I may not have been able to do as much gardening as I would like in recent months but I have been busy on the garden front in other ways. I have been to look at other gardens. I had planned to write about all of them in detail and yet the time got away from me, so here I am, finally putting finger tip to key (the modern day version of ‘pen-to-paper’).
In May there was the joy that is Chelsea Flower Show. This years visit was on a cool grey afternoon yet the planting was far from grey, as to be expected it was a visual feast with joyful colour combinations everywhere you looked, including some of the visitors. There were lots of the usual purples and blue tones but this year more of these seemed to be interrupted by a splash of orange. In the grey light of the day in question you can see how good this combination is, even with lower light levels.
Great Lupins at Chris Beardshaw’s garden for Morgan Stanley Healthy Cities Garden
White is also good at lifting itself and shining out against our pale grey skies. The trunk of the Birches stride out against the dark green backdrop of Yew and accents the rather dreamy looks of the softest pink Astrantias and Japanese anemones.
Breakthrough Breast Cancer garden by Ruth Willmott . A delightful planting combination although I am not sure the hand is a good addition.
For pure escapism I was rather taken by the beauty of these olive trees; it brought to mind holidays in the Mediterranean. This might work in a sheltered urban garden but alas not in my exposed rural situation.
Olives and a glass of something chilled please. As seen at L’Occitane Garden by James Basson
In June I visited Winslow in Bloom which comprised a number of gardens open in the Town. It is always interesting to see what has been done in other peoples gardens and they each had at least one plant or idea to take away. A couple of the gardens stood out as being quintessentially English and I thought you might to take a look.
The rose around this cottage, filling the air with its scent, is Rosa Albertine, stunning.
Another garden in the Town with a wonderful back drop for meal times.
This is a walled garden of considerable size. I especially liked the area of long grass with wildflowers against the freshly cut grass and the herringbone brick path, a pleasing mix of surfaces. I am sorry that I did not note what the tree is as looking back now I can see it is particularly attractive in this setting.
Sun loving Phlomis fruticosa alongside the wall which is put to good use with climbers.
Later in the month I took a couple of days in East Sussex to visit Perch Hill and Great Dixter.
Perch Hill is the garden and cookery school of Sarah Raven. For those who are not familiar with Sarah Raven, she has an inspirational mail order company for seeds and bulbs, and other garden items. She is the author of numerous books including my favourite ‘Wild Flowers’. She writes for The Telegraph and is a guest presenter on BBC Gardeners World. She is married to Adam Nicholson the grandson of Vita Sackville-West.
Liz and I headed off bright and early to arrive in good time for the Perch Hill Open Day. Once we found the garden, no easy task due to a dearth of signs, we parked up in a field and headed in. We were greeted with a wonderful sight:
Now there’s a welcome to draw you in.
Callundula and Cerinthe major ‘Purpurascens’
and Golden oats, Stipa Gigantea
Buttons of Cirisium rivulare against more rust coloured metal.
So what can I tell you about the garden at Perch Hill? Well it is a feast for the eyes, of that there is no doubt. Each and every which way that you turn your eye is greeted to an abundance of plant life. The buildings themselves are a delightful collection of barns, outbuildings, Shepherds hut and a huge glasshouse located on a high point outside the village of Brightling. Each area is tastefully done, with an extravagant display of planting. Pots are filled to overflowing, combinations and varieties of the flowers are interesting and unusual.
Summer bulbs Sparaxis with Heuchera, unknown variety
Even the cafe set up in the glasshouse is of the best possible taste. Food is served on crockery by Emma Bridgewater, the shelves are crammed with a wonderful selection of scented leaf geraniums, succulents and vegetables. There are interesting pots, vases and candlesticks on display some of which are for sale. The large table we sat at was adorned with a collection of succulents, cacti, seed heads, stones and vessels.
An interesting screening between diners.
The visit was very enjoyable day and both Liz and I came away with some ideas for our own gardens. Our one disappointment was the lack of plants for sale. I had thought that as Sarah Raven runs a mail order company there would be stock available to buy. Wrong. Clearly my mistake, Perch Hill is the cutting garden and school for Sarah Raven as well as her family home. The mail order business is from another venue.
I would recommend a visit to one of the open days at Perch Hill, the website has all the details https://www.sarahraven.com/perch-hill-calendar
Just don’t go hoping to fill your car with plants.