Sabbath Restoration and Renewal

My Heavenly Father, my great and loving Lord Jesus, I come before you now having rested and thought and prayed today with you.  I do needed to be with and near to you.  Thank you my living God.

It is your Sabbath day, and I have spent time with you in silence and contemplative thought.  Please create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew your everlasting spirit within my soul. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. I ask that you please restore me. I ask you for the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing heart and spirit to accept and cherish your wonderful gifts. 

Isaiah 40:31

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Jesus is our hope. When we hope and have faith in Him, He renews our strength, our spirit and our hearts joy. Jesus,  I thank you for this quiet, peaceful and very calm day  I needed time with you today, and I am so grateful to be able to call out to you every moment knowing that you are right there and you hear me every moment of my life. 

…..and I now pray

My Father….

Who art in heaven  

hallowed be thy name,

thy kingdom come

Thy will be done, 

on earth, as it is in heaven. 

Give us this day,  our daily bread

And forgive us our trespasses 

As we forgive those who trespass against us, 

and lead us not into temptation

but deliver us from evil, 

for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, 

forever and ever, 

• Amen •

Tips – Seed Inventory

Seed Inventory at the end of the growing season is a super activity for a rainy or on a chilly day in the fall. If you’ve saved the seed packets from this year after planting, and you should, now is the time to plan for next years spring growing season. 

Your last years packets are a way for you to find the same seeds again next year. The nurseries start stocking seeds pretty early in the year because you can actually sow seeds indoors about six to eight weeks before planting. If you are at the nursery for fall shopping, check in with the owners or Managers of your favorite garden center for an ETA of their next spring arrivals. Everybody does this, so don’t think it strange that you are asking in Oct or November. Staff are used to these anticipatory questions. The reason is that in many smaller garden centers, early seed arrivals can come and in a couple weeks time they are all SOLD OUT. Of course they will restock in time for actually planting seeds outdoors, but if you are one of those gardeners who loves to “sow” indoors you will want to know when their first arrivals will be available, so it’s not at all a strange question. 

Now is a great time to make a list of what you will want for next spring, and seed packets are available online and by mail order catalog. Three of the largest seed companies are:

 Ferry Morse, Burpee and Botanical interests

You can use many homegrown ideas for containers for your seed sowing projects, but we have found a small and affordable one from Amazon.

We have given thought about conducting a “seed sowing clinic” next spring. Do let us know if this is something you would be interested in doing. Gardeners love to gather and share, and we all have “tips and trick’s” that we have gleaned over the years for successful seed planting. Sharing is part of the fun. 

Do stay tuned for additional posts on this blog about  “selection and seed sowing.”

Contessa” says ….. it’s all good!


NOTE:  Believe it…. This year we dropped a whole seed packet on a grate and they all fell through…..but ONE.  So we planted it anyway.  All by its lonesome. This is a photo from this week. That one (1) seed produced a vine. And on Wed this week we counted eight blooms climbing in our trellis.  Amazing that one seed the size of a mustard seed produced these lovely little Morning Glory flowers.

WOW ….nature is so amazing. 


An Evening of Gardens and Architecture

Journalist Evan Davis will chair this event which explores the relationship between architects and landscape designers. How does an architect meet the right garden designer? Can a landscape architect influence the city of the future? Is there ever such a thing as a truly landscape-led project in the modern world?

We’ll be exploring what each profession can give the other in a set of four short presentations celebrating successful partnerships, and then Evan will explore how to get the chemistry right in a partnership, and what architects and landscape designers can learn from each other.

Presentations will be given by:

  • Cooke Fawcett Architects and garden designer Dan Bristow
  • Landscape designer Kim Wilkie and architect Ben Pentreath on their collaboration on a new sustainable “landscape-led” town in Faversham
  • Landscape Architect Jo Gibbons of J & L Gibbons
  • Garden designer Charlotte Harris of Harris Bugg

Tues 4 October, 7pm
£15 Standard, £10 Friends, £5 Young Fronds / Students
£5 Livestream

Book now

A London house and garden by Cooke Fawcett Architects and Dan Bristow

Speaking at our upcoming talk on gardens and architecture, collaborators Cooke Fawcett Architects and garden designer Dan Bristow will present their transformation of a Victorian terraced house in Tufnell Park (pictured above).

At the heart of the project a new double height space is oriented to the garden. Tall rear windows framing a dramatic portrait view of lush greenery, terracing, and trees, inviting the garden into the house and making a strong visual connection through the building.

Planting close to the façade of the building creates animation of light, shadow, and texture, making the garden feel like a true extension of the living space. Deciduous creepers take on an important environmental role providing shading to an outdoor seating area and to the west facing glazing.

Book now

Squash & Pumpkin Festival

Celebrate squash and pumpkin season this autumn with the Garden Museum Learning team in collaboration with Incredible Edible Lambeth, Border Crossings and Rootz into Food Growing.

There will be opportunities to watch cooking demos, tasting, seed sowing, a film screening and discussion. And take part in a pumpkin competition to win prizes!

Sat 15 October, 1pm – 4pm
Free entry, pre-booking required

Book now

New Talk! Lucian Freud’s Plant Portraits

What is a plant portrait? How does it differ from a picture of a plant?

About Two Plants (above), Freud said: “They are lots of little portraits of leaves, lots and lots of them, starting with them rather robust in the middle—greeny-blue and cream—and getting more yellow and broken”.

Drawing from the research for his book Lucian Freud Herbarium (2019, Prestel) and inspired by the exhibition Lucian Freud: Plant Portraits which he guest curated, in this talk Giovanni Aloi will explore Freud’s ability to tease out the individual character of the plants he painted.

Tues 18 October, 7pm
20 Standard, £15 Friends, £10 Students / Young Fronds
£10 Livestream

Book now

Join our Garden Visits Committee

Our Garden Visits Committee is seeking two new members – could it be you?

The Garden Visits Committee is a group of energetic and passionate volunteers who organise the popular and successful series of garden visits which have been part of the Garden Museum’s events programme since 2011. Recent garden visits have been to the homes of designers such as Dan Pearson and Tom Stuart-Smith, and some of the finest country houses and gardens in the UK.

Being a committee member is a fantastic way to support the Museum and contribute to fundraising to ensure its future. It is an excellent opportunity to develop a network of contacts within garden design and horticulture as well as meeting the owners and makers of some very interesting and beautiful gardens.

Find out more

Plant of the Week: Atlas poppy (Papaver rupifragumvar. atlanticum)

By Matt Collins, Head Gardener

A ‘rare colour’ — a ‘soft orange’, is how Beth Chatto described this brilliant southern poppy, which could have been ‘plant of the week’ many times over throughout spring and late summer. Back in May it flourished among the pink cranesbills and campanula (as in the below image); now in the approach of autumn its luminous orange brings warmth to the cooling days. This semi-double, sometimes single flowering perennial came to us a couple of years ago from London garden designer Jane Brockbank, who gifted an envelope of collected seed suggesting it might do well at the museum. Quite right: it has thrived.

Thomas Rutter, then our horticultural trainee, had great success in raising a large number in 9cm pots; once brimming with glaucous green, hairy leaves, these found homes in and around the dry garden, forming robust clumps that have since withstood a summer of heatwaves and meagre rainfall with next to no sign of stress. Found wild in the harsh climate of southern Spain and Morocco, it is a plant that can prosper from the smallest crack in a wall or paving stone gap.

I am a big fan of orange plants, all the better those feral spirited species like Pilosella aurantiaca (‘fox and cubs’), California poppy and Chinese globeflower (Trollius chinensis). It is a colour far too often dismissed, but one that, as an accent, ‘pops’ like no other, particularly when placed among silver leaf Mediterranean subshrubs like lavender, artemisia, teucrium. Permitted to self seed within this structural evergreen context, Papaver rupifragum var. atlanticum (‘atlanticum’ relating to its homeland range in the Atlas Mountains of North Africa) offers a fantastic ephemeral layer, repeat-flowering in three or four stints across the growing season — even more if diligently deadheaded. Its tissue paper petals are lifted surprisingly high on slender architectural stems, the many resulting seed heads easily gathered and resown, or siphoned into an envelope to be shared once again.
Explore our gardens

Object of the Week: ‘Rare Plants at the International Horticultural Exhibition, South Kensington’

This press clipping from Illustrated London News dated 9 June 1866 depicts a group of “rare plants” (the likes of which you might see at our upcoming Houseplant Festival!) which were displayed at the International Horticultural Exhibition that year, including: Anthurium magnificum, Cycas revoluta, Pandanus Veitchii, Phormium Tenax, Lilium auratum, Saracenia flava picta and Lily of the Valley.

Book Houseplant Festival tickets
Images: Victorian terrace in Tufnell Park images courtesy of Cooke Fawcett Architects; J & L Gibbons with Carmody Gorake © Sarah Blee, J & L Gibbons, High Weald rewilding; Two Plants, 1977-80 (oil on canvas) Freud, Lucian, Tate Modern © The Lucian Freud Archive, All Rights Reserved 2022 / Bridgeman Images; Garden Visit at Helmingham Hall © Beckie Egan Photography; Atlas poppy © Matt Collins
Garden Museum
5 Lambeth Palace Road, London SE1 7LB

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Pruning….your window of opportunity

Pruning all bushes between now , and by the end of the first week in October, is your window of opportunity. We have been trimming bushes the whole month of September.

When you prune, you are giving a signal to the bush….that it has permission now to grow new branches and leaves, and in the case of Rose bushes, they usually give you a full robust blooming phase in October and even into November and December.  If there is no early frost, Roses can bloom even into December. It’s kind of a last “hurrah” before winter arrives. Pruning “now” gives all your bushes the whole month of October to show you their stuff. Growing can be strong during October. And this new growth will be nourishment for your bushes to protect them from the real chill of winter.

Sooo…, get busy in the next couple weeks to prune and trim your bushes. They are waiting for you to relieve them of their older growth, left by summers heat.

Contessa says…. You have our permission to prune and if you feel afraid, just get in contact with us and we’ll do the job for you. We are most Happy to help. You will be thrilled with the results. We are certain.

Below are Rose Stem cuts. 

And in the case of all other bushes, cut back at least six (6) inches, and make the “diagonal”’ cut right before the next branch with leaves intact

“Contessa” says…., it’s all good!

Lily of the Valley

The Lily of the Valley  flower is one of the most fragrant blooms you will find, but its value goes far beyond the tip of your nose!

In fact, this elegant bloom is frequently associated with traditional feminine values like chastity, motherhood, sweetness, and purity. These meanings aren’t anything new – in fact, this flower has quite the storied past. Another benefit, valley flowers grow really easily. 

Lily of the valley flowers are thought to bring luck in love but can also symbolize…… a return of happiness.

Christian traditions maintain that the flower is a symbol of humility and of the second coming of Christ. It is mentioned more than a dozen times in the Bible.

We find this tiny blossom to be so delicate and yet it blooms in the very early spring when temperatures are not conducive to the blooms of other flowers. In reality they are very hardy and pretty resilient to early spring chilly weather. The contrast of their dark curly pointed green leaves with the amazing white blooms is so breathtaking. We adore this lovely perennial flower. Once planted they will grow for years  and years…..just like love grows for years and years.



Creating a “Wake”

September 23

Matthew 5:1

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” 

On a flight along the Gulf Coast, I looked out the window and saw something amazing. Even if I couldn’t see the boats on the gulf, I could tell their size by the wake I saw behind them. Small boat, small wake. Big tanker, wide and long wake.

Did you know that in 2019, according to the Pew Research Center, more than 2.5 billion people in the world professed to be Christians. It is staggering to think about the wake of Christianity. Since the birth of Christ, the influence, the power, the impact He has made upon the lives of countless men and women, boys and girls. Christianity is defined by what God did in history – Who Jesus is, and what Jesus did. And the whole Bible is the story of God at work in the lives of men and women, equipping them so they will leave a “wake” that testifies to their commitment to Him.


Dear Father God…may we all create a “”wake” and make a difference. Certainly with you in our lives we have a chance. With you alone in our hearts and our spirits we can make a difference. I pray that the little things I may do as a witness to others would be blessed by your heavenly lord light in me.  My dearest Lord, I ask that you help me to let my light so truly shine.  Amen.


Garden Bed Revamp on Wellington (REVISION #2) Tues – 9/27- 6:02 pm


It may not look like it needs work. But we are transforming a bed, to bare bones, for planting an assortment of new flowering perennials. Our homeowner has asked us to make the selections. Along with all her flowering planters it’s going to look fresher and very much like a true flowers garden. Minus all the Creeping Ivy and Vinca Vines. And we are resetting all the brick borders and laying newspaper on the bank, covering it with topsoil to prevent more weed from returning. And we will mulch well.

And the bed with the large bark chips we are taking them out, because she wants to make it a Pansy bed. So we need some new garden soil and an assortment of Pansies and finally a topper of fresh shredded hardwood bark mulch. This  bed is a tribute to her Mom who loved Pansies.and directly behind them us the yellow rose bush we planted during the summer, also for her Mom

And we are also going to help reset newly purchased stair and border lighting upon completion.

It’s probably about a 6 to 8 hour project. We’ll see. Stay tuned for a final completion video.

Todays we took a photo collection of areas needing our magic. 

(REVISED) – Fri – 9/23 – 6:15 pm

Today we finished clearing the bed of Ivy and Vinca vines. We dug up the three spider grasses. We transplanted the largest to the other bed where there were five in a row. We had a gap at the end of the row, so we planted it there to fill this gap. The other two were pretty straggly so we tossed.

Early in the summer we dug up four Day Lily’s and have transplanted them in a row….as the new bed border between our bed and the back side of the property.

We have leveled the bed, started creating a deep outer  edge along the side, and next we will reset a few of the uneven bricks on the side near the gravel/stone slab path. We have gone to the nursery and purchased 7 bags of top soil to amend the beds as they are mostly VA clay. Not great for planting. And we will add some organic gardening soil as well. We also purchased eight (8) bags of mulch with the assistance of  our student helper. And while there….we both took all the large chip mulch out of the sloped bed. It’s rough, too large and hard to plant in, so it was best to dispose of it. Now, we can plant the Pansy bed that our homeowner so wants.

The wind at 25 mph today with a shady yard was a bit of a challenge. All in all it was a super beautiful day. And we feel like when we return next Tuesday we will be able to accomplish quite a lot.

So far, we have six (6) hours in this project. It’s still a work in progress, but it’s definitely coming along.

Contessa”’ says…..,it’s all good.

(REVISION #2) – Tues – 9/27 – 6:02 pm 

The following photos and Video are part of todays Revision  #2. We cut bank the Vinca Vine up at the top of the sloped bed. We then placed thick newspaper down on the slope and covered them with seven (7) bags of Top Soil. We then added four (4) bags of Bumper Crop Garden Soil to the lower bed where the Pansies are going to be planted. We purchase ten (10) – one (1) quart containers of Pansies, our clients Mom’s favorite. And we arranged new Perennial plants in the large “cleared” bed awaiting our clients approval. We made the pick and she loves what we selected.  She has asked us to purchase two more of the Shasta Daisy plants.

Thursday we will plant all the new plants and finally we have purchased six (6), three (3) cu ft bags of hardwood shredded bark mulch and will lay it all to complete the look.

The new  perennial plants are:

1 – Echinacea Wicked (burgundy)

1 – Guara, Rose Jane

1 – Laucenthemium,  White Lion

1 – Perovskila, Denim n Lace

in addition our client has four planters that we made for her mid-summer. We will plant the White Mum in the new bed. The other plants are annuals and our first frost will take them, but they have done well and her urge to have flowers this summer was fulfilled.  So nice switching to perennials to give her plants that last and plants that will show themselves again next spring. It’s fun and she can even add a couple more things in the spring.  We think there will be room.


Please do stay tuned for our final completion video.

TIPS…..lets’s share ideas….


Hello Gardening Friends:

I have offered this helpful post twice prior, but this is a project hat you can do indoors. Tomorrow is going to be gorgeous but cool. This project is a good indoor activity for a chilly fall day.

BTW……Starting today…..I will begin posting some helpful reminders of projects I work on and perhaps they will inspire you to do the same,  After all…. a gardener is perpetually thinking about the next season so keep your mind focused and satisfy your own indoor boredom with your gardening project ideas. Time savers, and cost saving measures. It can’t hurt and it gives you a head start on things you want to accomplish for your new gardening season – 2023. Believe it or not it will come faster than you think.  Such a happy thought……

Check in with me a couple days a week going forward, as I will post my ideas/tips  for gardening. Feel free to call or txt me if you have ideas you’d like to share. And with your permission, I can post them here. I often get in conversations with my gardening folk and comparing notes is so fun. Love to hear from you.  Txt 703-548-1882.
Thank You!



What You’ll Need

Begin with  a simple terra cotta pot. The aluminum one I used is about 14 inches in diameter.

Paint it a pretty color if you’re feeling fancy.

Next, working in a large bowl or bucket, mix together enough sand to fill your pot with some mineral oil. You want to use enough oil so that your sand is fairly evenly coated. It should stick together but still have a “crumbly-ish” texture. Place your favourite hand tools down into the sand when you’re done with them.  Each time  they’ll get a little sharper (kind of like when you use sand paper to sharpen kitchen scissors) and they’ll be coated in just enough oil to keep them rust free! It’s truly magic.  Enjoy!

Beverley Drive….Early Fall Cleanup

Contessa’s completes fall clean up for every one of our clients. But this year, we are offering early fall cleanup. It’s just necessary because we have had such a dry summer and a slightly early fall. Leaves and debris, branches and limbs are falling from the trees and our lawns are bone dry. We rake your whole yard removing the spent grass that’s been laying there after the lawnmowers have come round. Frankly that dead grass just mats down your grass growth. Raking it brings new life to your grass and if it’s watered during our early fall, in just a few days it green’s up. It’s so exciting to see.

Today we worked 2.5 hours at this property tending the beds and the grass. We are about half way to completion. And we worked one hour on the patio cleaning up all the leaves. Two tress, one in the front and one in the back are so prolific. They are huge and dropping a ton of leaves this year because of our drought. They are
Pin Oaks.

This property is an end unit and has come a long way. We’ve transformed the beds and planted all new bushes. It’s been a work in progress but it’s looking better and better each year.

We are pleased to be this clients gardener. It’s great work,  a very congenial relationship and we think our client is very happy. We are here to help. Our pleasure. Please stay tuned for a final completion video.

“Contessa” says…it’s all good.