|Wollerton Old Hall, brainchild of Lesley and John Jenkins, and created over the last 30 years|
2014 is nearly over and it’s been an interesting year, even though I’ve failed to keep abreast of many of the wonderful gardens I’ve visited. But my new year’s resolution is to start writing in earnest again and catch up on the huge number of astounding gardens around the world that I’ve been lucky enough to gallop through in the last 12 months – on the West Coast of the US, in France and especially here in the UK.
|Jardin Plume in Normandy, France - brainchild of Patrick and Sylvie Quibel|
As always, the year has gone too fast – a common complaint from those, like me, who are hurtling towards 60. Somehow the days disintegrate into weeks and before I know it, another month has gone by. Combine that with the fact I have an adored husband with Huntington’s Disease and a mother in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, and the days go even faster. This was also the year that the terrible storms of last winter forced me out of my house and into rented accommodation because the damage was so severe.
|Yews Farm in Somerset, created by Louise Dowding which opens for the NGS|
But my love of gardens remains integral to my life and as in previous years, I have discovered new horticultural haunts, met fascinating people and continued to travel, notably to the gardens of the Pacific Northwest, and to some of the finest gardens throughout France. In Britain too, I have visited new gardens – both public and private - but I haven't managed to write as many up as I'd have liked to. That is all to change in 2015 and all the gardens pictured here will be written up in the first few months of next year.
|Bryan's Ground created by David Wheeler and Simon Dorrell opens regularly during the summer|
Time constraints at home and the demands of family life have meant that I invariably left on trips ill-equipped and unprepared, with the wrong clothes, camera lenses or travel documents and then hit the ground running. But even as I struggled to find suitable shoes to walk in, lurched into a chemist to replace my forgotten sun cream, or wrestled with tenuous internet connections to do my homework before visiting a new garden, the rewards were always there when I arrived. And, as in the past, an hour in a beautiful garden made up for all the sadness of losing my husband to his illness, or the frustrations of working alongside my remarkable mother, whose memory makes it necessary to repeat oneself more than usual.
|Biddulph Grange in the Midlands is regarded as one of Britain's "great" gardens|
When I look at other gardening blogs and websites and see how faithfully their authors engage with their readers on a regular basis, I feel quite ashamed of my recent performance. Claus Dalby, the remarkable Danish creator of mit Haveliv posts every day without fail; Garden Drum, created by the indefatigable Catherine Stewart in Australia never ceases to amaze me with its prolific and fascinating content; Woolly Green continually whets the appetites of its readers; and my friend and colleague, Michelle at Veg Plotting manages to post on a variety of subjects wherever she is in the world.
|Just one aspect of the unexpected and delightful garden at Rare Plants in Oregon, US|
So I intend to take a leaf out of all their books and my New Year’s resolution is to re-engage in sharing some of the wonderful gardens worldwide with my followers again and giving a glimpse of what to expect if you too are in any of the locations that I have been fortunate enough to visit. And, as in the past, the pictures will tell most of the story, so readers know what to expect when you visit and what to look for at different times of year.
|The Elisabeth Carey Miller Botanical Garden in Seattle, WA which welcomes just 500 visitors each year|
My most recent trip was to Bhutan in the Himalayas, where I travelled for three weeks with Paul and Pauline McBride of Sussex Prairies – a life-changing experience, rattling along dirt roads, hugging the sides of mountains with sheer drops into valleys thousands of feet below and running into the occasional herd of yaks blocking the track! The countryside is beautiful, the people are charming and the glimpses of the mighty Himalayas are humbling. Combine that with our foray into Assam in north-eastern India and it made the trip of a lifetime – and one I will always remember.
|The garden at the vineyard of Val Joanis, Provence - certainly worth a visit if you are in the area|
And as for my travelling ... I'm already planning to cross the pond for the next Garden Blogger's Fling, to be held in Toronto, with my some of my British colleagues, including Mark and Gaz of Alternative Eden, Michelle of Veg Plotting (see above) and Victoria Summerley of Tales from Awkward Hill. I'm sure there will be more forays to France and I'm also hoping to get to Ireland to see some of the remarkable gardens there, so watch this space. Happy New Year to you all and see you again in 2015, as I reflect on more horticultural happiness and thank you for all your visits this year.