Archive for February, 2011
Posted by editor on Thursday, 24 February 2011
We’ve noted a huge shift in planting style in the past 15 years. Known variously as the ‘new perennials’ style, or as ‘prairie planting’ – a phrase that tends to conjure up a wide-open American landscape.
Yet the movement evolved in Europe, and has inspired many of today’s great garden designers, such as Piet Oudolf, and strongly influenced British garden design. It is now known as the Dutch Wave - a style of planting based on ecology, habitat planting and perennials – and a style that was originally inspired by German nurseryman, plant breeder and writer, Karl Foerster (1874-1940).
Foerster began his career studying under a famous landscape architect and botanist, Ludwig Winter, of Potsdam, Germany, and was revered for his promotion of ornamental grasses and perennials.
He created his own garden in Potsdam-Bornim in 1912. The garden was designed after Karl Foerster’s ideal: a place of beauty, joy and conciliation with nature, and made use of architectural plants and relaxed late-season perennials chosen for their form and structure rather than their colour.
Today this smallish but very special and influential garden – the size of a slightly larger than average suburban garden – is managed by Foerster’s daughter Marianne Foerster and is part of the UNSECO World Heritage Site Potsdam-Sanssouci.
NOTE: Join our four-day visit to Berlin, starting 17 July, to in search of great gardens and new experiences. Amongst other highlights, we’ll be visiting the Sanssouci Palace and gardens at Potsdam, and also the influential Karl Foerster Gardens. Check DIARY for more info.
Karl Foerster was also responsible for many of the plants we use today.
Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’ - this very useful grass can be planted en masse to form a feathery screen or in small groups to add height and definition to a perennial border. Fast growing, fully hardy and tolerant of partial shade. Low in maintenance, it simply needs to be cut down to the ground in February. The wheat-coloured stems add drama and strong winter presence to the garden.
Also Molinia caerulea arundinacea Karl Foerster’ – a tall ‘moor grass’ – a tall cultivar with erect habit and wide open flower spikes held aloft in June, and mounds of green arching foliage turning bright yellow in the autumn.
In the 1940’s Foerster introduced his first Helenium ‘Kupfersprudel’ and over the next seventeen years his output was prolific and included Goldlackzwerg (1949), Rubinkuppel (1950), Zimbelstern (1956) and the lovely Konigstiger(1964).
There are many others of course – don’t you think it interesting to consider the heritage of our favourite plants? We look forward to finding out more on our visit to Berlin in July!
By the way, one of our favourite local ‘prairie gardens’ are the Sussex Prairy gardens near Henfield, West Sussex www.sussexprairies.co.uk
Posted by editor on Friday, 18 February 2011
We recently hosted a birthday lunch for Mariana and her friends and family: “That was a really wonderful lunch! Beautifully presented, beautifully cooked and not only a delight in both those ways but also a joy in every respect – greeting, balloons, plants, table-laying, drinks and nibbles, fire, delicious and original cake, layout etc – and everyone who came felt the same.”
We can work with you – designing a beautiful and home-made meal featuring organic and local ingredients where possible, and decorating the Garden Room with fresh seasonal flowers and plants – creating a truly special event and setting. For more information, contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: we are planning another of our very popular ‘pop-up’ restaurants on Friday 8 April as part of the Brighton & Hove Food Festival. Look out for more details.
Posted by editor on Monday, 14 February 2011
We enjoyed fine weather and great company on our Garden House visit to Anglesey Abbey last Saturday. “Just to say thank you for a wonderful day out, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Your organisation and hospitality is matchless. I am so glad I was able to come along!” Vicky D.
We love Angie B’s sketches of the winter garden, and Mandy D. wrote the following piece:
As winter slowly turns to spring no plant lover should miss the chance to visit the glorious winter display at Anglesey Abbey. Situated not far from Cambridge (not on the Island of Anglesey as most of my friends thought!) this National Trust property and gardens boasts one of the most beautiful and varied winter gardens I have ever seen.
A short walk from the Visitors Centre leads you to the start of the winter garden walk which, even if you did not notice the signs, can be found by following the intoxicating smell of the Sweet Box (Sarcococca), that line the first part of the walkway.
And that’s not all – for those Galanthophiles amongst you (snowdrop lovers to the rest of us!), the Abbey gardens boast over 200 varieties of snowdrop (Galanthus), some labelled and therefore identifiable along the main path and many others in gentle drifts that meander through the woodlands and other areas. My favourite was Galanthus plicatus ‘Hobsons Choice’ (wondered why I picked that one) and another variety named after Anglesey Abbey itself.
And finally, for stunning shrubs and trees, nothing can beat their display of Cornus – reds, greens and yellows – and the glade of Himalayan Birch (Betula utilis ‘jacquemontii’), with its ghostly white bark and statuesque structure, making all who came across them pause, reflect and for some, stay until the sun went down…
If you add to this a lovely sunny day, good company and even a rainbow on our return, it was the perfect day. Thanks weather fairy…
Anglesey Abbey: Quy Road, Lode, Cambridge CB25 9EJ / Tel. 01223 810080
Posted by editor on Thursday, 10 February 2011
One of the great things about gardening is the sense of community it can foster. Whether sharing an allotment, getting the kids to help out on weekends, inviting others to use part of your larger garden that you simply have no time to develop, or simply asking friends to help out in exchange for lunch or a cuppa.
Well at The Garden House we did exactly that last week. Nanette and family moved into their new home and massively overgrown garden about three years ago. However as we all know, a day here and a day there for a busy working mother inevitably means that getting the garden into shape is low on the priority list and such a slow process!
So to accelerate things Nanette gathered a few enthusiastic gardening friends round for the day and we all got stuck in. In a matter of hours the vegetable beds had moved to the sunnier side of the garden (and raised beds built!), one of two small ponds was filled in and made ready for planting, and a couple of old and overgrown shrubs dug out. Leaves and weeds were cleared, last year’s perennials cut down, and manure and compost spread.
At this time of year what can seem like fairly brutal cutting back, clearing and sorting, can leave the garden looking a little bare. The great thing is that everything is just waiting to burst forth – in no time at all it’ll all be green and looking vibrant again.
As you can see from the pictures, it was hard work, but also loads of fun!
Posted by editor on Sunday, 6 February 2011
As I’m sure you’ll have worked out by now, here at The Garden House we’re big Galanthus fans! So we’re delighted to tell you that on Friday 11 and Saturday 12 February, one of our favourite nurseries, Marchants Hardy Plants, is holding a special sale of snowdrops, together with a cut flower display.
Over 35 different varieties of snowdrop will be available – including the beautiful shaped G. allenii; G. ‘Anglesey Abbey’, a poculiform nivalis type but with bright green leaves; G. ‘Bill Bishop’, a very large flowered and handsome snowdrop; G. ‘Jacquenetta’, the greenest of the doubles; and the more rare G. ‘Wrightson’s Double’, a unique, fat elwesii double (quite scarce and very beautiful).
A number of the bulbs on sale are in short supply and will be sold on a first come first served basis. Bulbs offered are best quality, and are believed to be true to name.
Location: Marchants Hardy Plants, 2 Marchants Cottages, Mill Lane, Laughton, East Sussex BN8 6AJ / tel: 01323 811 737
Open: Friday 11 and Saturday 12 February / 10.00am – 4pm