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Showing posts from July, 2013

Broughton Grange near Banbury - a walled garden with a difference

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When Tom Stuart Smith was commissioned to re-design the gardens at Broughton Grange as a Millennium project for the owners, he introduced a whole new meaning to the concept of parterre in this country. His design is unique - based on shapes taken from the leaf cell structures of beech, oak and ash trees featured elsewhere in the garden - and although it's difficult to see the precise patterns in the pictures here, save for the crinkly shapes, you can see that both compartment structure and planting are unique.
Broughton Grange is just outside Banbury in Oxfordshire - it's a Cotswold stone manor house, set in the heart of a 350-acre estate with fine views over the surrounding countryside. When the owners approached Tom Stuart Smith to redesign the existing landscape there was no walled garden here at all. It was merely an empty field overlooking the distant horizon, which he transformed into a three-tiered terrace with prairie planting, a productive vegetable garden, unusual wat…

Summer flower and steam spectacular at Bressingham Gardens - a great day out for all the family

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Few gardeners can imagine the possibility of pairing steam trains with spectacular summer borders, but the combination really does work and solves the problem of a family day out likely to appeal to all ages during the long summer holidays. That's what you'll find at Bressingham in Norfolk and when I visited this week, I was astounded by the colour and form of the 16-acre gardens and enchanted by the narrow-guage railway train that winds its way through the Dell Garden.  The nursery at Bressingham, known as Blooms, was founded by Alan Bloom in 1953. He was primarily a nurseryman, with a special interest in hardy perennials. But his other great passion was steam trains. All his initial efforts went into the horticulture side of the business, where he experimented with the highly-successful island beds that remain such an outstanding feature of the six-acre (2.4 hectares) Dell Garden today. But his love of horticulture was matched by his love of steam engines and he acquired his …

Wordless Wednesday - Splendid Suffolk - Garden stories to come!

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Beside the seaside II - Sandgate Close, Seaford - open for NGS this weekend

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If you're off in search of interesting gardens to visit this weekend, you simply cannot miss the two that are open for the NGS in Seaford, Sussex this Sunday - Driftwood  and Sandgate Close. The latter is a magical, mini-botanical garden, filled to capacity with interesting plants - a miniscule micro-climate where you'll find something to delight you at every turn and more than 500 different plant species in under an eighth of an acre.
The garden at Sandgate is the brainchild of Denis and Aideen Jones, who arrived here in 1982, when there was nothing more than a poor quality lawn and 12 Leylandii along the back fence. Times have certainly changed and when you enter the garden gate, you are transported into a magical world of plant wizardry. Every inch of garden is covered with  plants and this is also a fine example of how to live without a lawn!
Denis and Aideen open the garden for charity regularly throughout the summer season and also by appointment.  They are open this Sunda…

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside! Drop into Driftwood this weekend - a Sussex garden with heart open for NGS

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Driftwood is one of two Seaford gardens opening its doors for the NGS in Sussex this weekend and is well worth making the effort to see if you like to be beside the sea. This glorious postage stamp garden is a riot of colour right on the coast and you'll be inspired by the innovative planting and design. You'll also be amazed at the variety of plants in the garden. Owner Geoff Stonebanks works tirelessly in his plot to raise funds for charity and has already raised over £21,000 with 57 openings to date. Driftwood opens regularly for the NGS during the summer, as well as other charities and the garden was a finalist in the coveted Daily Mail National Garden Competition last year. This year also sees it as an active participant in the Thompson and Morgan customer seed trials programme.  I had a sneak preview yesterday with my friend and fellow blogger, Ronnie Tyler, who is busy "kicking cancer". You can read her story on "Hurtled to 60 and now Beyond" Driftwood…

Wordless Wednesday - Memories of RHS Hampton Court

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Home from California heatwave and hotfoot from RHS Hampton Court ...

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Home from California at teatime yesterday and up there with the crowds at Hampton Court Flower Show today .... high temperatures, huge crowds and happy people looking at all the show gardens, so I had to hustle my way to the front to get these pictures. But with three days to go, readers may want to see what's in store for them.

After California Dreamin' - heading home to Hampton Court

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Nearly three weeks in California and thousands of miles later, I've visited more than 20 gardens during my stay here and loved every moment. Highlights included many of the gardens visited on the 2013 Garden Bloggers Fling, where we were lucky enough to visit many small, private plots in and around San Francisco. I was also fortunate to be able spend time in the Los Angeles area, which meant that I got to one of my long-time "Wish List" gardens - Lotusland, outside Santa Barbara - and to see some of the missions, including San Juan Capistrano (below), before heading south to San Diego where I was able to see the famous lath botanical building in Balboa Park (above). Now it's home to Hampton Court and another heatwave ... or so I'm told. After temperatures well into the 90s here in southern California, I suspect that I'm going to enjoy every moment in the sunshine back home. I'll be reviewing all the gardens I've visited here on the West coast in the nex…

Silent Saturday - California cactus up close

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Cactus flowers seen on my travels here in California - at the Ruth Bancroft Garden, San Diego Botanic Garden, Lotusland and San Capistrano Mission - all to be reviewed soon. Have a great weekend!

One for the wishlist in San Francisco - Keeyla Meadows' garden

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The moment you draw up outside Keeyla Meadows' house in a San Francisco Bay area suburb, you know that you're about to see something a little different to the conventional California garden (if there is such a concept). This property is both unique and uplifting - a riot of colour and clever planting in a tiny plot that houses this popular ceramicist's studio as well as a host of plants that we can't grow back home in the UK. Pull up at the curb and you'll see plants spilling out into the street, beckoning you in to this extraordinary and eclectic plot reminiscent of the "Flower Power" movement all those years ago - where colour and creativity combine to give a sense of charismatic, but organised chaos. There's not an inch of space unoccupied by a plant, sculpture or decorative paving stone. But this is Keeyla's trademark. This stunning small California plot reminds me of one my favourite gardens in the UK - Driftwood in Sussex, where the packed pla…

California Dreaming! Visiting gardens in and around San Francisco

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I never thought there would be so many unusual and interesting gardens to see in the San Francisco Bay area, but having spent the last three days on the 13th annual Garden Bloggers Fling, I have been proved wrong. I've seen some amazing places, met some of the world's great garden bloggers, and had the chance to see a dozen new gardens - some private and others open to the public.  Temperatures climbed well into 80s in San Francisco, and a lot higher further inland over the weekend, with some parts of California seeing highs of went well over 100 degrees as the West Coast was hit by a heatwave. Of course, the Texan bloggers - Andrea, Cindy, Diana, Melissa, Pam, Susan and Vicki - thought nothing of the searing heat. But my fellow English bloggers Helen and Victoria were just as surprised as I was by the unusually hot weather. So while I take the time to catch up and collect my thoughts (I'm now back in southern California visiting more gardens before returning home), I'm …