Posts Tagged ‘English gardens’

I recently popped round to see a fellow allotmenteer’s garden in North London. It’s not the first time that I’ve visited Judy’s garden this year. She’s such an enthusiastic and knowledgeable plantswoman that her garden is always full of wonderful plants to discover and the garden is constantly changing and developing at different points throughout the year.

It’s only been a couple of months since my last visit, but the garden has an even more lush feeling after our recent weeks of rain. Judy pointed out that this Ligularia “The Rocket’ has been at it’s best this year, after 5 years in the garden. We wondered if it’s because of the rain, or perhaps that after 5 years, this normally marginal plant has finally settled in to its London clay home. Judy also finds that some Clematis can take years to settle before they start giving their best. Good to hear that time and patience can be rewarded!

A new plant for me this time was Phytolacca esculenta. Originating from East Asia and China, this plant can put on 6ft of growth each year if cut right back in spring and has stunning black berries later in the year along with it’s dark, meaty stems.

The related Phytolacca ‘Laka Boom’ (above), is found on the high volcanic slopes of Sumatra and grows to 50 cm high, so quite different in stature to the esculenta, but also produces spikes of dark berries later in the year


Leucanthemum shone out from the middle of a border. Quite lax in habit here, but Judy points out that when planted in less rich soil, it is a much smaller plant with tighter growth. Similar wild looking varieties were all the rage at Hampton Court this year too.

Edgworthia chrysantha (above) originates from the Himalayas and needs a sheltered spot. Said not to be frost hardy below -5, this shrub has happily survived in Judy’s garden for the last 5 years. Related to Daphnes, Edgworthia produces sweetly scented flowers throughout February and March and finally reaches height and width of about 5 ft. Sounds and looks perfect for a sheltered sunny spot in most London gardens. (Available from Perryhill Nurseries in East Sussex).

Judy’s garden continues out onto the pavement, with 3 mini-gardens in 3 tree pits  (this one without a tree!)

Whilst this tree helpfully has a protective cage -great for tying in Hollyhocks and growing climbers too.

Across the road in a local square, Judy and other residents have worked closely with the council to transform the planting areas in this green space. A wildflower ‘meadow’ has been created using seeds supplied by Pictorial Meadow Seeds, nasturtiums and eschscholzia and other annuals added into the mix. A delight, especially in such an urban setting.

And at the other end of the square, Achillea and other perennials have been planted to create a ‘prairie style’ border. It will be really interesting to see how these recently planted up borders progress and I’m looking forward to my next visit to Judy’s garden (and her local environs) already.

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On a recent Saturday night, my blogging pal Veronica and I ventured along to an evening Yellow Book open garden in Northampton Park in Islington. It was a real treat. Thoughtful planning resulted in a really livable garden made up of 4 distinct areas, one of which is to be shortly converted to a veg patch (always gets a thumbs-up from me). I also really liked the way in which a gorgeous blue Clematis has taken over from where the Wisteria has left off on the back wall of the house. As I said, thoughtful. The Yellow book has gardens listed all over England and Wales, with many open on Sunday afternoons and evenings this time of year. You can search online for gardens to visit in your area, or buy a ‘Yellow Book’ at your nearest bookshop or online from their website. There are some real gems to visit.

Another week and I find myself trotting along after work to another Yellow Book open garden.(These evening openings at this time of the year are a rather wonderful thing.) This time it is the beautifully designed space of Garden Designer Veronica Clein on Corringham Road in Hampstead Garden Suburb. Arresting plant combinations abound such as this Hydrangea Annabelle with a Campanula lactiflora ‘Pritchard’s Variety’.

And this sweet-smelling Rose, Rosa Rose de Rescht, forming pink perfection with a delicate mallow (Lavetera rosea?)  and the purple spires of Erysium ‘Bowles Mauve’ in the background.

I also really loved this flamboyant mixture of Rosa Gertrude Jekyll (another delicious scent) with Clematis Perle D’Azur.

And so my appreciation of Rose and Clematis continues. Reading the Daily Telegraph Gardening section today (Saturday), Sarah Raven gives a great list of Clematis to plant for every month of the year and I’ve found the Thorncrofts Clematis Nursery website a wonderful place to seek information about Clematis and  also a great site to buy quality plants from.

So where might the Yellow Book take me next? King Henry’s Walk in Islington is a fab community Garden which is opening its doors the evening of Wednesday 6th July and I’m sure will supply loads of inspiration (and a welcome glass of wine). This month they have many events to join in with from Bee Keeping to a Strawberry Tea for pensioners and I’ve signed up for a two-hour foraging event run by Miles Irving this Saturday 2nd July in the KHW gardens and a local overgrown cemetery. Can’t wait!

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May 29th

I found the Chelsea Flower Show hugely enjoyable and inspiring this year. Stealing the show for me was Crug Farm Plants inside the Great Pavillion. It’s their first time showing at this RHS show and they’ve not only deservedly won a gold medal, but also the coveted President’s award.

Most of their amazing exotic looking plants are completely hardy in the many parts of the UK- just wish I had the space for this stunning large-leaved Schefflera macrophyllum. Plants at Crug Farm (based in Wales) have been nursery grown from seeds collected from all over the world by Sue and Bleddyn Wynn-Jones and this is why their collection of plants is unique (and so enticing!).

Enticing, as many of their unusual plants, such as this Syneilesus, can be planted in tricky spaces such as the dry shade of London back gardens. Can’t wait to visit their nursery and will make sure I go with plenty of space in the back of my van!

I’ve often found the smaller Artisan show gardens the most inspirational at Chelsea. Not only can I relate to their size, but their informal and year-round planting seems more achievable, certainly more sustainable and arguably more desirable then some of the bigger show gardens. Jihae Hwang’s ‘Emptying one’s mind ‘ (on the way to the toilet) garden was thoughtfully designed and planted and filled with quirky and imaginative recycled objects,

such as this upturned pot used as a bird bath,

and recycled furniture to create different planting levels and areas in this small garden.

This make-do-and-mend aesthetic was beautifully echoed in the creatively recycled fence surrounding Kati Crome and Maggie Hughes’s ‘A Postcard from Wales’,

and also in the bed springs of ‘A Child’s Garden in Wales’. Love it! (more…)

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