town Football Club!!

An Interesting Winter Garden by the Sea

winter garden

At this time of year, it’s always difficult to maintain an interesting looking garden that you can be proud of, especially when you are located on the coast! In recent years, I’ve been extremely pleased with my beach garden, created back in 2012. The small plot sits at the front of my chalet bungalow, facing the sea, about a quarter of a mile away. It has to take everything the elements throw at it.

We get very strong winds blowing off the sea many times during the year! I’d always seen it playing second fiddle to the main back garden, but over the years I’ve begun to realise that it is always capable of holding its own and looks quite amazing, despite what the weather throws at it, especially when the sun sets over it.

More importantly, it is incredible how low the overall maintenance on this part of the garden is compared to the rest of my plot. Surprisingly, a professional garden photographer shot the beach garden this month as well. All my pictures here were taken mid-January, through to early February.

arabis, boat and bergenia

The Arabis ferdinandi-coburgi ‘Old Gold’ is looking really stunning by the steps up from the street, in amongst the grasses and the euonymus fortuneii Emerald Gaiety. You can see the horizon and the sea in the background. Dazzling along the front of the old weathered rowing boat, the bergenia flowers are quite striking. The boat itself, which is the centrepiece of the front beach garden, is now surrounded by plants and shrubs. There is a large sea buckthorn on the right of it that may have shed its leaves for the Winter but it’s silver grey frame still leaves its mark on the landscape.

cornonilla, rosemarium

Brimming over the edge of the dinghy you can see the amazing bright yellow flowers of the coronilla valentina glauca, which really catch your eye at this time of year, along with the pale lemon flowers of the large hellebore argentifolius. The eclectic mix of object d’art around the garden, old reclaimed anchors, rusty wheels, lobster pots and reclaimed groynes all help to maintain the character of the plot all year around, not to mention the large pieces of driftwood too.

miscanthus

We’ve had a lot of mist and fog hang over the garden since Christmas and it really gives an interesting, if eerie feel to the beach garden. Flowering this week by the boat are the delicate flowers of the rosemarium officianalis rosea. Not far away the elegant plumes of the Miscanthus Morning Light Maiden rise up and catch the evening sunlight perfectly.

So, if you’re looking for a relatively low maintenance garden to create yourself, maybe a beach garden is a good choice. What’s more, you don’t actually have to live by the sea. You could create your dream plot wherever you like! You can read more about the garden and when it will open for the season in 2017 at www.driftwoodbysea.co.uk

Geoff Stonebanks

Geoff Stonebanks was very lucky to be able to retire early from 30 years in Royal Mail back in 2004. He had 3 different careers with them first as a caterer, then manager of a financial analysis team and finally as an Employee Relations Manager and Personnel Manager. He sold up and moved with his partner to Bishopstone, near Seaford in East Sussex in 2004 and now spends all his time gardening and fundraising for Macmillan Cancer Support. Using his multi award-winning garden, featured on Gardeners’ World on BBC TV and finalist in Gardeners’ World Magazine Garden of the Year 2016, he’s raised £95000 for various charities in 8 years, £53400 of that for Macmillan. In his spare time, he is also Assistant County Organiser for the National Gardens Scheme and their Publicity Officer for East & Mid Sussex.

Plan your garden for a stunning display

Don’t get caught out with a dull garden next spring… just a bit of planning now could mean you have a display to be proud of!

Plan your garden for a stunning display

Pansy ‘Matrix Mixed’

We offer a huge range of young plants which can’t be found elsewhere; selected for garden performance, and unique and often exclusive. Plants for hanging baskets, window boxes, pots, beds and borders, everything from pansies to polyanthus, wallflowers to violas.

I know how dull the winter and spring can be, so you’ll find our designer mixes and blends are put together with colour AND fragrance in mind – our ‘Most Scented’ range is a great example of this. We’ve been sniffing 100s of varieties to make sure we have the most aromatic ones all in a single mixture. Imagine how that sweet fragrance will punch through the winter air!

Plan your garden for a stunning display

Primrose ‘Husky Mixed’

For winter-flowering, plants also need to be tough and hardy, so that’s why we’ve put together mixes like primrose ‘Husky Mixed’, which thrives in cold, snowy conditions. And with pansy ‘Matrix Mixed’, the strongest pansy in the marketplace, plants are 3 times the size of usual pansies, with extra branching, giving extra flowers on a stronger, hardier growth habit.

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