Mar 052014

Norton St Philip, nr Bath

My boyfriend has a deep love of castles. He reads books on them, and loves visiting them. Unfortunately there are hundreds of castles in the UK, and I can’t get very excited about moats, keeps or portcullises. But thankfully, many have gardens.

Farleigh Hungerford Castle is little more than a ruin, but it’s in a lovely setting on the Somerset/Wiltshire border and has a little garden. It’s looking pretty now, with lots of snowdrops and hellebores, and has various (neatly labelled) perennials that are peeping through. I liked the way the ivy had been trained against the wall.

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Feb 172014
Newton St Loe, Bath

Newton St Loe, Bath

Well, it’s been quite a winter, hasn’t it? What with working from home and the dreadful rain, blogging opportunities have been few and far between. But when I have ventured out, I’ve been struck by the snowdrops. All the gardens around here seem to have them and they’re lining the hedgerows too. They’re white and pristine despite the pounding rain – they’re so much tougher than they look.

I once interviewed a woman who had turned her front garden into a winter garden – she said that even if she never ventured far in winter and the weather was lousy, the winter flowers would cheer her when she got in and out of the car.

These front garden snowdrops are certainly mood enhancers. The ones below are planted in a raised bed at waist height – all the better for appreciating them between the car and front door.


Jan 192014


These violas have been flowering non-stop since November. The winds of late have created a bit of a vortex on my patio and there have been pounding rains as well. But they’ve withstood it all. I planted some crocus to poke up through them – no signs of them yet, though.

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Jan 172014

Radstock, Somerset

I first passed this garden in Radstock in late summer. It’s bold planting for a public space, stuffed with grasses and late-season perennials. I passed it again a few weeks ago and the grasses were at their winter best.

I’d love to know more about this garden – who designed it? Does anyone know?

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Dec 182013


I am terribly behind with this blog, which explains why this pic looks quite autumnal. But when I checked last week, these heucheras were still going strong outside an office block in Hammersmith.

I’ve never been that keen on heucheras. No particular reason – they just don’t do it for me. But these look good en masse, and are shown off quite nicely by the gravel. Plus, they positively glow in the low winter sunshine.  So I’ve decided I like them.

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Jun 102013
Connaught Square

Connaught Square

I had a few minutes to kill before I went for dinner the other night and went for a wander around Connaught Square. One of the houses had a policeman standing outside it, holding a large gun. Two thoughts occurred to me: 1) It’s a pretty poor state of affairs when you have a policeman permanently stationed outside your home and 2) Even if you have pots of money, why live there? It’s off quite a grim part of the Edgware Road, and near Marble Arch, which is equally unappealing in my book. That said, it is within striking distance of the Ranoush Juice Bar, so at least there are some decent falafel in the area.

I found out later that the house belongs to Tony Blair.

But this is not a blog post about Tony B. Liar or his house. It’s about this house, on the corner of the square. It’s covered in roses, the likes of which I haven’t seen since I was in Amsterdam last year. You can’t really tell from this pic but every inch of the house, railings and basement area is covered in some kind of vegetation. It’s a joy to behold.

I especially liked the window boxes. They’re still in winter garb but are powering on. I love the use of the pussy willow branches. Pussy willow is pretty much the best thing you can buy if you have a fiver to spare in autumn – it just goes on and on, even if you put it in a vase without any water. Apparently this house is the inspiration for John’s winter window boxes.

Pansies, pussy willow, heather


Mar 272013
Narcissus 'Tete a Tete' and crocuses outside Pizza East

Kentish Town

This caught my eye on the way to Parliament Hill the other Sunday. I liked how the writing doesn’t follow the contours of the container and so looks superimposed.

A week or so later I went for dinner at Pizza East next door. The little campanulas were looking distinctly worse for wear – they obviously haven’t liked the low temperatures we’ve had recently.

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Mar 212013


I’ve done quite a few posts on this blog about Andrea Brunsendorf’s amazing pot display. The last time I visited, the surfaces of most of the pots were covered in conifer trimmings – something they do in Germany as it’s too cold in the winter for most bedding plants. This time, it had erupted into colour. The bright red tulips are ‘Early Harvest’ and the crocuses (below) are Crocus biflorus ‘Blue Pearl’.

Andrea reckons that the garden is about a month behind this year. It still looks pretty wintery, although the hellebores and daffs are looking lovely and euphorbias are adding touches of acid yellow. Tulips are peeping optimistically through the soil. It’s all happening, but slowly.

So in the meantime, let’s fast forward to June, when the garden will be taking part in the Chelsea Fringe.

Andrea wanted to do something people wouldn’t expect from a garden that’s in a very traditional and formal setting, so she’s come up with the idea of a dog show. She says that many head gardeners have dogs (Andrea has the lovely Boris, a cockerpoo) but that most gardens don’t allow dogs. So on 9 June the garden will be the most dog-friendly in London, with a dog show with categories such as ‘waggiest tail’ and ‘dog most like its owner’. There will also be a horticultural quiz, cake show and gardening agony aunts and uncles. Roll on summer…

Crocus 'Blue Pearl'

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