Home time

18 January 2016
Ben Pentreath

When you’ve been away – there’s nothing nicer than getting home. And nothing nicer than being in Dorset on a crystal clear sunny morning, with a heavy frost in the garden.

It was the quietest weekend ever, though, because on Sunday I didn’t really ever get up. I had one of those strange 24 hour bugs that I think you sometimes get when you’ve been on a plane.  That was one thing; the fact that we ran out of heating oil on the coldest weekend of the year was another.

So this is the shortest blog of all time (fully recovered, writing on Monday afternoon).  Time to sit back, enjoy a few photos, and dream of spring.P1070006 P1070009


We’ve recently cleared an old diseased Laurel tree from the end of the garden and it’s opened up a wide new view.
P1070013 But the best things don’t change:
P1070020 P1070021 The frost on the rhubarb forcer was its usual beautiful thing:

We had the first rhubarb on Friday night (although I forgot to whip out my camera, but here’s a shot from Charlie’s instagram feed, which I am sure you are already following, but just in case not).rhubarb by charlieP1070025 P1070026 I love mornings like this.

The garden is about to become a bit of a ‘watch this space’. This morning, in the dark, and the pouring rain, just as we were about to drive to the station to catch the train to London, our friend Mike the landscaper arrived with a mini-digger. We’re going to be making a long level patch of lawn all along the front of the house, with a little dry stone wall at its base meeting the meadow.

So that all along here, and the view in the other direction, the lawn bit will be level. P1070036 P1070037

I think by the end of the week this lot will be looking a bit like the battle of the Somme. But we hope it’ll be worth it. Partly this is what happens when Charlie digs up the lawn to make new flowerbeds (see the second photo right at the top).  And partly what we’ve been dreaming of doing anyway for a very long time.  It will be good to put in a bit of structure just here. I’ll take some photos when it’s all done.

Those beds are full of Charlie’s tulips.  I can’t wait for spring. But while it’s here, it’s good to have a moment of freezing cold winter, even without any heating or hot water, and even if you do need to spend a whole day in bed.

15 comments on this post


How exciting!!
I would be a little worried about the root zone of the beech. I hope your digger driver is careful!
Can’t wait to see the results.


I also have a too big laurel tree obscuring the view into the valley. And although I told the Italian who came to cut trees, it is still there ….

What a burst of colour from that forced rhubarb – beautiful, especially on this chilly evening. I seem to be drawn to anything pink at the moment. Hope you are feeling better and easing yourself back into things gently.


So glad you are feeling better. Home grown rhubarb in January – wonderful! I love seeing the bulbs coming up in the pots by the door. Spring is not too far away even if it is 10F where I live.

Dear Ben,

It looks to me like the famous beech tree will be perilously close to the new terracing. They are very sensitive to changes in grade near or over their roots, and the roots will extend well past the “drip line,” which is the furthest reach of their branches. Please notify the builder to avoid any build-up of soil in that vicinity!


steve PS lovely blog. I need a day at home in bed…

Sorry to hear you may have been waylaid by a norovirus or some such. But I’m glad you had the energy to post your pictures. Your garden is such a pick-me-up for those of us dwelling in an urban jungle, i.e. NYC. Your plans for the side of the house sound quite perfect. Looking forward to seeing the results.

Everything looks lovely. Please post pictures as soon as you can of the new lawn and stone wall.
Have a wonderful week!
xo, Lissy

Lovely, short post, I adore the photo of the frost on the rhubarb forcer. Enjoy reading the comments on this blog too but reading about the loss of Venita’s holly is too sad, sometimes having work done results in 2 steps forwards and one step back.

Pierre B.says:

Whatever the season. this house and it’s garden are ravishing. Charlie’s nature morte looks quite alive in this decor!


Me too Ben, leaving home while a terrace is cut across width of steep back garden to make the slope more manageable and aesthetic (some Georgian style trellising with bull’s eye window going in further towards top.) My neighbour has said “how lovely you’ll come home to a new garden” but I am thinking in mid-Feb it’s more likely to be fit only for a session of mud pie-making…..

Nicola Lawrencesays:

Dear Ben. Like one of your other readers, I’ve never seen that side of the house (the front) either. How beautiful. The level lawn and ha ha will look great – as everthing does. Kind regards, Nicola

I had never seen that vista (third last photo) of the house and it gives it a very different perspective, and a better sense of the size of it. Your landlord seems quite flexible…or loves your vision and welcomes it. Croquet in the summer.


What better time to enjoy a good roaring open fire. Best, Nicola


p.s. love the pic of the rhubarb, looks like a Dutch still life.


You’re a brave man Ben leaving Mike the gardener to dig away at the front of the house without supervision. last week I left our local tree surgeon and his assistant to remove five 50ft pine trees from our drive (will be replaced with 12 pleached copper beech ).I also asked for ten 20ft holly trees to be cut to 8ft (hope to get good bush re growth).What I didn’t ask for was the chopping of the branches of the 3 holly trees that support our tree platform that overlooks the estuary.Our tree platform now looks like a crow’s nest! Unbelievable, it’s going to take an age to recreate.
The tree surgeon’s assistant was there to greet me, he looked at the expression on my face and said
‘Don’t worry luv, it will grow.All you need is a bit of imagination’.I’m afraid I couldn’t hold back and my reply was’I think you’ll find I have spent 35 years building a career using my imagination’.
And all because I had to work away from home for 2 days supervising someone else’s garden.

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