Weeding with wine

Andrew may be a taskmaster at work, but he's a bit more laid back at home

I have a confession to make: I leave my weeds on the flower beds after pulling them up; I let the grass grow until it's so long that the mower struggles and I often leave my tools out.

Of course I would never dream of doing this at RHS Garden Hyde Hall – and my team knows I wouldn't let them get away with it. But when I’m at home it’s a very different matter.

gazebo on Clover HillThere is the assumption that professional horticulturists must have amazing gardens or, with a nod towards a busman’s holiday, want nothing more to do with the outside once they get home. In actuality you get those extremes as well as everything in between.

Private pottering

For me, my garden is a place to potter without worrying about targets or visitor feedback. I can weed with a glass of wine in hand and don’t have to finish jobs. At the RHS we keep meticulous records of all the plants in the garden. We know when we received a plant, from whom and where in the garden it lives. At home though I have plants whose cultivars I’ve forgotten and any records I once had are on long-lost scraps of paper.

Andrew at homeMy garden isn’t large and when I started it 10 years ago I had grand intentions of a restrained palette of plants that provided a full year of interest, but rescued plants and gifts have made their way in. But what I really love is that unlike Hyde Hall with its heavy clay soil that's sopping wet in winter, at home I have a lovely, silty loam. It's nice to dig, drains well in winter and the weeds are easily shaken free of soil.

There is a moment though that occasionally arrives where I feel the need to treat my garden with professional rigour. It's when I'm called on to open my gate for our village open gardens. Fortunately it won’t be happening until next summer – so I still have time to collect up the weeds.


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