Autumn maintenance visit

October 30, 2013


Carrying out a twice yearly after care service for my garden design clients gives them peace of mind that their plants are being kept an eye on. The visits are usually during Spring and Autumn when pruning can be carried out as required and any problems that have arisen can be identified and dealt with accordingly. Of course gardens are living things and even the best planned ones sometimes need a tweak, so it is also an opportunity to make additions or alterations if need be.


I especially enjoy these sessions when clients go round with me observing and taking notes so that they can then go on and carry out the maintenance themselves. Sometimes people just need to see it “being done” to give them the confidence to take the secateurs to a plant and prune it.


From my perspective one of the advantages of the visits is that I get to see their garden develop and learn what has been most successful in terms of the planting. I am currently fitting in the autumn sessions between working on new plans. Last week I visited a couple with a small garden in Letchworth that I had designed early on this year. This garden has been created with a small budget as my clients are only planning to stay in the house for a few years. I was pleased to find that the planting had filled out well during it’s first spring and summer season so that my clients are already enjoying their new garden.


As you can see from this photo taken before the work began the garden was not very inspiring!


Before photo of a garden in letchworth

Viewed from upstairs the awkward shape of the garden is evident....


Look at the steps in the above photograph that lead to the garage door and you will see that they’re not only an eyesore but hazardous as well!


Photo showing newly designed steps to a budget garden in Letchworth

The new steps are more attractive and easier to negotiate


At the end of October the garden is filling out well ..


I have a couple more maintenance visits booked so watch this space for more before and after photos.


October delight

October 26, 2013


October is quite possibly my favourite month (though if you were to ask me in the spring then I might just say May). The clocks alter tonight and I know that the shorter days will inevitably bring some gloom and despondency. Still I have had a lovely month starting with a weekend away in Rye with some very good friends. One of the highlights of the weekend for me, was returning to Great Dixter after several years and finding it just as exciting as when the garden’s great maker Christopher Lloyd was alive.


Great Dixter perfectly demonstates that a garden can sing in October just as loudly as in the height of summer. To prove it and cheer myself up before November here are some photos.


Rudbeckia at Great dixter

Rudbeckia light up the border


Dahlias are star performers

Dahlias are star performers


Kniphofia and Schisostylis make an interesting combination at Great Dixter

Kniphofia and Schizostylis make an interesting combination



“Must see” summer garden

August 15, 2013


During the recent hot spell my husband suggested a day out visiting gardens. This was met with enthusiasm by me partly because I always love visiting gardens but more importantly because he had been the one to suggest it; meaning that I was free to enjoy it without feeling guilty that he would rather be on the golf course.


So where to go? We decided on Northamptonshire as we could do a quick visit to Coton Manor (a garden of which I am especially fond) knowing we could get a very good lunch before going to Cottesbrooek just a few miles onward. Both are on my “must see” garden list and especially worthwhile during the height of summer.


I have written about Coton Manor in a previous blog so I will concentrate my attention to Cottesbrook. This was our first visit -I had been thinking about going for a while but opening is restricted to Thursdays so hadn’t got round to it before. As you can see below it was worth the wait!


planting scheme at Cottesbrooke

Beautiful soft planting scheme


Eremurus at Cottesbrooke Hall

Eremurus rise above crisp hedging


The Wild Garden at Cottesbrook Hall

Down in the wild garden


Thoroughly recommend it!



Images from Mallorca

July 11, 2013


Sometimes a holiday is the only thing to recharge your energy levels, both physically and emotionally…


We recently returned from a break in Soller, Mallorca which did exactly that and also offered lots in the way of inspiration. With a wonderful coastline and mountain scenery, lovely indigenous flora, a fair share of decent art galleries alongside typical Spanish squares and architecture, this vibrant island really does have it all.


Here is a selection of some of the images that I found inspiring in one way or another.


Ca'n Prunera- modern art museum in Soller


This museum exhibits the likes of Picasso, Miro and Matisse but is also worth a visit for the building itself which is a restored mansion and is simply stunning. I really love the this sculpture for its shape, form and material..


sculpture at the C'an Prunera, soller


Soller Botanic Garden is a centre for the conservation of Mediterranean plants and houses many specific to Mallorca.


Now that's a sundial!


Walking into the mountain villages we came across lots of lovely villas like this next one.




I loved this next tiny house, right next to the tramline and absolutely immaculate.


Little house by the rail track in Soller


I took this next photo partly because I liked the form of the rosemary but mainly for the contrasting textures.


stone, bark, rosemary


The beautiful trellis ironwork of the next image is typical of the lovely entrances and courtyards to be found in and around Soller.


Iron Trellis Gateway


Finally here is a Brugsmania, which some of you may grow here in the uk as a tender shrub, maybe on the patio in a pot – this is how it’s meant to look!


Brugsmania in full bloom



Two in one day

May 9, 2013


What a lovely Spring bank holiday it has been!


We had a very enjoyable day out in the sunshine, visiting two interesting gardens in peaceful Suffolk. Our first visit took us to Helmingham hall near Stowmarket, a wonderful, moated manor house with intricate brickwork and equally wonderful gardens.


Spectacular Helmingham Hall


The garden is divided into distinct areas with both formal, classic features and naturalistic, wild areas. Although too early in the season to fully appreciate the kitchen gardens, there was plenty of spring interest planting elsewhere.


Lovely Spring Vista


After a walk in the garden we had a light lunch in the courtyard cafe where we were served by friendly staff. There are plants for sale, both bought in and from the gardens, and I bought one of their thalictrums called “Illuminator” which is a new one on me.


Having had our fill we decided to travel in the direction of home taking a slight detour to Stanton, for a quick jaunt around the gardens of Wyken Hall, an Elizabethan manor house with a nearby vineyard. As with Helmingham the gardens are divided into distinct areas with both formal and wilder areas, both fit well within the landscape and surround a house that is lived in by the owners.


Immaculate topiary in front of Wyken Hall

Immaculate topiary in front of Wyken Hall


However they are on a completely different scale, Helmingham with it’s surrounding 400 acre deer park is grand whilst Wyken Hall although surrounded by a very large farm is intimate and on a scale that is easy to relate to. I was seduced by the place and loved the art and craft style touches and artfully arranged scenes.


A peacock poses in front of "The owl house"


Snakeshead fritillarias mingle with cowslips and narcissus


After lots of snaps we found time for a scone and clotted cream on the terrace. Not sure if it was deliberate but my other half then announced that I had just a few minutes for a look in the very expensive but gorgeous gift shop! Alas to say I didn’t buy anything though a rather nice cushion caught my eye.


I’ll be back and next time plan to do the gardener’s tour from Wyken to three other gardens nearby.