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Showing posts from August, 2010

Special Cornish gardens for September ...

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It's almost the end of August and what better time to go to Cornwall to visit some of the great gardens there? The school holidays are nearly over so the crowds are gone and you'll find many wonderful places to stay once the kids are back at school. One of my favourites is Trebah (above) - one of several really wonderful gardens near Helston, where you'll find all one of the best hydrangea displays in the country right now. Trebah was purchased by Major Tony Hibbert and his wife Eira in 1981 and they've spent nearly 30 years making this garden what it is today.  The 25-acre site is perched on the edge of a ravine that heads down towards Polgwiddon Cove on the Helford Estuary and you'll be treated to spectacular views of the sea as you wander through this magical landscape, and enjoy a walk on the beach if you feel so inclined. You'll find many rare trees here including the tallest Chusan palms in the country and wonderful swathes of gunnera that are reminiscent …

What to do when it rains .... can I have your feedback?

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No garden visits this week because the rain hasn't stopped, so I've been at home editing photographs and organising my garden reviews so that I can eventually offer you full information on what to see and when's best to go in my Galloping Gardener Directory. I know that some of you use it when planning garden visits and I'd really appreciate your input on what you want to see there, so now's your chance to let me know what you need to know to get the most out of a directory! All photographs today are taken before, during or after rain and were taken at different times at year in gardens around the world. The only common theme is rain or damp, or sunlight before or after a rainstorm, but it goes to show that even wet or changeable weather makes interesting pictures! But back to what you'd like to see in a comprehensive (and growing) Garden Directory - is it special features; best time of year to visit; proximity to other gardens; what plants you'll see there; …

Charismatic Claydon - one to watch!

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The garden at Claydon House in Buckinghamshire is definitely one to watch - it's one of the most vibrant I've visited this year, with much work in progress, but is quite charming - filled with nooks and crannies, roses and borders and some very unusual features, including a new Florence Nightingale garden. And there's a wonderful restaurant on site too - The Carriage House - where I enjoyed one of the best lunches that I remember. All food is cooked to order and on the day I visited, the sun was shining, so I was able to sit outside in the courtyard.  Claydon House has been home to the Verney family since 1620 - it's a fine Georgian house with Rococo interiors - operated by the National Trust and publicised as one of its key corporate and wedding venues. But the gardens are private and open from Saturday through to Wednesday (12.00-5.00 March - end of October)  and are definitely worth making a detour for if you're in the area. Set as it is in the heart of fine coun…

Small secret gardens in Sussex

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Today I'm featuring three charming small gardens, that rarely feature in garden guides, but worth visiting if you're in the area. First is the Wellingham Herb Garden (above) near Lewes - only open at weekends, but within sight of the South Downs and near enough to other gardens (Monk's House and Charleston) to stop at en route - filled to bursting with lavender and other herbs (of course) and in the heart of the countryside, away from the hustle and bustle of traffic and it's FREE! It's a fragrant garden and nursery laid out inside a walled kitchen garden, with a glorious lion statue in the middle. Quite charming! And then there's the secret walled garden at Preston Manor in Brighton (above) - an absolute haven at the edge of Preston Park and looking greatly refreshed after all the recent rain. Can't believe I've never been here before as it's right on my doorstep, but I never found the way in before last week! A great place to stop and pause if you&…

Where there's a wall there's a way!

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I was supposed to go to Birmingham, but it was raining too hard and I didn't go! So when today dawned grey but dry I went to visit several gardens that have very limited openings - Wednesdays and Sundays only throughout the season - but well worth it if you can get there.  First stop was Titsey Place in Surrey, which I first wrote about when I started blogging (above picture taken on first visit, not today) - and I'm glad I made it there because it has one of the finest walled gardens I've seen this year. The gardens extend to 18-acres and have lovely views over the North Downs, but it is the walled garden that is the jewel in the crown here, with its wonderful displays of cutting flowers, fruit and vegetables, from all over the world. You'll see exotic and native here, displayed to full advantage and it's a real pleasure to amble through this area en route to the main garden adjacent to the house.  You'll find immaculately trained fruit trees (above) and display…

It's raining again ... so head for the glasshouses!

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It's raining again and the forecast is gloomy, so head for one of the glorious glasshouses here in Britain to lift your spirits. We are blessed with so many marvellous gardens in Britain and some have magnificent indoor wonderlands, where you'll find enough colour to entertain the kids and have a great day out ... rain or shine ... and it's not just plants you'll find either! One of the more unusual undercover gardens is The Living Rainforest, near Newbury in Berkshire where you'll find fabulous foliage alongside little critters like the one above, all in a one-acre glasshouse. Filled to bursting with exotic plants, free-roaming animals (not the one above though), butterflies and birds, it's guaranteed to entertain the kids on a rainy day. And if it's any consolation, I've only ever visited when it's pouring and still managed to entertain myself here! One of my favourites is the National Botanic Garden of Wales (and I've never yet managed to visit…

A Cotswold garden with a difference - Mill Dene

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Gloucestershire is home to many great and glorious gardens - you'll find the extraordinary (Sezincote); the stunning (Kiftsgate); the grand houses (Bourton House and Snowshill Manor); the castles (Sudeley) and really special small properties (Stone House); but there's no other garden like Mill Dene. This is the brain child of Wendy Dare and her husband who moved here nearly 50 years ago ....and they've been working on the garden ever since!  Mill Dene is one of 100 very special gardens featured in a new book: "Dream Gardens of England" (definitely one to put on your Christmas wishlist), which describes it as a "watery wonderland in a steep valley around an old mill". And watery wonderland it is, with the views over the mill pond (above), but there are also views of the church in the village of Blockley behind, and although the house and garden cover just 2.5 acres, it feels as though you're in a much bigger wonderland than this because there is so mu…

Does the NGS need to reconsider the plot?

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Vann, which opens regularly for the NGS in the spring
Britain has beautiful gardens – thousands of them – and we are also lucky enough to have the National Gardens Scheme (NGS) – a fast-growing network of public and private gardens that open their doors to the public to raise funds for various cancer-related charities under the umbrella of the “Yellow Book” scheme. The famous “Yellow Book” is published annually and lists all the garden openings for the year, divided into counties, so garden enthusiasts can get a peak at some gardens that wouldn’t normally be open to the public. It’s a true example of British patriotism – with garden owners banding together under one large yellow umbrella – to support a noble cause. Brandy Mount House, an early opener for the NGS, with its famous snowdrop collection
Those gardens can be large or small; style is unimportant; they can open for just one day a year under the scheme, or on a regular basis throughout the season; and the gardens that take part a…

Grand Gardens of Britain - Ascott - where grand design reigns supreme

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Ascott is one of the best gardens I've seen this summer, in terms of grand design and planting. The timber-beamed house (above) was once a simple farmhouse, acquired by Baron Meyer de Rothschild in 1873, but transformed into the grand edifice there today by his nephew Leopold. It sits in 30-acres of gloriously landscaped gardens overlooking the Vale of Aylesbury and is a mix of formal gardens and innovative new design. I visited in mid summer and was impressed, but am told that the spring bulbs are well worth making a special trip for. This is a garden on a grand scale, with fountains (above) sculpted by Thomas Waldo Story - an Anglo-American art historian and critic, born in Rome and married to an English woman - so it's hardly surprising his designs are reminiscent of the grand Italian style. And since it was primarily a winter residence for the de Rothschild family, much emphasis was placed on evergreen plants. The result is astounding topiary, long yew hedges and immaculate…