A few weeks back Vija and I went to one of the open days at Sarah Raven’s farm Perch Hill in East Sussex. The preceding evening had seen torrential rain and an email arrived on the morning of the visit warning people of the muddy conditions and that a four wheel drive was essential. And they weren’t exaggerating…the field we were to park in was a mud slide with a tractor towing cars out of the mud!
But the rain hadn’t affected the garden. The tulips, many of which were in pots,were stunning with the same colours used repeatedly throughout the garden. They were well labelled so we could make a note of them and there seemed to be loads of new varieties and quite a lot in oranges and shades of reds. There were lots of pots with pastel shades too and it wasn’t just tulips. There was a whole bed planted with a tall variety of fritillary which you don’t see very often and is certainly different.
Additionally there were displays in pots of some lovely frilly violas and the glasshouse was planted with ranunculus and other early varieties of annuals. There were displays of early vegetables but they were small and obviously affected by the cold spring. And the tea and cakes were good too!
All in all a stunning display and worth a visit despite the mud and flooded roads.
A visit to Exbury Gardens in the week between two May Bank Holidays was a treat for the senses. I last visited after the summer drought and before the winter storms and asked myself, ‘how would everything look?’ In short, everything looked thrillingly fresh.
There have been some losses, which, while regrettable, have provided opportunities to the gardeners to open up views, plant new (drought-resistant) species and create entirely new gardens.
The City of London is a wonderful place to explore and is full of hidden- away gardens for us to access. We came upon this garden in early spring when we were meandering (slightly lost, really) towards the Barbican to visit the Conservatory.
A group of CABAHS members enjoyed a visit to Petersham House recently, open for one day under the National Garden Scheme. It was a bit of a challenge that the day chosen was that of the London Marathon, but everyone made it on time to meet at Cannon Street station. The crowds were mostly going the other way and very friendly!
The 17th century house near Richmond was bought by the Boglione family in 1997, and turned into a family home next to their renowned Petersham Nurseries. The gardens have a long walk, large borders set into yew hedging against the walls, topiary and a kitchen garden. The tulip displays were beautiful! Despite the drizzly weather, members had a great time wandering around before decamping to the tea rooms at the Nursery.
A visit to Keukenhof for the second year running found a different garden, although the visits were only a week apart. Spring has evidently come later and most of the narcissus and hyacinths were still in full flower. Last year there were very few remaining in flower. The scent from both filled the air.
Even where some of the tulips had gone over they were still exquisitely beautiful – like a Dutch still life painting.
At home my hyacinths have been swept around by the rain and wind, but at Keukenhof they stand firm.
But then I looked closer. Each individual hyacinth has been individually staked, so discretely that it is hardly noticeable! What a labour!
For those who haven’t visited, Beth Chatto’s Garden is a horticultural paradise located in Essex, England. In March, visitors can expect to see a range of unique features and highlights that make Beth Chatto’s Garden a must-see destination for anyone with an interest in gardening or nature.
One of the most striking things about Beth Chatto’s Garden in March is the abundance of early spring blooms. As winter fades and the weather begins to warm up, the garden comes alive with an array of colourful flowers and blossoms. The famous Gravel Garden is a great place to start exploring the garden. This innovative garden was created in the 1990s, and features plants that are adapted to dry conditions, making it an ideal spot for early bloomers like crocuses, daffodils, and tulips. Visitors can expect to see bright pops of colour as they stroll along the winding paths that wind through the garden.
In addition to the early spring blooms, March is also a great time to explore the woodland areas of Beth Chatto’s Garden. The woodland gardens are home to a wide range of plant species, including ferns, shrubs, and trees. Another highlight of Beth Chatto’s Garden in March is the chance to see the garden’s many rare and unusual plant species. Beth Chatto was a pioneer of ecological gardening and her garden is a testament to her commitment to sustainable practices. Visitors can expect to see a range of native and non-native plants that are perfectly suited to the local climate and soil conditions.
The Barbican Conservatory is a tropical and sub-tropical botanical glass-roofed garden located on the third floor of the Barbican. It’s an ideal place to visit during the winter months (and all-year round) but on 16th March we hit the jackpot and were thrilled to see Clivia plants in full flower – perfect timing, as it is this month’s Plant of the Month!
This is the second largest conservatory in London (Kew gardens’ Temperate House being the largest). Opened in 1984, the walkways and terraces have been designed to encourage visitors to wander the pathways and along the walkways in order to explore and experience an urban jungle and to observe the characteristic form of every plant. Amongst the tropical planting, various exotic palms stand out and the handsome foliage of Monstera deliciosa (swiss cheese house-plant as we know it) is there to be admired. The majestically tall weeping fig tree emphasises the height of the conservatory and frames everything around it. Wide, arching stems of the handsome tree fern and the striking tree, Araucaria heterophylla (which we rested under), plus unusual climbers and shrubs including yuccas and cordylines, are amongst the 1500 plant species on show for the public to appreciate.
On Saturday 11th February Jean and I spent a very pleasant day at RHS Wisley. This was the last day of the Iris and Cyclamen Show held in the Hilltop event hall.
The displays were beautiful. So uplifting to see so many spring colours after a long, cold winter. We were amazed at the variety in size and pattern of cyclamen leaves, all in perfect condition of course.
The Iris Fields of Hall Road, Wenhaston IP19 9HF were selling small pots of irises to which we both succumbed!
In a previous life when I worked for garden charity Thrive*, I was involved in replanting the Old English Garden in Battersea Park and last week I and a former colleague went back to see how it is looking now, some 10 years later.
Although it has a similar feel and look to the Old Pond Garden, it is only walled on one side, but it does still have a large pond in the middle, which is full of water lilies in the summer – spot the heron !
Much of the funding was provided by Jo Malone London (JML) and many of the plants are those used in their fragrances including lilies, rhubarb, pomegranate, jasmine and, of course, roses. Some replanting has been done in the intervening period and it continues to be well maintained and supported by JML, volunteers and Thrive gardeners.