I was both excited and incredibly relieved when I heard that the National Trust had purchased Munstead Wood, the Surrey home and eleven-acre garden of the legendary horticulturist, designer, writer, artist, photographer, and craftswoman, Gertrude Jekyll.

Gertrude lived at Munstead Wood in Busbridge, Godalming, from the 1890s until her death in 1932.  Having met the renowned architect Edwin Lutyens early in his career, long before he achieved fame and was knighted, Gertrude invited Edwin to design her an Arts and Crafts house to complement the garden. 

Butterfly Conservation report that in the UK, long-term trends show that 80% of our butterfly species have decreased in abundance or distribution – or both – since the 1970s.  Do you see many butterflies and moths in your garden?  I hope to inspire everyone to help butterflies and moths.  Please don’t allow any pesticides, insecticides, or herbicides to be used on your garden, allotment, or indeed on any area in your locality, as these products obliterate our bees, butterflies, and moths.

Happy new year!  I want to help you create a positive and uplifting garden where you can relax, grow your favourite plants, and make real connections with nature.

Do you have a compost heap in your garden?  How about in your college or office garden?  Composting is such a wonderful thing to do; it’s great for the environment, good for wildlife, produces amazing compost, and saves money! 

Winter provides us with a wonderful opportunity to plant trees.  What could be a better Christmas gift than planting a tree with your family?  I’m a particular fan of planting bare-root trees: trees that are grown in the ground (not containers) and then lifted, dispatched, and planted while they’re dormant.  Bare-root trees are grown in the soil, they’re naturally peat-free, require less watering at the nursery, and can be grown plastic-free – as there’s no need for containers. 

The Kew Declaration on Reforestation for Biodiversity, Carbon Capture and Livelihoods

I attended the ‘Reforestation for Biodiversity, Carbon Capture and Livelihoods’ conference, hosted by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and Botanic Gardens Conservation International.  I fully support the Kew Declaration on Reforestation for Biodiversity, Carbon Capture and Livelihoods.  I am just one of the 3000 global experts and concerned citizens from 114 countries that signed this declaration which aims to promote the long-term protection and restoration of natural forest ecosystems worldwide. 

An Update from my Wildlife Pond in Autumn

Hello, and welcome to my wildlife pond in October.

I’ve been very fortunate – the wish I made for autumn sunshine (I expressed this hope at the end of my last update) came true!  September blessed us with glorious warm weather and uplifting sunshine; it was so hot on a couple of days that it felt like mid-summer!

RHS Back to Nature Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019

Last year, HRH the Duchess of Cambridge began a collaboration with Chartered Landscape Architects and Designers, Andrée Davies and Adam White, (from Davies White Ltd), to work on a design for the RHS Back to Nature Garden; a Feature Garden, that was especially designed, for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019

I relish the opportunities that each season offers us.  January provides the chance to pause and rest, take stock of our plants and introduce new plants to delight us over the years ahead!

This is the perfect time to plant trees, hedging plants, roses, and soft fruit: plants that are lifted during the dormant season and sold bare root; the plants’ roots are coated in wax or wrapped, to prevent desiccation. 

Life can be busy and stressful, it’s not always easy to make time to stop, relax, and appreciate the beauty of nature.  If you’re looking for some time out, a lovely and relaxing activity that you can take part in this month is the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2017 – spending a restful hour watching and counting birds.

The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch is a delightful activity to share.  

The Big Butterfly Count is a nationwide survey of butterflies that we can all take part in.  This year Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count starts on the 15th July 2016, and runs until the 7th August 2016.  During this time, if you want to take part, you simply spend 15 minutes, on a sunny day, counting butterflies and day-flying moths.  You can choose to take your Big Butterfly Count in your garden, or in the gardens of your school, college or university, in a forest, at a park, or nature reserve, or whilst you’re taking a walk.  

I love hedgehogs!  Hedgehogs are so endearing and entertaining.  Every time I have encountered a hedgehog has been such a special and uplifting moment; each hedgehog I have seen shuffling along or snuffling about has touched my heart, lifted my spirits and brightened my day.

Sadly, nowadays there are many threats to hedgehogs – hedgehogs are in danger as they try to cross our busy roads, but even away from the roads, hedgehogs face many dangers in our own gardens, because of these dangers, hedgehogs are becoming more scarce. 

Creating a retirement garden

In the garden I am always thinking ahead, whether I’m ordering seed for future sowings, designing a new feature, planning a long-term trial or just thinking about which new plants to grow next year; it’s always wise to plan for the future so that you can fulfil all your gardening dreams.  At this year’s RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, the Just Retirement Garden: A garden for every retiree, designed by Tracy Foster, demonstrated how planning ahead for your retirement and encompassing accessible, interesting, creative and useful features within your garden design can bring enjoyment, as well as creating the space to enjoy hobbies, entertain friends and make the most of the joy of gardening in retirement.

This time of year is so evocative and reflective, with morning mist and an array of autumn colour only adding to the beauty of the garden.  With shorter days, time is of the essence: there is much to do, and enjoy in your garden this month!

If your fences are rather tatty or wobbly, have you considered planting a hedge?  Hedges can be a very attractive feature of the garden, they also provide a much needed home for wildlife, and are more able to survive the perils of the winter storms than a fence.