Tuesday, 7 February 2012


I can't bear to have wet knees. For that matter I hate to be wet and cold at this time of year, but that is a story of trial and error which led me to the conclusion, German and Swedish army waterproofs are the best in the world for the price. However, we are talking of knees and more importantly knee pads. It may seem an odd idea, but upon arrival at any garden between October and April, I put on a pair of knee pads and will wear them throughout the day. This saves me an uncomfortable day and protects the joints to boot. So, I could not wait to trial the Town & Country knee pads and excellent they are!

At this time of year I find I will be constantly on my knees in the garden, tidying borders, digging out old plants (to be moved elsewhere) or just simply doing that kind of maintenance in the garden that I could not do at any other time and there are of course those moments where you see something that needs to be done and requires instant attention.

As my grandfather used to say in his broad Devon drawl, “In the garden there are twelve months of hard work. Four of those you can do constructive work. T'other eight months you are playing catch up me boy.”

As is usual for me at this time of year, I am busy in all my gardens reconstructing borders, rockeries and even woodland gardens for my clients. I am lucky that I work in some of the countries most spectacular privately owned forgotten historical gardens which, over the years have been left abandoned or neglected. A job I can honestly say, fills me with such joyous pleasure, words alone cannot explain. Overall the gardens seem to the owners a huge mess, leaving them with the problem of where to start first. My four tips for any of you undertaking such a task?

  1. Stand back and allow the garden to tell you what it needs. My training at art college allowed me to learn how a painting should read and the same goes with a garden - shapes, content and movement are first. Colour and texture always is the secondary consideration.
  2. Take things in small chunks, allowing yourself to rediscover the original architects dream in your own time.
  3. Start from the house and work outwards in the same manner as a ripple on a pond. If however, you wish a different focal point, then start from there.
  4. Always consider what is outside the garden. Is there a view which was incorporated or is it to be omitted now?
In my business, a garden is a sculpture with an exceptional advantage- it can be changed at the will of its owner.

-- Guy Deakins

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