A memory of a visit to Villandry…

I will not order you into your winter warmers and gloves and send you out to do renovation pruning.  This is the time of the year to sit by the fire and read and take a flight of fancy to France with a recount of high season visit to the most famous garden of the…

Chaumont International Garden Festival v. RHS flower shows

“Have issue.  You were so adamant that you wouldn’t go to Chelsea again.  Discuss, please”. This text came through the day I was at this year’s Flower Show and looked like a   an essay question. The best way to answer it  is probably to   compare  Chelsea Flower Show  with the Chaumont sur Loire…

We are lectured by Tom Stuart Smith

Early in the month Tom Stuart Smith gave a lecture at Great Braxted in Essex and we gardening types were lured from our potting sheds. There was the usual charitable angle with the National Garden Scheme and Horatio’s Garden vying either for or funds or our attention in the most charming way. I had no…

Behind Walls at the Charterhouse

I was looking for a place called the Charterhouse. Getting in, even finding it made me feel like a Minpin trying to crack a walnut. Lurking behind a big brick wall in the Clerkenwall Road – the one door in was firmly locked. How was I to arrive? Wasted time pacing up and down in…

Galloping plant knowledge at Bressingham Gardens

It was mildly provoking to be sent this image of a tree by a holidaying husband.  The tree itself was not annoying, the request to ID it was.  What I didn’t realise at the time was that in a countdown of hours I would be gathering wisps of knowledge from the acknowledged world expert on…

Shapes and textures matter to Beth Chatto

The gravel garden at Beth Chatto is inspired by a wadi or dry river bed.  I know this because Dan Pearson told us last week at Essex University where he delivered a lecture for the Beth Chatto Education Trust.  The reference is clearly drawn with  banks and eddies of planting, separated by a wide gravel…

Review of “Essay on Gardening” by Henk Gerritsen

  Hefting in at one and a half kilos , “Essay on Gardening” simply cannot be that.  (OED “A short piece of writing on a particular subject”).  I suspect a Gerritsen tease.  For the gardener who wants to be enlightened and provoked in equal measures, treat this book as your bible.  I have read it…

Giverny: Monet’s incomparable garden

We are at the apogee of the gardening season.  The oriental poppies and irises have stormed the classic flower borders.  June is it for blowsy blooms, zinging pinks and a heightening of the colour palette.  It is good moment to share this trip I made to Giverny, Claude Monet’s garden.   

Umbellifered out and spoilt at Gravetye Manor

The day before yesterday we were umbellifered out and spoilt to bits  all in one sitting, so to speak.  A birthday celebration took 3 of us to Gravetye Manor in  north Sussex, near East Grinstead.   It is not a  bit of the map that you might pick on  and say “I must go there”  hard…

Hats off to Chelsea

A whole week has evaporated since the  Chelsea Flower Show visit.  I’ve examined my pics and scribbled notes and here they are.  A little old hat by now.  I swear this lady wears this hat every year.  Definitely photographed her before. The sleuthing visit of one day gives a sort of hysterical edge to fitting…