Summer Flowers

RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival

Nestled behind the truly majestic Hampton Court Palace lays the home and sprawling grounds of the UK’s largest flower show, the RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival. This year it starts on Thursday 10th September and finishes on Tuesday 15th September where visitors came from far and wide to be dazzled by the multitude of show gardens and to get lots of hands on advice as well as endless shopping opportunities.

The RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival is the world’s largest annual flower show, spanning over 34 acres, and has been running since 1990.  This year it is celebrating it’s 30th anniversary with a Gardening for Everyone theme, which hopes to bring family, friends and communities together.

This year the headline sponsor is Viking Cruises.  The show is placed on either side of the palace, and consists of Show Gardens, a Rose Marquee and Floral Marquee.  As well as plant pavilions which consist of expert talks, workshops and exhibits.

There are plenty of ideas to take-away from a whole host of gardens. With the recent hot weather, and the promise of such weather trends in the future, it may well be worth taking some ideas from the ‘Beth Chatto: The Drought Resistant Garden’ designed by David Ward last year. David is the Garden director of the Beth Chatto Gardens and worked with Beth for over 35 years. His team have created her world-famous drought tolerant garden, which features a range of plants such as Nepeta and Verbascum, which have been chosen for their ability to cope with prolonged dry spells.

Beth Chatto's Gravel garden

Beth Chatto’s Gravel garden in Colchester, Essex, which was once a car park

Last year, and possibly not to a garden to everyone’s taste, but bringing home an important message from the Global Impact Garden category was the ‘On the Brink’ garden. It was sponsored and built by Plastic Oceans and aims to draw attention to plastic blindness. At the centre of the garden was a fish-shaped structure made from old fishing nets, milk cartons and plastic bags. The garden communicated a hard-hitting message about the impact of plastic in our seas.

On the Brink garden

In 2019, the ‘On the Brink’ garden aimed to draw attention to plastic blindness

Brimming with activities, sights and sounds, RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival is the perfect day out with family and friends. To find out more information and to book tickets, go to https://www.rhs.org.uk/shows-events/rhs-hampton-court-palace-garden-festival

Nymans garden

Nymans Gardens

I visited Nymans recently, one of my local National Trust gardens in West Sussex.

Camellia sasanqua 'Paradise pearl'

The Camellia’s are flowering well. This particular one caught my eye – Camellia sasanqua ‘Paradise Pearl’. It’s a stunning camellia with masses of beautiful pink buds opening to semi double pure white flowers. It will also flower in absolute profusion over a long period in the cooler months of winter.

 

Daphne bholua flower

Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’ is the perfect winter shrub and I can see why it has been awarded an AGM by the RHS. The scent from the clusters of the small, sweetly scented, deep pink buds of Daphne Bholua  made the walk a pleasure to the senses and I couldn’t help but linger by them for a while.

 

Cyclamen Flowers

Many of the hardy Cyclamen were in also flower, naturalising perfectly under trees.

I’d encourage anyone on a dry, bright winters day to pop along to Nymans and enjoy the scent and colour of the many winter flowering shrubs and perennials. The garden is definitely worth a visit if you live close by.

Nymans Gardens, West Sussex

Wakehurst Place

I am fortunate that I have many National Trust gardens to visit that are close to me, one of which I visited recently was Wakehurst Place.

There are some big changes happening beyond the Mansion Lawn!

Wakehurst Place Prairie landscape Moodboard images

North American Prairie landscape Mood board

Inspired by the sweeping prairies of the North American landscapes, the horticulturists and volunteers are in the process of creating a six acre prairie landscape. In order to achieve this, trees, shrubs and the specimen borders have been cleared.

Wakehurst Place Prairie pathways

An idea of how the pathways may look

Currently, the design is beginning to take shape – hard landscaping has started, with pathways being created in the area.

Wakehurst Winter Garden

Winter Garden, Wakehurst Place – photo taken shortly after initial planting

The Winter Garden has been revamped and is really starting to look impressive. The planting includes:

  • 16,000 snowdrops (Galanthus)
  • 6,000 sedges (Carex)
  • 5,000 crocuses (Crocus)
  • 2,000 cyclamen (Cyclamen)
  • 600 fountain grasses (Pennisetum)
  • 500 dogwoods (Cornus)
Wakehurst - Winter Border

Winter Garden, Wakehurst Place

Wakehurst Place is well worth a visit and I suggest that, if you are close by, to pop in – it won’t be a disappointment.

Wakehurst Glow Wild mansion

Wakehurst Place Glow Wild

I am fortunate that I have many National Trust gardens to visit that are close to me, one of which I visited recently was Wakehurst Place.

Wakehurst Glow Wild moon lantern
I visited the Glow Wild winter lantern trail which takes place from 21st November to 22nd December this year where I was able to take part in a magical after-dark walk through Wakehurst’s beautiful botanic gardens and majestic woodlands. All of this was brought to life with glowing, handcrafted lanterns. The walk was just under 1 mile in length and took approximately 1 hour.

 

 

Wakehurst Glow Wild lanterns

 

There were floating lanterns on the Mansion pond. Children also have the opportunity to make their own lanterns to take home should they wish to do so.

 

 

Wakehurst Glow Wild stars in trees

 

Stars adorned the oak trees in the Pinetum.

 

 

 

Wakehurst Glow Wild Badgers

 

Wakehurst Place Mansion LightsLanterns taking the form of fox, badgers and various other animals were also lit up and placed strategically along the trail.

 

 

As I neared the end of the trail, shadowy silhouettes adorned the Elizabethan mansion making it look totally magical.

 

If you’d built up an appetite by the end of the walk, there were marshmallows which could be warmed by fires in the courtyard along with stalls selling items such as roasted chestnuts – yummy! All of this could be enjoyed whilst admiring the UK’s largest living Christmas tree, which was adorned with Christmas lights.

A truly magical experience – I’ll definitely be purchasing tickets for the 2020 trail.

Wakehurst Place is well worth a visit and I suggest that, if you are close by, to pop in – it won’t be a disappointment.

Gravetye Manor

Piet Oudolf at Gravetye Manor

I had the pleasure of visiting the William Robinson Festival at Gravetye Manor this weekend and was fortunate to listen to a talk by Piet Oudolf.

Piet Oudolf is an influential Dutch garden designer of which he is seen as the figurehead of the New Perennial Movement. His designs and plant compositions use bold drifts of robust herbaceous perennials and grasses which are chosen at least as much for their structure as for their flower colour. They have to look as good in decay as they do in the first unfurling of spring.

Hummelo garden in Autumn

Hummelo garden in Autumn

Oudolf talked about his own garden at Hummelo, which when he first moved into, was a dilapidated country farmhouse with a few acres of land. Piet and his wife, Anja, renovated the house, raised a family, created the gardens and established a 6,000 square metre plant nursery – no mean feat! They collected, propagated, trialled and refined what then became his signature palette of robust perennials and grasses necessary for his designs. Later, after closing the nursery, Oudolf transformed it into a wild meadow, combining structural perennials with a matrix of native grasses used from the nursery. The garden was then opened to the public where Anja handled an increasing flow of visitors. Sadly for us now, the garden is now closed to the public. However, if this brief overview of Piet Oudolf and his garden at Hummelo has whetted your appetite and you’d like to discover more, then take a look at the book – ‘Hummelo: A Journey Through a Plantsman’s Life’.

RHS Wisley Piet Oudolf borders

The Piet Oudolf borders at RHS Wisley

There are Oudolf meadows up and down the country, the closest to me being at RHS Wisley. Here the borders are divided into bands of planting, with each band containing three or four perennial varieties and/or grasses with no single band being repeated. The plants are chosen for their aesthetic relationships to each other as well as for their ability to provide seasonal interest.

I’ve also had the pleasure of visiting Trentham Gardens, which also showcases his complex, highly naturalistic schemes. In contrast to its formality, Oudolf has created more flowing borders either side of the Italian garden.

Rivers of Grass at Trentham Gardens

Rivers of Grass at Trentham Gardens

There are also a number of publications describing his planting style and projects that he has been involved in:

Gardens of the High Line
Planting the Natural Garden
Hummelo
Dream Plants for the Natural Garden
Planting: A New Perspective
Piet Oudolf: Landscapes In Landscapes

Christmas ice snowflakes

Wakehurst Place – Winter

I am fortunate that I have many National Trust gardens to visit that are close to me, one of which I visited recently was Wakehurst Place.

Wakehurst Glow Wild Tree
I visited the Glow Wild winter lantern festival which took place from 30 November to 17 December 2017 where I was able to take part in a magical after-dark walk through Wakehurst’s beautiful botanic gardens and majestic woodlands. All of this was brought to life with glowing, handcrafted lanterns. The walk was just under 1 mile in length and took approximately 1 hour.

 

Wakehurst Glow Wild BadgersThere were floating lanterns on the Mansion pond and stars adorning the oak trees in the Pinetum. Lanterns taking the form of fox, badgers and various other animals were also lit up and placed strategically along the trail.

The stream that led down to the Black pond was transformed into a river of fire – a continuous stream of lights cascaded downwards, filling the water with glittering light and made quite eerie by soft music being played in the background.

Wakehurst Place Mansion Lights

 

As I neared the end of the trail, shadowy silhouettes adorned the Elizabethan mansion making it look totally magical.

 

If you’d built up an appetite by the end of the walk, there were marshmallows which could be warmed by fires in the courtyard along with stalls selling items such as roasted chestnuts – yummy! All of this could be enjoyed whilst admiring the UK’s largest living Christmas tree, which was adorned with Christmas lights.

A truly magical experience – I’ll definitely be purchasing tickets for the 2018 trail.

Wakehurst Place is well worth a visit and I suggest that, if you are close by, to pop in – it won’t be a disappointment.

Dahlia flowers

Fantastic Dahlia Grower

I was fortunate enough to be introduced to an extremely knowledgeable gentleman this weekend – award-winning dahlia grower Terry Cornell. He showed me around an area of land that a local nursery had given to him in order to grow a wide range of Dahlias. He regularly supplies friends and neighbours with beautiful cut flowers for them to enjoy in their homes and generously gave me a car boot full of flowers to take home with me.

His wife, Nicky also grows a multitude of daffodils for display in the spring and I look forward to being invited back to experience this cheerful spectacle.