The Pros and Cons of Autumn Planting

I’ve had some discussions recently on whether Autumn is a good time to be planting or not so here’s my take on the subject:

  • Autumn is the best time of the year to plant because the soil is nice and warm after the summer and there is more rain around.
  • Autumn planting also gets plants in the ground and ahead of the game for the next year.
  • Autumn weather often stretches right up till Christmas so planting can too. But avoid planting when the ground is waterlogged or frozen.
  • Autumn planting can look underwhelming! Perennials might be finished and dying back, Roses can be bare rooted and look like dead twigs and once bulbs are in the ground they disappear!

Remember folks we’re planting for the F U T U R E!

Need some Garden Therapy? Here’s how a Hoedown can help!

A Hoedown is what I called my Garden Consultation Service, purely because ‘Garden Consultation’ sounds so boring!

Someone called it Garden Therapy as they were feeling so stressed and overwhelmed by their garden and not enjoying it all!  Others have found it really helpful at different times:

  • perhaps you’ve recently moved in and are overwhelmed by the garden you’ve inherited

  • you’re about to put your house on the market and want it to make a good impression

  • you’ve just built an extension and can now see your garden more

  • or perhaps you’ve spent the last 18 months using it more and you have a niggly feeling it could be working better for all the family!

This last few years have changed everything.  With the onset of Covid and the various lockdowns we’ve found ourselves in since March 2020, being outdoors and in our gardens has made us re-think and re-prioritise all sorts of things as our gardens have become safe havens for all the family.  Working throughout lockdown has meant I’ve had to be creative so I now have 2 offerings if you’re looking for some input into your garden:

Face to Face Hoedown

  • In your garden WITH a cuppa for an hour!
  • In your garden with payment upfront by BACS
  • Summary report sent afterwards so you don’t have to take any notes – including any sketch ideas and links to inspiration, suppliers, contractors, or plants
  • COST: £125 within a 5-mile radius of Redhill (I’m more than happy to travel further afield but will need to factor in travel time and costs)

Virtual Hoedown

  • Phone conversation to confirm priority areas (I’d suggest that design, layout, planting ideas work best this way)
  • Photos and video sent of the space before our meeting with guidance from me of best angles etc
  • Payment upfront by BACS
  • 1-hour virtual meeting held at an agreed time from your home WITH a cuppa for an hour over Zoom
  • Summary report sent afterwards so you don’t have to take any notes – including any sketch ideas and links to inspiration, suppliers, contractors, or plants
  • COST: £125

Email me to get the ball rolling!

Here’s what Claire had to say following our Hoedown:

“I spent a lovely hour in my back garden with Renée having a Hoedown.  She is so enthusiastic and knowledgeable.  I feel very inspired now and, most importantly, confident that I can change my garden to suit my family.  Renée listened to what I hoped to achieve and asked all the right questions.  I can’t wait to get started and thanks to Renée’s follow-up email with links and reminders of what we talked about it didn’t matter that I forgot most of the plant names we talked about! Thank you.”


Renee’s head and shoulders

What would you want us to spend our hour discussing?  Let me know in the comments below!


Book a Hoedown HERE!


My Wreath Environmental Manifesto

Christmas WreathIts August and I’m going to mention the C word!  Christmas! … I’m already planning for this Christmas and the Wreath Workshops that I run.  In fact, I took my first booking  back in February! 

I love running my Wreath Workshops but since I started holding them 3 years ago the world has woken up to the startling impact our use of plastic has on the environment. Remember this iconic episode from Blue Planet?  I have become increasingly aware that the materials I use in my wreaths and in my workshops are part of this debate.

So, I decided to do some research to better understand the materials involved in making a wreath to make sure that they support the values I hold.  Here’s a summary of the issues as I see them:


I’ve been running Christmas and Autumn Wreath Workshops for 3 years and have helped approximately 400 people to make their own wreaths. I’ve always used floral foam (or Oasis) bases for the wreaths I make and, in my workshops, for 2 main reasons:

~ It allows anyone to make a wreath. Even those that say “I‘m really not creative” can easily make a beautiful Christmas Wreath under my guidance

~ The wreath (if watered) will last a long time, way beyond Christmas anyhow!

But I have come to realise that floral foam is made of plastic and chemicals and cannot be recycled.  I always suggest that the floral foam base can be used again, and in my experience can be used up to 6-8 times but I’m not sure this always happens.  There is work afoot in the floristry industry to make floral foam bio-degradable but at the moment there is not an option for the foam rings I use.

Alternatives include a pre-made moss and straw ring which foliage can simply be added to or a DIY moss and wire ring which is made by binding moss to a wire ring with string or wire. It appears that the moss and wire ring can be watered and could last for a similar amount of time to the foam wreaths, and the moss and straw wreath would be harder to water and would therefore not last as long.

Wreath Materials

Christmas wreath making table


I forage for foliage to decorate my wreaths and for use in my workshops in a responsible manner, taking prunings and cuttings from gardens and hedgerows (both rural and urban) in a considerate manner, never without asking or with undue care.  In fact, I believe my cutting and pruning helps keep hedgerows in check and stimulates healthy growth.  I never cut all the Holly berries from a tree and always leave a fair amount for wildlife to feed on.  Likewise, whilst collecting cones I always leave some behind for others.

I do have to buy some foliage (e.g. Spruce) to make up the wreaths as I could never forage enough for all the wreaths I make; let alone for the workshops I deliver.


I will ensure that any foliage or moss that I buy comes from a sustainable source and is ethically harvested and where possible I will buy trimmings that would have been thrown away.

 I will forage in a respectful and responsible manner to ensure my pruning has as little impact on the local environment as possible.

I intend that the materials I use to make my Wreaths for sale contain all reusable or recyclable materials – so that means I will be moving to a moss and wire framework for my wreaths instead of using a floral foam base.


In my workshops this year I will expand my offering so that some workshop attendees use moss and wire and I will discuss options with those already booked to see what would work best. My aim is to move to Floral Foam Free Workshops in 2020.


I will make sure that all waste from my workshops is disposed of in the right way with green waste being composted and any other waste recycled as much as possible.

I wanted to share this as it feels like being environmentally conscious is an important part of both my personal and working life and it would be remiss of me to not review what I’m doing and to not make changes to how I work if I can.  Let me know what you think below by leaving me a comment or ask any questions.



P.S.  If you want to book a Wreath Workshop this Autumn or Christmas please get in touch.  I deliver Workshops for Groups with a minimum number of 5 people either in your home or at a venue you’ve organised.  I’ve delivered to Book Clubs, groups of friends and WI Groups, and been appointed by School PTA’s, Charities and Church Groups to run Wreath Workshops as fundraisers.  I will also be running some ticketed events in the Redhill area so sign up to my newsletter if you want to know when these are announced.  

7 reasons to go to a local Plant Sale

The season of the Plant Sale is upon us!

Local Gardeners and Groups will be sharing details of these sales about now and I urge you to go!  Not only will you pick up plants that have been lovingly grown in your local area you’ll probably meet some of the nicest people there are!

Here’s my seven top reasons to go to a Plant Sale:

  • You will pick up locally grown plants that like the conditions of the soil in your local area – if it liked it in your neighbour’s garden I’m 80% sure it will like it in your garden!
  • You’ll meet gardeners and gardeners love to talk plants and gardens and are usually super helpful and lovely!
  • Plants bought this way are blooming good value for money and are usually being sold in aid of a good cause
  • Questions are actively encouraged so if you’re new to gardening and aren’t sure what things are or what to do with them … always ask!  There’s never a stupid question!
  • Plants you buy this way haven’t travelled hundreds of miles to get to their destination and are usually in a recycled pot!  Gardeners are great ‘make do and menders’ and if you get to see inside anyone’s shed or greenhouse you will find highly creative ‘Heath Robinson’ solutions for all sorts of occasions!
  • Sharing of ideas.  Your new idea for your garden has probably been road-tested by someone else so this is a great place to share your ideas and get gardening tips from those who have been doing it for a while.
  • There is usually also cake on offer at a Plant Sale and for me there’s no better way to spend a Saturday morning than talking plants over tea and cake!

I have also been making new friends and sharing ideas online this year.  It definitely feels like the year of collaboration and although social media gets a lot of criticism the folk I have met online continues to astound me.

Most recently I joined an online Group that supports Mums who run their own businesses – its been invaluable and Laura that runs Power of Mum has created a virtual place where it feels like you’re sharing ideas over tea and cake.  I’m hoping to get to one of her events soon to eat cake in person but in the meantime you can read a bit more about me as she kindly featured me in her ‘A day in the life …’ Blog


Keep your eyes open for new of Plant Sales in your local area and let me know what treasures you find in the comments below.