Friday, 18 June 2010

Burgon & Ball's Yellow Book Opening

This Sunday is the first open day under the National Gardens Scheme for one of the gardens in the Burgon & Ball stable - this one home of our Chairman Peter Jackson. Peter is completely mad about gardening and all Burgon & Ball tools have been thoroughly field tested in his garden! We think this is about the 27th year he and Pauline have opened the garden and this year it has featured in a beautiful new book - The Gardens of Dorset.

Lots of work goes into making the garden look its best before an opening and I thought I'd share some before and after pictures of cloud pruning topiary bushes. These box bushes have an interesting history - well over 50 years old they were fantastic and huge balls until 2 years ago. Then almost overnight they suddenly collapsed under the weight of their foliage. Various attempts to prop up the stems failed and so the drastic decision was taken to chop away all the green growth, revealing beautiful white stems and start to cloud prune them. Sadly one didn't survive this harsh treatment - but the other 3 did. Year one after the chop and they resembled rather ghostly sculptures. Year 2 and they are now well on their way to being rather marvellous re-incarnations.  The pictures below show one of the original bushes first and then the replacement for the dead one - I think in a couple of years it will have caught up with the other 3.

Friday, 11 June 2010

The best Birthday Cake Ever

Yesterday was my birthday and in time honoured office tradition, my brilliant comrades in arms burst out of the kitchen with a blaze of candles and a lusty rendition of the classic song.

Knowing that I'm probably the only person in the world that doesn't like cake, but that, to me, there is (almost) nothing sweeter than a good tomato this was their birthday offering....

Absolutely perfect!

After Derby Day

Gardening lore has it that the time to trim topiary is after Derby Day. We're often asked about the significance of this timing - the reality is that it's nothing more equine than that the likelihood of a frost being deemed to have passed - across the whole country. While it's a good rule of thumb, gardeners in milder areas may be able to start trimming well before this day, especially given a warm spring.

There's lots of topiary in the garden at B&B HQ so I tend to spread the job out a bit. Having worked my way around the bigger bits I turned, Topiary Shears in hand, to a raggedy bit of hedge I planted a couple of years ago.

The original plan was to create a nice squared up edging to a bed, but the more I looked at it the more I decided this hedge had other plans of it's I decided to go with the flow and we now have the beginings of a free form hedge edge!

A tip for us cheeseparing gardeners; Box topiary for is very easy to root, so if you have any biggish offcuts like these , put them to oneside.

Then pot them up and you should get a reasonable success rate in creating brand new plants.

A couple more tips on topiary:
Don't trim on a very bright sunny day as it has a tendency to turn the cut edges brown.

Do ensure your blades are sharp before you start trimming - the cleaner the less likelihood of disease getting in.

Fertilise after trimming to give your plants an extra boost.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Back from Chelsea

A highlight of our year - the Chelsea Flower Show - and what a year it was, apart from some rain on Saturday and temperatures a little too hot for plant comfort on Press Day, it was the most perfect Chelsea weather imaginable.

We were delighted to win a Certificate of Merit for the "outstanding presentation" of our stand - here's a pic of our old potting shed, complete with about 50 years of genuine dirt on the window!

This is the view of the marvellously tranquil Laurent Perrier garden taken from our stand - not a bad place to work for a week?

The Royal family like to visit the show - this year HRH the Duke of Edinburgh stopped by our stand and we had a little chat about tools - I can confirm that he is extremely charming! Here is a picture of HRH the Queen, clearly enjoying the Show.

As ever it was lovely to meet so many of our customers - here are just a couple of the comments we received:

"They are fabulous tools and I've been pleased with them all - just great!"

"Every year we come to Chelsea and buy one of your tools. We've come to realise we can rely on your tools"

It was especially great to hear from the lady whose town garden isn't big enough for a shed, but who has all her Burgon & Ball tools on display, hanging on hooks under the eves of her porch!

And finally - here are a couple of snaps of breakdown - I wonder where the wheelchair occupant has been turfed out and left?
Great tee shirt....