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Showing posts from May, 2012

Gertrude Jekyll garden under restoration at Tylney Hall, Hampshire

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Tylney Hall in Hampshire has a wonderful Gertrude Jekyll water garden which is currently being brought back to life by hotel group, Elite, which operates the Grade II listed house as one of its flagship properties. Original seat of the Tylney family, the property has variously served as a private house, a World War I hospital, a school and now as a luxury hotel. It enjoys a wonderful hilltop position near Hook in Hampshire, and opens for the National Garden Scheme three times a year. If you're reading this, you've already missed two of this year's openings, but anybody can visit this garden if they have lunch, tea or cocktails at the hotel.  The house is set in 66 acres of Grade II listed parkland, which includes a large woodland area and many specimen trees, plus a fine collection of rhododendrons and azaleas currently in bloom, which the current owners are committed to replenishing, replanting and extending. The work is to be done in two stages over the next five years, w…

RHS Chelsea ends tomorrow, but you can still catch Chelsea in Bloom

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If you're still feeling gloomy about all the happy horticultural punters who succeeded in getting into the Chelsea Flower Show this year, when you stayed home because you had no ticket to the ball, there are still numerous Fringe events on offer around London. One in particular will appeal to those in need of retail therapy this weekend - because 28 well-known shops in and around Sloane Square are offering window shopping treats to anybody who wants to pound the streets in SW3. All are participating in Chelsea in Bloom - an annual event that coincides with RHS Chelsea - where local retailers compete for a coveted crown by producing wonderful floral window displays to complement the flower show. This year's theme is the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, so you'll see plenty of regal displays and more than a few crowns as you mingle with the punters making their way to or from the Royal Hospital grounds, sporting their goody bags from the Show.     This is the seventh year that ret…

RHS Chelsea 2012 - Blooming Marvellous!

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Clear blue skies and above average temperatures for May have left the punters panting at RHS Chelsea this year as the mercury edged up towards 30C today in London! There's already been a huge amount of coverage for all the Show Gardens in the press, but just as spectacular are the exhibits within the marquee at the centre of the show. So I'm featuring some of the displays that really caught my attention this year. Two days to go and there's no sign of rain on the horizon, so more images from Chelsea tomorrow, when I'll be concentrating on the smaller show gardens. To see some of the medal winners, click here.

Highlights of RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2012

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Hotfoot from the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, I'm featuring some of the stunning gardens on offer this year ... and the weather is hotting up this week, so all those thousands of visitors lucky enough to get tickets will be taking off layers of clothing as they walk around the 99th show this week. Winner of Best in Show and a coveted Gold medal was the Brewin Dolphin garden (above), designed by Cleve West. The garden looked glorious in the early morning sunshine today, although getting close enough to photograph it required Herculean effort. I arrived as the doors opened at eight, joined the queues waiting to get through the gates, and by 10.00 you could hardly move! The RHS Chelsea Flower Show has become one of the prized events in the British social calendar and many ladies don amazing attire and hats to attend, so people watching is almost as much fun as viewing the show gardens. The Furzey Garden (above), designed by Chris Beardshaw stole my heart, with its vibrant colours and invit…

If you didn't get tickets to Chelsea, enjoy the Fringe instead!

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Gardening news this week will concentrate on the 99th RHS Chelsea Flower Show, so prepare to see endless coverage of the 16 show gardens competing for much-prized medals; alongside the lively reporting of Britain's gardening media, who will walk you through the show, interviewing the winners and much more. But don’t expect to get a ticket to see the spoils for yourself because Chelsea sold out months ago. This is the gardening event of the year and attracts visitors from all over the world - Chelsea is to gardening, what Ascot is to horse racing – a major event in the British social calendar. (I'm returning to Chelsea for the first time in six years and will be featuring the show gardens here later in the week). But if you haven’t got tickets, don’t fret because this year sees the launch of Chelsea Fringe, brainchild of Daily Telegraph columnist, Tim Richardson, which offers a cocktail of unusual and quirky events around the capital that are open to all. And although you may no…

Normandy in bloom - fabulous French gardens

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Foul weather forced me across the English Channel this week for a couple of days in search of French gardens. My eyes were opened wide because Normandy has some of the finest gardens I've seen in the last few years! So in the run up to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show next week, I'll be reviewing the gems that I found in France - both large and small. All the properties I visited were within an hour's drive of Dieppe and although it's a little early in the season to see these gardens at their best, it's certainly whetted my appetite for future trips. So watch this space in the next few days and join me on my whistle-stop tour! Mention French gardens and the one that comes to mind is Giverny (above) - one-time home of Impressionist painter, Claude Monet, but there are many other properties nearby that are just as spectacular and much less busy. Giverny is to France what Sissinghurst is to England in terms of crowds. Hope you'll join me as I bring you new ideas for gard…

Wordless Wednesday - Monet's garden at Giverny

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Away looking at glorious gardens - but wonder how many readers know this view??
And yes, to all who commented ... it is Giverny. Full review to come.

The Garden of Cosmic Speculation - open for just five hours a year!

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The Garden of Cosmic Speculation in the Borders area of southwest Scotland, has become something of a mystical destination since it only opens to the public for five hours each year. I was lucky enough to get there for the 2012 open day and despite crowds which cause a Chelsea football match to pale into insignificance, I'm glad I made it for a glimpse of this extraordinary garden created by landscape architect, Charles Jencks and his late wife, Maggie Keswick. It is quite unlike any other garden anywhere.  The combination of the huge crowds (all as determined as me to see this garden phenomenon); the timing of the opening from midday until 17.00 (when the light is not at its best for photography); and "iffy" weather, with intermittent heavy, dark cloud, except for the first ten minutes of my visit, conspired to make photography extremely difficult. But helped by my son, who's studying architecture at university (both with the long drive from southern England and also…

Deep in a Somerset valley - Holt Farm Organic Garden

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Deep in a Somerset valley there's a garden with a difference - Holt Farm Organic Garden. It's very refreshing to find a "nouvelle" garden in every sense of the word - new because it's only just beginning, but also approached with enthusiasm by its creator, and some interesting ideas, including an annual wildflower meadow that has yet to show its potential this year. Set in stunning countryside, this is a colourful oasis at the bottom of the valley. Walk into the garden there and you'll soon realise you're dealing with something unusual. There's always been a garden here - tended by the family that lives in the house - proprietors of Yeo Valley Farm next door, which produces much of Britain's organic yoghurt, but it's Sarah Mead, who married into the family several years ago who's breathed new life into the six and a half acre plot. She's the first to admit she's been bitten hard by the gardening bug and learned to love the land. Com…