Showing posts from May, 2009

Passionate planting...and spectacular results!

The Manor House, Upton Greyis a must for anyone who wants to see a unique garden with colour, style and magnificent planting, which has been recreated with great passion by current owner, Rosamund Wallinger. The original garden was designed by Gertrude Jekyll, but when the current owners moved there, they had no idea of its provenance.  The garden has two distinct parts - with a terraced layout behind the main house, supported by typical Jekyll-style dry-stone walls. The planting here is lavish - there is a riot of colour and you'll find yourself going round and round to check that you haven't missed anything. And at the front of the house there is a wild garden with a meadow overlooked by the local church, which all adds to the complete picture of an English garden.  This is a garden not to be missed, but you need to make an appointment to see it, so check out the website for details - Ros Wallinger, the owner is charming and has written a fascinating book - Gertrude Jekyll…

Don't miss this sculpture garden!

The Hannah Peschar Sculpture Gardennear Dorking is an absolute must.  The garden is spectacular and unusual, but so too are many of the exhibits.  This is a place to take time out and reflect, but don't expect to find manicured borders - this is a garden with a dreamlike quality and at each new corner you will encounter another surprise that challenges the senses. There are moving exhibits, music and a tantalising display of tactile sculptures on show, complemented by huge plants, reminiscent of Jurassic Park.  

Even though the garden does not cover a great area, there is so much to see that it feels as though you are walking through a jungle, with bridges, ponds and dense overhead cover.  There are huge architectural plants everywhere; a forest walk and large green spaces; with a black and white house as the centrepiece overlooking the water - you almost expect the a wicked witch to appear because the overall impression is one of a fairy tale!
The sculpture on show is impressive (a…

Away from the crowds in Central London

I find it hard to believe that in all my many years of going to London, I have never before been to visit the Chelsea Physic Garden - it's wonderful!   Tucked away behind Royal Hospital Road and the Embankment, it's a magical garden, covering nearly four acres and, at this time of year, filled with beautiful flowers.  What's more, you can't even hear the London traffic so it makes a great place to take some time out from the hustle and bustle of the city.
The garden was founded in 1673 by the Society of Apothecaries of London, and its future was secured when Dr Hans Sloane bought the Manor of Chelsea at the turn of the century, and leased the land back to the apothecaries for a rent of £5.00 a year in perpetuity!  
I really enjoyed my brief visit to this garden (rushing between appointments on a Friday afternoon in London) and would thoroughly recommend it.  If I lived in London, I would certainly become a "Friend", so that I could visit whenever I wanted.  And…

Spring gardens in Surrey

There are two gardens close to each other in Surrey that are well worth visiting on a Wednesday, if you have the time and inclination. I say Wednesday, because as mentioned elsewhere in this is not a regular weekday opener, it's just mid-week from lunchtime, or Sunday - Titsey Place, and the other isCherkley Court. But if you can get there, do make the effort because it is a lovely property and very much a spectacular garden in the making, so well worth watching. 
Set in the midst of acres of parkland, you wonder at first where you are going, but finally arrive at the property, which is near Westerham in Kent (so you could also combine it with a visit to nearby Squerryes Court - another Wednesday opener, but all three are free to HHA Friends). Once you've parked you can wander through the walled garden which promises to be amazing by the time summer arrives because the borders are in the making and the vegetables and fruit trees are growing.  There's also a lake …

Rhododendrons in Hampshire

Today the sun was shining, so I went to Hampshire to see some of the gardens that are famous for their rhododendrons and azaleas. First stop was Exbury, which I had never seen and although the rhododendrons were quite spectacular - almost edible in fact - I have to confess that I felt little sympathy with the gardens. 
     There is no doubt that the floral displays are astounding, but the whole ethos of Exbury is geared towards the older person, and I felt as though I was walking around the grounds of a rather exclusive nursing home, rather than a garden! This is perhaps compensated for by the wonderful colour palette of the endless rhododendrons and azaleas throughout the grounds. And I would imagine that autumn is another show stopper given the large number of acers at Exbury.
     A word of warning though on visiting this garden - because of its location, you need to time your visit quite carefully. The traffic can be quite dreadful because access is through the New Forest with i…

NGS Gardens

One of the great aspects of an English summer (when it gets here) is the gardens that you can visit and one of the best-organised garden visit programmes is the National Gardens Scheme - an ambitious open-garden programme that operates nationwide to allow the public into gardens that are not normally open to prying eyes. For a small fee, that goes to one of the leading cancer care charities, you can wander at leisure through private gardens and admire the work of others and wonder why you didn't think of doing that in your own green space.
The only slight problem with this scheme is the English weather, because many of the gardens only open their doors on one or two days a year and if the weather is bad on that day, you're unlikely to visit and there are rarely alternative arrangements in place. The other slight disadvantage is that the NGS is now so well known that you can turn up to visit a garden and find that you cannot park because it is so popular; cannot move when you …

Sowing the Seeds

As a child I became so used to my mother pottering around in the garden that I never gave her actions a second thought.  She would stop off at nurseries on the way home from school and plonk plants in the boot of the car – it never occurred to my brother or me to query this practice.   She would spend hours in the garden digging holes or moving plants around, but we thought nothing unusual about this and indeed, it wasn’t until I became middle-aged that I began to understand the importance of nursery stops; digging holes or the sheer pleasure that gardening could bring.  You could say I was a late developer, but I suspect that in reality I am no different to many other women, who only come to love the garden when they have a little more time on their hands and the genuine maturity to understand what a garden brings in terms of satisfaction and solace once the children have left home. In the last five years, I have learned that a garden is actually not dissimilar to a young child – you …