On the Dry Side

On the Dry Side

Eryngium x zabelli ‘Big Blue’

Eryngium x zabelli ‘Big Blue’

Salvia nemerose

Salvia nemerose ‘Big Blue’

Callistemon viridis Less exotic, but Escallonia ‘Appleblossom’ was smothered in flowers and alive with bees

Callistemon viridis Less exotic, but Escallonia ‘Appleblossom’ was smothered in flowers and alive with bees

Escallonia ‘Appleblossom'
Essex is one of the driest counties in the country, so if you are looking for inspiration on what to grow in your own dry garden, Hyde Hall is a great place to visit. The Rock Garden has a real Mediterranean atmosphere with some wonderful plants that thrive in the free-draining soil and hill top location. It is a garden that is still being developed and each time I go there, there is something new to see and it is worth exploring the hidden corners. The Hyde Hall Flower Show takes place from 30th July-2nd August.

There are two gardens close to the visitor centre that are now fully established. One of them is wonderfully moody with lots of evergreens and grasses combined with herbaceous planting predominantly in shades of purple and blue.alliumsmixed herbaceous plantingevergreens and grasses herbaceous planting

Instructions for a Heatwave

looking after plants in the heat
As I went around the garden moving pots of young plants to spots that will survive my absence through the hottest days of the year, I thought of Maggie O’Farrell’s wonderful novel of that name. I want to make life easy for my friend who has the responsibility of keeping the plants alive – a task more onerous than usual with temperatures forecast to reach the mid 30s. A long shelf beneath the kitchen windows only gets sunshine in the early morning, so I’ve crammed them on it on trays of gravel. The close proximity of the plants and the humidity from the water in the gravel trays should produce a microclimate that will keep them happy until my return. I’ve also dotted full watering cans around the garden so that she can administer emergency watering to anything that is flagging. Fortunately I’m only away for a few days, but if you are planning to go on holiday, it’s worth moving container plants into a shady location or providing them with gravel-filled saucers.

An Evening at Allt-y-bela – Arne Maynard’s Monmouthshire Garden

An Evening at Allt-y-bela – Arne Maynard’s Monmouthshire Garden

Arne is one of our foremost garden designers, so his own garden – tucked away in its own private valley – is somewhere pretty special and the opportunity to visit it is not to be missed. We were invited by friends to a performance of Much Ado About Nothing staged in his new Green Theatre – with time to wander and admire the garden before the performance. The characterful medieval farmhouse with its Renaissaince tower is the perfect centrepiece around which the garden revolves with its mixture of structural topiary, soft romantic planting, envy-inducing potager and brimming wildflower meadows. The garden is not open to the public, but there’s a series of gardening courses that run until September and B&B is sometimes available (but not when courses are running). Prices are top end – but so is the tuition and accommodation. www.arnemaynard.com

immaculately trained wisteria

The front of Allt y bela with pleached crab apples and immaculately trained wisteria

climbers against wall

The rear elevation of the house

The rear elevation of the house

neat organic shapes in Arne Maynard's garden

Potager perfection

Potager perfection


veg garden
bird scarer made from a potato and feathers

The potato and feather bird scarer moves gently in the wind – definitely worth copying

hand made arbour

One of the birch, willow and hazel arbours in the potager

overflowing garden border

Borders overflow with flowers

Roses tumble down walls

Roses tumble down walls

stream separates garden and prevents flooding

The audience watching the performance with the stage the other side of the walled stream that prevents the garden flooding in winter

cast salute the audience in Arne Maynard's garden
Wildflower meadows grow at the edge the gardens

Wildflower meadows edge the garden

iris bronze beauty

Arne has planted Iris ‘Bronze Beauty’ in the meadow above the Green Theatre

Highlights from Hampton

Highlights from Hampton

This is just a brief whizz through some of the gardens at Hampton Court that caught my eye. It is far from comprehensive because, due to a 5.45am start, I forgot to take my camera with me and failed to fully charge my iPhone. Anyway, excuses out of the way, I did really like the reincarnation of the World Vision garden which used some of the same elements as they did in their Chelsea garden – in particular the yellow Perspex rods and the squares of sunken planting.
the world vision garden at Hampton 2015conceptual gardens at Hampton Courtbeautiful planting at Hampton Court Flower Show 2015
The Conceptual Gardens were generally of a high standard this year. The Malawi Garden from African Vision featured examples of the keyhole gardens that provide people with sustainable, compact ways of growing food in a hot climate. In the centre of the garden was an internally mirrored metal box with portholes that looked into what appeared to be an infinite field of maize. This was designed to raise the question of whether food security should be based on a single crop. Thought provoking stuff.conceptual Malawi garden at Hampton
infinite field of maize
There were some interesting garden structures on some of the gardens – the Macmillan Legacy Garden featured an inviting pod-like building clad in greenery and with a tree growing through the roof. The City Twitchers Garden was designed for bird lovers who were given their own woven ‘nest’ from which to watch the wildlife.
pod-like building clad in greenerywoven ‘nest’ from which to watch the wildlife
There were several ‘World’ gardens promoting different destinations – by far the most successful and atmospheris was the Turkish Garden of Paradise which in the bright sunshine really did look a slice of Turkey transported to Hampton Court.Turkish Garden of Paradise

One aspect of the show that I was not so keen on was the way they have separated the show gardens and scattered them around the site. Apparently this is to avoid areas getting overcrowded which is understandable, but it was rather a case of ‘hunt the gardens’.

Things are looking pretty Rosy right now

Things are looking pretty Rosy right now

This has to be the best year I can remember for roses with the cool nights keeping them in peak condition for much longer than usual, as well as pleasingly pest and disease free.  I don’t think of my garden as majoring on roses, but with them all out at once there are far more than I realised. This is a selection of them. If there is a garden near you that is known for its roses, this is the year to get out there and admire them – and smell the roses of course.

Cardinal Richelieu

Cardinal Richelieu

Gloire de Dijon

Gloire de Dijon

Hybrid Tea

Hybrid Tea

Rosa de Rescht

Rosa de Rescht

Darcy Bussell

Darcy Bussell

Gertrude Jekyll

Gertrude Jekyll

Hyde Hall

Hyde Hall

Self seeded Cooper Burmese

Self seeded Cooper Burmese

Mme. Gregoire Staechlin rose

Mme. Gregoire Staechlin (I think – a cutting I took from churchyard)

Thomas Graham

Graham Stuart Thomas

American Pillar

American Pillar

Not sure which this one is

Not sure which this one is

Verschuren - with Variegated leaves

Verschuren – with Variegated leaves

Veichenblau

Veichenblau

Buff Beauty

Buff Beauty

Felicite et Perpetue

Another mystery rose

Another mystery rose

Felicite et Perpetue