St Albans

Most of my possessions are in storage at the moment and I must admit, I’m beginning to miss them. My plants and pots, though, are divided between my mum and my sister’s gardens, so I see them quite frequently. Sometimes I catch myself thinking, ‘Oh, that’s a nice pot’, only to realise that it actually belongs to me.

The pot in the foreground is mine, and Mum has filled it with some hyacinths that look perfect now, just before they come out fully. The metal ball to the right was a birthday present a few years ago. It’s one of my favourite things – it somehow looks at home in any setting. It came from the Duchy of Cornwall Nursery.

The pot behind belongs to my mum. It contains a hellebore and some kind of bright pink heather – they look pretty good together. In fact the whole patio was looking pretty good, despite my mum’s dire warnings, as ever, that the garden was looking ‘terrible’.

I wonder if, when the time comes, I’ll actually get my containers back. They look quite at home in their new abodes and I’ll feel a bit mean reclaiming them. I can’t see my sister giving up my nice wooden wine boxes without a fight, and Mum is pretty attached to the metal ball… On the other hand there are some piddly pots I don’t want back, because if there’s one thing that I’ve learned about gardening in containers is that it’s best to go big. I’ve got a feeling, though, that only taking back the pots that I still like and leaving the rest is NOT going to be an option as far as the Peerless gardeners are concerned…

Teasel heads

Ashwood Nurseries, Staffs

I loved these giant teasel heads in John Massey’s garden. They’re made of galvanised steel and were made by Neil Lossock at the Dragons Wood Forge in Herefordshire. He also made the gate below. Neil will be at the top of my list of people to call when I finally get a garden and simultaneously win the lottery.

Mel’s garden


Yesterday I went round to Mel’s for afternoon tea. Before we all got a bit giddy on prosecco, smoked salmon sandwiches, scones, crumpets, chocolate brownies, jelly and ice cream and ginger cake* (phew), I had a nosey around her garden. Mel is chairwoman of Plant Heritage’s London Group and her garden, not surprisingly, has the mark of a plantswoman. It’s packed to the gunnells with interesting plants and she often opens it for the Yellow Book.

The peachy-coloured rose that you can see in the foreground is ‘Compassion’. It smelt amazing and Mel says it hasn’t stopped flowering since early summer. She’s pruned quite a lot of it back but leaves some to climb up the house – a prickly burglar deterrent.

*Mel’s ginger cake came courtesy of the National Garden Scheme website – they’ve started publishing recipes on there, which is a nifty idea.

Henry Moore at Hatfield House

Hatfield House

I can’t read maps and now I know where I get it from: my mum. She’s kept this under wraps until now as my dad does all the navigating in our house and actually asks for maps for Christmas. If he ever doesn’t know where he’s going, he pretends he does.

Mum’s cover was blown on Sunday, though, when she and I were left to our own devices at the Henry Moore exhibition at Hatfield House. My Dad had dropped us off, having taken an unusual route through a housing estate about which he chose to make no comment.

The various sculptures were dotted around the garden and woodland, and a handy map showed where they were. Most of them were called something along the lines of ‘Figure, Reclining’ and they did all look like, well, figures reclining.

Then we arrived at a sculpture that was we were expecting to be called ‘Torso’ but was indisputably a ‘Mother and Child’. And that’s when we realised that something was amiss.

Turns out we’d oriented ourselves wrongly from the off, mistaking the huge (and unmissable) knot garden on the map for a tiny fountain in a garden room. But never mind. It was great to get up close and personal with the sculptures, which looked very much at home in their temporary setting.

House of dreams

East Dulwich

The moment I saw this garden gate in East Dulwich, south east London, I knew something pretty special would be behind it. But I couldn’t really see what, apart from the edge of a mosaic path and some spiky plants sticking out over the top of the fence. What to do?

I went to my friend’s house, lingered over a coffee and set back out again, camera in hand. I didn’t really have a plan as to what I’d do when I got to the house – knock and hope that someone answered, try to take a pic from the garden next door…? – but just as I approached a man came out. So I took a deep breath and asked if he lived there.

He told me that the house and garden are the work of his partner, the artist Stephen Wright. And off he went to fetch him, leaving me to look at the garden. And what a garden it is. The walls, painted Frieda Kahlo-blue, are adorned with colourful mosaics and the garden is filled with sculptures made from broken dolls, crockery, ornaments and curios.

And then Stephen Wright himself came out, gave me a kiss on the cheek and said I was welcome to take some pics. He explained that the House of Dreams is a life project which is supported by the National Trust. Eventually it will be bestowed to the nation. It’s open by appointment only (0208 299 3164; £10, children free) but there’s an open day on 19 Feb from 10.30am to 4.30pm.

Visitors will be able to go into the back garden too – and if the front one is anything to go by, it promises to be extraordinary.

Caught in the act

St Johns Wood

For the first time today, the owner of the house came home as I was taking a picture of their garden. He was very nice about it. ‘My wife will be pleased!’ he said and went to find her to say hello. She’s responsible for this sculpture, in a little garden packed with evergreens. I asked if she had a website so I could give her a plug, but she hasn’t got one yet.

I must get some blog cards done so that people don’t think I’m a stalker.

Beauty through adversity


I got lost in Victoria a few years ago and stumbled across this tiny street of slightly dilapidated terraced houses. I remember admiring this sculpture then and was pleased to see it’s still there, some daffs peeping up at its base. It’s called Beauty through Adversity and was made by a chap called Tony Laing. I’ve had a quick Google and can’t find out anything about him. The building is, I think, a hostel.