Jun 232013


Here’s one of the best gardens I’ve seen in a long time. It belongs to Deborah Nagan and Michael Johnson, and it was open during the Chelsea Fringe. Deborah and Michael are architects and landscape architects¬†and not surprisingly, their own space is pretty special. It has a cunning layout, classy hard landscaping (including some metal-edged raised beds) and a rill that eventually falls into a pond in the basement garden below. Like all cleverly designed gardens, it looks effortless, and works brilliantly.

The planting is deft, too – a mix of the traditional (foxgloves, peonies) and the contemporary (dark foliage, acid green flowers, and grasses). Edibles are used to ornamental effect – the bolted rainbow chard has an architectural quality all of its own and a screen of raspberry canes conceals the rabbit hutch, potting bench and compost heap. It’s a garden to linger over – there is so much brilliant detail.

Deb Nagan's garden in Brixton

And if that wasn’t enough, the front garden is pretty amazing too. It has raised beds, with some suitably architectural supports. Not what you expect on the busy Brixton Road.

Deb Nagan's garden in Brixton

Jun 202013


While we’re on the subject of the Inner Temple Garden, here’s one of my favourite parts of it – the Peony Garden. It is home to peonies, obviously, but what I really like about it is its green-ness. There is colour, but it’s quite muted. The magnolia kicks off the show, then the wisteria takes over, followed by peonies, foxgloves, hardy geraniums and clematis.


During the Chelsea Fringe/Open Squares weekend, other Temple gardens were open too. If you get the chance to go, do – it’s fascinating to walk around a part of London that is rarely open to the public. There’s even a tiny shop that sells shirts and pommade. But it’s not all traditional, either – I liked this slightly unruly planting in a raised bed next to a very grand house.

Apr 182011

As any Buddhist will tell you, everything passes and nothing lasts forever. It’s an idea I’m more than willing to embrace when I’m faced with something I don’t like – eg winter – which can’t go quickly enough as far as I’m concerned. But I struggle with the idea in spring, when everything moves so fast. If I could freeze any moment in time, it would be now. There’s colour and blossom everywhere, it’s warm, it’s light, and there are a good six months of half-decent growing weather and oodles of daylight ahead.

And then there are wisteria and peonies – a few weeks early this year. They don’t last long, but I guess that’s part of their charm. On the garden design course I did a few years back, peonies weren’t seen as particularly useful plants as they flower so fleetingly, but I think I’d definitely have some in my garden. And a wisteria too, come to that. And I’d do my best to accept that they won’t be around for too long…