Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Top picks at RHS Hampton Court 2017

The exhibit that really caught my eye at this year's RHS Hampton Court Flower Show was "The Charleston Garden" (above) - one of three very different 'potted' landscapes exhibiting under the Great Gardens of the USA banner. Wonderful planting, a fountain that you cannot miss, and a sense of serenity that you'd expect to find in the deep south.
The Kinetica conceptual garden, designed by John Warland is a striking display of colour and simple planting - a must-see if you're into primary colours!
Watch out for some of the smaller displays at Hampton Court this year - I was particularly struck by the simplicity of the Freddie's Flowers stand (just around the corner from the Charleston garden) - displaying the glorious flowers you can have delivered to your front door.
Watch out for those monster cabbages in the RHS Kitchen Garden - wonderful displays of organic edibles that you can certainly grow at home!
"By the Sea", designed by James Collicot (seated above) is charming garden, as is its sister landscape "Fun on Sea" and certainly another favourite for me, but with a really special twist as it was built on a low budget using many up-cycled materials and presented by the Southend-on-Sea Youth Offending Team - what a great way to use all that energy!
Brownfield Metaphorphosis (above) is part of the 'Gardens for a Changing World' category at Hampton Court this year and is designed to emphasise the unexpected 'beauty' of Britain's brownfield sites - certainly an eye-catcher, although you might not have room for this at home!
Don't miss the floral displays in both the large tents on site - you'll see some amazing sights, including this one! There's roses galore in one marquee, incredible floral fantasies in another and of course, the main marquee. Great for sheltering from the rain if you need to!
The big attraction at the Perennial garden is the fantastically painted dancing couple, representing the myriad of colours perennials offer in the garden. But step inside and look at the planting - it's perfect!
And if you don't have space for some of the wonderful ideas at home - stop in at the Easigrass stand on your way into the show and marvel at their living walls! 
The RHS Hampton Court Flower Show is open all this week and is well worth a visit, especially in this wonderful weather.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Wordless Wednesday - Rainy day at Hidcote Manor

Torrential rain and low-lying cloud makes for an interesting visit to Hidcote Manor, Gloucestershire

Monday, 8 May 2017

Postcard from Tbilisi, Georgia

Tbilisi, Georgia - an amazing city
Living wall in Tbilisi
Bridge of Peace, Tbilisi 
Street art - it's everywhere in Tbilisi
Very few words today, just pictures as I've returned from Tbilisi in Georgia and am sorting through my photographs for a post later this week. Much to tell and weather was wonderful!

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Wednesday Walkabout - Great Gardens of Scotland

En route to Glasgow - over the clouds, somewhere in the Lake District

The Pineapple - an extraordinary architectural feat, on the way to Edinburgh

Pitmuies - a captivating garden on the way to Aberdeen

Edzell Castle - a ruin with attitude, helped by the bright blue skies

Crarae - a Himalayan garden in the heart of Argyll and Bute - coming into bloom at this time of year

Benmore Botanic Garden - famous for its magnificent trees

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Garden of Cosmic Speculation open to public on 30 April 2017

Charles Jenck's Garden of Cosmic Speculation - the Holy Grail of Scottish gardens - is open to the public for just one day this year - next Sunday, 30 April - as part of the open scheme arranged by Scotland's Gardens
I've been lucky enough to visit twice in the last five years - once on an open day in 2012, and again last year on a garden tour with a very small group. The single open day means that it can get very crowded and although adequate parking is provided, it's advisable to arrive early to find a place close to the gardens. As parking is in a field, it can be VERY muddy, so do take suitable footwear!

Entrance to the open day is £10.00 (£5.00 concessions) and if you click on the Scotland's Gardens website link (above), full details are available about purchasing tickets in advance and on the gate. Well worth making a special trip for, even if it is very crowded on the day!

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Wednesday Walkabout - Driftwood, East Sussex

Geoff Stonebanks' garden is definitely one for the "Wishlist" this summer - Driftwood is a tiny plot in Seaford, East Sussex, filled with innovative ideas and perfect planting. It opens from 1 June for groups, by arrangement and on designated days for charity (see website link above for details). Keep your eyes open and don't miss the finer details of this extraordinary garden. Every penny raised from openings goes to charity and Geoff has already collected more than £76,000.  You certainly won't be disappointed when you visit and you know your donation is going to a good cause. Happy visiting!

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Wednesday Walkabout - Spring gems in Sussex and Kent - Great Dixter, Gravetye Manor, Michelham Priory and The Walled Nursery

Great Dixter in East Sussex is always worth a visit - it's a jewel garden filled with colour throughout the season
Spring is sprung and gardens around the garden are awash with colour. There's always an incredible display of tulips at Great Dixter at this time of year - which marks just the beginning of another season of extraordinary eye candy at this wonderful garden, where head gardener, Fergus Garrett reigns supreme to ensure that every visitor leaves ecstatic! He worked alongside garden guru and owner, Christo Lloyd for many years and carries on the tradition of vibrant planting established by his mentor. 
William Robinson lived at Gravetye Manor and created the original gardens - Tom Coward has brought them back to life during his successful seven-year stewardship here
And not too far away, there's another amazing Sussex garden, under the stewardship of Tom Coward, who worked alongside Fergus at Great Dixter, before moving seven years ago to another legendary garden - Gravetye Manor - one-time home of William Robinson. Tom has done a remarkable job of restoring and rejuvenating the landscape here and it's a must-see garden - a great place to have afternoon tea and then take a wander round. 
Geoff Stonebanks' garden is an utterly delightful micro garden overlooking the sea in East Sussex
Another Sussex gem that opens regularly for charity, thanks to the extraordinary energy and effort of owner, Geoff Stonebanks, is Driftwood in Seaford, but check opening dates below. This is a magical micro garden overlooking the sea, filled with interesting plants and quirky, interesting ideas - rest assured, you'll never catch them all in a single visit. Check out Geoff's webpage here to see when the garden's open. You won't be disappointed.
Michelham Priory is in the heart of the East Sussex countryside near Hailsham and well worth a visit
Michelham Priory, near Hailsham is flourishing under head gardener, James Neal's care and is alive this week with tulips. A really good choice for children over the Easter holidays as there is a number hunt to keep them occupied and masses of space to run around in, while the grown ups can enjoy the bucolic setting of the priory and its grounds.
The Walled Nursery at Hawkhurst, Kent has a wonderful cafe if you're out plant hunting
And if you're putting your best foot forward on the hunt for plants and want to follow an interesting restoration project that's underway, head for The Walled Nursery near Hawkhurst in Kent, close enough to combine with Great Dixter or Sissinghurst. There's delicious food at The Winery Cafe on site and some interesting plants.