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Barrie Hedges - Community Leader Profile

Semi-retirement transformed the gardening habits of Shoot community leader Barrie Hedges. Where once he struggled to find time for a "never very productive" allotment and a few flowers and shrubs at home, now he has been able to immerse himself in his long-time hobby.

Quite apart from simply having more time, a move of home from Wiltshire to a cottage three miles from the sea in east Devon has been a big factor. There were, however, big challenges. His new allotment had reverted to a field, and the garden he shares with partner Jan had become seriously overgrown after two years without care.

Barrie Hedges Member Profile Plant lover and Shoot member

After long hours of work, both have now been restored to their full potential. But what has also undergone a step change is Barrie's interest in and understanding of his plants. He gives much of the credit for that to Shoot.

"The garden I inherited had been created by a real plantswoman for whom it had been a retirement project," he says. "I came to it with plenty of enthusiasm but soon realised that I didn't have the depth of knowledge to do it justice. Shoot has been absolutely invaluable in restoring the garden, and now in looking after it."

Barrie Hedges Member Profile Plant lover and Shoot member

He adds: "I have to date logged around 150 plants and shrubs that I have been able to identify, and found it a great benefit to apply notes to each of them to remind me exactly where they are. But the massive advantage with Shoot lies in its capacity to give me month-by-month 'to do' lists so that I know what care is needed and when.

"I can also check what soil they prefer and am now, for example, applying acid feed to those that are having to cope with our generally alkaline soil. We have added quite a few plants to replace those that had been lost into the undergrowth and each is now properly cared for."

Barrie Hedges Member Profile Plant lover and Shoot member

The garden was created by a retired former foreign diplomat who sadly died after putting in place an inspirational plan. She saw the potential in terracing a fairly steep grassy hillside and in taking out the trees that created too much shade for the plants she wanted.

She also made it interesting by creating winding and climbing pathways that give the garden an element of mystery. On one boundary this includes a pumped waterfall spilling into a picturesque pond.

For Barrie, the first big job (after cutting back the undergrowth and hacking down the lawn) was to replace the rapidly failing wooden supports on which the terracing relied. With expert input from landscaper Jonny Hodges, Barrie replaced the rotting posts with vertical oak sleepers. Securing them involved mixing several tonnes of concrete in the front driveway and then carrying it in buckets up the hill.

Barrie Hedges Member Profile Plant lover and Shoot member

Gravel and paving slab pathways have been replaced with blue slate, and potentially hazardous steps now have handrails. Trimming has brought order back to the shrubs, while two raised vegetable beds have been added as a nursery for the allotment. A greenhouse and cold frame have been added to enable Barrie to sow and grow his own nursery plants.

One large bed has been cleared and replanted to create in part a spring garden with primroses and snowdrops blending into a bed of summertime cottage garden perennials. Grasses and hebes still dominate the topmost bed.

As the light falls, the restored garden takes on a new personality via a simple 'plug and play' lighting system. "I love to wander around it in the quiet of the evening and I couldn't do that without lighting the pathways," says Barrie.  "But you can also use it to pick out features and to add a bit of drama."

Barrie Hedges Member Profile Plant lover and Shoot member

There is also a new 'man cave' shed and beside it a restored pub sign that in turn lends its name to Barrie's latest project, the gardening blog www.gardenerscall.net. "My career as a newspaper reporter and latterly in PR has largely involved writing," he says. "In retirement, I wanted still to be able to publish and to take photos, so the blog brings it all together."

"But at each turn I take now I find the resources available to me from Shoot absolutely invaluable. It really is a mine of information and an inspiration."

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Barrie's plant list

Acanthus spinosus
Alchemilla mollis
Betula utilis var. jacquemontii 'Grayswood Ghost'
Asplenium scolopendrium
Aucuba japonica
Elaeagnus x ebbingei
Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens'
Choisya ternata
Clematis montana
Leycesteria formosa
Ceanothus arboreus 'Trewithen Blue'
Cotinus coggygria
Fatsia japonica
Pyracantha rogersiana
Pyracantha 'Saphyr Orange'
Allium sphaerocephalon
Ceanothus impressus 'Puget Blue'
Cercis canadensis 'Forest Pansy'
Geranium 'Johnson's Blue'
Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster'
Clematis armandii
Clematis 'Princess Diana'
Cornus alba 'Sibirica'
Passiflora caerulea
Acer pseudoplatanus 'Brilliantissimum'
Acer palmatum var. dissectum 'Garnet'
Crocosmia 'Lucifer'
Fritillaria meleagris
Erica carnea 'Ice Princess'
Clematis 'Ernest Markham'
Matteuccia struthiopteris
Leucojum vernum
Geranium endressii
Lysimachia ciliata 'Firecracker'
Hebe 'Purple Princess'
Iris reticulata
Eucomis autumnalis
Paeonia suffruticosa 'High Noon'
Hemerocallis 'Crimson Pirate'
Philadelphus 'Virginal'
Clematis montana var. grandiflora
Anemone hupehensis 'September Charm'
Clematis 'Crystal Fountain'
Lonicera japonica 'Mint Crisp'
Lythrum virgatum
Malus 'Evereste'
Clematis viticella 'Alba Luxurians'
Amaranthus caudatus
Acer shirasawanum 'Jordan'
Papaver orientale 'Allegro'
Allium karataviense 'Ivory Queen'
Erysimum linifolium 'Variegatum'
Dianthus x chinensis 'Corona Cherry Magic'
Aucuba japonica 'Variegata'
Leucanthemum x superbum
Primula denticulata var. alba
Rosa 'Penny Lane'
Rosa 'Bonica'
Lonicera 'Copper Beauty'
Pratia pedunculata 'County Park'
Iris 'Langport Wren'
Heuchera 'Obsidian'
Delphinium 'Summer Skies'
Pelargonium 'Vista Red'
Iris 'Delft Blue'
Pelargonium 'Aristo Velvet Red'
Acer palmatum
Rosa 'Hot Chocolate'
Gentiana saxosa
Leptinella squalida 'Platt's Black'
Helianthemum 'Rhodanthe Carneum'
Photinia x fraseri 'Cassini'
Heuchera 'Marmalade'
Iris 'Blue Magic'
Agapanthus 'Blue Globe'
Lysimachia punctata
Rosa 'Pope John Paul II'
Heuchera 'Lime Marmalade'
Bergenia purpurascens
Lupinus 'Red Rum'
Rosa 'Super Elfin'
Clematis viticella
Heuchera 'Venus'
Phlox paniculata 'Purple Kiss'
Buxus (any variety)
Camellia (any variety)
Euonymus (any evergreen variety)
Phormium (any variety)
Buddleja davidii (any variety)
Penstemon 'Phoenix Violet 09'
Rosa 'Lady Marmalade'
Cyclamen persicum
Sagina subulata 'Lime Moss'
Lewisia Elise Mix
Agapanthus 'Snow Princess'
Lupinus 'Persian Slipper'
Digitalis purpurea Dalmatian Series
Rhodohypoxis 'Pintado'
Aster novi-belgii 'Winston S. Churchill'
Iris 'Stepping Out'