Opening up the Tinker and Fix garden (virtually) for 'National Gardening Week
In normal circumstances, we’re not ones for making a fuss (or even mentioning) national celebration days or weeks. But in these odd times, when we haven’t had any friends and family over, who I might drag into the garden to see something that’s currently in bloom, we thought we’d ‘open’ the Tinker and Fix garden up for National Gardening Week. Albeit virtually.
Let’s recalibrate your expectations. Just because we know and sell gardening kit, doesn’t mean we’re talented gardeners. We’re not one of ‘those’ stories - you know, when the couple buy a rundown farmhouse and painstakingly create a stunning garden over the years, open it up to an adoring public, write a blog about it accompanied by hazy lifestyle shots, and become local/regional/national gardening experts. We’re so not that.
Our approach to gardening is probably the worst type. A mixture of very little proper gardening knowledge, a terrible memory (so I can name but a few of the plants) and laziness that requires everything that’s in the garden to be entirely self-sufficient. And we don’t know a single Latin plant name.
The only thing we’re really sure of is what we like, aesthetically. If we could, our garden would be a mixture of Bodnant Gardens and The Lost Gardens of Heligan - with their huge expanses of natural planting. With the kitchen garden from Holkeham Hall (not completed, we like it from a couple of years ago- a ramshackle nod to how gardens used to be).
Obviously, our garden is absolutely nothing like these; the only thing they have in common is that we try to fill it to the brim with plants (bare ground is the enemy) and that we try to make it look naturally wild (rather than pristinely planted). Both are bloody tough to get right. We’ve cut borders out and filled them. They inevitably grow too big and we find ourselves moving plants around because they should never have been there in the first place (I refer you back to the part where I mentioned we have no talent).
Our garden was empty when we moved in (it had nothing in it aside from a lawn and, bizarrely, a row of inconveniently placed standard, non-scented roses across it). Given there’s absolutely no point of a rose without a scent (huge bugbear of mine), they all came out. Others have gone in, and no doubt more to follow, thanks to my obsession with David Austin (this garden/shop is absolutely worth a visit).
We can’t describe our planting scheme – other than if it’s green, white, or burgundy it’ll get shoe-horned in. Ferns and Hostas are go-to favourites. We would add Huechra’s to the list but we’ve killed off far too many (either the heavy clay soil or our incompetence) so we don’t buy or plant them anymore. Tree wise, since moving in we’ve planted a Silver Birch (first thing we did before putting up curtains; for no reason other than we both love them), there’s my absolute favourite Cornus (is that even classified as a tree? – probably not) – which we have two of, as well as acers, decorative cherries and a snake bark maple.
We’ll plant more (as we’ve cleared another bed during lockdown) – as the trees have absolutely brought the birds to the garden (that and Edd’s obsession for feeding them every day). And we do like a good buxus ball or hedge – since visiting chateaus in France we were inspired to put them in – yes they do look a bit incongruous with the rest of our relaxed planting style – but we like them so we don’t care!
We’ve a veg patch that took Edd in a digger all day to carve out (battling the soil or just enjoying the machinery?) that should give us the best return this year given the extra time we’ve given it during lockdown. Hopefully same too for my tiny flower cutting bed which features sweet peas (only scented varieties of course), some of the usual suspects for cutting and, importantly, a stack of different grasses (absolute favourite is ‘frosted explosion’ from Sarah Raven -lasts for ages and makes any cut flowers look far more impressive than they actually are).
So that’s it. The pictures are, obviously, from the times of the year that that particular bit of the garden looked good. And after writing this post I realise I take very few pictures of the garden...! But at least you now know, when we say we test the tools in our own garden – exactly where they’ve been tested in – the secateurs tackle the roses, the pruning saws help keep the trees and shrubs in shape, the garden scissors are for cutting flowers, the shears keep the buxus in check, and the hori-hori and garden hoes are constantly in use on the veg patch. And the garden knife is always on hand.