|"Gardens are a real gift of happiness and joy"|
|Tremenheere - at the heart of the county that my father loved so much - we spent much time visiting gardens in Cornwall during his long illness and I learned that gardens are great healers for mind and spirit|
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.
|Cothay Manor in Somerset will always hold a special place in my heart. It's exotic, slightly chaotic and beautiful|
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 together. And towards the end of his life, on the few occasions he was well enough to leave the hospice in a wheelchair, I couldn't help but notice how much good our garden visits did him. He came alive again, however ill he felt, and would return home to the hospice looking happy and relaxed. That was when I started blogging, during the long evenings that I spent alone at my hotel, between my visits to the hospice.
|Great Dixter is one of the gardens that my husband and I visited regularly because it's close to our home - created by Christopher Lloyd, it now has iconic status because of its planting schemes ... and deservedly so|
I hardly need tell readers how much I miss him, but he left me with a legacy that has continued to bring me pleasure even since - garden visiting - and there's rarely a day when I visit a garden that I don't reflect on those happy days we spent together at the end of his life.
|Sussex Prairies, created by Paul and Pauline McBride, brings joy to my heart every time I visit|
Three years down the road, I find myself in a similar situation again, but this time it's my beloved husband who is ill. He also learned the gift of gardens with me during my father's illness, and we then spent successive years enjoying gardens together - more than 100 here in the UK, plus many more in France when visiting friends and of course, in the US because we had a house there. As his illness has progressed, we've visited many gardens together with him in a wheelchair and what we've learned is however bad the situation is, gardens are a real gift of happiness and joy!
|The Peto garden at Iford Manor - a surreal, steep, hillside plot filled with exotic statuary and a sense of pure theatre|
|Levens Hall, Cumbria is reputed to be the most magnificent topiary garden in the world - I visited with my husband last year on a tour of Cumbria, before he was confined to a wheelchair for garden visits|
|John Brookes who created Denmans Garden, near Chichester, who has become a dear friend. We recently travelled to India together and visited gardens throughout Rajasthan. John is looking out over Chittaurgarh during our travels|
|Veddw captured my heart the first time I went there and met Anne Wareham and her husband, Charles Hawes for the first time. It has become one of my favourite gardens anywhere in the world because it has so much personality|
|The famous laburnum arch at Barnsley House, former home of Rosemary Verey, where I spent a day working with Clive Nichols trying to improve my photography techniques!|
|The Garden House in Devon - always a joy to visit en route to Cornwall|
|This is me, taken on a garden visit last year by my beloved husband|
Thank you all for your support in the last three years and Happy Easter.
Charlotte aka Galloping Gardener