Walking staycation from North to South Downs

Masked up and socially distanced Evensong in Canterbury Cathedral was followed by a blessing from a bearded canon on the spot that once housed Thomas A Beckett’s shrine.   The beginning of a pilgrimage to Santiago.  A short week in August to line us up on France for next time.  For now, Canterbury to Newhaven…

Two castles: two gardens: a view or two

The double tall beeches make a tunnel along which the visitor travels on the top of a levee above the surrounding landscape.  This is  the driveway to Drummond Castle, near Criefff in Perthshire.  We swooped in like bats and burst out at the far end by a tower house settled on a rock, commanding the…

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…

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…

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.   

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…

10 Italian Gardens not to miss

Italy again – the copy below first appeared in IntoGardens, the on-line gardening app.  It gives a quick overview of 10 gardens in Italy that I love. Five are very old and five are from the 20th century. Villa d’Este a Tivoli, Lazio: Ippolito (Hercules to you and me) d’Este, son of Lucrezia Borgia and…

Guisachan: a rare old place in the Highlands

The wonder of Guisachan lies in the stone husk of a large house set in  mature parkland.  Mighty specimens of wellingtonia, beeches and limes pepper the fat valley.  The horse chestnuts are free of leaf miners and a heavy crop of lichen

The Highlands of Scotland: Glen Strathfarrar

Glen Strathfarrar is in the Highlands of Scotland, 20 miles west of Inverness.  The road into the glen is private – with a heavily padlocked gate.  To take a vehicle in, visitors need a permit from the gatekeeper’shouse.