Wordless Wednesday~ Eucomis



The Sexy Salvia

The wonderful world of the Salvia … from the very blousy to the to the very subtle, this genus has everything.

It is a very large genus that has several hundred species of annuals, biennials, herbaceous perennials and shrubs.

We grow a wide range of Salvias, giving us plenty of colour from early summer, right through until the end of autumn. They are very easy to propagate from softwood or semi ripe cuttings or from seed, some you can also divide. The majority of Salvia’s like to be in full sun or partial shade in a moist but, well-drained soil.

With hundreds to choose from, there is something for everyone and many with aromatic leaves. Here are a few of what we grow.

Salvia involucrata ‘Bethellii’– I love this one. Reaching up to six feet in height and with pink flowers from summer, right through until the autumn, it is a great Salvia that will give you height and colour in your border. For us, this one does over-winter in the garden.

Salvia confertiflora- Another wonderful Salvia that can also reach six ft in height, it has wonderful rusty-red flowers from mid summer, right through until the autumn. We over-winter ours in the greenhouse.

Salvia splendens ‘Van-Houttei’– A tender one that will need winter protection. Beautiful scarlet red flowers from late summer, through to the autumn. This Salvia ticks all the boxes for me.

Salvia guaranitica ‘Blue Enigma’- Can reach six ft in height, deep blue flowers from mid summer through to the autumn … this one for us, does over winter-outside.

Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’– Another tall Salvia, this one we do over winter in the glasshouse. Beautiful dark blue flowers from summer, through to the autumn.

Salvia microphylla var. neurepia– A small bushy sub shrub that has pink flowers summer/autumn. This one over-winters in the garden.

Salvia farinacea ‘Victoria’– A tender perennial that we treat as an annual. This one we grow from seed, reaching a height of 1.5 ft with deep blue flowers from early summer to the autumn.

Salvia microphylla– A small bushy sub shrub, with red flowers from mid summer through to late autumn, like neurepia; this one over-winters out in the garden.

Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’– The bees love this plant, a must have plant for the garden. Great at the front of any border, it has violet-blue flowers from early summer through to late autumn. Fully hardy.

Salvia viridis– The annual Clary. Very easy to grow, good for cut flowers these have beautiful small flowers enclosed in a showy bract. Vigorous growers, they flower from early summer until the autumn and if left in, they will seed everywhere.

Salvia pratensis ‘Indigo’– An herbaceous perennial that can grow to three ft in height, it has long spikes of violet flowers in the summer. Fully hardy.

Salvia patens ‘Cambridge Blue’– There is also a ‘Oxford Blue’ but we couldn’t grow that one … but saying that, I do actually prefer the ‘Oxford Blue’. Grows up to 1.5 ft in height with pale blue flowers, I would say with this one, is only half hardy.

Salvia officinalis ‘Purpurascens’– Semi-evergreen dwarf shrub, with a pale blue/purple flower in the summer. The foliage is very fragrant, that starts off purple but greens up with age. Fully hardy.

And you can also mix up the different species of Salvias … to good effect.

Wordless Wednesday: Rhamnus alaternus ‘Variegata’

Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Rime of the Ancient Mariner

‘This is what not to do, if a bird shit’s on you’ ~ Bruce Dickinson

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ is a poem written by the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, in 1797 and published in 1798.

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner‘ is a  poem that starts with three men going to a wedding, one is detained by an old sailor, at first the young man protests; but then he becomes transfixed by the sailor’s glittering eye. The sailor then goes on to tell his story of his long sea voyage and the death of an Albatross, which puts a curse on the voyage.

In 1984, Iron Maiden released a re-telling of the ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner‘ from their album ‘Powerslave‘. It is 13 minutes and 42 seconds long, which they used pieces from the original poem as the lyrics.

Great poem … even better song.

Part I

It is an ancient Mariner,
And he stoppeth one of three.
`By thy long grey beard and glittering eye,
Now wherefore stopp’st thou me?

The bridegroom’s doors are opened wide,
And I am next of kin;
The guests are met, the feast is set:
Mayst hear the merry din.’

He holds him with his skinny hand,
“There was a ship,” quoth he.
`Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!’
Eftsoons his hand dropped he.

He holds him with his glittering eye –
The Wedding-Guest stood still,
And listens like a three years’ child:
The Mariner hath his will.

The Wedding-Guest sat on a stone:
He cannot choose but hear;
And thus spake on that ancient man,
The bright-eyed Mariner.

“The ship was cheered, the harbour cleared,
Merrily did we drop
Below the kirk, below the hill,
Below the lighthouse top.

The sun came up upon the left,
Out of the sea came he!
And he shone bright, and on the right
Went down into the sea.

Higher and higher every day,
Till over the mast at noon -”
The Wedding-Guest here beat his breast,
For he heard the loud bassoon.

The bride hath paced into the hall,
Red as a rose is she;
Nodding their heads before her goes
The merry minstrelsy.

The Wedding-Guest he beat his breast,
Yet he cannot choose but hear;
And thus spake on that ancient man,
The bright-eyed Mariner.

“And now the storm-blast came, and he
Was tyrannous and strong:
He struck with his o’ertaking wings,
And chased us south along.

With sloping masts and dipping prow,
As who pursued with yell and blow
Still treads the shadow of his foe,
And foward bends his head,
The ship drove fast, loud roared the blast,
And southward aye we fled.

And now there came both mist and snow,
And it grew wondrous cold:
And ice, mast-high, came floating by,
As green as emerald.

And through the drifts the snowy clifts
Did send a dismal sheen:
Nor shapes of men nor beasts we ken –
The ice was all between.

The ice was here, the ice was there,
The ice was all around:
It cracked and growled, and roared and howled,
Like noises in a swound!

At length did cross an Albatross,
Thorough the fog it came;
As it had been a Christian soul,
We hailed it in God’s name.

It ate the food it ne’er had eat,
And round and round it flew.
The ice did split with a thunder-fit;
The helmsman steered us through!

And a good south wind sprung up behind;
The Albatross did follow,
And every day, for food or play,
Came to the mariner’s hollo!

In mist or cloud, on mast or shroud,
It perched for vespers nine;
Whiles all the night, through fog-smoke white,
Glimmered the white moonshine.”

`God save thee, ancient Mariner,
From the fiends that plague thee thus! –
Why look’st thou so?’ -“With my crossbow
I shot the Albatross.”

Part II

“The sun now rose upon the right:
Out of the sea came he,
Still hid in mist, and on the left
Went down into the sea.

And the good south wind still blew behind,
But no sweet bird did follow,
Nor any day for food or play
Came to the mariners’ hollo!

And I had done a hellish thing,
And it would work ’em woe:
For all averred, I had killed the bird
That made the breeze to blow.
Ah wretch! said they, the bird to slay,
That made the breeze to blow!

Nor dim nor red, like God’s own head,
The glorious sun uprist:
Then all averred, I had killed the bird
That brought the fog and mist.
‘Twas right, said they, such birds to slay,
That bring the fog and mist.

The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,
The furrow followed free;
We were the first that ever burst
Into that silent sea.

Down dropped the breeze, the sails dropped down,
‘Twas sad as sad could be;
And we did speak only to break
The silence of the sea!

All in a hot and copper sky,
The bloody sun, at noon,
Right up above the mast did stand,
No bigger than the moon.

Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.

Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.

The very deep did rot: O Christ!
That ever this should be!
Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs
Upon the slimy sea.

About, about, in reel and rout
The death-fires danced at night;
The water, like a witch’s oils,
Burnt green, and blue, and white.

And some in dreams assured were
Of the Spirit that plagued us so;
Nine fathom deep he had followed us
From the land of mist and snow.

And every tongue, through utter drought,
Was withered at the root;
We could not speak, no more than if
We had been choked with soot.

Ah! well-a-day! what evil looks
Had I from old and young!
Instead of the cross, the Albatross
About my neck was hung.”

Part III

“There passed a weary time. Each throat
Was parched, and glazed each eye.
A weary time! a weary time!
How glazed each weary eye –
When looking westward, I beheld
A something in the sky.

At first it seemed a little speck,
And then it seemed a mist;
It moved and moved, and took at last
A certain shape, I wist.

A speck, a mist, a shape, I wist!
And still it neared and neared:
As if it dodged a water-sprite,
It plunged and tacked and veered.

With throats unslaked, with black lips baked,
We could nor laugh nor wail;
Through utter drought all dumb we stood!
I bit my arm, I sucked the blood,
And cried, A sail! a sail!

With throats unslaked, with black lips baked,
Agape they heard me call:
Gramercy! they for joy did grin,
And all at once their breath drew in,
As they were drinking all.

See! see! (I cried) she tacks no more!
Hither to work us weal;
Without a breeze, without a tide,
She steadies with upright keel!

The western wave was all a-flame,
The day was well nigh done!
Almost upon the western wave
Rested the broad bright sun;
When that strange shape drove suddenly
Betwixt us and the sun.

And straight the sun was flecked with bars,
(Heaven’s Mother send us grace!)
As if through a dungeon-grate he peered
With broad and burning face.

Alas! (thought I, and my heart beat loud)
How fast she nears and nears!
Are those her sails that glance in the sun,
Like restless gossameres?

Are those her ribs through which the sun
Did peer, as through a grate?
And is that Woman all her crew?
Is that a Death? and are there two?
Is Death that Woman’s mate?

Her lips were red, her looks were free,
Her locks were yellow as gold:
Her skin was as white as leprosy,
The Nightmare Life-in-Death was she,
Who thicks man’s blood with cold.

The naked hulk alongside came,
And the twain were casting dice;
`The game is done! I’ve won! I’ve won!’
Quoth she, and whistles thrice.

The sun’s rim dips; the stars rush out:
At one stride comes the dark;
With far-heard whisper o’er the sea,
Off shot the spectre-bark.

We listened and looked sideways up!
Fear at my heart, as at a cup,
My life-blood seemed to sip!
The stars were dim, and thick the night,
The steersman’s face by his lamp gleamed white;
From the sails the dew did drip –
Till clomb above the eastern bar
The horned moon, with one bright star
Within the nether tip.

One after one, by the star-dogged moon,
Too quick for groan or sigh,
Each turned his face with a ghastly pang,
And cursed me with his eye.

Four times fifty living men,
(And I heard nor sigh nor groan)
With heavy thump, a lifeless lump,
They dropped down one by one.

The souls did from their bodies fly, –
They fled to bliss or woe!
And every soul it passed me by,
Like the whizz of my crossbow!”

Part IV

`I fear thee, ancient Mariner!
I fear thy skinny hand!
And thou art long, and lank, and brown,
As is the ribbed sea-sand.

I fear thee and thy glittering eye,
And thy skinny hand, so brown.’ –
“Fear not, fear not, thou Wedding-Guest!
This body dropped not down.

Alone, alone, all, all alone,
Alone on a wide wide sea!
And never a saint took pity on
My soul in agony.

The many men, so beautiful!
And they all dead did lie;
And a thousand thousand slimy things
Lived on; and so did I.

I looked upon the rotting sea,
And drew my eyes away;
I looked upon the rotting deck,
And there the dead men lay.

I looked to heaven, and tried to pray;
But or ever a prayer had gusht,
A wicked whisper came and made
My heart as dry as dust.

I closed my lids, and kept them close,
And the balls like pulses beat;
Forthe sky and the sea, and the sea and the sky,
Lay like a load on my weary eye,
And the dead were at my feet.

The cold sweat melted from their limbs,
Nor rot nor reek did they:
The look with which they looked on me
Had never passed away.

An orphan’s curse would drag to hell
A spirit from on high;
But oh! more horrible than that
Is the curse in a dead man’s eye!
Seven days, seven nights, I saw that curse,
And yet I could not die.

The moving moon went up the sky,
And no where did abide:
Softly she was going up,
And a star or two beside –

Her beams bemocked the sultry main,
Like April hoar-frost spread;
But where the ship’s huge shadow lay,
The charmed water burnt alway
A still and awful red.

Beyond the shadow of the ship
I watched the water-snakes:
They moved in tracks of shining white,
And when they reared, the elfish light
Fell off in hoary flakes.

Within the shadow of the ship
I watched their rich attire:
Blue, glossy green, and velvet black,
They coiled and swam; and every track
Was a flash of golden fire.

O happy living things! no tongue
Their beauty might declare:
A spring of love gushed from my heart,
And I blessed them unaware:
Sure my kind saint took pity on me,
And I blessed them unaware.

The selfsame moment I could pray;
And from my neck so free
The Albatross fell off, and sank
Like lead into the sea.”

Part V

“Oh sleep! it is a gentle thing,
Beloved from pole to pole!
To Mary Queen the praise be given!
She sent the gentle sleep from heaven,
That slid into my soul.

The silly buckets on the deck,
That had so long remained,
I dreamt that they were filled with dew;
And when I awoke, it rained.

My lips were wet, my throat was cold,
My garments all were dank;
Sure I had drunken in my dreams,
And still my body drank.

I moved, and could not feel my limbs:
I was so light -almost
I thought that I had died in sleep,
And was a blessed ghost.

And soon I heard a roaring wind:
It did not come anear;
But with its sound it shook the sails,
That were so thin and sere.

The upper air burst into life!
And a hundred fire-flags sheen,
To and fro they were hurried about!
And to and fro, and in and out,
The wan stars danced between.

And the coming wind did roar more loud,
And the sails did sigh like sedge;
And the rain poured down from one black cloud;
The moon was at its edge.

The thick black cloud was cleft, and still
The moon was at its side:
Like waters shot from some high crag,
The lightning fell with never a jag,
A river steep and wide.

The loud wind never reached the ship,
Yet now the ship moved on!
Beneath the lightning and the moon
The dead men gave a groan.

They groaned, they stirred, they all uprose,
Nor spake, nor moved their eyes;
It had been strange, even in a dream,
To have seen those dead men rise.

The helmsman steered, the ship moved on;
Yet never a breeze up blew;
The mariners all ‘gan work the ropes,
Where they were wont to do;
They raised their limbs like lifeless tools –
We were a ghastly crew.

The body of my brother’s son
Stood by me, knee to knee:
The body and I pulled at one rope,
But he said nought to me.”

`I fear thee, ancient Mariner!’
“Be calm, thou Wedding-Guest!
‘Twas not those souls that fled in pain,
Which to their corses came again,
But a troop of spirits blest:

For when it dawned -they dropped their arms,
And clustered round the mast;
Sweet sounds rose slowly through their mouths,
And from their bodies passed.

Around, around, flew each sweet sound,
Then darted to the sun;
Slowly the sounds came back again,
Now mixed, now one by one.

Sometimes a-dropping from the sky
I heard the skylark sing;
Sometimes all little birds that are,
How they seemed to fill the sea and air
With their sweet jargoning!

And now ’twas like all instruments,
Now like a lonely flute;
And now it is an angel’s song,
That makes the heavens be mute.

It ceased; yet still the sails made on
A pleasant noise till noon,
A noise like of a hidden brook
In the leafy month of June,
That to the sleeping woods all night
Singeth a quiet tune.

Till noon we quietly sailed on,
Yet never a breeze did breathe;
Slowly and smoothly went the ship,
Moved onward from beneath.

Under the keel nine fathom deep,
From the land of mist and snow,
The spirit slid: and it was he
That made the ship to go.
The sails at noon left off their tune,
And the ship stood still also.

The sun, right up above the mast,
Had fixed her to the ocean:
But in a minute she ‘gan stir,
With a short uneasy motion –
Backwards and forwards half her length
With a short uneasy motion.

Then like a pawing horse let go,
She made a sudden bound:
It flung the blood into my head,
And I fell down in a swound.

How long in that same fit I lay,
I have not to declare;
But ere my living life returned,
I heard and in my soul discerned
Two voices in the air.

`Is it he?’ quoth one, `Is this the man?
By him who died on cross,
With his cruel bow he laid full low
The harmless Albatross.

The spirit who bideth by himself
In the land of mist and snow,
He loved the bird that loved the man
Who shot him with his bow.’

The other was a softer voice,
As soft as honey-dew:
Quoth he, `The man hath penance done,
And penance more will do.’

Part VI

First Voice

But tell me, tell me! speak again,
Thy soft response renewing –
What makes that ship drive on so fast?
What is the ocean doing?

Second Voice

Still as a slave before his lord,
The ocean hath no blast;
His great bright eye most silently
Up to the moon is cast –

If he may know which way to go;
For she guides him smooth or grim.
See, brother, see! how graciously
She looketh down on him.

First Voice

But why drives on that ship so fast,
Without or wave or wind?

Second Voice

The air is cut away before,
And closes from behind.

Fly, brother, fly! more high, more high!
Or we shall be belated:
For slow and slow that ship will go,
When the Mariner’s trance is abated.

“I woke, and we were sailing on
As in a gentle weather:
‘Twas night, calm night, the moon was high;
The dead men stood together.

All stood together on the deck,
For a charnel-dungeon fitter:
All fixed on me their stony eyes,
That in the moon did glitter.

The pang, the curse, with which they died,
Had never passed away:
I could not draw my eyes from theirs,
Nor turn them up to pray.

And now this spell was snapped: once more
I viewed the ocean green,
And looked far forth, yet little saw
Of what had else been seen –

Like one that on a lonesome road
Doth walk in fear and dread,
And having once turned round walks on,
And turns no more his head;
Because he knows a frightful fiend
Doth close behind him tread.

But soon there breathed a wind on me,
Nor sound nor motion made:
Its path was not upon the sea,
In ripple or in shade.

It raised my hair, it fanned my cheek
Like a meadow-gale of spring –
It mingled strangely with my fears,
Yet it felt like a welcoming.

Swiftly, swiftly flew the ship,
Yet she sailed softly too:
Sweetly, sweetly blew the breeze –
On me alone it blew.

Oh! dream of joy! is this indeed
The lighthouse top I see?
Is this the hill? is this the kirk?
Is this mine own country?

We drifted o’er the harbour-bar,
And I with sobs did pray –
O let me be awake, my God!
Or let me sleep alway.

The harbour-bay was clear as glass,
So smoothly it was strewn!
And on the bay the moonlight lay,
And the shadow of the moon.

The rock shone bright, the kirk no less,
That stands above the rock:
The moonlight steeped in silentness
The steady weathercock.

And the bay was white with silent light,
Till rising from the same,
Full many shapes, that shadows were,
In crimson colours came.

A little distance from the prow
Those crimson shadows were:
I turned my eyes upon the deck –
Oh, Christ! what saw I there!

Each corse lay flat, lifeless and flat,
And, by the holy rood!
A man all light, a seraph-man,
On every corse there stood.

This seraph-band, each waved his hand:
It was a heavenly sight!
They stood as signals to the land,
Each one a lovely light;

This seraph-band, each waved his hand,
No voice did they impart –
No voice; but oh! the silence sank
Like music on my heart.

But soon I heard the dash of oars,
I heard the Pilot’s cheer;
My head was turned perforce away,
And I saw a boat appear.

The Pilot and the Pilot’s boy,
I heard them coming fast:
Dear Lord in heaven! it was a joy
The dead men could not blast.

I saw a third -I heard his voice:
It is the Hermit good!
He singeth loud his godly hymns
That he makes in the wood.
He’ll shrieve my soul, he’ll wash away
The Albatross’s blood.”

Part VII

“This Hermit good lives in that wood
Which slopes down to the sea.
How loudly his sweet voice he rears!
He loves to talk with marineers
That come from a far country.

He kneels at morn, and noon, and eve –
He hath a cushion plump:
It is the moss that wholly hides
The rotted old oak-stump.

The skiff-boat neared: I heard them talk,
`Why, this is strange, I trow!
Where are those lights so many and fair,
That signal made but now?’

`Strange, by my faith!’ the Hermit said –
`And they answered not our cheer!
The planks looked warped! and see those sails,
How thin they are and sere!
I never saw aught like to them,
Unless perchance it were

Brown skeletons of leaves that lag
My forest-brook along;
When the ivy-tod is heavy with snow,
And the owlet whoops to the wolf below,
That eats the she-wolf’s young.’

`Dear Lord! it hath a fiendish look –
(The Pilot made reply)
I am afeared’ -`Push on, push on!’
Said the Hermit cheerily.

The boat came closer to the ship,
But I nor spake nor stirred;
The boat came close beneath the ship,
And straight a sound was heard.

Under the water it rumbled on,
Still louder and more dread:
It reached the ship, it split the bay;
The ship went down like lead.

Stunned by that loud and dreadful sound,
Which sky and ocean smote,
Like one that hath been seven days drowned
My body lay afloat;
But swift as dreams, myself I found
Within the Pilot’s boat.

Upon the whirl where sank the ship
The boat spun round and round;
And all was still, save that the hill
Was telling of the sound.

I moved my lips -the Pilot shrieked
And fell down in a fit;
The holy Hermit raised his eyes,
And prayed where he did sit.

I took the oars: the Pilot’s boy,
Who now doth crazy go,
Laughed loud and long, and all the while
His eyes went to and fro.
`Ha! ha!’ quoth he, `full plain I see,
The Devil knows how to row.’

And now, all in my own country,
I stood on the firm land!
The Hermit stepped forth from the boat,
And scarcely he could stand.

O shrieve me, shrieve me, holy man!
The Hermit crossed his brow.
`Say quick,’ quoth he `I bid thee say –
What manner of man art thou?’

Forthwith this frame of mine was wrenched
With a woeful agony,
Which forced me to begin my tale;
And then it left me free.

Since then, at an uncertain hour,
That agony returns;
And till my ghastly tale is told,
This heart within me burns.

I pass, like night, from land to land;
I have strange power of speech;
That moment that his face I see,
I know the man that must hear me:
To him my tale I teach.

What loud uproar bursts from that door!
The wedding-guests are there:
But in the garden-bower the bride
And bride-maids singing are;
And hark the little vesper bell,
Which biddeth me to prayer!

O Wedding-Guest! this soul hath been
Alone on a wide wide sea:
So lonely ’twas, that God himself
Scarce seemed there to be.

O sweeter than the marriage-feast,
‘Tis sweeter far to me,
To walk together to the kirk
With a goodly company! –

To walk together to the kirk,
And all together pray,
While each to his great Father bends,
Old men, and babes, and loving friends,
And youths and maidens gay!

Farewell, farewell! but this I tell
To thee, thou Wedding-Guest!
He prayeth well, who loveth well
Both man and bird and beast.

He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all.”

The Mariner, whose eye is bright,
Whose beard with age is hoar,
Is gone; and now the Wedding-Guest
Turned from the bridegroom’s door.

He went like one that hath been stunned,
And is of sense forlorn:
A sadder and a wiser man
He rose the morrow morn.

Wordless Wednesday: Campsis radicans

For those who are about to Garden- We Salute You!

Apart from a short break, I have been gardening professionally for twenty-six years, in both the commercial and amenity side of horticulture.

I was very lucky, in that I knew what I wanted to do long before I left school, I do appreciate that this is not the always the case for everyone.

A year before leaving school we had to put down two possible career choices … I put down horticulture and plumbing. We then, with help from the teachers looked at all the possibilities for these jobs ie further education, apprenticeships, jobs and of course then the YTS.

I remember very well that if it wasn’t for other factors in my life and doing my own research, I would say I received little or no help/information from the school on anything to do with horticulture. All the information I needed to proceed in horticulture after I left school, I had to find myself. I remember this very well because, I had also made it very clear that my second choice was only put in because … I had to put one in! I very easily could have said anything at the time even, Rain-dancing! In-fact, when it came down gardening, I would quite easily go as far to say … they were dismissive and tried to put me off.

Now, if I wanted to go into any building based job, become a car mechanic or join the army, back then I would have received all the help and advice needed. Or if I wanted to go into further education again the help, advice and the encouragement was there if I needed it.

Now, I am extremely passionate about horticulture, even though I was angry at the lack of help from the school, I sort of understood why … and still do!

1986 was the year I left school and I started my YTS training scheme in September of that year, at what was then Milton Farm College, Cambridge; the work placement was at a wholesale nursery nearby.

The first day at Milton, both the agricultural and horticultural students congregated in the same hall (there was well over fifty students) we then split up into our trades … there was only approximately twelve horticultural students and after six months, you could probably have halved that number. Twenty six years on I can only imagine that figure would be far fewer.  For me this is very worrying, not just because I am a Head Gardener but for the trade in general … will gardening/horticulture become a dying trade?

Gardening to me, is the best job in the world … but there are factors that are putting off younger people coming into horticulture.

For a start … the money! There are only a few people who make serious money in horticulture. At the lower end of the scale in both commercial and amenity horticultural jobs the pay is abysmal. I had one employer try to justify this by saying its ‘a way of life’ my reply was full of expletives and cannot be published. Even when you go further up the scale either to Nursery Manager or Head Gardener, the pay for some, is still poor. In this day and age with the cost of living rocketing, it is becoming even harder to give the big sell to the younger generation that … horticulture is the right career path!

One myth that has always been connected with gardening is that it is a job for ‘thickies’ … total rubbish! For me that might have been the case, but that comment is so far from the truth, it is unreal.

One other myth that I find really annoying is, ‘that it is a man’s job’ again this is total rubbish! Unfortunately, I have worked with some, even within horticulture that have said; ‘women cannot do some of the really hard physical work!’ Isn’t that really down to the individual and not if  you are male or female? I will say no more on this!

Technology! A lot of youngsters today, think the best way forward is some IT based job, especially if you are wanting to make a comfortable living. Admittedly in my position I rely on my computer, especially now the main form of communication is by email. Thankfully the “Idiot Phone” means that I can take some of the office work into the garden, but unfortunately a lot of the admin work still has to be done on the computer back in the office; but it is a bloody good excuse when it is raining!

The weather! Now this one is a tricky bugger. Firstly we have no control over it and also, in the last three or four years the weather has been even more challenging than usual. But, for me doesn’t this make the job more interesting to do … or am I just a glutton for punishment? Being outside in all weathers is definitely not to everyone’s liking, and I must admit there have been times when I thought that working solely indoors would be nice … but not often!

So if you were trying to encourage younger people or anyone else that maybe looking for a career change, admittedly certain things are slightly different; what would you say to persuade them that they are making the right choice?

For a start gardening is the best job in the world! If that is where your heart lies, go for it … life is not a dress rehearsal, there is no curtain call! I know money is an issue, but go for it! I have never had any regrets!

Ignore the small-minded idiots …  “How people treat you is their Karma; How you react, is yours.” ~Wayne Dyer. As time has gone on, I have met fewer and fewer over the years, they are the minority and the one with the problem … not you!

Horticulture is such a diverse subject, there are several avenues you can take into both amenity and commercial horticulture. You could even become the new gardening celebrity … and kick Alan Titchmarsh of his perch. Or you could end up showing off your work at Chelsea, Hampton Court, Tatton etc.

The people … nurserymen, gardeners, garden designers, tree surgeons, allotmenteers the list is endless. I have had the pleasure in meeting some wonderful people from the world of horticulture both amateur’s and professional’s, the horticultural world is a great leveler.

And the best one of all … tending a garden. It doesn’t matter how big or small, but feeling the creaking in your back at the end of the day, the soil ground into skin; finding yet another bloody hole in your work-trousers (usually where you need it least). But in the end, the rewards are for all to see. Something that will put a smile on your face and others, the sense of achievement, satisfaction and sometimes that inner peace (bloody hippy).

These feelings never go away, in-fact they keep growing … just like your garden!

There is no other job like it, if you are looking at going into horticulture, the advantages out way the disadvantages; so go for it the because gardening is … the new Rock n Roll!

Nuff said!

Now some of you may have thought with the title, I would have finished with a AC/DC video, but I would not want to become to predictable 😉

Wordless Wednesday: Houghton Mill

The Rock Garden IV

I know… we’ve been here before!

The fourth instalment of what I think could be one of many more … lets be honest! This one is a mixture of suggestions from other gardeners, plants that I had forgotten … and also just searching the web for idea’s.

Whilst ploughing through the internet looking for plants with the same name as a rock band/song, or some other connection; I found some of my all time favourites … result!

Scabiosa atropurpurea ‘Ace of Spades’

Double pin cushion flowers that are as close to black as you can get. Slightly fragrant, it can flower from July through to October.

Classed as a tender perennial/hardy annual it is a plant we have not grown for a few years … time for a come back I think.

Scabiosa atropurpurea ‘Ace of Spades’

The Band/song…

“We want to be the band that if we moved in next door to you, your lawn would die” ~ Lemmy …… I would still love to have them as my neighbours … I’m used to pests damaging my lawns … they can always be fixed.

Motorhead, formed in 1975 by god himself… Lemmy.

Lemmy Kilminster was previously in Hawkwind before being kicked out in 1975, after he was arrested for possession of drugs in Canada; he then went on to form Motorhead … and the rest is history.

Ace of Spades‘, was released as a single on the 27th October 1980 from the album called … ‘Ace of Spades‘.

The song is recognised as the definitive metal anthem amongst metal fans … and along with their song ‘Overkill‘ they are both in my top 10 all time favourites songs.

Iris ‘Fade to Black’

A tall bearded Iris that can get to a height of over 46″ and has very dark purple flowers. Likes full sun and can get up to nine blooms per stalk.

Iris ‘Fade to Black’

The song…

From Metallica’s 1984 ‘Ride the Lightning‘ album, it was released as a single on the 30th September 1984. The song has been voted by Guitar World readers as having the 24th best guitar solo ever.

The song starts off slowly and then gradually becomes heavier as it goes on, again this song is one of my all time Metallica’s favourites.

Colocasia esculenta ‘Diamond Head’

This variety has purple-blacked leaves which are slightly glossy on red stems. Can bear small yellow flowers in a hot summer. For the exotic feel, it can be planted in the borders in the summer, but would I would bring them back to the glasshouse in the winter.

Colocasia esculenta ‘Diamond Head’

The band…

Formed in 1976, Diamond Head are one of the leading members of the NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal). Many heavy metal bands of today have said they were heavily influenced by Diamond Head.

Metallica have covered several of their songs including a cover of ‘Am I Evil‘; which has to to go down as one of the best cover songs of all time. As for the original, ‘Am I Evil‘ is again one of my all time favourite songs.

Melaleuca quinquenervia (paper bark tea tree or The Punk Tree)

Melaleuca quinquenervia is native to Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Eastern Australia. It has naturalised itself in the Everglades, Florida where it is considered a pest.

A small to medium fast growing tree that does very well in poorly drained area’s.

Melaleuca quinquenervia

The Genre…

Punk is said to have started in 1974, with the New York Dolls and The Ramones being the fore runners of Punk music.

Punk then developed over the next two years and in 1976, bands like The Sex Pistols and The Clash hit the stage. The Sex Pistols being one of the most notorious bands of all time, giving us great classics like ‘God Save the Queen‘ and ‘Anarchy in the UK‘.


Wisteria sinensis ‘Caroline’

A beautiful climber, which is found growing wild up trees and cliffs in Western China.

It has beautiful lilac blue scented flowers in May/June. Great plant for training on a trellis or through established trees and shrubs.

Wisteria sinensis ‘Caroline’

The song…

Caroline‘ by Status Quo. Now this one is in my top three songs, and it is probably the first song that I heard, got me listening to heavy rock/metal music.

From their 1973 ‘Hello‘ album, ‘Caroline‘ was released on the 31st August 1973 reaching no. 5 in the UK charts.


Wildflower meadows provide a home for many colourful wildflowers and is a natural home for butterflies, bees and many other insects.

In recent years we have unfortunately lost many of our wildflower meadows, they can never be recreated fully, but with time and a little hard graft … the wildflower patch can be grown from scratch.

We are fortunate to have a large wildflower area at work, but I am also looking at increasing the wildflowers in other area’s in the garden.

Wildflower meadow

The song…

Wildflower‘ by The Cult, from their 1987 album ‘Electric‘. The powerful opening guitar riff to this song will stick in your head for hours, this track was the most successful single to be released from ‘Electric‘.

Ipomoea (Morning Glory)

Can grow up to twenty feet in one year … not bad for an annual. You get this in a variety of colours and has been a favourite amongst gardeners for many years.

Now, this plant can infuriate me more than most other plants … why? When it flowers it can be spectacular; but more often than not … it has not given us the flowers we expected! We have replaced it more with Cobea scandens, a much better plant and it is scented as well.

Ipomoea ‘Heavenly Blue’

The song…

From the 1995 Oasis album …  ‘(What’s the Story) Morning Glory’. Can’t say too much about this one, I like their music but … I have never been a big fan of theirs.

Veronica spicata ‘Foxy Lady’

The first bi-colour Veronica, it has a compact habit growing to a height of 30cm, with fuchsia-pink and white striped flowers, it flowers from June/July right through to October.

Veronica spicata ‘Foxy Lady’

The song…

Released on the 12th May 1967, from their ‘Are You Experienced‘ album; this is one of Jimi Hendrix most well known songs.

And there is another version of this song that always brings a smile to my face …

Alstroemeria ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’

A hardy Alstroemeria that grows well in sun or shade. Flowers from June right through until late October, with its striking orange/red flowers and creaming variegated leaves … this is a truly stunning plant.

Alstroemeria ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’

The song…

Now I could of gone with the genre of Rock ‘n’ Roll … but thought I could do a whole post on this alone.

Instead I have gone with the song by Led Zeppelin called ‘Rock n Roll‘ Why? Well this is ‘The Rock Garden IV‘ and the song ‘Rock n Roll’ was on ‘Led Zeppelin IV’… except this is crap … and ‘Led Zeppelin IV’ is the greatest album of all time.

‘Led Zeppelin IV‘ was released on the 8th November 1971, ‘Rock n Roll‘ was released as a single on the  21st February 1972.

Cannabis sativa

You grow this plant and you will … GET YOUR COLLAR FELT!

Cannabis is one of the most complex plants with over four hundred compounds identified. Recent research has even suggested that cannabis affects different parts of the central nervous system in different ways in the same person.

Medical experts say it can cause psychological problems and smoking it can lead to diseases like lung cancer.

Cannabis sativa

The band/song…

Hawkwind formed in 1969 they are the fore runners of space rock. They have had numerous line up changes in their long history, with Dave Brock being the only member of the group to have been constant throughout the bands history.

Now the link with the above plant … do I really need to explain that one?

The Doors … The End

Wordless Wednesday: Catalpa bignonioides