This Week’s Guest Blogger is Anthony Carroll MCIHort CMTGG, Consultant Horticulturist at Hortic Ant

I am delighted to introduce myself to you, I am Anthony Carroll and I am Head of Horticulture at Alisco Projects and a freelance consultant horticulturist at #HorticAnt.

From a young age, I was interested in gardening and wanted to pursue this as a career.  During the school holidays I would always carry out some activity in the garden, especially
in the mornings while listening to the birds sing.

Once I had left school, I was delighted to be accepted at Brackenhurst College in Nottinghamshire to study Horticulture.

After completing my studies in the year 2000 I started my career as an Assistant Gardener and soon progressed to become Head Gardener. However, my ambition was to own a
horticultural company, so I left my position as Head Gardener in 2005 and proceeded to run my own business.

In 2017 I was delighted to be asked to become a judge and assessor for The Royal Horticultural Society as part of their Green Plan It course.

I was delighted to be awarded full membership of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture, The Professional Gardeners Guild and I am also a Consultant Member to The Gardeners Guild.

Horticultural science and therapeutic horticulture is a huge part of my life. I am passionate in promoting and improving the world of horticulture by influencing people of all ages and abilities, to celebrate this wonderful science.

I am now in my twentieth year within the industry and have been privileged to work in many different types of horticultural settings, such as ‘high end’ private gardens, Schools and HM Prison Service. I have also worked with people suffering from mental health issues. My aim is to promote horticulture so that everyone will be able to reap the benefits of this science.

With the wealth of experience I now have, I am inspiring children to be interested in horticulture. I believe this is an incredibly rewarding subject, as it encourages physical motivation, scientific and mathematical challenges and creativity, while being also
extremely beneficial for mental wellbeing.

During my years in horticulture, I have accumulated many ‘favourite’ herbaceous perennials, trees and shrubs. However to isolate one particular favourite of mine, I would have to choose Amelanchier lamarckii or June Berry Tree. It features snow white flowers and bronzed leaves, edible berries and a fantastic autumn leaf colour.

Nowadays we are encouraged to be aware of the state of the planet, so this year for birthday or anniversaries why not ask for a tree, especially an Amelanchier lamarckii, which is good for a medium size gardens. It can also grow in a container for a few years.  This would be a lovely gift for you but also for the climate as well. Remember, trees are the ‘lungs of the earth’.

Having experienced every season for many years in the garden, my favourite season is winter as you can see the true forms of the individual shrubs. A winter garden can be so magical on a lovely crisp frosty morning.

This Week’s Guest Blogger is Kelly-Jane Leach

Why gardening?

When I was asked to write a blog for Gardening for Disabled Trust, I admit that so many ideas were going through my head. I could write about the current season, my favourite thing to grow or what I suffer with and my struggles with gardening. However, after talking to a few friends about where to start, I decided that it’s not really about what I grow, but why.

My abilities can vary from day to day. It’s a lottery. So why would I continue to carry on lifestyle and hobby that’s so physically exhausting? It’s a question that I am asked a lot and it’s pretty frustrating because it’s always said by non-gardeners in a derogatory manner.

There are other sides to gardening than plonking seeds in a pot and waiting for them to grow. You’d think that gardening would lead to a solitary lifestyle and some tree hugging here and there but it’s deeper than that. It becomes part of your values in life. You realise your plants are important because life is important. It gives you purpose, meaning and a sense of achievement.

I have an allotment in Hertfordshire and the best piece of advice I was ever given was to listen and respect those who had been there a long time. Yes, we all have our own way of doing things but there I was with a new born baby, one gardening fork and one spade which were both donated, and a huge pile of weeds which had been unattended for around three years. I needed help. It’s overwhelming at first but the first thing you learn about any kind of gardening is that patience is your friend. A skill that is easily transferred into your day to day life, and one that has helped me immensely.

My family, friends and plot neighbours helped me get set up and for that I am forever thankful as I wouldn’t be where I am and who I am today. I have no importance on this Earth whatsoever but I now provide for my family in a way I felt like I failed to by becoming unwell. It’s not always about constantly digging all the time. I’d never even used a power tool but there I was last week using my plot neighbour’s circular saw to cut timber.

I grow because I love to provide my friends and family something they couldn’t buy in the supermarket. Most of the people I know have never heard of a cucamelon or borage and when I can whack that in a G&T when they come to mine, they’re forever fascinated I grew it and I knew what to do with it and it always strikes conversation. I am completely self-taught at this point however my absolute love for it has made me want to pursue this further and see where it goes. I have no plans or specialties; I just know that when someone asks me how to grow something or asks for my advice, it fills my heart with more joy and love for this world than ever before as someone else wants to start putting seeds into the rapidly deteriorating earth that needs us more than ever before to restore it.

I have communicated and met with a large number of amateur and professional gardeners through socialising. Whether that be social media or through the allotment itself but gardening has no bias. It doesn’t judge you; it doesn’t expect anything from you. You do what you can within your own abilities. Disability or not – we all have our physical limits. Age, gender, sexuality, race, ability – whatever it is – there’s absolutely no bias.

Over just a few years, I am becoming greener, more environmentally aware, I’ve reduced my waste and make sure I avoid products that are non-recyclable, I’ve met friends who are all different and are the best and most welcoming people I know. I like to think that I now provide a little more for wildlife whether it’s planting edible flowers I know a myriad of insects and bees will enjoy but are also edible for me too if I decide. You get to watch beautiful wildlife and also battle with it. The birds eat my currants every year and somehow, they find a way.

It’s not just about growing food. It’s a social life or the sanity to you need. It’s fresh air, nature, unbiased friends and a community. You make gardening what you want it to be. If you want to grow show onions or giant pumpkins then do it! Do what you can within your own abilities which is very easy to say and hard to put into practice. It won’t come overnight but I can guarantee you that it will be with you forever and be life changing. From planting cress in an eggshell to planting your first tomatoes; they’re not too dissimilar. It’s not just about growing my own food anymore. It’s not really about providing. It’s about producing food I can’t buy, meeting other human beings without judgement, the community you create because of it, the wildlife and the robin that always visits you when you’re digging, the sense of purpose and self-achievement, and finally, you just being you. And that is the part that matters most.

This Week’s Guest Blogger is Anthony Henn a Director at Garden on a Roll – Designer Garden Borders Delivered to your Door

ACCESSIBLE GARDENS FOR EVERYONE!

Our garden project for Jonathan Coggan Paralympian rugby player

One of the main challenges for a garden designer is that you must always consider the needs of the client first then create the best design possible around these requirements. I want my gardens to be a sanctuary for people and wildlife but of course be practical too.

When I was asked to help design and build a wheelchair accessible garden for Jonathan Coggan, I wanted it to look like a wonderful garden but also be totally wheelchair friendly, as I believe a garden should also work for friends and family who come to visit. This philosophy makes even more sense when selling the property as it should appeal to all potential buyers.

The Brief:

  • Easy maintenance
  • Wheelchair accessible
  • Raised beds for Herbs and Veg
  • Colourful borders
  • Wildlife-friendly
  • Large patio areas for entertaining
  • Hot tub

The design:

I wanted to create a free-flowing design with lots of paths and access around the space. The positioning of the raised beds for veg and herbs was important as they needed to be sited in a sunny spot but look nice too.

The patio areas needed to be generous, ideally with some spots in the sun others in shade. The Hot Tub was a requirement so we found a location that felt right and was private, this was sunk into the new terrace for easy access.

The results:

The garden took approximately 6 weeks to complete including relaying the existing main lawn and creating the artificial grass lawn around the existing trees.