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Showing posts from January, 2012

Pinch and a punch ... the end of a cold month!

Not too many gardens to visit at this time of year, so to end 
the month, I've chosen a few shots that show the cold weather!

Red sky in the morning ....

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Red sky in the morning; Shepherd's warning
(And it's cold here, that's for sure!)

Galloping Gardener's Alphabet Gardens © Best of the "S"s.

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Hurtling through that alphabet now, with the end few letters in sight and already planning those garden visits for 2012. I visited plenty of new gardens last year, although not as many as I would have liked! Essex featured high on my list as I wanted to catch some of the iconic gardens there and see several new ones, starting with Saling Hall, home of renowned British wine writer and critic Hugh Johnson (who I was lucky enough to meet). This garden is certainly interesting - and I really enjoyed the open areas (above) which come complete with Greek-style contemplation temple. But the Johnson's are moving on and when I visited the house was up for sale, so by now it may well have gone, alas for garden visitors. Spencers is not too far from Saling Hall, so if you are visiting gardens in the area, you could call in here too next summer, although opening hours are very restricted and you should check on the web before setting out. The owners called in leading garden designer, Tom Stuar…

Galloping Gardener's Alphabet Gardens © 2011 Best of the "P"s and "R"s

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More than half way through the month of January and although we've already seen heavy winds, severe frosts and snow here in the UK this month, many plants are way ahead of schedule and the traditional spring flowers are well ahead of themselves. On sunny days it's a great time to explore some of the gardens that remain open throughout the year, including Painshill Park (above). I've visited several times, but never reviewed these wonderful 18th century landscape gardens within a stone's throw of London. So one for my "To Do" list for 2012! Painswick Rococo in Gloucestershire is about to come into bloom again with its fine snowdrop collection, followed in the spring by spectacular tulips. This is the only garden of its kind in Europe and is filled with fine Rococo buildings. Re-discovered only recently, the garden has been restored to its former glory and its six acres are well worth exploring. Polesden Lacey is one of the National Trust's most visited prope…

Winter Wonderland at Sussex Prairies

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No dialogue ... but a beautiful sunset tonight at Sussex Prairies!

What's the obsession with scarecrows???

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I've galloped around the world for the last three years looking at gardens! And to be perfectly frank, I knew nothing about them when I first started. Lack of experience meant that I simply didn't know the difference between a good and a bad garden; certainly couldn't understand the basic principles of planting and what makes a border work; and as for naming a plant ... you might just as well have asked me to give the Latin names for butterflies!!  But that's about to change, thanks to Anne Wareham of ThinkinGardens and other gardening gurus, who have made me realise that it's not helpful writing exclusively about good gardens. The time has come to write about the bad ones too so that visitors don't waste their time looking at pathetic planting or bad design. Worse too are the gardens that trade on their history! 
I've certainly seen bad gardens in my time, but have always chosen to ignore them. So my New Year's resolution is to get real and start saying …

Capital "N" for the National Gardens Scheme - Pick of the best for the NGS in the South East

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It's that time of year again and the National Gardens Scheme(NGS) is gearing up to offer another gourmet menu of public and private gardens around the country. Every year there are more properties on offer as owners dip their toe in the water and agree to show their gardens to the public, in a unanimous effort to raise funds for some of the most valuable and needed charities in the United Kingdom. Plots range in size from small front and rear gardens, to huge estates and public gardens, but all entrance fees go directly to the NGS, which disperses them to its chosen charities. The number of properties open under the NGS banner grows every year, and although some gardens are entirely seasonal, like Brandy Mount House in Hampshire (above), which has always attracted huge crowds because of its snowdrop collection, although it only opens for one day this year (Saturday, 11th February) there are other stalwart owners who open every week for charity, during the summer months. But what…

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

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With all the wind, rain and gales here in the UK in the past few weeks, garden visiting hasn't been an option, except in your dreams! So as an antidote to all the foul weather, I'm revisiting some of the gardens I saw last year, from Marks Hall in Essex - an impressive arboretum and garden, to Mottisfont Abbey in Hampshire, famous for its spectacular rose displays, while planning my garden visits for 2012. Marks Hall and Arboretum (top) is one of a group of Essex gardens I visited for the first time last year, along with Green Island and Saling Hall. It has fine vistas and walks, and an interesting walled garden, completely redesigned for the new Millenium, which is now reaching a new stage of maturity and providing plenty of eye candy for visitors in the summer months.        Just as impressive, but less well known because it hasn't really featured on the garden tourist map yet are the Matara Gardens (above) Gloucestershire, nestling in the heart of glorious countryside and…