Showing posts from June, 2014

The Laskett - like it or not, it's definitely one to visit now Sir Roy Strong has opened his doors to the public

Garden visiting is a growing trend the world over and here in England we have more than our fair share of gardens to visit. But there are some properties that should go on every person’s “Wish List” and for me The Laskett in Herefordshire is one of these. It is not only the largest private formal garden to be created in England since the end of the World War II – no mean feat when you consider that this four-acre plot was nothing more than a windswept field in 1973, but it is also the remarkable story of a long and enduring marriage between two of the most colourful figures on the UK arts scene during the latter half of the 20th century. Sir Roy Strong, eminent historian and former director of both the National Portrait Gallery and the Victoria & Albert Museum and his late wife, Julia Trevelyan Oman, the celebrated theatre-set designer, created The Laskett. But it is so much more than a garden; it is also a portrait of their marriage and celebrates many of the landmarks of their di…

Chaumont's International Garden Festival 2014 - When fairy-tale chateau meets with feisty garden design

What better setting for a garden festival than a fairy-tale castle in the Loire Valley, between the popular towns of Blois and Tours, that was once home to Queen Catherine de Medici? Chateau de Chaumont, perched in an enviable position overlooking the River Loire below, is one of the most picturesque chateaux in the region, attracting some 400,000 visitors a year and is also home to the increasingly popular annual International Gardens Festival, now in its 23rd year. It is located at the heart of the Val de Loire, which has been recognised as a UNESCO world heritage site since 2000. Chaumont is to France what RHS Chelsea is to the British garden lover and is fast growing in stature and reputation. But what makes this garden show unique is that each year has a theme – with 2014 being the year for ‘Gardens of the Deadly Sins’. Add to this the fact that Chaumont is no pop-up show, where the exhibits are only in the public eye for less than a week and you have a considerable challenge for …

Thoughtful Thursday - more from the Loire Valley

More thoughts from the chateaux in the Loire Valley region of France - for more images click here

Wordless Wednesday - Wandering through the Loire


Head for Hestercombe Gardens this summer - the best Lutyens and Jekyll collaboration in Britain

Hestercombe in Somerset, is undoubtedly the finest example of the celebrated garden design liaison between Sir Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll anywhere in the world, rivaled only by LeBois de Moutiers in France. It is certainly the only property where Lutyens was involved solely in the hard landscaping of the garden, with no house commission attached. Combine his talent with the fortuitous discovery of Jekyll’s original garden plans in a potting shed, as restoration work on the garden was about to begin, and the result is a magnificent garden, now open for us all to enjoy. This was one of the first major garden restorations in the country - a real story of a phoenix rising from the fire as successive owners of the property fought to keep control of house and garden over a period of some 30 years. It is both the size and scope of the restoration which is unusual, because Hestercombe has the benefit of landscape and formal gardens, surrounding a house that has seen both landed gentry a…

Amazing Arley Hall - an outstanding Cheshire garden

Most of Britain's gardens have just one striking feature, but Arley Hall in Cheshire has several, starting with its herbaceous borders, which could possible be among the earliest in Britain. They are shown on a map dated 1846, were painted by George Elgood in 1889, and were certainly in existence long before Gertrude Jekyll popularised the concept of borders in garden design. But they are not the only notable feature here - there is also an astounding Ilex avenue (below) and a well-established Rootery. 
Arley Hall has been in the same family for 800 years. It is home to Viscount Ashbrook and his wife, Zoe who saved the garden from near ruin after World War II. The planting here is exquisite, and arranged so that the flowering season starts early in spring and continues throughout the open season well into the fall. There is always part of the garden in flower - not so surprising when you consider that the 23 acres includes two walled gardens, a vinery, herb garden, scented garden a…