Save the Date: NGS Open Day

Posted by editor on Sunday, 28 January 2018

OPEN GARDEN: Friday 2 March, 12 – 4pm

Early spring opening to give you the opportunity to consider the winter/early spring garden, taking note of the bare structural forms that make up the garden.

The Garden House is tucked away in the heart of the city and really is a secret garden – in Victorian times a working market garden – it is organic and created to give interest all year round, supporting cut flowers, vegetables, fruit, old climbing roses, a pond – and hens!

There will be plants, dahlias and seeds for sale, plus soup and bread, mulled cider, cakes and refreshments.

The Garden House has been opening for the NGS (National Garden Scheme) for over 10 years now – last year Bridge Saunders attended a lunch at Michelham Priory for all the Sussex NGS garden owners.  She was presented with a special award for all her hard work over the years and for the encouragement and inspiration she has given to many in that time.

Open: 12midday to 4pm – entrance £5.50 (children free) – come with a friend!

Location: The Garden House, 5 Warleigh Road, Brighton BN1 4NT

All Things Wood…

Posted by editor on Tuesday, 16 January 2018

January/February is the ideal time to look at the bare bones structure of your garden, and to make some decisions about what stays, what needs moving, and what just has to go – especially when it comes to trees.

We recently had a tree taken down at the Garden House as it was doing considerable damage to a flint wall – and as we hate to waste anything, our minds were very much on the resulting wood and what we could do with it.

We also really enjoyed reading the Firewood poem (below) by Celia Congreve (first published in The Times, March 1930).











This is what we did with a limb from a birch tree; candles for dark evenings!










                                 Here is our tree all ready to be seasoned for next year…











Our wood ready stacked for keeping the Garden House warm over the next few months…


Traditional Firewood Poem by Celia Congreve

Beechwood fires burn bright and clear

If the logs are kept a year;

Store your beech for Christmastide

With new-cut holly laid beside;

Chestnut’s only good, they say,

If for years ‘tis stored away;

Birch and fir-wood burn too fast

Blaze too bright and do not last;

Flames from larch will shoot up high,

Dangerously the sparks will fly;

But ash-wood green and ash-wood brown

Are fit for a Queen with a golden crown


Oaken logs, if dry and old,

Keep away the winter’s cold;

Poplar gives a bitter smoke,

Fills your eyes and makes you choke;

Elm-wood burns like churchyard mould,

E’en the flames are very cold;

It is by the Irish said;

Hawthorn bakes the sweetest bread,

Apple-wood will scent the room,

Pear-wood smells like flowers in bloom;

But ash-wood wet and ash-wood dry

A King may warm his slippers by.

PS. If you are looking for a tree surgeon then we would recommend John Wilding of Wilding Tree Care 07860 348618


Happy New Year to gardeners!

Posted by editor on Friday, 5 January 2018

Amazingly we managed to pick all the below plants in bloom a few days ago.  Not an ideal time for the garden, but despite all the slushy rain and greyness little bursts of colour are there to enthrall us.

If you are able to name all the plants in the picture below, we’re offering a New Year treat – £20 off any Garden House workshop or course.  Please contact us with your list!



A Favourite Winter Poem…

Posted by editor on Sunday, 17 December 2017

Falling Snow by Alan Williams

See how they fall

An infinity of heavenly aspirations

Come to convert the world

With a deep and even purity.

Sent to nullify and cleanse

To enhance and beautify

To muffle and calm

With the tranquillity

Of a gossamer eiderdown.

To cloak in a mystery

Of endless variations

Of the same tonal theme;

Converting everything

To a glistening coalescence.

Tidying up the farmyard

Smootring out the fields

Transmogrifying neglected gardens

Into dazzling showpieces,

Cluttered garden sheds

Into sparkling summer-houses,

Making abandoned bean sticks

As elegant as sculptured crystal,

And fondant death-traps

Of old familiar ponds

Enhancing the weary timothy

In the sad neglected churchyard.

Cheering up the stories

On the long forgotten grave stones.

Turning distant spires

Into alabaster space rockets

And drooping telephone lines

For ocean-going bungalows.

The purification is complete,


Save for the prints of wandering


Fading in the gentle cascade.

Julia’s Propagation Notebook: part 1

Posted by editor on Sunday, 10 December 2017

Julia Widdows is a great Garden House friend who has volunteered to write a regular notebook on the fascinating subject of propogation (thank you Julia!).  This is an area of horticulture that we just love – not only does it involve tracking the whole cycle of plant development, from seed or cutting etc – but also it means we can make many many new plants, for the garden here, and to give away or grow on and sell.  It’s a hugely fascinating side of gardening, and something that we focus on also in our workshops – coming up in January: Plantspersonship: 8-session course

Julia: “There’s still time (just) to take cuttings of shrubby Salvias, as some of them are vulnerable to winter weather. You will need a heated propagator, or conservatory, greenhouse or sunny windowsill where night temperatures don’t drop too low. The heated propagation unit in the greenhouse is up and running again, giving us lots of space for making new plants for free!

A month ago the Salvias were all busy flowering their heads off here in the Garden House. But since then, in the mostly mild autumn weather, they’ve made lots more side shoots – perfect for cuttings.

Take these shoots and cut cleanly just below a node (where the pairs of leaves sprout). Use only the top, flexible parts of the stems, rather than the woody sections, as these are more likely to give results. One thing I’ve learned from Bridge is that you can have success with really short cuttings – even the top 3-5 centimetres of a shoot.

Cuttings, before and after preparation…

Strip the bottom few leaves carefully as you don’t want any of this below soil level and rotting off. Leaves will lose water, and as there are no roots yet, leaving too much leaf will stress the cutting. Soft leaves that are not waxy or hairy will be most vulnerable to water-loss. For the same reason I often trim the larger remaining leaves by half. It looks odd, but if the cutting takes, new growth will soon make up for it.

Insert cuttings into a fairly shallow pot of well-drained compost, spacing them out round the edge of the pot. I used a multi-purpose with some sand stirred in. You could also use multi-compost with a little Perlite or a proprietary cuttings mix. Salvias do not want to sit about in heavy or waterlogged compost or any pot too deep. They need a bit of room and air between cuttings to prevent tops rotting, too, at this time of year. And gently firm the soil; tuck them in like babies – cuttings shouldn’t wallow about in loose compost with air pockets. Don’t forget to label them. I took cuttings of S. ‘African Skies’ (pale blue), S. ‘Amistad’ (deep purple) and an unnamed one with vidid red tubular flowers.

Labelled and ready…

Water, let the water drain through, and put them over some base warmth. I put a clear lid over our cuttings on the heated unit to keep them a bit cosier for the first few days (see top image). You can use a clear plastic bag over individual pots to keep draughts out and moisture in, but do check each day to make sure they’re not soggy.

Fingers crossed for new roots growing in a few weeks’ time.”