Showing posts from March, 2013

Happy Easter from afar and hoping for warmer weather

Hope that you all have a very Happy Easter and are enjoying your holiday break. I'm in Northern India enjoying the hills in Uttarakhand where the scenery is spectacular, even if temperatures are a little low! Back next week on the garden trail in England and hoping that there will be plenty coming into flower after the long and harsh winter. The climate in Uttarakhand is conducive to growing all sorts of plants that we have back home and when you walk around the hill station of Mussourie, you see many charming rooftop gardens filled with potted plants - quite an unusual sight here in India. Mussoorie is known as "Queen of the Hills" and gets its name from Mansur (cororiana nepalensis), a herb grown extensively in the Himalayan foothills. The town is perched on a 10-mile horseshoe-shaped ridge and the views to the the mountains above and the valley below are impressive. The ascent to Mussourie (above) is certainly memorable, as it is a 35-kilometre run, marked by hair-pi…

Galloping Gardener Walks © Gardens to visit in Kent this Easter

School holidays are about to start in Britain, and parents everywhere must be wondering how they're going to fill the time with kids at home in the next two weeks, so today's Galloping Gardener Walks © features three great gardens in Kent where there's interest for all the family at this time of year, starting with Hever Castle and its 125 acres of history and child-friendly grounds. One-time home of Anne Boleyn, second wife of King Henry VIII, this is a fabulous moated castle, which dates in part to the 13th century. But it was William Waldorf Astor who made the gardens what they are today when he purchased the property 100 years ago. He imported all the statues from abroad,   created the artificial lake and laid the fabulous Italian garden that is one of the highlights of a visit to Hever. There's also a giant topiary chess set and a water maze that children love, plus plenty of space to run around in or enjoy a picnic. Groombridge Place is another great garden for k…

East Ruston Old Vicarage - skilful planting to beat the elements

When you arrive at East Ruston Old Vicarage, it's hard to believe that it's only been here for a little over 30 years, so skilful is the landscaping and planting. Alan Gray and Graham Robeson purchased the near derelict Arts & Crafts vicarage in 1973 and set about recreating a garden from a rugged landscape that has become much loved by visitors from all over the world. It is less than two miles from the North Sea coast of Norfolk and part of its charm is the carefully crafted views through hedges towards the Happisburgh lighthouse and two ancient churches.  Each different garden area here is carefully planned, landscaped and enriched to replicate different growing conditions and planted for maximum effect. Gray and Robeson take great pride in the fact that they've designed each garden room themselves and used no outside help. But they had the foresight to plant large shelter belts of hedging when they first arrived here, which not only protects the plants from adverse …

Buscot Park - a house and garden filled with surprises- home to Harold Peto's best British water garden

Buscot Park has some unusual surprises in store for the visitor, including one of the finest water gardens in Britain, created by Harold Peto when the first Lord Faringdon acquired the property. The house is still administered by the Faringdon family on behalf of the National Trust and houses one of the most impressive private art collections in England. But it's the 62 acres of parkland and pleasure gardens that will interest garden lovers because this is a real hidden gem in Oxfordshire. Harold Peto was employed to design the water garden here at the turn of the 20th century, and has left the nation with a legacy typical of his Italianate style. It's discreetly hidden at the rear of the house and is a really artful design, which draws your eye down a stone-edged canal, opening into a series of pools adorned with sculptures and bridges and dressed at the edges with stark and immaculately clipped hedging. But its real function was to link the house to the lake, regarded as a vi…

Orchid Extravaganza extended for Mother's Day at Kew Gardens

The wonderful Orchid Exhibition in the Princess of Wales Conservatory at London's Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew has been extended until the end of this weekend, giving Mothers all over the country a chance to catch the really eye-catching arrangements on offer this year. Well worth getting to if you can! Standard admission prices apply.
And for gardens where Mum goes free this Sunday, scroll down to see more ideas!

Mother's Day Treats - UK gardens where Mum goes free this weekend

If you fancy giving Mum a treat this Sunday on Mother's Day, there are many gardens around the UK that are offering free entry, providing Mum's accompanied by other members of the family, ranging from Bristol Zoo, which will delight all the family to some of the great landscapes  including Painshill Park, plus several castles and country houses and some great spring gardens just beginning to come into flower. Castles on offer include Scotney Castle in Kent, the romantic, ruined, moated property, which sits in the middle of 26-acres waiting to burst into flower at this time of year and Ripley Castle in Yorkshire, a 'Capability Brown' landscape comprising four acres of formal gardens and a further eight of pleasure grounds. And if you're looking for somewhere closer to London, Clivedon in Buckinghamshire (above) is opening its doors to Mum for free - you can take a stroll in the grounds or enjoy the water garden there. The Savill Garden is beginning to bloom after the …

Heale House - one of Wiltshire's secrets - a garden for all seasons

It's not often you find a garden famous for snowdrops and spring flowers that also boasts a Japanese garden and Harold Peto features, but Heale House near Salisbury has all this and more. I've visited on several occasions throughout the seasons, but it won my heart when I went in search of snowdrops in February, with its perfect waterside location on a tributary of the River Avon. Although wet underground after all the rain, the owners had the foresight to erect boardwalks, which added a certain panache to viewing the bobbing white heads on a chilly, but bracing walk through the grounds. This is just the beginning of the open season for this garden - next come the swathes of daffodils and tulips which herald the arrival of warmer weather, and in summer the garden is filled with colour and is noted for its musk roses. But it has not always been such a harmonious story here because the handsome 17th century house had a turbulent history in the 19th century, with several changes o…

Catch Welford Park snowdrops and orchids at Kew this weekend if you can!

It's your last chance to catch two spectacular garden sights at the weekend before they close - the snowdrops at Welford Park in Berkshire (above) - where the bobbing white heads spread as far as you can see, and the orchids at Kew Gardens (below), with thousands of orchids displayed in the Princess of Wales Conservatory. Opening times at Welford Park are 11.00-16.00, while Kew opens its doors at 9.30 each day. Both are guaranteed to lift your spirits and shake off the winter blues.