Sandilands Gardens

Landscaped gardens for living

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Archive for February, 2015

Meditation and gardening — my thoughts this new year

Posted on: February 24th, 2015 by Jon No Comments

As one of my New Year chal­lenges, I have enrolled in a short taster course at Birm­ing­ham Bud­dhist Cen­tre (Park Road, Mose­ley) to learn about med­i­ta­tion.  I have learned about the con­cept of ‘mind­ful­ness’ which is some­what of a ‘buzz word’ in sec­u­lar self-development as well as a core ele­ment in Bud­dhist teach­ings.  Essen­tially it is being more con­scious and ‘present’ to all your daily activ­i­ties how­ever sim­ple or menial. The ben­e­fits to men­tal health and well­be­ing of such behav­iour are well doc­u­mented now.

Gar­den­ing, like almost all daily activ­i­ties, can be approached in a ‘mind­ful’ way and yet so many of us tend to par­tic­i­pate with our eyes shut. For instance, It struck me that as a gar­den­ing pro­fes­sional, I can tend to get on to site and imme­di­ately focus on indi­vid­ual tasks, blink­ered to the big pic­ture, dri­ven by the goal of get­ting the job done to keep my client happy, and in a most cost effec­tive way. The trou­ble is that the very nature of focus can block out the periph­eral vision. Becom­ing aware and con­scious when in our gar­den is a joy. It con­nects us more directly to the earth we aim to inter­act with in an almost primeval way. Our gar­dens are a vibrant liv­ing envi­ron­ment, we step out there and become part of that envi­ron­ment, but we are guests. When we leave there the gar­den con­tin­ues to morph, to grow and to ‘be’. I do under­stand the argu­ment that time is money and being mind­ful doesn’t get the task done any quicker, but here lies the crux of the dis­cus­sion. Are our tasks in the gar­den, or when we walk the dog, go shop­ping,  put out our shiny new wheelie bins on rub­bish day,  are they indeed chores or a human expe­ri­ence to enjoy in what­ever way we can and then become a poten­tial source for plea­sure? It is all in the mind isn’t it? It is all down to per­cep­tion right?  Being mind­ful can be a plea­sure; it opens our hearts to a wider and more vis­ceral human expe­ri­ence. Kids have a nat­ural instinct to be mind­ful, some­thing we can grow out of as adults as the pres­sure of life bears down on us. Try to revert back to the enthu­si­as­tic child, open your ears and eyes because it’s good for the soul. Stop for moment to watch and engage Mr Robin as he hops around the recently turned soil some­times as close as a spade away or turn­ing a rock­ery stone to see hiber­nat­ing frogs and woodlice. When you find those lit­tle red bran­dling worms in you com­post, they relent­lessly turn leaves and clip­pings into usable gar­den com­post for us. That com­post that is feels soft and sen­sual and smells good enough to eat.  Rak­ing the leaves away to dis­cover a small clump of Snow­drops days from flow­er­ing, or notic­ing the roses you cut down in autumn have devel­oped juicy plump buds wait­ing to burst forth in May and June.

Gar­den­ing is a med­i­ta­tion in itself, any­thing that one enjoys as a process that can take your mind away from day to day wor­ries and strains. Under­taken ‘mind­fully’, it can awaken the senses to the world around you. So next time you are out in the gar­den cut­ting the lawn, weed­ing or plant­ing up your bor­ders do start to look and lis­ten more. Look up at trees, look and mar­vel at these giant organ­isms that in some cases have been grow­ing 100 years or more, lis­ten to bird in song.

In short, wake up and smell the freshly mown grass, it smells good!


Glamour Gladioli for summer 2015

Posted on: February 24th, 2015 by Jon No Comments
Glamour Gladioli

Glam­our Gladioli

I want to turn read­ers atten­tion to plant­ing some real glam­our into their gar­dens this sum­mer in the form of ‘Glam­our­glads’ a rel­a­tively new range of Glad­i­oli. March has always been the tra­di­tional time to start plant­ing glad­i­oli corms and set­ting them in their flow­er­ing posi­tions is best done sequen­tially through April too to pro­vide a long sea­son of inter­est. In the past I have planted the corms all at one time result­ing in two to three weeks of fab­u­lous colour but you can get colour from the end of June through to Sep­tem­ber if they are planted a week apart dur­ing the spring and early sum­mer.
They haven’t quite become ‘de regueur’ in British gar­dens quite yet, but it won’t be long. In my opin­ion Glad­i­oli are very much the ‘Tulip of the sum­mer’. They are cheap to buy and avail­able in a wide vari­ety of colours and sizes. Tra­di­tion­ally gar­den­ers would lift dry and store the corms in win­ter but even through the recent cold win­ters of 20112/13 I have been leav­ing clumps out in the ground over win­ter. It seems and as long as they have been planted at a good depth and deeply mulched in win­ter they have flow­ered reli­ably each sum­mer since. Cer­tainly this seems true where gar­dens are lucky enough to have good drainage and lighter soil. Apart from a few pock­ets of clay this is true for most of us in Mose­ley.
The corms them­selves are on sale in nurs­eries now although for the best choice of colours espe­cially the new Glam­our Glads go to online sup­pli­ers such as These new Glam­ourous Glad­i­oli are smaller than tra­di­tional hybrids and are less likely to fall over. The vari­ety of colours avail­able is even more exten­sive and can sat­isfy the most sub­tle or gar­ish of tastes. If you are unsure where to plant them I set sev­eral batches in pots to grow on and then plant in the bed spaces that nat­u­rally appear after the first flush of sum­mer flow­er­ing plants comes and goes.
Plant in groups of 3 or 5 rather than in ran­dom sin­gu­lar­i­ties. Plant them deep in the soil 10 –15 cm at least, which seems to stop the heavy flower spike falling over and amongst other herba­ceous plants and shrubs The mem­ory of sin­gle or lines of tall Gal­dioli, usu­ally in mixed and highly uncom­pli­men­tary colour com­bi­na­tions fight­ing against the bam­boo canes used by des­per­ate gar­den­ers to prop them up still hor­ri­fies me. These eas­ily grown and stun­ning bulbs are a gift to us gar­den­ers that often strug­gle to pro­vide flow­ers all the way through the sum­mer.
A smaller selec­tion is avail­able at Not­cutts in Soli­hull, Bournville Gar­den Cen­tre and Webbs of Wychbold.

Back online. Jon’s blogs in tim for spring!

Posted on: February 23rd, 2015 by Jon 1 Comment

After some help from my good friend Kyra Epstein I am back online with access to my blog so keep and eye..there is more to come..spring is only just around the corner..