If you are looking to have a beautiful garden that you can share with your dogs, you have come to the right place.

Put your feet up for a couple of minutes and check out the articles, which all relate to Gardening and Dogs, some just concentrate on one aspect slightly more than the other. 

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For those of you who attended the rally session at the Welsh Springer fun weekend , here are the notes I promised you.  They may be interesting even if you didn’t attend!

Year Book 2017


  • You must use a collar with a buckle (or quick snap) and without embellishments.
  • You must declare, before you start the round, whether you will do the Bonus Exercise.  (The steward will ask you)
  • Levels 1 & 2 are on lead. Level 3 and above are off lead.
  • You are free, at all levels, to talk your dog as much as you wish to encourage it. However, remember that this cannot include anything that could be construed as a command or you will be penalised for an additional command.
  • Rally is not “stewarded”. You make your own way through a course at your own pace.  The maximum time for a round is so long as to not be relevant 99% of the time.


  • You start with 200 points (or 210 if you choose to do the Bonus exercise). From this total points are deducted.
  • The most common reasons for losing points are
    • AC (1) – Additional command (every time you give it)
    • TL (1) – Tight lead – often goes with AC (every time it happens)
    • OP (1) – Slightly out of position. The definition of “out of position” is much relaxed from the definition used in competitive obedience
    • FM (2) – Failure of dog to move with handler
    • LA (2) – Lack of Attention
    • NC (5) – Exercise not complete
    • IF (5) – Incorrect finish
    • KC (5) – Knocking over a cone or exercise sign (by dog or handler)
    • NQ – Non-qualifying (for the whole round) – Deductions totalling ten or more points on any exercise or missing a sign.
  • Full details of scoring can be found in Rally S Regulations (http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/media/97375/rally_s_regulations.pdf) , Page 18 – which is Annex B, 5 Scoring.
  • If your final score 170 or is more, you will Qualify. If your final score is 190 or more, you will Qualify Excellent.  Three Qualifiers will take you to the next level.
  • If you have a dog that is even reasonably obedient, it is very easy to get a Level 1 Qualifier.  You may, therefore, want to space out the times you compete so that you have done enough training for higher levels when your and your dog qualify to move up to the next level.
  • As you progress up the levels, they become considerably more challenging, both in the exercises and the level of obedience required.
  • If you want to ensure you don’t qualify, probably as the dog is not yet ready for the next level, you can do something which would result in a NQ, such as walking straight past a sign!



  • There are 3 sets of signs for Lvls 1/2, Lvls 3/4 and Lvls 5/6. All levels can, and do, contain signs from previous levels.  The difference between the pairs of levels is that the lower will be easier in its layout and severity of marking.
  • Signs should be on your right as you pass them.  Level 1/2 exceptions –
    • Turn signs that you turn in front of
    • Serpentine & Straight Figure of Eight – enter with sign on your left
    • Spiral Left, Dog Inside
  • Signs can be found online. The Level 1/2 link is http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/media/352541/level_1_signs_with_explanations_a4.compressed.pdf
  • This is my simplified version with all the L1&2 signs on one page – Rally Signs – L1&2
  • This is the Lvl 1 course I used for the fun day – Lvl 1 Course – WSS Fun weekend
  • Whilst you can stop and read a sign before performing the required exercise, it is sensible to become familiar with the signs for the level you are working.


  • Whilst the number of classes available around the country are limited, more groups are always being formed.
  • If you want to progress through the levels, you may find that a competitive obedience club will be able to help you. Many of the static exercises in obedience can be found in Rally.  Details of training clubs can be found at http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/services/public/findaclub/training/Default.aspx

More info


Gardening is better than housework

Having spent many happy hours watching David Letterman’s Late Show Top Ten Lists, I thought I would compile my own version!


10 Reasons why gardening is better than housework

10.  Cafes at garden centres tend to be more relaxing than those at supermarkets.  Let’s be fair, their wares to lend themselves to a more convivial atmosphere.  They can include fountains, foliage, colourful plants and I have even seen one with a peacock.

9.  Visiting gardens gives you the opportunity to wander around someone else’s property.  You can get ideas, experience their lifestyle, and enjoy the day out – and maybe peer in the windows.  Apart from TV programmes, it is very rare to find someone, who is not a friend, who will welcome you into their house.

8.  Gardening is all about taming nature – you can prune plants to go where you want, provide them with conditions they need and they will reward you.  The humans, and to some extent the canines, you share your house with will have their own opinions on life!

7.  Whilst both gardening and housework have a wide range of tools to make jobs easier to do, gardening tools tend to be much easier to use – when did you last see a trowel or secateurs with a detailed instruction book?

6.  Your body sometimes decides that you have done enough work in the garden and it is now time to relax and sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labours.

5.  You tend to use more calories gardening than on housework.  Obviously it depends what you are actually doing, but according to CalorieLab.com, most household chores range between 100-200 calories per hour, whilst WebMD.com gives calorie values of 200-400 per hour for general gardening while heavy work can be much more.

4.  Sometimes family members want to help you with the gardening – though canine help isn’t always appreciated!  This rarely happens with housework.

3.  When gardening, you see the seasons coming.  You have the promise of the future.  Indoors, the only event that has a major impact is Christmas.

2.  Gardening means you are outside and can feel the sun on your back, the rain coming down or the chill of the evening.  Indoors, you can fix the thermostat for a constant temperature.

1.  Weeks and months after you have worked on an area in the garden, it looks better than when you did the work.  Indoors, the moment when something looks its best is the second after you have finished the work.

We always think of winter as a time to see the structure of a garden, but I would argue that few of us tend to spend time out in the garden in the cold days of winter.  Rather, it is as winter gives way to spring that we venture outside for longer and actually look at plants for longer than a few seconds.

Euonymus europaeus hedge Hursley

Euonymus europaeus

I see this hedge at work every day and ever since I recognised it as Euonymus europaeus, I have kept an eye on it as I have the same plant in my front garden.  Though I have to say this plant is much more mature than mine.

Euonymus europaeus stem Hursley

Euonymus europaeus structure

Last week, I was looking at the Euonymuos closely and looked through the external twigs / branches, to the trunk behind it.  I suddenly realised that what I thought was a hedge was actually just one plant.  Seen from the back, this becomes very apparent, but I had never before looked past the clothing of the plant to actually look at the structure behind it.

Last year, my garden was totally neglected due to my hip problems so now I have to get the garden back under control!  Obviously the structure is still there – a year isn’t enough for nature to totally take over, but oh boy have many of the plants had a field day :). There is a saying that a weed is just a plant in the wrong place – well, I have a lot of weeding to do.

Muehlenbeckia complexa

One plant that is only now mature enough to need confining to its allotted space is on called Muehlenbeckia complexa.  When I last opened the garden, a number of people asked the name of it and it certainly is very dainty and fills it’s allocated spot beautifully.  But if only I had looked in Wikipedia and seen its common names, I might have been more wary as they include maidenhair vine, creeping wire vine and lacy wire vine.

Before weeding

As I worked my way around the garden, clearing one area at a time, I made great progress until I came to the area by the pond where the Muehlenbeckia complexa is planted.  I realised that it had decided to make an airborne attack on the hydrangea next to it, but I was not anticipating what I found at ground level.  Along the wall and at the path edge, I found what looked like a bundle of wires.  The bundle must have been at least 4 inches in diameter and probably contained well over 100 “wires”.  Luckily, they hadn’t made too many attempts to root and so could be removed, but it did take quite a while.

Hydrangea returned to its fan shape and Muehlenbeckia complexa controlled – for now!

Once that was done, then I could get on with my planned job of fan pruning the hydrangea.  I really like this way of pruning them, which I first saw at an office I was working at, as allows the hyrdangea to fit into a narrow space and also add a structural element.

So, that is it for this weekend.  The clocks have gone forward and gardening begins again in earnest :).


Well, Crufts is over for another year and Easter is almost upon us, so it is now time to get going in the garden again.

Last year my garden was badly neglected due to my hip pain but now, having had a very successful hip replacement, I am ready to get going again.

That said, I am mindful that last year’s relative inactivity has left my muscles very unused to hard work and in particular gardening, so I am trying to be very careful and pace myself.  It is very hard to see all the work that needs to be done and still give myself permission to leave it until another time.  However that is what I know I have to do.

Recently, I pushed myself a little too hard and ended up virtually unable to move and in excruciating pain.  Thankfully, after a few visits to my McTimoney chiropractor and a little time, things are now back to normal, but the incident reminded me that I am fallible and need to be careful.

So,Natures Kiss what was on the list of jobs that I am approaching this weekend?  I had already removed last year’s leaves from some of my hellebores, but I had to finish off the others.  I then cut my miscanthus to the ground, pruned my roses and cut the late flowering clematis back.

Now, my garden rubbish bags are full so I had to stop.  The next step is to indulge my back with a Nature’s Kiss massage!

I feel really bad that I haven’t posted for some time.  The truth is that I have hardly been out in the garden and so have had no inspiration :(.  This is because I have become increasingly incapacitated by hip pain.

Cup HolderWell, tomorrow is the date for my second hip replacement, so normal service should be resumed early next year as I become fit enough to garden again.

I have however found a number of ways of coping with hip pain which I have detailed in a focused website – hiptips.me. 

Probably the tip that I am most proud of is my solution for the eternal problem of how to carry things (drinks in particular) when you have crutches.

This weekend, I decided that now was the time for a very late (by 2 months) Chelsea Chop.  As you may be aware, Anya loves to grab a piece of plant material and race off with it.  This was therefore a possible recipe for her to have great fun.  However, I have been working on the problem with her and I seem to have made a major break through.

So, how have I done this?  By introducing Anya to my new favourite gardening tool – a trug.  Many of you may well use these anyway to carry removed plant material to your compost bin or otherwise dispose of it.  I certainly had, but I had never through of it as a way of stopping Anya from playing the unwanted game of stealing plant material.

You may be aware of the concept of “Owning your Garden“.  The trug just helps me concentrate this principle into a very focused location.  I started by putting a few twigs at the bottom of the trug.  When Anya showed interest in them, I used the Ouch command.  When she moved away from the trug, I rewarded her with a treat.  Once Anya showed that she had started to understand that the trug was mine, I put more plant material in the trug and repeated the same exercise.


We  have now reached the stage where I can have long branches sticking out of the trug and Anya understands that anything in the trug is mine and she won’t steal them.  This picture is not staged.  She was not put in a sit stay beside the trug.  I just happened to notice her sitting by the trug taking absolutely no interest in its contents.

So we seem to have found a method by which I can have Anya out in the garden and do large amounts of tidying.  Make no mistake, if I put even the smallest amount of plant material on the ground, it would immediately be picked up and paraded around the garden as a trophy.  However, she seems to understand that if something is in the trug it is MINE!