Category Archives: Public gardens

Visiting other gardens is one of the best ways to expand your gardening and garden design knowledge, and to gain inspiration. Here are some photo blogs of the ones I’ve been to.

Our first NGS open day: a weather miracle, cake and allotment cut flowers

Opening our garden to the public to raise money for the National Garden Scheme (NGS) was both an honour and a total mind-blitz to the senses. After all these years blogging about the NGS, it’s funny to add the ‘NGS’ tag to our own garden. It’s even funnier and lovely seeing other people’s photos of the garden after being the only person to photograph it over the last four years. Continue reading Our first NGS open day: a weather miracle, cake and allotment cut flowers

56 Photos of Californian Gardens: from Facebook and Google to Hollywood via Alcatraz

California is a magical place, Chris and I love it. One minute you can be in the oven of a 43C desert, a few hours later atop a snow covered mountain among giant trees. While it’s the wild areas that I love, the gardens are fascinating for the differences to those found in the UK. They seem to either be tropical or arid, extravagant or minimalist with very little in between. Oh, actually there is weird – weird is in between. It’s in a garden in Los Angeles that we first saw hummingbirds for the first time; one of those euphoric moments that last a lifetime. Below is a gallery of some of the Californian gardens we’ve visited during our trips from 2012 – 2017.  Continue reading 56 Photos of Californian Gardens: from Facebook and Google to Hollywood via Alcatraz

From the streets of California

Chris and I have just come back from a trip to LA, Vegas and Malibu visiting for a wedding. Once you enter the kingdom of plants, the world you see through green-tinged glasses changes radically and this latest trip to the states felt like stepping into an alternate universe due in part to the choice of plants used in urban plantings and people’s front gardens. In this post I’m going to document some of my observations from the streets of California. Continue reading From the streets of California

At the end of the earth, plants – Prospect Cottage, Dungeness

An upfront confession: I’ve never seen nor heard of any of Derek Jarman’s films. A film director before my time. I first heard of him after reading about his home, Prospect Cottage, found in Dungeness on the south coast, a couple of years ago. Quickly I became obsessed with the garden and our friend David gave me Jarman’s book about it as a gift. While short, it’s one of my favourite gardening books – or any book. Continue reading At the end of the earth, plants – Prospect Cottage, Dungeness

Plantaholics Anonymous

[Warning: major plant geekage ahead] One of the best things to happen over the last year has been meeting people who love plants as much as I do; who get why it’s so exciting to discover a plant you’ve not seen before, to understand how it grows and why. Even better, I’ve met people who know far more than me about plants and, like a naughty school boy, I feel mischievous hanging out with the experts who introduce me to deep secrets of the plant world. Continue reading Plantaholics Anonymous

Marrakesh (Part Four): Jardin Majorelle

Jardin Majorelle is best known today for being owned by Yves Saint Lauren, who famously saved it in the 1980s from both disrepair and developers building a hotel on the site. It was made however by a French artist called Jacques Majorelle who began creating this unique garden and house in the 1940s. Continue reading Marrakesh (Part Four): Jardin Majorelle

Marrakesh (Part Three): Islamic tiled courtyards at Bahia Palace

The second oldest garden we visited was by far the most visually arresting of designs. It is immaculate and inspirational. Yet it is marred by a multifaceted dark past which I find hard to ignore. Built around 1867, you will never forget a visit to the beautiful Bahia Palace. Continue reading Marrakesh (Part Three): Islamic tiled courtyards at Bahia Palace

Marrakesh (Part Two): blown away by ancient Islamic garden design at the El Badi Palace

I’ve wanted to visit Marrakesh for about ten years, drawn by its bright colours. What I hadn’t appreciated is its rich gardening culture, as popular today as it was in the city’s ancient past. The oldest garden we visited on our trip was that of the five hundred year old El Badi Palace next to the Riad Badi in which we stayed. It’s enormous. Continue reading Marrakesh (Part Two): blown away by ancient Islamic garden design at the El Badi Palace

Crossrail Place Roof Garden, Canary Wharf

At the weekend my Instagram buddy lamaisonbleue tipped me off to the fact the Crossrail Place Roof Garden at Canary Wharf had opened. Despite the construction of this £500 million station being heavily featured on TV (for its genius balances and weights to deal with changing temperatures in weather) I’d somehow missed its grand unveiling. Chris and I rushed to the scene on Sunday to check it out.  Continue reading Crossrail Place Roof Garden, Canary Wharf

Landscape design at Stowe Garden in Buckinghamshire

Back in November Chris and I had the opportunity to spend a sunny Autumn afternoon at Stowe in Buckinghamshire (a short drive from where I grew up). I can’t say we fell in love with the place but it’s an interesting exercise in seeing and experiencing first-hand the fundamental building blocks of landscape garden design. Continue reading Landscape design at Stowe Garden in Buckinghamshire

Library of Birmingham’s rooftop secret garden and futuristic municipal design

My mum and I share the same birthday, bonfire night. We love it, so Chris and I drove up to Yorkshire to enjoy it with my family. On the way home we had to stop in Birmingham and woke to a sunny winter morning shining light on one of the most creative, greenest and modern art packed city centres we’ve seen for a while.  Continue reading Library of Birmingham’s rooftop secret garden and futuristic municipal design

Autumn colour in Diana Ross’ garden

We were really taken with plantswoman Diana Ross’ stunning garden around the corner in Clapham when we visited on the NGS in September. We’ve stayed in touch since and I popped back last week to see the beautiful autumn colours. Filled with Miscanthus and Calamagrostis, Melianthus, Sambucus, a mature Clerodendron, an eye catching purple vine and a lot more. I’ll let the pictures do the talking in the below gallery (click to enlarge).  Continue reading Autumn colour in Diana Ross’ garden

Apple iTree: the botanical trend reaches new heights with Ficus maclellandii ‘Alii’

This week Apple reopened its flagship London store on Regent Street after months of renovations to reveal the focal point as none other than indoor pot plants on a gargantuan scale. An indoor avenue of twelve Ficus maclellandii ‘Alii’. Continue reading Apple iTree: the botanical trend reaches new heights with Ficus maclellandii ‘Alii’

Brighton’s futuristic municipal planting

I don’t know what they put in the water down in Brighton (where I work) but I suspect it’s either Maxigrow or – more likely – homemade organic comfrey tea. The public parks around the city are filled with adventurous and sustainable plant communities that look ripped from the pages of a design magazine, especially around the Skate Park. Continue reading Brighton’s futuristic municipal planting

Lambeth Palace Gardens

As part of the RHS Level 3 course we have to learn about different garden design eras, one of which is medieval. Lambeth Palace, the London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, has an 11 acre site that has been cultivated since the 15th Century in medieval times. Unfortunately, though understandably, none of those elements remain. In place is an extravagant site with interesting plays on plantings. The gravel garden felt Mediterranean and has given me ideas for our own garden (I’ll always associate gravel like that with my first visit to East Ruston Old Vicarage). In particular, to my eye, the stand out features right now are some simple but beautiful experiments with grass. Continue reading Lambeth Palace Gardens

24 Things at the Chelsea Flower Show 2016

This is my third year at the Chelsea Flower Show and it remains an emotional experience. Excitement, inspiration. Admiration for the designers. Threaded with regret for my wasted years of not focussing on garden design. Only counterbalanced by a tiny sparkle of hope from the RHS education programme that tells me it’s not too late. Continue reading 24 Things at the Chelsea Flower Show 2016