Devon in April is a pretty special place to be, it would normally see the business side of my life begin to ramp up, being the chef half of the duo here at Oaktree Occasions, this is kind of the ready, steady month before we really hit go. Well we were ready but then with the Coronavirus pandemic, its been ready, steady, stop!. Whilst still doing what has been to be done to keep the business going, which is still the number one priority, I’d be lying if I said  the situation hasn’t afforded me the most time in years to spend more time in our garden here overlooking Dartmoor National Park. Living on the edge of one of Devon’s smallest towns, close to our base in Okehampton, but only half an hour from Exeter, it is really is a lovely place to live.

The garden we have here is by no means at all big, so we have evolved it over the years to what it is today, I am probably best described as a plants- woman, for me its about having plants in the garden that I love to look at, at a push- loose English cottage garden style plants, with a leaning to a fixed all year background with herbaceous perennials that come year after year, giving a long season of interest, alliums through to rudbeckias,  and a bit of bedding to fill the gaps,I love a little bit of structure but lean towards the looser style of planting. Mike, my partner, likes much more formal planting, loves designing and carrying out the hard landscaping, and if he had his way, we would plant everything in multiples of three, with some municipal park bedding thrown in, so I think you will agree if you look at the pictures of last year, we have a real mix of both of those things to keep all parties happy!

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The greenhouse this year is fuller than its ever been, with lots of seeds germinating, ready to be pricked out soon, in the winter its a store for my much loved Agapanthus, and some tender fuchsias and geraniums, due to having more time and suspecting lockdown impacting our ability to get out and about I have put in seeds of white cosmos – my favorite annual of all time, stocks for scent, some small sunflowers and cleome for height, along with some veg seeds, courgettes, spinach, parsley and basil, and a couple types of cut and come again lettuce. We always have tomatoes in the greenhouse every summer, I have ordered some mini plugs on line to be sure we have them, as although I contacted my normal supplier up the road he couldn’t be sure he would have any delivered.

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For the first time last year we gave over our tiny, but productive little corner of a salad veg plot to a cut flower bed, with some specimen dahlias, alstromerias, gypsophilia and cosmos I fell into the trap of over filling it, but still had some great results, the Dahlia ‘Cafe au Lait’ being fabulous with flowers the size of dinner plates. This year Mike has lots of wood lying around so is in the process of making some planters we can place on the steps leading down to this corner to place in some of the salad veg seeds to keep us ticking along in the summer, I think its fair to say its going to be a jungle out there!

My Dad and Uncle were fabulous vegetable gardeners, but not so much into flowers, I don’t really know where I got this love from, the constant amazement that from a tiny dot of a seed, or a seemingly dormant scrubby piece of wood in the ground such beautiful things erupt from, and watching that transportation is the perfect tonic to the stresses and strains of modern life, and is well renowned antidote to depression and anxiety. Working under cover ,which is where I mainly am, whether it be a marquee or the preparation kitchen in Okehampton, to be able to get outside, just to deadhead, dig the soil, water or whatever needs doing, and when your a gardener- something always needs doing- is heavenly! I think there is something deep down in me that, if, at the the end of the day, I have produced something solid and physical, whether in the kitchen or in the garden I feel like I have achieved something.

I do hope you have enjoyed knowing a little about this side of us hear at Oaktree Occasions you may  not have known about, and do let us know what you are doing to keep safe and sane during this unprecedented time in our lives. I have a feeling, if we all come out of this with our loved and cherished ones unscathed, we will look back on this time and think how lucky we were to have remained safe, and lived life at a slower pace for a while, truly appreciating what is immediately around us, we have so much to be thankful for.xx

We are still here to answer any questions or queries and are very much in business and looking forward to speaking to any of you about your forthcoming wedding or event, please do not hesitate to contact us