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EDITOR’S LETTER

I had to think twice about sharing my secret garden, as it’s a treat to have one tucked up your sleeve
his month we’ve gone all out to impress you. Having discovered so many simply stunning gardens, we just couldn’t whittle them down - so here they are, all seven of them. I know I’m constantly reminiscing about gardens that have been part of my life, but here I go again. HOUGHTON LODGE (pg 47) in Hampshire was a real find for me when I was a student at nearby Sparsholt College. It’s one of the most romantic gardens I’ve experienced and it has received little in the way of publicity - until now that is. I had to think twice about sharing it as it’s always a treat to have a secret garden tucked up your sleeve.

T

One garden that will be getting plenty of publicity this year is Chenies Manor in Buckinghamshire. You may recall that in our January issue we celebrated the 25 years of the Historic Houses Association and Christie’s GARDEN OF THE YEAR competition and I promised to announce the winner when news broke, so well done to the victor, Chenies. Another winner to mention is acclaimed garden photographer Marianne Majerus. She is responsible for many of the wonderful images in the magazine - this month our COASTAL DESIGN GUIDE (pg 71) is her work. I was part of the judging panel for the third International Garden Photographer of the Year competition, which was a great honour. During judging

HOWARD WALKER

all the images remained anonymous, so I was thrilled to discover that The English Garden already works with the winner. Her image was entitled A moment captured, and can be viewed at www.igpoty.com It’s got me thinking about how many beautiful moments our photographers capture each and every month. Last summer I asked photographer Dianna Jazwinski to capture a moment for me. I wanted her to demonstrate the full glory of CORNUS flowers (pg 97), which she has done brilliantly. They’re definitely my plant of the month. Anyway, enough from me: you’ve got SEVEN GLORIOUS GARDENS to discover!

THE ENGLISH GARDEN AWARDS 2009
Garden Media Guild Gardening Column Of The Year Jackie Bennett Garden Media Guild New Garden Media Talent Of The Year Stephanie Mahon

Tamsin Westhorpe, Editor

2008
Garden Media Guild New Writer Award Joe Reardon-Smith

On the cover:
Melplash Court, Dorset (pg 24) Photograph: Carole Drake

GARDEN
FOR EVERYONE WHO LOVES BEAUTIFUL GARDENS

THE ENGLISH

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The English Garden (UK issue) ISSN no 1361-2840. Printed in England.

Member of the Audit Bureau of Circulations

Contents JUNE
10 12 : 15 : 17 22 The Rake James Alexander-Sinclair’s round up of events,
talks, shows and more for June

Shopping… for the designer gardener Slick
accessories and stylish additions for your contemporary garden

62

NEW Talking techniques Toby Buckland continues his new
exclusive series with advice on pest control the natural way

In action Summer is here at Houghton Hall in Norfolk Editor’s choice: Snail and slug control Tamsin discovers
which pellet or barrier works best at foiling our slimy foes

68 Focus on Surrey Top local gardens, nurseries and foodie treats 83 Eco-watch Learn how to water your garden eco-efficiently 114 Library leaves Books on designing small gardens, kids in the
plot and propagation - and a new column for gardening readers

130 Guest speaker :

Jekka McVicar on organic herbs in peat-free pots

24

Glorious gardens
24 : 33 : 40 : 47 : 55 : 62 : DORSET Orient expression Classic English garden style
blends with Far Eastern influences at Melplash Court

GLOUCESTERSHIRE The Verey thing It may be next to
Barnsley House but Rosemary’s daughter has created a very different garden to her mother’s, based on the power of herbs

SOMERSET Nature’s way An organic ornamental
garden gives plenty of food and flower for thought

HAMPSHIRE Slow with the flow Romance by the river
at this little-known gem, with lots of interesting extras

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33

GLOUCESTERSHIRE Wildflower posies, rambling roses See a National Collection at this captivating country plot SURREY A farm to charm Year-round delights abound at
Waterlands, through the hard work of one dedicated man

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Design
71 : 79 : DESIGN GUIDE Island ease Great ideas from a simple,
stunning, modern garden on a challenging seaside site

DESIGN BOOK Coastal gardens Andrew Duff reveals
how to make the most of a plot on the coast

Grow & eat
:
85 88 93 Otter farm Mark Diacono extols the virtues of microleaves From the kitchen garden Try a healthy Sunday brunch Eats &Treats Holme for Gardens offers a pick-your-own fruit and
veg farm, top tearoom and a nursery for a full day out in Dorset

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97

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33
PAGE

40
PAGE

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62 47

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24

PAGE

71

93
Plants
9 Plant swatch : 97 : Plant focus 107 Scent of success :
Pink herbs that are perfect for pots Not just for pretty stems in winter - dogwoods Acres of herbs abound at this Somerset have beautiful summer flowers to tempt you too

site that produces the raw materials every herbalist needs

107

Offers, competitions & events
31 38 60 102 111 120 122

:

Reader Events 2010 Plan your perfect outing for this year Insurance Special rates for homes and gardens for readers Subscriptions Save 32% plus receive a gift worth £17.95 Plant offer FREE* herbs and seeds for every reader! Cruise deals Sail out on a special UK Highlands & Islands trip Travel offer Fantastic prices on amazing holidays abroad Web page and rules www.theenglishgarden.co.uk special
deals, and our competition and offer terms and conditions

40

On the cover

:

PLANT SWATCH
UNUSUAL POTTED HERBS

Pretty in pink
Aromatic foliage and attractive colouring makes this collection of plants perfect for summer containers

Rose-scented pelargonium
Pelargonium capitatum (above) is an evergreen shrub from South Africa, which
PELARGONIUM /GWI - SUE KENNEDY SAGE /GWI - PAUL TOMLINS GERMANDER /GWI - LIZ COLE COMPILED BY /JACKIE BENNETT

Painted sage
Salvia viridis (top right) is a traditional hardy annual salvia to sow from seed each year, to fill pots and gaps in the herb borders. The flowers are fairly unremarkable but the bracts are a really eye-catching rosy pink with darker veining. Makes a long-lasting cut flower and the stems dry well too. Height: 45cm. Spread: 23cm.

Wall germander
Teucrium chamaedrys (above right) is ideal for the front of a border, as a low hedge, or in a container. In its natural habitat, this compact evergreen shrub likes stony places and can often be found growing on walls and ruins. Aromatic foliage is topped by pink flowers in summer. Excellent for attracting bees and butterflies. Height: 30cm. Spread: 30cm.

grows well in a pot outside in the summer. The essential oil is highly sought after for making perfume and the scented, velvety leaves can be used in pot pourri. A strong grower with pretty pink flowers. Height: 30cm. Spread: 60cm.

CULTIVATION Straightforward to grow from
seed in pots in a propagator or greenhouse, in early spring or directly outside in its planting position in May. Annual salvias like lots of sunshine and a well-drained soil. Add extra grit to the compost when growing in pots.

CULTIVATION A Mediterranean shrub, it likes
well-drained soil - add grit to the compost in containers and make sure it has lots of crocks at the base. Place in a sunny position, such as against a south-facing wall. Treat like lavender and trim back the stems after flowering.

CULTIVATION This shrub needs full sun and
well-drained compost. Move the containers indoors before the frosts and keep dry and cool but frost-free through winter.

WHERE TO BUY Plants available from
Fibrex Nursery, Honeybourne Road, Pebworth, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warks CV37 8XP . Tel: +44 (0)1789 720788. www.fibrex.co.uk

WHERE TO BUY For seeds, try: Chiltern
Seeds, Bortree Stile, Ulverston, Cumbria LA12 7PB. Tel: +44 (0)1229 581137 . www.chilternseeds.co.uk

WHERE TO BUY The National Herb Centre,
Banbury Road, Warmington, Warks OX17 1DF . Tel: +44 (0)1295 690999. www.herbcentre.co.uk

The English Garden

9

news G updates G events G trends G gossip G news G updates G events
t’s high summer and if your gardens are not looking good then you need a good excuse. Mind you, it is also possible that some are suffering torrential rains and unseasonal floods! I must confess that one of my favourite June things is the broad bean. I l ove everything about them: picking, podding and eating - raw or cooked. There was a song that my children sang at school about ‘broad beans sleeping in their blankety bed’ and that little bit of sentiment always makes things taste better. If you wish to feed your fetish further there is a whole website dedicated to peas and beans at www.tastesofsummer.co.uk James Alexander-Sinclair

I

PLANT SALE
If you are in Gloucestershire on bank holiday Monday 31 May, then you should drop in on Katie Lukas’ specialist plant sale at

COTON MANOR WELCOMES EXPERTS
One of the finest gardens local to me in Northamptonshire is Coton Manor. First planted by the current owner’s grandparents (they supplemented the horticulture with sealions and penguins) it has really come into its own under the careful eye of Susie Pasley-Tyler. As well as being a fine garden, they also run courses on all aspects of gardening. This month you could, for example, listen to Timothy Walker from the Oxford Botanic Garden (9 June); Fergus Garrett from Great Dixter (10 June); Chris Bailes, head gardener of RHS Rosemoor (15 June); or Gerald Sinclair, a nurseryman and holder of a National Collection of Hemerocallis (29 June). Or you could come and hear me blather on about re-designing an established garden on 23 June. Go to www.cotonmanor.com

Stone House. Yes, I know this is the June edition but you will have received your copy of the magazine in time - I hope. It is worth visiting for at least two reasons: firstly there are some stonking nurseries, including the multi-award-winning Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants, Marcus Dancer’s Clematis and Climbers, and Cotswold Garden Flowers, and secondly it is raising money for Help For Heroes.

TUCKED AWAY LONDON SQUARES
London is home to some amazing garden squares. Many will be open to the public for the Open Garden Squares Weekend (12 and 13 June). There is a diverse selection, with cemeteries such as Brompton Cemetery in South Kensington, with its guided wild flower walks and graves of Bernard Levin and Emmeline Pankhurst; nature reserves such as Lavender Pond, just across the river from Canary Wharf; and historic gardens, among them the British Medical Association Council garden in Euston, designed by Edwin Lutyens. Also the grounds of the Middle (below) and Inner Temples, which are staggeringly well planted, and Wormwood Scrubs, although the latter is only by appointment. The event is sponsored by Transport for London. Find out more by calling
RAKE ILLUSTRATION /JO DAVIES JAMES ALEXANDER-SINCLAIR /JENNY LEWIS CLEMATIS /MARCUS DANCER HANBURY HALL /NATIONAL TRUST CHIVES /SOCRATES/DREAMSTIME.COM

MUSHROOM HUNTING
The world of mushrooms and fungi is very mysterious. This is one of those hobbies that can rapidly turn into obsession, with people spending many hours snuffling around woods on the track of a Chanterelle. Anyway, the point of this is to direct you towards Taste the Wild. Based in the North Yorkshire Moors, they are running one-day foraging courses on 19 and 20 June. Tel: +44 (0)7914 290083. www.tastethewild.co.uk

tel: +44 (0)20 8347 3230 or go to www.opensquares.org

10 The English Garden

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trends G gossip G news G updates G events G trends G gossip G news
JUNE EVENTS
NATIONAL TREASURES
The National Trust’s Plant in Time project continues all over the country. If you live near Sheffield Park, Sussex; Belton House, Lincolnshire; Cliveden, Buckinghamshire; or Hanbury Hall, Worcs (left), then I can offer you a bit of hands-on, mud-free creativity. The National Trust has created a flower festival with a bit of a difference in the shape of its ‘Plant in Time’ exhibition, which still has 11 properties to tour until September. It’s inviting everybody to visit the properties and make an artificial flower from a range of recycled materials. By the time the exhibition ends, it hopes to have amassed the largest collection of artificial plants ever. The intention of the exhibition is to make us think more deeply about the natural world, so it is not just about cutting and sticking. G Friday 4-Sunday 6, Scotland Gardening Scotland Show at the Royal Highland Centre, near Edinburgh. www.gardeningscotland.com G Friday 4-Sunday 6, West Sussex Learn how to design your own tree house on paper and with 3D models at West Dean College. £189. Tel: +44 (0)1243 811301. www.westdean.org.uk G Saturday 5-Sunday 6,Yorkshire Discover everything about Mint at Yorkshire Lavender. Tel: +44 (0)1653 648008. www.yorkshirelavender.com G Friday 11-Sat 12, Warwickshire Inspiration for the vertical spaces in your garden at Whichford Pottery. 10am-5pm. Tel: +44 (0)1608 684416. www.whichfordpottery.com G Friday 11 June-Sunday 4 July, Essex Visit Newland End Barn and Gardens for a garden sculpture exhibition. Tel: +44 (0)1799 523888. G Saturday 12-27, Coventry Outside Art is a new garden sculpture exhibition held in Russell’s Quarry Garden and Avondale Library Garden. 10.30am4.30pm. Tel: +44 (0)24 7641 1176. www.outsideart.org.uk G Friday 18-Sunday 20, Surrey The Loseley Gardening Show will take part in the Forge Fields at Loseley Park,

IN MEMORIAM
Memorials are a sensitive issue of course: obviously for people but also for dogs, cats or horses. Usually confined to conventional gravestones, maybe a plaque on a bench sited in a favourite garden or view spot or a tree planted in someone’s memory. I like the idea of some sort of commemoration within one’s own garden: they can be poignant, surprising, moving or even amusing. Memorials by Artists show some remarkable examples and can provide pretty much anything to commission. See www.memorialsbyartists.co.uk to find out more.

Guildford, and will feature inspirational show gardens, flower displays, demonstrations and gardening advice. Tickets cost £6.75 for adults and £3.15 for children. To book, tel: +44 (0)1483 444333. G Friday 18-Sunday 20, East Sussex The Kitchen Garden Weekend at Pashley Manor Gardens. Expert advice with an emphasis on local produce, including honey and homemade chutney. Tel: +44 (0)1580 200888.

A TRULY FAMILY COOKBOOK
Jekka McVicar is the high priestess of herbs. After 25 years of organic herb growing, she has won more than 60 RHS gold medals and is the only herb grower in Who’s Who. Is that not enough? No, it is certainly not, as this month she launches a new book, Jekka’s Herb Cookbook. Based on her favourite 50 herbs, it’s a collection of three generations’ worth of recipes. Jekka’s granny, Ruth Lowinsky, wrote cookery books in the 1940s and 1950s; her mother was pretty sparky with a saucepan; and Jekka can produce a mean sorrel and anchovy tart. Her grandfather illustrated his wife’s books (including Lovely Food and More Lovely Food - not a golden age for imaginative book titles!) and her daughter drew the illustrations here. Get a signed copy at her talk at The Garden Museum on 3 June, and turn to pg 130 for more from the woman herself.

www.pashleymanorgardens.com G Saturday 19-Sunday 20, Hertfordshire Rose weekend and summer garden show at West Garden, Hatfield House. To book a ticket, tel: +44 (0)1707 287010. www.hatfield-house.co.uk G Saturday 26-Sunday 27, Cheshire The Arley Garden Festival at Arley Halls and Garden will feature floral displays, horticultural accessories, nurseries, garden tours and a Q&A session. Tel: +44 (0)1565 777353. www.arleyhallandgardens.com

SHOPPING
FOR THE DESIGNER GARDENER

Styled child
If you get all giddy over contemporary garden chic, you’ll love this cutting-edge selection for modern magic

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4 7

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COMPILED BY/VICTORIA KINGSBURY

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OPPOSITE PAGE Grenadine bar table, £350; Grenadine bar stool, £250 each. Tel: +44 (0)20 8675 4808. www.indian-ocean.co.uk 2 Regency glazed candle pot, £16.45; Regency glazed candle pot with lid, £25.85. Both available in two fragrances - white jasmine and pure peony. Tel: +44 (0)1736 336965. www.stevalcandlecompany.co.uk 3 Metallic roses garden armchair, available in black or white lacquer, £950. Tel: 0845 6520332. www.gomodern.co.uk 4 Granite stratos column planters, £119.95. Tel: +44 (0)1934 522617. www.iotagarden.com 5 SPONECK chair, £395; SPONECK chair cushions, £75; SPONECK table, £250. Tel: +44 (0)1934 522617. www.iotagarden.com 6 Fibreglass and concrete gas-powered square firepit, £275. Tel: +44 (0)1732 832299. www.ingarden.co.uk 7 Stewart tivoli planter, available in two colours - sandstone and suede, £24.99. Tel: +44 (0)20 8603 5700. www.stewartcompany.co.uk 8 Wicker swivel chair including cream cusion, £479.99; vase palm II, £199.99; vase palm III, £479.95. Tel: +44 (0)1440 713704. www.cadix.co.uk 9 Inhale swing, £7,000. Tel: +44 (0)1420 588008. www.myburghdesigns.com

The English Garden

13

EXPERT ADVICE

Talking techniques
Biological controls
Toby Buckland looks at how to combat garden problems the chemical-free way

I

once knew a gardener who collected slugs in a water-filled bucket to create a home-brewed slug killer. His thinking was that the rotting bodies would provide a rich diet for bacteria, and when this foul brew was sloshed among his plants it would effectively load his garden with a natural slug predator. He reckoned it worked a treat but whether it was the bacteria or the putrid scent driving off the slugs I don’t know. I prefer my biological controls neatly packaged and delivered through the post. The words ‘biological control’ may sound like a cross between an Orwellian government department and a contraceptive, but nonetheless they make effective child- and pet-friendly alternatives to chemicals. The concept is elegantly simple: reduce the numbers of any pest, insect, grub or even plant by releasing natural predators in your garden, and let nature do the rest. Predators are pest-specific and may be anything from a tiny wasp, in the case of greenhouse whitefly, to a ladybird larvae for treating mealy bug. Most commonly, the control is microscopic eelworms for slugs or vine weevils. They arrive mail order in scent-free sachets of clay, which are then mixed with water and poured or sprayed over the area affected.

Reduce numbers of any pest, insect, grub or weed in your garden by releasing natural predators - let nature do the rest’
IMAGE /COURTESY OF EBURY PRESS, GARDENERS’ WORLD PRACTICAL GARDENING HANDBOOK - JASON INGRAM

The eelworms then do the killing or infect the pest with a fatal dose of natural bacteria. The range is by no means complete, but every year more become available. The latest are blends of nematodes that work on a whole host of pests, just like the broad-spectrum garden chemicals of old - one application fits all. The crucial difference is that bio controls don’t completely eliminate all the pests or attack other species. As in nature, when numbers of a certain species decrease so too do their predators, so a balance is maintained, but it’s a balance that favours the gardener.

New developments are being tested all the time. Recently, insects called psyllids were imported from Japan and released onto their natural host, Japanese knotweed, which was running amok in Cornwall. The insect doesn’t kill the plant, but weakens it, so in combination with some hard graft, the up-until-now irrepressible roots can be dug out and destroyed. Fingers crossed someone is working on a similar treatment for bindweed! Timing matters, as most bio controls need to be used at a particular stage of pests’ life cycles, and when the soil warms up to 5°C or more.

As sachets are relatively expensive, I find bio controls particularly cost effective for taming new areas, helping to reduce existing pest populations while new plants establish. My newly created strawberry beds were cut from rough grass that, like all old pasture, contains high numbers of chafer and cut-worm grubs, which mount subterranean attacks on the roots of any newcomer. After a watering with nematodes, however, they’ve had their last supper, and are no longer a problem. Next month: Encouraging a second flush of flowers
The English Garden

15

JUNE
IN ACTION

Houghton in the summer sun
In the five-acre walled garden of Norfolk’s Houghton Hall, the gardening team are busy watering and weeding, and making the most of herbs, roses and citrus fruits as the season continues
PHOTOGRAPHS RICHARD HANSON WORDS JACKIE BENNETT

THE GARDEN ROOM
G Watering is a daily routine in the glass houses, and the doors are open all day to allow air to circulate. Covering the roof in the garden room are three passion flowers coming into bloom (right): the unusual Passiflora quadrangularis, stunning pink P . antioquiensis and mauve P . x violacea. G Other tender climbers here include Stephanotis floribunda and scented Jasminum polyanthum.

ach section within the five-acre walled garden illustrates a different facet of the month of June. Many people head for the rose garden, where pink and white roses create a mass of colour and scent, and will continue to do so for several months. When the weather is hot, visitors are lured to the pool in the Mediterranean garden, which adds a cooling element, while others enjoy a game of croquet on the croquet lawn. The Italian garden, on the other hand, offers a very different experience. Here, pleached lime trees and wide paths create a tranquil, green space, which is quite timeless and transports you back to the Classical world. Lord Cholmondeley has added statuary that he has collected over the past few years, to give extra interest.

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The English Garden

17

CLEARING THE RHUBARB
G The last of the rhubarb is cut now as any stems left longer would be too woody for kitchen use. After cutting (above), old leaves are cleared away and added to the compost, and the plants are watered and mulched. The gardeners will also be cutting the asparagus this month and carefully weeding around the base of the runner bean poles to prevent any weeds swamping the climbing beans.

G All the herbs grown

IN THE HERB GARDEN

here are perennials the annual herbs such as parsley and dill are grown with the salad crops. The area is divided into medicinal and

culinary herbs. In the medicinal beds, golden balm Melissa officinalis ‘Aurea’ grows alongside Paeonia officinalis and echinacea. In the culinary area, bronze and green fennel, marjoram, thyme and rosemary are mainstay herbs. Herbs grow rapidly now and need to be hand weeded (left).

SEASON TO SEASON
Despite the spurt of summer foliage, the yew hedges - scalloped in the rose garden and dead straight elsewhere - can still be seen clearly from above.

CUTTING THE ROSES
G The inner rose garden is awash with white roses in June, with plenty available to cut for the house. Charlotte (pictured right) and Julia spend many hours carefully ensuring that the Hall has a steady supply of flowers, without denuding the garden. G The white rose pictured is Iceberg, a 20th-century cluster-flowered variety with white to cream flowers throughout the summer months. The bushes are relatively compact (90 x 60cm) and flower continuously, so are ideal for cutting. They also have comparatively few thorns - an added bonus for the gardeners. The standards grown in the centre of the beds are ‘Little White Pet’, a traditional late Victorian rose. Its flowers are small, but borne in abundance throughout the summer.

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The English Garden

JUNE
IN ACTION

Meet the

GARDENER
Bruce Thornton (above) is clerk of works at Houghton Hall and is responsible for the building and maintenance of many of the major features and structures in the walled garden, including the rebuilding of the glass house range. He came to Houghton in 1993. G How would you describe what you do? I was a self-employed bricklayer before I joined Houghton. I am not strictly part of the garden staff but I spend about one third of my time in the gardens. The rest of the time I am leading a team carrying out maintenance and repairs on the Hall and estate buildings.

The Mediterranean garden is dedicated to Sybil Cholmondeley, who lived at Houghton for 70 years MEDITERRANEAN GARDEN
G One of the most secret areas of the walled garden, it was built to commemorate Lord Cholmondeley’s grandmother Sybil, who came to Houghton in 1919 and lived here until her death in 1989 her initials are interwoven in box hedging, infilled with lavender and alliums. The sides of the pool are cushioned by box and the fountain is made from a block of eroded limestone.

G Which areas of the walled garden have you been involved in? We restored the original greenhouses and built the new garden room and orchid house in the mid-1990s. I also put up the oak pergola designed by Isobel and Julian Bannerman, built the sunken pond in the rose garden, and installed the Water Flame sculpture to the plans of Jeppe Hein. G What part of your work do you enjoy most? It has been fascinating working with artists like Richard Long (Full Moon Circle) and James Turrell (Skyspace) and helping them to realise their vision in the parkland. But I think the walled garden is still my favourite place because when I arrived there was very little in it and I have seen it grow, literally, over the
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years, and had a hand in making it.

JUNE
IN ACTION

JOBS ON THE NOTICEBOARD

WEEDING WORK
G Temporary gardener Simona is pulling out bindweed in the long borders (above). Troublesome weeds like this can only be tackled by hand, and have to be carefully untangled as they can strangle herbaceous plants and entwine themselves around the

IN THE BORDERS

climbing roses on the wooden supports. Bindweed should never be composted and is usually burnt. The long borders are edged on both sides by a mass of Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’.

UNDER GLASS
G Water daily G Feed climbers

CITRUS FRUIT
G A wide range of citrus is grown at Houghton in terracotta pots. They are kept indoors in the cool conservatory or polytunnels for winter and brought out in summertime. The bushes are lightly pruned in April to keep them in shape. In summer, they are fed and watered once a week using a 20-20-20 balanced feed such as Chempak No. 3 added to the water (two watering canfuls for each pot). They will be put back under glass in October.

in pots

FRUIT & VEGETABLES
G Clear away rhubarb G Weed under pear tunnel G Harvest herbs as needed G Feed fruit trees G Cut asparagus spears

FLOWERS & BORDERS
G Remove bindweed from borders G Check staking on lupins

and delphiniums G Prune philadelphus and other spring-flowering shrubs G Plant out dahlias

The long borders are edged on both sides by a purple mass of Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’

Coming up next month
It’s time to harvest the raspberries, gooseberries and currants, plus the team are busy deadheading the roses. Houghton Hall and grounds are open until 30 September, on Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday, and bank holiday Mondays, 11.30am-5.30pm. The House is open from 1.30 to 5pm. www.houghtonhall.com

GENERAL
G Edge the lawns G Mow grass twice weekly G Trim box hedges G Water and feed plants in pots G Remove surface debris from ponds

20 The English Garden

Slug and snail control

Choice

Editor’s

B
take about two years to reach reproductive maturity, but once there, both snails involved in the mating can produce up to 100 eggs at a time. It’s no wonder these critters are such a problem. When it comes to control methods, my pet hate is seeing piles of bright green slug pellets dotted around a garden - this is completely unnecessary. Trust me when I say that you only need a fine scattering around plants. My usual method of control is to collect them after dark with a bucket and torch, and feed them to the hens. Many experienced gardeners I ask about these pests swear that controlling them early in the season is the answer. They start to become active when the temperature reaches about 5ºC.

1

What will stop destructive slugs and snails in their tracks?
t’s fair to say that whole books could be written on slug and snail controls, so you’ll have to excuse me for focusing on just a few. I pointed out in the office the other day that it was sod’s law that the year I’m testing the products I’ve hardly seen a mollusc. The team quickly pointed out that it might be because I had five different deterrents working away in the border. From that, you can guess the results have been effective. It’s worth noting that slugs are far more efficient at reproducing than snails. Though both are hermaphrodites, some types of slug can selffertilise, as well as mate with any partner. They lay around 300 eggs about 10 times a year. Most snails

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IMAGES /HOWARD WALKER

Apply controls in early March and you can stop generations of breeding. With an army of chemical and organic controls on offer, gardeners usually select more than one method. Egg shells scattered around hostas is a favourite for many, but personally I don’t like my borders to look like the top layer of a compost heap. It’s tempting to try tidying the garden to remove their hiding places (dark and damp areas), but this also reduces the hiding places of the ground beetles that eat slug and snail eggs. Tricky. Visit www.theenglishgarden.co.uk for Tamsin’s short film on these controls. With thanks to Stockton Bury Gardens, Hereford. www.stocktonbury.co.uk

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1
Slug & Snail Killer does exactly what it says on the tin. I’m impressed with the labelling and instructions. It doesn’t try to sugar-coat what it is it contains metaldehyde, so it’s not organic. Yes, if used incorrectly it could harm children and animals, but follow the instructions and this is highly unlikely. Each pellet contains an animal repellent. They are the classic blue-green and are easily sprinkled thanks to a clever cap - there’s no need to touch the pellets at all. The 1kg container would last ages, as 100g covers 113 sq m. Priced at £4.99. earth. I would only find them practical to protect choice plants, but they’ll last for decades. Different sizes available. Prices start at £15 for six rings (approx 10cm diameter).

4
4
Eraza Slug & Snail Killer comes in a 1kg pack with very bright packaging. The yellow safety

‘It was hard to tell to what extent it worked, as the pests are meant to wander off and die - I’d quite like to see the evidence’

cap is ingenious and allows you to sprinkle the pellets accurately. Contains metaldehyde, but like Slug & Snail Killer, it’s still suitable for use around edible plants. It clearly states that it’s ‘five times more effective’, but I’m not clear as to what it is more effective than. Worked well. Priced at £3.99.

3

With a title like Vitax Slug Death XL you

wouldn’t expect this product to come with the

approval of the Organic Farmers and Growers Group, but it does. The green pellets, with an active ingredient of naturally occurring ferrous sulphate, are not as easy to spread as others, as the container comes with no spout. However, children and pets need not be excluded from the area, which suits me, and for this reason it’s my EDITOR’S CHOICE. It’s hard to tell to what extent it worked as the pests are meant to wander off and die - I’d quite like to see the evidence (no damage on the plants though). Priced at £13 for 500g container. (The Showa Floreo 370 gloves are from www.mstore.co.uk)

5

For those that would rather create a barrier, try Natural Slug and Snail Deterrent. It is 100%

recycled, made out of crushed porcelain bathroom suites that were destined for landfill. Simply place granules around the plant and the pest will find the surface too sharp and porous to cross. I like to hoe the borders regularly so needed to reapply my barrier a few times - great for pots though. Wash them and they will show their white colour in places. Priced at £4.99 for a 2.5kg bag.

2

Slug Rings are a great idea - when the slug makes contact it gets a little electric shock.

It’s vital that no leaf of the plant drapes over the copper ring or pests will use this as a route. For that reason, opt for larger rings, as plants will soon out grow them. Make sure you cultivate the soil first as they need to be slightly pushed into the

5

STOCKISTS
G Slug & Snail Killer is available from most garden centres. For nearest stockists www.bayergarden.co.uk G Slug Rings from Slug Rings Ltd. Tel: +44 (0)1225 851524. www.slugrings.co.uk G Vitax Slug Death XL from Greenacres Horticultural Supplies, tel: +44 (0)1895 835235. www.greenacresdirect.co.uk G Eraza Slug & Snail Killer from Westland. For stockists, tel: +44 (0)28 8772 7500. G Natural Slug and Snail Deterrent available from Ecocharlie, tel: +44 (0)1798 867780. www.ecocharlie.co.uk

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23

ABOVE Alchemila mollis and Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’ in the long border with lollies of Quercus ilex. TOP RIGHT Catalpa fargesii f. duclouxii. CENTRE RIGHT The stream garden features Hosta ‘Snowden’ offset by arum lilies and cowslips. BELOW RIGHT Aconitum napellus with Campanula ‘Kent Belle’ .

Orient expression
What do you get when you mix a classic English style with oriental influences in a restored garden? The charming, and just a little surprising, Melplash Court
PHOTOGRAPHS CAROLE DRAKE WORDS AMBRA EDWARDS 24 The English Garden

GLORIOUS GARDENS
DORSET

he occasional oriental flourish in the garden of Melplash Court should come as no surprise. Its Canadian-born creator, Timothy Lewis, was taken as an infant to Shanghai and spent his childhood in Hong Kong, before settling in Thailand. There he created a series of spectacular gardens, filling them with rare orchids and palms and revelling in their exuberance of colour, foliage and scent. In mid-life, however, he began to yearn for the subtler pleasures of an English country garden. He dreamed of roses and yew hedges and lingering shadows on velvety lawns. He began to read voraciously, and punctuated trips to England with gardening courses and garden visits. Then, in 1984, Timothy found Melplash Court, a 17thcentury stone house nestled in a sunny hollow among the west Dorset hills. An avenue of chestnuts unrolled from the high iron gates. Ivy twined about the Elizabethan dovecote, and behind the house could still be discerned the bones of a fine garden in traditional Old English style, created by Lady Diana Tiarks in the 1950s. Though the outlines were blurred and the outer reaches entirely lost to scrub and brambles, enough remained of honey-coloured walls and fat yew hedges, of trees and shady
The English Garden

T

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43 25

Melplash has one of the finest collections of woody plants on the south coast. ‘It’s the best soil I’ve ever seen in my life - here you can grow absolutely anything’
allées, to provide a framework for Timothy’s vision of the perfect English garden. To help him, he engaged Terry Baker of the Botanic Nursery in Wiltshire, a third-generation nurseryman specialising in unusual herbaceous plants (especially rare foxgloves), with a talent for reviving ailing gardens made in the early years of the last century. ‘What I try to do is to keep faith with the original conception of the garden, but also adapt it for modern conditions,’ says Terry. ‘These gardens were serviced by a huge staff - we find ways of making them just as beautiful, but easier to manage.’ Together, Timothy and Terry set about planting interesting trees and shrubs - Melplash has one of the finest collections of woody plants on the south coast - and clarifying the structure of the garden, creating a new potager in the old walled garden, informal areas including an orchard and bog garden, and four magnificent herbaceous borders around the old croquet lawn. Timothy longed for a romantic garden, but was adamant that he did not want ‘a Portuguese wedding garden’. The colour palette must be muted, exuberant growth restrained with an elegant formality, and the arc of the seasons fully explored in the garden - for although he and his family still wintered in Thailand, they found themselves spending longer and longer at Melplash each year. In short, he wanted the most complete contrast to his exotic tropical gardens. For a gardener accustomed to the rapid growth of the Tropics, the long evolution of a mature English garden must have seemed unbearably slow. Being a wealthy man,
26 The English Garden

wasn’t he tempted to import a ready-made garden wholesale from some Italian nursery? ‘Not at all,’ says Terry. Tim, who died in 2004, ‘was a natural gardener. He knew the plants would establish better if they were small. He had a keen eye and an incredible memory for plants. And he really enjoyed introducing more unusual things into the plantings, such as the rare pale primulas and scented hostas in the stream garden, and many different colours of sorbus in the park. It’s the best soil I’ve ever seen in my life, so at Melplash you can grow absolutely anything. Tim wanted me to find him the best forms of plants, such as the wonderful dark

ABOVE The delights of a colourful summer border including shasta daisies, red poppies, nepeta and far off blue delphiniums. BELOW The small terrace is sprinkled with self-seeded Erigeron karvinskianus adding a note of carefree rural charm.
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TOP LEFT With its lacy, steel-blue petals and pineapple-shaped centre, Eryngium alpinum ‘Blue Star’ is dramatic in the border and also excellent as a dried flower. TOP CENTRE Delphinium x bellamosum. TOP RIGHT Cornus florida f. rubra. MIDDLE LEFT The Giant Himalayan Lily (Cardiocrinum giganteum) can reach an amazing four metres in height. MIDDLE RIGHT Sculptural Hosta ‘Snowden’ . BOTTOM LEFT Velvety Rosa ‘Nuits de Young’ . BOTTOM CENTRE Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ . BOTTOM RIGHT Aconitum napellus produces strong upright stems clad in elegant hooded flowers, ideal for the back of the border.

For all the studied Englishness, there are many references to the Far East in the gardens, such as bamboo, cloud-pruned box, a moon gate and a Japanese garden
opium poppy Papaver somniferum ‘Black Paeony’ for the Croquet Lawn borders, or sculptural ‘Blue Star’ sea holly’. For all the studied Englishness of the scene, there are many references to the Far East in the garden - stands of black- and golden-stemmed bamboo, cloud-pruned box and handsome glazed pots full of water lilies. From the croquet lawn behind the house, steps lead down to a circular moon gate. In front of it stands the figure of an Oriental priest, and through it can be glimpsed the Japanese garden at the far side of the plot. Created in the 1950s, this area had become completely overgrown. The job of clearing it fell to a retired farmer, Bob Bartlett, who brought in his son Tim to help him. Twenty-seven years later, the Japanese garden has been completely restored with choice rhododendrons and acers, Tim Bartlett is now head gardener at Melplash, and Mr Bartlett senior, aged 90, still comes in daily to mow the lawns. The grass is immaculate - the parkland as tidy as a suburban lawn, and the croquet lawn smooth as a billiard table. In fact it is hard to imagine a more meticulously kept garden - the edges trim and the borders pristine even in the depths of winter. Labour-saving ‘cheats’ such as edging aids are eschewed, even though there is more than a mile of edging to maintain. ‘There’s nothing like a clean edge to make a garden look tidy,’ Tim says. A beautiful house in an idyllic setting, in perfect order with a dedicated garden staff. The question facing Melplash now,
28 The English Garden

though, is how these high standards can be maintained. Timothy Lewis’ children, brought up in Thailand, have made their lives in the East. ‘The more gardens I visit in England,’ says his son, Jamie, ‘the more I beam with pride for what has been created here. Dad was a hands-on gardener, never happier than when he was out here in his wellies. He had a love of the English garden deep inside him.’ Melplash Court, Melplash, nr Bridport, Dorset DT6 3UH. Open for the NGS on Sundays 23 May and 20 June, 2-6pm. www.ngs.org.uk

ABOVE In the potager, clipped balls of Berberis thunbergii f. atropurpurea ‘Harlequin’ make showstopping focal points. BELOW Veg, herbs and colourful nasturtiums cluster around the feet of potted bays.

GLORIOUS GARDENS
DORSET

The notebook
Melplash Court is a large 20-acre manor garden in west Dorset blessed with a sheltered position. It has deep, rich loam - the perfect medium for growing many herbaceous perennials and vegetables GLAZE CRAZE
In the green allée below the croquet lawn stand two octagonal glazed antique pots (below), now pressed into service as formal and highly attractive water features, but originally used to prepare the Chinese delicacy, hundredyear-old or ‘century’ eggs.

CLEVER SUPPORTS
Smartness prevails in this garden, where you’ll find no trace of ugly green plastic plant supports. Instead, herbaceous borders are staked with elegant hoops of rusted iron and beautiful ‘lobster pots’ of woven hazel coppiced from local farms (below).

EYE CATCHER
Head gardener Tim Bartlett has never forgotten installing this large sculpture, shipped from Thailand (above), known as ‘the Chinaman’. The moon gate behind him is carved out of a yew hedge, with the upper edge of the circle completed with honeysuckle.

ON A WING
Among the first Oriental ornaments to find their way into the garden were these metalwork birds from Thailand (above). Believed to represent the mythical phoenix, they celebrate the rebirth of the Japanese garden, which was lost for nearly two decades.

CONTACTS
GARDENS TO VISIT NEARBY
G Horn Park Large plantsman’s garden with wonderful cornus, meadow and views. Open for the NGS on 30 June, 2-5pm, or by appointment. Tunnel Road, Beaminster, Dorset DT8 3HB. Tel: +44 (0)1308 862212. www.ngs.org.uk G Mapperton Gardens Dreamy Italianate garden in idyllic valley setting. Open daily except Saturdays, March to October. Beaminster, Dorset DT8 3NR. Tel: +44 (0)1308 862645. www.mapperton.com G The Old Rectory Famed for its spectacular bog garden - but the entire plot is a delight. Featured in The English Garden in January 2010. Open for the NGS on 30 May, 2-5pm, or by appointment. Netherbury, Dorset DT6 5NB. www.ngs.org.uk

TIPS FROM HEAD GARDENER TIM BARTLETT
G With superb soil and a sheltered site, plants tend to grow extremely fast here, so it’s important that the borders are prepared and staked in good time. We try to get them cleaned and mulched early, and aim to put the supports in place by early March, so that the plants can develop and grow up naturally with minimal interference. G Visiting wildlife can be a problem at Melplash, so tender young shoots need protection from rabbits, and trees and shrubs (especially roses) from deer. I have found deterrent sprays effective against deer, but they need to be reapplied regularly. G Repeating plants makes the garden more harmonious. In the croquet garden, the parallel lines of the topiary lollies and repeated clumps of catmint and alchemilla make a pleasing gentle rhythm that helps it all hang together.

RECOMMENDED NURSERY
G The Botanic Nursery, The Rookery, nr Stonar School, Atworth, Wiltshire SN12 8NT. www.botanicguru.co.uk

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29

READER EVENTS

BOOK NOW
to reserve your place

Events Calendar 2010
We’ve arranged some exciting and exclusive events for you this year at incredible venues - so hurry and book your place!

CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT Jim Keeling, the founder of Whichford Pottery, at work; the stunning house and garden of The Orchards Cookery School; the nursery at Knoll; and a basket of goodies from the Littlemoors Farm Shop.

GRASSES, THE GARDEN AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Theme: A day with RHS Chelsea gold medallist and grass expert Neil Lucas at Knoll Gardens. Lunch at Littlemoors Farm Shop. When: Wed 15 Sept and Wed 13 Oct Number of places: 20 Time: 10.30am-4pm Venue: Knoll Gardens, Wimborne, Dorset BH21 7ND. www.knollgardens.co.uk Cost: £95, to include £10 lunch voucher

Venue: Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey KT8 9AU. www.klc.co.uk Cost: £130

Discover how to make the most of your garden with our new columnist. Coffee followed by a talk on ‘How gardens are born and nurtured’. Lunch followed by a lecture on plants, followed by Q&A with James.

POTTERY
Theme: A day at the famous Whichford Pottery. Work with clay and see the private pottery garden.

or name plate (items can be collected at a later date or delivered at cost). After a picnic lunch (provided by yourself), take a tour of Jim Keeling’s private garden, followed by a container-planting demonstration with head gardener Harriet Rycroft. Finish the day with tea and cakes, and an opportunity to shop at a 10% discount on everything from flowerpots to ceramics, jewellery, textiles and garden accessories.

BAKING FOR GARDENERS
Theme: Cook a fourcourse gardener’s lunch and make cakes to enjoy at home. When: Sat 9 October Number of places: 16 Time: 10am-5.30pm Venue: The Orchards, Salford Priors, Nr Evesham, Worcestershire WR11 8UU. www.orchardscookery.co.uk Cost: £140 (includes all ingredients)

DESIGN
Theme: A day with garden designer and writer James Alexander-Sinclair at Hampton Court Palace. When: Fri 17 Sept Number of places: 15 Time: 10am-3.30pm
WHICHFORD /LIZ EDDISON

When: Tues 21 September Number of places: 15 Time: 9.30am-4pm Venue: Whichford Pottery, Warwickshire CV36 5PG. www.whichfordpottery.com Cost: £95

Enjoy a guided tour of the workshop, and, after morning tea with the team, have a go at working with clay by decorating a house

BOOK NOW
Call Vicky Kingsbury on tel: +44 (0)1242 211073 or email Victoria.kingsbury@archant.co.uk to reserve your place or find out more information on our exclusive reader days.

The English Garden

31

GLORIOUS GARDENS
GLOUCESTERSHIRE
A herb-filled border with tall plants such as Tanacetum vulgare and self-sown Oenothera biennis that add height and a splash of yellow to the wonderfully varied colour scheme.

The Verey thing
The spirited daughter of the late Rosemary Verey, Davina Wynne-Jones has used her own style to transform a field into a heady herbal heaven
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PHOTOGRAPHS MARIE O’HARA WORDS CLAIRE MASSET

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33

GLORIOUS GARDENS
GLOUCESTERSHIRE

TOP LEFT The pinky-purple, daisy-like flower of echinacea, also known as coneflower. ABOVE LEFT Oenothera biennis or evening primrose has short-lived flowers that bloom at night. Attractive to bees in the summer, this wildlife-friendly plant is a magnet to seed-hungry goldfinches during the winter. RIGHT A colourful display of borage, painted sage, evening primrose and tansies.

hat do you do when you’ve already been a journalist, printer, curator, masseuse and artist? Not an easy question to answer, one would imagine. But for Davina Wynne-Jones, it was a simple decision: she was going to grow herbs. Why? ‘They decided on me really,’ she explains enigmatically. Perhaps a clue is the fact that her mother, the late Rosemary Verey, was a celebrated garden designer, best known for her influential garden at Barnsley House in Gloucestershire. Davina remembers growing up there, as well as her mother’s passion for collecting 17thcentury herbals, packed with pearls of wisdom on the medicinal properties of plants. ‘I’ve always liked gardening, and particularly herbs, but as I grew up it was quite difficult to have a normal garden with a mother who knew it

W

all,’ she admits. Maybe this is why Davina waited until her late fifties to start a garden of her own. Opened in 2005, her Herbs for Healing nursery bears no resemblance to her mother’s creation, despite being just fiveminutes’ walk away. An eye-opener for Davina was a brief stay at Penjerrick Garden in Cornwall. ‘I was lucky to live there for a while. I sort of had the place to myself and it was then that I got it about gardens. With its huge tree ferns and jungle-like feel, it was so different from the big herbaceous borders that my mother was known for.’ Davina started with a blank canvas: a windswept field, which for many years had been used as a paddock for horses and sheep, with no house attached to it, only a collection of smallish structures (including a rather fantastic yurt). The background colour here

34 The English Garden

GLORIOUS GARDENS
GLOUCESTERSHIRE

Davina’s garden bears no resemblance to Barnsley House, her mother’s creation, despite being just five minutes’ walk away
is predominantly green - the perfect foil for her herbs. Located down an unnamed track, the garden is wonderfully peaceful. ‘Visitors often comment on the tranquil atmosphere.’ Before starting on the planting, Davina visited other nurseries, including Jekka McVicar’s Herb Farm near Bristol and the Prince of Wales’ Duchy Farm at Tetbury. ‘People are always willing to share their knowledge. I’m not worried about asking a completely ignorant question. It’s the only way you learn,’ she says candidly. How did she decide on the planting scheme? ‘I had a lot of happy accidents, really. In one corner, I planted a globe artichoke (Cynara cardunculus) in front of a willow, then a mullein (Verbascum thapsus) came up. It was such a sophisticated planting with all those leaves, but it was just chance. The best planting has been accidental.’ The garden consists of a series of large rectangular beds on either side of a wide central path. This simple layout is reminiscent of old physic gardens, in which formal geometric beds were given over to the growing of medicinal plants. The garden slopes very slightly, which means that you enjoy wonderful vistas from the top. As you walk down the main path, your eye is drawn to all the wild and wonderful herbs. Plants that you would expect to see growing in a field or roadside verge - such as burdock, wild chamomile,

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT Herbs for Healing nursery is packed with useful and attractive medicinal plants; hieracium, also known as hawkweed; highly toxic henbane (Hyoscyamus niger) was once an ingredient in witches’ brews; a charming heart-shaped willow sculpture ornaments the nursery area; a simple wooden archway frames the view from the end of the garden towards the nursery.

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The English Garden

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GLORIOUS GARDENS
GLOUCESTERSHIRE

MUST-HAVE HERBS
G Lavender: It stirs so many emotions and yet is the most soothing of plants. G Comfrey: An ointment made from its root and leaf is supposed to help with fractures, strains and sprains, bruises or rough skin. Added to the compost heap, it makes a nutrient-rich fertiliser. G Rosemary: It supposedly increases blood flow to the brain and helps with memory. Shakespeare might have been right when he wrote: ‘Rosemary is for remembrance’.

TOP LEFT Herbs have been used medicinally for centuries. ABOVE LEFT Davina keeps dried petals, flower heads, leaves and seeds in a multitude of storage jars, ready to be turned into beneficial teas, tinctures, creams, ointments and oils. TOP RIGHT The pink, purple and white bracts of the annual painted sage (Salvia viridis). When infused, its leaves can be used as a sort of antiseptic gargle. ABOVE RIGHT A handful of Davina’s favourite herbs: Calendula officinalis, lavender and Echinacea purpurea.

mugwort and plantain - rub shoulders with lavender, pot marigold and all manner of sages, including clary sage (Salvia sclarea), painted sage (Salvia viridis) and the redflowered, fruit-scented pineapple sage (Salvia elegans). Evening primrose has been left to self-seed, creating natural exclamation marks across the garden. Everywhere, leaves and stems ranging from cool grey to deep red add depth and variety to the colour scheme. As I walk down the garden, I am tempted to reach out and touch the plants, inhaling the different aromas. Each herb has been carefully selected for its medicinal qualities, and Davina is a font of knowledge when it comes to explaining their different virtues. ‘Marsh mallow
36 The English Garden

makes the best face wash you could wish for... I make tincture from feverfew; it’s good for preventing migraines... Make a dream pillow of mugwort and you’ll enjoy vivid and powerful dreams,’ she says, cutting off a stem for me to take home. All of this knowledge is put to good use in her workshops, whose subjects range from herbal teas and home remedies to soap making, plant spirit medicine and herbal oils. The final area of the garden is a small circular area entered through one of four wood arches. At its centre is a sky-reflecting pond, surrounded by two circular beds and glowing Cotswold stone paths. It is a very peaceful and contemplative space - the perfect way to end a journey.

So what does the future hold for Davina? ‘I’d like to have art in the garden,’ she says, ‘and I’d also like to keep bees. I feel that this is what I’m meant to be doing. It takes up all of my time, but I am incredibly lucky to be doing it.’ Herbs for Healing, Barnsley Herb Garden, Barnsley, nr Cirencester, Gloucestershire. GL7 5EE. Tel: +44 (0)1285 851457. Open April to midSeptember on Wednesdays, 10.30am-5pm; and Fridays, 2-5pm. Open for the NGS on Sundays 4 July and 22 August, when Barnsley House will also be open. Herbs are also available from the nursery by mail order through wwww.herbsforhealing.net

GLORIOUS GARDENS
GLOUCESTERSHIRE

The notebook
The Herbs for Healing nursery garden covers two acres close to Barnsley House. The plot slopes slightly towards the south. The soil is alkaline with quite heavy pockets of clay in places CREAM OF THE CROP
Pot marigold, Calendula officinalis, (right) is excellent for making skin creams. It is soothing and healing, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic. It can also be drunk as an infusion during the dark days of winter to bring a bit of summer sunshine and cheer.

HERBY HEIGHTS
Tall herbs can add drama to a border. Often found in roadside verges, mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) is surprisingly attractive when given its own space.

TRUE COLOURS
Although many herbs have subtle colour tones, some can be very striking. Try planting Echinacea purpurea and Tanacetum vulgare together (above) for a powerful combination. With its decorative bracts ranging from pure white to shades of purple and pink, painted sage (Salvia viridis) is also a good choice.

So too is Joe-Pye Weed Eupatorium purpureum (left). Held up by 2m-tall self-supporting stems, the giant clusters of tiny pink flowers bloom from July to September.

DAVINA’S TOP TIPS
G When transplanting or repotting plants, I put a few drops of ‘A + E’ flower essence in a watering can before watering in the plants. They soon perk up and adjust to their new situation. You can order it from Saskia’s Flower Essences at the website www.saskiasfloweressences.com G If your garden is exposed and windy, plant a mixed hedge around it. Not only will it attract all sorts of beneficial wildlife, it will also work as a wind break. G After having prepared my beds for planting, I used black matting to suppress weeds. The herbs have now grown so much that it is virtually invisible.

CONTACTS
OTHER HERB NURSERIES
G Arne Herbs specialises in herbs and wildflowers. Limeburn Nurseries, Limeburn Hill, Chew Magna, BS40 8QW. Tel: +44 (0)1275 333399. www.arneherbs.co.uk G Bodmin Plant & Herb Nursery specialises in herbs and herbaceous perennials. Laveddon Mill, Bodmin, Cornwall PL30 5JU. Tel: +44 (0)1208 72837 . www.bodminnursery.co.uk G Jekka’s Herb Farm offers a special herb garden design service. Rose Cottage, Shellards Lane, Alveston, Bristol BS35 3SY. Tel: +44 (0)1454 418878. www.jekkasherbfarm.com G The National Herb Centre boasts a herb garden and nursery, as well as a herb bistro. Banbury Rd, Warmington, Warwickshire OX17 1DF . Tel: +44 (0)1295 690999. www.herbcentre.co.uk

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fantastic location doesn’t make a garden, but it certainly helps. With the tranquil shores of Blagdon Lake on one side and the wondrous Mendip Hills on the other, the garden at Holt Farm is blessed with an envious backdrop of wide views and endless skies. All this beauty is not just skin deep, however, for this is where Yeo Valley Organic has one of its biggest farms. The sense of nature and agriculture working in harmony is almost palpable. After years of hard graft, the garden at Holt Farm is now entirely organic, like the rest of the farm. ‘We got the rubber stamp earlier this year from the Soil Association,’ says owner Sarah Mead, clearly delighted. It joins a tiny group of ornamental gardens in England that are certified organic; Highgrove in Gloucestershire, Clarence House in London and Garden Organic in Warwickshire are the others. Mary and Roger Mead started Yeo Valley in the 1970s, and Sarah moved into Holt Farm with her husband, their son Tim, 20 years ago. ‘So I inherited my motherin-law’s garden,’ she says. ‘It was all quite traditional, with a few rose beds and a rockery. At that point I had no interest in gardening, but within a matter of weeks I was hooked.’ Sarah had four children in quick succession, and soon realised she needed help in the garden. Today it is managed by an enthusiastic team of five: Sarah, James, Eileen, Matt and Will. Everyone is involved in the design as well as on a day-to-day basis. Sarah’s gregarious head gardener,

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OPPOSITE The gravel garden leads towards the charming avenue of tea crab apples, whose branches join in the centre to create a cosy alcove effect. BELOW Known as giant rhubarb, Gunnera manicata is a striking architectural perennial, ideal for a bog garden or alongside a pond.

NATURE’S WAY
A wonderfully varied garden with lake and hill views is breaking new ground, offering a vision of organic gardening that you can take home and apply to your own plot
PHOTOGRAPHS ROWAN ISAAC WORDS CLAIRE MASSET

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James Cox, started his career at Highgrove and then worked for a number of properties, including The National Trust’s Antony House in Cornwall. ‘Holt Farm was a fantastic opportunity,’ he explains. ‘It was like going back to Highgrove, just on smaller scale.’ Over the past couple of years, the garden has undergone quite a few changes, designed to make it at once more practical, coherent, intimate and attractive. It will officially re-open to the public on 13 June. ‘As visitors go through a double-maze entrance,’ says James, ‘they will discover our new Somerset garden, the first of many garden rooms.’ Here James has planted nine pollarded willows, surrounded by a snaking path and a mass of wildflowers. From this mellow informality, a formal gravel path edged with rows of pleached Malus x robusta ‘Red Sentinel’ leads to the new glasshouse and the working part of the garden. ‘In this area, visitors can see how we make nettle and comfrey liquid feeds and different types of compost from turf stacks, leaf mould and garden waste,’ explains James. Here too are the cutting and holding beds. Combining the practical with the beautiful is the pretty potager, best viewed from the elegant terrace in which a chequerboard of herbs has been planted. Dotted among the raised vegetable beds are quirky wroughtiron sculptures of flowers and vegetables created by local artist James Blunt. Circling the potager, mass plantings of lavender and Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’ help attract bees and other beneficial insects. Two red and lime borders, planted with Euphorbia griffithii ‘Dixter Flame’ and dahlias lead to a graceful grass border of Stipa gigantea and calamagrostis complemented with eremurus and rudbeckia. Lighting up a secluded area with a reflective pond are two herbaceous beds

The garden has undergone quite a few changes to make it more practical, coherent, intimate and attractive

TOP Euphorbia griffithii ‘Dixter’ , Rosa ‘Buff Beauty’ and Eremerus x isabellinus ‘Cleopatra’ with the emerging buds of Hemerocallis ‘Stafford’ . CENTRE Euphorbia griffithii ‘Fireglow’ and Iris sibirica. ABOVE Globe artichokes (Cynara cardunculus Scolymus Group) are grown for their culinary appeal and for the height and drama they add to the potager. RIGHT Head gardener James Cox loves broad-leaved, architectural plants, such as these Rheum palmatum and Petasites japonicus.

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featuring the warm tones of Eremerus x isabellinus ‘Cleopatra’, hemerocallis, heleniums and Rosa ‘Buff Beauty’. As it edges towards the surrounding countryside, the garden takes on an appropriately pastoral feel, with a woodland area, and perennial and annual meadows. In the middle of all this rural charm, an enchanting avenue of tea crab apples (Malus hupehensis) holds its own from spring to autumn, when its fruit almost light up the way to the final spectacle: the newly planted gravel garden. ‘The feel here is quite romantic, with blues and pinks and soft mauves and silver,’ Sarah explains. Key plants include monardas, veronicastrum, tradescantia, Achillea millefolium ‘Lilac Beauty’, Salvia nemorosa and perovskia. As a complement to the planting, Sarah, who is the first to admit that ‘gardening is about having fun’, has added many wacky and humorous touches. The glasshouse is an unusual yet wonderful purple colour. All the sculpture has an element of humour (Sarah’s latest commission is a huge ‘leeky’ garden hose). In the new tearoom, the blackboard is framed by the glitziest garden gnomes you’ll ever see, while the cauliflower-shaped chandelier has been created from vintage teacups. Whatever you do, don’t miss the loos. Designed like potting sheds, with ‘flower pot’ basins, they’ll have you smiling as portraits of Prince

Charles and Camilla, Alan Titchmarsh and Monty Don peer down on you while you wash your hands. Underneath all this light-heartedness is a serious idea: that ‘organic is the way forward’. ‘I’m keen to encourage people to think about the organic side,’ says Sarah. James is developing contacts with other organic gardens in order to arrange plant and seed swaps. He’s also keen to establish a forum for organic gardeners, perhaps run by the Soil Association. And, as Sarah is keen to stress, with a chairman as charismatic as Monty Don, maybe the Soil Association can carry the organic message forward: ‘He’s our sort of gardener and he is a huge draw. If he could encourage ‘normal’ gardeners to join the Soil Association, that would be great. It would be nice to get people away from the preconception that organic isn’t for them.’ The Organic Garden at Holt Farm, Bath Road, Blagdon BS40 7SQ. The gardens will be open for the NGS on Sun 13 June and 26 Sept, 2-5pm; also every Thurs from 17 June to end of Sept, and groups by appt. Tel: +44 (0)1761 461650. www.theorganicgardens.co.uk

ABOVE Lavandula angustifolia ‘Twickel Purple’ and Stipa tenuissima are perfect foils for elegant globes of Allium hollandicum ‘Purple Sensation’ .

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The notebook
The Organic Garden at Holt Farm covers about five acres and features clay soil, most of which is extremely fertile. The site is exposed to the wind, but new beech hedges are helping to mitigate its damaging effects PATIO ENHANCER
Want to add a bit of colour and interest to an old patio? Why not try sowing lady’s mantle (Alchemila mollis) in between the cracks (below). Other good plants could include creeping thyme (Thymus serpyllum) or fleabane (Erigeron karvinskianus).

SLUG SAVY
To protect their vegetables from slugs and snails, the team at Holt Farm use beer traps, nematodes and crushed oyster shells (below). The shells can also be used to raise the pH of acidic soils. ‘This year, I’m having lots of fun trialling Astroturf as a slug repellent on a tiny part of the potager,’ says Sarah.

ECO GARDENING TIPS FROM THE HOLT FARM TEAM
G If you find the idea of going organic daunting, you can start by doing just a few organic things. You could begin by buying a good book on how to manage your garden organically. You could also join the Soil Association. G Think about all the elements in your garden you can re-use. A pile of leaves can be turned into leaf mould. If you’re digging up turf, turn it into a turf stack. Use nettles to make liquid feed. G Encourage wildlife into your garden. Buy or make your own bug boxes; put a few bird feed stations in your garden; make a pond. G Turn your compost once a week as this will help it retain all the key nutrients that feed your plants and soil. G When you’re visiting a garden, always make sure you stop for coffee and cake!

SINGULAR SCULPTURE
Holt Farm’s eccentric, whimsical pieces of sculpture are both attractive and heart-lifting. Most of the pieces are made by local artist James Blunt, who specialises in wrought iron (above). Even the entrance gates and the door handles to the glasshouse have been embellished with his work.

CONTACTS
NURSERIES
G Caves Folly Nurseries, Evendine Lane, Colwall, Nr Malvern, Worcestershire WR13 6DU. Tel: +44 (0)1684 540631. www.cavesfolly.com G Hoo House Nursery, Gloucester Rd, Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire GL20 7DA. Tel: +44 (0)1684 293389. www.hoohouse.plus.com G Jekka’s Herb Farm, Rose Cottage, Shellards Lane, Alveston, Bristol BS35 3SY. Tel: +44 (0)1454 418878. www.jekkasherbfarm.com G Junker’s Nursery, Lower Mead, West Hatch, Taunton, Somerset TA3 5RN. Tel: +44 (0)1823 480774. www.junker.co.uk G Orchard Nurseries, Orchard Place, Flint House Road, Three Holes, Wisbech, Cambridgeshire PE14 9JN. Tel: +44 (0)1354 638613. www.orchard-nurseries.com

SEED MERCHANTS
G Chase Organics, Riverdene Business Park, Molesey Road, Hersham, Surrey KT12 4RG. Tel: +44 (0)1932 253666. www.chaseorganics.co.uk G Emorsgate Seeds, Limes Farm, Tilney All Saints, King’s Lynn, Norfolk PE34 4RT. Tel: +44 (0)1553 829028. www.wildseed.co.uk G Pictorial Meadows, Manor Oaks Farmhouse, 389 Manor Lane, Sheffield S2 1UL. Tel: +44 (0)1142 677635. www.pictorialmeadows.co.uk

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The walled garden of Houghton Lodge, with traditional old chalk cob walls. Rosa ‘Climbing , R. ‘Mermaid’ Arthur Bell’ and swathes of purple nepeta steal the summer show along the avenues.

Slow with the flow
This tranquil little-known estate on the banks of a river holds myriad charms, ranging from water meadow walks and chocolate cake to formal floral fancies, friendly animals and a spot of science
PHOTOGRAPHS NICOLA STOCKEN TOMKINS WORDS STEPHANIE MAHON
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ABOVE The peacock-themed parterre with Buxus sempervirens edged beds and sculpted yew forms. ABOVE RIGHT Rosa ‘American Pillar’ adorns these arches that frame a terrace with lollipop-standard ligustrum. BELOW LEFT Paeonia ‘Bowl of Beauty’ . BELOW RIGHT Papaver orientale ‘The Promise’ .

have a garden-mad friend in Winchester who knows all of her county’s horticultural gems, from a tiny hidden courtyard at St Cross to the rosedraped walls of Mottisfont Abbey. Or so it seemed. ‘Houghton Lodge?’ she said, when I quizzed her on my latest assignment. ‘Never heard of it.’ In fact, despite the garden having played host to BBC dramas and film shoots, the only person I can find who does know it is my editor, which might be why I’m here in the first place. This intriguing aspect of unexplored territory is heightened by the honesty box on the wall outside the tea room, politely asking for contributions in exchange for the garden’s many sights, including a walled kitchen garden, long herbaceous border, topiary parterre, interesting architecture and wildflower water meadows leading down to the banks of the River Test. There are also some beautiful old trees in the grounds, and many tranquil smile-inducing views. ‘My husband Martin inherited it in 1977,’ says Anthea Busk, ‘and it has now been in the family for 100 years. The garden was fantastic in the days of his great aunt Ida - we have the diary of her gardener George Morris for 1910, and it is really fascinating. He worked here until he died, but after that things went downhill. We have restored it over time, bit by bit.’

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The first thing to grab attention as I pass through the tea room (apart from the chocolate cake on display, also part of the honesty system) is the adjoining greenhouse, run on hydroponic principles. Geraniums, lettuce and strawberries hang out on the walls and on table pods designed to grow without soil, using measured quantities of essential nutrients in water. These systems use far less water and space than conventionally grown plants. ‘When we first decided to open to the public, there were so many other fantastic gardens around that we wanted to do something original. Having visited Achiltibuie in Scotland, hydroponics seemed like a great idea,’ says Anthea. ‘A worker from Achiltibuie had moved to Hampshire, so he helped to set it up and get us started, many years ago.’ Doors lead out from the greenhouses onto the kitchen garden, still with its original traditional chalk cob walls, laid out formally into intersecting avenues and cubes of interest, with fruit cages at one end, vegetable beds at the other, espaliered fruit on the walls and the rest given over to lanes lined with catmint and roses; and focal points like standard trees, a well, a bench or a gateway capping each line of sight. Arguably the greatest feature here is the rose arch and peony walk, with Rosa ‘American Pillar’ putting on a show over your head and many varieties of splendid peonies floating by your feet.

ABOVE LEFT The rose-arch covered peony walk seen across the ordered vegetable garden. ABOVE RIGHT The herb garden, with deep purple Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’ , oregano, feathery fennel, yellow phlomis and pale-leaved stachys. BELOW LEFT Paeonia lactiflora ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ . BELOW RIGHT Rosa ‘Korresia’ .

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‘When it came to restoring the walled garden, we probably should have followed Prince Charles’ example at Highgrove and ripped the whole thing out. But we were very sentimental about the old espalier apples, which had completely taken over. Our head gardener John Bone very patiently pruned them back, perfectly. We sent the fruit off to RHS Wisley and they were able to identify all of the old varieties for us, so they could be reunited with the original labels that we found in the potting shed.’ Lining the outside wall of the kitchen garden is the long herbaceous border, and from here is a vista across the water meadows, knee-high with grass and wildflowers, but with paths mown through for walking. A pleasure, perhaps, to put off until after seeing the peacock-themed parterre with emerald box and yew. ‘This is my favourite part of the garden,’ Anthea says. ‘We tried to restore the original rose garden but failed, twice, so then I decided I wanted a box-edged garden. It’s rather silly really, but when I was a child, my siblings and I each got a small plot for a garden, and even then I wanted a box garden. But my sister said it would invite in the slugs, and forbid it! So now I have finally made the garden I always wanted,’ she laughs. The parterre offers a fine view of the cottage ornee house, which itself has stunning views down to the river. Along these banks is where BBC series The Buccaneers was filmed and a TV production of David Copperfield with Dame Maggie Smith was made. It was also the

setting for some scenes in the film Wilde, in which Stephen Fry played Oscar Wilde. The swans and ducks on the water care little for the human attention of the film camera, but the alpacas in a nearby field are always eager for friendly advances, especially those from little people. ‘Recently a woman asked if she could bring her blind granddaughter to pet the alpacas, and we gave her some of their wool to touch and take away. People find them wonderfully soothing,’ Anthea says. ‘Now we also have ornamental pheasants in the walled garden, and they are charming and very well behaved.’ She describes Houghton Lodge as ‘a haven of peace’, and after half an hour strolling through the grounds, I can vouch for its instantly calming influence. The whole place has an air of quiet and romance, a sort of easy-in-its-skin English country garden-ness, which so many gardens strive for but so few capture. The walled garden is stuffed with colour and interest, but this sense of bountiful enclosure then satisfyingly gives way to the space and stretch of the water meadows and river beyond. It’s the kind of spot to spend a morning, and lose your heart. Houghton Lodge, Stockbridge, Hampshire SO20 6LQ. Open from 1 March to 31 Oct, daily, 10am-5pm, but Wed by appt only. Tel: +44 (0)1264 810502. www.houghtonlodge.co.uk

OPPOSITE PAGE An old well makes a focal point of flower-lined intersecting paths in the walled garden. TOP LEFT Tom, Dick and Harry, Houghton’s alpacas. TOP RIGHT The soothing view down to the River Test. ABOVE LEFT The water meadows are seeded with wildflowers with paths mown through for walking. ABOVE RIGHT Crisp cloches decorate the gravel in front of a glacous-leaved Cynara cardunculus.

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The notebook
Houghton Lodge’s gardens and grounds cover 18 acres, with a walled kitchen garden and meadows along the banks of the River Test. The soil is chalky and the garden faces mostly southeast WATER WONDERS
Hydroponics means growing plants without soil, with the roots in a solution of water with nutrients, or in gravel, perlite or a similar medium. It allows people in places with environments hostile to edible crops to grow food, and is being used in Antarctica, deserts and even by NASA for space missions.

PUFF , A MAGIC DRAGON
When Anthea’s eldest grandson was small, they spent an afternoon clipping a bush by the river into the shape of a dragon (above). A tail was added later, and then at a flower show in France, Anthea’s husband saw mist jets, and thought they would be perfect for making the dragon snort steamy puffs.

UNUSUAL ARCHITECTURE
An intriguing building, the ‘cottage ornee’ house (above) was built sometime before 1800, probably as a fishing lodge, and of a style of rural retreat that was popular in the 18th century.

EDIBLE SIGHTS
The kitchen garden (left) showcases many fruit and vegetables with a kiwi, old fan-trained peach and pear trees on the chalk cob walls, a herb garden, an avenue of apple trees, fruit cages of berries, asparagus beds and hundreds of sweet peas.

TOP TIPS FROM THE BUSKS CONTACTS
RECOMMENDED GARDENS TO VISIT
G Abbey Cottage A charming garden with a comfortable feel, designed and created by Colonel Patrick Daniell. Itchen Abbas, Hampshire SO21 1BN. Open for the NGS on Sun 29 and Mon 30 Aug. www.ngs.org.uk G Achiltibuie Garden Visit the Keder growing house and gardens to learn about hydroponics, and energy- and water-efficient greenhouses. 213 Altandhu, Achiltibuie, Ullapool IV26 2YR. Tel: +44 (0)1854 622202. Mail order hydroponics kits and information available at its website: www.thehydroponicum.com G Drummond Castle A magnificent formal garden much admired by Anthea. Open daily 1 May to 31 October. Muthill, Crieff PH5 2AA. Tel: +44 (0)1764 681433. www.drummondcastlegardens.co.uk G Always keep your secateurs sharp. It’s no use using blunt ones as it is torture for the owner and bad for the plant. G Paths and edges, lawns and hedges. It’s an old adage, but once you have those things right it shouldn’t matter if the rabbits nibble at your flower beds. G It’s very important to have lots of places to sit down in a garden. Too many gardens open to the public have lots of steps and not enough seats. It should be just as much a pleasure to sit in as stroll through.

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The entrance to the orchard at Moor Wood. The Cotswold stone walls blend in with the hedges and hills beyond.

Wildflower posies,

rambling roses
One couple have put their own personal stamp on this inherited valley garden, loved by many generations, and home to a romantic National Collection
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PHOTOGRAPHS LYNN KEDDIE WORDS SUE BRADLEY

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t’s impossible not to feel elated when approaching the garden at Moor Wood. Hidden in an isolated and unnamed Cotswold valley, this feast for the senses is reached by a long track that playfully twists and turns, before dropping down to reveal a sea of colour resembling an Impressionist painting. The glory of this sight is matched by the unmistakable perfume of roses and the chirpy sounds of birdsong. Moor Wood, a Regency-style house, was created from three cottages built sometime in the 1700s, and takes its name from a stretch of woodland mentioned in the Domesday Book. Today’s custodian of these trees and

surrounding fields is Henry Robinson, whose family has farmed the valley since 1911. Back then, Henry’s grandfather tended a herd of dairy shorthorns and grew crops on 140 acres with the help of 10 labourers. Today, Henry single-handedly looks after more than seven times this amount of land, some 1,046 acres, which leaves him little time to devote to a garden. ‘There were probably four gardeners here when my grandfather lived at Moor Wood,’ he says. ‘My parents reduced that down to two, and then to one. Nowadays, it’s just me and my wife Susie, with the help of our gardener, Ian Thackery, two days a week.’

The two-acre garden was in a fairly rundown state when Henry and Susie set about restructuring it in 1983. Features bestowed by previous generations provided a framework for the new incumbents, including a spreading cedar dating back to the 1700s, yew topiary from before the 1920s, a rolling front lawn, terraced slopes, stone walls and a productive orchard. Those who know Henry might have expected him to be influenced by the work of his aunt Alvilde Lees-Milne, a celebrated gardener and designer, and close friend of both Vita Sackville-West and Rosemary Verey. Alvilde, who created gardens for the likes of

ABOVE LEFT Rambler roses and red valerian (Centranthus ruber) tumble down the stone walls that surround the garden at Moor Wood. Shrubs such as potentilla and lavender edge the gravel path. CENTRE A cedar tree dating back to the 1700s dominates the formal lawned area at the back of the house. BELOW, LEFT TO RIGHT Rosa ‘Evangeline’; Rosa ‘Rambling Rector’; Rosa ‘Colcestria’; Rosa ‘Alchymist’ .

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rock star Mick Jagger and the Queen of Jordan, the garden, while effortlessly blending with Susie had to determine the exact differences was famous for her stunning herbaceous the fields and woodland beyond. between a rambler rose and its close relative, borders, and took the concept of ‘outdoor ‘A friend suggested we try to have one the climbing rose. ‘It’s a misconception that rooms’ to a new level. of the Plant Heritage (previously NCCPG) ramblers are smaller, cluster-flowered and Right from the start, however, the Robinsons National Collections of plants, which were just single, having just one layer of petals,’ says knew that any thoughts of Henry. ‘There is a ‘It seemed like a good idea to have a theme, and an immaculate patch were massive selection, strictly out of the question, and they don’t just rambling roses jumped off the page at us’ because they simply did not look like one rose.’ have the time. They were also keen to focus being set up,’ Henry explains. ‘It seemed like The couple soon began searching for on the fact that their garden was part of a a good idea to have a theme, and rambling different cultivars, starting in the UK before much wider landscape. roses jumped off the page at us. We see moving on to France and Germany. ‘We have The solution was to plant scores of rambler ourselves as a being part of a larger landscape, been planting slowly but surely,’ says Henry. roses, vivacious if short-flowering plants that with roses as the main focal points.’ Before ‘We have made dozens of mistakes along the would caress the drystone walls surrounding any planting could begin, however, Henry and way: sometimes we were given good advice

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ABOVE RIGHT The Edwardian rockery, once home to a collection of alpines, has been replaced by various perennials and creepers in keeping with the garden’s overall feeling of ‘romantic disorder’ . The white rose is one of the numbered varieties brought back to Kew from an expedition to China. BELOW, LEFT TO RIGHT Rosa ‘Claire Jacquier’; Rosa ‘Cerise Bouquet’; Rosa ‘Aglaia’; Rosa ‘Paul Transon’ .

but didn’t take it, only to realise exactly what we should have done later on. Maintenancewise, we prune but we don’t spray. We get black spot from time to time, but we live with it. ‘We have found gardeners are enormously kind in sharing rose cuttings,’ he continues. ‘Kew sent us a selection. We have no idea what they’re called, but ‘Kew 256’ is one of the most beautiful! Also Jim Russell at Castle Howard gave us some cuttings 20 years ago, and we have had a lot from David Stone at Mottisfont Abbey.’ To date, Henry and Susie have more than 150 different rambler roses, but their quest to add to their collection continues. They also devote many hours to bringing on cuttings

of rarer rambler roses to share with others. Over the past few years, the Robinsons have accentuated the romantic feel of their rose garden by sowing a wildflower meadow beneath the apple trees in the orchard. Native plants such as poppies, corn cockle, cornflowers and ox-eye daisies bloom through much of the summer, and provide a vital habitat for insects and other wildlife. ‘Wildflowers aren’t easy,’ says Susie. ‘We struggle with them, but everybody likes that bit of the garden - people love walking through with the grass and flowers up to their waists. I think it is a kind of nostalgia for a landscape that is disappearing.’

And it is through nostalgia and looking at the past that Henry is so very much aware of his place in a long line of farmers and gardeners, all of whom have looked after Moor Wood and the land beyond for hundreds of years. ‘We are the lucky recipients of what previous generations have done around here,’ he says. ‘We have the mature trees they never got to see, and we plant for the future. Each generation gets to play in the garden with its own resources and ideas.’ Moor Wood, Woodmancote, nr Cirencester, Glos GL7 7EB. Open for the NGS on Sunday 27 June from 2-6pm. Visitors also welcome by appt. Tel: +44 (0)1285 831397. www.ngs.org.uk

ABOVE An old iron gate opens into the orchard, which is sown with native wildflowers, including poppies, cow parsley and wild mustard. BELOW LEFT Rambling roses and native wildflowers in the orchard, with the Cotswold hills beyond, offer a nostalgic retreat for visitors. BELOW RIGHT The wildflower meadow is a haven for a diverse selection of insects, including honeybees, which are encouraged to use the hives nearby.

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The notebook
Moor Wood garden covers two acres and has Cotswold brash soil. It faces south and west, and is well protected from the wind thanks to the sheltering valley and large numbers of mature trees RAMBLING BEAUTIES
Rambler roses typically have small to medium-sized flowers, often held in large bunches (below), though this is not always the case. Ramblers flower with great freedom, and most types are extremely tough and able to fight their corner against tree and shrub roots. Many are beautifully scented.

SHAPE UP
The large topiary yews (above) were definitely in place in the 1920s, but could actually be much older. The hedge is trimmed every year in July or August to ensure it retains its shape. It provides a dramatic all-green middleground for the rambler roses at the front and back.

GO WILD
Moor Wood’s wildflower meadow (left) features poppies, corncockles, ox-eye daisies and cornflowers. In the past, the flowers were allowed to self-seed, but weeds eventually won, so they now sow fresh seeds annually. The meadow is cut down every August and re-growth is sprayed twice.

HENRY AND SUSIE’S TOP TIPS FOR RAMBLER ROSES
G Take note of your surroundings. Some of the more tender rambler roses, such as Rosa laevigata and Rosa banksiae, cannot survive the extreme temperatures experienced at Moor Wood, which lies 800ft above sea level. G Ramblers flower on old wood and should be pruned in July to divert the growth into new shoots. Failure to prune results in long leggy roses with flowers at the top and nothing at the bottom. G Take hardwood cuttings rather than grafting. Cuttings are slower to grow but once they get going they are glorious. Taking cuttings is an uncertain business, but not complicated. In October, take a shoot that hasn’t flowered and cut it a section off of 9in to 1ft, along with an eye (bud) at the top and one at the bottom. Bury it up to its neck in a trench, label it, leave for a year and then pot up. G Rambler rose hips can be pretty special in autumn. Remove the old hips in March.

CONTACTS
OTHER GARDENS TO VISIT IN THE AREA
G Barnsley House, The Close, Barnsley, Cirencester, Gloucestershire GL7 5EE. Tel: +44 (0)1285 740000. www.barnsleyhouse.com G Cerney House Gardens, North Cerney, Gloucestershire GL7 7BX. Tel: +44 (0)1285 831300. www.cerneygardens.com G Painswick Rococo Garden, Gloucester Road, Painswick, Gloucestershire GL6 6TH. Tel: +44 (0)1452 813204. www.rococogarden.org.uk G Rodmarton Manor Garden, Rodmarton, Gloucestershire GL7 6PF . Tel: +44 (0)1285 841253. www.rodmarton-manor.co.uk

RAMBLER ROSE NURSERIES
G David Austin Roses, Bowling Green Lane, Albrighton, Wolverhampton WV7 3HB. Tel: +44 (0)1902 376300. www.davidaustinroses.com G Peter Beales Roses, London Road, Attleborough, Norfolk NR16 1AY. www.classicroses.co.uk

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ovely views unfold at every turn in the garden surrounding Waterlands Farm, a sequence of pastoral, landscape, woodland and scenic vistas that have come about partly by design, and partly by virtue of the lie of the land. In one corner, a daisied meadow skirts a grassy path that leads to a large field. In another, a hazel walk shelters hedges of pink Rosa ‘Complicata’ that cocoon a vegetable patch. Behind an elongated wedge of yew, woodland snoozes in the midsummer sun. Vantage points offer glimpses of flowers enveloping the Tudor cottage at the heart of it all. ‘The house, built in 1590, is set off by the garden and, being at the centre of the plot, features in most of the views,’ points out owner Peter Camp, a retired printer who moved here 17 years ago from a house with virtually no garden. ‘I’d always had a large garden before, and I really missed it,’ he says. Not surprisingly, he was immediately drawn to the twoand-a-half-acre country garden at Waterlands Farm, probably named as a result of the heavy clay and the many ponds in the locality that were dug during the mid-1800s to provide drinking water for cattle. ‘It was pretty boggy until then,’ says Peter. The ponds remain, but the cattle have long since gone. ‘It had been a working farm until between the wars, and there was a good garden, but by the time I arrived it was overgrown with nettles and brambles, and there was broken glass everywhere from collapsed greenhouses.’ Following extensive refurbishment, Peter moved into the Grade II-listed cottage and turned his attention to the garden. It took him almost four months just to clear the garden and the woodland, a shelter belt of mature oaks, ash, yews, hollies, sycamores, apple trees and a solitary mulberry. Only then could work on the garden begin in earnest. Designer Anthony Paul created a handsome quadrangle area, a partly walled courtyard with a raised pool and covered walkways on two sides. ‘Originally it was the farmyard, but by the time I came, there were beds of roses well past their sell-by date, and lawn, which we replaced with a gravel garden,’ recalls Peter. Not long after, the entire garden was surveyed, drawn to scale, and the main pathways decided upon. ‘I was still working, and didn’t have a lot of time to devote to the garden, but at the very least, I needed paths to be able to get around easily.’ He did, however, find time to plant a number of specimen trees, among them a lovely purple-leaved field maple, tulip

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FROM TOP LEFT Papaver orientale ‘Türkenlouis’; Rosa ‘Complicata’; Rosa Iceberg; Cornus kousa ‘Miss Satomi’, a deciduous tree with pink bracts from spring, and lovely autumn colours. RIGHT Waterlands Tudor cottage down a path edged with beds of catmint, foxgloves, hardy geranium, lupin, clematis, roses, buddleja, sweet rocket and Crambe cordifolia, and a very fine eucalyptus tree on the right.

GLORIOUS GARDENS
SURREY

A farm to charm
From an unpromising site, a retired printer has created this intriguing garden with year-round interest, swathes of bulbs, dreamy meadows and a fine collection of specimen trees
PHOTOGRAPHS AND WORDS NICOLA STOCKEN TOMKINS
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64 The English Garden

tree, flowering cherry, Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’, throws out lots of fresh shoots followed by dramatic black Japanese acers, Cornus kousa, Indian bean tree, snake-bark leaves and pink flowers,’ he says. ‘We’re often seduced by maple, clerodendrum, silver birches, fruit trees, macluras the unusual and exotic, but in the end you can regret it.’ and a snowdrop tree. ‘I planted these quickly, because I A case in point was a lovely mimosa that grew to nearly recognised it would be a few years before they’d mature 8m before snapping in two. ‘It was pruned, and survived sufficiently to make much difference.’ another year, only to be killed by the frost.’ Today, Peter’s foresight is reaping dividends - and having Bulbs are something of a passion, and over the retired 10 years ago, he now has time to appreciate it. ‘I years Peter has planted about 150,000. In shady corners, wanted to retain the feel of a traditional English country there are now clumps of cyclamen, crocuses and garden, largely informal but with a certain amount of snowdrops. ‘I’ve established long vistas of daffodils through structure,’ he explains. With help from designer and the woodland - it gives a feeling of spring before it has plantsman Paul Morrow, Peter has planted different areas actually arrived,’ he says. In the meadow and orchard, he and introduced colour. has planted fritillaries ‘I do have something and camassias among ‘I have something of Christopher Lloyd’s of Christopher Lloyd’s the grasses and cheery approach to colour - bold and positive’ approach to colour ox-eye daisies. bold and positive,’ he says. ‘You need a wide variety of At the moment, Peter is concentrating on creating more plants to create distinctive areas, so as you go around the than one season of colour in certain areas, by planting a garden there are markedly different views.’ succession of bulbs beneath trees and then training a Among his favourite plants are clematis - there are rambling rose or Clematis montana through the upper around 100 in the garden - and hardy fuchsias. ‘I know branches. ‘They’re not always appreciated because you fuchsias are not popular with many gardeners, but I find forget to look up and see the beauty overhead,’ he says. they’re honest plants and trouble free. You simply cut them With so much loveliness around, that’s hardly surprising. down in winter and they re-appear as vigorously as ever with masses of flowers.’ At first, describing a plant as Waterlands garden is open by appointment only for groups ‘honest’ seems curious, but it is a notion in which Peter of up to 15. Please email nicola@gardenpix.co.uk places considerable value. ‘Sambucus nigra is another honest Turn over for garden notebook plant - easy-going and, when cut back hard in spring, it

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OPPOSITE PAGE, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT The cottage seen over the ox-eye daisy meadow; a glimpse through hostas, ligularia and lavender to a table and chairs; the raised York stone terrace with campanula, valerian and Geranium psilostemon self-seeded in cracks; foxgloves and lupins by the meadow. BELOW A bed with Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’ , and Allium cristophii. FROM TOP RIGHT Doronicum pardalianches; Campanula persicifolia; Leucanthemum vulgare; aquilegia.

GLORIOUS GARDENS
SURREY

The notebook
Waterlands garden has clay soil and covers two and a half acres. Highlights include hundreds of thousands of bulbs in spring, a growing specimen tree collection and many clematis and fuchsias CARING FOR CLEMATIS
Peter feeds his clematis (below) with fertiliser in spring, adding compost as a mulch. When planting, he digs a hole deep enough so the rootball rests 5cm below soil level. The happiest clematis have their roots shaded, with foliage and flowers in sun.

DIRTY BIRDIES?
Birdbaths provide essential bathing for birds and are a vital source of drinking water. This salt-glazed pottery one (above) is crafted by Sarah Walton, and available in different glazed finishes and shapes. £997 . Tel: +44 (0)1323 811517 . www.sarahwalton.co.uk

ANIMAL MAGNETISM
Peter’s doe and fawn sculpture was a present many years ago. If you find garden art irresistible, check out work by the members of the Surrey Sculpture Society at Loseley Park from 13 July to 8 August. www.loseley-park.com

HEDGE OF ROSES
Before Peter could grow vegetables, he first had to enclose the vegetable patch with netting to keep out rabbits. He then planted Rosa ‘Complicata’, which has fragrant pink flowers. It has grown to conceal the netting, forming a dense hedge (left). ‘All we do is take the hedge cutters to it each year,’ he says.

CONTACTS
GARDENS NEARBY
G Albury Park Laid out in the 1600s by John Evelyn. Pleasure grounds with lake, river and tree collection. Albury, Surrey GU5 9BH. www.ngs.org.uk G Clandon Park Palladian mansion with gardens and pleasure grounds within a landscaped park, created by Capability Brown. West Clandon, Guildford, Surrey GU4 7RQ. Tel: +44 (0)1483 222482. www.nationaltrust.org.uk

OWNER PETER CAMP’S TOP GARDENING TIPS
G I have evolved various time-saving techniques for naturalising bulbs over the years. I’ve adapted a drill to create the planting holes - when you’ve 8,000 tiny bulbs to go in, it can be quite a chore. For a natural effect, peel back the turf, digging over an area to take at least 15 bulbs before replacing the turf and gently firming down. G My soil is heavy clay but centuries of cultivation have rendered it workable. This is now sustained by 15 compost heaps. It’s a time-consuming business - for example, leaf mould takes three years to fully rot down, and must be moved each year as it gradually reduces - but I still think composting is great, because it disposes of garden debris while at the same time producing something useful. G Get inspiration for your garden by going out and visiting plenty of others. I regularly visit the RHS garden at Wisley - it’s been a great influence. So too have regular visits to a range of historic houses and their gardens, a particular hobby of mine.

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SPOTLIGHT

Focus on... Surrey
Take a trip to the southeast this month, with Michelin-starred restaurants, nurseries, summer festivals and much more

A MARK OF CELEBRATION
Celebrating its 400th anniversary this year, Ham House and garden (right) is a golden treasure and continues to impress visitors every day. The gardens feature a host of 17th-century magnificence, including a cherry garden, flowering shrubs with exotics such as hibiscus and pomegranates, herbaceous planting, eight grass plats surrounded by gravel walks, and a formal maze-like wilderness concealing four circular summerhouses, as well as an orangery kitchen garden - one of the oldest free-standing examples in England. Free garden tours and explorer packs are available on request. The house is open 13 Mar-31 Oct, Sat-Wed, noon to 4pm. The garden, shop and café are open 13 Feb-31 Oct, Sat-Wed, 11am-5pm; and 6 Nov-19 Dec, Sat-Sun, 11am-5pm. Ham Street, Ham, Richmond upon Thames, Surrey TW10 7RS. Tel: +44 (0)20 8940 1950. www.nationaltrust.org.uk

WILDLIFE FUN
Learn the role that small animals, bugs, birds and butterflies have in pollinating plants at Kew’s summer festival between 29 May and 5 September. Take the opportunity to visit The Princess of Wales Conservatory, boasting 10 different climatic zones, including three butterfly zones (above), live bug displays, large scale sculptures, plus visual and audio insights explaining the relationships between flowering plants and their pollinators. Children can discover the importance of every part of the plant in the conservation zone, while photography lovers can enjoy an exhibition of images from leading wildlife photographer Heather Angel’s book, Conservatory. Open 9.30am-6.30pm (weekdays) and 9.30am-7 .30pm (weekends). Tickets cost £13.50 for adults and children under 17 (with an adult) can enter free. Royal Botanic Gardens, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AB. Tel: +44 (0)20 8332 5655. www.kew.org
HAM HOUSE AND GARDENS/©NTPL - JOHN HAMMOND BUTTERFLY/RGB KEW COMPILED BY/VICTORIA KINGSBURY

‘Surrey has many beautiful gardens, including The Old Rectory, setting for the BBC dramatisation of Emma and open for the first time this year’
Gayle Leader, NGS county organiser for Surrey

WINE AND DINE
Drake’s is one Michelin star restaurant, located in a beautiful Georgian building (left) with a boutique-style dining room and a gallery of local art on the walls, providing a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Using only high-quality local and seasonal produce, each dish is delicately prepared and bursting with delicious flavours. The chef and owner, Steve Drake, started his cooking career at the Ritz Hotel and went on to work for some of the country’s leading chefs, including Nico Ladenis and Marco Pierre White. As RHS Wisley garden and other specialist nurseries such as Spring Reach and Ripley Nursery are in the area, this is the perfect pitstop for lunch or a great post-visit dinner. Open for lunch Tuesday to Friday, from noon, and open for dinner Tuesday to Saturday from 7pm.The Clock House, High Street, Ripley, Surrey GU23 6AQ.Tel: +44 (0)1483 224777. www.drakesrestaurant.co.uk

SPREADING MILLAIS LOVE
Established in 1947 , Millais Nurseries (below) propagates around 35,000 rhododendrons and azaleas each year for keen gardeners, large estates, botanic gardens, arboretums and specialist garden centres throughout Great Britain, Ireland and Europe. You will find all of the latest compost, plant food, tools and pest and disease control online or you can browse in person if you are in the area. If there’s something in particular you are looking for or need some expert advice, staff members at Millais are happy to help. Open Mon-Fri, 10am5pm. Crosswater Farm, Crosswater Lane, Churt, Farnham, Surrey GU10 2JN. Tel: +44 (0)1252 792698. www.rhododendrons.co.uk

Wild Kew, in The Nash

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Stand No. PW32

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DESIGN GUIDE
COASTAL

ISLAND EASE
A contemporary house on a south-coast isle presented a great opportunity and a series of challenges for one garden designer
PHOTOGRAPHS MARIANNE MAJERUS WORDS JACKIE BENNETT
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Garden profile
PLACE Private garden running down to the beach
on Hayling Island off the Hampshire coast DESIGNER Declan Buckley SIZE One acre STYLE Contemporary, easy-care planting and landscaping around a newly built modernist house by architect Richard Paxton

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ccording to London-based designer Declan Buckley, good design is as much about what you take away as what you add in. Called in by the clients in 2005 when they were having a spectacular coastal property built on an island off Hampshire, he was, he says, lucky to have been able to work with the architect right from the start. ‘This house is all about revealing the views - of the sea and the beach and changing light - and because we worked with Richard Paxton from an early point, we were able to reflect what he was doing with the house in our plans.’ Paxton, who has since sadly died, designed the house so that all the living quarters were on the upper level, with the bedrooms downstairs. This left Declan with the challenge of keeping the views, while protecting the owners’ privacy. The owners were retiring and wanted a garden that would mature with them, and would be relatively easy to maintain. There had originally been two gardens, in strips running down to the sea, and these needed to be joined by removing a dividing hedge, revealing an oak tree that became a visual marker on the
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horizon. Next, the building needed to be anchored to its surroundings, and much of the time was spent on the groundworks around the house (compaction is always a problem after building works). Declan also extended the limestone paved surfaces used inside the house out into the garden to aid continuity, added a wheelchair ramp and built ‘green pillars’ of climbing plants that soften the front façade. The planting design needed to reflect the fact that the garden would get most use in summer, and everything had to be able cope with the galeforce winds that lash this coast. It is designed to be architectural and protective around the house, and to become less formal as it goes towards the sea. ‘I wanted to leave the seaward side as long grass to gently merge into the beach, but at the moment the clients prefer to cut it short to create play areas; maybe I will get my way one day!’ The planting of coastal and salt-tolerant plants was chosen to be at just the right height so when people are eating on the terrace they can’t be seen, but if they stand up they can look over the planting to the sea. It was tempting, says Declan, to use herbaceous planting around the terraces

for colour, but it needed to stand up all year, so instead he has gone for architectural plants with a bit of a twist - using a phormium called P. cookianum that has a more relaxed look than P . tenax, and Cortaderia richardii, which is a softer version of pampas grass. Declan loves the fact that this project has been able to develop over several years, and was not a ‘quick fix’. ‘We have had time to get the soil right and to react to the client’s changing needs. I was also really lucky to be able to work with the gardener, Steve Cook, right from the beginning. He was onboard with my ideas and that helped a lot. We’ve completed the planting around the house, and now we are developing wildlife-friendly, late-summer borders to run down either side of the open grass, using perennials.’ Good design can also be about compromise. ‘I didn’t get my own way on the meadow grass, but I’m happy that the wildlife will be catered for in these new borders,’ says Declan. He and his clients have come together to create a contemporary garden that pays respect to this special house and its very special location.

ILLUSTRATION /NEIL GOWER

Garden features
This is a garden designed to protect privacy around the house but also to give open views to the sea. Materials were chosen to complement the restrained design of the modern building.

TERRACE FURNITURE The table and chairs (above) were selected to complement the grey recycled plastic decking and limestone paving. It’s sturdy enough to be left outdoors and not be affected by salt and sea spray. FRAMING THE VIEW Existing planting was removed to reveal and highlight the solitary oak tree (left), deliberately left in place to draw the eye down the path towards the sea. The limestone paving coming off the terrace onto the grass acts as a visual guide through the banks of phormium, which stand up to the elements.

A solitary oak tree on the horizon was preserved to draw the eye down the path towards the sea
THE GREEN PILLARS The façade of the modern house, designed by Richard Paxton, has been softened by planting a series of wire ‘pillars’ with Muehlenbeckia complexa (below), a fast-growing New Zealand climber that copes with maritime conditions but needs regular clipping.

THE COURTYARD Approaching the house from the landward side, visitors enter the garden via an entrance that gives an enticing view into a gravelled inner courtyard, with a centrally placed sculpture (above). All of the gravel around the house was sourced from a local quarry, to make sure it fitted in with the naturally occurring colours of the landscape and to give a hint of the beach beyond.

PARALLEL HEDGES Described by the designer as ‘green bollards’, this series of waist-high Euonymus japonicus ‘Compactus’ hedges (above) run at right angles to the house, extending the lines of planting towards the beach. This is a particularly good evergreen for coastal sites and is easy to keep in shape. It grows no more than 1.5m high - unlike the usual Euonymus japonicus.
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The wide-open expanse of lawn is kept short nearest the house and could be allowed to develop into longer grass nearer the sea.The clients have mown it completely for the summer to allow plenty of play space for children.

The euonymus ‘bollards’ are a visual device to draw the planting out from the house.These horizontal lines are extended in spring by lines of daffodils planted in the grass.

The line of oak trees (which cope well with sandy, thin soils) marks the boundary between the two strips of garden that have been joined into one.

These long borders are being developed on either side of the lawn. Wildlife-friendly plants for each season, such as Cirsium rivulare, Liatris spicata and sedum, give a ‘big wildflower look’ but offer an easycare regime.

74 The English Garden

Phormium cookianum is a good choice for a permanent and substantial edging to the terrace, and has a more relaxed feel than the popular but upright P . tenax.

The low-growing grass Stipa arundinacea (now renamed Anemanthele lessoniana) is used as an inner edging to create contrast.

The decking is made from a durable, 100% recycled plastic known as ‘polybois’, which needs no maintenance. The weathered grey colour is perfect for this seaside setting.

The dense growth of Euonymus japonicus ‘Microphyllus’ has been interplanted with more ephemeral alliums and Verbena bonariensis.
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Planting
Chosen for their ability to stand up to the elements, as well as their all-yearround screening qualities, the plants in this garden are tough cookies.

PATHWAY Low-growing Euonymus japonicus ‘Microphyllus’ can be kept tightly clipped and used as a substitute for box in these challenging growing conditions (above). BIG PERFORMERS Pampas grasses (left) have been out of fashion for some time, but can look stunning in a coastal location. Declan chose Cortaderia richardii, which has an arching habit. C. richardii grows to 2.5m tall. Its soft, silvery flower heads appear in summer and last well into winter. The leaves are evergreen, making it ideal for screening.

Pampas grasses have been out of fashion for some time, but can look stunning in a coastal location
DESIGNER PROFILE
G Since 1999, Declan Buckley has been dedicated to designing landscapes and gardens in the UK and overseas. His practice, Buckley Design Associates (www.buckleydesignassociates.com), has worked on projects in urban, rural and coastal sites, from pocket-sized gardens to large-scale landscapes and public parks; from central London to the outskirts of Mumbai and back to his native Ireland via Belgium and Sri Lanka. He is a graduate of the Capel Manor College for SEASIDE FAVOURITES The palette of plants includes blue Eryngium x tripartitum and burgundy Atriplex hortensis (above left), which will both survive salt and drought; the tiny-flowered Aster divaricatus with bold yellow Rudbeckia fuldiga var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’ (above centre); and Sedum ‘Red Cauli’ (above right). All are hardy perennials with masses of impact. These plants are loved by butterflies and bees and will take a fair amount of neglect - perfect for low-maintenance gardens. Horticultural and Environmental Studies. Studio 2, 78 Liverpool Rd, London N1 0QD.

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DESIGN BOOK
COASTAL
Gardens on the coast have to deal with constant wind and salt spray, but with the right plants, such as this pampas grass, fantastic designs are possible, linking the view and surrounding natural materials to your plot.

ALL AT SEA?
ALL IMAGES/JOHN BICKERTON, FROM COASTAL GARDENING (GMC PUBLICATIONS, £16.99)

Gardening by the coast can seem daunting, but once you know what to look out for, you’ll achieve great results, says Andrew Duff, garden design director at the Inchbald School

ardening close to the sea is one of the biggest challenges that a gardener or designer can face. The air, and often the soil itself, is laden with salt particles, which damage the majority of plants, and strong winds can wreak havoc with delicate perennials. In terms of design, a garden at the seaside throws all sorts of exciting ideas into the pot. If you are lucky, you will have a good view of the sea. As with any garden that has a powerful view, the eye tends to go right from where you are standing in the garden, straight out to the view. A good trick is to place something in your garden that stops the eye. This could be a feature plant, but a sculpture would also work. It needs to be something strong that is going to be there all year round. Your eye will be immediately drawn to it before going off into the distance. This helps to anchor the garden to the landscape. It’s also important to link to the surrounding area with materials. I’m not suggesting you go and
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TOP LEFT Tender plants like tree ferns, yuccas and echiums do well in the frost-free environment by the sea. TOP CENTRE Perennials like blue starbloomed eryngium, known as sea holly, can take the harsh climate of wind and salt. TOP RIGHT A seat for the view, matching the wood of the deck in a design that mimics a boardwalk. BOTTOM LEFT Link your garden to the seaside by using similar materials, such as shingle and driftwood, for statement features. BOTTOM CENTRE Agaves and other succulents do particularly well on the coast as the rubbery, leathery texture of their leaves stops the salt-heavy seawater from settling on them. BOTTOM RIGHT Fennel, dill and other plants with feathery leaves are designed to retain water in their foliage, usually lost to the wind in other plants.

steal pebbles from the beach (which is in fact illegal), but using gravels and shingles immediately represents the textures and colours of the beach. Bring the theme of the surrounding area and style into your garden. Have a look at the area’s heritage and industry, then look for little things and make use of something if appropriate. For example, if you were doing a garden in Southwold in Suffolk, you may want to think about painting the garden shed black to mirror the black tar-painted fishing huts.
PLANNING THE PLANTING

There are a few advantages to gardening on the coast, one of which is that the sea tends to keep the frost away from coastal areas, therefore allowing a greater range of tender plants to be grown. Before any planting, prepare the ground. Think about screening young plants from the wind, as it will quickly whip the moisture out of leaves. Any trees you plant will need to be well staked into the ground; you may also want to do this for larger
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shrubs, as the wind will rock the rootball out of the ground. This may go unnoticed until the plant eventually dies. Wind causes soil to dry out, so make sure to add lots of manure to retain moisture. Coastal planting splits into two main categories. Anything that is situated directly on the sea front, and is therefore affected by the spray from the sea, is called ‘first defence’ planting. This kind of planting needs to be incredibly tough to survive in these extreme conditions and, as always, it is worth looking around and seeing what thrives well in the area. Plants with very small feathery leaves often covered with small hairs work well. This helps stop the salt-laden water from settling on the leaves and also conserves water in the plant, so it is not evaporated by the wind. Choose your plant species carefully. For first defence planting, trees like salix, acer and crataegus can thrive, but it’s worth checking which varieties will work. Conifers such as compressus and pinus also thrive in a coastal situation. Elaeagnus, euonymus and sea buckthorn hippophae shrubs

Special thanks to John Bickerton of Coastal Gardens - advice design plant - for gardens near the sea. www.coastalgardens.com
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ALL IMAGES/JOHN BICKERTON, FROM COASTAL GARDENING (GMC PUBLICATIONS, £16.99)

not only look in keeping with their setting, but will also grow incredibly well. Surprisingly, many species of roses are also salt tolerant. ‘Second defence’ planting is situated further back from the beach, and therefore protected - perhaps by another row of houses or slightly further into the countryside or into the town. There is a wider variety of plants that can be grown there, such as rosemary, pittosporums, griselinia and choisya. Subtropicals thrive with warm seaside protection. Bananas, echiums, yuccas and phormiums can provide a lush, exotic feel. Find a good garden close by and visit it. Derek Jarman’s seaside garden in Dungeness is brilliant for first defence planting, and Heligan in Cornwall. Go to your nearest seaside town and see what the council has used - it’s where you’ll see some good experimental planting.

P.J. Bridgman & Co. Ltd. Barnbridge Works, Lockfield Avenue, Brimsdown, Enfield, EN3 7PX, England Tel: (0)20 8804 7474 Email: sales@bridgman.co.uk

Website: www.bridgman.co.uk

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Established in 1982 A friendly and professional family firm
TOPIARY SHAPES AND ARCHES FLAT-PLANE, BOX-HEAD AND PARASOL TREES INSTANT HEDGING Please see our website for further details

www.crowntopiary.co.uk
Visitors are welcome by appointment. 234 North Road Hertford Hertfordshire SG14 2PW Telephone 01992 501055 • Email: info@crowntopiary.co.uk

82 The English Garden

GREEN ISSUES

Watering

Eco-watch
T
hinking back to my sodden peony heads of last summer, when the Met Office recorded 40% more rainfall than during the average UK summer, it’s hard to take seriously its long-term prediction that the biggest challenge for gardeners is the likelihood of a fifth less annual rainfall by the middle of the century, and a greater risk of summer droughts. Average summer temperatures will rise by around 2ºC too, they say. Another astonishing statistic is that in the South East of England, each person has less available water than if we lived in Sudan or Syria. So one way or another, we should be thinking about water and how we can garden without wasting it. with treating the plants with a beneficial fungus called Trichoderma harzianum that both helps to protect the plants from attacks by pathogenic fungi and also increases their root area, which gives them access to more moisture and nutrients. The vibrant display, made up of 6,500 plants such as salvia, cleome, nicotiana and petunia, required just four waterings in 2006, none in 2007 and 2008, and two last year. The National Trust, which is planning to make as many of its gardens as possible self sufficient in water, is now rolling out this regimen across its properties. DRENCH TO QUENCH When plants do need watering, the most economical way is to direct the water to the roots and give them a good drenching, not just a sprinkling that encourages surface roots and gives weeds a chance to move in and steal the moisture. To minimise evaporation in warm weather, water in the cooler parts of the day and don’t use a sprinkler, which can disperse as much as 1,000

Work on soil structure and irrigate wisely, and you won’t waste precious water this summer, says Anne Gatti

AQUA ACTS The first thing is giving your plants soil that’s full of nutrients and has a lovely crumbly texture, so it retains moisture. This may mean forking in barrow loads of organic matter - do this once and top up with surface compost and mulches thereafter, so that you don’t keep disturbing beneficial fungi, bacteria, protozoa and nematodes. With lawns, improve the soil structure by top dressing with compost, and spike it as well if it seems compacted. The next thing is the watering: how much should you give and where should you take the water from? The usual advice is that leafy vegetables, bedding plants and most container plants will need regular splashes but experiments done with petunias at the School of Biological Sciences at Reading University threw up some fascinating results. Plants that were not given regular waterings developed a lean framework and grew shorter, healthier and sturdier than those that were pampered with frequent drinks. Ed Ikin, head gardener at the National Trust property Nymans in Sussex, where the main summer colour comes from blocks of brightly coloured bedding plants, decided to trial this approach in 2006 when drought was predicted (and lasted for weeks). Having first got the soil in tip-top condition, he combined this ‘treat ‘em mean’ watering regime

litres per hour. Some gardeners swear by automatic irrigation systems, and I can see the appeal in large gardens. If they run on a timer, though, it’s important to keep an eye on the weather as you may end up overwatering, which can be just as fatal for plants as drought. As an eco gardener, mains water should be a last resort. Rainwater is free, good for the plants (especially ericaceous) and the best water for filling wildlife-friendly ponds. For small spaces, there are now ultra slimline butts that can be attached to a wall or sunk out of sight under decking. If you have plenty of space, there are underground tanks with attached pumps that can hold nearly 3,000 litres of rainwater. And for the committed recycler, there’s the option of reusing grey water from sinks, baths and the kitchen, which can be used on most plants except edible ones.
G www.waterwise.org.uk G Slim water butts - tel: 0800 5200310 or go to www.rainwaterhog.co.uk

As an eco gardener, mains water should be a last resort. Rainwater is free and good for plants

ILLUSTRATION/MAEVE CLANCY

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84 The English Garden

OTTER FARM
MICROLEAVES

Small but mighty
River Cottage head gardener Mark Diacono is all for harvesting the infant leaves of vegetable seedlings just a few weeks after sowing, to experience quick returns and intense flavours
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MICROLEAVES TIP #1 The right time to harvest
Germination and growth of seedlings is quickest in spring and summer. All you have to do is interrupt the plants’ journeys to adulthood once they have formed their first true leaves - this is usually when they are around 5-8cm tall.

ive them just a week, and I am confident microleaves will change the way you grow what you eat. Seven days to sow, water and then nibble on a few miniature harvests, and you’ll start wonder why you ever used to wait so long to enjoy their flavours at full size. Microleaves (also known as microgreens) are infant seedlings of certain flavourful vegetables and herbs, which you can harvest almost before they’ve had a chance to start growing, which gets you the brightest flavours in the shortest possible time. Fennel, rocket, chervil, any of the oriental leaves, coriander and radish in particular are revelations when harvested in miniature. When I first came across the idea, I thought it was chef-like nonsense, but I was mistaken. The characteristic flavour is all there, though typically more intense, cleaner and without a tough edge to the leaves you can get when fully grown... and you don’t have the wait. Growing microleaves couldn’t be easier and now is the ideal time of year to give them a go. A sunny windowsill or greenhouse speeds things along, and will allow you to grow them even through winter.

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With microleaves, the characteristic flavour is all without the tough edge you get when fully

MICROLEAVES TIP #3 Test for preferred taste
Taste some leaves when they’re very small, and let a few grow a little larger to see where you prefer their flavour and texture. You can just pull micros from the soil to eat, but if you use scissors to harvest them, you’ll avoid the need to wash soil from the roots.

Ten is the magic number
I use 2m-long pieces of guttering, sown in quarters of radish, coriander, rocket and giant red mustard. Sowing each gutter 10 days after the one before means that all summer I’ll be harvesting from one piece of guttering while another grows me replacement microleaves. In the cooler times of the year, germination and growth is slower, so I double the number and sow two gutters every fortnight. You can try anything you like as microleaves (apart from parsnips - their seedlings are poisonous), but the stronger, distinctive herbs

PREVIOUS PAGE Mark Diacono grows a selection of microleaves in succession to always have delicious treats on hand. THIS PAGE, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT Radishes; the deeply coloured leaves of red amaranth; cutting mizuna leaves with a scissors.

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PREVIOUS PAGE /JASON INGRAM THIS SPREAD /RADISH & CORIANDER - MARK DIACONO ALL OTHERS - JASON INGRAM

and salad leaves work best. Coriander, rocket, radishes and fennel are my favourites for flavour, but you can also try purple and redleaved veg such as ‘Red Drumhead’ cabbage, giant red mustard and amaranth, if only for their looks, to lift any salad. When you come to harvest your first microleaves, you may hesitate with the scissors.

It’s hardly surprising: what you’re about to do goes against everything usual in the veg patch. Each of these miniatures will grow into a fullsized plant if left alone, but if you do allow them to grow on, you may not get more for your wait. Take coriander. If you grow it to a full-sized plant, you’ll have months until you harvest, and then face the likelihood of it bolting. It’s

MICROLEAVES TIP #2 Where to sow seed
Sow your chosen seeds using a seed compost in clean seed trays or guttering and in one to three weeks (depending on variety and time of year) you’ll be snipping sensational seedlings, ready to add to your salads.

QUICK TO HARVEST
Microleaves breed confidence, encouraging beginner growers with a quick turnaround. Many new to growing are disappointed to find that most of the usual suspects, such as main-cropping carrots, potatoes and onions, taste very close to those in the shops. They also take their time to get to harvest so there’s no feeling of success for months, and, when it does arrive, the taste isn’t always so sweet. Microleaves grow quickly to harvest, are a revelation of flavour and they will tell you within a week that you can grow. This is a crucial message - successful growing is about confidence and momentum and this is exactly the encouragement a beginner needs.
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there, though typically more intense, cleaner and grown... and you don’t have the wait

MICROLEAVES TIP #4 Careful watering
To make sure you don’t make a mess, leave 8cm or so at each end of the guttering without compost, and water regularly but lightly across (rather than along) the guttering (left) to ensure that the compost doesn’t end up spilling out the sides.

Microleaves make a keynote speech in favour of flavour, calling on us to remember the point of growing your own - bringing fabulous food to your kitchen. We harvest almost everything we grow at its largest - we seek volume as it tells us we’ve been successful. Resist that impulse. Be one of those gardeners fanatical about flavour rather than obsessed with yield.
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Think of the flavour of most veg like a bottle of squash: adding water may increase the volume, but it only dilutes the flavour. Small and sweet wins every time. It’s true of almost everything from courgettes to carrots, and nothing shows this more than microleaves.
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infuriating, and it happens to the best of us. As the plant grows, the leaves become tougher and the lively flavour wanes. Sowing a few coriander seeds in a pot or guttering on a sunny windowsill allows you to sidestep the wait and the decline. When the seedlings are no more than 6cm tall, pick out just one. Wipe any compost from the roots and put the single

seedling in your mouth and chew it slowly at the front of your palate. There will be a delay of a few seconds before the experience takes over. The flavour is wonderful - as if you have a handful of ‘regular’ coriander in there, only a fresher, livelier coriander than you’re used to. Next month: Amazing berries

A small handful of mixed micros will liven up a leafy salad but they work perfectly well without larger leaves. You can even throw them into just-cooked pasta at the last minute, and dress with olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, a little black pepper and Parmesan. However you use them, you’ll be surprised at how little you need. Remember, it’s not about volume, it’s about flavour.
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THIS PAGE, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT The sprouting delights of coriander; rows of rocket and radishes; Mark waters across his guttering to avoid losing precious compost.

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SEASONAL
FOOD

From the kitchen garden
It is possible to enjoy a healthy Sunday brunch, says Francine Raymond, who also rejoices in apricot tarts, roses, hens and rose petal jelly
PHOTOGRAPHS CHARLIE COLMER

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o some, the best pick-me-up the morning after the night before is a classic fry up. But there are homegrown and slightly healthier alternatives. Maybe you

weather’s inclement, tucked away in the sunroom. Put your feet up and, for once, ignore those jobs that need to be done in the garden. Give yourself a well-deserved day of rest and admire your handiwork from a distance. Once the usual occupants - the tender plants and all of those germinating seed trays - have been packed off to their summer quarters outside, sunrooms and conservatories are at their most useful. In late spring and early summer, when it’s too early in the season to rely on morning and late evening temperatures, you can open your windows and your garden will come into the house. Create a haven for your family and plants, and remember
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crave poached eggs on spinach, or a hearty kedgeree with peas, eggs and garden herbs? Try a few slivers of cured ham with sliced apricots and a peppery rocket or watercress salad, dressed with tangy balsamic vinegar and oil dressing. Or, for the really delicate, a cup of black coffee and a slice of brioche spread with a spoonful of reviving rose petal jelly. Treat yourself to a lazy morning brunch on a tray and read all the Sunday newspapers out in the sunshine at your leisure, surrounded by the scents of summer; or, if the

to leave space for a really comfy chair.

Crafty ways with wood
ROSE ARCHES
Favourite climbing and rambling roses need your support. We have rampant ‘Albertine’ straddling a four post arbour, with thornless ‘Zéphirine Drouhin’ growing up the wooden supports. Set in a square, the post tops each have a hole drilled in their core at their apex, and we’ve inserted willow wands that criss-cross over at the top and are secured with a finial where they meet. Single arches carry pretty pink ‘Dorothy Perkins’ and ‘Pink Perpétué’ roses, and other climbers romp along wood and willow fences throughout the garden, creating screens and backdrops to all the borders.

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ALL THE JOYS OF HOMEGROWN APRICOTS
Did you know that apricots are being grown commercially in the UK? Peach leaf curl is a thing of the past with new disease- and frost-resistant varieties, so there’s nothing to stop us producing these exotic luxuries in our own gardens, with flavours and textures light years away from those tiny felty supermarket fruits. Blackmoor Nurseries (www.blackmoor.co.uk or tel: +44 (0)1420 477978) recommend the selffertile varieties ‘Tomcot’ and ‘Flavourcot’, while I’ve been growing abundant apricots with a long-forgotten name for the past five years. Last summer, we pickled, bottled, jammed and gorged ourselves, coming up with flavour combinations to set the taste buds dancing, and mixing sweet with savoury, like a ham and apricot dish (left). Best of all were these little tarts we made for my son’s wedding: G Line half a dozen or so small tart tins with shortcrust pastry G Top each one with half a stoned apricot, face down G Mix together ½ pt/280ml single cream, three egg yolks and 3oz/85g sugar G Pour the mixture over the apricots G Bake at 375ºF/190ºC for 15 minutes, and serve hot or cold with a raspberry sauce.

SEASONAL
FOOD

HENS AND GARDENING
If you’re planning to keep garden hens, chose your breed with care. Any bird that lays for Britain will also eat for Britain and the plants in your garden will all be grist to the mill. So avoid the heavy-laying breeds and egg-a-day hybrids, and stick to the more decorative varieties such as Orpingtons, Brahmas, Silkies and Pekins. Remember that gardening disturbs the soil, and whatever breed you choose your hens will join in looking for tasty morsels, so always cover any newly planted treasures with a cloche. I find upturned hanging basket frames are best for protection and it’s easy to find secondhand ones for a few pence at car boot sales. Provide the hens with a custom-built dustbath, filled with sandpit sand and wood ash from a woodburning stove or bonfire, and hopefully you’ll avoid craters in your borders. A little give and take helps, and if the worst happens, plan a delicious supper based entirely on eggs.

Preserve for the larder
ROSE PETAL JELLY
This is summer in a spoonful. A decadently luxurious jelly with a really rosy aroma that’s especially good stirred into thick yoghurt, mixed with crushed meringues and topped with slivers of toasted almonds and crystallised rose petals. Darker red roses give the most appealing hue, but experiment with your favourite blooms to find your favourite flavour. We used a mixture of ‘Ena Harkness’ and ‘Roseraie de l’Hay’. G Cook 1lb/450g chopped whole cooking apples (including skin and pips) in a saucepan of water until soft G Mash the fruit and strain overnight in a jelly bag G Add an equal amount of sugar

THE KITCHEN GARDEN
If you’d like to learn how to garden around and in spite of your hens, The Kitchen Garden is holding a course on Wednesday 9 June (www.kitchen-gardenhens.co.uk). Judge the results by visiting the garden when it opens for the NGS on Sun 30 and bank holiday Mon 31 May. www.ngs.org.

G Heat in a pan until the sugar is dissolved G Remove any white tips the petals may have - they taste bitter G Blitz ½pt/280ml rose petals in a liquidiser with a little sugar. Add to the pan G Boil fast to setting point G Pot in clean jam jars and, for the best flavour, eat as soon as possible

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EATS & TREATS
PICK YOUR OWN

HOLME is where the heart is
Fields of berries to pick, a thriving plant centre and delicious food in the farm shop and tea room, all in a scenic setting - have a jam-packed day at this family business in Dorset
PHOTOGRAPHS PETER CHATTERTON WORDS SUE BRADLEY

here’s no place like Holme for hundreds of people who have found this rare gem, close to the Dorset coast. Whether it’s harvesting juicy berries in the pick-yourown fields, perusing perennials in the wellstocked plant centre or enjoying coffee and cakes in the tea room, it is a place where everyone is made to feel welcome. It’s not surprising therefore to learn that a family is at the heart of the business, which is located at West Holme, on the road to Lulworth Cove. Holme for Gardens’ roots go back to the 1970s, when dairy farmer Jim Goldsack started up a small pick-yourown-fruit enterprise. ‘Jim was quite ahead of his time really,’ says his daughter-in-law, Liz. ‘He started off growing a few strawberries for people to pick - he could see the milk business was in decline.’ The plant centre arm of the business emerged a few years later, after Jim’s son Simon grew disillusioned with working for large garden centres and decided he could do a better job selling plants and offering landscaping services on his own. ‘I felt customers weren’t getting a good enough

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LEFT The Orchard Tea Room was designed to complement the surrounding environment. BELOW A mouthwatering selection of ‘Holme-made’ cakes.

The tea room overlooks a large pond visited by wildlife, and during the winter months when the trees have shed their leaves, customers can enjoy panoramic views
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service in terms of choice and expertise,’ says Simon, who studied horticulture at Writtle College in Essex. From the start, he made it his mission to find the healthiest and most striking specimens for his customers, and built a friendly team that shared his passion for plants. Holme for Gardens steadily earned a loyal following, but really began to grab people’s attention when Simon started importing mature specimen trees, including 100-year-old olives, and stunning potted topiary. ‘Over the years we have built close friendships with several family firms in Pistoia, a beautiful area in Tuscany that is one of the biggest growing areas in Europe,’ says Simon, a member of the International Tree Foundation. ‘We were among the first people around here to fly to Europe to hand pick plants. My favourites here have to be our unusual trees. I adore magnolias and ornamental cherries but my top choice is quince.’ Alongside the trees and topiary, customers can choose from annuals, perennials and shrubs, including collections of some 130 clematis, 300 roses, 30 kniphofias and 30 crocosmias. There is also a huge selection of tools, seeds, composts and ornaments available. Underpinning everything is ready access to advice and information, with knowledgeable people always on hand.

FOODIE HEAVEN
TOP Simon Goldsack in the garden centre with his dogs Meggie and Jupiter. ABOVE Tea room manager Sonia McNeill (far right) and team. BELOW, LEFT TO RIGHT The tea room’s menu offers a range of dishes made from fresh ingredients; a sponge topped with Holmegrown fruit; the Ask Simon corner, where he helps answer customers’ queries; a selection of plants at the plant centre. OPPOSITE PAGE Preserves for sale made from farm produce.

Next to the plant centre is a farm shop offering a mouthwatering array of local food and drink, along with fruit and ‘Holme-made’ jams and tarts. On the fourth Saturday of every month, there is a farmers’ market here from 10am to 4pm, organised by Purbeck Products. But

Alongside trees and topiary are annuals, perennials and shrubs; collections of clematis, roses, kniphofias and crocosmias; and a huge selection of tools, seeds, composts and ornaments

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EATS & TREATS
PICK YOUR OWN

no visit to Holme for Gardens would be complete without trying out the food and drink on site at The Orchard Tea Room. This light and airy pine and glass building was specially designed to complement its immediate environment within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The tea room overlooks a large pond visited by wildlife, and during the winter months when the trees have shed their leaves, customers can enjoy panoramic views of the Purbeck Hills. It’s just the spot to enjoy a cream tea, including a home-made scone with Dorset clotted cream, freshly brewed coffee or a tub of Purbeck Ice Cream, made at Lower Scoles Farm just down the road. The lunch menu includes jacket potatoes, sandwiches filled with tasty regional foods such as Somerset Cheddar and Dorset Blue Vinney cheeses, soups of the day, and omelettes made with eggs from hens owned by Simon’s brother Stephen. Pride of place, however, belongs to the moreish cakes, all of which are home-made daily. The tea room has proved an overnight success with Holme’s customers, and is regularly used by local clubs and for events such as the Purbeck Film Festival. Simon and Liz were thrilled when it was highly commended in the Garden Retail Awards less than a year after it first opened. Holme for Gardens has been constantly evolving over many years, but Simon and his team say they have no plans to rest on their laurels. Among the latest additions are: an avenue representing an A to Z of British apple varieties; richly planted colourful herbaceous borders; and a new wildlife trail. Jim Goldsack had little idea that his pick-yourown diversification plan would be at the root of such a flourishing business when he planted his first strawberry plants all those years ago. ‘Dad passed away in 2008,’ Simon says, ‘but he loved the way the farm has developed. We have always just wanted it to be the sort of place that we would want to go and visit ourselves.’ Holme For Gardens and The Orchard Tea Room, West Holme Farm, Wareham, Dorset BH20 6AQ. Tel: +44 (0)1929 554716. www.holmeforgardens.co.uk

PICK YOUR OWN
G The Pick-Your-Own season usually starts around the beginning of June and goes on until October, dependant on weather. Pickers are welcome between 9am and 5.30pm. G Strawberries are the first fruits to be available, usually starting in late May with subsequent crops ready at the end of June and late July. G Gooseberries are ready from early June to late July; blackcurrants, late June through to early August; blueberries, July and August; and blackberries, August and September. G Raspberries start in late June but continue into October with autumn varieties, along with red- and whitecurrants. G Holme also offers pick-your-own vegetables, with new potatoes ready in June and July; broad beans from the second week of June to mid-July; runner beans in July and August; and various squash, pumpkin and gourd from August to October.
ABOVE Liz Goldsack with daughter Scarlett. Liz makes jams and cakes for the tea room from gooseberries, raspberries, redcurrants and blueberries grown on site.

PLANT FOCUS
CORNUS

Forgotten flowers
Cornus offer berries and colourful foliage in autumn, followed by dazzling winter stems, but that’s not all they have to give, says David Hurrion
PHOTOGRAPHS DIANNA JAZWINSKI
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PLANT FOCUS
CORNUS

There is a cornus for every garden - it’s the must-have plant for year-round interest

PREVIOUS PAGE Cornus florida f. rubra. THIS PAGE, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT C. sericea ‘Flaviramea’ is also prized for its golden winter stems; Cornus amomum; Cornus controversa ‘Variegata’; Cornus alba ‘Aurea’; Cornus kousa var. chinensis ‘China Girl’; and Cornus angustata.

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ith so many plants vying for attention in late spring and early summer, it can be easy to overlook dogwoods, but to do so is to miss out on some of the most spectacular shrubs and small trees for the garden. The coloured-stemmed species have become one of the mainstays of the winter garden and, when coppiced in spring, produce vibrant upright shoots in shades of brilliant red, black, orange, yellow and lime green. The flowering species are rarely seen outside botanic collections and large country house gardens, however, and June is the month when they’re at their sumptuous best. When it comes to flowers, dogwoods fall into two groups - those that bear flattened sprays of creamy-white and often scented blooms, and the more eye-catching types, which produce large, petal-like bracts that surround knobbly spheres of scentless flowers. Depending on the species and variety, there are usually either four or six bracts and, in some of the more recent hybrid forms of cornus, these can be 10-12cm across. Being tougher than true petals, these bracts have the advantage of lasting for at least 10 days before dropping, in some cases more.
SWEET FRAGRANCE

The first group includes the widely planted colouredstemmed dogwoods, Cornus alba, C. sericea and C. sanguinea. Left unpruned to grow into medium-sized shrubs, these will all produce small sprays of flowers with a slight, sweet fragrance, often followed by white berries, or black in the case of C. sanguinea. Larger heads of blooms are produced by the less well-known C. racemosa, C. amomum and C.macrophylla. In their native United States, they are known respectively as the ‘gray’, ‘silky’ and ‘large-leaved’ dogwoods, and they vary little in their basic attributes, but bear subtle differences in stem colour, leaf

PLANTING TIPS
G All cornus thrive in the textbook conditions of well-drained yet moisture-retentive soil. Of those with colourful bracts, the North American species such as C. florida and C. nuttallii do best in neutral to acid soil and, on lime, are likely to become chlorotic and gradually decline in health. Most of the species from the Far East, such as C. kousa, will grow on alkaline soil. G Where they are to be grown as large shrubs or small trees, dig out a large planting hole about 60cm square and a little deeper than the container

size and berry colour. They are all attractive to bees and will flower profusely in full sun or part shade when left unpruned, as well as providing yellow, orange or russetred autumn leaf colour. Also falling within this group is Cornus controversa, but this isn’t one to hide away at the back of the border. This species and its beautiful cultivars, the most commonly available of which is C. controversa ‘Variegata’, deserve prominent positions as feature shrubs or small trees in the garden as their stunning layer-cake of branches provides a strong architectural form, even when they are bare in the winter - not for nothing are they known by the common name of wedding cake trees. The large heads of small, cream flowers are followed by dark mauve berries and pink and red autumn leaf colour. Look out for the less widely available forms ‘Candlelight’, ‘Pagoda’ and ‘Troya Dwarf’, all of which share the same stunning shape.
LARGEST BRACTS

ABOVE C. ‘Norman Hadden’ is a semievergreen. ABOVE RIGHT The flowers of Cornus ‘Porlock’ turn from white to pink as they age.

the shrub is supplied in. Fork plenty of well-rotted organic matter into the base of the hole, and the excavated soil. Knock the plant from its pot, position it so that the surface of the rootball is level with the surrounding soil and fill around the roots, firming in layers as you go. This will ensure that the plant has a secure root run and help prevent it drying out in the summer.

AFTERCARE
G Decorative stemmed cornus and those with flattened heads of small flowers are robust and require little in the way of care once established. Those grown for colourful stems should be cut back hard in late March. G The ornamental, bract-forming cornus will benefit from two or three feeds with a sequestered iron fertiliser during the first half of the growing season. Maintain good soil conditions by applying a 5cm mulch around the base of the plants in October, keeping mulch clear of the bark. The branches of the bracting cornus tend to be brittle and can be damaged by strong winds, so thin out some of the stems so that the plant catches less of the wind in exposed locations. Cut out any damage as soon as it occurs to prevent dieback.
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For those who are looking for even more spectacle in the garden during late spring and early summer, the cornus that produce petal-like bracts around their tiny flowers are an absolute must. The best of these include forms of C. florida, C. nuttallii, C. capitata and C. kousa, originating in the Himalaya and the Far East. The largest bracts are borne on the hybrids between different species, particularly C. kousa and C. capitata. These include the spectacular ‘Eddie’s White Wonder’ and

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PLANT FOCUS
CORNUS

PERFECT FOR SMALLER GARDENS
There are cornus suitable for any size of plot but, if you’ve only got room for one or you want a spectacular specimen for a courtyard or front garden, then Cornus florida ‘Cloud Nine’ (right) takes some beating. It bears clusters of 7-8cm diameter blooms from mid-April to mid-May along its elegant layered branches. The bracts are followed, in good summers, by glossy red fruits in autumn and spectacular orange-red autumn foliage. It’s the must-have plant for year-round interest.

The bracts last for at least 10 days before dropping, in some cases more
ABOVE Cornus florida ‘Cloud Nine’ . RIGHT Cornus kousa ‘Dwarf Pink’ . BELOW Cornus kousa var. chinensis is one of the most readily available types.

‘Norman Hadden’, both of which are covered with masses of creamy-white bracts in June. They are semi-evergreen and make lovely, slow-growing shrubs that are fully hardy, but benefit from shelter from strong and cold winds. There are plenty of other hybrids with similar parentage, some of which have bracts that change colour from white to pink as they age, such as C. ‘Porlock’. Equally beautiful are some of the forms of the straight species such as C. kousa var. chinensis and other kousas such as ‘China Girl’, ‘Southern Cross’, ‘Dwarf Pink’ and ‘Rel Whirlwind’. Excellent forms of C. florida include pinkbracted ‘Cherokee Chief’ and ‘Autumn Gold’ (which has orangey stems in winter), ‘Alba Plena’ with its double white bracts and C. florida f. rubra. There are also variegated and gold-leaved forms of C. florida and this species has some of the best cultivars for autumn foliage colour. There really is a cornus for every garden. In addition to those species and varieties mentioned, there are plenty more to seek out, but possibly the most unexpected is the diminutive C. canadensis, which is herbaceous and grows 20-30cm tall, topped with four distinctive bracts.

STOCKISTS
WHERE TO SEE CORNUS
G Newby Hall Gardens, Ripon, North Yorkshire HG4 5AE. Tel: 0845 4504068. www.newbyhall.com G RHS Rosemoor Gardens, Great Torrington, Devon EX38 8PH. Tel: +44 (0)1805 624067 . www.rhs.org.uk/Gardens/Rosemoor G Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, Ampfield, Hampshire SO51 0QA. Tel: + 44 (0)1794 368787 . www.hilliergardens.org.uk

WHERE TO BUY CORNUS
G Bluebell Arboretum and Nursery, Smisby, Ashby de la Zouch, Leics LE65 2TA. Tel: +44 (0)1530 413700. www.bluebellnursery.com G Junker’s Nursery Ltd, West Hatch, Taunton, Somerset TA3 5RN. Tel: +44 (0)1823 480774. www.junker.co.uk G Secretts Garden Centre, Milford, Godalming, Surrey GU8 5HL. Tel: +44 (0)1483 520500. www.secretts.co.uk

THE ENGLISH GARDEN
READER EXCLUSIVE

Go potty! FREE plants and fruity offers
*

Contain yourself this month and add some edible plants in pots to your garden with these great offers, including five free herbs and five free packets of veg seeds, as well as great deals on a selection of soft and top fruit

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We’re offering every reader five herb plants and five packets of veg seed worth £22.99 completely FREE! *Just pay £4.45 postage! The collection includes five young herb plants: thyme, rosemary, oregano, sage and mint. You’ll also receive five packets of mixed veg seeds!

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This super-food crop is easy to grow in pots, so great for smaller plots. Grow in ericaceous compost and water often for the maximum crop. One 9cm potted plant £9.49 Two 9cm potted plants £18.98 PLUS A THIRD PLANT FREE!

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Honey berries are sweet blueberry-like fruits from Siberia that ripen in early June. Two varieties are supplied to ensure fruit pollination - Lonicera kamschatika (right) and Lonicera caerulea. 3 young plants £9.99 6 young plants £15.98 SAVE £4!

Mini fruit trees
These miniature apples and pears happily grow in pots, reaching 1m high. Choose from a Mini Red Gala Apple Tree (right), a Mini Yellow Apple and a Mini Conference Pear. Buy individually for just £12.99 each OR get the SUPER SAVER collection of all three fruit trees for just £28.97 - SAVE £10!

ORDER BY PHONE: 0844 573 2020. Please quote EGA31. Phone lines open seven days a week, 9am-8pm ORDER BY POST: The English Garden Offers, Dept. EGA31, PO Box 99, Sudbury CO10 2SN.
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5 FREE herbs and veg seed (pay £4.45 postage) Blueberry ‘Top Hat’ 1 plant Blueberry ‘Top Hat’ 2 plants + 1 FREE ‘Honey berry’ 3 young plants ‘Honey berry’ 6 young plants SAVE £4! Mini Red AppleTree MiniYellow AppleTree Mini Pear Tree Mini Fruit SUPER-SAVER Collection - SAVE £10

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FREE £9.49 £18.98 £9.99 £15.98 £12.99 £12.99 £12.99 £28.97 Total £

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Free Herb plants will be dispatched from June 2010. All other orders will acknowledged with a dispatch date. Delivery to UK addresses only and only one order per household. If in the event of unprecedented demand this offer is oversubscribed, we reserve the right to send suitable substitute varieties. Offer closes 30 June 2010. Please note that your contract for supply of goods is with Thompson & Morgan (Young Plants) Ltd (Terms and conditions available upon request). All offers are subject to availability. Offers available to UK mainland residents only.

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PLANTS
ORGANIC HERBS

Scent of success
If acres of fragrant medicinal plants grown organically sounds like your cup of herbal tea, you can visit or even help out at this working herb field
PHOTOGRAPHS JANE SEBIRE WORDS SUSAN PAINTER
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PREVIOUS PAGE Anna Kinross sorts her herb bounty at The Organic Herb Trading Company. CLOCKWISE FROM TOP The offices overlook a two-acre field of herbs; echinacea is just one of the blooms here that finds its way into medicinal products; elecampane; white-flowered meadowsweet; wood betony.

ending row upon row of vibrant herbs is a fantasy come true for gardener Sarah Weston - and it’s not hard to see why. The sight of massed ranks of colourful blooms covering acres of gently sloping land at The Organic Herb Trading Company in Somerset is enough to give anybody’s day a lift. She grows more than 40 different types of herbs on the site, which occupies an idyllic spot between the picturesque Blackdown, Brendon and Quantocks Hills. The company is certified by the Soil Association and is dedicated to ethical trade. It mainly imports dried herbs for herbal infusions and medicinal and culinary uses, but also grows fresh herbs for tinctures, oils, lotions and more. The herb field is both a great source for material and a lovely place to work. ‘This is my dream job,’ says Sarah, who took over the position of herb field manager from Anna Kinross earlier this year. ‘Two acres

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GOOD HERBS TO GROW FOR COLOUR
G Calendula: yellow, red and orange G Tagetes: white, golden, orange, yellow and red G Echinacea: purple, white and yellow G Elecampane: sunny yellow G Marsh mallow: soft pink

of herbs - I couldn’t think of anything better and I’m thoroughly looking forward to my first summer here - I hope to continue Anna’s good work. During the summer months, the plants here teem with butterflies and bees, and the birdsong is really incredible. The herb field owes much of its success to its south-facing situation and gently sloping ground. ‘Herbs love the sun but many hate getting too wet - they need good drainage,’ explains

Sarah. ‘This field is great for herbs as water runs down the slope. We can plant silver-leaved Mediterranean herbs such as rosemary and thyme towards the top of the site, and more water-loving plants like marsh mallow, meadowsweet and comfrey near the ditch at the bottom.’ Organic waste material from the herb field and maufacturing areas is composted down before being returned to the site’s slightly acidic sandy loam. ‘We add compost to all the beds, particularly to those that are going to be occupied by perennials that will be in situ for a few years,’ Sarah says. ‘Herbs are not particularly fussy compared with vegetables though. They will grow anywhere, in any type of soil.’ Almost every type of plant attracts its share of pests, and herbs are no exception. Slugs pose a particular threat to tender seedlings such as marigolds, and rabbits are particularly attracted to the roots and young shoots of plants such as valerian and yarrow. Sarah uses organic slug pellets when planting out

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PLANTS
ORGANIC HERBS

TIPS FOR SUCCESSFUL HERB GROWING
G Herbs are generally less fussy than vegetable plants but many, particularly Mediterranean herbs such as rosemary and thyme, prefer good drainage. They also love being in sunny situations and the majority do less well in the shade. G Slugs love young herb seedlings and are a particular nuisance during periods of wet weather. Use salt barriers around seed trays, avoiding direct contact with the soil, and organic slug pellets to keep them at bay. G Many herb seeds can be sown in March. Plants can also be multiplied by splitting root stocks or taking cuttings. G Ensure fast-spreading herbs such as comfrey and horseradish are kept away from other plants. G After harvesting, mulch well or cover the ground with matting to keep weeds at bay. Covering also warms the ground ready for planting. G Keeping detailed records of when herbs are sown and harvested acts as a handy reference for future years.

TOP RIGHT Anna Kinross, Sarah Weston’s predecessor at the herb field, harvests herbs with the help of a WWOOFing volunteer. ABOVE, LEFT TO RIGHT The herb field covers gently sloping land with rows of colour; sacks of wood betony ready for drying; bagging up Alchemilla mollis.

seedlings to keep hungry molluscs at bay, and employs netting to deter the bunnies, but she admits it is difficult not to suffer some losses to the wildlife that is irresistibly drawn to the site. Looking after the herb field and organising the picking, cleaning and drying of leaves and roots is a full-time, year-round job for her, but she gets help for seven or eight months from volunteers from the charity World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF), or woofers as they are affectionately known. However, despite hundreds of hours of hard work, the two-acre field produces just a small amount of the total output of The Organic Herb Trading Company. Managing director Mike Brook says that though small herb growing operations did exist in the UK when he started up the business, it was still very difficult to make them commercially viable. ‘Herbs need to be grown on a larger scale and the process needs to be more mechanised than we are here,’ he said. ‘That’s never been the plan for our existing

herb field.’ He still regards it as an essential element of the operation. ‘Having the herb field exerts an influence on a very subtle level. An environment in which plants are growing has a calming effect,’ he says. ‘And it makes our tinctures and macerated oils amazing as they use herbs harvested here that are immediately processed at our onsite facility.’ Mike started out in the herb business by growing plants for herbalists before reaching the conclusion that he simply could not supply enough by himself. He subsequently turned his attention to specialising in importing ethically sourced material from all over the world. After selling his first enterprise, Hambleden Herbs, Mike went on to set up The Organic Herb Trading Company in 1994, from a converted agricultural building on the outskirts of Milverton. When he arrived, the area that was to become the herb field was covered in baling twine, brambles and clumps of silage that

all needed to be cleared and dug by hand before any growing could start. ‘We brought the herb field into production gradually,’ he says. ‘It took five years to start growing on the entire two acres, but one of the things I had learned at Hambleden was that you can try and do too much too quickly.’ Mike, who sits on the committee for the Union for Ethical Bio Trade, is hoping to soon offer other services to customers such as conducting growing trials of herbs, so it’s onward and upward for him, Sarah and their growing field. ‘Herbs are such incredible plants,’ Sarah says. ‘They are so beautiful and have many medicinal properties and culinary uses. With all their possibilities, it’s very exciting to see everything in flower and looking fantastic.’ The Organic Herb Trading Company, Milverton, Somerset TA4 1NF. Tel: +44 (0)1823 401205. The company is holding an open day on 2 July. www.organicherbtrading.com
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BOOKS

Library leaves
This month, we look at design, propagation and veg-growing books, some ideas for kids, and examine writers’ love of the garden shed

DESIGN BIG PLANS, SMALL GARDENS
(Mitchell Beazley, £16.99) If you’re looking for advice on making the most of your small garden plot, you couldn’t hope for any better than that given by Andy Sturgeon. A winner of five consecutive Gold medals at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, here in his third book Sturgeon considers designing for the small garden, delighting in a process where ‘the lack of space seems to force creativity and ingenuity: it demands lateral thinking and experimentation, often with extraordinary results’. Inspiring, highly original, and packed full of personality, Sturgeon’s friendly style leads you through the design process with expert practicality in an eminently readable text. After one of the best introductions to a gardening book I have read in an age (only Sturgeon could liken designing a small garden to packing to go on holiday), the book is split into three sections. The first helps you identify what you want to achieve in an outdoor space, helping to select and prioritise requirements, with sections on eating and entertaining, play, rest and relaxation, work and privacy. ‘Solutions by area’ is the second section, dealing with the type of garden you may have. Laden with useful advice on creating a garden on a balcony or roof, in a courtyard, basement or lightwell, and even dealing with entrances and passageways, those who have found themselves so often overlooked in other books will sigh in satisfied relief. His inclusion of real-life projects including annotated plans (many, though not all, his own designs) will be especially useful to owners of tiny plots (or even those that don’t have a garden at all), offering hope and inspiration with solid advice. Finally, the third section, ‘Design Details’, is a practical materials sourcebook, breathing new life into the familiar garden elements of walls, boundaries, flooring, but also lighting (‘perhaps the most important weapon in your design arsenal’), screens and canopies, water, outdoor kitchens, pots, furniture and, of course, plants. The book is a page-turner, punctuated throughout with bullet pointed sections and checklists, and full of eye-catching photography of ingenious gardens. Sturgeon’s creative eye exemplifies innovative design in the smallest of outdoor spaces, resulting in a book that both amateurs and professionals will find invaluable when designing the small urban garden, but also when seeking inspiration for larger gardens in town and country alike. Ann-Marie Powell, designer
BOOKS IMAGE /KELLY WEECH

One of the best introductions in an age - only Sturgeon could liken designing a small garden to packing to go on holiday’

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Books for keeping the kids busy

YOUNG GARDENER
(Frances Lincoln, £8.99) Projects to get little ones engaged with the garden by Stefan and Beverly Buczacki, presented with photos and cartoons, and wellpresented, easy-to-understand info. Doesn’t talk down to its reader.

THE FAMILY KITCHEN GARDEN BOOK
(Frances Lincoln, £16.99) How to create and manage a fruit and vegetable garden as a family, with tips on gardening with kids, jobs to keep them interested, and recipes so all can enjoy the spoils.

GREEN FINGERS AND MUDDY BOOTS
(Floris Books, £14.99) An interactive guide for kids, with lots of activities to try out. The book comes with a CD of worksheets and the chance to apply for a ‘Young Gardener Certificate’.

WILDLIFE GARDEN
(Dorling Kindersley, £9.99) Endorsed by the RHS, Martyn Cox’s book includes 30 step-bystep projects to discover, engage with and protect the wildlife in our gardens. Colourful, fun and educational.

PRACTICAL GROW YOUR OWN GARDEN
(BBC Books, £20) Carol Klein is on a mission: to introduce legions of gardeners to the art of propagating plants. There was a time when many gardens were stocked with trees, shrubs and perennials lovingly cultivated from cuttings, taken from specimens either purchased for the purpose or much admired in friends’ patches. Today, however, many people feel intimidated by propagation, opting instead for ready-grown plants from garden centres or nurseries. In her new book, Klein hopes to reverse this trend and dispel the widely held assumption that cultivating cuttings is a mysterious art best left to the experts. From stem and root cuttings to offsets and layering, she provides step-by-step guides in her inimitably enthusiastic style. ‘Growing plants from cuttings is something every gardener can accomplish. In a matter of months, we can all produce batches of plants to make our designs achievable, with little or no expense,’ Klein writes. ‘Growing your own garden is not a novel concept. It is real, practical and founded on observing, respecting and emulating nature.’ Her carefully explained step-bystep guides, illustrated with gloriously inspiring photographs by Jonathan Buckley, are sure to entice experienced and beginner gardeners to go forth and propagate. The cover price will undoubtedly more than pay for itself in the savings you’ll make after learning the tricks of the trade from this book. Sue Bradley, garden writer

Many people feel intimidated by propagation - Carol Klein hopes to reverse this trend’
GROWING FOOD THE LOW MAINTENANCE VEGETABLE GARDEN
(New Holland, £16.99) The title of this book is an intriguing sort of prospect - can a vegetable garden be low-maintenance? Clare Matthews certainly thinks so in this volume for beginners that adopts a more relaxed approach to growing your own. With excellent illustrative photographs by Clive Nichols taken over three years at the author’s own vegetable plot, this is an easyto-get-through guide to help you use your garden for produce, however time-poor you are. The low-maintenance aspect is the most attractive thing about the book, there being a rash of veg-growing tomes on the market at the moment, and in this vein Matthews gallantly advises which crops to grow based on a threestar scale, from very easy to fairly easy. Tips include buying diseaseand pest-resistant plug plants, not having a greenhouse and mulching, and though she does offer ways to cut down on hours spent nurturing your edible plants, she has not dispelled my suspicion that it’s not so much about creating a truly low-maintenance veg garden as adapting your plans to make it low maintenance for a veg garden. Stephanie Mahon, books editor

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116 The English Garden

BOOKS
any literati chose to write in ‘sheds’: Mark Twain’s was a ‘cosy’ studio; George Bernard Shaw’s had a movable base so he could catch the sun all day; while Virginia Woolf’s ‘lodge’ was her sanctuary, her room of her own. Long before the era of homeworking saw people pepper their plots with trendy pods, writers were seeking quiet, separate places to compose their thoughts. Roald Dahl’s was a world apart where he was never to be disturbed. I remember as a child the great excitement my brother and I felt when he allowed a TV crew to enter his creative den. We watched enraptured as he prepared pencils on his electric sharpener. ‘That’s the place those horrible wonderful ideas come from,’ I thought. Now, years since his death, his white ‘shed’ with roses round the door is open to pilgrims of James, Danny et al. Probably not what the slightly crotchety man himself would’ve wanted, but visiting numbers show the great interest people have in seeing where things are crafted. I’d like a writing shed - what bliss it would be to not be constantly instantly accessible. But is it only about being detached from normal, hassled day-to-day life in the home, or is there another aspect to this relocation of intellect? Is a scribbling hut on your own land just cheaper than renting a studio somewhere, or is it all down to the actual location itself - the garden? What could be more igniting to the brain than opening your back door, noting seasonal foibles and sauntering down to a heavenly hovel with cup of tea in hand, breathing in the air, going in and sitting down, looking out on flowers and foliage. A fantasy, maybe, but it’s the setting that puts shed working on another level, and has doubtless helped these writers break a block or fuel an idea. And surely for those who write about plants, it’s essential to be close to the topic, to gaze out on it at will. Garden writers, where are your sheds? Noël Kingsbury’s is down a stipa-lined boardwalk from his

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of earth & ink
writers’ sheds
WORDS STEPHANIE MAHON

‘To write as one should of a garden, one must write not outside or merely somewhere near it, but in the garden’
Frances Hodgson Burnett
house, and every window looks over the author’s garden. More a grand annexe than a shed, The Pavilion is a straw-stuffed eco-construction with a spare bedroom, workshop area and office. The building has a warm terracotta tint and lovely details like a veranda, a Mackintosh-inspired gothic window, large roof lights and eye-catching woodwork. ‘Our house is quite small,’ Noël says, ‘and we wouldn’t have got permission to extend, so this seemed like the best course of action.’ ‘I talk a lot,’ laughs his partner, Jo, ‘and I felt it was important for him to actually leave the house and go out to work.’ Noël agrees it’s essential to have a separate place to write, ‘and it being directly on the garden, I can do some work and then go do something physical - I don’t like sitting in one place for long’. The Pavilion was created by Noël and The Alternative Building Company using a timber frame, a traditional clay and straw mix for insulation and plaster finish. It took several months and was the first construction of its kind in the UK. Noël, ex-nurseryman and writer of the recent Hybrid, obviously adores his space, beaming in his understated way as he shows me all the nooks and crannies. How much better it would be to barricade yourself in here as a deadline approaches, surrounded by books, with a vista of naturalistic planting, and only chirruping birds to disrupt your thoughts. I wonder if there’s room for another desk...
For more ideas, try Shedworking by Alex Johnson (Frances Lincoln, £16.99).

I L L U S T R AT I O N / J O H N C A M P B E L L

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117

THE PENTHOUSE FROM VIVID GREEN, SHEDWORKING

There are sheds… then there are Posh Sheds
There are hundreds of sheds on the market to choose from but their quality varies enormously and most look the same. At The Posh Shed Company it's different... We design and build wooden sheds of the highest quality that will not only stay dry inside and are secure,but above all look good. 01568 709103 | www.theposhshedcompany.co.uk

118 The English Garden

DIRECTORY
OUTDOOR OFFICE

Outdoor office directory
Fancy working at home but out of the house? We have all the contacts you need right here...
AARCO 120 LTD
Bracken House, Woodlands Road, Chester CH4 8LB. Tel: +44 (0)1244 679502. www.aarco.co.uk

ENGLISH HERITAGE BUILDINGS
Woods Corner, East Sussex TN21 9LQ. Tel: +44 (0)1424 838643. www.ehbp.com

IGLOO
Tyn Llan Buildings, Penmorfa, Porthmadog, Gwynedd LL49 9SG. Tel: +44 (0)1766 512652. www.igloo.uk.com

ROOMWORKS
Wheatcroft Garden Centre, Edwalton, Nottingham NG12 4DE. Tel: +44 (0)1159 845618. www.roomworks.co.uk

EXTRA ROOMS ARTISAN SHEPHERDS HUTS
Hole House, Freshfield Lane, Danehill, West Sussex RH17 7HQ. Tel: +44 (0)1825 791402. www.artisan-shepherdshuts.co.uk Church Gate, Colston Bassett, Nottingham NG12 3FE. Tel: +44 (0)1159 899555. www.extrarooms.co.uk

SCOTTS OF THRAPSTON INSIDEOUT GARDEN OFFICE BUILDINGS
The Green, Over Kellet, Lancashire, LA6 1BU. Tel: +44 (0)1524 737999. www.iobuild.co.uk Bridge Street, Thrapston, Northamptonshire NN14 4LR. Tel: +44 (0)1832 732366. www.scottsofthrapston.co.uk

GARDEN AFFAIRS BOOTHS GARDEN STUDIOS
The Airfield Building, Weldon Road, Upper Benefield PE8 5AS. Tel: +44 (0)1832 205038. www.boothsgardenstudios.co.uk Trowbridge Garden Centre, 288 Frome Road, Trowbridge, Wiltshire BA14 0DT. Tel: +44 (0)1225 774566. www.gardenaffairs.co.uk

SIGNATURE GARDEN LIVING
Unit 7, 236 Main Road, Newport, Brough HU15 2RH. Tel: +44 (0)1430 444042. www.signaturegardenliving.co.uk

KINGSLAND SAWMILLS LTD
Kingsland, Leominster, Herefordshire HR6 9SF. Tel: +44 (0)1568 708206. www.kingsland.uk.com

SQUIRREL DESIGN
The Old Cake House, The Dairy, Pinkney Park, Malmesbury, Wiltshire SN16 0NX. Tel: +44 (0)1666 840703. www.squirreldesign.co.uk

GARDEN LODGES CABIN LIVING
57 Blackthorn Grove, Menstrie, Clackmannanshire, Scotland FK11 7DX. Tel: 0845 4273927. www.cabinliving.co.uk Unit C12 Sandy Business Park, Gosforth Close, Sandy, Beds SG19 1RB. Tel: 0800 0434821. www.gardenlodges.co.uk

NORTON GARDEN STRUCTURES
The Studio, Upper Norton, West Sussex, PO20 9EA. Tel: +44 (0)1243 607690. www.nortongardenstructures.co.uk

STAN FAIRBROTHER BUILDINGS
Units 2 & 3 Altys Brickworks, Station Road, Hesketh Bank, Nr. Preston, Lancashire PR4 6SS. Tel: +44 (0)1772 814274. www.stanfairbrother.co.uk

GD TIMBER DESIGNS CHART STABLES LTD
Chart House, Dencora Way, Ashford, Kent TN23 4FH. Tel: +44 (0)1233 611123. www.chartstables.co.uk Bignor, Nr Pulborough, West Sussex RH20 1PQ. Tel: +44 (0)1798 869919. www.gdtimberdesigns.co.uk

OSMO UK
Unit 24, Anglo Business Park, Smeaton Close, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire HP19 8UP. Tel: +44 (0)1296 481220. www.osmouk.com

C.H. WHITEHOUSE LTD
Buckhurst Works, Bells Yew Green, Frant, Tunbridge Wells TN3 9BN. Tel: +44 (0)1892 750247. www.chwhitehouseltd.co.uk

HENLEY GARDEN BUILDINGS LTD
Rowen House, 28 Queens Road, Hethersett, Norwich NR9 3DB. Tel: 0870 2407490. www.henleyoffices.com

TOWNSEND TRADITION
Parham House, Pulborough, West Sussex RH20 4HS. Tel: +44 (0)1903 745559. www.townsendtradition.co.uk

POD SPACE
Camp Hill, Scammonden, Huddersfield HD3 3FR. Tel: +44 (0)1484 841167. www.pod-space.co.uk

VALE GARDEN HOUSES
Belton Park, Londonthorpe Road, Grantham, Lincolnshire NG31 9SJ. Tel: +44 (0)1476 564433. www.valegardenhouses.com

THE CLASSIC SHED COMPANY
Creake Road, Burnham Market, Norfolk PE31 1ZX. Tel: +44 (0)1328 738220. www.classic-sheds.co.uk

THE HOME OFFICE COMPANY
Selecta House, Charing Hill, Charing, Kent TN27 0NL. Tel: 0333 800 5050. www.thehomeofficecompany.co.uk

THE POSH SHED COMPANY
Park House, Kingsland, Herefordshire HR6 9SQ. Tel: +44 (0)1568 709103. www.theposhshedcompany.co.uk

WHITE COTTAGE LEISURE BUILDINGS
Unit 4, Springvale Business Centre, Millbuck Way, Sandbach, Cheshire CW11 3HY. Tel: +44 (0)1270 753826. www.whitecottage.co.uk

DINGLEY DELL ENTERPRISES
20 Barnetts Close, Kidderminster, Worcestershire DY10 3DG. Tel: +44 (0)1905 621636. www.dingley-dell.com

HSP GARDEN BUILDINGS LTD
30a Hampstead Avenue, Mildenhall, Suffolk IP28 7AS. Tel: +44 (0)1638 583814. www.hspgardenbuildings.com

ROOMS OUTDOOR
Suite A, 4 St. Mark's Place, London SW19 7ND. Tel: 0800 6122540. www.roomsoutdoor.co.uk

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119

GARDEN
In the JULY issue…

THE ENGLISH

GLOBE-SHAPED FLOWERS
Top perennials for an ‘all-round’ border
G Six super gardens including roses and

romance at an old rectory in Dorset
G Toby Buckland gets a second flush of blooms G The cut flower nursery with a big heart G Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall on encouraging

grandchildren to garden

PLUS Designing a courtyard - Chelsea review - berries galore - eating outside
...and WIN AN AMAZING PROFESSIONAL GARDEN DESIGN COURSE!

On sale 15 June
Sold in selected Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and WH Smith

RULES/WEB
THE ENGLISH GARDEN COMPETITION AND OFFER TERMS AND CONDITIONS
G The publishers reserve the right to add to, amend or waive any of these rules at any time. These rules apply to all competitions in any magazine published by Archant Ltd. G No competition prize can be transferred or assigned to any other person and no cash alternative or alternative prize is available. In the event of the advertised competition prize being unavailable for whatever reason, The English Garden is not responsible and is not required to offer an alternative prize of equal or greater value. G Entries are to be made on the official form printed in the magazine, or in the manner described in the magazine. Incomplete entries are invalid. G Where an entry fee is specified in the magazine, entries must be accompanied by the appropriate fee. Entries not accompanied by the appropriate fee are invalid. G Entries that contain false or misleading information are invalid. In particular, where a minimum age limit is stated in the magazine, any entrant who gives false information will be disqualified. G The closing date for entries is as printed in the relevant issue of the magazine. Where no closing date is shown on offers and competitions, the closing date is the last day of the month shown on the cover of the magazine. Entries received after the closing dates are invalid. The publishers reserve the right to vary the closing date for entries at their absolute discretion. G The winner will be the first correct entry or entries to be drawn after the closing date. G All winners will be notified individually by post or email, or the winners’ details may be published in the magazine, at the publishers’ discretion. G It is a condition of entry that entrants consent to their name and photograph being published in the magazine without fee if they win. G The publishers’ decision is final. No correspondence will be entered into. G The prize is as stated in the magazine. The publishers will not be responsible for any error in the printed details of the magazine. G The publishers reserve the right to offer the same prize or prizes in different titles and or different editions of the same magazine. G The value of the prize stated in the magazine is an approximate only; it is based upon the sponsors’ or suppliers’ full recommended retail price, and may include carriage, handling, fitting etc charges where appropriate. G The publishers and sponsors reserve the right to change the prize in the event of the sponsor failing to supply the advertised prize for whatever reason. G The prize, or part of the prize, is subject to availability. The publishers and sponsors reserve the right to substitute it with another, at their absolute discretion. G The prize is not transferable, and cannot be exchanged for goods and services. No cash alternative is available. G The publishers reserve the right to withhold the prize where, in their sole judgement, none of the entries reaches a sufficient high standard. G Proof of postage of goods to the winner constitutes supply of the prize. G The publisher and/or sponsors will not be liable for loss or damage of the prize in transit. G The publishers will not be liable for accident, injury or loss caused by the prize, or resulting in any way from entry into the competition. G The publishers make no warranty as to the quality of the prize, its fitness for any particular purpose, or the standard of workmanship where applicable. G The competition is void where prohibited by law.

On our website...
GREAT VALUE PRICES ON BOOKS, PLANTS AND TOOLS AT WEB EXCLUSIVE SHOPPING OFFERS
These Victorinox Cut & Hold Scissors are the perfect tool for snipping culinary herbs. At this time of year, their stainless steel blades, designed for cutting and holding stems, are also perfect when you’re collecting flowers for your displays or deadheading. These scissors have beautiful rosewood handles and are built to last. VICTORINOX CUT & HOLD SCISSORS RRP £14.99
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G SELECTION OF SEATS AND BENCHES

There’s nothing better than relaxing on a garden bench on a summer’s day and admiring the fruits of your hard work. Raw Garden’s range is available in a variety of hard-wearing woods and styles. This Darwin Garden Bench is made from FSCcertified pine and is renowned for its strength and durability. DARWIN GARDEN BENCH usual price £279.99, now £238.39
G SAVE £7.99 ON SWEET-SMELLING

LAVENDER COLLECTION Lavender’s powerful aroma and timeless beauty make it a true garden classic. French varieties of the herb have some really impressive and unusual flower types and Thompson & Morgan has put together a collection of three beautiful varieties: ‘Papillon’, ‘Fathead’ and ‘Blue Star’. FRENCH LAVENDER COLLECTION: Buy three plants for £7.99 or six for £15.98 and get another three plants free!
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122

The English Garden

GARDENS to enjoy
ABBOTSBURY SUBTROPICAL GARDENS
Contact Bullers Way, Abbotsbury, Dorset DT3 4LA Information 01305 871387 or www.abbotsburygardens.co.uk Opening Times
Open 10am daily, all year (closed Christmas and New Year)

These Grade 1 Listed Gardens boast collections of exotic plants and trees from all over the world. Many of these were first introductions to this country. • 30 acres including the world famous camellia groves, magnolias, rhododendrons and hydrangeas collections • Superb colonial restaurant for coffee, lunches & teas • Specialist plant nursery, buy online www.abbotsburyplantsales.co.uk • Magnificent viewing point over the Jurassic Coast

OUTSIDE ART - GARDEN SCULPTURE EXHIBITION
Outside Art Russells Quarry Garden & Avondale Library Garden Mill Hill Bagington Coventry CV8 3AG T: 07799311438 E: johnmarron@btinternet.com Sponsored by
www.thegardeningwebsite.co.uk www.outsideart.org.uk

Outside Art has quickly established itself as one of the 'must see' sculpture exhibitions of the year. If you have never been to a sculpture exhibition before, I recommend you go to see this one. Set in lovely surroundings, the artwork is wide-ranging in style and appeals to all tastes and budgets. If you're an established collector, the choice is overwhelming, the prices very competitive and the service excellent." - Duncan Heather Oxford Garden Design School Exhibition Dates: 12 -27 June 2010 Opening hours: 10.30am - 4.30pm Admission fee: £5.00 (£4.00 if pre booked)

THE GARDEN SHOW AT STANSTED PARK
Stansted Park Rowlands Castle Hants PO9 6DX Tel: 01243 586323.
www.thegardenshowonline.com

11-13 June 2010 Open daily 10am-5pm. Entry: £8. Concessions: £5.

Art, Design and the Garden – The Garden Show at Stansted Park. All that is very good about gardening with specialist nurseries; garden designers; suppliers; artists; well-being therapists and sellers of beautiful gifts and country foods and wine. Featuring The Garden Roadshow, The Healing Garden, recycling workshops and children’s entertainment…..something for everyone who loves their garden.

MARWOOD HILL GARDEN
Marwood Nr Barnstaple North Devon EX31 4EB T: 01271 342528
E: info@marwoodhillgarden.co.uk www.marwoodhillgarden.co.uk Opening Times 2010: Garden, Plant Sales & Garden Tea Room Open Daily 1st March – 31st October 10am – 5pm.

Marwood Hill Garden is a magical and inspiring 20 acre private garden with lakes set in a valley 4 miles north of Barnstaple created by Dr Jimmy Smart. Offers all year round interest. National collection holder of Astilbes, Iris Ensata and Tulbaghia. A haven for trees and shrubs from around the world. A huge variety of un-usual plants for sale in the walled garden plant area, delicious home cooked food served in the Garden Tea Room on site. Groups welcome by prior arrangement. Dogs are welcome on leads. Admission prices 2010: Adults £5.50, child (under 12) Free, Child (12-16) £2.50. Group (10 person+) £5.00 pp.

For more information visit us at www.theenglishgarden.co.uk

BROCHURE DIRECTORY

Stand No. A14, Hampton Court

ELIZABETH BRADLEY

Blooms

Oriental Lily
Beautiful contemporary needlework designs and accessories available to order.

www.elizabethbradley.com email: ebd@elizabethbradley.com Tel: 01865 339 050

For more information visit us at www.theenglishgarden.co.uk

THE DIRECTORY
LAWNS WATERLILIES & AQUATIC SPECIALISTS
Bog and moisture loving plants Butyl pool liners and accessories
Please send 2x1st class stamps for catalogue to:

PONDS

AQUAPLANCTON

Mimmacks Aquatics
Woodholme Nursery, Goatsmoor Lane, Stock, Essex CM4 9RS (Dept TEG10) Telephone: 01277 840204

www.mimmacks.co.uk

PLANTS

Encourage wildlife to your garden. Plants and seeds of wildflowers, native trees, shrubs, climbers, bulbs, meadows, etc.
Visitor centre open April 1st-Sept 30th, 11am-5.30pm daily at Coach Gap Lane, Langar, Notts.

Colour catalogue and growing guide, send 4x1st class stamps. Naturescape (EG), Maple Farm, Coach Gap Lane, Langar, Notts, NG13 9HP

Tel: 01949 860592 Fax: 01949 869047
www.naturescape.co.uk email: sales@naturescape.co.uk
Established 1978

Do you have a garden pond? Is it as clear as mud? Is it murky, muddy, slimy, smelly, choked with algae or weed and a chore to clean out? If you have a pump, are you forever cleaning or changing the filter?

To advertise contact Emily Lucas tel: +44 (0) 1242 216081 email: emily.lucas@archant.co.uk

PERHILL PLANTS
Worcester Road, Great Witley, Worcestershire, WR6 6JT tel:01299 896329 email:perhillp@btconnect.com

AQUAPLANCTON could be just what you’re looking for

Specialist growers of rarer more unusual perennials.
Online shop @ www.perhillplants.co.uk Mail order catalogue available.(six 2nd class stamps please). Open most weekdays, 9am-5pm (Closed weekends)

VOTED PRODUCT OF THE YEAR 2009
Used successfully with fish all the time. Safe for ducks, plants, pets, all forms of waterlife, U.V. and biological filters. AQUAPLANCTON has cleared greenwater, sludge and BLANKETWEED for hundreds of happy pond owners. It could do the same for you
For free brochure and price list telephone 01298 214003 anytime or send the approx. surface area of your pond to:

MISCELLANEOUS

POTS & ORNAMENTS

NURSERIES

PUBLISHERS

AQUAPLANCTON River Lodge Bishop’s Lane BUXTON Derbyshire SK17 6UN www.aquaplancton.com
Name ................................................ Address ............................................ .......................................................... .......................................................... Postcode .......................................... Phone................................................ Pond surface sq ft Does your pond have? EG

AUTHORS
PLEASE SUBMIT:
synopsis, plus sample chapters (3) for consideration.

Olympia Publishers
www.olympiapublishers.com
60 Canon Street, LONDON, EC4N 6NP

To advertise contact Emily Lucas tel: 01242 216081 email: emily.lucas@archant.co.uk
For more information visit us at www.theenglishgarden.co.uk

Algae Full Sun Green water Sludge Clogged filters Blanketweed Murky water Odour Koi carp Ducks

Please tick ✓ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏

The English Garden

THE DIRECTORY
ACCESSORIES ARTS AND CRAFTS BRIDGES

A CERAMIC MODEL OF YOUR HOME
Call me or visit my website Richard A. Rogers

RAR Ceramics Tel: 01777 703711
Email: rarceramics@btopenworld.com Web: www.rarceramics.co.uk

For more information visit us at www.theenglishgarden.co.uk
Beautiful, practical supports for the garden, including designs for herbaceous perennials, roses, shrubs and climbing plants.

BLINDS & CURTAINS

To advertise contact Emily Lucas tel: +44 (0) 1242 216081 email: emily.lucas@archant.co.uk

Made in England
Leander Products, Idridgehay, Belper, Derbyshire DE56 2SL

GARDEN DESIGN

GREENHOUSES
Sally Court, Dip ISD, FSGD,

RHS award winning designer, provides a professional, creative design service for all garden styles from the smallest backyard to several acres, formal or cottage, from scratch to restoration. A personal approach to complement client’s individual requirements.
Courtyard Garden Design, The Workshop, 32 Broadway Avenue, East Twickenham, Middlesex TW1 1RH Tel/Fax: +44 (0) 8892 0118 Email: sally.cgd@btconnect.com

FURNITURE AND JOINERY
N GATE & SEA ORIA TIN CT I V

G

TH E

. CO

Tree Seat
Tree, garden and conversation seats in iron.

Tel: 01823 412351 www.gardenseats.com

To advertise contact Emily Lucas tel: 01242 216081 email: emily.lucas@archant.co.uk
The English Garden For more information visit us at www.theenglishgarden.co.uk

To advertise contact Emily Lucas tel: 01242 216081 email: emily.lucas@ archant.co.uk

THE DIRECTORY
COURSES

To advertise contact Emily Lucas tel: +44 (0) 1242 216081 email: emily.lucas@archant.co.uk

HEDGING AND TOPIARY HOPES GROVE NURSERIES

THE HEDGING PLANT SPECIALISTS
Our full colour brochure is FREE on request and includes:
HEDGING, YOUNG TREES, AZALEAS & RHODODENDRONS, CONIFERS, CLIMBERS, GROUND COVER, ORNAMENTAL GRASSES, SPECIMEN TREES, TOPIARY & FRUIT. VISITORS WELCOME BY APPOINTMENT
HOPES GROVE NURSERIES, SMALLHYTHE ROAD, TENTERDEN, KENT, TN30 7LT Tel: 01580 765600 Fax: 01580 766894
Email: sales@hopesgrovenurseries.co.uk Web: www.hopesgrovenurseries.co.uk All enquiries and Credit/Debit card orders welcome. Mail order specialist: nationwide delivery. Nursery open 9-5 Mon-Sat. Closed Sunday. VISA, SWITCH, M.CARD, DELTA, AMEX

WILDLIFE

For more information visit us at www.theenglishgarden.co.uk

The English Garden

THE DIRECTORY
ACCESSORIES

Aluminium

CHAIN SCREENS
Keep Out Insects
Doors : Windows : Room Dividers Colours : Stripes : Patterns Free colour brochure Tel: 020 8560 3337 Fax: 020 8560 4442

To advertise contact Emily Lucas tel: +44 (0) 1242 216081 email: emily.lucas@archant.co.uk

C.I.C. SCREENS
The Metro Centre St Johns Road Isleworth Middx. TW7 6NJ www.cicscreens.co.uk

Traditional Seed boxes & Storage Racks
Brand your own:
Family Name, House Name, Garden Name, Business Name

From £6.50 each + p&p
(minimum order 6 for seed boxes)

From £24 each for storage racks. Allow 28 days for delivery
PET SERVICES

Tel: 01972 510386 or Mob: 07980 276820 Over the Garden Wall Sithean Mor, Achnaha, Kilchoan, Argyll, PH36 4LW

The English Garden

For more information visit us at www.theenglishgarden.co.uk

THE DIRECTORY
PLANTS
131 Theobalds Park Road, Crews Hill, Enfield, Middx EN2 9BB, UK Tel: +44 (0)20 8367 8809 info@paramountplants.co.uk

WEB SERVICES

T: 01629 630139 • www.stonewarehouse.co.uk

DECORATIVE GRAVEL DIRECT FROM THE QUARRY
For all your garden machinery needs

MowWithUs.com

www.gardenlines.co.uk
Lawnmowers, Hedgecutters, Strimmers, Garden Furniture

PLACES TO STAY

To advertise contact Emily Lucas tel: +44 (0) 1242 216081 email: emily.lucas@archant.co.uk

Park Road, Grange over Sands LA11 7HQ Tel: +44 (0) 15395 33026. www.clarehousehotel.co.uk
We offer rest & relaxation, delightful meals, a garden to sit in, a promenade to saunter along and wonderful bay views from our family run hotel. May 1st - July 9th, Any four nights from £314.00pp D,B&B,

CLARE HOUSE

Specimen plant nursery and garden design centre. We supply architectural specimen trees and shrubs including olives and hardy palms. Also wide selection of colourful perennials, and drought-tolerant grasses.

GARDEN LOVERS BREAK
On the edge of the Cotswolds we are England’s oldest hotel built in 1220. Standing next to Malmesbury’s medieval Abbey the hotel has antique furniture, cosy lounges and is traditionally English. Our 2 night break is now only £280 (our 5th birthday, 2004 rate) until the end of August for two people, bed and breakfast, dinner on 1 night and tickets to Abbey House Gardens and Westonbirt Arboretum. The Old Bell Hotel 01666 822344 www.oldbellhotel.com

WWW.PARAMOUNTPLANTS.CO.UK

For more information visit us at www.theenglishgarden.co.uk

The English Garden

GUEST SPEAKER

Get your compost, watering and feeding right, and growing in containers organically and peat free is perfectly possible, says Jekka McVicar
hen I started my herb farm more than 20 years ago, I chose to grow organically and peat free. The challenge was on: to prove that these plants were even better than those raised in peat using chemicals. A few years later, I took this challenge to the Royal Horticultural Society, and started exhibiting at flower shows, for which plants had to be perfect specimens. Achieving success in growing container plants organically, and in peat-free compost, is not as difficult as people think - it is simply a different technique, requiring a slightly different routine. The basic techniques I have developed over the past two decades encompass two simple elements: watering and feeding. Both are essential to produce healthy container plants whatever substrate you choose - and I have tried everything: from duck manure that turned all my plants yellow and a coir compost in which the salts built up and inhibited growth to a compost mixed with clay granules. The granules were meant to act as a buffer for the liquid feed but, in actual fact, melted with watering, sank to the bottom of the pot and blocked drainage holes, which resulted in the compost becoming too wet and sour.

Author and herb expert Jekka McVicar runs an award-winning herb farm near Bristol

W

stopping it from leaching out of the pot, and helps to retain water in summer. Watering is one of the trickiest things to teach. Even after rain, one often needs to supplement with extra water. One of the easiest ways to gauge how much is needed is to lift up the plant in the container - if it feels light, then it almost certainly needs more water. The

I never cease to be amazed by the number of people who do not feed their potted plants, yet expect them to survive on love and water alone!’
Now I use a potting compost that comprises wood waste, which is light and holds a small amount of water, composted bark to keep it open (please note it is essential that the bark is composted; if not it will take nitrogen from the feed to help it turn into compost) and recycled, sterilised loam. The loam that goes into this compost is top soil from building sites. It is shocking to think that this precious commodity used to be dumped in landfill. The loam acts as a buffer for the liquid feed,
130 The English Garden

amount of water to give depends on the season. In spring, when we are still suffering from frosts, I water in the morning so that the plant does not go to bed too wet. In summer, I water early morning and also early evening, when necessary. It is better to water twice rather than drown the plant in the belief that this will do until tomorrow. In winter, I cut the watering back to the minimum - this way the plant is protected from the vagaries of winter.

Next month: our Guest Speaker will be Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall

IMAGE /HMPROUDLOV|DREAMSTIME.COM

Feeding is one of the most important elements of healthy container-raised plants. I never cease to be amazed by the number of people who do not feed their plants, but expect them to survive on love and water alone! Any form of potting substrate will run out of food. At the herb farm, I use liquid feed made from either composted seaweed or composted comfrey. During the growing season I feed twice weekly. My absolute top tip is Epsom salts, especially for bay trees and other evergreen trees and shrubs - every spring give them a good dose in line with the manufacturer’s instructions. Over the years, we have been awarded 62 gold medals, two Tudor Rose Awards for ‘Best in Show’ at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show and the RHS Lawrence Medal for the best exhibit shown during the whole of 2009. So, I honestly believe I have now proved that growing peat free and organically are viable methods of raising plants in containers. It’s not difficult - just a different technique.

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