I've got a new gig working in the garden at Gravetye Manor near East Grinstead in Sussex, an Elizabethan Manor that was once the home of celebrated gardener and author William Robinson. His influential book 'The Wild Garden' was published in 1870 and advocated a more naturalistic style of planting (it's still in print today). He was lifelong friends with the legendary gardener/artist/writer/all round wonder woman Gertrude Jekyll and at one time she edited his magazine 'The Garden'.
So it's a real privilege to be learning from head gardener Tom Coward who continues the work that Robinson started. Tom is generous with his knowledge, as long as you've got a notebook to hand, because it is absolutely true that if you don't write down a new plant name immediately you will not remember it. And so I duly scribbled down Lonicera fragrantissima (winter flowering honeysuckle) and the notation 'already flowering'.
But there is practical work to be getting on with too, last week we were pruning the apple trees in the orchard. I'm now pretty confident I can identify the leader (to be cut down by a third) and the spurs (to be cut five or six buds up the stem, depending on vigour). It felt good to be away from my computer screen for a day and up a ladder with a pair of secateurs in my hand.
My hope is that by being in the garden on a weekly basis, working with the plants and observing the seasons, I will become a better designer. As one of my college tutors once wisely said: 'you can't learn about plants from a computer - get outside, look at them'.
I haven't blogged for ages so I'm excited to be doing it again, I've always loved writing so it's good to have something to write about! I'll keep you posted on my progress.