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Showing posts from May, 2010

What a lot went on in May!!

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May is drawing to a close ... and it's been a good one!  Hottest gossip on the UK gardening scene is that Tom Coward is moving from Great Dixter to Gravetye Manor in July, so watch out for changes in the way the Manor garden looks. Lots of good weather (although the English gardens are running well behind thanks to the brutally cold winter); a visit from well-known American blogger - Alice (below) of Bay Area Tendrils and Alice's Garden Travel Buzz.  It's always good to meet fellow bloggers and we went on a whirlwind tour of gardens in Sussex, Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire and Wales, many of which Alice is currently featuring on her blogs.  I also had the chance to meet the lovely Victoria of Victoria's Backyard and sneak a peak at her glorious garden, which opens for the NGS later this year.
First time gardens for me this month were Chart's Edge, Gravetye Manor, Monk's House (entirely due to Alice even though it's so close to my home), Veddw, and the Roof Gar…

When tantalising topiary turns to hedging horror!

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I've visited several gardens this month which are renowned for their topiary displays, starting with Mapperton House (above) and Athelhampton (below), but all are currently at risk from box blight or Phytophthora (Greek for 'plant destroyer') - a water-born fungus which kills yew hedges.  Sir Roy Strong completely changed his iconic garden at The Laskett after it had been hit by box blight and Westbury Park Garden in Gloucestershire (to be reviewed next week), is desperately looking for a cure for its yew hedges before it's too late!  And the tragedy is that even Mapperton and Athelhampton looked as though they were in for a hard time beating these bugs.
I'm not going to elaborate on the history of topiary here, because I've found a fascinating website which deals with all aspects of ornamental hedging - the Topiary Organisation - and will let you read for yourselves what is known about this ancient art.  But what I do know is that I saw a huge number of immacul…

Another glorious gourmet garden!

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I have to confess that while all really serious gardeners have been at the Chelsea Flower Shower this week, I've been skulking around in Sussex enjoying the sunshine and looking for new gardens to visit. But I'm glad I stayed home, because I visited a startling garden this week, which has been on my wish list for several years - Gravetye Manor near East Grinstead in Sussex - a fine example of an Elizabethan house, surrounded by acres of glorious gardens and parkland - and former home of William Robinson, the influential (and outspoken) garden designer, who earned the nickname of "Father of the English Flower Garden".
Gravetye is best-known as a luxury hotel, surrounded by glorious gardens, but is now under new ownership and what will interest fellow gardeners is the new head gardener who joins the team in July. Tom Coward is arriving from Great Dixter in East Sussex and it will be interesting to see what changes he makes at this historical property in the next few y…

Margery Fish's cottage garden paradise

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No visit to Somerset would be complete without a visit Margery Fish's home in East Lambrook.  This amazing plantswoman will always be remembered for her contribution to "cottage" and country gardening. She lived there for 30 years and passed on her ability to create drifts of colour in a small space in her numerous books, including "Cottage Garden Flowers", which became a bible for country gardeners in the 1960s. Margery and her husband Walter bought East Lambrook Manor in 1937 for £1,000 and together they developed the two-acre garden there. But when Walter died in 1949, Margery emerged as a keen plantswoman in her own right and spent her time lecturing and writing about gardening, as well as building up a nursery to supply an increasingly knowledgeable garden audience with the plants that they needed to emulate her style.  She also developed her own cultivars including Astrantia Major, Hebe, Penstemon and Pulmonaria saccharata Margery Fish; and Euphorbia wulfe…

Veddw - an undulating eye opener in Wales!

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Veddw is a truly remarkable garden. On the slopes of the Tintern Valley in Monmouthshire this is the charming child of gifted gardeners Anne Wareham and Charles Hawes who have created an extraordinary landscape out of the land around their home. It's like a scene from Alice in Wonderland and I kept expecting the Mad Hatter to arrive at any moment!!  Marvellous planting; clever use of structure and colour; tantalising vistas over the undulating hedges; and a photographic heaven are all hallmarks of this wonderful garden.  

It is glances of the areas within - like the Meadow (above) - that are notable features of this garden, which is divided by immaculately clipped hedges, revealing a series of magical garden rooms like the Cornfield Garden (below) once you venture inside them. I can't even imagine how many hours it takes to keep the hedges so perfectly trimmed, but they're a vital ingredient of this extraordinary garden, which flows like river, down the hillside.

Anne's…

I'm the luckiest woman in the world!!

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Udaipur, India (January)
Today marks the anniversary of when I started blogging and I want to say a really big thank-you to all my readers; all the friends I've made on line; all the garden owners who've put up with my endless questions; and most of all to my family and friends, who've watched me or joined me Galloping round gardens all over the world. THANK YOU EVERYBODY!!
The Wave Garden, California (February)
It's been a wonderful year and much has been achieved - some 100+ gardens reviewed; a hospital built in India; many air miles accumulated; and times of great sadness and joy! It all began because of my dear father .... when he was dying last year, we used to visit gardens together in Cornwall - on the days that he was well enough to be pushed in a wheelchair round some of the best gardens in the world. They were truly wonderful days and I shall always remember the joy that they brought us when time was running out. I started photographing gardens then and once…

Down to earth again and back in Sussex

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After all the excitement of lunch at The Roof Gardens in London earlier this week, it's back down to earth again here in Sussex, as we hope for warmer weather and fewer showers! All the gardens seem to be running late because of the long, cold winter we had here, but here's one that looking fantastic, even on a grey day - Michelham Priory, near Hailsham - and what I love about this garden, is that it's never crowded.
This is an extraordinarily beautiful garden, tucked away in the countryside near Hailsham, with a house that dates back to 1229, and boasting the longest medieval water-filled moat in the country! But what really strikes you about Michelham is the sense of peace there as you wander through the garden admiring the planting.
Originally the site of a monastery, there is even a small Physic Garden and a restored Cloister Garden (below), but what will really strike you here is the density of the planting and the glorious border displays that change through the seas…

Eat your heart out above London!

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I seem to have done a lot of raving about new gardens I've visited recently ... and I make no apology for doing it again today, because I've just had lunch at the wonderful Babylon rooftop restaurant in London and had the chance to wander around the The Roof Gardens there in between the downpours .... and it's absolutely amazing!!! The pergola (above), definitely gets a place in my pergola parlour, the views over London are fantastic, and the food, which is after all why I went there, is commendable. All in all a great day out!!
The restaurant is perched on the top of what used to be Derry & Tom's, the once famous department store in Kensington High Street, and the The Roof Gardens - which extend to an amazing 1.5 acres - are on the floor below, so if you're sitting out on the terrace, you have wonderful views over the greenery beneath you. It's a magical setting for lunch and you also get fine views of London! Today both restaurant and gardens are part o…

Garden Candy in Kent!

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No wonder Kent is called "The Garden of England" - it's filled with beautiful gardens all in spring bloom and I set off early this morning to visit some of my favourites. First stop was Hever Castle (above), which is looking quite glorious, and as I've reviewed it before (click to view), I'm going to tell the story in pictures today.
One time home of Anne Boleyn, just one of Henry VIII's many wives, and more recently, William Waldorf Aster, who collected classical statues, you will be amazed by what you find in the gardens - ranging from small classical figures to huge arches like the one below. There is also one of the longest pergolas in Europe (above) and a magnificent man-made lake. There is always something in bloom here, so you can visit at any time.
The four-acre Italian Garden is quite superb - filled with a series of garden rooms, each one different - and there is also a water maze, a Tudor herb garden, and acres of beautiful parkland to compliment t…