Beverley Drive/Wellington Corner

Our property here has a slight slope on the side if the house bed outside the white fence. Many invasive weeds travel from the top of the slope jumping  from the weedy are just outside the adjacent building laundry room bed. We’ve requested help with this area so many times. That bed by the laundry room is infested. It’s been allowed to just grow randomly. This causes weeds to grow and climb/jump into the bed we are working on today. At least three times  a year we pull all the weeds and lay fresh mulch.  And because of the slope…. we created two rock stop-gaps to help keep the mulch from eroding down this area. The mulch is very important because it does help to keep some weeds at bay.

Our homeowner is slightly frustrated  in trying to persuade our community to provide a permanent solution. We do our best to help keep it looking as good as possible.

I’m sure a few of you have experienced this. We do live in a very woodland area. And frankly this does make our community a very unique and beautiful place to live. But that intersection between the two buildings has needed a “fix” for a long time. Our new GM even came to look at it. But so far no big solution. Priorities. We are patient and hopeful.

We still have Rose of Sharon about ten (10) ft tall to remove inside the fence. We are hopeful to get this  accomplished yet this week. Stay tuned .

it was a mild and comfortable morning for working. We enjoyed thus  accomplished task. Feels good to complete this work

Contessa” says….. it’s all good

Oh “Morning Glory”

My Morning Glory climber was one (1) seed. I had a packet but dropped them and only could retrieve one. It’s climbed my trellis in spit of my snafu.

I  Just kept winding it around the stems on the trellis. So cute and every morning it’s the first thing I look at. To see how many blooms I have. Today it’s about seven (7). Next year I’ll be more careful with these tiny seeds. It’s sweet, cheerful and forgiving. I Love it. This   Morning  Glory makes my day.  Lovely……

UK, The Garden Museum….sharing


New Talk! Darryl Moore: Gardening in a Changing World

Faced with the challenges of the climate crisis and increasing biodiversity loss, we are at a crucial crossroads in our engagement with the rest of the natural world.

In an event to mark the launch of Darryl Moore’s new book Gardening in a Changing World, he will be part of a conversation with Nigel Dunnett and Arit Anderson, discussing our past and present relationships with plants, and how we need to rethink our attitudes to them. This challenging and important conversation will be essential for anyone interested in making plants and gardens part of the solution to the current and future challenges we face, in a rapidly changing world.

Tues 11 October, 7pm
£15 Standard, £10 Friends, £5 Young Fronds / Students
£5 Livestream

Book now

Gravetye Manor: A Week in the Wild Garden

By Caroline Cathcart, Horticultural Trainee

As part of her Horticultural Traineeship at the Garden Museum, Caroline has the opportunity to work with experienced gardeners across the UK. This traineeship has been generously funded by The National Gardens Scheme and the Museum’s Friends Group in Leicestershire and Rutland. Her first placement recently took her to Gravetye Manor in Sussex, the former home of William Robinson:

“The reputation of the place precedes itself, but nothing could have prepared me for the beauty that assaulted my senses when I stepped out of Gravetye Manor into the garden. I found myself flanked on all sides by flowers, spilling out of the mixed borders onto the paths in a voluptuous swell, their vigour unchecked by the lingering drought.Burgeoning with more flowers than I could count, the borders give a stunning impact, but their most precious treasures were not discoverable at first glance. It was only upon close inspection, while I waited nervously to meet Tom Coward, the head gardener, that they offered themselves up to me. First, the dahlias; the most beautiful was Dahlia merckii, a delicate little thing with tiny lilac flowers held on tall, wiry stems. This diminutive species found its opposite in the giant ‘Emory Paul’, with its ruffled deep pink flowers as big as my head. I was lucky to arrive just as it had unfurled to its most perfect bloom – the following day it had begun to wither…”

Keep reading

A Discourse on Spaces

Inspired by our Sowing Roots project which explored the gardening cultures brought to the UK by Londoners of Caribbean heritage, we have invited horticulturist, writer and artist Edward Adonteng to curate this series of talks, A Discourse on Spaces.
What is the importance of space to humanity? How do the spaces that we inhabit define us? What happens to these spaces when different worlds collide?

In London, intersections and cultural exchange place the city in an ever-evolving state of hybridity. No two streets are quite the same. This reflective series, influenced by the contributions of the Sowing Roots exhibition, will explore gentrification, immortality, conflict, heritage, sustainability and the movement amongst peoples through a plethora of stories, conversations and perspectives.

Explore the programme

How to Grow the Flowers: Seed Sowing

Ahead of their book launch on 27 September, organic flower growers Wolves Lane Flower Company share an exclusive extract from How to Grow the Flowers: A sustainable approach to enjoying flowers through the seasons. Here are Marianne and Camila’s seed sowing tips to set yourself up for growing successful cut flowers:

“A brown speck burgeoning into a fully fledged plant in one short season is miraculous, and the rush of success addictive. Once you’ve mastered a few easy varieties and been able to cut armfuls of sweet peas or calendula, it’s easy to be totally seduced by the seed catalogues and order everything like a kid let loose in a sweet shop. Growing from seed is a thrifty way of filling your plot but not if you buy more seeds than you have room for or time to nurture. Be selective and remember, there will be future seasons to try new, alluring varieties…”

Keep reading

Plant of the Week: Viola hederacea

By Matt Collins, Head Gardener

A key feature of the planting within the museum courtyard is the creation of pocket plant communities: three or more species that in partnership form distinct zones within the overall scheme. It’s a rather brilliant ploy by designer Dan Pearson, establishing zoning within such a contained little garden, so that you walk a series of overlapping yet contrasting spaces when circling the central planting. In one area, a loose grouping of poet’s laurel (Danne racemosa), velvety Persicaria virginianaand dark Asarum europaeum; towards the gardener’s shed, canna lily, Geranium ‘White Ness’ and the autumn fern, Dryopteris erythrosora.

Invariably, the underplants (here, asarum and geranium) are abundant and spreading by habit, and are encouraged to drift freely below the taller species, knitting plants together. But of all the courtyard underplants, probably my favourite is the Australian violet, Viola hederacea. It’s the plant I get asked most often to identify (until our giant dahlia flowers in December), and the one I’m frequently, politely, asked to lift a little section of, “just quickly, while nobody’s looking?”. Planted in swathes, to commune with the thornless bramble shrubs (Rubus lineatus), perennial actaea and disporum, and spilling out over the walkways, its near perpetual flowers are a subtle, welcome presence until capped by the cold: tiny scented blooms like purple ink on a sugar cube.
Explore our gardens

Benton Iris ‘Strathmore’

This peachy iris variety bred by Cedric Morris at Benton End was named after The Queen Mother’s home Strathmore.

Images: Dry garden by Olivier Filippi, image (c) Olivier Filippi; Gravetye Manor photo by Caroline Cathcart; Wolves Lane Flower Company seed sowing (c) Aloha Bonser-Shaw; Viola Hederacea (c) Matt Collins, Iris ‘Strathmore (c) Claire Dawson
Garden Museum
5 Lambeth Palace Road, London SE1 7LB

Planting Bulbs…..for Spring Growth

It occurred to us today that we have not mentioned planting bulbs for next spring blooms. They are available now at the nurseries. Frankly, because our winters are more mild than years gone by, we think it’s safe to plant as late as Nov 15. But….. selections dwindle as fall moves along, so we recommend you buy early.

We are going on a buying trip to Merrifield Garden Center  on Oct 4th, so if you need any do let us know now. We are taking orders.  Please give us a cal. We are happy to pick them out for you

Planting:  Dig your holes deep enough and make sure you add some fresh soil to the dig. And be sure to water. We highly recommend you sprinkle the mound with “blood meal.”  It’s a miracle worker that keeps the squirrels from digging them up. It’s lway worth purchasing.

Note:  As you are planting your bulbs, pause and look up to the sky and the heavens. Our Savior God is watching over you, our earth and your bulbs. Think about the promise of new growth. Growth in you…and in the beautiful flowers that will emerge come April/May. It’s a miracle to be sure. And it encourages us to know that the process of “new growth”  and “blessings”  continue to grow in our earth and in us every day. How wonderful and encouraging.

Blessings from “Contessa

Fall Bookings…Available For October

Happy Saturday…….

Today we wanted to give a shout out to everyone that this is an excellent time to book your “fall” Contessa Signature Bed  Clean Up. We are taking bookings now. Please give us a call. We want to make sure you all are on our calendar.  

If you are a current client and someone you know can use our service….. we will appreciate all referrals of business. Thank you. And if you refer a booking to us, we will give you a $25 credit on your next ”Contessa Service.”

Once the weather breaks, leaves will start to fall and we believe we are on the cusp, it starts to happen quickly. The garden centers start rolling things out for fall (Pansies, Mums and especially bulbs) and if you haven’t completed your garden prep work you can miss out on some “first of fall” plants.  Do think about booking NOW. We don’t want anyone to have to wait a couple weeks until we can serve you. Thus us a very busy season for us. We are currently booked through the end of September.

We have two of our ongoing clients completed already and we have them ready for fall planting. Then in November we will visit them again and do a final sweep and mulch all their beds.  Bravo! 

Have a wonderful…..weekend!


Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

Hot, hearty soup on a chilly day. Perfect!

Well today we are making some to freeze in small containers so that when the middle of October arrives, along with a chill in the air, we will be ready

I had on hand three chicken carcass’ in the freezer from roasting chickens during the months of July and August. So I put together a broth from them with some celery, carrots, onions, 3 bay leaves, a bunch of fresh flat leaf Parsley and  ground black paper and sea salt. There was plenty of meat still left on the bones of one of the carcass. I reserved it to chop and add once the soup was cooked. So it made a generous rich broth “soup base.” Usually I purchase dry prepared noodles. The brand is important because they taste wonderful.

Strain the broth and discard all the bones and cooked veggies and toss. Your broth will be clear but rich looking and tasting. Approximately 3 to 4 cups. Bring the strained broth, to a rolling boil. And 3 small diced carrots and cover to cook. Then add two chopped medium sized onions and 4 stalks of chopped and peeled celery. Continue the boil and add the noodles. They will cook in about 20 minutes uncovered. And as the hot broth sits later they will cook some on their own. You do not want to overcook. You want them “al dente.”

Now add your chopped/shredded chicken. Simmer all for about 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. In addition, I purchase a one quart container of extra – high quality low-sodium chicken broth, as once the soup is throughly cooked, it tends to thicken slightly. You can then add the extra broth as needed to assemble a nice serving consistency. Not too thick, but not too thin. Garnish with cooked petite peas and fresh chopped parsley. It’s hot, delicious, pretty and so healthy.

I grew up on this soup ….at least once a week. I guarantee you will make it often.  It’s  simply heart warming and so delicious. The kiddos will just “love it.”


My Saturday Morning Prayer (REVISED) Wed – 9/21 – 8:22 am

Yesterday I spied one little Caladium leaf in the dirt nuzzled up almost inside a Hosta. All by its lonesome. I gently pulled after making a small dig in the dirt. It gave way….root in tact. I took it home and believe me…. you will see I will make a plant out of it. 

REVISED – Wed – 9/21 – 8:22

Ah…ha’  I knew it  My one little Caladium leaf was doing  its own “thing,” growing under the dirt  Here it comes. Once I get two or three leaf sprouts I’ll move it to a planter. It never ceases to amaze me, at what one leaf can do. It’s so thrilling  I’m saving another plant.  COOL


I did this recently with a fern that was down to one (1) frond. It’s now in a planter with six (16) fronds and two new on the way. In October I will plant it in the ground outdoors. It has enough stability now that I think it will make it through the winter and come back in the spring. A small miracle.

I’ve told my gardening clients…. I’ve never killed a plant  The good news is…. nature will inspire you if you will let it rebound and thrive.  Care for it and give it a little bit of time.

So why would I bother with one alive leaf.  It’s my God given talent. HE breathed life into me and gave me this talent. We all have them. So think about your talents and take action that your Lord and Savior God will surely bless you with His Grace.

You and I have gifts to give to Him and to others. Share to make our world better. These are the little things that matter. And most importantly…pause right now, bow your head and give thanks to Him. Jesus….is waiting to hear your thanksgiving.

I wish you all a beautiful Saturday morning


…. my dear Jesus  I call you now. Thank you for my talents. I wish to use my talents in the best way. You alone will guide me and give me new inspiration. May I honor you today as I now serve my patrons in their gardens.  Gardens where more than plants are growing.  I’m planting seeds you have given me.   Your seeds of hope and everlasting joy.  Thank you Father…..AMEN

Contessa” says….it’s all good.

Brick and Paver Patios – Weed Removal TIPS


To … gardening friends who really dislike the process of weed removal. I’ve been using this way of getting the job done for a long time.  I’ve posted this previously but had a request today to make a re-post.

This  is a post you should keep – so you can refresh your memory.  This is a “Contessa tip” worthy of remembering and I cannot tell you how often we help our clients with “weeds.” 

We actually have our own recipe for a very effective and very low cost weed eradicator.

You will need:

(1) Gallon white Vinegar,

(2) Tbsps Dawn Detergent,

1 Cup Table Salt,

A 2 gallon bucket, and a narrow mouthed pouring container.

Mix all the ingredients. Make sure the salt is completely dissolved. Be sure to complete this process on a full Sun day and try to make sure it won’t rain for two days. The hot sun and the treatment together, will kill your weeds, and they will dry out completely. You will be able to just sweep they away with a broom or pull them out very easily. A miracle worker weed killer.

If you will use the baking soda around the edges of you patio  you will be likely “good to go” for the summer and the following year, you might even make it without reapplying the treatment. This method is totally non-toxic, very low cost and very easy to apply.

Stay tuned as we will pass along additional “tips” for your gardens.

It is our joy to be in touch and to share. Encouragement in the garden is so helpful,  and we want you to be informed and encouraged.

”Contessa”  says…’s all good!


Valley Drive….Phase 2….inside the Courtyard (REVISED) Fri – 9/16 – 7:06 pm

We have been working with this client about two months. No work had been completed in five years. We’ve completed a total cleanup of the perimeter of the property, removed tons of plant life that was mostly green and we have created new perennial flowers beds. 

Today we started a total clean up of the inner part of this courtyard. English Boxwoods enclose this courtyard. They were in desperate need of inner trimming. Tons of dead growth. A cleanup today will encourage lots of unew healthy growth. Our goal is to bring them back to box style as they should be. Simple neglect can be fixed. It’s simply about careful trimming, tidying the soil in the beds and watering.
Tomorrow we are back to continue with this project. Our time will be spent finishing the bushes on the left side of the property and then tilling the soil and tidying the right side which is now full of new perennial plantings.  It’s coming along. We are delighted to continue and this client, gives us a free reign to take care of his property. We complete the work, keep track of our hours and bill every ten hours.
One of our newest payment enhancements is using VENMO. Clients seem to love it. Very hassle free.  And for us it totally works.

We trust you will stay tuned to this project as we post additional work progress

Contessa” says…’s all good!

REVISED – Fri – 9/16 – 7:06 pm 

Today we completed Phase 3. The flowers bed.
It has bloomed very nicely all summer. Everything has grown. And today we first used our new “leaf blower” to clean the bed of all debris. Then we hand tilled – on hands and knees all the soil in the bed. Propping up each plant as needed with existing soil and cutting back any dead growth as needed. The newly transplanted Coneflowers in particular needed cutting back. They have seen their best days. And now the new Pink Muhly Grasses show up much better. We then added the quantity of 80 lbs of new rich organic soil in and around every plant in this flower bed. We even put new soil around all the Pencil Boxwoods. Our client has mentioned on a few occasions that he did not see the need.  Well we convinced him that for new things to grow well… it’s very important. Thus us the first client who could not see the need. If I’m to cultivate and care for this Garden….. it is a necessity. First off,  it helps protect the plants for the winter, 2nd it gives the whole bed a fresh and tidy look and third it’s organic material. There is Compost and Maneur and Fertilizer and organic waste in this $11.04 bag of soil. And we spread two bags. $22.08 in total. A very small investment….but he will see the end result. Things will begin to grow like mad, and they will “green…up” (chlorophyll) and this will become very evident. He gave in… in the end. A new gardener who is learning process. We understand.

And so tonight we send you our todays work video until late fall….or if he may decides to plant more things.  He is looking into adding some bulbs.  Purple Delphiniums in particular was one he likes. He will select…I will plant.
And he mentioned that once the summer flowers completely die back that he wants to add some “winter blooming” flowers. We talked about White Camellias, perhaps some Lily of the Valley or some Lenten Roses.

We will wait to hear from him.  He also has a great selection of English Boxwoods, so a few small “ball shaped” Boxwoods might be nice for fill in.  He dies not like to see soil or mulch. Hex wants very full and lush beds. The budget is flexible so we will browse at the nursery the first week in October when we go out with another client. I’m certain we can find some new things to plant.

It’s fun to create a look and it’s also fun forus to do the work. We are pleased to work for this new client….. our first season with him. We’ve both enjoyed the process and we think he’s pretty content with our collaborations. Fun!!


Once again “Contessa” says…’s all good: