All posts filed under: Gardens

Alliums and Rhinos

The Cotswold Wildlife Park – A celebration of the gardens. A book by Harriet Hycroft with Tim Miles. Alliums and Rhinos, Oaks and Giraffes. Great combination plantings don’t you think? The humble onion family and some of the most endangered animals? Both may make you tearful in one way or another. Well, welcome to The Cotswold Wildlife Park, near Burford, where you will find the most beautiful mix of wild and formal. Where Safari meets Sissinghurst, Madagascar meets The Manor House and the Lemurs meet the Lawns.   This weekend just gone, I was very lucky to be invited to visit the wildlife park by kind invitation of Harriet Rycroft who is a whizz at all things container related. Not only does she have a fountain of knowledge in this area, she also takes some cracking photographs and has just published her first book with Tim Miles. It’s full of great imagery and describes all the details of the gardens within the park. The gardens are incredible and are as equally just as important as …

Shoe Town: The rise of #Shoeplants

Dear fellow readers, it is with much joy that I can say we’ve survived the judging rounds of this years East Midlands and Britain in Bloom finals. Yes two rounds of judging. Hurrah! From humble beginnings last year, Kardi and I have managed to expand the theme through the town in 2018 and this year working with the high street via Northampton BID, the Town council via Councillor Anna King and Buddies of Beckets. You see that is only part of the joy. It is ok to get the recognition for the ‘brainchild’ but to see the community getting involved and working together is what it is all about.  Equipping, empowering, inclusion and involvement  are some of the most key words in any successful project. All of our shoes on display have been via public donations, friends and for the shop windows, from charity shops, where we have carefully selected pairs that we thought would be suited to the shop. We couldn’t give Montague Geoffrey a pair of stilettos for instance. Being a gentleman’s store, …

Salvia Salivation

The Salvia. Years of association with Gaudí coloured council bedding displays the humble Salvia has so much more to offer. From Seasoned sage (Salvia officinalis) to Chia seed (Salvia hispanica) the genus spans from the Americas to Asia. Two years ago I discovered the garden of Rolando Uria, the man behind Salvia Amistad in Mar del Plata, Argentina during one of my many visits to South America. Everything was organised online, all in Spanish, and a five hour bus journey commenced from Buenos Aires. On arrival and as a suprise, I was introduced also to Robin Middleton who was also there visiting Rolando from the UK. Robin also has a diverse collection of salvias in Bagshot. He raised Salvia × jamensis ‘Peter Vidgeon’ named after his partner Peter.   Yesterday I finally got to visit Robins diverse collection of beautiful salvias as seen from the photo galery at this end of the blog, in which I took here. The day was perfect; overcast with a rain free afternoon. Bright sun bleaches the flowers you see. A bonus was …

Shoe Town

Tuesday 11th July. Overcast skies and a sense of pride, it’s judging day for shoe town.   Kardi and I have been working ‘blooming’ hard to get this years street entry into reality and we think we’ve done our town of Northampton proud. Well the council even included us on the official route for the towns entry in Britain in Bloom. St Giles Terrace is where you’ll find us. Nestled between High Street of The Year famed St Giles Street and the rather (unfortunately) empty Abington Street you’ll find a beautiful Terrace of business, charity and residential properties leading down to my home church of St Giles. Having a pensive time of working out a concept of connecting all the properties together I came up with the basic idea of planting shoes with succulents and displaying them on the window sills and railings.  Maintenance will be little. Both water, time and t.l.c.     Why shoes you may ask? Well it is Northampton after all. A historic beautiful town that gets a lot of bad …

Green fingered families

Three years ago I was asked to write for a family blogging site encouraging green fingered family activities involving food. Here it is again with some pictures of my apprentices from this weekend just gone. Thank you Martha and Stanley you were great. I hope the tips below will help you. Spring is coming so let’s get cracking on the garden. You know, the place outside your door. The weelie bin storage area, the dump, the play area or the concrete yard. Whatever you call it or however big or small, it’s a great place to explore with your children and get them to understand the seasons and where our food comes from. Have you ever thought about growing some vegetables, flowers and fruits but not sure how? Or have you tried and failed miserably and given up. Fear not I’m here to help. It’s quite easy really… But how, you may ask? Ok, firstly, it’s not rocket science. Yes, you need soil, water and light BUT but before you go mad buying massive quantities of …

Easter at Rousham

An early Easter Sunday morning I find myself at Rousham with fellow Allhorts.  A garden designed by Kent, William Kent. It was early indeed, the clocks had gone forward and a few of the group rocked up tardy. Some had wind problems, thankfully the weather kind, others chronological issues with alarm clocks. They promised rain, well heavy downpours in fact but we were very lucky indeed. The sun burst forth from the gloom in glorious array. For a fiver you can enter the garden which has many features to admire. Firstly around the house you see a rose beautifully tailored to the walls clothing the stone to precision. Check out the size and age of some of those stems.   Opposite the house were swathes of stripes running in the lawns but what caught my eye were the trinity of trees.   Moving on, round the corner two statues had a conversation. If you where a statue, what would you say?  Others had a cocaine issues by the look of their noses. The next three features …

The Horticultural Games

A beautiful sunny June morning finds me at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (QEOP). Waiting outside the aquatics centre a raucous bunch of fellow horticulturists formed. Excited not by also the pub meal but the tour of the park by Dr. Phil Askew, Project Sponsor Parklands and Public Realm at QEOP. Over thirty of us were in attendance from all walks of life in the horticultural world. The location was Stratford, East London, where over one hundred hectares where many languages are spoken. From its industrious two hundred year history the land was a polluted wreck. So how was this site going to become one of the historic highlights of British Olympic history? The answer lies in lots of planning and a legacy which has and will allow the site to become a haven for wildlife and an open space for people to enjoy now the games are well and truly in the past. Dr Askew explains that from the start the whole concept of the park was to have longevity unlike many other countries …

West Dean, a play in two acts

‘Ah ha, a piece of bindweed!’ That is what a lady said during the morning tour of West Dean gardens. Exactly where, and if it did exist I do not know, as I was too busy engrossed in all the garden theatre in the walled kitchen garden.  I say if too because these gardens are emmactulate. Lines are lines and swiggles are swiggles. There are no half measures.  The morning tour consisted of two acts. Sarah Wain, chief guide and host led a supporting cast of various lead fruit and vegetable plants and a dedicated supporting crew of volunteers. Lets not forget Jim Buckland now shall we! Then there is the props department. Glasshouses, terracotta pots, canes. They were all cleaned to perfection.     The iron curtain lifted to reveal an orchard setting in a walled garden. The ensemble sung in full part harmony. The baseline of fruit trees with fritillaries and cowslips providing undertones amongst the crescendo of Dandelions. (Dandelions you say.. well yes not the greatest meadow mix choice but alas are a …

The Working Garden

During April I was very lucky to able to visit a private garden in West Sussex. It was The Working Garden cared for by head gardener Benjamin Pope and team.    On arrival, the raked gravel drive to the house meanders via woody shady planting with shrubby structural greens and seasonal winter colour. The plant of the moment,  Disporum Night Heron was the star attraction with its chartreuse green against almost black tones. Fronting the the house, newly constructed feature raised block planters feature elegant flowering Cornus, each framed with Fagus sylvatica who’s marcescence will mellow its leaves to a classy brown and hide the blocks during the winter months. Continuing on, the curvature of the drive meets, matches and pics up the beautiful stone circular gated entrance leading to the main walled garden. Here you’ll find avenues of iterdispersed apple trees and box hedges clipped to a natural flow.      The borders within contain a multitude of goodies. Many herbaceous jewels revitalised softening the stuctural boundaries which frame them. The cutting borders and vegetable beds …