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Showing posts from August, 2011

Pinch and a punch, it's the end of the month! Goodbye August

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I can't believe it's already the end of August - the days are beginning to shorten, the temperature is beginning to drop, and there's definitely a sense of autumn in the air! I haven't visited as many gardens as I'd wished to because family commitments have kept me at home this month, but I did get to Knole, where Vita Sackville-West was born and to Sissinghurst, the legendary garden that she and her husband created in Kent which draws visitors from all over the world. But for me the main focus was on smaller gardens this month, and I was lucky enough to visit Sandgate Closeand Alfriston Clergy House, just down the road from Brighton, Old Buckhurst in Kent, the wonderful secret walled garden at Preston Manor, and several bigger gardens that brought delights and surprises including Chartwell. There's a lot in bloom right now and I've explored pinks, yellows, greens and plants as an art form. But now the seasons are moving on and I'm looking forward to all …

Up in the air at Sissinghurst - former home of Vita Sackville-West

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Sissinghurst Castle, former home of Vita Sackville West, is one of the most visited gardens in England. But, in more than two years of garden visiting all over the world, I've never given it a full review before because whenever I've tried to visit, the property is so crowded, it's hard to appreciate the gardens and virtually impossible to take photographs without catching a large crimpolene "behind" in the viewfinder! In a moment of madness, I decided to get there as the gates opened today on a Bank Holiday Monday!
Vita Sackville West - poet, novelist and gardener - moved here with her husband Harold Nicholson in 1930 and together they created a home that is now a museum, and a garden that has became one of the most famous in the country, but to understand why, you need to see the grounds from the top of the Elizabethan Tower (right).      

Once you see the garden from above you realise it's a series of rooms around a moated Tudor manor. And although every &q…

Green dreams to distract you from Irene!

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I've been watching news of Hurricane Irene and thinking of all East coast US bloggers - hope these shots will provide a little distraction!

Mellow yellows - is Autumn coming early this year?

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It seems that autumn is already in the air here in England and it's not even the end of August! Hope that all our East coast US friends have survived Hurricane Irene. We've certainly had the backlash recently in England with all the rain and winds. Hope you all have a good Bank Holiday - I'm planning a few garden visits over the weekend and next week if the sun stays out, even if there is a chill in the air.

Thoughtful Thursday - Plant Art

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If all this English rain is getting to you, why not visit a botanical garden and look in the glasshouses?




Wordless Wednesday - In the pink!

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Magic Monday - in bloom around Brighton!

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Appealing August Gardens 1 - Loseley Park

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There's something about an August garden that's very appealing - it's like watching someone letting down their hair, putting their feet up and breathing a sigh of relief that all their work is done at the end of a long day! So, in the first of several new garden reviews, I'll walk with readers through some gardens that still look good at the end of a long season's work, starting with Loseley Park in Surrey. This is a lovely garden to visit at any time during the season, starting with the first flush of euphorbias and forget-me-knots in spring, followed by the magnificent wisteria and now with all the bright-coloured late summer flowers in bloom.  The first time I visited was in May a few years ago - the walled garden looked glorious then and what struck me about this garden was the abundant planting. It was a wonderful fantasy land in springtime, and a pleasant surprise to find even more colour in August. The walled garden here dates back to the 16th century, but was…

Best of British lawns! Anyone for croquet in an English garden?

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Britain has one aspect of gardening that's famous throughout the world - its lawns! English gardens have always been celebrated, but where did we get this concept of huge green tracts of land synonymous with large country houses? It's origins are unclear, but there's little doubt that when you see this feature in a garden, it leaves a lasting impression, like Montacute House in Somerset (above). Nothing is more pleasing to the eye that an immaculately mown lawn, especially if you haven't had to mow it yourself! The word "laune" dates back to the 16th century, but is thought to have its origins in the Celtic language, where it meant enclosure. And although it's unclear how this word became "lawn", the history of large areas of cut grass has been integral to British garden design since gardens were first created here in Tudor and Elizabethan times (see Montacute, top). They were used for social gatherings, and by the time Jacobean architecture had …

Sandgate Close, Seaford - is this the UK's smallest botanical garden??

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I was invited to visit a garden in Seaford, East Sussex today that opens for both the National Gardens Scheme and other selected charities, but was lucky enough to get a private view! I was simply amazed by what I found when I arrived at Sandgate Close and spent well over an hour talking to the owner and taking photographs. This is undoubtedly a "Garden of Eden" and one to put on your Wish List, with more than 500 different plant species in under an eighth of an acre - perhaps it also qualifies as the smallest botanical garden in terms of acreage in Britain? This plot is the brainchild of Denis and Aideen Jones, who arrived here in 1982, when there was nothing more than a poor quality lawn and 12 Leylandii along the back fence. Times have certainly changed and today they have one of the most impressive small plots I've seen on my gallopings so far. Enter through the garden gate and you are transported into a magical world of plant wizardry. Every inch of garden is covered…