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

Thomas Graham

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

Felicite et Perpetue

Another mystery rose

Another mystery rose

10 tips for using metals in the garden

10 tips for using metals in the garden

Shiny, lustrous, rusty or painted, metals can be used both structurally and decoratively in your garden. Here are some ideas on how to use and care for steel, aluminium, zinc and copper.

Aluminium slat raised garden bed

Aluminium slat raised garden bed

1. Metal mix
When two different metals touch and there is a liquid like water present, a slight current flows between the metals. Some, such as zinc, aluminium and carbon steel are ‘active’, becoming easily corroded when in contact with ‘noble’, or passive metals like titanium, nickel and copper. This hierarchy, called the Galvanic Series, means you must match any fastening screws and bolts with the main metal, avoiding combinations like aluminium rivets in steel, or water running off copper onto zinc-coated steel. Galvanised steel fastenings can corrode quickly in stainless steel.

Galvanised steel metal decking steps

Galvanised steel metal decking steps

2. Rust to trust

Cor-ten rusting steel Design Cycas Design

Cor-ten rusting steel Design Cycas Design

Weathering steel, often called cor-ten steel, is a steel alloy which develops a very attractive, rusty patina on its surface, but will not rust away like mild steel. Popular in sculpture and screens, it can also be used structurally, although it is more vulnerable in salt-laden winds or if water can collect in pockets. Rusty water runoff can stain surrounding paving.

rusting bed spring sculpture

Mild steel rusting bed spring sculpture Design Andrew Plymin

3. Think zinc
Zinc watering can, HidcoteZinc has much lower embodied energy that other metals (one quarter that of aluminium and one third of copper or stainless steel) and it can be easily recycled. Popular for centuries in Europe for roofing, it is protected from corrosion by a beautiful soft bluish-grey patina as it ages. Many beautiful French antique garden pieces such as tubs, house numbers and planters are made from zinc.

4. Recycled art

 rusted objects being reused for a sculpture

Reused found objects sculpture. Design Penny Button

Rolled wire balls. Arthur Lathouris

Rolled wire balls. Arthur Lathouris

You can use found metal objects to make your own fascinating garden sculptures, screens and quirky pots. Barbed wire rolled into balls, dangling windchimes of cutlery or a rusty old piece of farm machinery propped up against a tree bring appealing sculptural shapes and a rusty patina into a garden. Unwanted steel reinforcing mesh can be painted and used as a garden screen or trellis. Fill old teapots and saucepans with a mix of colourful succulents.

rusted Steel brazier

Steel brazier from hot water tank by Ian Tamme

5. Blacksmithing festivals
blacksmith at work at the St Ives medieval festivalObserve the ancient art of blacksmithing up close, by tracking down a local festival. In Australia, there’s the Waterside Blacksmithing and Metal Art Festival, and Ironfest in NSW; in the UK the National Blacksmith Festival in Godmanchester Cambridgeshire; in the USA you can contact the Northwest Blacksmith Association in Washington for their demonstration schedule.

6. Beat the heat

Dark steel furniture at Guestlands

Dark steel furniture

aluminium garden table and chairs

Aluminium garden furniture

Although metal furniture is long lasting, its ability to absorb or reflect heat can be a disadvantage. In summer, dark coloured steel can heat up to burning temperature, so make sure the furniture is well-shaded, including chair arms. Lightweight and highly reflective aluminium or polished stainless steel doesn’t heat up but, in the colder months, sitting on these seats can chill you to the bone, so provide thick cushions.

7. Good grades

Stainless steel water feature

Stainless steel water feature

Stainless steel comes in different grades of corrosion resistance. 304 grade with chromium and nickel is generally suitable for outdoor uses, while 316 grade with higher carbon, nickel and added molybdenum resists corrosion in maritime environments. Surface finishes include mill, brush and mirror. When working with stainless steel, use a sharp drill on a low speed and plenty of lubricant, and cut with a thin disk on your angle grinder, as heat build-up from a thicker disk hardens the steel.

stainless steel sculpture

Reflective stainless steel glows in a dark garden

Tubular steel planted garden screen designed by Brendan Moar

Tubular steel planted garden screen design Brendan Moar

8. Dream screens

cor-ten steel garden screen

Cor-ten steel screen by Lump Studios

Metal screens are an easy way to separate your garden into different rooms, or create a private nook while still maintaining a good airflow. Mounted in front of a coloured wall and back lit at night, they also make a dramatic statement. Regular geometric, or more elaborate decorative patterns or even one-off designs and pictures are laser cut into a range of metals, including weathering (cor-ten) steel, stainless steel, copper, aluminium and brass.

metal laser cut screen

Privacy behind a metal laser-cut screen Design Hunter Black

Moroccan-inspired garden screen

Moroccan-inspired garden screen. Design Rick Eckersley

9. Fine line

Using metal edging to sculpt gravel areas in a roof garden. Design Daniel Bafsky

Using metal edging to sculpt gravel areas in a roof garden. Design Daniel Bafsky

Continuous metal edging gives a crisp line in a garden, and its narrow width means you’re not losing valuable planting space. Made from aluminium, weathering steel or galvanised steel, it’s very flexible for tight or sinuous curves, or it can be pegged straight for a formal, geometric look. Good quality edging has a rolled top for extra strength and safety and some join with an easy clip-together system. Depths of 75mm (3 inches) to 150mm (6 inches) mean it can be used to make slightly raised beds, or just to hold in mulch.

Metal garden edging with laser-cut panels

Metal garden edging and laser-cut panels Design Paal Grant

10. Rust conversion
You can save rusty steel garden furniture or artwork from further damage. Rust converters work by using tannic or phosphoric acid (the tannic acid often works better) to change iron oxide (rust) to a more stable blackish compound, which can then be painted over. Although useful on decorative items, it cannot be used for salvaging structural steel, which must have the rust mechanically removed for proper priming.

Catherine Stewart editor of Garden Drum Article supplied by Catherine Stewart, award-winning creator/curator/editor at GardenDrum.com

The Holz Hausen – a stylish way to store your logs

The Holz Hausen – a stylish way to store your logs

The Holz Hausen log storageVisiting friends in Monmouthshire, we thought Andy Goldsworthy had been at work when we saw these wonderful wood stacks.  It turns out that they are Holz Hausen – a German method of stacking wood that is both good to look at and practical.  If you’ve got the wood, this is a good time to start one of your own – and here you can watch an American enthusiast explaining exactly how it’s done.