The green and rolling countryside of Worcestershire, England, is home to the cider apple orchards which surround the gardens of Pear Tree Cottage. They enjoy a sunny south westerly aspect with sweeping views across to Martley Hillside, Woodbury and Abberley clock tower. The Teme Valley lies just over the hill and, not far away, is the Herefordshire border. Although our climate is temperate, our seasons are often uncertain and always a challenge to a gardener! This began in 2010 & follows the weekly ups and downs of garden work chronicling both successes and failures but, above all, demonstrates the fun enjoyed by three people who regularly garden in all weathers


18 May 2020


Last summer whilst searching for some roofing materials on EBay, I came across some floor tiles.  Yes I know! BUT!  I just knew would look amazing in the greenhouse. As if that wasn't bad enough, after buying them I spotted some old cast iron grids. An even bigger bargain!! For nearly a year they all stood in the barn gathering dust and cobwebs  (sniff) .....................................waiting and waiting!

Trench dug
Shuttering constructed
Shuttering in place
Last Monday - HUGE excitement!!  Work began.  (Why do I love a garden project SO much?)  Chris Genever arrived promptly (yawn) and removed the old brick path and dug out a trench. Having lined the bottom with concrete, he made shuttering to extremely precise dimensions filling in around it with more concrete and including some planting pockets for ferns made from old plastic down pipe.  Dave Melhuish  called by to see what we were up to and to leave cable in place for underfloor lighting!!  I was thinking of tea lights in glass lanterns but, having recovered from the shock of finding that we'd replaced the path with a deep trench; my Under Gardener totally embraced the entire project and got all masterful!! Proper lighting was called for -  Gawd bless 'im!

Meanwhile, with his trusty labourer/apprentice looking more like Boris with her lockdown hair, Chris got on with laying footings for a mini brick wall to provide a very firm foundation where previously there had been a wide planting border.  We reduced the width of the border in order to gain more floor space (and, as this season's tomatoes had succumbed to some form of sickness, we disposed of them in favour of carnations - on order).  A traditional chequered pattern of tiling was adopted which has TOTALLY transformed the entire greenhouse. 

Bringing in the floor grids
Lowering the grids into place (with lockdown hair!)

And then.............shuttering removal!  The most exciting part was seeing if the grids fitted their allotted space.  Chris's building was so deadly accurate, they are a perfect fit. What a star!!  After a week's kneeling down, I only hope that his knees are feeling better than mine!

The plan beneath the floor grids is to have a mini fernery and plant  Aspleniums & Trichomane ferns in the planting pockets. Ultimately, this will be illuminated with coloured LED strip.  Actually, what IS amazing is the fact that: stacked in their piles in the barn for all those months - covered in cobwebs and ivy growing over them, the tiles didn't look too exciting.  All laid and pointed, they look entirely different.  Who's a VERY lucky girl?

Sometimes I think I love Victorian styles and methods FAR too much but.........not much in the way of LED lighting back then! 

The original brick path.

Toro Grazing!

Toro munching!
Nearly finished

These Saturday's seem to be coming round faster and faster in lockdown!  Maybe because I spend even more time gardening! 

With no garden visitors allowed and all open days and visiting groups cancelled, we are going a tad radical this year!  Our little orchard has been 'Toro Grazed' - a FIRST in PTC history!  Normally we leave the grass to grow long and then cut it for hay.  This year and, having let the cowslips set seed, Chris mowed it at a height of 4".  We plan to do this every 5 - 6 weeks. 

Advantages? No yellow areas, no flattened long grass by thundery/heavy rain, prevention of Aspen suckers from establishing (even though the trees were all removed last autumn there are dozens popping up), retaining  an interesting effect as it will still be much longer than the shorter mowed paths bisecting it.

Mowing in May
Mowing in August

9 May 2020


Row labels
Labels galore!

Since sowing vegetable seeds and planting potatoes on 31st March, the vegetable plot is transformed in 5 weeks.  Apart from the peas, where germination has been patchy; everything else is up and growing away well including potatoes which need earthing up.  Lettuce plants have been planted out and runner and climbing beans and marrows are germinating in the greenhouse.  I made some new signs for the rows and this year plastic has been abandoned because they deteriorate in the sunlight and become too brittle.  Also, it's too difficult to clean off permanent ink from them.  Wooden ones rot in the soil and discolour in the sunlight.  This year, I've gone for slate labels and they're hung from mini metal shepherd's crooks.  I have used a white chalk pen to write names and varieties and  plan to clean and reuse each year.

3 May 2020

(VERY) Radical Pruning!

Checking levels
Ta dah!

Whilst trying to recover from this prolonged bout of Wisteria hysteria, we got a tad radical.  No visitors to worry about so we just went for broke with the circular box hedge around the well!!  Armed with a very long straight edge, tape measure and spirit level; we carefully measured, cut back, trimmed and levelled the box hedge.  It meant radically cutting back in areas and lightly trimming in others.  The result is a perfect shaped box hedge that now has probably more brown than green!

As if that wasn't radical enough, we removed the top topiary shapes from the Yew hedge. Why?  Because they had grown so big, they were top heavy and disproportioned, they obscureded both light and view from 4 windows in the house and worse, they obscured the Wisteria.  Instead, we propose to grow futtocks or small spheres and keep them in check.

The view we want to keep!

...& after topiary removal.

30 April 2020


Well, as I said there has been a very serious case of Wisteria Hysteria!  Good job it's only seasonal! Festooning it with CD's and plastic owls before the flower buds became too fat and juicy to prevent the usual bird predation certainly paid dividends again.  There was not a sign of any buds being eaten but what a show!  I've also been a huge Wisteria fan and can well recall the one that grew up the front of the old farm house where I grew up and my father winding black cotton around it to discourage sparrows eating the flower buds - no CD's back then! The entire font of house and conservatory is dripping with purple.  Mauve avalanches all over it.  Opening windows means that the perfume just wafts in.  It beats all the room fresheners in the world.  As we've been having some MUCH needed rain this week, I've also been admiring it from inside the house - not many flowers and plants can offer that!

Haircuts Horticultural!

Battling under the Camellia!
Cushion shaping.

There's been FAR too much Wisteria Hysteria this last week!  Head Gardener has hardly been able to keep her eyes off it!  In between all the floral adoration, work has actually been happening.  Armed with his pole chainsaw and hedge clippers, boughs were removed from a Prunus (known as the 'Red Tree') to allow the Acers beneath a little more light and to allow us to admire them too.  Even the shirasawanum aureum needed a little more elbow room so his Acer neighbour also enjoyed a little discreet 'attention'.  The Sarcococca had a haircut as did the Viburnum behind it.  All in all, it was a quite a tidy up meaning lots of trips to the compost heap and bonfire.

As they've also finished flowering, even the heathers had a trim.  Chris makes heather 'cushions' which keeps them nice, dense and compact.  Whilst not his or my favourites, they provide much colour in January when there's not much colour elsewhere - not to mention early food for bees. Whist it's been haircuts in the garden, it's the Head Gardener who really needs one as she's definitely sporting a 'Lockdown Coiffure'!

Sarcococca trimming.

25 April 2020

Time Out!

The Top Terrace.

A full on knackering day slaving in the garden and so we both just sat down (seat on left) and took 10 minutes out with a G&T surrounded by the heavy scent of the Wisteria and the blooms of 24000 cider apple trees wafting around in the evening air.  Sometimes gardens and life just need to be enjoyed!!  
Nuff said.