Stephanie’s Blog

Capellagarden’s Garden

garden path made from fleeceFor the full time gardening students at Capellagarden, the year runs from March to September.  At the start many of them may never have gardened before, but from Day 1 groups of 4 students will be given the entire responsibility for one of the rotational plots within the teaching garden.  They choose the seeds, plan the layout, prepare the soil and do the planting.  They help one another, pooling what knowledge they do have, and what they don’t know they find out by asking the tutors, or looking things up in the library.  As their confidence grows they are encouraged to experiment and push the boundaries and learn through their successes and failures. They also grow flowers for cutting, tend the orchard, help in the productive garden that feeds the school, as well as having responsibility an area of herbaceous border and doing greenhouse work. As Carl Malmstem intended, it is all very hands-on and the garden is impressively productive. I asked students what they do after Capellagarden – some go on to further study at university, some start their own gardening companies, some buy land (it’s still very cheap in rural Sweden) and some stay on as helpers at Capellagarden. The short course students dip in to all aspects of the garden and do all sorts of other interesting things including dying with indigo, learning about lactic fermentation, making sweet preserves, picking and arranging flowers from the garden and visiting other gardens on the island.

rotational plots

Rotational plots

a place to sit on the rotational plot

A place to sit on the rotational plots

the productive garden, full of  produce

The productive garden

lady harvest carrots from the productive garden

Harvesting carrots in the productive garden

home grown produce for sale

The Garden Shop

spare plants go into the leftover garden

The left over garden using up all the spare flower plants

annual flower plot

Annual flower plots

compost heaps laden with straw

Summer School compost heaps

Indigo dyed fabric and clothes drying on a washing line
Indigo dyed fabric and clothes


A Summer Gardening School in Sweden

the colourful doorway to capellagarden schoolThe wonderful thing about writing about gardens and gardening is that you get to go to some amazing places and meet lots of people who share your interests.  My recent visit to Sweden where I visited the island of Oland to write about the Summer Gardening School at Capellagarden  was just such a  treat.  Capellagarden is a fascinating place – it’s a creative school where international students attend year long courses in cabinet making and furniture design, ceramics, textile craft and design, and ecological gardening. They also run week long summer courses, including one on gardening, which was why I was there. Short summer courses are very popular in Sweden  - people attend them as a rest from their day job, as a taster for a course they are considering doing, or as the first step in a change of plot at CapellagardensCapellagarden was founded in 1960 by Carl Malmstem, an eminent 20th century Swedish furniture designer. He was disenchanted with the way education focused on academic achievement and wanted to create a place where hand and mind were integrated – think an updated version of the Arts & Craft movement, or the Shakers (without the religion). The students live and work communally alongside their tutors with everyone pitching in and helping with the chores and the cooking as well as creating work of a very high standard. mix of pottery at Capellagardenclassroom at Capella Gardens

We’ve Got it Covered

gazebo before and after shotsMuch as we would love to think that the sun always shines on our gardens in the summer, the reality is that rain is often an uninvited guest when we are doing outdoor entertaining. A covered area is just what’s needed in these circumstances but it’s not always practical to have something permanent. It takes up space, anything halfway decent costs serious money, and if you live in a windy location there’s always the concern that it will take off and disappear over the neighbour’s fence. This is when a pop up gazebo comes into its own – if rain is forecast you can unpack it, unfold it (generally a simple process) and relax in the knowledge that should the heavens open (or the sun blaze down) there is shelter available. sells three sizes: 3m x 3m, 4.5m x 3m and 6m x 3m priced from £219.99 to £399.99 and there is a current offer of free side curtains.

What do I Have in Common with Monty Don & Sarah Raven?

monty Don wearing his signatory blue jacketWe are all devotees of the Japanese style workwear made by Kiraku Clothing – Monty’s blue denim jacket and Sarah’s tunic are both made by Kiraku who have now branched out as The Garden Clothing Company and have a stand at the Hampton Court Flower Show. If you aspire to looking stylish when you garden (at least some of the time) but need something durable – these are the clothes for you – and me. I stocked up at the show where there are special discounts, but if you can’t make they can also be bought online.kariku clothing at Hampton Court

Tidy Goings-On in the Walled Garden

foxtail lilies at Petsworth

The rocket-like stems erupting from the central bed are the seedheads of foxtail lilies

I do like a productive garden, especially when it has glasshouses and potting sheds. Those at Petworth are an object lesson in tidy order. The Vegetable Garden has been revamped so that it is decorative as well as productive – and a lot easier to look after in these days when it is no longer necessary to grow food for a household of hundreds.

Productive borders at Petsworth divided by gravel paths

Productive borders are divided by gravel paths and brick-edged lawn

Artichokes and Crambe at on display at Crambe.

Artichokes and Crambe in the central circular bed

the purple Campanula pyramidalis in full flower

Campanula pyramidalis – one of nature’s more eccentric offerings

pelargoniums in the glasshouse at Petsworth

pelargonium tricuspidata in flower at the greenhouse in Petsworth gardens

Pelargoniums in the Petworth glasshouses – I particularly liked (and now want) Pelargonium tricuspidata with its unusual foliage

immaculate garden ledger on display at Petsworth

very neatly stacked pots in a garden shed

I suspect that the current head gardener doesn’t write up these immaculate ledgers, but there is no doubt that he keeps a tidy shed

neatly stacked pots on bench with riddles on the wall above


Fair Quiet Have I Found Thee Here

This perfect corner at Petworth with its beautifully engraved wall plaque says it all………
perfect corner at Petworth with beautifully engraved wall plaque