The 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 direction.Capellagarden 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.
Much 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. www.gardengazebos.co.uk 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.
Illustrating the Jordan’s philosophy of growing their cereals in an environment that embraces wildlife, their garden had circular paths mown through naturalistic planting of perennials and grasses. It looked as tasty as their muesli and the gently curving straw benches were the perfect vantage point from which to admire this lovely garden.
Chew Valley Trees garden transported me back to my recent visit to Sweden (about which I will blog in due course). Although it was inspired by the Canadian landscape it could just as easily have been Sweden with its naturalistic planting of trees, its limestone pavement and its log cabin aesthetic. I thought the log wall with its large window and built-in insect hotel would be an interesting way of dividing up a garden.
Vestra Wealth’s garden was full of great detailing – combined with some of the best planting in the show. I loved the wooden rill with water dropping into the pool below – the colour of the wood was echoed by the nearby copper box which was probably the grandest logstore I’ve ever seen. The planting was ethereal with grasses weaving through the perennials to create a soft impressionistic effect.