May 232014


Cleve West's garden at Chelsea 2014

I went to Chelsea this year seeking inspiration for my own garden – a first for me. It was great to be able to wander around the Great Pavilion, knowing that I could actually use the plants in my own garden if I wanted. My favourite garden was by Cleve West, especially the gravel section – not that I could recreate that in the soggy West Country.

Marilyn Abbott's topiarist garden at Chelsea 2014

I also really liked Marilyn Abbot’s Topiarist’s Garden (below). I loved the cool greenness of it. And the fact that a lot was crammed into a small space, without it feeling cramped.

Amelanchier canadensis in Laurent Perrier garden

I’m on the lookout for a multi-stemmed shrub or tree for my main border, and the Amelanchier canadensis above (in Luciano Giubbilei’s garden for Laurent Perrier) comes highly recommended by James Alexander-Sinclair as a tree for all seasons. It’s on sale at my local garden so maybe I’ll go for it.

Rose, peony and grass in the Positively Stoke on Trent garden

I loved this dark pink rose, peony and box ball, lightened by the airy grass in the Positively Stoke-on-Trent garden.

Geranium phaeum and euphorbia

A friend has given me lots of Geranium phaeum, which I’m planning on using in the shady side of the garden. It looked great mixed with euphorbia and purple-leaved plants.


This year there was a refreshing lack of young ladies wearing only body paint to promote the gardens. I failed to match my celeb- spotting nirvana of Chelsea 2012, when I got up close and personal with Gwyneth Paltrow. Instead I saw Esther Rantzen rush up to a Chelsea Pensioner, presumably to interview him. (Esther (gushingly): ‘Hi!! Are you Jack?!!!!’. Chelsea Pensioner (coolly): ‘No.’). The highlight of my day was meeting some Vikings. They told us all about the battles they take part in, the injuries they’ve sustained, and how to hold a sword correctly. You wouldn’t mess with them, I can tell you.

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Dec 222012

Selbourne, Hants

I love the big, fat topiary in front of this classy-looking house, with its classy-looking wreath.

Merry Christmas everyone! Thank you for stopping by in 2012 – I’ll continue to nosey over fences and through garden gates for you in 2013.

PS: I wish I’d moved a tiny smidgen to the left when I took this pic so that the door is exactly in the centre. It’s going to bug me every time I see it now.

Jun 292011

Hyde Park Corner

Timekeeping isn’t one of my strong points but I actually arrived outside the Lanesborough Hotel with plenty of time to spare the other day (for reasons, see my previous post). That made me very pleased with myself because my friend Steven always gets everywhere ridiculously early, and somehow makes me feel guilty when I arrive on time (well, ok, usually a few minutes late).

So anyway, I enjoyed ten minutes of feeling smug and watching the doormen of the Lanesborough in their grey bowler hats helping guests to unload Harrods bags from their giant convertibles. Then I took a pic of the pots outside, mostly because the green umbrellas matched them perfectly.

By this time I was very chuffed because for the first time ever, Steven was LATE. And then I got  a text from him, saying that he was outside the Lanesborough Hotel*. It turns out there were two exits from the tube and he’d been there all along.

*We weren’t actually going to the Lanesborough Hotel, in case you think I’m impossibly rich and swanky. Or having an illicit affair with a man called Steven.

Jun 212011


If you’ve got a privet hedge, you may as well do something fun with it and entertain passersby. In this quiet street in Highbury there are back-to-back cats and a Thomas the Tank engine.

Apparently the neighbours a few doors down claim to have a topiary Intercity 125 – a.k.a an ordinary hedge that’s tapered at one end.

May 032011

St John's Wood

In the course of doing this blog I’ve noticed that whenever I take pics of someone’s garden, there’s a pretty high chance that the owner will be around. Just as I had got my camera out to take pics of this garden, the man of the house came home. Far from being alarmed that someone was snapping his property, he invited me into the garden so that I could get a better view, and then went off to find his wife. Funnily enough a similar thing happened earlier in the year in the same road – clearly nothing fazes the residents here.

Anyway, the garden, which is packed with colourful pots and topiary, looked vaguely familiar, and the greenfingered lady of the house, Jan Morgan, told me that it’s been featured on TV and has won numerous awards. Jan is a property consultant by trade but designs gardens as a hobby. The front garden is a riot of colour but Jan said that not everything she plants turns out as expected – the purple wisteria against the house was supposed to be white, and the white hyacinths that she planted in the front bed turned out to be pink! Sadly some of the topiary has been stolen recently.

Jan also kindly took me into her kitchen to show me the view of the back garden. It makes clever use of the space, with a covered walkway down one side, an arbour at the back, lots of deep beds and a pond. And as you’d expect, it’s packed with plants, which create various colour themes throughout the year. Jan used to open the garden for the  Yellow Book but is taking a break now, so I was unexpectedly lucky to glimpse it.