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Design and maintenance of a a pub garden and another customer's ga...


I used to drink at this pub and one day got talking to the landlady who was keen to take on a gardener. I accepted the job( 1.5 hours per week) and I immediately suggested that I add to the one small existing border to make the garden more attractive.

I was given a free hand ( but a very small budget!) so I used mainly perennial plants I grow on my plant nursery. The garden is quite large (roughly 140 feet by 120 feet). The soil is tough clay and it was the hardest job of my week to keep the soil cultivated and weed free.

After 3 years or so the landlady sold up to a major chain and my services were dispensed with ( They got the new tenants to do the work.. I knew them and they were not happy!

Although I was sorry to lose the job I replaced the job with two better paid and easier gardens within a week so things worked out fine.

The original landlady was pleased with my work at the pub and asked me to take on the maintenance of her home garden ..see below

This is now one of my favourite gardens to work in. It is to one side of a large Victorian property situated on a busy road. However once in the garden ,because the garden is screened by a hedge,trees and a fence it is surprisingly quiet and tranquil.

I spend 90 minutes a week here amd one of the biggest jobs is pruning the many mature trees and shrubs. Most weeks I spend 20 minutes cutting the grass and trimming the edges, 30 minutes hoeing and the rest of the time is spent pruning the many bushes and keeping the many perennials dead headed and in the spring or autumn dividing over sized clumps. The gravel paths also require weekly weeding and raking.

There is also a 40 foot long 6 foot high privet hedge at the front of the garden which requires trimming every few weeks. In autumn I remove 4 dustbin loads of leaves every week for about 5 weeks mainly from an emormous magnolia tree which you can see with a few white flowers on the rhs of the last photo..

The basics of this garden were there but it was completely overun with ground elder and over the first 3 months or so I gradually eliminated it with a combination of roundup and weekly hoeing.

The owner gives me a free hand with this garden and is rarely at home when I visit so I’ve gradually added new perennials and other plants to give the garden colour almost all year around. I love gardens where I can do my own thing as it’s like working on my own garden but I only see it once a week so it feels much fresher and I notice the subtle changes each week more than I can on my own garden which I see every day.

I particularly love this part of the garden with plants climbing above the french doors

Another shot of the same garden

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You should be very proud of all the work done on both these gardens. I do admire your abilities and can tell how much the work means to you. They are a pleasure to behold!

16 Sep, 2010


Another gem AM....the gardens are lovely and it's plain to see how passionate you are in a garden. Lucky folk who have you to maintain or even plan their gardens.

17 Sep, 2010


What a beautiful garden, what a clever gardener, what fabulous gardens you have to keep you busy. I love oldie worldie properties and the gardens that go with them, we are right next to a busy dual carriageway and seem never to notice the noise it can create when out in the garden, except for the louts who deem it necessary to play their stereos with the base turned up so loud your head vibrates oh and the motorbikes when it is biker night (Wednesdays) bless em all they have no idea what peace and quite can do for you. Maybe they will one day. Just love the gardens you have created and work on you must be a treasure, just wished you were near me I could use your invaluable assistance.

17 Sep, 2010


Thanks so much for your lovely comments
Olive :^)

17 Sep, 2010


I like the patio door picture as well AM...what are the climbers that are growing on the walls?

17 Sep, 2010


The bush at the bottom left is a chaenomales ,above that is a clematis... I can't remember its name and the pink flowering plant is a hawthorn overhanging . There is a honeysuckle out of shot on the opposite side to the clematis .

17 Sep, 2010


It's a lovely garden. You have a wonderful job. It's worth a lot to have a job you like. I hated mine and was glad to leave, but you can use your talent in your work and that makes it worth doing.

18 Sep, 2010


Mine is the best job in the world when the weather is nice but in wet weather when I have to work with the rain dripping down my neck I'm like a bear with a sore head!

18 Sep, 2010


Yes anchorman - I can understand that my hubby is a groundman - sportsfield - he has the same problem, but tends to say that's enough for one day which when you are self-employed you don't seem to be able to do. He usually takes his holidays during the bad weather and goes off working his dogs etc. He doesn't seem to mind how much it rains then!!! lol

18 Sep, 2010


Yes,my problem is that from Spring to summer I have a very tight schedule to keep and if there's bad weather I either lose money,work through it or have to catch up later. As I'm doing 35 gardens a week there's not much catch up time available and I'm usually tired enough after a normal days work without having to catch up with customers I missed due to bad weather the previous day.

I love my job most of the time but I would like less of it . 35 gardens a week is alot and I also have my plant nursery to look after! I'm not getting any younger and each year it gets harder to do the work .

When I'm 60 in 6 years time I'll get a small pension from a previous job and this will allow me to cut down a bit. This will be excellent because it will leave a a few more gaps in my schedule so it will be easier to fit in work lost due to bad weather.

Body permitting I don't intend ever to give up work as I turned a hobby into a business so why would I want to stop?.

There is a big difference though between enjoying gardening when you're in the mood and having to do it 8-9 hours per day whatever the weather!

Many people do look at my job with rose tinted spectacles but I rather suspect the moment it starts to rain they stop work. I can't do that.That's a big difference.

18 Sep, 2010


Well you wouldn't have liked my job in any weather lol

18 Sep, 2010


Do tell !

18 Sep, 2010


I was a social worker.
To name a few things - I got trapped by an ex-convict in a 10th floor flat. He had been in jail for GBH.
I got chased by a man with an axe, and a mangy dog with one eye, I got all sorts of abuse, and spent countless hours in filthy smelly houses where you were afraid to sit down and your feet stuck to the sticky dirty carpet. I had walking sticks, cups of coffee etc thrown at me, I had a woman answer the door in her nickers and bra and wouldn't go back in the house lol - And had to go back and fore in all weathers to these places.
I was glad to finish lol. I'd never do it again :o))

18 Sep, 2010


I've had a few dodgy moments in previous careers. I used to manage a citizens advice bureau in a maximum security prison. I was once in a long empty prison corridor with iron bars/gates at both ends (think Porridge ... all echoes and clanking gates) and a bell rang and at least 50 of the toughest,nastiest murderers,rapists ,armed robbers appeared from a side door. Luckily they were far more interested in getting their dinner than in me though they could have killed me instantly there were no guards around that I could see!

18 Sep, 2010


Oh I would have been afraid to work there lol. It sounds dangerous.

19 Sep, 2010


You've done so well to turn this garden around is truly beautiful, and your client must be so pleased with all your hard work......:o))

20 Sep, 2010


I agree with all these lovely comments

2 Nov, 2010



2 Nov, 2010


This is gorgeous! Look at those lawn stripes! I often think about doing a few small gardens Anhorman, but then I think why would I want to spoil my very favourite activity by making it into a job? Mind you, I do imagine it is lovely to see the difference week by week. I do love it when I come home from a short break or weeks holiday and the garden is looking totally different to when I went away! We only go on holiday in the winter time really now. I can't bear to leave it in the all gets out of hand!

11 Nov, 2010


You are correct about the "making gardening into a job" thing. I got into gardening by accident and although I love it looking after 35 gardens a week can sometimes feel like too much of a good thing! :)

11 Nov, 2010


Even so, you do such an amazing job for those clients, and they get an absolute bargain if they let you plant your own propogated specimens. I bet they don't appreciate it though.....Anyway, I probably would do it if I had some land to propogate on (Probably just as well I don't!) I bet the job satisfaction is great!

11 Nov, 2010


You'd be surprised how little land is required to grow thousands of plants. I have a third of an acre garden which is about 1600 sq metres .. only 300 sq metres of that is my nursery ( so in old money about 45 feet by 60 feet)

I grow about 3000 plants a year on that. If I changed what I grow I could do the same number on considerably less area.

The secret is in the timing

eg with some plants I can over winter one plant, divide it 6 ways in April sell 5 of them 3 weeks later, divide the remainder 4 ways and sell 3 of them 3-4 weeks later, do this again at least one more time and still have a plant left to overwinter to start the process again next year.

So at anyone time I don't have huge numbers on the nursery ( maybe 2000 maximum) If I changed what I propagate I could get this down to say 1000 which would only require a third of the land.(roughly 30 feet by 30 feet)

The job satisfaction with propagating is,as you say, great! It is my favourite part of the job. I do about 2 hours propagation every week for about 15 weeks and this produces between 100 and 300 plants per week depending on variety. Some are much quicker to propagate than others. i can do 300 conifers an hour but plants with tough root systems which require division are much slower to do.

11 Nov, 2010


Wow! You have it down to a fine art! Just think, if you could get a decent price for your plants you'd be rich! lol ;))

11 Nov, 2010


Yes that's the problem. I sell at auction where the prices are low. To get higher prices would require much more of my time ( either selling to garden centres or selling at markets.) I just don't have the time to do that without giving up some gardening work which would lose me money so it's not worth doing.

If I became a full time market trader I could probably earn more but overall I'm happy as I am. I downsized 22 years ago so getting back into the rat race doesn't make sense to me

11 Nov, 2010


No, me neither..there's more to life than making money!

12 Nov, 2010


A CAB in a prison!!!!!. I did 14 years in an ordinary one with the odd scary client ranting and raving. My scary moment in my job was 16 floors up with an indignant dad who had 7 children in care. The last one put in care from the labour ward. He was shouting and swearing about social services and pointing to photos of all these lovely children. I got out in one piece and a dispensation not to go there again. No wonder some of us needed a garden to recover our nerves and calm down.

19 Nov, 2010


Goodness! too right!!

19 Nov, 2010


A lovely job can almost imagine a crinoline and frock coated couple having tea on that lovely lawn!
The trouble with being good at what you do is that work expands like Topsy...and before you know it..your life is not your own..and despite having 34 great customers, there is always one that spoils the week, who thinks he owns you lock stock and barrel cos he pays you a few quid! I do hope all are like your ex pub landlady!

24 Nov, 2010


I must say that the pub garden is very neat and tidy for a pub garden! Nice not to be all slabs or gravel with a few manky tables in the middle. Very good work, i hope that they appreciate how lovely it is.


26 Nov, 2010

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