March heirs.

Looking around the plot, it’s evident winter hasn’t left us with much. It’s a difficult time of year, with winter dragging its feet into the spring our hopes are keen to conjure.

Rain is continuing to fall, the soil is sodden and sticky under our feet.  The wet is set to turn to cold this coming weekend. It probably isn’t a good time to sow anything. Jane Scotter’s advice of  ‘patience’ at this time of year seems prudent.


We’d judged our visit to coincide with the weather forecast’s ‘better part of the day’, it turned out to be the wettest. Rain dripping down our necks, we looked over the plot.

Broad beans stopped in their tracks by the cold and wet. The red onion sets are inert, as rootless and shoot-less as the day they were pushed into the late-autumn soil. The chicories hang on, perfect rosettes offering promise that they will soon grow enough to produce a last winter salad.



Elsewhere there is evidence spring is coming, tightly clasped catkins on the hazel wait for a warm day, as I pass the pond, three or four little splashes give away the presence of frogs waiting to spawn.


20 march 2013

Howard Sooley

Cut flower

Last week I started off the sweet peas in a propagator at home, luckily didn’t sow them in the ground which despite this morning’s sunshine is still frozen solid. Now I’m staring out of a window at the blue sky when I should be staring at a computer screen.


I’m editing pictures of cut flower growers. A series of portraits commissioned by the Garden museum by Lambeth Bridge in London (where they are currently being exhibited).  Shot in January the photographs are a glimpse of Britain’s cut flower industry. An industry under pressure from the supermarkets and their need for non-seasonal suppliers, sourcing flowers from all over the world.

I visited six different growers in Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Oxfordshire, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

Here are some pictures from the show – it is up until April 5th.


Sorry if I seem short of words today.

14 March 2013

Howard Sooley.

Spring cleaning

It is ‘officially’ spring and I am full of its joys. Outside, the sun is rising slowly in the sky from its long winter hibernation, there is a genuine warmth to its rays. I walked back from taking the car for its MOT this morning with my eyes closed and the sun warm on my face.


Yesterday we met at the plot and did a bit of spring cleaning. It felt too cold to sow seeds, most of the water butts had a thin layer of ice and the soil looked and felt lifeless. We tidied old leaves, transplanted chives and oregano, cleared away old hazel poles (we will get new ones this year: they get too brittle to bear the tremendous weight of the beans). We also addressed old business from our old plot. When we first started there we built a ‘cow pat preparation pit’ with the help and expertise of Bernard Jarman from the BDA. When we moved plots, the pit stayed. It wasn’t easy to pick up and take with us, and anyway newts had claimed it as a safe, warm place to spend the winter months. But it felt like we’d left something important behind. So yesterday, we finally got round to digging it up, back-filling the hole and moving the bricks to a new spot. It felt like a necessary and good thing to do.


Howard Sooley