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

Part of the garden created by Hugh Johnson at Saling Hall, Essex
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.
The garden at Spencers was recently re-designed by Tom Stuart-Smith
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 Stuart-Smith to revamp their plot and you'll find a glorious walled garden here. 
Sarah Raven is famous for her cut-flower courses
Sarah Raven's Cutting Garden is one to put on your list too - nestling in the heart of rolling English countryside. Filled to bursting with flowers that you could put in any arrangement for your home, she also offers flower arranging and cookery courses at her farm in Sussex. When Sarah's not here, you'll find her at Sissinghurst, where she lives with her husband. She'll be opening this garden for the National Gardens Scheme once in 2012, so   check their website for details.
The Rock Garden at Sizergh Castle - stunning in springtime!
Sizergh Castle is one to put on your Wish List if you're going to be in Cumbria visiting some of the other great gardens there. It doesn't get much of a rating in the Good Gardens Guide, but has a charming rock garden and delightful Dutch garden. My verdict is that it's definitely worth stopping for and deserves more than the measly six-line listing it gets in the guide!


  1. Ah-h...that cutting garden is certainly one to be admired. I hope I can achieve that beauty in my perennial bed someday.

  2. Yes, I agree! The cutting garden is calling me... I love fresh-cut floral arrangements. Sizergh looks fascinating in springtime, too!

  3. Hello from Denmark

    Amazing pictures of beautiful gardens. Babylon looks so exiting and the cutting garden, I can almost smell the flowers.
    Here in Denamrk we have a little snow now and it´s so cold.

    Have a nice day.
    Greetings from Helga


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