Don’t miss the GH Specialist Plant Fair, Saturday 3 June

Posted by editor on Friday, 19 May 2017

Join us for this special event at The Garden House where you will be able to buy from a variety of specialist plant stalls – all in one place!

Local plant nurseries will be selling all manner of shrubs, herbaceous perennials, vegetable seedlings, shade-loving plants, dahlias, succulents and annuals, as well as a range of interesting metal plant supports.  See the list of exhibiting nurseries on poster below!

And as you can always expect from The Garden House, we will be serving delicious homemade food, as well as coffee/tea and homemade cakes.

Bring your friends and family for a wonderful Garden House day out!

Entrance: £2.50 / children free

May favourite: Aquilegia vulgaris

Posted by editor on Saturday, 6 May 2017

Our garden is full of columbines (Aquilegia) this year – ‘dancing columbines’ as my grandmother used to call them.  We love their extraordinary shapes, bright and exotic colour – or even black as night colour!

I’m sure we will see plenty of Aquilegia on our day trip and picnic on 8th June, visiting Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plant Nursery and Bere Mill Farm garden. Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants is a small family run independent nursery based in Hampshire, where they grow a wide range of home produced herbaceous perennials.  

Aquilegia are members of the buttercup family; perennial wildflowers whose native habitat ranges from the woodlands of North America, Europe and Siberia to the mountains of China.

There are at least seventy species of Aquilegia, including Britain’s native Aquilegia vulgaris.  When grown together most can form hybrids, producing a bewildering range of horticultural hybrid varieties of uncertain parentage that go under the general name of Aquilegia x hybrida.

Clump-forming herbaceous perennials with long-stalked, ternately divided basal leaves and erect, leafy stems bearing bell-shaped flowers with spreading, coloured sepals and petals with spurs, on branched stems

Common names include granny’s nightcap, granny’s bonnet and dancing columbine.  Names that happily reflect the sometimes garishly coloured hybrids – their delicately pleated flowers waving on tall, wire-thin stems, often with curled and elongated spurs.

Among our favourites are ‘Nivea’ and ‘Black Barlow’.  ‘Nivea’ is pure white; an upright plant to 80cm, with divided, light green leaves and abundant, creamy-white flowers 5cm in width, with short, curled spurs.  It comes true from seed, and looks lovely in small colonies. June-July. 76 cm.

By way of a complete contrast Barlow forms are like spiky pompoms and are actually a full double stellata form. These ancient forms have been cultivated for many centuries, and include Nora, Blue, Black, Purple, Christa, and Rose Barlows.

Black Barlow’ is a particular favourite – an upright perennial, with grey-green divided leaves and distinctive, pompon-like, deep purple flowers in early spring and summer.  June-July. 90cm.


  • South, North, east or West facing
  • Exposed or sheltered


  • Moist but well drained
  • Neutral, acid or alkaline
  • Loam, chalk, sand or clay


  • Propogate by seed sown in pots in a cold frame as soon as seed is ripe or in spring
  • They can also be propagated by division in spring but the plant will be slow to recover

Suggested planting locations and garden types

  • Cottage/informal garden, flower borders and beds
  • They make excellent cut flowers if picked when half open

Though all columbines want well-drained soil, other cultivation needs vary with variety. A. alpina (alpine) types, which grow in mountainside scree, prefer a rich, gritty soil. A. caerulea, which grow naturally on mountainsides and in arid landscapes, can survive in sandy, poor soil, though they thrive in garden loam with a little more water than their native habitat offers. Caerulea varieties tolerate more sun than our native A. canadensis, which is predominantly a woodland plant that likes dappled shade.

Images: ‘Nivea’ image courtesy of / ‘Black Barlow’ image courtesy of

What a great weekend!

Posted by editor on Monday, 1 May 2017

We opened for the NGS (National Garden Scheme) this bank holiday weekend, and thanks to our wonderful visitors raised well over £2,000 for charity!

The weather may not have been perfect (though Saturday was super sunny!) but garden was looking great with tulips, vegetables and many late spring flowering plants well underway – hazel and pea-stick structures created delightful architectural ‘waves’, ‘arches’ and ‘spires’ throughout the garden.

We next open our garden gates on Saturday 03 June for our Specialist Plant Fair, another very special opportunity to view a variety of specialist plant stalls, selling all manner of vegetable seedlings, Dahlias, succulents, herbaceous perennials as well as trees and shrubs.

And if you need a local garden ‘hit’ before then, do visit Barbara’s garden in Hove on Sunday 21 May. We often take our Garden Design students there as it’s such a great example of garden design in action and is full of ideas to take away. It is a large suburban garden on four levels, with a deep natural pool (created from a large swimming pool), a black and white pebble mosaic, overflowing greenhouse and vegetable plot, many decorative features and beautiful planting – and is located at 11 Tredcroft Road, BN3 6UH (near Hove Park, with plenty of free on-street parking!)

The garden will be open in aid of The Alzheimer’s Society, and Barbara is joining with Weleda, beauty through balance of body, mind and soul; and Miranda’s Plants, perfect perennials, adorable annuals and healthy herbs – plus of course there will be delicious homemade quiches, cakes and refreshments!  Do go along and take friends.

The Garden’s Looking Glorious!

Posted by editor on Sunday, 16 April 2017

Come and visit The Garden House – we are opening for the NGS (National Garden Scheme) on Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th April.   It’s a wonderful time of year to visit our garden, the tulips are looking glorious and there are so many late spring flowering plants well underway. Come and see for yourselves what flowers, vegetables and fruit we’re growing and see the progress that we have made in the garden over the past year. Plus the newly restored and replanted pond is look fabulous!

All over the country, almost 4,000 gardens will be opening under the NGS Yellow Book scheme raising money for a number of nursing and caring charities.

We will have plants, seeds and homemade treats for sale. Plus, as always, an excellent range of delicious homemade cakes and refreshments!

Open: Saturday 29 & Sunday 30 April – 11am to 4pm – entrance £3.50 (children free) – come with a friend!

Location: The Garden House, 5 Warleigh Road, Brighton BN1 4NT

We’re so pleased with our newly restored pond!

Another Garden House outing to consider is our day trip and picnic on 8th June, visiting Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plant Nursery and Bere Mill Farm garden.

Having had Rosy Hardy come here to the Garden House several times and give brilliant talks about plants we are delighted to at last be visiting her fabulous nursery.  Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants is a small family run independent nursery based in Hampshire,, and they grow a wide range of home produced herbaceous perennials.  Do have a look at their website for the fabulous array of unusual cultivars of well-loved plants.

We are also visiting Bere Mill Farm (, an eighteenth century water mill, which is close to Rosy’s nursery and recommended by her as a wonderful garden to see.

Cost: £68 to include coach travel and lunch.  BOOK ONLINE NOW. If you are unable to pay online, please contact us to find out about alternative ways of paying.

Location: Leaving 9am from The Garden House, 5 Warleigh Road, Brighton BN1 4NT

The Much Maligned Bergenia!

Posted by editor on Saturday, 8 April 2017

Here at The Garden House we love bergenias, although in some quarters they are considered rather ‘old-fashioned’ and even boring! As you may know we are planning an exciting trip to the gardens of Norfolk and on our way back we’ll be dropping in to the marvellous Beth Chatto gardens in Essex. (Garden House visit to Norfolk 14-16 June)

So bringing the two together – Beth Chatto and bergenias! – we noticed this charming  and informative blog post on the Beth Chatto website, see below. Hopefully they will not mind us reproducing part of it – CLICK HERE to read the rest!

Bergenia, Beth Chatto’s Garden…

Indispensable elephant’s ears, bergenia

Elephant’s ears, bergenia are one of the most indispensable and widely used evergreen plants here in Beth Chatto’s garden but there are few plants that seem to provoke such polarising views amongst our visitors.

Unfortunately, the genus does suffer from the fact that many people consider them untidy, rather boring and a perfect home for slugs and snails.

Very often seen in large sprawling mats of creeping rhizomes and fitting of this such bad press perfectly is Bergenia x schmidtii, which has no winter foliage colour to speak of and flowers so early in the year that it is often damaged by inevitable frosts. 

Bergenia, Beth Chatto’s Garden…

Elephant’s ears, Beth and Christo

With a natural instinct to support the underdog, I consider it my duty to inspire the sceptic gardener to look favourably upon the humble elephant’s ear and what better way to start than remind ourselves it was this very subject that proved to be the catalyst for the friendship between Beth Chatto and Christopher Lloyd, the owner of Great Dixter in Sussex. The heavy soil and enclosed, dense style of the planting at Great Dixter is not ideally suited to growing bergenia. Consequently, Christo, in his classic book “The Well-Tempered Garden” had little time for bergenias, a view to which Beth felt obliged to pen a letter in their defence. Christo replied, inviting her to “come for lunch” and so began a mutual friendship based on similar values and interests but above all on a shared passion for plants.

So often consigned to dark, shady areas, where they grow but will never give of their best, as they really do need the opposite, maximum light and exposure in order to colour well in the winter and we find they grow best in open areas on our poorer, drier soils where they form an essential feature of our drought resistant Gravel Garden. They really are the hosta of the dry garden, giving us the large bold leaf so desperately needed for contrast with plants such as thin-leaved grasses, lacy silver foliage plants or spiky plants. All adapted to survive dry conditions to which the leathery elephant’s ears are a perfect foil.

Bergenia, Beth Chatto’s Garden…

Bergenia, The Garden House garden…