This Week’s Guest Blogger is Gary Webb, Head Gardener and Garden Blogger with Gardening Ways

As a gardener, I count myself lucky to have worked in some stunningly beautiful locations throughout my career. There has been a good deal of heavy and physical labour I can assure you, but there has also been many times when my gardening activity would simply fall in the areas of mental stimulation or mindful observation.

Throughout my gardening life though, I’m drawn to recall that whilst many of my most enjoyable moments have been in the midst of serious graft and team effort, there have also been countless happy moments spent gardening in complete isolation. Even in some of my biggest gardening venues, there have been moments when it has been just me, immersed in designed landscape and charmed by the sounds of wildlife.

When I stop and think therefore about the importance of gardens and gardening to me personally, I can easily split the whole into two parts. Firstly, has been the value of all those moments shared with some very special people, be it in the working environment, whilst visiting gardens for recreation, or whilst at home enjoying a memory making time with my family.

Secondly, and amounting to significantly more time than the first, is the importance of those many moments spent working alone with my thoughts. Those moments, even if I didn’t realise it at the time were vitally important in providing a balance, and have provided opportunity to soothe my soul yes, to consider and form strategies yes; but most often they have simply given time to be at peace and to study how exquisitely amazing the many elements of a garden can be.

All things considered then, whilst I’ve become accustomed to the physical aspects of tending gardens, I have learnt that it is equally, if not more important to consider the wellbeing benefits that gardens can provide. The value to me therefore of engaging with a garden hasn’t always come from the doing, but often from simply observing it, from mulling it over and talking about it, from seeing how wildlife interacts with it, and from opening my mind to the real values of the garden and its connectivity with the world around.

If I can therefore offer a morsel of advice for anyone, it would be to make sure you get into a garden, any garden, regularly, and that you pause there to consider the elements that are around you. Close your eyes for a while and allow your senses time to tune into the environment. Try if you can to make time to ‘be in the moment’ as people say. You can do this in a public park or garden, where no maintenance issues exist for you, in a show garden, from a balcony or in a favourite part of your own garden.

All that matters I guess, is that you make time to be there, to immerse yourself to a degree that you’re happy with, and you simply enjoy the garden both for itself, and for yourself.

Gary Webb is the Author of Gardening Ways

This Week’s Guest Blogger is Tanith Perry-Mills, a Freelance Garden Writer living in in Saskatchewan, Canada

Tanith Perry-Mills is a freelance garden writer for hire specializing in gardening, landscaping, and homesteading. When she’s not writing, she’s keeping her two cats out of her houseplants and growing her own sustainable vegetable garden.

Find out more about her services at

Three Ways to Make Your Garden More Accessible for Chronic Fatigue

I discovered my love for vegetable gardening at the same time I realised that my debilitating fatigue was not going to go away on its own. I still tried to grow a 200 sq ft garden, through which I learned a lot, but it quickly grew unmanageable.

This year, I don’t have access to an in-ground garden of any size, only a 2m x 2m patio. It could have felt like a letdown. Instead, it was an exciting opportunity for me to make a garden that is way more me-friendly.

Here’s 3 ways I’m making my garden more accessible:

#1 – Container gardening with an elevated planter

Last year, I struggled with kneeling down, planting seeds or weeding, then standing back up to move and do that over again. And that was before the heat wave destroyed my remaining stamina and gave the weeds super growing powers.
So this year, I built (with the labour of my husband) a 4 ft x 2 ft elevated planter with a handsaw and a power drill.
Elevated planters are fantastic! They allow you to:
Cut down or eliminate weeds altogether
Bring the garden up to you, whether that’s sitting or standing (which is easier for me)
Be short enough across that you can reach the back without having to strain
If you’re in a wheelchair, buying or making one with a sloped box can give you more space to get close to it.
I also added a few other large containers at ground level with climbing plants like cherry tomatoes.

#2 – Tank sprayer / pump action pressure sprayer

I don’t have access to a hose and holding up a 2 gallon watering pot is just not in the cards for me. Instead, after seeing it crop up in a video by Garden Answers, I bought a tank sprayer.
With a tank sprayer, I can set the heavy tank part down on the ground or on a stool, pump it a few times (or have someone else do it), then just hold the wand to spray water over my plants. The pressure lasts a pretty long time. It’s slow at moistening large amounts of potting soil, but it’s fantastic for seedlings. I used this when starting seeds this year, and the difference between using a spray bottle and this was incredible. 10/10 would recommend.
While they’re more expensive than a plastic watering can, it’s still pretty inexpensive overall (mine cost $30), and has made watering so much easier for me.

#3 – A dedicated potting station

I struggle with pacing. When I had to pull out the potting soil and clean up afterward, it seemed way more efficient to do all the seeding and potting up in one go. 2 hours later (why do seed trays always take way longer than expected?), I’m so exhausted I have to haul myself up to bed.
Learning from this mistake, I set up a potting station in my house using a Rubbermaid bin. I can do one thing a day with minimal setup and clean up. Seed 3 trays one day. Pot up the tomatoes the next day. Direct sow the day after. That way, I can limit my active time.
And this has one other bonus: because I don’t need to somehow put aside 2 hours of energy for gardening on top of other essential things like work, I’m actually getting more done with less procrastination.

Using these three methods, I feel way more on top of the garden this year and I’m confident that I can grow as many healthy vegetables as I have space for, without the crashes.

Tanith Perry-Mills is a freelance garden writer for hire specializing in gardening, landscaping, and homesteading. When she’s not writing, she’s keeping her two cats out of her houseplants and growing her own sustainable vegetable garden. Find out more about her services at

This Week’s Guest is Michelle Starling, a Gardener at the Wellcome Geonome Campus in Cambridgeshire

Always being out in the garden with my dad when I was a little girl ,eating peas straight from the pod instead of helping to weed round them.
Dad then gave me a little corner of my own ,to grow veg in, easy to grow stuff, like radishes and carrots.
i left school ,worked with horses for 10 to 12 years and then went in to factory work. Working indoors, I missed the fresh air, the summers and wet winter days. Anyhow I got chatting to a fellow, he had an allotment which had been in his family for years. This chap was getting old and was struggling to keep up with the allotment. I offered to help him but instead he signed it over to me.

It wasn’t in a terrible state but needed time and work to bring it back to a plot to grow vegetables in.
The plot measures 5 x 200m. Two thirds is for vegetables, flowers and fruit, the rest is fruit trees, a mini orchard if you like. In the mini orchard I only cut the grass in late September. I have done this over a few years now and this has enabled lovely wild flowers to flourish, such as cowslips, bluebells, even bee orchids.
I also made a little pond last year during lockdown. This pond with the wild flowers, has helped attract insects and more birds, so I kind of got my own ecosystem going.
Having the allotment gave me the confidence to look for jobs outside ,and was lucky enough to work for a countryside management company. I gained a few qualifications with them.

In 2012, I started work at the Welcome Sanger Institute as a gardener, and am still there.
Over 100 acres of wetlands nature reserve, lawns, orchard and gardens to look after. There are 8 gardeners in total, sometimes we work on one job together, sometimes we work on our own.
Whilst I have worked there, I have been able to learn lots about gardening, nature and ecology, and we are encouraged to learn.

It can be a miserable job, sweeping up leaves on a cold wet day, but in the spring when the blossoms appear on the fruit trees. Then in summer, when the flowers are at there best, its a great job to have.
Now people are starting to return to campus after being at home, due to lock down, we are getting comments on how much they have missed the gardens and seeing us gardeners too.
We are on Instagram, pictures uploaded most days find us we are genomegardeners

This Week’s Guest Blogger is Tom Cutter, a Senior Gardener at the National Trust’s Glendurgan Garden.

Fern Your Keep

Some of my favourite plants in a garden are often those overlooked by so many, but ferns play such a vital role in creating the atmosphere that allows you to appreciate a space.

It is often said that green is the most important colour in the garden, and I couldn’t agree more. While it often plays the extra in the show of a garden it makes its importance none the less essential, it embodies the whole atmosphere of the show. Ferns are great for providing this atmosphere with their almost Jurassic foliage, transporting to a time of dinosaurs and jungles. While they may not catch your immediate attention like an individual bloom from a Rose, collectively they make you feel, daydream even, and that could be one of the most important things a garden can do.
Caring for ferns is surprisingly easy provided you choose the right fern for the right spots; they really aren’t needy at all. So, make sure to do your research before buying them; look at your soil, consider your climate, look up – how much light is there?

We are lucky in Cornwall to have the climate that we do as it creates plenty of humidity for moss to form on trees and in turn lends itself to epiphytes. Our native Polypodium vulgare is a natural at forming colonies on the branches of trees but with our milder winters, we can experiment with some more tender ferns. The most successful being Microsorum pustulatum, otherwise known as the Kangaroo Fern, which has these incredible shiny but deeps lobed fronds that look jungle like and unlike anything you would expect to see growing in this country. The Kangaroo Fern does exactly as I said earlier, it makes you feel, you daydream that you’re in a jungle waiting for the dinosaurs to run past; and there is nothing more you could ask of a plant.
I hope I have inspired you to try more ferns out in your gardens, if you are a dreamer, you will never look back.

This Week’s Guest Blogger is Alan Jolliffe JP Vice President at Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture


The Pohutukawa is one of New Zealand’s best known trees. It has been drawn, photographed, admired, talked and written about throughout the years. First Maori and in later years Pakeha have recognised the Pohutukawa as a very important tree.

Flowering at Christmas time each year and covering itself with bright dark crimson flowers, it is no wonder it has been called New Zealand’s Christmas tree. In New Zealand Christmas is in summer.

The flowering of the Pohutukawa has been described by many people as “perhaps the most magnificent plant in the New Zealand flora” and “one of the floral delights when at Christmas its whole broad crown is a solid mass of red flowers”. Anyone who has seen a large tree in full flower must be impressed. If not impressed by the display, one must be impressed by the thousands and thousands of flowers that cover each tree.

If you are a little late seeing the tree in full flower, then you will see another spectacle. Millions of dark red stamen carpeting the ground.

The flowers are not flowers in the traditional sense. It is about 75mm across, comprises three smaller flowers and has no petals. Protruding from a little cup at the base are masses of bright red stamen. It is the brilliantly coloured stamen, each about 25mm long that produce all the colour.

Each little cup brims over with copious amounts of nectar and the birds and bees will come to feast; notably Tuis and Bellbirds. The bees collect the nectar and take it to their hives to provide honey. Rata honey is renowned for its strong flavour.

It is abundant along coastlines, and in coastal forests of Three Kings Island in the North Island. Also found around Lake Taupo and other lakes of the Volcanic Plateau. It ranges in altitude from sea level to 700 metres. The coastal environment is tough and in some exposed rocky places it may be dwarfed by the elements to a tree only lm high.