Archive for July, 2011
Posted by editor on Tuesday, 26 July 2011
Last week, eight enthusiastic gardeners, led by the wonderfully energetic and patient Bridgette and Deborah, set off for Berlin – our mission, to take in Berlin’s key sights and experiences, and visit some excellent and varied gardens.
Our visit started with an orientation tour of central Berlin, taking in the Brandenberg Gate and Hotel Adlon (site of Michael Jackson’s notorious baby dangling), Unter den Linden, the Tiergarten, some remaining stretches of the Berlin Wall near Checkpoint Charlie with a sobering exhibition about Nazi Germany, and further on a stretch of the wall sporting bold upbeat political murals. We saw the Reichstag, now one of the most modern of government buildings, following a five-year transformation by Sir Norman Foster (1994-1999). We then retired to our delightful Heckers Hotel for a little r & r (and to the bar next door which served possibly the strongest gin and tonic on record!).
Our first meal in Berlin, at a traditional German restaurant, was made all the more memorable by the proprietor Ramona, who not only recommended the best dishes (no short cuts, the roast potatoes must be eaten!) but treated us to a rendition of God Save the Queen as she danced through the restaurant, lights dimmed, brandishing a sparkler. She had once appeared on Birds of a Feather and could recite her lines word for word. It was a hugely entertaining end to our first day!
By bus to the Botanic Gardens to meet botanist Beae Senska, our informative and enthusiastic guide. The Botanisher Garten has the largest plant geography section in the world and with almost dizzying speed we worked our way through Europe, Asia and the Americas. Particularly impressive were twelve unique rock gardens representing different mountain regions, steppe, dune and heathland. There were so many highlights, but one my favourites was the medicinal plants section, beds arranged in the shape of a human body, and the fragrance and touch garden including Mediterranean herbs and pelargonia and the heady scent of the Heliotropium peruvianum.
We visited The Jewish Museum that afternoon. It is housed in a spectacular building designed by Daniel Libeskind, the concept of which is to show both tragedy and continuity in the Jewish experience and by means of changes in perspective and floors and walls which slope, to show a world out of balance. It was a very moving visit and our remarkable guide Karin Grimme brought alive the experience of Jewish women through history, with quiet passion and dignity.
Potsdam today – to explore the very baroque Schloss Sanssouci, with its breath-taking south facing terraced walls covered with fig trees and vines, and the open vistas, formal gardens, fountains and marble statues of the Sanssouci landscaped park.
Two of us went to the Orangery, first noting the beautiful herbaceous planting and ornamental vegetable borders, then visiting the royal living quarters with original 18th century parquet floors across which we had to slip and slide in our enormous grey felt slippers (good wheeze to get the tourists doing the polishing for them we thought). Then on into a whole gallery of copies of Rafael’s master works, before climbing the spiral staircase to the top of the observation tower to be rewarded by a beautiful view of the formal symmetry below.
The afternoon was a special treat – a visit to the nearby private garden of nurseryman and plantsman Karl Foerster (1874-1970), little known outside Germany but very influential in his own country. We were shown around the garden by Professor Norbert Kuern – who was in part responsible for the restoration of this inspiring yet very accessible garden, with its sunken garden, spring walk, wild and rock gardens. He talked of Foerster’s interest in the naturalistic planting of William Robinson and in the work of both Jekyll and Lutyens, and of Foerster’s passion for cultivation – Foerster bred many perennials including grasses (the very well-known Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’, and I rather liked Carex caryophyllea ‘The Beatles’). We also admired his hemerocallis hybrids – ‘So Lovely’ really did speak for itself.
After sampling the local bus, tram, overground trains and U Bahn we arrived back at our hotel. Our evening meal was at a particularly impressive vegetarian restaurant, not dissimilar to Brighton’s own Terre a Terre – so little coincidence to find a Brighton woman working there who had previously worked at Terre a Terre!
The Bauhaus Archiv today. The building, itself an example of Bauhaus aesthetics, contains an enormous collection of work from the Bauhaus School (1919-1933), including architecture, design, art and photography – work by famous Bauhaus artists including Walter Gropius, Mies van der Rohe, Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Lyonel Feininger and Oskar Schlemmer. It was a fascinating reminder of just how influential this movement, started in Germany by Walter Gropius, has been on modern art forms.
This was my first visit to Berlin. I saw and learnt so much, and yet I felt I’d barely touched the surface. Always good to leave wanting more, I’ll be going back for sure! Many thanks to Deborah and Bridge (seen here outside the Bauhaus Archiv) and everyone in the group for making it so special…
Written by Ruth Harris
Posted by editor on Saturday, 16 July 2011
Fifteen of us, plus Deborah and Bridge, gathered for the Garden House Summer School last week. The horticultural settings we visited on each of the four days were fascinatingly different, as were the proprietors and gardeners we met.
Our first day was at Hankham Organics, who supply local greengrocers and weekly veg boxes to about 500 households. Pete, who gave us the grand tour and supervised our tasks, was very knowledgeable and clearly passionate about growing organically and running a sustainable business. We got to admire the mighty compost heaps, examine tiny pests and almost-as-tiny predators, and then we were let loose on their precious stock. In the 1.5 acre glasshouse we pruned tomato vines, tended cucumbers and picked beans; then into the field, where we hoed pumpkins and vied to become the slowest leek planters in the world!
Tuesday saw us at Highdown Herbs in Small Dole, working mainly in polytunnels. Arthur, Janet, and Jack taught us how to divide grasses, take herb cuttings, and how to pimp an overgrown and weedy plant-pot. Bridge shared her love and knowledge of herbs, and we found out just how wide this category of plants can be, from amazing magenta-topped Tree Spinach to beautiful Coneflowers (Echinacea) and even Willows, which make the ever-useful aspirin. And we all went home smelling most fragrantly of mint and rosemary.
On Wednesday we visited Gravetye Manor, now a hotel, whose romantic garden was originally designed by William Robinson in the 1880s. Tom, the relatively new head gardener, is reclaiming it from recent neglect and was full of information. The garden tour showed us a contrast of formal and informal areas, including his Zen long border (his name for a manure mulch alongside a gravel path). Vera, Tom’s dog, scared rabbits while we took note of flower names, admired the views, and worked out how soon we could visit the hotel for lunch or high tea. We worked in the walled kitchen garden, planting, pruning, training, digging out weeds, and saving seeds. Some people even got to wrangle live chickens.
Our last day was back in Brighton, in an overgrown secret garden. With some extra professional help, we worked in four teams and wrought an amazing transformation, hacking, hauling, sawing and strimming. Two vanloads of prunings and weeds were taken away, and in just five hours we had revealed the structure of the garden again, uncovering paths, patios and statues that were invisible when we began. The day ended with a very welcome sit-down and delicious meal back at the Garden House.
What did we learn? That coffee and cake are essential to horticultural success, that greyhounds like bean salad, that cucumber rash and uphill hoeing are very bonding experiences. And some other stuff, too… Thank you to Bridge and Deborah for organising it all and giving us a peep into four very different gardening experiences.
Words by Julia Widdows
Photos by Sandy Gee
Posted by editor on Thursday, 14 July 2011
Our plant of the month for July is the hardy annual Ammi majus ‘Graceland’ which has been attracting a lot of attention at the Garden House for several weeks now. It really is a favourite – a ‘good doer’ and its dark green feathery foliage makes the perfect background for an unusually long lasting display of flat, lace-like heads of dainty white flowers opening from green buds.
The upright plants are ideal amongst perennials or other tall annuals, and are especially attractive to bees, butterflies and other insects. They also make valuable cut flowers where they bring a lightness and airiness to displays of bolder flowers in pastels or brighter shades.
Ammi is really easy to grow from seed – we sowed ours in a cold greenhouse in September, they were then potted on into 9cm pots and kept outside over winter to harden off in the cold frame.This makes for a very hardy plant and this treatment has really paid off as they have been in flower for about 8 weeks now. Ammi are about 1.4m tall and hold themselves up well against other plants but need staking if they stand alone.
Just to note for future reference – we will be selling the seeds of Ammi at The Garden House from September!
Posted by editor on Sunday, 10 July 2011
What is a garden?
You’ve got a garden,
To one it is a piece of ground
For which some gravel must be found.
To some, those seeds that must be sown,
To some a lawn that must be mown.
To some a ton of Cheddar rocks;
To some it means a window-box;
To some, who dare not pick a flower-
A man, at three-and-six an hour.
To some, it is a silly jest
About the latest garden pest;
To some, a haven where they find
Forgetfulness and peace of mind….
What is a garden?
Large or small,
‘Tis just a garden,
by Reginald Arkell
Posted by editor on Wednesday, 6 July 2011
Come along to our Charity Auction at 6.30pm on Friday 8 July! Below is a list of some of the FANTASTIC items to be auctioned – if you are unable to come you can email us a silent bid!
The auction is always great fun and all proceeds go to charity. This year we’re supporting the Pulmonary Hypertension Association. The PHA UK is the only charity in the UK supporting people affected by pulmonary hypertension; a serious condition that causes damage to the heart and lungs, and which can affect people of all ages, race and gender.
1. Luxury converted chapel in North Norfolk – sleeps up to 12 – beautiful location, near beaches and fantastic walks and restaurants. Available for one week, dates negotiable (not in school holidays!).
2. House in Fuerteventura, Canary Islands – sleeps 4 – own gardens and communal pool. Available for one week, dates negotiable (anytime in the year). See www.villagecko.co.uk for more details.
3. Our infamous Friday Gardening group will come and transform your garden – up to 15 people for 5 hours gardening – all experienced and keen!
4. Men’s Wimbledon towel – as used on centre court by Novak Djokovic to wipe his brow!
5. Painting by Angie Bonnel: gold ink drawing from her nature series, entitled “Umbelliferae”.
6. Mosaic mirror by local artist Sue Samways.
7. Aromatherapy massage.
8. Three course vegetarian meal for four delivered to your door (local only) – delicious!
9. Screen print by Gary Goodman: a limited edtion hand-pulled screen-print printed at Artizan Editions and signed by artist Gary Goodman. Local artist Gary Goodman was inspired to create a new piece of work around the principles of liberty, freedom and democracy when he heard that Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese leader, human rights advocate and Nobel Peace laureate was to be the Guest Director of the Brighton Festival 2011. Taking her plea to ‘use your liberty to promote ours’, Gary has co-created with Artizan Editions, an original screenprint which features a colourful bird and reflects the themes of liberty and freedom. Gary’s new print has drawn on these symbols to create a mythical bird using a colour palate with influences from Brighton and Burma. Launched at Brighton Festival 2011.
10. Golf lesson at Hollingbury Park Golf Club – clubs provided!
11. Chiropractic assessment and treatment by Karen Swirsky.
12. Hair cut by Nikki Ward.
13. Signed copy of novel by Julia Widdows – and your name as a character in her next book – you chose if you are a goodie or a baddie!
14. Oil painting by Aine King called Silent House.
15. Two x 1-hour stress management coaching sessions with an qualified, experienced practitioner.
16. Facilitate an evening of French dancing.
17. A delightful tray of toiletries.
18. Painting by Phil Cole using polyester resin on wood.
19. Yves St Laurent ‘Paris’ perfume set.
20. Sunday roast dinner for two at The Foundry pub (vouchers).
Location: The Garden House, 5 Warleigh Road, Brighton BN1 4NT.
Posted by editor on Monday, 4 July 2011
Fancy cocktails in the garden?! The Garden House would like to invite you to our annual charity event. We’ll be opening on Friday 8 July for two sessions – an afternoon of tea, scrumptious cakes and plant and craft stalls – and an evening that includes cocktails, a buffet supper and live Irish music!
The charity we’re supporting this year is the Pulmonary Hypertension Association. The PHA UK is the only charity in the UK supporting people affected by pulmonary hypertension; a serious condition that causes damage to the heart and lungs, and which can affect people of all ages, race and gender. For more information www.phassociation.uk.com
Afternoon event: starts at 3.30pm, entrance to the garden between 3.30pm and 6.30pm will be £2, children free. We’ll have tea and cakes as well as craft and plant stalls.
Evening event: starts at 6.30pm, at which time we will have an auction – a silent bid is possible and all items will be displayed on our website later this week.The auction will be followed by a delicious buffet supper - and cocktails, on sale from 8pm! To entertain you we will have live Irish music played by the excellent Mandy Murray, Ben Paley and Jim Burch, who are very well known in Brighton.
The cost of the evening, which includes a buffet supper and a glass of wine, is £15 and if you want to bring along some friends you can book a table in advance. Please send us an email or call 07729037182 to book.
If you would like to have a stall do let us know – a stall costs £20. We are still looking for items for the auction so do tell us if you can donate something.
It’ll be a great evening, and all in a very good cause – we look forward to seeing you!
Posted by editor on Friday, 1 July 2011
Stanmer Park is a dedicated campus of nearby Plumpton College and specialises in a wide range of Floristry and Horticultural courses.
They are holding another free information event – the event will allow visitors to see the range of facilities and offer an opportunity to meet the Horticulture staff and discuss courses, as well as find out about careers and employment opportunities.
- Saturday 2 July 2011, 10am-12pm. Open Morning at Stanmer Park, Brighton
Facilities and courses at Stanmer Park include a design classroom with drawing boards, machinery teaching workshop, with specialist horticulture equipment including mowers and general amenity equipment. They also include glasshouses and a conservatory with tropical planting. There is also a palm house, many polytunnels with tropical plants and hardy nursery planting stock. Students will also find laboratories used for scientific study, including soil analysis and botanical research, with a tissue culture laboratory.
Many students find the natural surroundings a benefit to tranquil study.
Visitors to the event will find refreshments on offer in an informal atmosphere, with friendly and specialist staff offering course advice.
Contact: 01273 679363, www.plumpton.ac.uk