Showing posts from April, 2011

A new jewel in Britain's gardening crown - Woolbeding Garden, Sussex

This month saw the opening of a 20th century garden set within an 18th century landscape that looks set to become one of the most popular gardens in Britain ... if you can get there! Woolbeding House in West Sussex is the newest National Trust garden to open its doors to the public and I was lucky enough to visit last week. It's a remarkable property and I'm sure it will draw visitors from all over the world, once they hear about it.  But first you have to get there! There is no car parking whatsoever at the property except for disabled visitors who must book ahead. All other visitors must take advantage of a minibus shuttle service, or walk there. So first things first - unless you are planning to walk to Woolbeding, you can only visit this property by booking ahead - to do this, call Anna on +44 (0)1730 825415. Good luck because the number is nearly always engaged! But do keep trying because I was enchanted by this garden and hope this post will tell the story of what you'…

Dazzling spring flower displays at Chenies Manor, Bucks - an easy day out from London

Chenies Manor House in Buckinghamshire certainly makes impressive viewing has been on my "Wish List" for at least two years and I finally got there today! One of the reasons it's taken me so long is the extremely restricted opening hours at the property - Wednesdays and Thursdays only, for just three hours in the afternoon (plus Bank Holiday Mondays). But it was certainly worth waiting for, even if the crowds are slightly overbearing! The five-acre garden is divided into a series of linked garden "rooms" which surround a Grade I listed 15th and 16th-century brick house with impressive chimneys - a wonderful backdrop to the floral displays. Particularly impressive at this time of year are the tulips in the Sunken Garden (above), which was also filled to overflowing with cooing middle-aged ladies today, so most of my photographic attempts featured flashes of floral fabrics as well as flowers. But once the tulips are over, they are replaced by bedding plants for …

Catch UK Tulip Festivals as quick as you can ... or you may be disappointed!

I've been talking about tulips for weeks and promising to feature them - so here we go! I finally got to see a real sea of tulips in East Sussex yesterday, and am posting pictures today with a clear message to readers - IF YOU WANT TO TIPTOE THROUGH THE TULIPS .. YOU'D BETTER DO IT FAST! Sadly, I haven't had time to get to any of the venues I've posted here on the blog recently, but went instead to Pashley Manor in East Sussex to take these pictures. This is the 17th annual Tulip Festival at Pashley, but you must get there quickly to see these fantastic flowers in bloom.  The strange weather conditions we've experienced all over the world this winter mean that many plants are flowering early (see my post last week on Tulips at the Palace) and if you wait until the official Festival, which starts on 27th April , you may be disappointed! The timber framed house (top) is a magnificent backdrop for these tulips - some 22,000 bulbs, planted for the Festival. You'll fin…

Anyone for egg hunting at King John's in Sussex this Easter?

Today I stumbled upon a garden that opened my eyes wide - a quintessential English plot in the heart of the High Weald in East Sussex, with a stunning Grade II listed Jacobean manor house as the backdrop to eight acres of heavenly gardens. The really good news is the Easter Egg Hunt for kids this weekend, which takes place on both Sunday 24th and Monday 25th April, so that parents can see the garden while the children join in the Easter spirit! This is King John's Nursery and Garden, just a stone's throw from Pashley Manor, and it's one of the most idyllic landscapes I've encountered yet this year, with its formal garden in front of the house; glorious wildflower meadow; lily pond and wooded areas; plus a brilliant nursery (which brought me here in the first place); and a shop filled with garden-related goods that you actually want to buy! What really struck me about this garden is that it's laid out in such a way that it doesn't require armies of gardeners to ke…

"The Bad Tempered Gardener" - just what you want for Mother's Day!

It's finally happened ... I'm home in the UK and just in time to see some of the flowers appear in my garden! It's miraculous, exciting and I've got a spring in my step. Off to see some tulips in the morning if I ever wake up after a sleepless night on a transatlantic flight! My euphorbias are blooming, my fruit trees are covered in blossom and I've even got bluebells all over the garden, so can't wait to get out into the bluebell woods locally - another must with the Easter weekend coming. The weather is absolutely glorious and there's already talk of a hosepipe ban, after several weeks without rain here! And the most exciting news of all is that I've received a review copy of Anne Wareham's new book! I've been glued to the pages ever since opening "The Bad Tempered Gardener" this morning. I can't say more until the beginning of May, but I can direct you to Amazon to order a copy just as soon as it's published, so click on the b…

Royal tulips cause headaches at Buckingham Palace!

There's a problem at the Palace And who knows what to do? The plants are misbehaving And royal staff are in a stew.
The regal band of tulips That adorn the palace gates, Have bloomed a little early And are set to pass their best-bloom dates ... Before the Royal Wedding, on April 29.
But in reality it's nature Following her role And a warmer Feb than usual Has put the Palace in a hole!
For full story click on this link!
For details of English gardens holding Tulip Festivals this year, check their websites, but notable displays can be found at:

Abbey Gardens, Gloucestershire - mid-April to mid-May Alnwick Garden, Northumberland - 30th April - 7th May Chatsworth, Derbyshire - 6th - 10th May Chenies Manor, Buckinghamshire - mid-April to mid-May Dyhram Park, Gloucestershire - 1st - 30th April Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall - 23rd April - 2nd May Pashley Manor, East Sussex - 27th April - 8th May Stourhead, Wiltshire - 25th April - 8th May Waddesden Manor, Buckinghamshire - 16th April - 2nd May

Galloping Gardener Walks © - Go to heaven in Gloucestershire - Kiftsgate Court and Hidcote Manor

For a slice of heaven, head to Gloucestershire over the Easter break and soak up some of the wonderful gardens there. You'll be hard pressed to choose between which ones to see, but in the first of my Gloucestershire Walks, I'm highlighting two gardens that are so close together, you can walk from one to the other - Hidcote Manor and Kiftsgate Court. But do be warned, you may get caught in the crowds! Kiftsgate Court is one of the most lovely gardens I've seen on my UK travels, but is often overlooked in the rush to get to its neighbour -  Hidcote Manor - one of the most visited gardens in Britain. Both are magnificent gardens and you can make a perfect day out visiting the two together. If you arrive at Hidcote and it's too crowded, just wander over the road to Kiftsgate until the rush subsides!
This is home to three generations of gardening women and famous for its own rose - the Kiftsgate Rose (Rosa filipes 'Kiftsgate'). The property sits on the edge of a hi…

Galloping Gardener Walks © - Florida Treasure Coast's Hidden Garden Bounty

Head for Florida's Treasure Coast if you want to find some secret gardens that will delight! Starting in Fort Pierce with the Heathcote Botanical Garden, you'll find some real hidden treasure here when the James Smith Bonsai Garden opens in May this year. A charming small garden, immaculately tended by volunteers and soon to expand even further.  Head north and you'll find another magical hidden water garden at nearby Vero Beach - home to the McKee Botanical Gardens - with its fantastic lotus and lily displays in the summer months. This is another charming, small garden that was saved by local volunteers when the great Florida real estate boom happened back in the 70s. Thank heavens they saved McKee - it's a real gem! There's more secret treasure to be discovered at the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne. This 15-acre garden is currently under restoration, but if you love palms, go out of your way to visit - because there's many species here that wil…

Galloping Gardener Walks © - Spectacular secret spring gardens!

Oh to be in England, now that April's there! It's spring time and I can't wait to get home! Friends keep calling and telling me about the weather, the gardens and the way all the bulbs are bursting into flower. I've had a great time here in Florida, but I do miss spring back home, and the moment my feet touch the ground there, I'll be visiting many new gardens, fresh with the flush of the season. But for now I just have to dream about them, like the rest of my readers! Edenbridge House in Kent is one of the loveliest small gardens in England. It opens Tuesday through Thursday throughout the summer months from 2.00-5.00 and if you're in search of a quintessential English garden, this is one to put on your list. The glorious timber-framed house (not open to public) presides over one of the most lovely and immaculately-tended gardens in Kent. It's also right on the doorstep of Hever Castle, if you're heading out that way. Another equally glorious garden that…

Beyond the Magic Kingdom! Going green in Orlando at Leu Gardens

On the shores of Lake Rowena in the heart of the historic district of Orlando is a great green space that will lift your spirits if you're suffering from theme park overkill. Former home of Florida native, Harry P. Leu and his wife Mary Jane, this 50-acre haven is far removed from the rest of the city - an oasis in a consumer desert which will re-invigorate you if you've lost touch with reality! Sadly, I was too late for the dazzling collection of camellias and azaleas, which bloom during the winter months (October- March). Leu Gardens is home to the largest documented collection of camellias on the East Coast of the US, but I was able to enjoy the rose garden created by Mary Jane Leu when she lived here. It still seems strange to me to see roses in Florida because I'm so used to thinking of English gardens, but is just as impressive as Mable Ringling's Rose Garden further south in Sarasota. There are more than 200 varieties of rose here, including grandiflora, floribun…