Tuesday 26 June 2012

A Declaration Of Intent!

My passion is gardening and I like to sound off and promote my unconventional horticultural ideals.  As a former horticultural lecturer at Askham Bryan College, I do, however, firmly believe that gardening should have a sound base of technical knowledge. In my opinion, much gardening in the media is shallow, pseudo-scientific and sometimes just plain wrong!

I take every opportunity in my gardening lectures to clubs and societies to be provocative, and to challenge gardeners to question their methods. I intend to do the same here.

Long before the computer age, I had my own ‘blog’. It was a monthly gardening article in Bolton Percy church magazine. The articles continued for twenty years and only ceased when we left the village 12 years ago.  I have to say, I initially invited gardening queries and, over those years, received absolutely none. Not much hope for this blog then! The articles were sometimes serious, sometimes frivolous. Not liking to waste anything I kept the magazines and, when challenged to start this project, looked them out. They still seem fresh and relevant. I always used to joke that if my horticultural lectures stayed out of date a little longer I would be at the forefront of gardening technology. Things go round. I will include reprints of some of those articles. It will save me a lot of thinking and enable me to concentrate on new material.

(Above) The cemetery at Bolton Percy, where I return every month to maintain the planting.

Some of you will know me through Bolton Percy churchyard garden. It has been suggested I was one of the first to make such a naturalistic garden (nothing in gardening is really new). Over a twenty-year period, nine separate TV programmes were made and just about every national newspaper beat a path to Bolton Percy. Not any more. The garden is no longer fashionable and it does not fit into the public image of naturalistic gardens as I completely rely on herbicides. I am not green enough for environmentalists and too untidy for gardeners. Nevertheless, many visitors still come, and the acre of churchyard garden is always open (and free) across the road from the fine pre-reformation church. If you do have a ride out, be sure to see the church’s fine millenium window. I now go back to Bolton Percy each month to maintain the garden.

Someone put an interesting video of the churchyard garden on YouTube a few years ago.

Why do a blog?

For years I’ve been told that I should write a book, as my unorthodox approach should have a wider platform. I have always refused, but now I have joined the over-seventy club, the idea suddenly appeals. I am going to give it a go.

Cathi next door is a publisher and she has kindly set this up for me. I have had a crash course in taking digital photographs, shifting them around the computer, and generally understanding what a blog is and how it works. I am ready to go.

I hope what I write will interest both new and experienced gardeners. I may be a little controversial, as I will, almost certainly, be suggesting breaking many of the old rules. Like many things in life though, you learn the basics only to discard or modify them as you gain greater expertise. I remember as a young boy the joy of working the soil and rooting my first cutting. I do not dig anymore!

My acre garden at Boundary Cottage, Seaton Ross is open to the public on Yellow Book open days and we also take visiting parties by appointment. My partner, Brenda, is acclaimed for her cakes.


  1. Good luck blogging, keep it funny, write the book

  2. You will let your own garden go to rack and ruin writing this blog all the time!

    1. Oh no I won't
      but seriously having this soapbox is going to my head and I keep making plans for the blog.Brenda says I am obsessed.

    2. Oh yes you might, Roger:-) After 5½ years blogging I can confirm that my garden has been neglected many times – I just miss these bits when blogging ;-)

      Lol… the tables have turned with me for now as my blog/blogging has been neglected! I am reclaiming my garden and …. it’s feeling good :-D

      Thanks for your email, I’ll look forward to following your garden chat and thoughts. Enjoy blogging, I have thoroughly enjoyed it and will be back again very soon :-)

    3. thank you for the good wishes
      I guess most experienced bloggers know Shirl has the top gardening blog.
      I am so inexperienced it took me ten minutes to navigate this reply

  3. What a lovely blog thanks, Cathi.

    Poor Mr Brook may well go from absolutely no queries to hundreds.... all from me!!!!

  4. thanks cathi
    do not tell anyone you live next door

  5. sorry apparently you are not cathi-next door but a new follower- I'm a bit of a plonker with all this new stuff

  6. more queries will be welcome,perhaps not hundreds

  7. Nice to follow your blog and work learned a tremendous amount from you years ago at Askham Bryan also had the pleasure of beating you at chess good luck

  8. Hi anon
    I ought to remember you, not many students beat me at chess!
    Make yourself known-I might have some tales about you. It's always good to hear where old students are now.

  9. Hi As I remember the chess game was a close affair. My name is Paul Jenkinson I attended Askham Bryan from 1977 to 1981. I was very friendly with Wing Commander Cowton who was on the NCH course in 1978. Long time ago now. I went on to work as an Horticultural Therapist within the NHS . Keep up the great work

    1. I remember you well Paul, great to hear from you. One of the great thing about our all-comers course were characters such as winco.
      How about displaying some of your horticultural knowledge with some future comments about my posts, especially if they are relevant to horticultural therapy - sad that there is so little of it now.


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