Showing posts from December, 2011

Moving On .... Happy New Year!

Some memories of 2011 before we move into 2012 Happy New Year!

Galloping Gardener's Alphabet Gardens © 2011 - Best of "H"s +"L"s

From wonderfully restored castle gardens like Hampton Court (above) and magical arboretums like Hergest Croft (below) in Herefordshire; glorious spring gardens in Cumbria, like Holker Hall and Levens Hall with its magnificent topiary, I saw some wonderful new properties during 2011. So in the last of my alphabet roundups this year, here are some of the gardens I saw that readers may want to add to their Wish List for 2012.  Herefordshire is certainly rich in world-class gardens and my three days there earlier this year were woefully inadequate to see all the gardens on offer. Hampton Court (top) was restored by an American, and offers many acres of eye candy, with hardly a plant out of place; while Hergest Croft has been in the same family for many generations, and has a enviable collection of trees, including many champions and a vegetable garden (above) to make your mouth water! Holker Hall has magnificent spring blossom displays, even when the rhododendron flowers begin to fall to th…

Galloping Gardener's Alphabet Gardens © 2011 - Best of the "G"s

With another Christmas behind us, I'm back on the garden trail looking at places visited earlier this year. There were certainly some striking "G" gardens on this list, starting with the Gibberd Garden in Essex - former home of architect Sir Frederick, who created a peaceful haven here with two subsequent wives and filled it with both architectural icons (including pillars that once adorned Coutts Bank in the Strand) and modern pieces acquired during his marriages. Definitely worth going out of your way to visit and easy to access from London if you fancy a day out. Gilbert White's House in Hampshire proved to be a real surprise, with its interesting history and charming garden. White had a passionate interest in both plants and wildlife and spent his life recording what grew in his garden. The house is located in the heart of Jane Austen country, but is often omitted from garden guides, so one to remember if you're in the area, because part of its charm is the wi…


In the glasshouses at Kew ...

Where better to go than Kew during the Christmas holidays - there's lots to see in the glasshouses!

Frosty morning - gone shopping!

Thick frost here this morning, so rushed out to get all those last minute presents!

Galloping Gardener's Alphabet Gardens © 2011 - Best of the "E"s

Although I haven't galloped at my usual speed this year, I did manage to visit several interesting new gardens in the South of England, including Ecclesden Manor in Sussex, which opens its doors a couple of times each year for charity. This year it also opened to mark the 30th year celebrations for The Society of Garden Designers and I was lucky enough to meet the man who designed the garden here - John Brookes - doyen of British gardening design. On the other side of the pond, I revisited the Edison and Ford Winter Estates, while visiting the US and staying at my former Florida home. I'm sad to say that this will probably be the last time for me, as I've recently severed my connections there, but I plan to return to the East Coast next spring and visit some of the wonderful gardens in bloom in both the Carolinas and Georgia, so watch this space in 2012. Emmetts Gardenin Kent is glorious throughout the year - from early springtime when all the bulbs are in bloom, right throu…

Galloping Gardener's Alphabet Gardens © 2011 - Best of "C"s + "D"s

All the new gardens I saw this year in the "C" and "D" sections of the alphabet definitely have a story to tell, starting with Chartwell in Kent, former home of Sir Winston Churchill and his family. The house and garden enjoy a magnificent hilltop position, with fantastic views over the surrounding countryside. The Prime Minister loved his home and spent as much time as he could here when he was not busy masterminding the politics of his country. His two great passions were bricklaying and fish breeding, and his talents are evident in the walled garden (above) that he created - which is filled with both cutting flowers and vegetables during the summer months, and the many lakes an ponds at the property.  Chenies Manor House in Buckinghamshire has long been on my Wish List, because I'd seen many photographs of the tulips in bloom and wanted to see them for myself, so a flying visit in April revealed the true glory of this garden in springtime. It's only open …

Galloping Gardener's Alphabet Gardens © of 2011 - Best of the "B"s

When I come to my end-of-year reviews, I always remember how many gardens I've missed in a year! My quest for new gardens takes me all over the country, but my reflections on gardens I've seen reminds me of all the plots I could have re-visited on my travels. I live in Brighton on England's south coast and we have some very fine gardens here, including the Pavilion Garden (above), the Kipling Garden in Rottingdean and some wonderful hidden gardens. Bonython in Cornwall is one to put on your wish list if you're down in the West Country with its stunning views over the surrounding countryside. Particularly eye-catching early in the season with its impressive azalea and rhododendron displays, it also has a fabulous walled garden filled with flowers and champion vegetables in high summer. There's also a fine collection of exotic plants. I have to confess that I didn't get to Cornwall this year, but it's high on my list for springtime 2012 as I'm hoping to ca…

Galloping Gardener's Alphabet Gardens © of 2011 - Starting with "A"

With so few gardens open for business in Britain at this time of year, I'm into my annual round-up of new gardens visited during the year, starting at the beginning of the alphabet, with Alfriston Clergy House in East Sussex. This is a charming, small garden, with Arts & Crafts terraces, owned and operated by the National Trust, surrounding a 14th century cottage - the first property added to their portfolio in 1896. It nestles in glorious countryside near the coast and makes an interesting stop if you're visiting any of the Bloomsbury Set gardens in the area. For a perfect day, stop for lunch in Lewes and take in some of the gardens after lunch.   Looking glorious in springtime, when I visited for the first time this year, I'm told that Arley Hallin Cheshire also looks good throughout the visitor season (April - September), and certainly deserves the coveted 2-star rating it gets in the "Good Gardens Guide". It's a large garden, divided into many differ…

Galloping Gardener Choices 2011 - Great garden memories Part II

July took me to Herefordshire this year, where I visited Hampton Court (above), as well as Hergest Croft, Westonbury Mill Water Gardens and Little Malvern Court. Two days wasn't long enough to do justice to these incredible gardens, so I plan to go back next year and catch them all again, as well as other properties that I missed. "Small is beautiful" certainly applies to Sandgate Close in East Sussex - an interesting property, which admirably demonstrates what you can achieve in a tiny plot! Even though the owners were worried that I was visiting so late in the season, I was delighted by this garden. The owners open their pride and joy for the NGS and various charities throughout the season, and in 2012 you might want to combine this with Geoff Stonebanks' amazing garden just down the road.  In September, I managed to get a sneak preview of Sarah Raven's Cutting Garden, just before it opened for the NGS. It's an interesting property and, as you'd expect, f…