Showing posts from April, 2012

Relentless rain gives much needed boost to UK tulips!

It's peak tulip season and although gardeners around the country have been complaining that theirs are stunted due to the hot spell in March, and the lack of rain earlier in the year, there's a lot to be said for these joyous flowers that hold their heads high at this time of year.  Choose your venue and you see them standing like soldiers in lines, or interspersed with other plants and with all the rain we've had in the last few weeks, you may want to get out and see them this weekend, because there are some spectacular tulip displays on the menu. Dunsborough Park in Surrey (above) is open on both Saturday and Sunday (28th/29th April) and offers a rare chance to see around this garden, which opens for just seven days each year - you can see thousands of tulips standing in line like soldiers in the walled garden (above) or take a stroll in the meadow (top) where you will see the deserters! But this is also an opportunity to see the rest of this garden, which has been restor…

"Being at the right place at the right time" with Andrew Lawson

Last week I spent a day at Great Dixter with Andrew Lawson, the celebrated English garden photographer. It was a wonderful opportunity to learn from a man who has captured more different gardens on film than I will ever have the chance to see and to hear a little of his story, as well as having the chance to listen to his advice on taking better photographs. Andrew knew and worked with Christopher Lloyd (who created the garden at Dixter) on numerous occasions, and had many anecdotes about both the man and his garden. Andrew says that "garden photography is all about being at the right place at the right time", and that a successful photograph depends on the quality of light. I'm sure that all of us who try to capture gardens as images will agree with him. There are days when it's impossible to get good photographs of gardens, however spectacular they may be, because a dull, overcast sky will bleach out any contrast, and the resulting pictures will be flat and unintere…

Catch UK tulips between the April showers!

After a winter of weather discontent and a spring of drought, everybody is complaining about their tulips this year. British gardeners say they are shorter than usual, but few can dispute the fact that a really good display of tulips - even stunted - bring joy to the heart. So where better to see them than in gardens around England in the next few weeks? These are just some of the varieties on display at Great Dixter, where I spent a day this week on a photography course with Andrew Lawson, but for full details of other venues, see below. As I visit gardens with tulips in bloom, I'll post them here. Happy tulip hunting!

The following gardens all have spectacular tulip displays this month and next, although the recent weather may well have had some impact on their flowering. 

Alnwick,  30 April - 8 May
Chatsworth 4 - 8 May
Dyhram Park, Glos  1 -10 April
Polesden Lacey, Surrey 14 April - 13 May
Waddesdon Manor, Bucks 14 -29 April
Dunsborough Park, Surrey
21/22 and 28/29 April
Pashley Manor, …

Wish List Gardens - Cothay Manor, Somerset

Gardens nominated as my "Wish List" candidates are really worth making the effort to travel a little further to see, and I start this series today with Cothay Manor in Somerset, which is now open for the summer. As English gardens go, this is one of my favourites because it's not only one of the most romantic I've seen yet, but is constantly changing throughout the seasons as different part of the garden come into bloom (so what you see here today may not be in bloom when you visit). Although getting to Cothay Manor requires nerves of steel to negotiate the narrow country lanes with their high-sided hedges, plus a good satellite navigation system, your efforts will be rewarded! You'll soon forget the winding approach and the rigours of reversing into passing places because this must surely be one of the most romantic gardens in Britain. You'll feel as though you've stepped back 500 years in history here in the heart of Somerset, when you see this wonderful…

Glorious spring gardens V - Doddington Place, Kent

April is a wonderfully theatrical month in terms of weather and yesterday was no exception. Blue skies interspersed with thunderous showers and you never know when you're going to get soaked because the patch of blue that looks like its coming your way suddenly changes direction and the heavens open, so not the easiest month to plan garden visits! Combine that with a garden in Kent which also has theatrical elements and you're guaranteed to have an interesting day.   Doddington Place, with its ten acre garden, wonderful views and extraordinary hedging, which has been likened to mountains, clouds and even gorillas, is certainly filled with theatre! Start with the substantial red-brick Victorian mansion (top), with its many chimneys and gables; add great walls of yew hedge planted by former owner, Mrs Douglas Jefferies, at the turn of the 20th century, which was left to grow during the war and is now clipped just once a year; plus a glorious woodland garden, sunken garden, and ro…

Galloping Gardener's best British garden memories after three years of blogging

It's Easter 2012 and I've been blogging about gardens for three years! I'm the first to admit I've come a long way in that time, because I knew nothing and I really do mean NOTHING about gardens when I started. I'd never thought about them, certainly didn't appreciate the energy and love that went into creating them, and had no idea about structure, plants or the effect different soils and climatic conditions have on the way they grow! My interest in garden visiting began when my father was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008. He was living in Cornwall and I lived in Sussex, but as his disease progressed, I spent more time with him in the West. And as we progressed through his illness (which had been diagnosed too late to save him), the pastime that gave us both the greatest pleasure was visiting gardens together.  We were able to savour the peace we found in those wonderful Cornish landscapes, sit together for hours and talk, and enjoy the plants that we saw …

Galloping Gardener Walks© Three glorious castle gardens in Kent

Spring is in the air and what better way to get out and enjoy it than visiting gardens? Combine this with a bit of history and throw a castle into the equation and you'll have entertainment for all the family! Head to Kent - the "Garden of England" - and you'll find several fascinating castle gardens including Hever, Scotney and Sissinghurst - all steeped in history and boasting exceptional gardens. And all within a stone's throw of each other.  Hever Castle is a moated Tudor property and one-time home of Anne Boleyn, one of Henry VIII's wives, but was restored to its former by William Waldorf Astor at the beginning of the 20th century. His collection of statues is on display in the Italian Garden, which has one of the finest pergolas in Britain (above). This garden is immaculately maintained and has a series of garden rooms which are re-planted throughout the season, to guarantee constant, colourful flower displays and there's also a fine rose garden. Gre…

Orchids at RHS Wisley for Easter

If you're looking for a garden to visit over the Easter weekend, why not go to RHS Wisley? It's close to London and filled with spring flowers both outside and in. Enjoy all the spring bulbs and blossoms outside and enjoy the spectacular orchid displays in the glasshouses (see below). Open every day over the Easter weekend, and open at 10.00 on weekdays and 9.00 at weekends.