About me and my Gardens

In the deepest wilds of Essex, between the oldest town in the country and Tiptree, lies Layer Marney Tower. The tower is the tallest tudor tower in the country and was originally built by Lord Marney in Henry VIII’s reign to rival Hampton court. Unfortunately Lord Marney died before it could be finished, followed two years later by his only son. So only the gatehouse was completed, but what a gatehouse it is! It is currently run as a tourist attraction and wedding and conference venue. In early 2006 I was lucky enough to be appointed Head Gardener.Layer Marney Tower

I had previously studied at Otley College for a City & Guild’s qualification in Professional Gardening, and worked at Kentwell Hall in Suffolk. The step up to Head Gardener was a big one, and if I’m honest, at first I had bitten off somewhat more than I could chew. However, here I am now, comfortable in my role at the towers. I am the only full time gardener, with help two or three days a week from the lovely Ms.V.

At home I have a much more modest (and scruffy!) garden. We moved into the two bed terrace in late 2006 and the back garden was a virtually blank canvas. I made a big mistake at this point by diving in and trying to create the whole garden virtually all at once. Having realised by now that this approach was never going to work while I was working full time and having a social life mostly taking place in the Midlands, I am now taking it more slowly. This means that parts of the garden are a mess, but I’m actually getting somewhere with other areas. Our house is one of those built when ‘Dig for Victory’ was still fresh in the government’s memory, and consequently has a pretty good sized garden.

I consider myself an amateur gardener who happens to do it for a living. I am very much still learning; one of the joys of gardening is that there is so much to learn. This blog will record the ups and downs of my gardening life. You can follow it by clicking on the links to the right for subscription by email, or if you have a feed reader you can get my RSS feed (an option I can heartily recommend if you read several blogs – it’s made my online life a lot easier). I also have a Sproutling twitter account which you can follow by clicking the link to the right. You can contact me in the comments sections of this blog or by email (my address is in my profile).


9 responses to “About me and my Gardens

  1. I can empathise with your predicament…..there wasn’t an awful lot in our garden when we moved in and three years ago I decided to have it all landscaped to my own spec….. Borders were created….and I filled as much as I could with plants. Inevitably, there are too many borders to fill all at once, and the resulting mess two years on as gaps filled with ever-growing weeds. Ah well….you live and learn. I shall be watching your endeavours with interest. 😉

  2. I was lucky that I wasn’t working when we created our garden a few years back. We also had enough money from the sale of our previous house to get the original garden (apart from a magnolia and an apple tree) cleared. Otherwise we would still be clearing it.
    What amazes me is people like you that do the job full time then have the energy to do their own plot. I love seeing garden transformations especially do-it-yourself ones. Look forward to following your blog.

  3. Hello from New Zealand!

    I have been trying to identify the very large but narrow “fluffy looking” tree that grows beside the gatehouse at Layer Marnley after seeing it in a television program that concentrated far too much on the brickwork for my liking!

    Foliage reminded me of Taxodium and one of the photographs I’ve found on the web suggests that it might be deciduous. Can you identify it for me please?

    Rob Davison, Maple Glen, http://www.mapleglen.co.nz

    • Hi it’s Taxodium distichum – Swamp Cypress. We’ll be on TV again later in the year when they’ll be focussing on antiques (the show is Antiques Roadshow after all!) but the garden will be in the background.

  4. Hi Libby, I’m working on a new TV gardening series. I’d love to chat to you about the show to see if you’d be interested? Would you drop me a quick email? Thank you!

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