Showing posts from October, 2009

A garden for all seasons ... and it's free!

In my quest for winter gardens, I revisited a charming place today, which reminded me that this is also a wonderful winter garden and it's free! Highdown is one of the hidden treasures of England's south coast, and it's well worth taking a detour for, with its magnificent views over the surrounding countryside and the English Channel.

Visit in the cold winter months and you'll find fantastic displays of hellebores (above) and snowdrops, but also spectacular Himalayan birch bark cherry (prunus) in blossom, which warms the heart on a grey day. This 9-acre garden was the brainchild of Sir Frederick Stern, who acquired many unusual plants from the well-known collector, Reginald Farrer, who brought many plants home from China and the Himalayas.

Spring brings swathes of daffodils, which will stop you in your tracks; and in the summer months, Highdown is ablaze with irises (above) and peonies (below) - making staggering displays of colour that will make your spirits soar. Wha…

"Autumn is a second spring..."

"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf's a flower." Albert Camus

First and last - Great Dixter

Firstly thank you all very much for your helpful comments on the selection of autumn pictures in my last post - it was a close run between Greenbank Garden in Scotland (#1) and Sheffield Park, East Sussex (#7), but by the time I'd counted all the replies on my personal email, it was Greenbank that got the most votes.... so watch this space, because that's the garden going on the cover of my book! And the best news of all as we head into winter, is that building work has begun on our foundation hospital in Rajasthan.... if you're interested, please have a look at The Raven Foundation.
I woke up to a wonderful sunny day and remembered that today was the last day that Great Dixter opened, and although I've been to this iconic garden many times before, I really wanted to see how it looked at this time of year. It was, I think, even more fabulous than in the summer months ... add to that the fact that it was deserted ... and it made for a great day out!
The dusky autumn li…

Best of autumn colours ... Can you help??

It's almost official - just a few hours to go and then the clocks change and winter's here! I never could remember how the clocks worked until a helpful friend reminded me - they "spring" forward in spring, and "fall" behind in autumn, so now at least, I'll turn those dials the right way, even if it does signal the beginning of dark afternoons and the beginning of winter.
The colours have been fantastic this autumn, and I'm featuring pictures here showing some of the wonderful gardens I've seen in my travels. But perhaps you can help me...? I need to choose a cover for a project I'm working on and it will be chosen from the images below, so if you have the time or inclination, please let me know which picture you like best - they are all numbered. A comment naming your favourite, would be a great help - thanks!
1. Greenbank Garden, Scotland
2. Preston Park, Brighton, East Sussex
3. Pensthorpe, Norfolk
4. Savill Garden, Surrey
5. Sir Harold Hillie…

Absolutely stunning Savill Garden - part of The Royal Landscape

Today started out cold and grey - hardly surprising as it's autumn - but I really wanted to get out and walk around a garden, and preferably one that would inspire me. I don't know why, but I suddenly decided to go and visit the Savill Garden in Berkshire. I'd heard that it's magnificent in autumn, but nothing, and I mean nothing could have prepared me for what I found and I have to say that this garden has shot to the top of my favourites list after just one afternoon!
I was incredibly lucky with the weather because the sun came out for short bursts while I was there, but even in the grey periods, I was astounded by this garden. It has one of the most amazing collection of trees - including many that I've never seen before - summer borders that are still in bloom at the end of October; a water garden that is just outstanding; rhododendrons that left me gasping; and much, much more.
You can see what the weather was like from my photographs, because they vary from s…

Wakehurst - a garden for all seasons

Wakehurst Place in West Sussex, is affiliated to and managed by Kew Gardens and is also houses the Millenium Seed Bank. And, like its bigger sister in London, is another good garden for all seasons. It has a remarkable collection of trees, spread over more than 450 acres, so is well-known for its autumn colour, but also has a fine winter garden, which bursts into colour in November and gives it year-round interest.
The Tudor mansion (above) was built in 1590 for Sir Edward Culpeper, and it provides a good backdrop to the adjacent walled garden, which is stocked with colourful perennials. There is also a fine collection of hardy plants, arranged georgraphically, and Wakehurst is home to four National plant collections - birches, hypericums, nothofagus and skimmias. But the real reason to visit Wakehurst is its amazing collection of trees, and to enjoy walking through the hills and valleys that house them.

A lot of autumn colour comes from the fine collection of acers, which are cluste…

Colours and textures at Kew

Today I returned to Kew in my quest for winter gardens and I realised that I could happily spend the entire winter in the glasshouses! Many of you asked me to show you the trees and I promise to do that in a future entry, but I'm going to let today's pictures speak for themselves.
None of these pictures have been retouched, although I was using a telephoto lens. I'm afraid I don't know all the names of the plants, but please do let me know - the first three pictures were taken in the Waterlily House; the last three were taken in the Princess of Wales Conservatory.

Just look at these lilies!

My search for winter gardens took me to London today - to the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. It was a grey and cloudy day, but I found such joy in the Waterlily House that I shall be returning again and again! Just look at these blooms below ....

But the Waterlily House is just a tiny part of the gardens at Kew, which celebrates its 250th anniversary this year and I shall be returning many times this winter to all the different glasshouses and galleries. The gardens at Kew stretch over 300 acres; include more than 14,000 trees; and have something for every season; so I shall be returning here throughout the winter - and in the meantime, this is how the leaves are looking ....

Wordless Wednesday - Autumn V

The leaves are changing colour and the sun is shining .... every day brings new autumn joys
The light is fantastic ... the birds are singing and everywhere you look there is change ...
Light through leaves is always special....
But we know winter is coming ... because the animals are getting ready .... so step out in the sunshine and enjoy!