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Showing posts from June, 2010

June ... what a glorious month it's been!

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What a glorious June it's been!  Long sunny days here in England (although we're now facing the prospect of hosepipe bans!), many wonderful gardens visited and new friends made. And I'm now preparing to go to India again, so if you'd like to give moral support to my hospital project there, PLEASE follow our blog by clicking on the link below ... and you can follow me on my travels too:

The Raven Foundation

I've had another wonderful month visiting new gardens; I spent two days seeing glorious properties with Rachel of Wisteria and Cow Parsley; and now I'm busy sorting out what we need for Rajasthan.


It's monsoon time, so it's going to be wellies and wet-weather gear - quite a change from the raging heat we've had in England recently - but a welcome change from the searing temperatures I experienced in April. I might even see some gardens when I'm not in the villages (see photo left) and, if I do, I'll be sharing them with you! One of my favou…

Three generations of women gardeners at Kiftsgate

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Kiftsgate Court is one of THE gardens in the Cotsworlds to visit! It's absolutely stunning, has unrivalled views over the Vale of Evesham, and is a tribute to the three generations of women gardeners who have made it what it is today. And even though it's right next door to Hidcote, you won't find the jostling crowds here ... so it's a little slice of heaven!  The house was built at the end of the 19th century and provides a magnificent backdrop for the gardens that have been created there in the last 90 years.  It has a Georgian front with a high portico, which can be seen from various parts of the garden (top), and is still used as a family home, but unlike so many other properties where the house dominates the landscape, it's the gardens here at Kiftsgate that will make you gasp.  And at this time of year, every single bit of the garden is in bloom - from the moment you walk in and are greeted by the magnificent peonies and roses (above), to the glorious white g…

Almost wordless Wednesday ... a taste of what's to come!

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Misarden Park, Glos Just returned from three days of touring wonderful gardens, and wanted to post some pictures to show you what's to come .... Snowshill Manor, Glos Glorious weather here in England and the gardens are looking magnificent ..... I've been to Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Worcestershire and Buckinghamshire ....  Cerney House, Glos Sun's been shining all the way ... and I'll be sharing all the best gardens with you ... Ascott, Bucks Sixteen magnificent gardens in three days ..... so watch this space! Kiftsgate Court, Glos

Hiding from the hordes at Hidcote!

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Yesterday was Midsummer's Day and I visited several gardens in the Cotswolds with fellow British blogger Rothschild Orchid. My first stop was Hidcote Manor, former home of expatriate American, Lawrence Johnston, who also created the gardens at Serre de la Madone in the south of France.  I know this is one of the most-visited landscapes in Britain, but nothing ... and I mean nothing, could have prepared me for the hordes of people there, even though I arrived as the doors opened at 10.00 on the dot! Hidcote is hidden away down country lanes in Gloucestershire and I should have guessed from the flow of traffic on the way there what it was going to be like, but when I realised all the cars and coaches were bound for the same place as me, there was little choice but to gather my cameras, run into the gardens and see if I could get photographs before I was outnumbered by the throng of foreign tourists who clearly had the same idea as me!!  (I had wondered why RO had said she'd meet …

Midsummer's Day

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I'm sitting in the middle of Gloucestershire with Rothschild Orchid and it's Midsummer's Eve .... we've been to three gardens together today - Hidcote, Kiftsgate and a real secret garden - shortly to be revealed!
More later....

One to bookmark ... Buscot Park

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I've seen many beautiful gardens in the last few weeks and had wonderful days gazing at glorious flower displays in historic gardens like Barnsley; admired Elizabethan splendour at St Mary's Bramber; and ogled at topiary displays and unusual plants in microclimates around the UK at Veddw and Ventnor.   But when I finally made it to Buscot Park (which has long been on my wish list) and the landscape unfolded before me, I was truly delighted. 
This is an extraordinary property, with heart-stopping vistas (right) - administered by Lord Faringdon and housing an extremely fine art collection. Buscot overlooks a lake and Harold Peto of Iford Manor created an amazing stepped-canal water garden (top) which runs from just below the main house, opens out into a series of pools, with bridges and statues, and enclosed by neatly trimmed box hedges. The box effect is reflected at the rear of the property (right) where a steep hillside walk gives views over the gardens behind the house.
The la…

An Elizabethan jewel in Sussex - St Mary's House

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If you fancy a little bit of Elizabethan splendour, beautifully maintained and served with astounding roses in bloom right now, head for St Mary's House, Bramber in Sussex. It's an exquisite property that's been lovingly restored by two successive owners, with five acres of gorgeous gardens to complement the timber-beamed house. And, if you get your timing right, you could enjoy a concert in the Victorian Music Room because there's an interesting music and opera programme during the next six months.   St Mary's has twice been saved from ruin in the last 100 years - first, in 1944 when the house narrowly escaped demolition because it was in such a bad state of repair and then again forty years later, when Peter and Mary Thorogood purchased the property jointly with Roger Linton.  They have spent the last 25 years restoring both the interior of the house and the gardens. So immaculate is the house now that it's hard to believe it could have once faced the prospect…

A tropical surprise in Southern England - Ventnor Botanic Garden

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Today I went to the Isle of Wight and visited the Ventnor Botanic Garden - I was surprised, amazed and delighted by what I saw!!  This glorious 22-acre garden is managed by the local council, is completely free to visitors and has some real surprises in store for you - Chusan Palms, many mature specimen trees and different garden areas that will delight you - ranging from an Australian garden (below) to glorious herbaceous borders, that all thrive in the unique microclimate on the south coast of the island. The site has an interesting history because it was formerly the Royal National Hospital for Diseases of the Chest , founded in 1868, but it eventually became redundant as antibiotics were discovered for the treatment of tuberculosis, and the building (which was reminiscent of a Victorian workhouse), was finally demolished in 1969 to make way for the wonderful garden that is there today.   Sir Harold Hillier, the internationally renowned plantsman who created the gardens bearing his n…

Wordless Wednesday ... where to sit and reflect ...

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All photographs taken at Sussex Prairies.

The Snowdrop King at Colesbourne Park

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Talk about a week of wonderful encounters.  When I finished at Barnsley House last week, I went to another, very different Cotswold garden that has also featured high on my "Wish List" in the last couple of years -Colesbourne Park.  This garden ranks top in the world for its snowdrops, but the ravages of the English weather rendered a visit there impossible for me this winter, because I couldn't get out of Brighton, let alone make a 130 mile trek to Gloucestershire to see the spectacle that has made this garden so famous. But just seeing the terrain here at this beautiful property allowed me to imagine how it would look in winter with acres of bobbing white heads and I'm determined to get there one day to enjoy its full galanthus glory. But in some respects I'm glad I didn't get there in February, because my visit last week afforded me the opportunity of seeing this incredible property in summer and more importantly, having the luxury of talking to the Snowdro…

Barnsley House, iconic Cotswold garden

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Barnsley House, former home of the late Rosemary Verey - well-known garden designer, lecturer and writer - is one of the gardens I've been trying to see for a long time.  And I finally got there this week, not just to enjoy the wonderful gardens, but to spend the day working with one of Britain's leading garden photographers, Clive Nichols.  It was a memorable day on all counts!  Clive is an excellent teacher; the company - just four other equally enthusiastic students - really enjoyable; and the setting, astounding!   Most readers associate Barnsley House with its famous laburnum walk (above), added to the garden at Barnsley after Rosemary Verey saw the larger design at Bodnant, but sadly this was past its prime. No matter though because other parts of the garden more than made up for the fading yellow blooms, including the potager, the pond area and the glorious borders brimming with flowers.  We were lucky too with the weather, because although grey storm clouds threatened t…

Glorious Gloucestershire 1 - Sudeley Castle

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Life doesn't get much better than this! I've just spent three days in the Cotswolds looking at gardens, and even though the weather could have been better, I saw seven glorious gardens; attended a photography course with Clive Nichols, one of our leading UK garden photographers (more about that in a later post); and met some very talented and interesting head gardeners, so there'll be lots of posts from me in the next couple of weeks and many additions to my Garden Directory.      On my way home today, I stopped at Sudeley Castle, which dates back to the 10th century. The Castle was built by Baron Sudeley in the 15th century, and although it has had many different residents since medieval times, and fallen under siege on many occasions, it was purchased by wealthy glove-making brothers - John and William Dent - in the middle of the 19th century and is still inhabited today by Dent descendents. The Grade II listed gardens date back 300 years, and were restored and redesigned …