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Showing posts from October, 2012

Gardens for all seasons - Sheffield Park, East Sussex - spectacular autumn colours!

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There's little doubt that winter's on the way when English gardens close their gates and the mists start rolling in off the sea and leave us swathed in gray until mid morning. So as part of my ongoing series of "gardens for all seasons" that remain open throughout the year, today's post is about Sheffield Park in East Sussex. This magnificent garden always comes to light at this time of year because of its stunning autumn colours, but in reality, it's a wondrous garden throughout the year and is only closed on Christmas Day.
It's the huge expanses of water and the planting around the lakes at Sheffield Park that makes this landscape so memorable because you get wonderful reflections, particularly from the maples and scarlet oaks at this time of year. There are no formal beds of herbaceous borders here, since this is primarily a woodland garden, but in springtime, there are masses of rhododendrons and azaleas, which give as good a display as the autumn colo…

Gardens for all Seasons - RHS Wisley

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It doesn't matter where you go at Wisley, or what time of year you visit, because there'll always be something to see at the Royal Horticultural Society's (RHS) 240-acre flagship garden. The RHS originally had its headquarters in London, but moved here when Sir Thomas Hanbury of La Mortola fame, gifted the site to them in 1903.  Students come here from all over the world to study horticulture both as professionals and amateurs and visitors number around 750,000 per year. 
Wisley has something for everyone.  At the entrance there are formal canal gardens in front of the main house laid out by Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe and Lanning Roper in the 1960s, which include two walled gardens. Beyond this there's a Wild Garden and an area known as Seven Acres, where the planting focuses on the four seasons - it's here that you will see thousands of daffodils in spring and glorious colours in autumn.
Borders are a major feature at Wisley and you'll see every kind of perennial as …

"Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn."

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"Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn." Elizabeth Lawrence

Gardens for all Seasons - Sir Harold Hillier Gardens and Arboretum

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As I watch the weather forecast with increasing trepidation, hoping for a break in the rain to see gardens in their autumn glory, I must face facts and accept that winter's coming! Many of the gardens I know and love are closing their doors; gardeners are sweeping up the autumn leaves; the clocks soon change; and there's no getting away from the fact that we'll soon be into fog and frost. But there are some gardens that remain open throughout the winter months and I spent several hours at one of them last week. During a brief burst of wintry sunshine, I visited the  Sir Harold Hillier Gardens in Hampshire - one of my favourites throughout the year, but particularly fine in autumn, with its acer valley and heather garden, and you'll find colour here to gladden your heart in the next few months, especially on a frosty day. The Winter Garden is the largest in Europe and is filled with wonderful, colourful barks and stems that will brighten your spirits on the shortest da…

Gardens for all Seasons - West Dean, Sussex

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The days are getting shorter, there's a chill in the air and most British gardens are closed for the winter. But in the next few months, I shall be visiting the few that stay open throughout the year and looking at what they have to offer through the seasons. West Dean near Chichester in Sussex is looking particularly good this month, with borders still in flower, a fine autumn vegetable collection in the walled garden and an orchard full of apples. Combine this with stunning views over the South Downs, and an arboretum where the trees are donning their autumn leaves and it's a great place to take a walk in the winter months.
West Dean has always been renowned for its walled garden - there are a total of 13 glasshouses in this section of the garden, plus three large cold frames. The majority were manufactured by Foster & Pearson at the end of the 19th century, and today they house a prodigious range of squashes, chillies, fruits, vines and hot-house plants - which make for …

"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is in flower"

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The trees are donning their autumn colours, so I'm off visiting gardens.

Gardens of Alfabia - a Moorish surprise in Mallorca

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It would be easy to miss the Jardines de Alfabia in Mallorca, because they are sited right at the entrance to the tunnel that connects Palma to the sleepy town of Soller on the North West corner of the island. Historic references indicate that this was once the home of the Arabic Viceroy of the island. But they are certainly a fine example of Moorish garden design, where the emphasis is on water and irrigation and are well worth stopping in to see if you're passing this way and want an excursion that doesn't include sea, sand or water sports.  These charming gardens are being restored - very slowly - and with temperatures hovering around the 30C mark even at the beginning of October, you see the gardeners at work with a decidedly "manana" approach. These gardens are a rare remnant of Moorish civilisation on the island, and if it's gardens you're after during your Balearic stay, they provide a much better alternative to the rather disappointing Botanic Garden a…

Head for Britain's greatest glasshouses to beat the autumn blues!

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Britain has some of the best and most innovative glasshouses in the world, and with winter around the corner, it's well-worth bearing them in mind for days out when garden visits are impossible, due to bad weather or lack of winter colour. The Eden Project in Cornwall  has received accolades the world over since it opened in 2001. It was the brainchild of Tim Smit of Lost Gardens of Heligan fame - who came up with the idea of converting disused china clay quarries into a magnificent garden under glass. But few believed the project costing £86 million, would actually go ahead. But it did and today it's one of the top ten visitor attractions in Britain and one of the top garden sites in the world. The greenhouses, called biomes, look like huge golf balls rising out of the ground and the larger of the two - the Rainforest Biome (above) - is kept at 90% humidity and an average temperature of 75F (24C). With a height of 50 metres, the Rainforest structure could house the Tower of Lo…