Exploring the best gardens in England: Doddington Place

I had an idea to go and volunteer labour  in gardens of whimsy and interest to soak up history,  horticultural  skills and the genius loci.    Doddington Place was my first choice.  I was welcomed  by the owner and the head gardener and enfolded into the garden for a few days,  becoming  part 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…

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…

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.    Please do follow us!

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…

Bulbs – try out the dolly mixture planting style

Bulbs are opportunists.  Most come from the far Eastern end of the Mediterranean, from rocky scree where early  snow melt gives a source of water before summer drought.  The busting into leaf and flower comes from energy suppled by a modified root and shoot system stored in their fleshy cells. Photosynthesis and pollination accomplished, they…

Greening the grey with High Line

Every twenty years or so landscape design puts something truly revolutionary into the public domain.    For instance  The Landschaftspark  in Duisburg-Meiderich, Germany, designed in 1991 by Latz + Partners.  Set in an abandoned  coal and steel production plant, the concept  for this site was to embrace the industrial past and preserve as much of…

A visit to Bury Court to see planting by Oudolf and Bradley Hole

I can never make my mind up whether it is best to thoroughly research a garden before visiting first-time round, clued up and laden with information.  A good tactic but equally so is a full dive in without the background history.  This  can give a more sincere response to site, planting and atmosphere. Over the…

Why I did not visit Jupiter Artland

Visitors to the  Edinburgh Festival and its cuckoo offspring, the Fringe, will find themselves beetling about from venue to venue in a mad rush to fit everything in.  In the frantic scurry-about, wearing down shoe-leather, the beauty of Edinburgh’s setting and architecture seeps into the soul. This year we decided to take in landscapes as…