Hidcote is quite manicured, but I loved this combination, which looked quite wild – a climbing rose with sweet peas growing up it. It’s such a great idea that I can’t think why I’ve never seen it done before…
So Hidcote was lovely, but Bryan’s Ground was on another level entirely. The moment I clapped eyes on the first part of the garden – topiary with interspersed with lilies, lupins, foxgloves and tons of giant fennel, I knew it was something special. Naomi felt exactly the same.
This is a very personal garden, created by Simon Wheeler and Simon Dorrell over many years. It feels intimate, personal and wildly imaginative. Maybe a good way to describe it would be ‘controlled chaos’ – the layout of the garden is carefully thought out, with perfectly framed vistas at every turn, but it’s flamboyant, overgrown and heavily reliant on self-seeders. Even the topiary cones on the main lawn have hardy geraniums sprouting out of them them. There’s a real sense that the owners cherish it, nurture it – and let it do it’s own thing.
It’s shot straight into my mental list of my ‘Top 10 favourite gardens of all time’ – I must do a post on that someday…
Is it just me, or have hydrangeas looked especially good this year? They must have enjoyed the wet weather. I liked this line of them along a shady bank in the Bishop’s Palace garden in Wells.
I have a Hydrangea paniculata in my garden, which has flowered its socks off for weeks. The white flowers are now turning pink and I’m dead pleased I got it.
My soggy holiday in Cornwall wasn’t all bad, and one of the highlights was Tremeheere Sculpture Garden. Set in a sheltered valley just outside Penzance, it has stunning views of St Michael’s Mount. The garden (which is more like a park, really – it’s pretty huge) it is home to ponds, bogs, woodland, sunny and arid areas and native woodland areas. Some of the planting is quite immature in places as it has only been open to the public since 2012, but it is definitely one to watch.
There were two standout pieces of sculpture: firstly, the ‘Restless Temple’ (above) by Penny Saunders, which is one of the first things you see as you approach. The columns have pendulums beneath them, allowing the pillars sway in the wind, like a giant wind chime.
The piece de resistance, though, has to be James Turrell’s ‘Skyspace’. An underground corridor leads to an elliptical chamber, whose ceiling frames the sky. We’d read nothing about it beforehand, and were totally blown away by it.
The Skyspace will also be joined by another impressive piece of work. As we left, I spotted some huge columns, each made of thousands of pieces of slate, lying on the grass. I thought they looked familar and have since confirmed that they are from Darren Hawkes’ gold-medal winning Brewin Dolphin garden at Chelsea 2015. They are being installed at Tremenheere, which seems like the ideal home for them – and will make the garden even more exciting.
Is it just me, or has the UK got more windy? They keep talking about unusually strong summer winds on the weather forecast, but maybe I’m just more aware of it because I live in a windy place. I’m becoming a bit obsessed by it.
Most of the plants I’ve planted in my garden are doing fine, but I’m always on the lookout for plants that appear to do well in windy conditions. Having spotted this planting scheme outside the Minack Theatre in Cornwall (a very breezy spot), I am now desperate for some angel’s fishing rods (Dierama pulcherrimum), which were swaying fetchingly in the wind.
I don’t think I’ll be getting a giant agave, though – it’s not really the look I’m going for…
I’ve just got back from a very foggy and wet week in Cornwall. It was disappointing because a) Cornwall looks stunning when it’s sunny b) We couldn’t see anything because the fog was so bad and c) I do not enjoy holidays that involve wearing a cagoule. In desperation one day, we went to the nearest National Trust property, Trengwainton, figuring that it would have a nice cafe at the very least. It’s filled with tender, exotic plants but we only managed to see the veg garden, where Christian enquired as to why my veg patch is not planted in straight lines like this one. A very good point – my veg planting has been very haphazard this year. By that time it was raining horizontally, so we retreated to the heaving cafe and agreed that we may as well call it a day and head back to our holiday cottage.
On the way back, we stopped off at an ancient monument looming eerily out of the fog, like a mini Stonehenge. We clambered over a dry stone wall to have a look at it, and sheltered under it for a while with a bemused-looking Swiss couple and their dog. We all looked sympathetically at each other before going our separate ways.
I spend a lot of time standing in front of this garden. It’s where I wait to be picked up whenever I’ve been travelling by train, and as Christian’s timekeeping isn’t the best, I often spend five, ten or even fifteen minutes looking at it. The jumble of perennials keeps me entertained, and there’s seemingly something new each time. I’ve grown very fond of it.
Last week, we went for fish and chips at the pub in the pretty village of Combe Hay, near Bath. On the edge of the village, there were poppies and foxgloves by the roadside, mixed with some purple irises. Further into the village, another verge was lined with poppies and foxgloves, plus irises, roses and sisirynchium. It made a gorgeous village look even more idyllic, and I’d love to know how this planting came about.
I’ve always found it amazing how, in London, you can find yourself in a sea of people on a busy thoroughfare like Oxford Street, then turn down a side street and find yourself alone, in almost spooky silence.
That’s what happened last week, when we went to a birthday party in Spitalfields on a Sunday afternoon. The house was just off Brick Lane, which was heaving with tourists. It reminded me that milling with crowds of people at markets was was never my idea of a good Sunday when I lived in London (my idea of a good Sunday back then was getting out of London altogether) and it looked even less appealing to my out-of-towner’s eyes.
Once we turned the corner, though, it was a completely different story. It was deathly quiet. And so it was, too, from the terrace and balcony at the top of the house, even though we could almost reach out and touch the nearby City skyline. I didn’t manage to get any good pictures because of the number of people, but both spaces were cleverly planted, with lots of herbs, tender plants that you can only get away with in London’s microclimate, and red geraniums mixed with rosemary in apple boxes. The balcony and terrace were also rigged up with thin copper pipes, which gave a pergola effect (see my previous post), something for climbers to trail along, and an added sense of safety (the balconies were only waist height, and a tad disconcerting for anyone who, like me, suffers from vertigo).
You can’t go wrong with red geraniums, can you? Especially on a balcony where they give impact from afar. It made me feel a little nostalgic for my old balcony, but not for the continuous feeling I had when I was living there that I’d rather be living somewhere else.