February has been busy. At the start of the month, I was lucky enough to represent the Garden Academy at the Garden Press Event in London with fellow Academy student, Alex. The one-day event was a fantastic opportunity to talk to lots of journalists and really spread the word about the fantastic journey we are all on. Homebase had a stand made up of four miniature gardens, all with different themes. In one corner was a new range of lawnmowers and lawn expert David Hedges-Gower. Beside it was an area dedicated to this year’s Chelsea design, where Adam Frost was explaining the concepts behind his Bauhaus garden. The other two gardens had very different themes, demonstrating how unique exactly the same sized space could be. One had a traditional country look, with timeless spirals of topiary and inviting alfresco dining area. The other was inspired by travel and reminded me of a Moroccan rooftop, with rattan furniture and lush structural planting. The day went so quickly and before we knew it it was almost time for everyone to go home. Although, I did manage to grab a quick picture with botanist and TV presenter James Wong before the stands were taken down!
Homebase also announced an exciting new partnership at the event with children’s charity, GreenFingers. The charity supports children who use hospices by creating exciting outdoor spaces for fun, play, rest and relaxation. So far they have created 44 gardens for children and their families to relax in and enjoy. The three-year partnership will create some exciting opportunities to collaborate with the charity and the Garden Academy will play a big part in that. So watch this space!
Later in the month we were back at Barnsdale, starting our week with Adam Frost. The day began by taking a look at all the plants that will be included in this year’s Chelsea garden. Adam asked us to each pick four, which we then needed to research at home. Obviously choosing only four proved to be a real challenge and several plants had to be fought over (in the nicest way possible), as so many of us had chosen them. I think the Tree Ferns and Katsura trees caused the most heated discussions!
Once we had finally settled who should have which plants, we wrapped up and went outside to learn how to survey. I have had a bit of experience surveying, although definitely am no expert at trigonometry and triangulation. Perhaps this is why I still get a bit awestruck that by taking a few measurements from one corner to another, here and there, I can then sit down and draw the exact space I was stood in. I also love the unexpected element of surprise when drawing up a survey; the plan never looks like I imagined.
The keen-eyed, regular readers among you (hello mum & dad!) will notice I spent the week with a different group of faces. The Academy is split into two smaller groups and because I was away at the Press Event I joined the other group, fondly known as The Bee’s Knees.
The rest of our week was spent working towards our RHS Practical Horticulture qualification. There may have been a wintery chill in the air and a generous splash of rain, but it was still fantastic to be outside gardening at Barnsdale. We learnt about sowing seeds indoors, potting-on, planting shrubs, putting up windbreaks and common pests and diseases. Plus 101 other things that grew from one question leading to another! There are definitely still plenty of beautiful plants and flowers to be found around the garden at this time of year and fingers crossed when we are back there again next month there might be the first whispers of colour from the daffodils.