Posts Tagged ‘Garden History’
Posted by editor on Saturday, 16 November 2013
Catch the colour before it goes! If you live in Sussex, Sheffield Park is bound to be on your ‘must visit’ list; but for beautiful colour, fine trees, a wonderful walled garden and a fascinating family history, another National Trust garden, Nymans, is hard to beat. It’s a Garden House favourite and well worth a visit in any season.
A crisp Saturday morning in November brought out the amateur photographers, all happily catching the extraordinary light as it played through the yellow, orange and red leaf displays. Fortunately there was relatively little damage here following the mid-October storm that swept across the country (unlike the ‘great storm’ of 1987 which wreaked havoc at Nymans!) - though a beautiful Catalpa (Indian Bean Tree) was a casualty .
Late autumn is an ideal time for a brisk walk in the Nymans woods or gardens; an opportunity to excite the children about nature’s extraordinary variety; and a time to note the last of the late summer’s hydrangeas, salvias and fuschias. The garden’s ‘winter walk’ is just starting to come into its own, fragrant Viburnum and Sarcococca are starting into flower, and even some very early camellias have opened.
Areas of the garden are being put to bed, borders tidied and tender plants lifted, leaving an emerging skeleton of sculptural seed heads and pods, bringing focus to the structure and bark of the many unusual varieties of trees and shrubs. The dogwoods (Cornus sanguinea) and the bark of Acer griseum are richly red and coppery.
Nymans is home to 26 ‘champion’ trees – trees that are the tallest, oldest or largest examples of the species in a given region. It is also home to many plants collected from the wilds of China or Japan by Ludwig Messel, who in 1890 bought Nymans house and its 600 acres, and his head gardener and avid plant-hunter, James Comber.
Don’t forget to check out the well-stocked plant centre – many of the plants are propagated in the Nymans glasshouses, where even now preparations are being made for next year’s displays and plantings. Or if the weather is less than clement, you’ll find a toasty welcome in the excellent second-hand book-store with it’s log-burning stove!
Posted by editor on Sunday, 30 June 2013
Our popular ‘hands-on’ Summer School kicks off on Monday 1 July – a week of behind the scenes gardening at three inspirational gardens and nurseries.
On Wednesday 3 July we’ll be heading over to the inspirational gardens at Gravetye Manor, home of the creative, innovative and revolutionary gardener William Robinson who from 1884 spent his remarkable life as a professional gardener and botanist.
Summer 2010 saw the appointment of Tom Coward as Head Gardener, his task to conserve and re-create Robinson’s work while also progressing the garden in homage to his experimental style of gardening. Having worked for 3 years alongside Fergus Garrett at Great Dixter, Tom’s experience has proved second to none in tackling this project.
Suitable for all levels of horticultural knowledge and skills – learn from, and work with, the experts as we talk to head gardeners and owners about their particular gardens or garden businesses.
Even if you haven’t signed up for the week, we have a few places left – so if you’d like to join us at Gravetye – please contact us ASAP!
Posted by editor on Tuesday, 14 August 2012
Earlier this year we visited the amazing gardens at Arundel Castle in West Sussex.
Before the present 18th Duke and Duchess moved permanently to the Castle in 1987, the gardens had been largely neglected. Over the intervening years the Duchess, together with the head gardener, has transformed the 2 acres allocated to the gardens. The centerpiece of this restoration is the new formal garden, conceived as a light-hearted tribute to Thomas Howard, 14th Earl of Arundel (1585-1646), known as ‘The Collector’.
It is set in a third of the area of the Georgian and Victorian walled kitchen garden and was designed by the very creative Isabel and Julian Bannerman (www.hanhamcourt.co.uk), with the enthusiastic support of the Duchess.
The garden is divided into formal courts with a centre canal pond and tufa-lined cascade. It is quite unlike anything we’ve seen before, a wonderful mix of eccentric grandeur and rusticity, and rich with historic references.
The domed pergola and fountains are based on those seen in the garden vista in the background of the famous Mytens portrait of the Countess of Arundel and are constructed from green oak giving a somewhat robust rustic charm.
The grand centre piece is the rockwork ‘mountain’ planted with palms and rare ferns to represent another world, supporting a green oak version of ‘Oberon’s Palace’, a fantastic spectacle designed by Inigo Jones for Prince Henry’s Masque on New Year’s Day 1611, flanked by two green oak obelisks. This contains a shell-lined interior with a stalagmite fountain and gilded coronet ‘dancing’ on top of a jet of water.
The garden has many less grandiose areas and details too. There’s a stumpery (very much a Bannerman trademark), and a pleasantly informal kitchen garden with its restored glasshouse – and even a living willow arbour (they must have got that idea from The Garden House, no?)
We loved its restrained planting, completely over-the-top green oak statuary, honest rusticity and humorous (even kitsch sometimes) charm.
Admission to The Collector Earl’s Garden is included within the standard admission prices. To find out more: www.arundelcastle.org
Posted by editor on Sunday, 24 June 2012
When heading out into the garden isn’t the best option (will this wind and rain ever stop?), or when I get those 3am awakenings when the mind just won’t still itself, I’ll often reach for one of my many gardening books.
Most are modern books, recently written and covering the endlessly diverse subjects of design, planting and what do when – New Gardening by Mathew Wilson, Dan Pearson’s Spirit, Garden Design Details by Arne Maynard, and anything by John Brookes and Noel Kingsbury spring to mind, though there are so many more. The musings of the incredible Christopher Lloyd and Beth Chatto inspire, amuse and inform quite uniquely no matter how many times I read them (Christopher Lloyd’s Cuttings is a particular favourite).
Recently though, I have been reading a few second-hand gardening books. I thought I’d tell you about three of them. Two were gifts and one I picked up second hand from Much Ado Books in Alfriston, but treasures can also be found when scouting around boot sales and charity shops.
One Lousy Free Packet of Seed by Lynne Truss (she of Eats Shoots and Leaves fame!), her debut novel published 1994. A tale of absurdity, farce and a particular Britishness. From the inside fly leaf: “Osborne Lonsdale, forty-eight, writes for Come Into the Garden. He contributes a weekly celebrity interview column called ‘Me and My Shed’. His small, intense friend Makepeace is a professional book reviewer and part-time pathological liar. Together they travel to Honiton, by the A303, in a Fiesta van, in bleak November. Osborne is unwittingly adored by Michelle, the frustrated chief sub-editor, who writes him kinky ‘readers’ letters’ after work for her own amusement. Lillian, the editor’s lazy secretary, who hates Michelle, mischievously sends them on. Tim, the deputy editor, knows nothing about anything, but worries anyway”…and so it goes on.
Better Gardening by Robin Lane Fox, published 1986, was a gift from a friend to whom I had to confess that I had never heard of him. Wikipedia notes that he is “an expert gardener, he is the gardening correspondent of the Financial Times and a noted opponent of garden gnomes” – so really I should have!
From the inside fly leaf – “In this memorable book, Robin Lane Fox draws on his wide experience to pick and discuss better plants, bulbs, trees and shrubs for beginners and experts alike. Wherever possible, their sources and cheap means of increase are listed. The result is not only an encouragement to try new plants or begin a garden-plan with confidence. It is filled with advice from an observant eye and is written with a style, humour, and sense of romance which have long delighted his weekly readers and place this book beside the best of English garden literature.”
A Little History of British Gardening by Jenny Uglow, published 2004, is an excellent read, rich with historical facts yet humble and humorous detail too: “Did the Romans have rakes? Did the monks get muddy? Did the potato seem really, really weird when it arrived on our shores?”
From the inside fly leaf – “This lively ‘potted’ history of gardening in Britain takes us on a garden tour from the thorn hedges around prehistoric settlements to the rage for decking and ornamental grasses today. It tracks down the ordinary folk who worked the earth – the apprentice boys and weeding women, the florists and nursery gardeners – as well as aristocrats and grand designers and famous plant-hunters. Coloured by Jenny Uglow’s own love for plants, and brought to life in the many vivid illustrations, it deals not only with flowery meads, grottoes and vistas, landscapes and ha-has, parks and allotments, but tells you, for example, how the Tudors made their curious knots; how housewives used herbs to stop freckles; how the suburbs dug for victory in World war II.”
So if the great outdoors doesn’t offer warm distraction, maybe turn up the heating and curl up with a good second-hand book as though it were December rather than June!
Posted by editor on Tuesday, 19 June 2012
On a recent visit to Scotland I was taken to Jupiter Artland, a contemporary sculpture garden in the grounds of Bonnington House outside Edinburgh. It was absolutely wonderful, atmospheric and very special. There are works by many leading artists, Andy Goldsworthy, Anthony Gormley, Anish Kapoor, Marc Quinn among others, all of whom have been commissioned to create a piece within a particular setting, the topographical location being a crucial feature.
The very beautiful landforms by Charles Jencks welcomes one and they are stunning. They celebrate the life of the cell, the basic unit of life, and the way in which one cell divides into two in stages. From above, the layout with the mounds, the connecting causeway, and the central rill, plus the four lakes on the outside, symbolise the cells early division into membranes and nuclei.
You are given an illustrated map and your journey continues through a very lovely wood, with ferns unfurling and magnificent trees, you can choose which direction to take, on the hoggin paths, to discover such an amazing diversity of pieces, which please, stimulate, frighten and challenge.
Inside the gallery we saw the remains of a piece of ephemeral art by Anya Gallaccio, Red on Green, where 10,000 red roses had been laid and are now decaying. ”Fragrant, soft and velvety the voluptuousness of the roses en masse evokes romance and decadence that is slowly allowed to blacken like scabs and die”. On my visit the roses still gave off a faint musky fragrance, but were papery-looking and faded, and evoked a sense of sadness.
The atmosphere of Jupiter Artland is magical. As well as the fabulous walk through the pieces of art, delicious food is served from a 1950′s retro-American catering caravan – and the shop is interesting too!
Robert and Nicky Wilson, who own Bonnington House and have set up Jupiter Artland, are part of the Wilson family that own Bach Flower Remedies. www.jupiterartland.org
It is certainly well worth a visit, as is the city of Edinburgh. My sister lives in Stockbridge in Edinburgh as is offering Bed & Breakfast during the Edinburgh festival. If interested, contact Deborah at firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted by editor on Tuesday, 30 November 2010
“If Dixter always remains loved and retains its own identity, everything else will fall into place.” Christopher Lloyd, January 2006
The incredible spirit of this wonderful garden still lives on and is a testament to the words of the great horticulturalist Christopher Lloyd who lived and gardened at Great Dixter all his life, leaving the estate to The Great Dixter Trust on his death in 2006.
Great Dixter is a Tudor house bought in 1910 by Nathaniel Lloyd, father of Christopher and author of books on brickwork and topiary, and was restored by Edwin Lutyens. Nathaniel designed the framework of the garden and it was initially planted by Daisy Lloyd, Christopher’s mother, who taught Christopher how to garden.
The house is surrounded by the now world-famous garden that was Christopher Lloyd’s lifelong passion; his influence since the war on amateur gardeners in this country can scarcely be overestimated. He had an encyclopaedic knowledge of plants, together with a love of form and colour – and together with his great strength of trying something new Great Dixter was always evolving, always fresh.
In 1996 he became bored with his rose garden, which had been designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and established for more than 70 years, he simply uprooted it. The replacement, a brazen kaleidoscope of sub-tropical plants, sent shock waves through the gardening world.
It is the most inspirational garden, clearly loved and still gardened by Fergus Garrett who was Christopher Lloyd’s head gardener, and who continues as the garden’s creative head.
Yesterday on a cold November day the late autumn structure was astonishing – the yew hedges and topiary, grasses, trees and shrubs looking beautiful in the low November light.
The fires burning in the grates were welcoming – doubtless the timber in the great hall could tell a thousand stories, Christopher Lloyd was alive today I think he would have been delighted to see his extraordinary home filled with people having fun and enjoying the spirit of Great Dixter.
For a great read try: Colour for Adventurous Gardeners; The Well-Tempered Garden; or Cuttings (a collection of writings for the Guardian) – all by Christopher Lloyd.
See the website www.greatdixter.co.uk for events, opening times, and admission costs and location (if you sign up for their newsletter, you’ll be first to hear what’s upcoming!)…
Christopher Lloyd – “The right time to do a job is when you are in the mood to do it.” What wise words!
Posted by editor on Thursday, 20 May 2010
Visit the delightful Houghton Lodge gardens with The Garden House! On Wednesday 23 June we’ve a great day planned – visiting Mottisfont Abbey to see the collection of old-fashioned roses, and Houghton Lodge to see the inspirational garden.
Houghton Lodge is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful privately owned houses and gardens in Hampshire. The house is a picturesque late 18th Century Grade 2 listed gothic cottage orné, idyllically set above the tranquil waters of the River Test. It is set in extensive grounds, with fine trees and lawns sweeping down to the banks of the river.
The garden is described by Tamsin Westhorpe, editor of The English Garden as “one of the most romantic gardens I have ever experienced” and offers a myriad of charms as inspiration for the gardener. There is a fully restored chalk cob walled kitchen garden with greenhouses run on hydroponic principles (thus using less water and space) – also a long herbaceous border, orchid house, topiary parterre and a lovely wildflower meadow leading down to the river.
In late June the roses and peonies will both be in full blossom and should be looking wonderful. www.houghtonlodge.co.uk
For more information on this delightful visit, or to book, go to DIARY on this website.
Posted by editor on Sunday, 2 May 2010
Roses have a long and colourful history – from the early damask rose, to the old-fashioned China roses, to the modern shrub – and now this much-loved plant is increasingly being used in more contemporary settings. Versatile and easy to grow, they come in many different types, in every size and shape, and are suitable for almost any aspect and situation. They look wonderful scrambling over arches and clothing walls, work as ground cover around shrubs, and as focal points in containers – we could all find a place in our gardens for a rose (or two!).
A Little Budding Rose
It was a little budding rose,
Round like a fairy globe,
And shyly did its leaves unclose
Hid in their mossy robe,
But sweet was the slight and spicy smell
It breathed from its heart invisible.
…by Emily Bronte
If you’re a lover of roses, or a beginner wanting to know more about this fascinating species, join us here at The Garden House on Saturday 05 June for our workshop All About Roses with Simon White. Simon, an expert from the Peter Beales specialist rose nursery in Norfolk, will give an in-depth illustrated talk, plus demonstrations on caring for roses.
Continuing the rose theme we are visiting Mottisfont Abbey to enjoy their national collection of roses on Wednesday 23 June. Why not join us for both? See the DIARY on this website for more information.
Posted by editor on Tuesday, 16 March 2010
Plant Portraits opens on 2 April at Brighton’s Booth Museum (until 24 September 2010).
Botanical artists can create images of extraordinary beauty - images that convey a plant’s technical form and structure in ways that a photograph cannot. This exhibition, curated by The Botanical Art Society of Sussex in conjunction with the Booth Museum of Natural History, highlights the importance of art in understanding and communicating the natural world and the plants that are fundamental to our survival.
Paintings include flowers, fruits, vegetables and fungi; enriching images supplemented by magnificently illustrated botanical books and specimens from the Booth Museum.
The Botanical Art Society of Sussex was founded in 2003 to bring together Sussex botanical artists. Botanical illustrators today are not just flower painters, but inheritors of a legacy of historical importance going back to the time of the ancient Egyptians. To be successful they have to be technically highly competent in drawing and painting, with some knowledge of botany and the ability to convey the sense of wonder of the plant world.
The Booth Museum was founded in 1874 by naturalist and collector Edward Thomas Booth. The Victorians were passionate about natural history and Edward Booth’s particular interest was ornithology, the study of birds.
In 1971 the Booth became a Museum of Natural History. It is now home to a staggering collection of 525,000 insects, 50,000 minerals and rocks, 30,000 plants and 5,000 microscopic slides.
Today the museum retains its unique charm of the quirky and eccentric with its focus on Victorian taxidermy and fossils, bones and skeletons. And yet it is also firmly focused on modern day concerns of conservation and protection of the planet.
It is truly a fascinating and unique place to visit…
Booth Museum of Natural History, 194 Dyke Road, Brighton BN1 5AA
Tel. 03000 290900 / Email email@example.com
Posted by editor on Saturday, 14 November 2009
Brighton Museum and Art Gallery – 3 October 2009 to 14 March 2010. During World War II, over 200,000 women joined the Women’s Land Army. The heroic image of the land girl standing tall in her corduroy breeches, green jumper and brown felt hat, fork resting over her shoulder, has become an iconic symbol of the triumph of wartime agriculture.
This exhibition highlights personal stories, propaganda, paintings, posters and photographs. It reveals the experiences of women as they leave their pre-war lives to learn milking, rat catching, threshing and tractor driving. At the heart of this story are the surviving items of their distinctive uniform – where it was made, who wore it, what they did, how women felt about wearing it and the reactions they encountered.
Posted by editor on Tuesday, 10 November 2009
Brighton Museum and Art Gallery. Saturday 14 November. A talk by social and cultural historian Sarah Tobias. Find out how people celebrated Christmas when money and luxuries were in short supply and food was rationed. Includes ideas for thrifty retro gifts and decorations.
Tickets £12; booking details on http://www.brighton-hove-rpml.org.uk/Museums/brightonmuseum/Pages/home.aspx