I’ve been writing a monthly blog for Ben for most of the year in 2023 and I realise that you probably really have no clue who I am! Who the Higgledy is this person writing on Ben’s blog. So I thought I would tell you a bit about myself. So here we go, I’m Anne and I love flowers!
You probably need a bit more information than that though so here goes. I work at Bluebell Cottage Gardens and nursery for part of my week and how lucky am I, what a fabulous place. If you haven’t been it is a nursery in Cheshire which specialises in hardy perennials, many of the plants that we sell are grown in the gardens which are open to the public from April till September. It’s such a varied job dealing with the mail-orders and expanding trade customers, serving customers on the nursery when we are open, giving advice on perennials to suit your garden, looking after the stock on the nursery, topping up when needed, potting up of new stock, propagation, stock taking and of course the ever present watering, weeding and tidying. We also have a stand at the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show and that’s always a manic but exciting week. We have a fabulous team, led by the inimitable Sue Beesley, and its such a friendly place to work.
I also work around one day a week for Ben at Higgledy Garden, who I met when he moored up on the canal near Bluebell Cottage and used the nursery as a base during lockdown. The photo above was one that Ben took of Sue, myself, Louise and Sheila when we were having a break from all the manic mail-orders that we had during lockdown. Ben and Flash were regular visitors to Bluebell (though they always seemed to time it for 11am teabreak!!), he grew an amazing flower patch there in the summer of 2021 and we made up some bouquets to sell at the nursery over the summer.
Here I’m known as Higgledy Anne, I send out orders and do seed packing but as I said I’ve also been writing a regular blog on what is happening on my cutting patch. I grow many annuals for cut flowers and I like to experiment with new varieties and then if they look good and perform well I try and persuade Ben to stock them! This has been such fun, working with Ben and also the lovely Gemma. Keeping you all stocked up with flower seeds for a beautiful and bee-friendly garden.
I haven’t always worked in Horticulture, I’m one of many career-change horticulturalists who, just realised that they had enough of working in an office and needed to get outside. I worked at Manchester University doing research into autoimmune diseases, especially childhood onset arthritis, and I’m very proud of what I did there, but gradually over the years my love of gardening took over. I did the usual things, I started volunteering at the beautiful National Trust property at Lyme Park (famous for the being the location where Mr Darcy AKA Colin Firth jumped into the lake and set many a heart racing). I did my RHS Level 2 in Horticulture and then I asked to go properly part time from my job (I had a very understanding boss!) and I did a WRAGS training year at the amazing York Gate garden. Two days a week emmersed in the 1 acre garden near Leeds. It was joyous, I learnt so much there but the one thing I took away was that it’s the plants that I love most. I didn’t want to be a ‘proper’ gardener, I wanted to work in a plant nursery. Fortunately the timing was perfect for me as just as my training was ending, Sue Beesley put an advert on Twitter (when Twitter was a nice place to be) to say she was looking for staff at her nursery! Bluebell Cottage was one of my favourite nurseries so I jumped at the chance. So I started there on Saturdays initially and now I’m there up to 3 days a week. I finally made the big leap from my academic job (of 25 years) in 2018 and not looked back since. I also had a fun couple of years working with the amazing Brenda at Bud Garden Centre (again a job advert on Twitter!!). Another inspirational place in South Manchester with a fantastic ethos. So that’s a bit of my history it took a while to get here but now I couldn’t be happier, a bit less money, but loving my job so much more.
At home, we have a smallish garden with a large greenhouse, perennial borders and raised beds for growing cut flowers. We moved here in the spring of 2019 and its still very much a work in progress. It had lots of mature shrubs and conifers in that had completely outgrown their space so lots have been removed. Its dominated by a glorious Beech tree which has taken a bit of thinking about and I’m still experimenting with the planting around it.
The area round the greenhouse is a more functional growing area with raised beds and compost bins. Plus I have a higgledy old potting shed!
Then there is a lawn surrounded by perennial borders and a courtyard area at the back of the house.
Its very much a surburban garden but we are lucky that we are close to woods and fields so we get lots of birds and I very much try to garden with nature and wildlife in mind. We have a hedgehog that we think lives under our old chicken shed which we watch over the year with a trail camera.
My passion for cutflowers has evolved over the last few years and is developing into a real love affair. I have many raised beds for growing flowers for cutting, using tried and tested cut and come again flowers like Sweet peas, Cosmos, Dahlias, but I also like experimenting (that’s the scientist in me!) trying new varieties and new flowers. I also have borders with a mix of shrubs and perennials so I especially love trying different perennial flowers for cutting as these can add some uniqueness to your bouquets. In the summer months I love faffing about arranging them with different combinations and colours.
We also have a mischievous cat called Jed who frequently follows me about the garden wanting to get involved.
So thats a bit about me. Looking forward to a new growing season in 2024 and lots of fabulous flowers!