My Gardening Essentials Kit Wish List

Although we’ve been experiencing some truly uninspiring weather lately, I’ve been trying to keep up the momentum and get busy in the garden. Now May is upon us, the growing has kicked up a gear and the risk of frost is slowly decreasing. Showtime!

It’s evident everywhere – from the sudden growth in the greenhouse to the abundance of blooms and blossom in the garden.
I’ve still got a little time before I have to delve back into the world of work, so it’s a case of “now or never” when it comes to getting those essential tasks done. And the busier I get (and with a baby in tow, the more efficient I’ve had to become in getting jobs done), the more I’ve realised how severely lacking my gardening kit has become. It’s not making my life easy. Broken and blunt tools, a bag that’s literally hanging on by a thread, faulty watering cans and even a lack of gardening clothing have been holding me back a bit.

Vegetable Trug Gardening

So it’s time to start planning a revamp of my gardening kit. Although I’m having to watch the pennies whilst on maternity pay, I can still plan (and dream).

Here’s a little wish-list to update my gardening essentials kit:

A Sharp Hoe
My old hoe broke at some point over the winter (either that or it’s simply vanished into thin air), and as an advocate of no-dig gardening, a hoe is an essential gardening tool. I’ve already got a WOLF Garten rake (it’s brilliant), and as the multi-use handle accommodates a number of tools, this dutch hoe from World of Wolf will be perfect… and a space saver too. Great for small sheds stuffed to the brim with gardening tools!

A Durable Garden Bag
Right now, I’m using an old free cloth spa bag as my gardening bag… yes, really! Last year, both handles broke, and with no pockets, I often have to stir my bag for a few minutes before being able to select the right tool. I’ve been researching affordable gardening bags for a while and wanted something that was both functional and a little bit pretty. So far my search has proved a little futile (too small, too pricey, not waterproof, too frilly), but I haven’t given up yet. Any suggestions will be happily received!

Gardening Trousers – with pockets!
I don’t like losing things, but unfortunately it’s something I’m very good at. Plant labels, packets of seeds, twine, secateurs, pencils, a pocket pruning knife and phone are just a few things that I tend to carry about with me in the garden. So weatherproof trousers with pockets, as far as I’m concerned, are a must-have piece of gardening clothing, Whether I’m sowing seeds, up a ladder pruning and trimming, or battling with a knee-high nettle patch, a good pair of gardening trousers with pockets are essential. I prefer a slimmer fit, but comfort has to be my main priority. No squeezed knees or cutting in at the waist, thank you. These durable ladies gardening trousers from Englebert Strauss are just the ticket.

A Galvanised Watering Can
Simply because they’re durable and a classic piece of gardening kit! Much better than plastic, anyhow.

A Potting Shed
Yep, it’s a big one on the wish list, and maybe technically it doesn’t qualify as gardening kit, but nevertheless, here it is. I live in hope of one day being the proud owner of a potting shed. Not just because I’d like somewhere to sow, grow and pot on my homegrown delights, but because sometimes I’m really happy in my own company. Just for a while. So a quiet space to potter and ponder would be a little slice of heaven. In timber form.

Long Handled Lawn Edging Shears
My grandfather, Pappa, always said that edges make a lawn. Whilst I’m more interested in borders than lawns, it’s true that a clean-cut edge can make even the scrappiest bit of garden look smarter. In fact, it’s a trick I’ve been using to great effect this year. So far I’ve made do with painstakingly cutting my edges and veg plot borders with a half-moon and tidying up with kitchen scissors, but really I need to invest in a good pair of lawn edging shears to get the job finished quickly and efficiently.

Got any suggestions for your must-have piece of gardening kit? Let me know in the comments!

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Cherry blossom

Full of beans

shallots in the greenhouse

Chilling winds have swept through our corner of Bedfordshire, and I find myself absolutely LONGING for the balmy skies when the thermometer was peaking in the mid 20s. The veg plots and flower borders continue to romp ahead regardless, and bit by bit, my little veg patches are starting to fill up. Much to my surprise, actually.

This year, with a little family in tow, I’ve had my work cut out and my expectations for growing were low. I wanted to keep it simple, opting for tried and tested varieties of fruit and veg and minimising the amount of sowing and potting on I’d usually do… but somehow I can’t help myself when it comes to growing fruit and veg. Already, I’ve planted in new varieties of strawberries and raspberries, and with widespread discount promotions on packets of seeds, I just cannot resist.

Whether I actually get around to sowing on time, is another matter. But I’ve got further this year than I thought I would, and that’s got to be a bonus. Rich’s time has been severely limited, as he spends the majority of his waking hours stuck to a laptop or computer, furiously programming in a bid to keep us afloat whilst I’m on maternity leave. My end of the bargain is to try and keep things running, look after E as she grows and develops at an alarming rate, beat back chaos with an invisible stick, try to keep the house from descending into chaos, and try to feed us all on a budget.

So apart from Rich helping out with the odd lawn mow, it’s all down to me this year. I’ve started off the shallots in the greenhouse, waiting for the sun to warm to the soil and the risk of frost to pass before planting in situ. Shallots are one of my all-time favourite homegrown staples. I’ve also opted for some dwarf bean plug plants, as my ability to water regularly and give seedlings the TLC they deserve is limited more than usual. I am not organised, despite all the will in the world and a very real motivation to do things right, and do things well.

I’ve started a few beans up a willow obelisk, more for decorative purposes than anything really as I love the homespun potager approach to little kitchen gardens. I’ve also planted in a few nasturtiums – partly as companion plants and partly because I love their cascading haphazardness, and the delicate but boldly coloured blooms. Next on the agenda is constructing a pea harp for edible peas and scented sweet peas. It’s a bit of an ambitious task given that E will only tolerate so much time playing in the garden alongside me as I work before she starts screeching like a mini siren…but hey ho, a girl’s got to dream!

beans and willow wigwam

Inspiration from Coton Manor gardens

Magnolia - Coton Manor

The sun was out and the April skies were a sight to behold. It was a perfect spring day as we trundled our way through the rolling Northamptonshire countryside, on a visit to Coton Manor for my mum’s birthday.

The orchard at Coton Manor

The 10-acre estate is home to what is in many ways a quintessentially English country garden. Cascading woodland planting, orchards brought alive with a blooming carpet of narcissisi, wildflower meadows and bog gardens punctuated by thoughtfully placed flowing formal water features and ponds.

Cherry blossom at Coton Manor

A herb garden and rose arches, swathes of tulips, magnificent magnolias and cherries in full blossom, carefully clipped box and yew. A seemingly ancient wisteria that has woven itself into the 17th century manor house’s brickwork.

Chickns & ducks at Coton Manor

But then there’s the unexpected. Charming hens, handsome cockerels and conga lines of exotic ducks wandering about the manicured flower beds. The woven willow stag standing proudly overlooking the wildflower meadow.

Flamingoes in the pond at Coton Manor

But perhaps the most unexpected are the striking and still sleeping flamingoes in the small watercourse at the bottom of the main lawns that overlook the meadows. A total treat and little E was certainly very taken by the salmon-pink and buff-pink beauties.

Flamingoes at Coton Manor

And after perusing the gardens and stopping for a while to take in the glorious spring display under a cherry tree bursting with blossom, we took a look around the plant nursery. Whilst I wish I had an unlimited budget, sadly I had to limit myself to a few buys, amongst which were a delicate purple pelargonium/geranium and a Bowle’s purple wood anemone (Anemone nemorosa). The geranium will go at the base of the clematis I’ve planted to cover a boring and bare stretch of fencing, whilst the anemone will go under the fruit trees, and hopefully self-seed itself to help create a pretty spring display in years to come.

If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend a visit to Coton Manor gardens. I’m looking forward to visiting again in early summer to see the grounds in its next glorious phase of flowering and fruiting.

Coton Manor visit