Showing posts from December, 2009

Seventh day of Christmas - a little bit of heaven!

On the seventh day of Christmas, imagine clear blue skies and azure sea and you've got the backdrop for one of the world's garden paradises - Menton in the south of France - complete with its own microclimate and some of the most unusual gardens in Europe. I love this place! It's away from the hustle and bustle of the Cote d'Azur and it is peppered with hidden and majestic gardens including Val Rahmeh and Serre de la Madone.
Serre de la Madone (above) is the hidden home of Lawrence Johnston (creator of Hidcote in the UK) and is currently undergoing renovation. UK readers may want to take a look behind the scenes in this month's issue of Gardens Illustrated, to see how "The other Hidcote" is progressing.
It's a wonderful garden, which fell into complete disrepair in the 1980's, but is now the focus of an ambitious and exciting restoration project. But I'm truly delighted that I got to see it before it rises like a phoenix from the fire, beca…

Sixth day of Christmas ... Beth Chatto Gardens

No garden lover could visit Britain without making the effort to see The Beth Chatto Gardens in Essex. Seven acres of absolute, unadulterated bliss; and synonymous with rich planting, shade plants and magnificent displays of leaves and flowers. This is one of the great gardens of the world.
I'm dedicating today's post to fellow Blotanists - Teza (Teza's Garden), who is really into shade plants, and Gail (Clay and Limestone), who loves unusual plantings - so hope you both enjoy this post - I know it's on Teza's wishlist, so perhaps you'll get to see this garden in 2010.
Beautifully laid out around a series of ponds, you will be enchanted not just by the huge variety of water-loving plants, but also the borders, filled to bursting with swathes of colour and unusual plant combinations. The displays are truly mouth-watering!!
Skillful planting makes the garden look so much bigger than it really is and you can easily spend half a day here and feel you've covered hu…

Fifth day of Christmas - "The Garden of India"

On the fifth day of Christmas my vote today goes to all those glorious gardens in Rajasthan, which I think should be re-named "The Garden of India", just like we have the Garden of England in the UK .... which happens to be Kent.
I know I'm always rabbiting on about Rajasthan, but I love it! It's glorious! It's wonderful, and it's where I'm building a hospital and, as a lot of my readers already know, I spend a lot of time there when not visiting the amazing, manicured gardens of the west. Please, please drop in on my hospital site, or sign up as a follower, because as we get ready to open, we're going to be planting our own medicinal garden there - so all suggestions for garden plans, plants, etc. much appreciated. So now for The Garden of India - there's Deeg of course - which I wrote about recently; the gardens in Udaipur, although it has to be said the city is just one big glorious garden at this time of year with bougainvillea everywhere, but…

On the fourth day of Christmas... The Laskett

On the fourth day of Christmas, I'm sure you'll all let me know that I'm out of sync because Christmas Eve doesn't count, and we're now on the third day ... but as I thought I'd probably miss out somewhere, I'll get there in the end, with 12 days of gardens, somewhere in the world.
My choice for today is The Laskett in Herefordshire, the wonderful, magnificent garden designed by Sir Roy Strong and his late wife, Julia Trevelyan Oman ... and the really good news is that is it opening to the public in 2010 - thanks to My English Country Garden for this wonderful news!! This fabulous garden is pure theatre! Every corner you turn reveals another stage set and you will be left gasping - it's stunning, it's different and it's unique! And I'm sure it will get as crowded as Sissinghurst when Sir Roy opens his doors to the public next year, because so much has been written about this garden, yet so few people have been able to visit it. I sincerely h…

On the third day of Christmas ...

National Botanic Garden of Wales
On the third day of Christmas, I'm going to cheat just the tiniest bit by adding a group of gardens, rather than just one and my vote goes to all the fabulous Botanical Gardens that I've seen this year. They get my vote because there is always something to see there; they house fabulous collections of plants and in most cases are open 364 days a year! In fact, I think that the only day they are closed is Christmas day. And, best of all, if it's raining, you can spend hours in the glasshouses where you'll find plants that look as though they come from another planet.
The National Botanic Garden of Wales is fabulous. It has the biggest single-span glasshouse in the world (top), a fantastic collection of plants and is set in the middle of beautiful countryside.
The University of Oxford Botanical Garden is the oldest in Britain and sits in the heart of this majestic city, surrounded by university colleges and with views over the spires and t…

On the second day of Christmas ....

On the second day of Christmas, and with best wishes to all my readers all over the world, I'm featuring Great Dixter, which features on many of your wish lists, and must surely be one of the most iconic gardens of all time. Masterpiece of Christopher Lloyd and successive head gardeners, this is one of the busiest gardens in terms of planting; most spectacular in terms of backdrop, with the wood-beamed house; most publicly adored judging by visitor numbers; and worthy of a visit, even if it's the only English garden you ever get to see.
It doesn't matter what time of year you visit, you'll be impressed by the planting ...
... with the magnificent house in the background ...
there are swathes of colour everywhere you look ....
... and you can't help but be impressed by the density of the planting ... in summer (above)
and in the autumn too .... so put this garden to the top of your wish list for 2010.
Happy Christmas and best wishes to you all

On the first day of Christmas ...

This is the start of my Christmas series featuring some of the best gardens that I've seen around the world this year. I want to stress that none of the properties are graded or in any particular order of preference, but all are exceptional and worth visiting. So I start with Vann at Hambledon in Surrey, which is open for several days under the NGS each year and also by appointment.
This is a stunning property - a Grade II listed, 16th century house (top), featured in two episodes of Agatha Christie's popular "Poirot" dramas, surrounded by the most stunning five-acre Arts and Crafts garden. The water garden (above) is particularly noteworthy and was designed by Gertrude Jekyll in 1911. From here a stream flows down into the white garden.
The house (not open to the public) has been in the same family for over 100 years and they have made many improvements to the garden, which opens to the public for several days in early April, May and June - so check the NGS website…

Countdown for best gardens of the year!

The snow is finally melting here on the South Coast of England, but we're watching all the rest of the world covered in white, particularly the East Coast of the US! It certainly looks like some of us are going to get a white Christmas. Just wanted to let my readers know that I'm about to compile my list of best gardens visited this year, so if any of you have any suggestions, do leave me a comment ... I shall be posting them as the 12 days of Christmas, so please let me know if there's a special garden close to your heart. I'm also looking for suggestions on gardens to visit to 2010 .... so let me know.

Snow update!!

Trailblazer in the snow at 7.00 this morning
I said I'd give you an update, and here it is - we've got several inches of snow here in Brighton, but the sun is shining again. There is further heavy snow forecast for later, so I'll keep you posted. But in the meantime, here are just some of the images from this winter wonderland.
We've gone from this photo (above) taken in my local park in September ...... to this (below) taken just now, while I was walking around the city. The schools are closed, buses cancelled and drivers are sliding around on roads that resemble ice rinks! But it all looks wonderful.
And if you scroll down, you can see what it looked like here before first light.
This is the scene in Preston Park - there are so many people outside enjoying the snowy scenery; children building snowmen and sledging; parents throwing snowballs; and a wonderful sense of joy. People are laughing and enjoying themselves .... it's wonderful what a bit of snow can do to…

Just watch this space .... snow, snow and more snow!

We're waking up to a winter wonderland here in South-East England. I've just looked out on the street here in Brighton, Sussex and this is the scene that greeted me! I shall be updating the blog throughout the day, as I get out and about, so do check in later.

Deeg - definitely worth a detour!

The Palace Gardens at Deeg are stunning – located just 25 miles north of Bharatpur, with its famous bird sanctuary – they are worth taking a detour for. Built by the Jat rulers in the 18th century, these gardens rose to fame recently, when featured in Monty Don’s TV series “Around the World in 80 Gardens”. It’s easy to see why, even if they are in a state of disrepair at present, but you certainly wouldn’t know they were famous, because even in peak tourist season, they were completely devoid of visitors.
All the palaces at Deeg are stunning. They are laid out in a quadrangle and at either end of the complex there are two huge water tanks, which mean that the lower floors of some of the palace buildings are submerged in water (above). But even though the buildings are well maintained and filled with interesting furnishings, the main attraction for me was the gardens, which provide an oasis in the middle of this dusty town.
What is clear, is that work is being carried out to restore …

Season's Greetings to you all!

Season's Greetings to all my fellow bloggers and thank you all for the support, encouragement and wonderful comments that you've left on my blog since I joined Blotanical in June this year. I've been positively encouraged to keep "Galloping" around gardens by you all and hope to carry on next year. I will be leaving for the US in January to our Florida home and hope to visit many gardens that side of the pond (in between my continuing trips to India as work progresses). But in the meantime, best wishes to all my readers, and here are just some of the wonderful plants that I've seen this year ... in my travels at home and abroad. I've been lucky enough to visit many gardens in England, Scotland, Wales, Europe, Africa, India and the United States, and I'm just cataloguing them - so will be posting an entry soon with full details. And thanks too to all of you who've helped me identify plants when I couldn't .... please, please continue to do so! And…