NGS festival weekend – two open gardens in Northamptonshire


irises galore at Titchmarsh House, Northamptonshire

The NGS celebrated their 90th birthday over the May bank holiday weekend and finding myself in Northamptonshire I was delighted to be able to visit two gardens open under the scheme.  The first, Jericho was a Jekyll inspired town garden in the centre of Oundle whilst in complete contrast, the expansive grounds of Titchmarsh House (see below) took a little longer to navigate.


Clematis adorns the walls of Jericho, Oundle

Jericho, Oundle

The narrow 100 metre long garden of Jericho belongs to Stephen and Pepita Aris and was initially planted over 50 years ago in the style of Vita Sackville-West. The long and fairly narrow garden is divided up into a series of garden rooms and secret spaces. Continue reading


Chelsea Flower Show 2017


The Silk Road Garden.  Chelsea, 2017

With last year’s Chelsea blog still in my drafts folder I am determined that this year I will actually post about my Chelsea findings.  With so many other writers and bloggers doing exactly the same thing  I thought that instead of writing about the general loveliness I would write about what I would like to know if I were unable to attend.

It’s exciting to read the Chelsea previews and see the artist’s impressions of the gardens but do they actually look like that?  Are the gardens innovative and exciting?  Or as some may suggest, are one or two of the offerings just a teeny bit ’emporor’s new clothes’ -ish?

Using one of my favourite garden magazines, The English Garden as my source, I went in search of the sketches they published in their May edition and tried to photograph from the same angle (not easy due to the volume of people).

Here’s what I found: Continue reading

Keukenhof Garden, Lisse, Holland

A return trip to the Keukenhof garden in Holland and what a spectacular place it is.  The brilliant thing about this garden is how competently it is run – from the regular busses from the airport and central Amsterdam to the friendliness of the staff to the cleanliness of the park, the Keukenhof is a fine example of Dutch efficiency.  Hardly surprising, since in 2016 it welcomed over a million visitors and judging by this year’s crowds, 2017 will probably beat that figure.



Each year the Keukenhof themes the planting and this year was all about Dutch design which they describe as ‘Dutch sobriety combined with innovative solutions’.  Hmm.  I noticed the Mondrian style bulb mosaic )sorry no photo) but especially loved the abundant planting throughout the park. Continue reading

Hammerwood House, West Sussex (NGS)


Hammerwood House, Iping, West Sussex

Searching for a garden to visit in the Sussex Weald last weekend, we noticed in the NGS yellow book (have you got your copy yet?) that Hammerwood House, near Midhurst was open.



The pinkest Azalea overlooks the sweeping lawns

The bucolic approach to the property took in rolling hills and tiny narrow lanes dotted with picturesque cottages.  The house lies on the outskirts of Iping village, so just as you think you must have passed it, suddenly there is the signpost; a relief not to have to find somewhere to turn round and resume your search.  Oddly there were no welcoming yellow NGS ‘garden open’ signs, but more of that later. Continue reading

Felley Priory


Immaculate formal gardens at Felley Priory


Felley Priory is one of North Nottinghamshire’s best kept secrets.  Amazingly only half a mile from the M1, the tranquil and immaculate 3 acre garden, set against rolling hills provides a pleasant year-round garden visit.

The carefully planted garden takes into consideration the history of this ancient priory and some of the rare and unusual plants can be purchased in the nursery next door.

Dating from the late 12th Century, the Priory formerly consisted of twelve canons following the Rule of St Augustine.  In the Dissolution in 1535, most of the Priory was destroyed although parts were used elsewhere in the construction of the house and garden. Now a family home, the house is a handsome stone property with formal terraced gardens. Continue reading

Orchids at Kew Gardens


Stunning peacock in the glasshouse

At Kew Gardens this month, visitors can enjoy the promise of Spring in the garden where snowdrops, helebores and aconites are making an appearance.  For more exotic blooms, head for the Princess of Wales glasshouse, where a taste of India awaits in the form of giant floral displays celebrating the culture and plant life of India. Continue reading

Blenheim Palace


Atmospheric lighting at the water terraces

Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire is quite rightly a popular destination for garden and history lovers alike.  The title of Palace is a worthy one given its splendour and pomp. The Palace, built between 1705 and 1722 is complimented by formal gardens designed by Henry Wise and a water parterre designed by Achille Duchêne. With landscaped grounds re-designed by Capability Brown, there is much to see and this winter, the spectacle of Christmas illuminations was not to be missed.

Best viewed at dusk for obvious reasons, the gardens and grounds took on a mysterious quality whereby visitors were encouraged to follow a path of light leading though the formal gardens towards the landscaped grounds beyond. Continue reading

The Secret Gardens of Sandwich. The Salutation.

traditional long borders and Lutyens house

The long borders towards the house

The Salutation in Sandwich, Kent is probably best known as being the former home to Steph and Dom of ‘Gogglebox’ fame.  However it is also home to the most marvellous garden, the bones of which were laid out by Gertrude Jekyll to compliment the Edwin Lutyens house, built between 1911-1912.

brick path and tropical planting

the tropical entrance to the gardens

The gardens, which are open to the public are known as the ‘Secret Gardens of Sandwich’, presumably because one would not expect to find such lushness in the middle of a town, albeit one of the best preserved medieval towns in England. Continue reading

RHS Rosemoor, Devon

The house at Rosemoor, Devon

The house at Rosemoor

The RHS garden, Rosemoor is situated near Torrington in Devon and set in a deep wooded valley beside the river Torridge. Originally created as a private garden by Lady Anne Palmer (born in 1919) the garden was gifted to the RHS in 1988 and in 1990 it was opened to the public as a ‘garden for all seasons’. Continue reading