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
The front of Allt y bela with pleached crab apples and immaculately trained wisteria
The rear elevation of the house
The potato and feather bird scarer moves gently in the wind – definitely worth copying
One of the birch, willow and hazel arbours in the potager
Borders overflow with flowers
Roses tumble down walls
The audience watching the performance with the stage the other side of the walled stream that prevents the garden flooding in winter
Wildflower meadows edge the garden
Arne has planted Iris ‘Bronze Beauty’ in the meadow above the Green Theatre
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.
Gloire de Dijon
Rosa de Rescht
Self seeded Cooper Burmese
Mme. Gregoire Staechlin (I think – a cutting I took from churchyard)
Visiting 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.
Around the time of the millennium I went to the Courson Plant Fair just outside Paris. It is a wonderful event and the only thing about it that wasn’t appealing was the weather. Sodden of foot, I bought myself a pair of Le Chameau gardening shoes and have never regretted that purchase. I have worn them – and loved them – ever since, but they are finally showing signs of age (there’s a hole in one toe) and the time has come to replace them. So I was very pleased to see the Le Chameau stand at Chelsea, so much so that when I declared my love of their products I was rewarded with a big hug from the French man in charge! The Colza Clog seems to be the nearest replacement (sadly missing the chic mustard trim), but as I will be in France a couple of times in the next two months I will wait and buy them there. In the UK they cost in the region of £55 which is expensive for a gardening shoe, but take it from me, if you get 15 years of wear out of them, they will be worth every penny.
I am fond of this strange mutant rose, but for some reason this year the flowers aren’t green. I don’t know whether this is further mutant behaviour, or a response to the weather but it still makes a great picking flower and is guaranteed to attract comment if I put it in a vase.