Sandilands Gardens

Landscaped gardens for living

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Spring has Sprung

Posted on: February 17th, 2016 by Jon No Comments

IMG_4649Tulips So excited signs of spring everywhere…daffs about to burst into bloom, Cro­cus and cycla­men already here..Cherry blos­som start­ing to erupt!

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!


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..

Planting in the heat of late May..

Posted on: May 25th, 2012 by Jon No Comments

I have a cou­ple of jobs that require plant­ing up, even though we are in the mid­dle of a hot dry spell of weather. I have been using water retain­ing gel in my plant­ing mix­ture under­neath and around the new root ball as they come out of the pot the roots will find a wel­come reser­voir of mois­ture when they most need it.

always always water in thor­oughly and then muclh with a com­post or other soil con­di­tioner to seal in the moisture.

Then water daily until the dry spell abeits.

April perennials…what to plant now

Posted on: April 9th, 2012 by Jon No Comments

With the com­bi­na­tion of fine sun­shine fol­lowed by gen­er­ous amounts of rain­fall over the last week or two, the gar­den is now begin­ning to come alive, what I do notice on my trav­els is the lack of herba­cious peren­ni­als flow­er­ing in many back gar­dens. Bulbs such as the Daf­foldils, Mus­cari, Prim­roses and Blue­belles seem to be promi­nent in most gar­dens right now but I would like you to con­sider adding a few oth­ers to your bor­ders to fill the gap between now and the bed­ding sea­son, which coin­cides with the begin­ning of the dra­matic herba­ceous sea­son June-sept.

Here is a list of my top 10

in no par­tic­u­lar order;

Doron­icum ori­en­tale, Camas­sia Leichtinii, Dicen­tra Spectablilis, Prim­ula Den­dric­u­lata, Mat­teuc­cia struthiopteris (Ostrich Heather fern), Pul­mo­ni­aria Blue Ensign, Prim­ula Veris (Cowslip) and Pul­si­t­illa Vul­garis (Rubra ), Iberis Sem­per­vivens (Peren­nial Can­dytuft) and Aubre­tia (Pur­ple cascade).

They are good to buy and plant now.


So go to it!

Bit of colour needed..

Posted on: February 5th, 2012 by Jon No Comments

I was feel­ing a lit­tle down look­ing out in the gar­den today, still smoth­ered in a blan­ket of wet snow. I wanted to share a pic­ture that makes me feel a lit­tle more like sum­mer than winter..

Black Pergolas, black fence panels.. whatever next! Part 1

Posted on: January 16th, 2012 by Jon No Comments

I have to share what has become a rev­e­la­tion for me this week. After refenc­ing an area in a clients gar­den, and build­ing a rather neat and tidy pre­gola and trel­lis fence, she asked me to paint all the tim­ber in Ron­deals Fencelife paint in Black Oak! A Black Per­gola what­ever next. But I have to say I take it all looks very strik­ing and gives the gar­den a con­tem­po­rary feel. Once it is fully planted the black tim­ber will really act as a spoil to the plants. Par­tic­u­larly the climb­ing roses we want to grow up the Per­gola posts. Matt below loves paint­ing!!         

A new year in the garden..Where to start?

Posted on: January 15th, 2012 by Jon No Comments

Faced with a gar­den in Jan­u­ary and how to approach it, its not sur­pris­ing so many of us sim­ply close the back door and promise our­selves we attempt some­thing in March! But we miss a trick if we don’t use this pre­cious time before the grow­ing sea­son kicks off. More time spent now on gar­den house­keep­ing, the less time will be wasted on it later on, when you can do the fun stuff!
First up…cut down and remove every plant you don’t like and be rid of it. There are always some that seem to sur­vive year to year and yet have no func­tion or plea­sure to them. This makes space for your new plants which will keep the gar­den evolv­ing. read more tomorrow..Jon

Happy New Year!

Posted on: January 1st, 2012 by Jon No Comments

Best wishes to all our blog fol­low­ers and clients for a bloom­ing mar­velous 2012!

Jonathan, Tina and team..

Making the best of time off at Christmas!

Posted on: December 27th, 2011 by Jon 1 Comment

I am sit­ting con­tem­plat­ing a few hours in my own gar­den today. Decem­ber 27th and a week before the Team is back to work, the Sun is out and a few Christ­mas pounds to shift! My project today is to clean the green­house out. I don’t try and keep it warm through heat­ing, but with the door closed, Peren­ni­als, pan­sies, cycla­men and vio­las can develop so much quicker in the rel­a­tive pro­tec­tion of a cool glass house.
The Chillis have finally given up the ghosts so it’s time for a thor­ough clear out. I might also sow some sweet peas, to steal an early march on the grow­ing sea­son.
I have to say, I always get excited when we get passed the longest day…