Monday, 23 June 2014

Gresgarth Hall

I've been on a bit of a garden treat fest so far this year so brace yourself for another ecstatic post of a stunning garden.

Gresgarth Hall in Lancashire is the home of Arabella Lennox-Boyd, a many times award winning garden designer.

Not perhaps one of the better known gardens and still a private home it has Artle Beck running through the grounds, which is used to great effect.

Where to begin with this garden?

Stunning vistas, superb planting, artfully created focal points, magnificent garden rooms - and that's just for starters. Every design artifice known to garden designers has been employed - and to enviable effect.

Beautifully crafted and executed it is simply a dream.

On a small scale the detail given to plant choices - ensuring compatibility with the site, its neighbour, colour, form and texture is just mind blowingly brilliant.

Just look at these combinations and counterpoints.

   And how about this for a display of candelabra primulas.

 A fantastic Abutilon vitifolium "Tennants White" which can only be described at best half hardy stood 5m tall near the lake.

In a very wet Lancashire, in May, it defied description.

This is not a "Go if you can Garden".

It's a Must. 

Go and see - and marvel.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

And so to the Garden Museum

This announces its presence in the shadow of Lambeth Palace thus:-

A large border designed by Dan Pearson leads you to the main door of the 
de-consecrated church, which is currently showing an exhibition inspired by and contributed to by Alan Titchmarsh.

This contains an eclectic collection of garden memorabilia  

But the main reason for being here was that I had long wanted to visit and never had the time.

The museum's mission statement is to 

"capture what gardens mean to people, in a collaborative forum of activities, debate, collections and archives"

Quite a challenge.

Outside the garden still has a monastic feel. Small but very interesting.

Given that it is surrounded by busy main roads it has an amazingly quiet and peaceful feel and there is a symbolic knot garden.

A pretty little Vinca minor 'Dartington Star' caught my eye as I had seen this earlier at Beth Chatto's and not known the variety.

I loved the solidity and age of the building.

But also how it has been reinvented as a display and learning centre.


 There are times when I wish I were closer to London to visit more frequently, and this is one of them.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Beth Chatto

As part of my London treat I was lucky enough to be able to visit the famous Beth Chatto's garden just outside Colchester.

This was on my French nurseryman's annual pilgrimage list and he sang its praises each time I saw him. I was embarrassed to admit I had never been. 
Not any more.

This is what greets you when you leave the new car park.

And that's before you pay for entry!

As I'm sure you know, the garden is famous for both gravel and boggy planting.

Two apposite conditions and both are treated superbly in this place.

As you descend the path you can see four ponds. Each has a different feel, different planting and a different ambience. 

Most peoples' favourite (and mine) is the second one.

How magical and romantic, the kind of scene Monet could have painted.

And the planting is simply stunning.

The broad canvas of this little valley is swamped with greenery and plants galore. What vision to place them all just so.


I love the counterpoint of form, texture and colour.

How wonderful to have created all this and to be lucky enough to live here. 

But how much greater to share it with other garden lovers.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Time out

Been having a garden overdose time these last two weeks.
Hence no post.

First week away from normal routine was spent in the company of friends and family enjoying the delights of this year's Chelsea Flower show followed later in the week with garden visits to Beth Chatto's and the Garden Museum which I will blog later.

Chelsea, an all day extravaganza for me on members' day with my three great companions - all very knowledgeable and plant mad - or should that just be mad? 

An early start, as usual, to ensure we saw as much as possible before all the crowds arrived but obviously everyone else had the same idea.
First stop was Cleve West's garden.

His designs usually include sculpture, water and greenery.
I adore his laid back, understated and deceptively simple planting which in fact is unique, original and very clever.

The great man himself again achieved a Gold. No mean feat year upon year.
For sheer ingenuity my vote went to the Cloudy Bay garden which had a wonderfully subtle perspective on a very narrow site.

Viewed from the front the white obelisk was  indistinct and looked out of place. From the side it was a brilliant contrast to the charred oak and the planting echoed the form superbly. Very clever.

This year I felt that the visitors were more polite - no pushing and jostling to get a good view -  and they even gave way for wheelchair users. 

I wondered if the delicate and subtle designs and planting had influenced this behaviour as I heard not one dissenting comment or criticism about any of the gardens.

Quite an achievement.

Or was that because they were all so unchallenging as to provoke no strong feelings? Hmm.......

Can't deny the skill with which these gardens are built but I do miss Diarmuid Gavin and his refreshingly quirky ideas.  

Luciano Giubbilei's garden for me was a step up from his normal offering.

 I have long felt he was intimidated by plants and repeatedly used non-scary stuff like box, trees and grass. Relaxing but not inspiring.

This year his design was much improved with the rumoured help and facilities given to him by Fergus Garrett at Great Dixter.

And the result. 

Definitely better.

A fantastic and well earned lunch with liquid refreshments in the Rock Bank Restaurant and then off to breathe in the scents in the Great Pavilion.


A great day out...........but it's hard work having so much fun!!!!!