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Showing posts from June, 2013

Fun Friday - Plentiful Proteas at Santa Cruz Arboretum

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Very few words today, just pictures, as I've now met up with many US bloggers on their annual Garden Bloggers Fling in San Francisco, but the proteas at Santa Cruz Arboretum, just south of here are really stunning. We're off to see gardens today, so more later.

San Diego Botanic Garden - with less than 11" of rain a year, the emphasis is on sustainability

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When foreigners visit Southern California, it's hard to grasp the concept that most areas are desert and that annual rainfall in San Diego, near the border with Mexico, is less than 11 inches. Indeed, coming from England, where we spend so much of our time moaning about the wet weather, the idea of so little rain may at first, seem appealing. The urbanisation and gentrification of coastal areas in Southern California give the illusion that water is plentiful, but in reality it's a precious commodity.  The emphasis at the San Diego Botanic Garden is on water conservation and sustainability and as part of its commitment to making visitors aware of the importance of this natural resource, it has created the really memorable Hamilton Children's Garden. When I visited last week, this area was filled with busy children, who were captivated by a range of innovative water saving gadgets, water smart plants and the magnificent tree house (above) at the heart of the garden.  Sustainab…

Silent Sunday - What you see on the streets in Coronado, CA

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I've been strolling the streets in Coronado this weekend (en route to the Garden Bloggers Fling in San Francisco next week) and am amazed by what's in flower - both at ground level and overhead. This whole area is filled with magnificent trees - many are in full bloom right now -  so it's a real joy to be able to walk the streets and see what's on show here in Southern California.

From kitchen garden to table in minutes - The Pig is a must for Ladies who Lunch

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I don't often review restaurants, but earlier this week I had such a delicious lunch in the New Forest that I'd be a complete hog if I didn't share details with readers! It's close enough to Exbury and Furzey, where the rhododendrons are still putting on good colour displays to justify a break between garden visits and you'll have the added bonus of being able to wander through the immaculate grounds and see a highly-productive kitchen garden. 
With the unlikely name of "The Pig", this property is a real find for hungry garden visitors. It's the brainchild of Robin Hutson, who's had a long career in hotel management and is already well-known for the successful Hotel de Vin chain he created twenty years ago. Described as a  restaurant with "rooms and kitchen garden food", the emphasis here is on fresh, locally-sourced produce. But Hutson and his wife Judy (who's responsible for the decorating), have taken their boutique "shabby ch…

French Gourmet Gardens - Yves Gosse le Gorre's allegorical acreage at Sericourt

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Just occasionally you walk into a garden that etches itself on your soul. For me, Yves Gosse de Gorre’s Jardin de Sericourt in northern France did just that - as the latest addition to a small, but growing list list of truly memorable landscapes I’ve encountered in my years of garden visiting. It justly deserves its accolade as a "Remarkable Garden" (Jardin Remarquable) of France; is easily reached from the Northern Channel ports of Calais and Boulogne; and is definitely a garden to add to your visiting "Wish List".  Located in the south of the Pas de Calais region, this is an allegorical garden, which in part depicts the war-torn history of the area through the huge collection of shrubs and trees amassed by its creator. It has been thoughtfully landscaped and planted over the last 20 years to reflect some of the themes that travellers often forget when following the roads that traverse the European ‘Killing Fields’ – for it was here in Picardy and in the neighbouri…

Two of the best small gardens in Britain open in Seaford this weekend

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It may be blowing a gale, but there's also plenty of blue sky overhead, so set off for Seaford on the south coast and catch two of the best small gardens in Britain this weekend - Driftwood and Sandgate Close - just a short distance from each other and open from 11.00-17.00 on both Saturday and Sunday as part of a group of five Seaford and Bishopstone gardens open for the NGS. Both gardens are delightful and you can see full details and more pictures by clicking on the links above.  There are also three further gardens open in nearby Bishopstone village this weekend - Barrack Cottage - a partly walled, five-acre chalk garden, Buckthorn Close and Elizabeth Cottage, none of which I've yet visited. Full details are available on the NGS website. Teas available at Driftwood on both days and at Sandgate Close on Sunday.

Gourmet gardens in Normandy - Lutyens' masterpiece - Le Bois des Moutiers

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There's little doubt that the gardens in France - Normandy especially - pose a serious threat to our English gardens in terms of the "wow" factor. I've just spent four days there looking at some of their wonderful gardens and they certainly provide a gourmet delight for anybody who loves looking at gardens and landscapes. The main problem with the French properties is there's remarkably little on the internet about them and the stretch of water (often stormy) that divides us from them, seems to deter us from visiting.  France is not just "foreign", but the French drive on the wrong side of the road for us Brits (although not for our American friends) and then, of course, there's the language barrier. Their road signs are erratic, and just like here in Britain, those much-needed direction signs always run out at the point we rely on them most, although I noticed on this recent trip that the gardens are remarkably well sign-posted. But all of that asid…

Wordless Wednesday - Monet's garden at Giverny

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Even the wet weather can't dampen the excitement of a visit to Monet's garden at Giverny at this time of year, when the irises are still in bloom.

Les Jardins Agapanthe - the best of gourmet gardens in Normandy

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If you live in England, there's a whole new world of gardens on your doorstep, just across the English Channel. I travelled to France this week in search of pastures green, and was amazed by what I found, just a short hop across the water. There's a choice of ferries from the south coast and of course, there's also the Chunnel, which will transport garden gastronomes into a different world - the gardens and landscapes of Normandy - made famous by Impressionist painters like Claude Monet. But his garden at Giverny is just a starter - there are many other gourmet gardens waiting to be tasted - including  Les Jardins Agapanthe. This wondrous garden has been created over the last 30 years by landscape architect, Alexandre Thomas around his family home in Normandy, just an hour's drive from Dieppe.  It's a truly magical garden, which has doubled in size in the last three years, following the acquisition of an adjacent property - and a visit here will transport you into a…