NYMANS AUGUST 2018

The last time I was at Nymans was on a cut glass day in December 2017, just after fresh snow had fallen the night before. If you want to see the importance of a good yew hedge to a garden in winter this is an excellent place to go. Under a cloudless sky of deepest azure, the dark solid greens of taxus baccata defined the structure. Without them, in winter, the garden merges into the landscape.

Eight months later, after one of the hottest and driest summers on record, I was intrigued to see how the garden was faring.  It was holding up well, with banks of helenium, sprays of pervoskia against that stately yew and meadows of helianthus, poppies and cornflowers all making the most of the conditions. The long border featured dahlias in burgundies and reds near repeating clumps of Persicaria amplexicaulis. Shocking pink zinnias at the front of the border were set off by bright green coleus ('Versa Lime' I suspect). When you've seen a lot of beautifully planted borders in famous gardens you might start to think it's pretty easy to do. I think not. A clump of nepeta in the wrong place or one clashing colour too many and the whole thing can tip over. The good news is that the perennials won't mind being moved.....long as it's not too hot......

 

Unruly perovskia framed by yew and box, Nymans

Unruly perovskia framed by yew and box, Nymans

Languedoc-ROUSSILLON August 2018

We went to see some good friends marry in a small village near Aniane. Both painters (and neither spring chickens it's fair to say) they had waited patiently and worked hard for the day when they could finally get up every morning and paint in the south of France. Their 18th century village house was rustic but they each had a good sized atelier at the very top. Climbing dark, uneven stairs to survey the studios I was hit by the smell of linseed oil, not in the nose but in the solar plexus! Such a powerfully evocative scent, of creativity, fun and even freedom. I was deeply envious and also brimming with happiness for my friends.

It was a lovely wedding, informal and full of family members gathered from all corners of the globe. Walking out and around the village at siesta time, the heat was intense and the smell of the fig trees and rosemary in the lanes was intoxicating. Like us, they'd had no significant rain for months and I was reminded of Jean de Florette and the knife edge existence of a farmer in drought. Fais qu'il pleuve...

Puechabon

Puechabon

Little Malvern Court May 2018

I intended to report on the RHS Malvern Show but a garden we visited the previous day actually stole my heart. Little Malvern Court is only open three afternoons each week so you have to really plan any visit. But oh so worth it! Serene, lush, and framed by some superb mature trees this garden has it all - lakes, cascades, pleached limes, a rose garden, a brick garden and a library garden. Sadly, a 250 year old giant lime suffered two bouts of storm damage in the early 2000s and had to be removed. If you do go in May you'll see a bright yellow tree peony (still trying to identify that one) but go in June and you'll see Rosa complicata, Rosa 'Madame Isaac Pereire' and Rosa 'Constance Spry'. Decisions, decisions...

Little Malvern Court

Little Malvern Court

Hampton Court July 2018

Another burning hot day in this summer of summers and the chance to catch up with good gardening friends. This year's Hampton Court show had some treasures, not least Piet Oudolf's lovely beds of grasses and perennials which swished and fluttered in what little breeze there was. The Battlefields to Butterflies trench garden, created by Historic Royal Palaces and The Royal Parks Guild, took on a tough brief recognising the sacrifices made by parks, gardens and grounds staff who lost their lives in the First World War. "The raw, ugly and desolate landscape of the trenches is gradually transformed...Nature returns the landscape to an enchanted land of wild flowers, trees and butterflies." Nothing was ducked or dodged here - the resulting landscape was thought-provoking and ultimately triumphant. Love conquers all and Nature will have her way.

Hampton Court RHS Show

Hampton Court RHS Show

Great Dixter June 2018

The long suffering boyf whisked me off to Battle and Great Dixter for my birthday. An unbelievably hot day but the gardens looked incredible nonetheless. I was struck again by the sheer effervescence of the place - lychnis, coreopsis, salvias and silvery white eryngiums all tumbling out of the long border in a frenzy. It's almost bacchanalian as gardens go. I still love the icon-like topiary shapes rising up and out of a meadow. Inspired.

The Long Border at Great Dixter

The Long Border at Great Dixter

Chelsea May 2018

I managed to pick the only rainy day to visit Chelsea this year but the sun came out eventually. Sarah Price's rammed earth walls and slightly sparse planting for M&G were things of beauty, as was the gorgeous green glade by Tom Stuart-Smith for the Garfield Weston Foundation. Inspired by the gardening stories of refugees living in Iraq's Kurdistan region, The Lemon Tree Trust garden by Tom Massey managed to be both moving and lovely at the same time. A common theme throughout the show was bronze coloured bearded irises, done particularly well in Jo Thompson's garden for Wedgwood. Always a grand day out!

Chelsea Flower Show

Chelsea Flower Show