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NOVEMBER 2013 www.theenglishgarden.co.uk
FEATURING 6 INSPIRATIONAL AUTUMN GARDENS
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Sissinghurst
OUR EXPERTS’
BEST BEE PLANTS
THE NEW HEAD GARDENER
SHAKES THINGS UP
TOM STUART-SMITH’S
TOP 3 ASTERS
for late colour
EXCLUSIVE
masterful design
November 2013 the english garden 3
editor’s letter
THE ENGLISH
GARDEN AWARDS
2012
Garden Media Guild
Journalist Of The Year
Stephanie Mahon
2011
Garden Media Guild
Environmental Award
Anne Gatti
The Nichee
Magazine Awards
Best Niche Lifestyle
Consumer Magazine
2010
Garden Media Guild
Gardening Column
Of The Year
Mark Diacono
2009
Garden Media Guild
Gardening Column
Of The Year
Jackie Bennett
Garden Media Guild
New Garden Media
Talent Of The Year
Stephanie Mahon
2008
Garden Media Guild
New Writer Award
Joe Reardon-Smith
On the cover:
Troy Scott-Smith, the
new Head Gardener at
Sissinghurst, Kent (pg 83)
Photograph:
Jason Ingram
Do you stick rigidly to
the style of the garden’s
original creators or add
your own spin?
Y
ou may need an extra layer of
clothing this month, but there is
nothing else for gardeners to be
glum about. This is the month to
really get cracking with new plans
before the ground becomes hard with frost - it’s an
exciting time, full of promise. I often get asked by
non-gardening friends what on earth we find to
put in the magazine in winter. When I start to
enthusiastically reel off the list, I see them look on
in amazement. But you and I, dear reader, know
of all the glories of the season - maybe the others
will catch on soon.
Last autumn, I was lucky enough to visit HEVER
CASTLE (pg 32) in Kent. The maturity of the trees
and the striking castle make this garden one of the
UK’s best. Another gem of a garden not far from
Hever is SISSINGHURST (pg 83). Previously the
home of Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson,
it manages to inspire and capture our imaginations
as much today as it did on its creation in the
1930s. News from this hallowed ground is that a
new Head Gardener has taken up residence. Troy
Scott-Smith is the first man to take on this role on
more than 50 years. Taking on such a job is
obviously a huge challenge, and comes with great
responsibility. Do you stick rigidly to the styles of
the garden’s original creators or add your own
spin? This is a topic that has been long debated by
gardeners and one Troy is brave enough to wade
into. What do you think?
Also in this issue, we share the winning garden
from BRITAIN’S BEST GARDENER’S GARDEN
COMPETITION in association with Gardencare.
We had so many entries, and the standard of the
gardens was amazing - thanks to all who entered.
And congratulations to Fran Wakefield - go to
page 69 to see why her garden was a winner.
Happy leaf raking!
VISIT OUR NEW LOOK WEBSITE: www.theenglishgarden.co.uk
FOLLOW: @TEGmagazine on Twitter
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Tamsin Westhorpe, Editor
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November 2013 the english garden 5
ARDEN G
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6 the english garden November 2013
NOVEMBER
10 NEWS & EVENTS November An interview with GQT’s
Matthew Wilson, the RHS winter wonderland and great days out
14 SHOPPING Keeping cosy A selection of handy products
and winter treats for gardeners
17 LE MANOIR Always on duty Garden art, late harvests and
planting bareroot at Raymond Blanc’s Oxfordshire garden
24 EDITOR’S CHOICE Riddles Editor Tamsin sieves
through the choice of top garden riddles
27 THE WISE GUYS The call of the wild Mark Diacono,
Tom Petherick and Toby Buckland pick plants that attract bees
75 SEASONAL RECIPES In from the cold Silvana de
Soissons turns up the heat with ideas for leeks, apples and celeriac
83 SISSINGHURST Revitalising Vita The new Head
Gardener tells us all about his first summer at this iconic garden
101 VOLUNTEERING Grow & give Volunteers get busy on the
island of Colonsay and at a Marie Curie Hospice in Newcastle
106 THE REVIEWER Books, blogs & more Our pick of new
books and an interview with Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert
114 THE FABULOUS BIKER BOY Mountain magic Chris
Beardshaw is off to the Pyrenees in search of plants in different climates
Design
58 NORFOLK Private view Tom Stuart-Smith masterful
design of a stunning garden in rural Norfolk
65 DESIGN EYE Sculpture in the garden and how to light up
your favourite garden features
69 WINNER Pick of the bunch Our garden competition
winner is the beautiful Tithe Barn garden in Berkshire
On the cover
32
Contents
58
93

75
44
November 2013 the english garden 7
plants
9 PLANT SWATCH Lasting impact Helen Picton of Old
Court Nurseries shares her top three asters for late colour
93 ARBORETUM True colours A stunning collection of
trees can be seen at Bodenham, a family run arboretum in Worcestershire
Offers & competitions
22 Subscribe & save Why not take out a subscription for a friend this
Christmas and save 58% on the cover price?
57 Sarah Raven offer Enjoy 20% off Sarah’s autumn range
99 Reader offer 2 FREE
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plus other great plant offers
Treat yourself or a friend to our calendar with
stunning images from acclaimed garden
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Every month has a new, essential lawn tip from
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Just £9.99 - UK postage is free
The English Garden calendar is the perfect gift. The more you
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To order in advance, call 0844 8488059 or visit
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PAGE
44
gardens
32 KENT Autumn with the Astors The childhood home of
Anne Boleyn is now the perfect autumnal escape
39 NORFOLK Have-a-go heroes See how a three-acre plot has
developed under the hands of one couple over five decades
44 ESSEX In another world A garden situated on the Stour
estuary has gone from derelict to dreamy
51 IRELAND Arboreal arcadia This private collection of
4,500 species of plants and trees amazes at Mount Usher in Wicklow
51
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83
THE ENGLISH GARDEN
CALENDAR 2014

PRE-ORDER
YOUR 2014
CALENDAR
SEE PG 49
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Aster ericoides f.
prostratus ‘Snow Flurry’
This unusual prostrate variety, which grows up
to 10cm in height and about 30cm wide, was
introduced from the US by Beth Chatto. It forms
a mat of fowering stems with petite leaves,
which rather resemble heather foliage. These are
then smothered by a mass of tiny white daisies
in October, which end up looking very much like
an early fall of snow. A spectacular display can be
achieved by growing this where it can fall over
the edge of a drystone wall or timber edging.
This plant is disease resistant but, like the
majority of autumn asters, it does require plenty
of sun to fower. Like all other asters, it is
a much-appreciated food source for insects.
November 2013 the english garden 9
This is an elegant variety with graceful arching
sprays of pale lavender-blue fowers over
attractive foliage, which is never despoiled by the
dreaded mildew. Reaching 1.2m in height, like
many others it works efectively when planted
alongside grasses, in particular Miscanthus
sinensis ‘Rotsilber’, where the silver-striped foliage
of the grass picks up and complements the
unusual colouring of this variety. Autumn asters
are extremely versatile, fowering from the end
of July until late October and beyond. They
are very hardy - many coming from northern
parts of the US and others from higher-
altitude regions of Europe and Asia.
Aster trinervius
var. harae
This species from Asia has attractive violet
fowers with distinctive rough-toothed foliage
and dark stems. It can reach 1.2m in height,
and will form a large clump fairly rapidly. Most
notable is that the fowers rarely start to open
before mid-October and are often still looking
fantastic in December, making it an excellent
fower for the Christmas table. What’s more, it
is disease resistant, will take a semi-shaded
position, and is more than happy to look
after itself. This underrated plant deserves
a position in our gardens. In fact, most asters
are happy growing in any garden soil, so
every gardener can enjoy them.
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Aster turbinellus
lasting impact
LOW-
GROWING
HABIT
Aster expert Helen Picton of Old Court Nurseries in
Worcestershire shares her top three Michaelmas daisies
plant swatch: autumn asters
10 the english garden November 2013
Remember, remember the fifth of November, gunpowder, treason and plot. When I was a child, Firework
Night consisted of a box of assorted rockets and Roman candles bought from the newsagent where
they were kept in a locked box. The anticipation was considerably more exciting than the actual event
- a couple of fizzy rockets that barely cleared the roof and a Catherine wheel that usually got stuck mid-
rotation. And don’t forget burnt fingers from sparklers. The only thing more disappointing was watching
the World Fireworks Championship on a black-and-white television! Best to go to one of those big public
displays than do it yourself.
James Alexander-Sinclair
R
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t
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r
tt
dd
NEWS EVENTS
BEE
ORGANISED
I’m sorry to mention this,
but it’s time to think about
Christmas shopping. I know
that some will have done
it all in July, but not all of
us are that organised. I am,
I admit, appalling, although
much better than past
years. For those of you
looking for something
interesting, how about
a bee house? Not a hive,
that would be altogether
too much of a responsibility
to give an unsuspecting
relation, but a little hanging
house stuffed with hollow
bamboo in which bees
can shelter (below). Like a
boutique hotel but without
the room service. £9.95.
Visit www.simplyroses.com
Rosemoor is the RHS garden in the southwest and is, perhaps, my favourite. I first went there about 15 years ago,
and it was bitterly cold, but with watery sunshine and crispy frosts underfoot. It made a great impression and
I have been back in every season since. If you need an excuse to visit, there is an exhibition of sculpture from 23
November to 23 February next year. For more details, visit www.rhs.org.uk/Gardens
Enjoy bonfre night in style at Chatsworth,
Derbyshire, on 2 and 3 November. Gates
open at 6.15pm for freworks, bonfre,
music and entertainment. Book in advance
as this is usually a sell-out event. Tel: +44
(0)1246 565300. www.chatsworth.org
RHS favourite
GRAND GRAVETYE
Gravetye Manor is a very fine hotel in Sussex. It used to be the
home of William Robinson, who was one of the pioneers of the
herbaceous border and champion of the wild garden. He bought
Gravetye in 1884 and experimented with the garden there. After
his death, the garden declined, but it has been slowly wrenched
round thanks to the head gardener, Tom Coward. This month,
why not go and check out the food and listen to the great Henry
Blofeld on 15 November. Then go back next year to check out the
garden. It is always good to have a spurious reason to indulge in
a bit of luxury. For details, visit www.gravetyemanor.co.uk
Bang!
WITH A
Greenfingers is one
of the UK’s leading
gardening charities.
Its chairman
Matthew Wilson
is a well-known
Gardeners’ Question
Time panellist and
the unbeaten South
London iced-bun
eating champion.
We decided to
quiz him.
WHAT DOES
GREENFINGERS DO?
To date we have
made gardens at 42
hospices. There are
around 70 children’s
hospices in the UK and
they don’t tend to receive
any direct funding from
central Government.
The money they raise,
understandably, goes
into medical care first
and foremost. Our work is
to design, fundraise, project
manage and deliver the
gardens. They make such
a huge difference to the
children in the hospice
system, their parents and
siblings. This year, we
launched our ‘Rosy Cheeks’
appeal to raise £750,000
and make 10 new gardens
across the UK. It’s an
ambitious target, but we
are a determined bunch!
We have five part-time
staff and everyone else,
like me, is a volunteer.
HOW CAN OUR
READERS HELP?
Readers can donate
directly at www.green
fingerscharity.org.uk or
get involved via their
local hospice, many
of which will have a
Greenfingers garden.
WHAT DO YOU
DO AS A DAY JOB?
I run Clifton Nurseries,
London’s oldest horticultural
business. Any spare time is
spent writing and being run
ragged by our four-year-old
twins. On the third Saturday
of every month, I’m actually
allowed 30 minutes of
gardening time...
IF YOU HAD TO SPEND
A YEAR PLAYING ONE
BOARD GAME, WHICH
WOULD YOU CHOOSE?
Monopoly. I was obsessed
as a youth. One game
went on for about a
month, with me and my
pals reconvening every
other day or so. It got
pretty heated.
IF YOU HAD TO LIVE IN A
CARAVAN IN ONE GREAT
GARDEN, WHICH WOULD
YOU CHOOSE?
There’s a very eccentric
garden in California
called Lotusland. It was
the creation of a Polish
opera singer called Ganna
Walska and It’s so eccentric
and madcap, I don’t think I
would ever get bored there.
A man of charity
November 2013 the english garden 11
Unsung hero
Thalictrum, a plant often
overlooked, is now on trial at
Aberglasney gardens in Wales.
This is ground breaking as it’s
the first plant trial (actually
named an RHS Thalictrum
Forum) that an RHS partner
garden has undertaken. It will
begin next spring and run
for two years. It’s the perfect
opportunity to put many
interesting new varieties to the
test and promote this plant as
being great for bees and trouble
free. Perhaps this will start the
ball rolling and encourage
other RHS partner gardens to
do trials? For details on visiting,
go to www.aberglasney.org
ALL ABOUT THE TREES
You will have heard of the Royal Botanic Gardens
Edinburgh, but familiarity allows us to explore the
hidden corners of a garden. How about listening
to storytellers telling tales behind the trees?
17 November at 2pm. www.rbge.org.uk
news & events
L
LEVEL 2 PRACTICAL
COOKERY COURSE AT
BETTY’S COOKERY SCHOOL
Monday 18-Friday 22,
North Yorkshire
This five-day course is for
confident and competent
cooks who want to take
their skills to the next stage.
Also included are Betty’s
school accessories and
refreshments throughout
the day. £850. For more info,
tel: +44 (0)1423 814016
or visit www.bettyscookery
school.co.uk
____________
CARVING SKILLS AND
SUNDAY LUNCH COURSE
AT THYME AT SOUTHROP
MANOR
Sunday 24, Gloucestershire
10am-4pm. £175. For more
info or to book, tel: +44
(0)1367 850174 or visit
www.thymeatsouthrop.co.uk
____________
S H O W S
BBC GOOD FOOD SHOW
WINTER AT NEC (above)
Wednesday 27-Sunday 1
December, Birmingham
With chefs such as James
Martin and Mary Berry,
and more. For group tickets,
tel: 0800 3580058 or visit
www.bbcgoodfoodshow.com
____________
12 the english garden November 2013
D AY S O U T
FIND SANTA’S REINDEER AT
WATERPERRY GARDENS
Saturday 16 November-
Monday 30 December,
Oxfordshire
Children: £2. Must accompany
adult paying garden entrance.
10am-4pm. For info, tel:
+44 (0)1844 339254 or visit
www.waterperrygardens.co.uk
____________
BURGHLEY FINE
FOOD MARKET
Saturday 30-Sunday 1
December, Lincolnshire
Free entry. For more info,
tel: +44 (0)1780 752451.
www.burghley.co.uk
____________
C O U R S E S
CHRISTMAS
WATERCOLOUR
WORKSHOP AT
TATTON PARK
Saturday 2, Cheshire
To book, tel: +44 (0)7773
982996 or email:
chrisbeesleyart@sky.com
____________
WILLOW WEAVING AT
ARLEY HALL AND GARDENS
Tuesday 5, Cheshire
10am-3.30pm. Tickets: £50.
To book, tel: +44 (0)7949
640613 or visit www.
juliettehamiltondesign.co.uk
____________
PRUNING FRUIT
TREES AT BARNSDALE
GARDENS
Wednesday 13 November,
Leicestershire
10.30am-12.30pm or 2-4pm.
Tickets: £32. To book, tel:
+44 (0)1572 813200 or visit
www.barnsdalegardens.co.uk
____________
E V E N I N G S
BONFIRE NIGHT AT
CHATSWORTH (above)
Saturday 2-Sunday 3,
Derbyshire
Gates open 6.15pm. Ends at
9pm. Music and entertainment
such as an aerial display and
fire performances. For tickets,
tel: +44 (0)1246 565300 or
visit www.chatsworth.org
____________
WINE LOVERS’ DINNER AT
WADDESDON MANOR
Saturday 9 November,
Buckinghamshire
A tour of the cellar, a selection
of four Rothschild wines to
taste and a four-course meal.
7.30-11pm. £95 per person.
For more info or to book, tel:
+44 (0)1296 653226 or visit
www.waddesdon.org.uk
____________
COMEDY NIGHT AT
ALNWICK GARDEN
Saturday 23, Northumberland
Doors open at 7.30pm.
Ends at 10.30pm. Tickets:
£19.95 per person including
nibbles. There’s a fantastic
line-up, so to book or for
more info, tel: +44 (0)1665
511350. www.alnwick
garden.com
____________
news & events
WHAT’S ON
diary
FA I R S
COUNTRY LIVING
CHRISTMAS FAIR AT
LONDON OLYMPIA
Tuesday 5-Sunday 10,
London
For tickets and for more
info, visit www.spirit
ofchristmasfair.co.uk
____________
CRAFTS FOR CHRISTMAS
AT LOSELY PARK
Thursday 14-Sunday 17,
Surrey
Advance adult: £5.50. At
event: £6.50. For more info
tel: +44 (0)1483 304440 or
visit www.loselypark.co.uk
____________
BATH CHRISTMAS MARKET
Thursday 28-Sunday 15
December, Somerset
A Christmas shopper’s
haven. Visit www.bath
christmasmarket.co.uk
____________
CHRISTMAS FAIR AT
CHELSEA PHYSIC GARDEN
Saturday 30-Sunday 1
December, London
10am-4pm. Adults: £5. Under
16s go free. Tel: +44 (0)20
7352 5646. www.chelsea
physicgarden.co.uk
____________
F E S T I V A L
WINTER LIGHTS FESTIVAL
AT ANGLESEY ABBEY,
GARDENS AND LODE MILL
Friday 29-Sunday 1
December, Cambridgeshire
Adults: £10. Children: £7.
Booking not required. For
info, tel: +44 (0)1223 810080.
____________
N O V E M B E R
14 the english garden November 2013
NOVEMBER
KEEPING
COSY
This month, get organised in the garden and keep warm
on Bonfire Night with our selection of stylish accessories
COMPILED BY VICTORIA KINGSBURY
COASTAL BLANKET
£16.50. Tel: 0800 0336116.
www.aspenandbrown.com
THOUGHTFUL GARDENER BIRD HOUSE
£19.99. Tel: +44 (0)1482 863733.
www.amantidirect.co.uk
KARENZA & CO HYDRANGEA CUSHION
£35. Tel: +44 (0)1252 621145.
www.karenzaandco.com
STRIPED TWINES 200m. Available end
of October. £5.95 each. Tel: +44 (0)1142
338262. www.burgonandball.com
Handy
TO HAVE
Stanley classic vacuum flasks, 1L, £32.99; 0.47L, £26.99;
Pisces multi-fish enamel mugs, £9 each; rustic olive-
wood paddle chopping board, £35; Royal Stewart rug,
£60; winter warmer hamper including Atkins & Potts
creamy & messy milk chocolate dipper, £75.
Tel: 0845 6049049. www.johnlewis.com
November 2013 the english garden 15
shopping: november
TOBOGGAN WOODEN SLEDGE
£59. Tel: +44 (0)1844 217060.
www.henandhammock.co.uk
ENAMEL CHALKBOARD FLASK AND
MUG £22.50. Tel: 0845 2591359.
www.notonthehighstreet.com
Winter
FUN
TAPERED RATTAN LOG BASKET
£70. Tel: 0845 6084448.
www.gardentrading.co.uk
GARDENERS’ GUBBINS POTS
£19.95. Tel: +44 (0)1142 338262.
www.burgonandball.com
JOULES ANKLE SOCKS
Available in hot pink (right), red
and sky blue. £5.95 each.
Tel: 0845 6049049.
www.johnlewis.com
BIO-LITE CAMPING STOVE
£149.99. Tel: 0845 5059090.
www.glow.co.uk
GALVANISED METAL DOOR MAT
£32. Tel: 0845 6084448.
www.gardentrading.co.uk
ANTIQUE ZINC UMBRELLA
STORE £44.95. Tel: 0800
4080660. www.dibor.co.uk
KEY CABINET
£32. Available mid-October.
Tel: 0845 6084448.
www.gardentrading.co.uk
THE LAWN ROSE GARDEN TEA
£8. Tel: 0845 6049049.
www.johnlewis.com
ENGLISH ROSE HOT WATER BOTTLE
£10.95. Tel: 0800 0336116.
www.aspenandbrown.com
LACEWING LARGE WOODEN COLDFRAME
£39.95. Tel: +44 (0)1189 035210.
www.primrose.co.uk
FIRELIGHTER BOX
£18. Tel: 0845 6084448.
www.gardentrading.co.uk
Keep
WARM
November 2013 the english garden 17
Head vegetable
gardener Anna
Greenland
harvests chard,
a great crop for
the late-season
kitchen garden.
Always on
DUTY
Autumn is here, but Raymond Blanc’s gardening
team have no time to warm their toes by the fire
PHOTOGRAPHS JASON INGRAM
T
he open fires are lit at Le Manoir in
Oxfordshire and hotel guests are being
warmed with hearty food, but there is
no time for the gardening team to get cosy,
as this month is a busy one.
There’s a race on to plant bulbs and protect tender
plants from the inevitable hard frost, and if the gardeners
need to warm up, there’s no end of leaves to be collected.
As the leaves are raked under the horse chestnut tree, the
gardeners look out for conkers. These are then used for
decorations and arrangements (great for garlands and
wreathes) by Sarah, the florist at Le Manoir.
L
Many of our guests assume that the
garden slows down at this point.
That couldn’t be further from the
truth. We are still harvesting Cavolo
Nero kale, swedes, New Zealand
yams and rainbow chard, to name
but a few of the edibles on offer.
The team keeps a keen eye on the
non-hybrid plants in the herb and
Asian gardens in order to collect
seed. The ripe seed is collected on a
dry day and is then stored in paper
envelopes at 10˚C in a dark and dry
place for sowing next spring - we
love to see the second generation of
Le Manoir plants in the making.
In the decorative garden, it is all
hands on deck with more than 6,000
bulbs to plant. We plant fresh tulip
bulbs every year in order to ensure a
regimented and top-quality display.
We will lift last year’s tulips once
the foliage has turned yellow in
spring and these are then planted on
in outlying parts of the garden.
At bulb-planting time, we also
take the opportunity to lift and
divide herbaceous plants. Plants such
as crocosmias, hostas, iris, dieramas
and asters all respond well to this
propagation technique. And so the
gardening cycle continues.
Anne Marie Owens
HEAD GARDENER’S NOTES
ABOVE Artichokes
are perennial, so
they will remain
in place all year.
BELOW, LEFT TO
RIGHT Cavolo
Nero kale; the last
of the beetroot;
Salvia x sylvestris
‘Viola Klose’.
18 the english garden November 2013
November 2013 the english garden 19
Since the early days, Raymond Blanc
has been keen to incorporate
sculpture into the gardens at Le
Manoir. He has collected many
pieces by the artists Lloyd Le Blanc
and the late Judith Holmes Drewry,
such as Dancing Cranes and The
Reader (right & below right),
Scarecrow and Young Woman
Dreaming, all now much-loved by
Le Manoir staff and visitors.
Carefully selected sculpture can
enhance and augment a garden
setting, with the surrounding flowers
and foliage providing the perfect
backdrop for beautiful works of art.
Raymond has his pieces well placed,
and in some cases they have been
made for the particular situation.
When selecting statuary, simplicity
is key. Don’t go for something either
too big or too small for your garden.
It is better to follow the mantra ‘less
is more’ and go for one or two pieces
you really like, and then place them
for maximum impact in the space.
Keep the style of your house and
garden in mind, and once you are
interested in a particular statue, cut
out its approximate size and shape in
cardboard and place it in various
locations around your garden to see
where it would look best. Just like a
picture on the wall, statuary looks
best with a frame, so the background
of a wall, rose arch, or at the end of
an avenue of trees will add impact.
Equally, however, statues don’t have
to be front and centre. It is just
as enchanting to stumble across
something nestling among the
border plantings as it is to view a
piece from afar.
WORKS OF ART
When selecting statuary, simplicity is key. Don’t go for
something too big or too small for your garden
LEFT Even the distant polytunnels are in
constant use through the season, home
to micro-veg and overwintering plants.
L
20 the english garden November 2013
Once the leaves in the garden at Le
Manoir start to fall, the regular
chore of gathering them begins. If
they are left to lie on the ground, it
is unsightly. Also, when they
mat down and start to rot on the
lawns, they will leave bare patches
and encourage l awn di seases
such as dollar spot, red thread
and powdery mildew.
On pathways, leaves are a serious
slip hazard, so collecting them is
vital. The deciduous leaves are
turned into leaf mould, and after a
year are spread on borders as a
mulch in autumn or spring. Leaf
mould works in a very different
way to compost, so you still need
to apply both to your beds and
borders. Compost improves the soil
texture and fertility, whereas leaf
mould improves the water retention
of a soil - some studies say that the
retention is improved by up to
50%. Leaf mould also improves the
structure of a soil and is the perfect
habi tat for creatures such as
earthworms and also bacteria.
Simply place a layer of leaf mould
on your borders and the worms will
soon draw it into the soil. You
might even find that it prevents
some weed growth in spring.
LEAF COLLECTION
ABOVE A spring-tine rake clears leaves off
the lawns. TOP RIGHT On dry days, the
leaf blower works a treat. RIGHT Leaves
are also removed from water features.
LE MANOIR’S ANNUAL MUSHROOM HUNT
On 2 November, join experts Dr Derek Schafer and Penny Cullington for a forage
on the Chilterns and see La Vallêe des Champignons Sauvages, Le Manoir’s organic
mushroom garden. Included are tea and coffee, a champagne reception with
canapés, a three-course lunch with wines, coffee and petits fours. £240 per person.
For details, tel: +44 (0)1844 277484 or email hannah.ferguson@blanc.co.uk
HOW TO PLANT IN STOCK BEDS
November 2013 the english garden 21
IF PLANTING IN THEIR FINAL POSITION, make sure
you place the plants at the correct distance apart.
Mark out lines using sand.
WHEN PLANTING IN A STOCK BED it is quicker to
dig out a trench rather than individual holes. Check it
is deep enough to cover all the roots.
TREES AND SHRUBS can be planted in bundles if you
intend to plant in their final positions in the same
season - any longer and you may damage roots.
BACKFILL WITH SOIL, ensuring that all roots are
covered and the plant is no deeper than the soil
mark that is often on the trunk or stem.
AS PLANTS DON’T HAVE THE SUPPORT of a tree
stake, at this point they need to be heeled in firmly
to prevent too much movement.
ONCE PLANTS HAVE BEEN PLANTED, either in
bundles or in lines, water. You should not need to
water much after this. N
1 2
3 4
5 6
BAREROOT PLANTING
Every year, Raymond’s team order
large numbers of bareroot plants of
small fruit trees or hedging. Buying
this way is the cheapest option.
While final planting positions are
being prepared or decided upon,
plants are heeled into a stock bed.
Bareroot plants are only available
from autumn through to spring and
can be planted at any time when the
ground is not frozen. Having not
been restricted by a pot, they tend to
put on growth much faster than pot-
grown trees and shrubs.
le manoir: november

Editor’s
Choice
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RIDDLES
Tamsin sieves through a
range of garden riddles
L
ast autumn, I spent quite a lot
of time with my antique
riddle. Eager to remove as
many ground elder roots from
my border as possible, I set to
work. One thing is for sure, if you want to
tone your upper body, a few hours with a
large riddle could be the answer!
Putting this group of garden sieves to the
test has made me think outside the box
when it comes to their uses. These tools can
help you remove stones from your border
soil, grade gravel and home-made compost,
scoop leaves from the pond, create a fine
seed bed of compost and double up as a
garden colander. This trial reminded me of
my first encounter with a riddle at the age
of 17. I was at horticultural college, where
we would all stand at a potting bench in a
cold shed and be marked for the evenness
of our seed trays - to achieve a top mark, a
fine riddle was vital.
It is quite acceptable for a gardener to
invest in two riddles: one with a fine mesh
used to create a fine covering of compost
for seed trays; and another with a more
open mesh to remove stones and lumps
from garden soil. A good riddle will easily
last you a lifetime, so I hope my trial helps
you to find a life-long friend. I
M
A
G
E
S
/
H
O
W
A
R
D

W
A
L
K
E
R
Galvanised
giant
This galvanised steel riddle
(Code MC1046) comes in three
sizes (right, large size in black).
Made in the UK, it comes in
black, bronze or natural, and
has a diameter of 60cm and
6mm mesh holes (all three
sizes have the same mesh).
The large model was too big
for me and I’d prefer to work
with the 45cm medium model. However,
it’s well made with a good finish - a riddle
definitely able to cope with some serious
1
24 the english garden November 2013


Traditional
charm
The Garden Riddle from Hen
and Hammock is designed for
heavy use. Ideal for all-weather
gardening and suitable for
removing large stones from soil
or sorting stones for paths. It’s
good looking, made of English
beech, available in three sizes
- I chose the one with 13mm
heavy-duty mesh holes and a
46cm diameter. Some might consider it
to have a rather rough finish, but I prefer
that. The mesh will rust over time but
If you want to tone your
upper body, a few hours
with a large riddle could
be the answer!
3
won’t affect performance - only adding to
its traditional charm.
PRI CE £28
Dare to be square
At first glance, I wasn’t taken by Harrod
Horticultural’s Compost Sieve, but my
opinion certainly changed quickly. It has
a rectangular shape and green recycled
polypropylene body, with a length
of 36cm, a height of 12.5cm and the
galvanised steel holes are 9x5mm. I felt the
mesh holes were too wide for propagation
work, but suitable for rough soil. Over
time, I noticed I started to pick this one
up more in order to use as a trug for
harvesting veg. It works so well as an
outdoor kitchen garden colander that I’m
wedded to it now - for that reason it’s
my EDITOR’S CHOICE.
PRI CE £7.95
hard work. Slightly too expensive for me but
handy for scooping out leaves from the pond.
PRI CE £39.99
2
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D
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T
O
R

S
C
H
O
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C
E

editor’s choice: riddles
WHERE
TO BUY
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222
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4444444444444444444
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November 2013 the english garden 25

5 4
For a fine tilth
The Burgon & Ball Potting Riddle is the perfect potting-
bench companion because of its light plywood rim.
With a small diameter of just 20cm and a fine 4mm
galvanised mesh, it is ideal for creating a fine tilth for
seed sowing. I would say it’s only suitable for composts
or soil that have already been worked. I suggest that all
keen propagators invest in one and you’ll enjoy higher
germination rates.
PRI CE £12.95
Good all-rounder
This Sutton’s Garden Riddle is great value and a smart-
looking tool. Made in the UK, the steel body has been
sprayed green and cured in an oven, so the paint
should be long lasting. The mesh has 10mm-wide holes
and the body has a diameter of 35cm, which is a
comfortable size to work with as a lady gardener -
however, some may find this slightly too small.
A definite garden all-rounder.
PRI CE £9.99
1. Galvanised
Steel Riddle
Tel: +44 (0)1691 610952
www.blackcountry
metalworks.co.uk
______________
2. Compost Sieve
Tel: 0845 4025300
www.harrodhorticultural.com
______________
3. Garden Riddle
Tel: +44 (0)1844 217060
www.henandhammock.co.uk
______________
4. Potting Riddle
Tel: +44 (0)1142 338262
www.burgonandball.com
______________
5. Suttons
Garden Riddle
Tel: 0844 9220606
www.suttons.co.uk
______________
m
a
r
k
tom
toby
The call of
the wild
We all want pollinators buzzing round our patches, so Tom Petherick, Mark Diacono
and Toby Buckland give their best tips on how to attract the honeys
PHOTOGRAPHS JASON INGRAM
L
November 2013 the english garden 27
One
QUESTION
Three
ANSWERS
How do I attract bees?
MARK DIACONO:
PHACELIA
Phacelia is a beautiful, purple-flowering
annual that I sow in any spare
space I can, either on the
vegetable patch or in the
garden. It is one of the
group of fabulously
useful plants known
collectively as
green manures,
and I grow many of
them for different
reasons. They
perform one or more
of the following tasks:
covering the ground,
retaining water, excluding weeds, fixing
nitrogen, improving soil structure,
bringing nutrients from the subsoil into
the topsoil and attracting beneficial
insects to the garden.
Phacelia majors in the last of these
especially, bringing a wide range of bees,
hoverflies and other winged insects to
the farm and the veg patch.
I know of nothing that works quite so
spectacularly in attracting bees. Stand
near a patch in flower and you’ll be struck
by the noise of the dozens of busy
workers foraging in every square metre.
Although you can sow phacelia on its
own anytime between May and
September, I usually sow it as part of a
spring/summer mix with clover. It may
self-sow, but is very easily strimmed or cut
in, and may even overwinter in a warm
winter in the south.
28 the english garden November 2013
Phacelia brings a wide
range of beneficial
insects to the garden
annual that I
space I c
vege
ga
pe
of th
covering
November 2013 the english garden 29
the wise guys
TOBY BUCKLAND:
NEPETA
One of the best bee plants on my
nursery is the azure blue catmint
Nepeta racemosa ‘Walker’s Low’. Its
silver stems are smothered with
flowers (and bumble bees) in June;
and, if the stems are sheared back
afterwards, again in August. All
catmints are great partners for roses
as their stems sprawl and cover the
ground. ‘Walker’s Low’ is particularly
good as it makes neat flower-
covered domes just 60cm tall and
wide. It also makes a cracking low
hedge for lining paths and anchoring
the base of pergolas. Catmint, along
with lavender, rosemary and salvia, is
part of the Labiatae family, a clan of
herbs that bees adore that have
high-protein pollen and lip-shaped
petals that offer easy access.
L
I love strawberries, and in
choosing them I have an
ulterior motive. I want to get
all the other fruit in my kitchen
garden pollinated as well. The
more blossom, the better. It all
begins with the gooseberries
and the strawberries, and the
currants closely follow these.
There is nothing more
heart-warming, on a warm day
at the end of April, than to see
and hear the bees working their
way around the garden. At that
time of the year, there is not too
much pollen to be had in the
flower garden, so the fruit plants
are very valuable early season
bee forage.
And while we are on the
subject, it is very important to
remember the bees in the autumn,
as they are readying themselves
for the winter. The common ivy
(Hedera helix) will guarantee a
warm winter for our buzzing
friends because it flowers in
autumn; so think of ivy with fresh
eyes and gather up any strawberry
runners you can for next year.
TOM PETHERICK:
FRUIT PLANTS
30 the english garden November 2013
Thuja plicata is one of my favourite hedges, as birds love nesting among the branches,
and when clipped, the leaves release a lovely pineapple fragrance
G MARK DIACONO
Climate-change grower
www.otterfarm.co.uk
G TOM PETHERICK
Biodynamics specialist
www.tompetherick.co.uk
I’ve got a new polytunnel.
Any suggestions on what
I should grow in it
this winter?
A polytunnel allows you to drag
autumn on for an extra few weeks
undercover, and makes it possible to
grow a greater variety and volume
of winter crops. Mine is largely full of
delicious leaves that grow more
slowly than in summer, but never
risk the bolting that can ruin a
summer crop. Chicories, endives,
winter lettuces, oriental leaves,
rocket, parsley and coriander will
stay steadily productive right
through the winter months.
I’m planning a bonfire.
How can I make best use
of the ash in the garden?
The potassium contained in bonfire
ash is highly water-soluble so it is
easily washed out of a bonfire pile
and also the soil. Critically, this
potassium, one of the three essential
elements for plant growth (the other
two being nitrogen and phosphate),
needs to be retained so that our
garden plants can use it. The way to
do this is to incorporate it into our
compost heaps or bins. That way, it
won’t be quickly leached out. If you
have lots of spare potash, all the
nightshade family absolutely love
it: potatoes, tomatoes, peppers,
aubergines, chillies and nicotiana.
Can you suggest an
alternative to leylandii
as a conifer hedge?
I can give two! Yew is the choice
for formal gardens and shade.
It takes clipping well and can
even be hard pruned back into old
wood if trimming gets forgotten.
The only downside is its cost and
its relatively slow growth. Faster
and with a dense leylandii-like
appearance is Thuja plicata. This
is one of my favourite hedges,
as birds love nesting among the
branches and when clipped (or
when you rub the foliage
between your fingers), the
leaves release a lovely
pineapple fragrance.
My neighbour gave me
some fantastic apples but
doesn’t know their name.
How can I identify them?

I had a similar question a few years
ago. A friend’s mother had a tree
that produced well, and she wanted
to plant another in her new garden.
Varieties can often be identified
online, using time of harvest, taste
and appearance to help narrow down
possibilities. If this is unsuccessful,
Brogdale, the home of the National
Fruit Collection, offers a fruit
identification service. Fill out the form
(available at www.brogdale
collections.co.uk/fruit-identification.
html) and send with a £20 cheque,
and they’ll do their best to identify
your mystery variety.
questions & answers
Have I left it too late to
apply autumn lawn feed?
It is getting late but it depends on
the weather. The best time to apply
autumn feeds is when the grass is
still actively growing, so that the
roots and leaves can absorb the
nutrients. Autumn feeds are high in
phosphates and potash, and need
temperatures of above 7°C to be
effective, as this triggers growth.
If the weather has already turned
cold in your area, wait until spring.
If you just want to pep up yellow
and tired patches, I’d use a liquid
seaweed feed, as its gentle action
will help green up the sward for
winter. Wait for a warm spell
before applying.
G TOBY BUCKLAND
Nurseryman
www.tobybuckland.com
I’ve got a mature climbing
rose that needs moving.
Is this a good time?
It’s almost a good time, yes. The
absolute dead of winter is even
better: December and January. The
main tip is to set aside time and
resources, even someone to help.
A mature plant will have put down
a deep taproot and you need as
much of this to come up as possible.
The bigger the root ball, the better.
Dig a wide trench around the
plant and get at the taproot from
underneath the root ball if possible.
Give it a generous hole with plenty
of well-rotted manure or compost
and then prune as per normal
but cutting 30% more out of
the plant. Water well.
BEE FRIENDLY BUYS
From honey to health supplements, bees contribute to a wide range
of products. Help save our bees and support local beekeepers
ROSYBEE – PLANT FOR BEES
Rosybee only sells plants that we know provide
the most pollen and nectar for bees, as well as
being great for gardens.
Now is a good time to plan for spring planting;
visit our website for information and ideas.
We take advance orders for April deliveries.
www.rosybee.com
POTS FOR POLLINATORS
Whichford Pottery is ofering readers free delivery
to mainland UK (saving £29.50) when ordering
this bee-dazzling handmade frostproof fowerpot
decorated with a bee motif (number of bees may
vary). This pot measures 26cm high x 31cm wide.
£55.50 each or £95 for two (saving a further £16)
delivered to one address. Ofer ends 30 November
2013. Cannot be used in conjunction with any
other ofer - please call to place an order (not
available online).
Tel: +44(0)1608 684416
www.whichfordpottery.com
DAMSON
Buy a Beepol Bumblebee Lodge with a voucher to
receive a live colony of bees in spring. The English
Garden readers will receive free wildfower seeds
which attract bees, with any purchase made by
entering TEGNov13 at the checkout. For other bee
products, garden tools, jam, bread and cheese
making equipment visit our website.
www.damsononline.co.uk
BEE HAPPY PLANTS
The fnest garden plants for Bees, un-altered by
man, wild (‘species’) herbs, shrubs & trees, as
evolved with bees over millions of years. Seed-
grown they have the ability, through a healthy
gene-pool, of evolving to survive climate change.
And with organic growing methods produce the
healthiest plants, with the purest pollen and
nectar for bees and all pollinators. Specialist
grower of Manuka trees.
Tel: +44(0)1460 221929
www.beehappyplants.co.uk
4
HONEY DOCTOR
The Honey Doctor specialises in the all products
produced by bees that can promote health. We
have UMF Manuka Honey and range of therapeutic
creams containing Manuka Honey. This amazing
honey can be used in woundcare, stomach ulcers
and skin complaints. We also stock a range of
propolis creams, throat-sprays and mouthwash.
Bees make propolis from plant resins to protect the
hive. We also sell a range of Devon Honey and comb
Honey Comb collected from our farm in Devon.
Tel: +44(0)1884 860625
www.thehoneydoctor.com
3 5
6
1 3 5
2 4 6
6 Great Products
THE HIVE HONEY SHOP
Want fresh local honey? Go to The Hive Honey
Shop - London’s only shop devoted entirely to
bees and honey. Awarded by the Queen Mother
and frequented by A-list celebrities. We are third
generation beekeepers since 1924, selling only
natural raw unpasteurised local honeys. Honeycomb
is one of our best sellers. We harvest rare to fnd
honey, such as bell heather, sainfoin, wildfower and
borage. The exciting bit - they are sold as a whole
frame, meaning you get the entire wooden frame
completely untouched as it was when lifted out of
the beehive. A massive 1.7 kilos/3.4lbs in weight!
For more info visit our website.
Tel: +44 (0)2079 246233
www.thehivehoneyshop.co.uk
1
2
November 2013 the english garden 33
gardens: kent
the Astors
Autumn with
Hever Castle, where Anne Boleyn grew up and the richest man in the world spent
his fortune, is also home to a series of stunning gardens and woodland walks
PHOTOGRAPHS CLIVE NICHOLS | WORDS STEPHANIE MAHON
L
gardens: kent
34 the english garden November 2013
PREVIOUS PAGE
The Astor Wing
behind Hever
Castle looks across
perfect lawns to
the Tudor Gardens.
RIGHT Wisteria
clothes the long
pergola that
borders the Italian
Gardens, which
feature beautiful
wellheads
and statuary.
BELOW LEFT The
small-scale castle
is reached via
a striking avenue
of topiary yews.
BELOW RIGHT
There are
several wooden
footbridges across
the waterways
around the castle.
E
arly in the morning,
Hever Castle peers out
from the mist rising off
its moat, a shock of
scarlet Virginia creeper
on its façade reminding us of the
season. In this heady atmosphere,
it is easy to indulge in whimsy and
imagine yourself transported back
500 years, to when this was the
childhood home of one of British
history’s most notorious women.
There goes young Anne Boleyn,
picking up dew from the grass as
she skips along, oblivious to her
future. Her dalliance with Henry
VIII, which led to their marriage
and his ex-communication, as well
as the birth of Elizabeth I, saw
Bol eyn sent t o t he Tower of
London and come to a grisly end.
Hever was later given by Henry
VIII to his fourth wife, Anne of
Cleves, as a consolation prize on
the annulment of their marriage.
The estate passed through many
di fferent fami l i es down the
years, until its restoration
in the early 1900s by,
whisper it, an American.
Wi l l i a m Wa l d o r f
As t o r , a l a wy e r ,
politician and hotelier,
as well as the owner
of The Observer, had
inherited a vast fortune
and became the ri chest
man in the world. He spent
enormous amounts on the castle and
created a new but old-looking Tudor
Village, as well as investing massively
in the 125-acre grounds to
create a series of stunning gardens.
The present head gardener Neil
Miller, a former City insurance
broker, gives an entertaining and
informative tour of the various
areas while his team clip, mow and
prune. A pleasant cacophony of
cardamom, chilli and lemon-hued
autumn foliage grabs for attention
everywhere you look, from beeches,
maples, oaks and chestnuts.
Around the re-imagined castle,
which retains its Tudor core, lies
the still, silver-bright moat. Beside
this is a yew maze that’s great fun
for the classes of schoolchildren
that visit each year, and the Tudor
Gardens, showcasing the sorts of
flowers and herbs that were grown
in Anne Boleyn’s day and how they
ion
,
st
GARDEN
NOTES
Historic estate with
Italian Gardens &
autumn walks
A large shimmering mirror, its
setting looks so natural that I’m
intrigued when Neil explains how
entirely manmade it was. ‘It took
100 men two years to dig it out by
hand, and the spoil became the 16-
acre island in the
lake. Astor kept
t hem mot i vat ed
wi t h gal l ons of
beer,’ he chuckles.
Visitors can take a
rowing boat out on the water on
good days, or enjoy an hour-long
walk around the lake - perfect
at t hi s t i me of t he year f or
experiencing top seasonal leaf
colour on the trees and shrubs
along its banks.
There are other marvelous strolls
to be had back towards the castle
November 2013 the english garden 35
L
would have been laid out. Down
the topiary yew-lined avenue is a
smaller path that is named after her,
which is bordered with step-over
fruit trees and offers a view of older
trees that the team believes were
planted in her era.
But i t i s t he
I t al i an Gardens
across the stream
t h a t f o r m t h e
immaculate centre-
piece to any visit. Before moving to
England, Astor had spent three
years as America’s Minister to Italy
i n Rome, where he began an
enduring love affair with that
country’s history, art and culture. It
was this passion that drove him to
create a little piece of Tuscan
paradise in Kent, an homage to the
great Italian gardens, with statuary,
f ont s , we l l he ads , ur ns and
amphorae shipped over from the
mother land at great expense. These
incredible artefacts anchor the
hedges, lawns and subtle planting
with focal points, and complement
the Palladian-style arched gazebos
and the amazing arcade of the
Loggia, which sits in a stately
manner at the farthest poi nt.
Beyond its pillared portico, past
i ts bal ustraded steps and the
replica of the Trevi Fountain, is
a breathtaking lake.
CLOCKWISE
FROM TOP LEFT
The woodland
walks are full of
colour at this time
of year; a font
planted with a
Chusan palm and
ringed with
lavender; the fern
walk is vibrant
with shade plants
that like the clay
soil here; the
Loggia joins the
Italian Gardens
to the lake.
This was the childhood home of one of
British history’s most notorious women
36 the english garden November 2013
too, including a woodland path with
masses of autumn interest; a fern
walk of glowing green mosses and
shade plants clinging onto intricate
stonework; and a rhododendron
walk bright with blooms in spring.
There is planting
galore to be enjoyed
here too, especially
in the secret little
Sunken Garden,
hidden out of sight
behind tall hedges in the Italian
Gardens; and the self-contained Rose
Garden, full of old-fashioned
romance and dusky glamour in
summer. Here, among the many
bushes and climbers, you will also
find the recently bred ‘Hever Castle
Rose’, which has marked itself out
as an excellent disease-resistant
and oft-repeat-flowering specimen.
A little later in the season, the
dahlia border comes into its own
with a mass of jolly, jostling, lollipop
flowerheads in many shapes and
shades, brightening up the Two
Sisters Lawn. Next door, the Blue
Garden keeps the interest going into
autumn with flowering hydrangeas
and the turning foliage of vitis and
Japanese maples. In the colder
months, the Winter Garden comes
alive with colourful stems, early
flowers and interesting bark, and the
strong evergreen structure in the
formal areas comes into its own.
‘This autumn, we are also planting
up a large wildlife bed with shrubs,
with different fruiting berries
through wi nter for bi rds and
wildlife,’ Neil says. ‘Next year,
we are also going
to create a large
prairie-style bed in
t he ar ea cal l ed
Diana’s Walk.’
Wi t h so much
going on and lots to see all year
round, on a trip to Hever, it’s
difficult not to lose your head.
Hever Castle, Hever, Edenbridge, Kent
TN8 7NG. Gardens open daily until 31
Oct, 10:30am-5pm; 1 Nov-24 Dec, Wed-
Sun, check website for times. Tel: +44
(0)1732 861700. www.hevercastle.co.uk
ABOVE The Italian
Gardens are
evocative of the
famous grand
formal gardens of
that country.
This passion drove Astor to create a little
piece of Tuscan paradise in Kent
gardens: kent
November 2013 the english garden 37
ALSO IN THE AREA
If you are visiting Hever Castle, you should
also try these other local hotspots:
G GARDEN Lullingstone Castle Gardens
Beautiful grounds and Tom Hart-Dyke’s World
Garden make this a must-see, just 17 miles away
from Hever. Eynsford, Kent DA4 0JA. Tel: +44
(0)1322 862114. www.lullingstonecastle.co.uk
G ACCOMMODATION Hever Castle B&B Luxury
bed and breakfast in the Astor Wing behind the
castle. Free entry to the castle and grounds. Some
parts of the garden open to those staying when
closed to the public in the evening. For further
information, see www.hevercastle.co.uk
G STONE Chilstone Traditional handmade
garden ornaments and architectural stonework.
Fordcombe Rd, Fordcombe, Tunbridge Wells,
Kent TN3 0RD. Tel: +44 (0)1892 740866.
www.chilstone.com
G Gathering leaves as they fall saves a lot of back-breaking work later on in the
season as the weather turns inclement.
G Even though lawns are getting
rather wet to mow, keep them edged.
This keeps your garden looking smart
and takes your eye off the uncut grass.
G Buy your winter bedding plants
now. They are much cheaper at the
beginning of autumn. Plant them
up early so they bed in before
winter arrives.
G Collect seeds from your garden - a
cheap way of planting up your garden
for next year, and you can always give
them away to friends too.
G Continue to deadhead, especially
roses as they can continue blooming
for another month or so.

RESHAPING: ‘We are undergoing a five-year
plan to cut back and restore all the yew hedges
to their former glory of 100 years ago,’ explains
Neil. As a result, features including the yew
maze and golden yew chess set, as well as the
crenallated hedges and topiaries, have been
drastically clipped, but will grow back better.
GARDEN CHALLENGES
NEIL’S TOP AUTUMN GARDEN TIPS
ANNE’S ORCHARD
This path off the yew avenue leads to the Tudor Village and is named for Anne
Boleyn. It is lined with step-over fruit trees, and runs alongside older trees and
several beehives, from which the estate makes honey.
HEVER CASTLE notebook
MAD FOR MARBLE
William Waldorf Astor (1848-1919) was defeated in his
ambitions to become a US Congressman and fled to
Italy in 1882 as Minister for Italy. ‘Go and enjoy yourself,
my dear boy,’ President Chester A. Arthur reputedly told
him - and he did, collecting many beautiful pieces of
sculpture and decorative pieces (below).
WATER SIGHT
The view from the portico of
the Loggia out across the lake
in the Italian Gardens would
fool anyone into thinking they
were on the Continent and
not in Kent. A café opens here
in summer, when you can also
hire a boat to row across the
lake, and enjoy a walk on the
16-acre island.
38 The English Garden november 2013
Unique limited
edition sculptures
from £250
Hand made and finished
in our studio. We also
offer a commission
and design service
for individual one off
sculptures and portraits.
RHS Chelsea flower
show award winners.
Contact us on 01558 650183 or email: info@farsculpt.com for brochure.
www.thesculpturecollective.co.uk
Angela Farquharson & Martin Duffy Sculpture
Boxing Hares £1100
Including UK mainland delivery
November 2013 the english garden 39
HAVE-A-GO
Chestnut Farm garden has developed over five decades under
an adventurous couple who are happy to try anything
PHOTOGRAPHS MARIANNE MAJERUS | WORDS JACKIE BENNETT
heroes
ABOVE Double borders line a grass path to a pergola-covered bench at Chestnut Farm garden in Norfolk. Pleached
lime trees screen the area from the flint-and-brick house, which has original Tudor elements.
J
o h n a n d
Judy McNeil-
W i l s o n a r e
celebrating the Golden Anniversary
of their marriage, but also of their
garden. ‘It’s 50 years since we began to
make a garden here,’ Judy says, incredulous.
‘Visitors just can’t believe that all the
mature trees here are ones that we planted
ourselves as little saplings.’
Mature the garden may be, but John and
Judy have the youthful enthusiasm of true
plantspeople. Judy trained at horticultural
college and worked for bulb specialist
Walter Blom before meeting John, a farmer,
who shared her love of plants.
d
eil-
GARDEN
NOTES
Three-acre plot
for all seasons
in Norfolk
L
40 the english garden November 2013
gardens: norfolk
Chestnut Farm was part of John’s
parents’ nearby Rookery Farm, now run by
his son. When the couple moved in on 1
November 1963, the plot was choked with
Japanese knotweed, and the soil levels at
the back were too high, so the plants were
already obscuring the windows. The house,
with its Tudor core dating back to the
1580s, has a typical north Norfolk exterior
of flint and red brick. There are two
candidates for the farm’s name - a horse
chestnut at the front, and a sweet chestnut
at the back - but when John and Judy
arrived, these were the only trees, except
for some cherries and an old ‘Mother’
eating apple by the house.
They planted more trees - first a shelter
belt to protect them from the northeast
winds (nearby Cromer faces directly
towards Scandinavia) and then others as
their passions and interests developed. They
put in a row of lime trees, now pleached,
about 35 years ago, and have found them
to be very forgiving, recovering well from
hard pruning. Beeches planted as seedlings
are now towering, full-grown trees.
With young children and a farm to run,
there wasn’t a lot of time or money for
things that didn’t look after themselves. The
couple inherited a huge vegetable garden,
but have reduced the amount of vegetables
grown. ‘We’re farmers at the end of the
day, and we can get as many carrots or
cabbages as we want,’ says Judy, ‘but I do
love courgettes, runner beans and sweet
peas.’ More and more herbaceous planting
has crept into the big beds, and now it’s
hard to find the edible plants among the
flowers, including dahlias and zinnias,
moving on to chrysanthemums and pink
nerines for late autumn.
Having something looking good in every
season is very important to Judy. ‘I don’t
believe in saying: ‘Oh, you should have
come last week!’ There should be something
interesting no matter what time of year,
from January to December - that’s what
gardening is about.’ That doesn’t mean that
every bit of the garden has to look good all
of the time. ‘Areas of the garden have their
moments, and when they’re over, they
can be left. We are lucky enough to be
able to do that here.’
In time, the one-acre plot grew to three,
as more farmland was taken into the garden
and an awkward three-cornered field
ABOVE The fountain garden was created to add interest close to the house. It is the most formal area of the plot, and is packed with a succession of bulbs and
perennials, including asters and aconitums, as well as two types of box. TOP CENTRE The pleached limes that create a boundary to the lawn are interspersed
with clipped box shapes, which create a dark green contrast as the leaves of the trees take on their autumn colouring.
(which was difficult to plough) gave them
room for a pond area, planted with
rodgersias and willows, and for more
unusual shrubs and trees. Among their
favourites are the pink-flowered Rubus
odoratus, the handkerchief tree (davidia),
the American tulip tree (Liriodendron
tulipifera), paulownias, and Cercis
canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’ - each one
savoured for its seasonal moment or
moments. Picea orientalis, which has scarlet
flowers that are followed by pale new
growth, is a favourite for them both and it
is this kind of eye for detail that makes this
garden so special. ‘I don’t like being
categorised as a ‘spring garden’ or an
‘autumn garden’,’ says Judy. ‘Many trees
and shrubs will have spring flowers but
then produce spectacular leaf colour or
seedpods later in the year.’
‘There should be something interesting no matter what time
of year... that’s what gardening is about’
A walk around the garden with this
couple is an informative experience. They
peer at seedpods and argue which plants are
the most attractive in autumn. Visitors are
presented with a list of Top 10 or 20 plants
for that particular week, numbered with
large wooden stakes to make them easy to
identify. John, who claims he’s not the
practical gardener but clearly knows his
plants backwards, leads the garden tours on
open days, while Judy organises plants sales
and teas. As you would expect in a garden
that has been in the same hands for half a
century, many of their plants have family
stories. The roses clambering up the
boundary, for example, were planted by
their son from rosehips brought back from
Canada by Judy’s mother.
Chestnut Farm was first opened to the
public 25 years ago, and a decade ago was
spotted by the National Gardens Scheme
LEFT Rosa ‘Maigold’ climbs on the house
wall above hydrangea, bergenia and fuchsia.
RIGHT, FROM TOP Chrysanthemum ‘Mary
Stoker’; Vitis ‘Brant’; the seedpods of halesia,
the snowdrop tree (see pg 99); the gorgeous
late flowers of Nerine bowdenii.
L
gardens: norfolk
42 the english garden November 2013
(they have just been awarded their ‘Trowel’
to mark 10 years of participation). Not all
the garden is visible at first glance, and one
visitor, seeing the large lawn outside the
back door, remarked that it was a long way
to walk to the ‘garden’. This comment led
to the development of the fountain garden
(inspired by Glen Chantry in Essex),
a symmetrical space with pathways and
triangular beds that look good in every
season. ‘This is the high-intensity bit,’ says
John, referring to the succession of bulbs
and perennials that are constantly added to
keep it looking good. Two types of box,
small leaved and variegated, were grown
from cuttings and add to the formal feel
that is not found elsewhere here, but makes
a good addition close to the house.
Everywhere at Chestnut Farm, curiosities
are cosseted, including succulents, insect-
eating plants and tender specimens. Each
one is accorded the respect of a paying
guest. Trees are collected for their individual
characteristics. Pterostyrax hispida (the
epaulette tree) is now in situ, while the
winged nut pterocarya is still on the list to
get. You get the feeling that this couple
would try anything. They recently saw a
climbing alstroemeria outside in the
woodland garden at Royal Botanic
Gardens, Kew. Until then, their specimen
was in a pot and treated as half hardy. They
thought they’d give it a go outside. ‘Plants
can’t read,’ says John. ‘They don’t know
they’re not supposed to grow in certain
situations, so we just give them a chance.’
‘Our biggest challenge now is to how to
make this garden manageable, as we will
inevitably be able to do less,’ says Judy. ‘We
already have lots of ground cover and
shrubs that take care of themselves.’
‘Dwarf shrubs - that’s the answer!’
interjects John. It’s a joke, but only partly,
one suspects. This couple will find a way to
carry on that will be based on one-part
research and one-part pure instinct or
guesswork - and perhaps this is the only
way to garden.
Chestnut Farm, Church Road, West Beckham,
Norfolk NR25 6NX. Tel: +44 (0)1263 822241.
Open for visiting groups by arrangement and
for the NGS - see www.ngs.org.uk or the Yellow
Book 2014 for 2014 openings.
TOP LEFT The setting sun lights up shrubs,
grasses and the mature trees planted by the
couple decades ago. LEFT The golden autumn
finery of Ginkgo biloba - try to select a male plant
as the female produces fruit-like seedpods that
stink when fallen. ABOVE RIGHT Purple berries
on the bare stems of Callicarpa bodinieri var.
giraldii, underplanted with nerines.
‘Plants can’t read. They don’t know they’re not supposed to grow
in certain situations, so we just give them a chance’
November 2013 the english garden 43
G Don’t listen to that old advice of sitting by
the fire in winter reading seed catalogues. Get
out and garden as much as you can. The days
may be shorter, but any clearing, digging and
weeding you do now will stay that way until
spring, giving you a head start.
G Place compost heaps out of sight, if possible,
in different places, so there is always one near to
where you are working. Don’t turn them - that’s
a waste of energy. Fill one, then leave it for two
to three years, and meanwhile fill the next one.
G Collect your leaves for leaf mould. We use
a blower and put them into round cylinders of
heavy duty steel netting. Then we just leave them.
G Collect seed and take cuttings of all your
special plants so you have replacements and
plants to give away, swap or sell.
ALSO IN THE AREA
If you are visiting Chestnut Farm, John and
Judy also recommend the following:
G NURSERY Creake Plant Centre Trevor Harrison
stocks an interesting range of unusual plants;
hellebores, old roses and salvias are specialities.
Creake Plant Centre, Leicester Road, South Creake,
Norfolk NR21 9PW. Tel: +44 (0)1328 823018.
G PUB The Red Hart In the nearby village of
Bodham. Serves a menu including local produce
and good beer. www.redhartbodham.co.uk
G SELF CATERING Beck Cottage Next door to
Chestnut Farm. One holiday cottage and a wider
range of barns and cottage accommodation.
West Beckham, Holt, Norfolk NR25 6NX.
Tel: +44 (0)1263 821232.
www.rookeryfarmnorfolk.com

EXPOSURE TO WIND:
Chestnut Farm is just
a few miles from the
North Sea, and at one
of the highest points
in Norfolk. The
McNeil-Wilsons
planted shelter belts
of poplar and Lawson
cypress, which solved
the problem, but
these vigorous
trees brought more
problems in terms
of cutting and
maintenance, so
they are now being
replaced with yew.
GARDEN
CHALLENGES
JUDY’S TOP TIPS FOR
AUTUMN & WINTER
UNUSUAL SEEDPODS
The handkerchief tree Davidia
involucrata has papery white bracts in
spring, but as the year progresses it has
another surprise in store. The hard,
round seedpods (above) dangle in the
autumn light and turn a brownish
purple, making this a good all-year tree.
It’s easy and widely available, but new
trees take up to 20 years to flower,
unless you can get the expensive clone
‘Sonoma’, which matures much earlier.
CHESTNUT FARM notebook
BEST FOR BARK
Acer grosseri var. hersii has a lovely
pattern of olive-green markings and
ridges on the bark (below), which show
in autumn and winter. Acer capillipes,
known as the snake bark maple, has
similar trunk patterns. Both trees also
have good colour to the leaves just
before they fall. Another maple to try
with interesting bark is Acer griseum.
AUTUMN FRUIT
For a good-performing crab apple, look no further
than Malus x robusta ‘Red Sentinel’. The lovely spring
blossom gives way to glossy red fruits (above) that
light up the autumn garden. John and Judy grow
several different crab apples, but this one is a must.
Malus hupehensis is another favourite - easy to tell
apart as the fruits are held on longer stalks.
44 the english garden November 2013
A sensitive approach to the environment at Strandlands in Essex has resulted
in a soothing, dreamy garden that feels like it’s at the edge of the globe
PHOTOGRAPHS SUZIE GIBBONS | WORDS VIVIENNE HAMBLY
world
In another
November 2013 the english garden 45
ABOVE LEFT The
still water of
the pond is
overlooked by
a row of Betula
ermanii. ABOVE
RIGHT Vitis
coignetiae offers
a mellow palette
of yellows, russets
and greens, offset
by a clever bright
blue bench.
T
her e i s s omet hi ng
beautifully escapist
about Strandlands, the
garden belonging to
J e nny a nd Da v i d
Edmunds, on the border of Essex
and Suffolk. A series of turns leads
off busy roads marshalling traffic
through East Anglia to a rutted track
that wends over some fields, through
an ancient coppiced sweet-chestnut
wood, over some fields, and peters
out at the shifting mudflats and salt
marshes of the Stour Estuary.
‘When David moved here in 1979,
there was really nothing here. It had
been derelict for 10 years and it was
this neglected place where the village
chi l dr en pl ayed, ’
explains Jenny of their
home, whi ch was
connected to electricity
only 10 years ago.
Bounded on two sides by
Sites of Special Scientific Interest
(SSSIs) and positioned within a soon-
to-be Area of Outstanding Natural
Beauty (AONB), Strandlands is a
very special site indeed. Lesser
gardeners might have quailed at the
prospect of creating a garden in such
a sensitive environment that also
happens to be one of the driest
areas of the country. During the
course of 30 years, however,
Jenny and David have gradually
harnessed thi s
setting to create
a n i n t i ma t e ,
deepl y personal
s pac e t hat r e s t s
comfortably within its
broader environmental context
and around the house itself.
Jenny was clear from the start that
she wanted the garden to look as
though it fitted into the surrounding
landscape, but being in such a dry
region - and with any rainfall that is
received draining quickly into the
estuary - she had to make some
tough decisions. ‘It had to be a
garden that didn’t require more than
good planting, watering until things
es by
d
s p
comfo
GARDEN
NOTES
Three-acre natural
garden in the driest
part of the UK
L
gardens: essex
46 the english garden November 2013
were established and then being left,’
she says. ‘In the beginning I really
felt my way around. I made mistakes
and things died.’
‘ I ’ d never real l y gone i nt o
gardening before I was here,’ she
continues, making the gardener’s
admi s s i on of havi ng l ear nt
most things through trial and error.
‘ I started smal l and dug and
extended and read lots of books.
The old garden had a shrubbery
and this huge rockery of enormous
stones which were locally gathered
- I spent absolutely ages removing
them,’ she recalls.
Starting with a one-acre patch
running down to the estuary and a
third of a mile of saltings - the sandy,
tidal areas on the river bank that
were once used for grazing - the
couple have gradually expanded the
property since they moved in, buying
small pieces of adjoining farmland
whenever it has become possible
to do so. Of course, with each
acquisition, Jenny has designed
a new garden room.
Although mostly self-taught, Jenny
has refined her design skills with a
course at Writtle College and
considers herself more a designer
than a plantswoman. This is evinced
in various ways, not least through
the gradation of scale in the garden:
rooms expand in size the further
away from the house one moves.
Those closest to the house, where
Jenny and David have positioned a
summerhouse, greenhouse and a
workroom, are more formal. Low
box hedges contain plantings of
Lavandula x chaytoriae ‘Sawyers’,
bounded in part by Vitis coignetiae,
the leaves of which lend their
magnificent palette of reds, ochres
and russets in autumn. A rectangular
pond is filled with water lilies; and
containers from traditional terracotta
pots to reclaimed laundry coppers
host a variety of plants, from
bold New Zealand flax to collections
of drought-tolerant sempervivums
and aeoniums.
CLOCKWISE,
FROM TOP LEFT
In the front
garden, island
beds are filled
with shrubs and
grasses; Jenny’s
collection of
sempervivums
and aeoniums; a
view of the River
Stour; scarlet crab
apples at the
bottom of
the garden.
November 2013 the english garden 47
Elsewhere is a space enclosed
mainly by kiwi, anchored by a
sculpture given to Jenny by her sister
six years ago. She calls this area her
Moon Garden. Here is a circular bed
filled with white-flowering plants,
and adjacent to it is the Half Moon
Garden, planted with attractive
shrubs such as Santolina pinnata
subsp. neapolitana, rhamnus and
Convolvulus cneorum, which offer
soft cream, silver and green elements.
Colchester is not far away from
this spot that seems secreted away
from the world, and evidence of the
Romans exists in the well at the
bottom of Jenny’s garden, which
bears t he hal l marks of t hei r
occupation. It is shaded by birches
unde r pl ant e d wi t h c or nus .
Surroundi ng i t, further away
from the house, l arger, more
fluid island beds have evolved
over time and they contain plants
which look after themselves: ‘It’s
dead dry here,’ Jenny reiterates, as
she points out artemesia, Stipa
tenuissima and Euonymus fortunei
‘Emerald ‘n’ Gold’.
In the early months of the year, the
star of the Edmunds’ garden must
surely be its most recent addition:
two wildflower meadows bounding
each side of the garden before it
meets pasture. Each has been
carefully designed, as Jenny explains,
to look ‘good from Google Earth’.
An ongoing project, the meadows
have native species such as scabious
and clover, and are punctuated with
clusters of small trees: pine, ash,
cherry, birch and crab apple.
Towards autumn, however,
the eye cannot fail to be seized by
the rich, golden shades of an avenue
of Betula ermanii that lines that
rutted track leading from the woods
to the water.
Strandlands garden is occasionally
open by appointment - email jenny@
strandlands.co.uk to find out more
Tips for dry gardens
L
CLOCKWISE
FROM TOP LEFT
A sculpture by
Christopher Linsey
adds a whimsical
note; birch trees
(Betula ermanii)
line the drive; Vitis
coignetiae; stipa
grasses at the
boundary help the
garden flow into
the surrounding
farmland.
gardens: essex
48 the english garden November 2013
ALSO IN THE AREA
While in this part of Essex, Jenny also suggests visiting:
G GARDEN The Beth Chatto Gardens Beth has championed dry-climate
gardening from her garden near Colchester since 1960 and was a great source of
inspiration for Jenny when she was starting out. Elmstead Market, Colchester, Essex.
Tel +44 (0)1206 822007. www.bethchatto.co.uk
G ARBORETUM Marks Hall Inspiring garden and arboretum with interest and
colour all-year round. ‘My particular love is their continuing creation of plants and
habitat that would have been in Gondwanaland, the ancient super-continent of
200-million years ago,’ says Jenny. www.markshall.org.uk
G PLACE TO STAY Emsworth House Family and dog-friendly B&B with a two-
acre garden overlooking the River Stour. Ship Hill, Station Road, Bradfield, Nr
Manningtree, Essex CO11 2UP. Tel +44 (0)1255 870860. www.emsworthhouse.co.uk
G I prefer to use home-made garden compost
and always have a heap of horticultural grit to hand.
When planting, I usually remove a couple of buckets
of the heaviest of the soil, which I replace with
plenty of compost and grit.
G Almost everything in the garden is a woody
shrub. The soil is loam over clay and herbaceous
plants don’t do well with the heavy ground and
frequent drought here.
G This is the part of Britain with the lowest
rainfall, but I can’t or
won’t irrigate, except
plants in pots round
the house and the
few vegetables
I do grow.
G A good mulch
is essential for
gardeners wishing
to preserve moisture
in their soil. Through
trial and error, I’ve
found one that works
perfectly for me.
It is a very fine
composted bark,
and it is easily
available from
www.turfandstuff.
com Wonderful stuff.

DRY CLAY: Plants here have to be drought tolerant, and not mind having their
roots in cold heavy soil in winter. Jenny grows very little herbaceous material and
lots of shrubs. The soil type is loam over clay, and the garden is exceptionally dry,
partly because of the low rainfall, and partly because water drains away quickly.
GARDEN CHALLENGES
JENNY’S TOP GARDENING TIPS
A PLACE TO SIT
Jenny painted this garden bench (below) for her daughter’s wedding using a colour
from the Cuprinol Garden Shades range. ‘I think it’s a gorgeous colour in the garden,’
she says. The shade matches a reclaimed copper washing tub in which is planted
with New Zealand flax (Phormium tenax Purpureum Group).
STRANDLANDS notebook
TAKE SHELTER
Jenny and David’s son-in-law built this oak-beamed
garden room (above). In cooler months, it comes into
its own in providing welcome shelter from sudden
showers or a reprieve from a cold north wind.
Try Border Oak or Oak Masters for similar.
www.borderoak.com or www.oakmasters.co.uk
IN THE FRAME
The Edmunds’ capitalised on the
far-reaching vistas of the estuary
of the River Stour from the garden.
They framed views of the river by
keeping surrounding trees and
shrubs clipped; in the foreground,
the changing leaves of various
trees bring rich autumnal colour
to the setting.
The English Garden
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'The English
Garden Calendar
2014' presenting
14 stunning
images from
acclaimed garden
photographer
Clive Nichols
The perfect
gift for
Christmas!
Ample space for notes and reminders
English bank holidays
Lawn tips from John Deere
Forward planner for 2015
Trees are king at Mount Usher Garden in Co. Wicklow, Ireland, where
a magnificent private collection comes into its own each autumn
PHOTOGRAPHS ANDREA JONES | WORDS ANN-MARIE POWELL
ARBOREAL
ARCADIA
L
gardens: ireland
November 2013 the english garden 51
gardens: ireland
52 the english garden November 2013
PREVIOUS PAGE One of
the footbridges over the
River Vartry at Mount Usher.
BELOW LEFT Nyssa
sylvatica’s fabulous
seasonal foliage. BELOW
RIGHT The Palm Walk of
Trachycarpus fortunei
leading to Mount Usher
House. BOTTOM RIGHT
Autumn colour reflected in
the river as it runs through
the extensive woodland.
I
n 1951, Lanning Roper of Mount Usher
wrote: ‘I was in no way prepared for the
impact which this important collection,
assembled over nearly a century, was to
make.’ Tiptoeing beneath the towering trees
clustered around the 22 acres, the impact some 60
years later is no less forceful.
Mount Usher is located in the village of Ashford,
Co. Wicklow, and holds a private collection of
some 4,500 species of plants, including the Irish
National Collections of nothofagus and eucryphia,
and several Irish Champion Trees, including Pinus
montezumae, Magnolia campbellii ‘Charles Raffill’,
Magnolia x veitchii,
Quercus castaneifolia
a nd Li r i ode ndr on
chinense.
The River Vartry runs
directly through the length of this sheltered spot, host
for generations to a simple tuck mill, set on an acre
of land, where locals brought their home-spun cloth
to be finished. In 1868, when the mill
owner’s lease ran out, Edward Walpole,
a Dublin-based draper and keen
amateur walker, leased the site and
began to make a garden there. It was
Walpole’s sons, Edward, George,
and Thomas, who truly saw the
potential to develop a garden at
Mount Usher, recognising the site’s fortunate
attributes of fertility, shelter, water and mild climate.
As the brothers’ passion grew, so did the garden.
Surrounding land was taken on as it became
available, and by the 1940s, the garden comprised
more than 20 acres.
Edward and George became plantsmen, seeking
the advice of Sir Frederick Moore, director of
Dublin’s Botanic Gardens, as to what exotics they
might try in the favoured and sunny valley, mindful
of their commitment to the naturalistic planting ethos
of Irish gardener and writer, William Robinson. He
advocated that: ‘The aim should be never to rest till
the garden is a reflex of
Nature in her fairest
moods’. Edward and
George, and the next
t wo generat i ons of
Walpoles, became devoted to Robinson’s theories,
selecting plants from the northern and southern
hemispheres to mingle among native and European
groupings. Meanwhile, never much interested in
plants, their brother Thomas, an engineer, was
inspired by the Vartry itself, designing and building
curved weirs dotting along the river to ensure a good
show of water at all times. He also created the four
simple bridges traversing it.
Today, even though Mount Usher’s grounds
comprise plants hailing from all corners of the globe,
to be
ow
a
GARDEN
NOTES
22-acre garden with
stand-out tree
collection
Reds, russets and yellows are mirrored
in the still glassiness of the river
L

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT
Acer wilsonii; Pinus montezumae;
Acer griseum, the paper-bark maple;
Acer palmatum ‘Osakazuki’; the yellow
autumn foliage of witch hazel, hamamelis;
the bark of the unusual Luma apiculata
‘Glanleam Gold’; Disanthus cercidifolius,
also known as Japanese heart leaf; Carya
glabra, the pignut hickory, a tree native
to the US with bright yellow
leaves in autumn.
gardens: ireland
54 the english garden November 2013
there’s no doubt they are enjoying life in their
adopted home. Mount Usher is a welcoming place,
emphasised by the warmth and enthusiasm of its
head gardener, Sean Heffernan. His love of the
garden is instantly tangible. With a wave of an arm,
a smile and an enthusiastic ‘Come on!’, we’re off,
diving into the unknown that lies beyond the high
hedge at the garden’s entrance.
Zigzagging paths beckon you to explore layer upon
layer of trees, petering out into the distance in every
direction. Sean, obviously used to the scale of the
garden, smiles wryly as I machine gun questions at
him about tree species, type and origin. There are
mature spires of Gingko biloba, yellow in the autumn
light; Pseudolarix amabilis, a deciduous conifer
whose needles have morphed to a clear golden
yellow; Disanthus cercidifolius, its large heart-shaped
leaves alight in claret and scarlet; and countless
European, Asian and American acers, all performing
at full tilt. The effect of the cumulative colour tones
is breathtaking, but it is the maturity of the specimens
that renders me speechless.
‘The main challenge here for me is the sheer age of
the garden,’ says Sean. ‘Though the trees would have
looked great initially, today some trees are growing
into their neighbours, causing damage to each other’s
crowns and canopies; it leaves me with some
uncomfortable decisions to make.’ Still, Sean admits
that autumn is his favourite season, and as we
approach a gap in the woodland that offers my first
view of the river, I understand completely. Sensing
the opportunity of this watery place, and the chance
to heighten the autumnal vistas, Edward and George
Walpole surely saved the choicest autumn trees to
plant along the Vartry’s banks. Here the fiery reds,
russets and yellows of mature Liquidambar
styraciflua, Stewartia pseudocamellia, Metasequoia
glyptostroboides and Nyssa sylvatica are mirrored
magnificently in the still glassiness of the river.
The Walpoles bought the estate in 1927, but
eventually lost their hold on it in the 1980s, when
current owner Madeline Jay became enraptured by
the gardens. Though she knew nothi ng of
gardening, she became its new custodian - her one
ambition to keep it the way it was, without
‘improving’ it. The garden is now run organically,
and planting has continued. Safeguarding the
garden is paramount for Madeleine and her family,
so in 2007, when she reached her mid-80s, she
leased the gardens to Avoca Handweavers, a family
business of weavers with gardening in its blood.
It continues to run the garden in the style to which
it has become accustomed - with a light touch
and as nature intended.
Mount Usher Gardens, Ashford, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.
Tel: +353 (0)404 40205. For more information, go to
www.mountushergardens.ie
BELOW LEFT Fiery colours
on the Primula Walk, which
is also full of interest in
springtime. BELOW RIGHT
The herbaceous borders
at the entrance are still
looking good this late in the
season. BOTTOM RIGHT
A pet cemetery where
faithful friends from years
gone by are remembered.
November 2013 the english garden 55
G Tackle any big messy jobs such as removing trees and shrubs or remodeling the
garden now, in autumn. Come spring, new fresh growth will fill gaps, and you can
enjoy the coming season without ruining the display.
G Lawnmowers are usually cheaper in winter. Buy a grass-collecting mower
rather than a mulcher. They are much more versatile, allowing you to mow without
having to rake leaves and debris off first.
G Grass-collecting mowers are also great for hoovering up moss and the small bits of
hedge cuttings that a rake misses, leaving the grass looking clean and smart.
G I use the fertile silt from the river on the beds. I will admit that the river is also
great for washing all the slugs down to Wicklow harbour and out to sea!
G Get out and see some trees! We have a suggested route around Mount Usher
printed in the tree trail, specifically designed to take visitors to all the areas of interest.
ALSO IN THE AREA
Sean recommends these places nearby if you
are visiting Mount Usher Gardens:
G GARDEN Bay Garden As a complete contrast
to Mount Usher, Sean recommends this
characterful garden, with its array of grasses,
garden rooms and nectar-rich plantings.
Camolin, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford, Ireland.
Tel: +353 (0)53 9383349. www.thebaygarden.com
G HOTEL The Hunters Hotel Ireland’s
oldest coaching inn. Before he acquired
Mount Usher in 1868, Hunters was the hotel
used by Edward Walpole on his walking trips
to Co. Wicklow. Newrath Bridge, Rathnew,
Co. Wicklow, Ireland. Tel: +353 (0)404 40106.
www.hunters.ie
MOUNT USHER notebook

SIZE: ‘Apart from
the maturity of
the garden, the
size of the space is
a real challenge,’
says Sean. ‘I have
to prioritise
absolutely what
needs to be done.
If an old tree falls
or a riverbank
starts to move,
even that goes
out the window.’
GARDEN
CHALLENGES
MIRROR, MIRROR
The River Vartry (above) is without doubt the major feature of the garden. It is the main
reason Edward Walpole chose this special site, and the entire garden is created around it.
The photographic opportunities of reflected foliage and light changes are infinite,
especially as the river is accessible on both sides along the entire length of the garden.
TOP AUTUMN TIPS FROM HEAD GARDENER SEAN
The Vartry is spanned
by four bridges, two
of them suspension
bridges, replicas of
the original bridges
built by Thomas Walpole,
which were destroyed
by Hurricane Charlie in
the 1980s. The lightness
of their construction
in no way detracts
from the river, but
adds to the beauty
of it (right).
GOING POTTY
Mount Usher’s Courtyard Shops are a destination venue
in their own right, and include the award-winning Avoca
café, a deli, bakery, plant shop and also The Potting Shed
(below), which is entirely built from reclaimed and
recycled materials, and has a wonderful stock of
one-of-a-kind salvage and vintage items.
BEAUTIFUL
BRIDGES
56 The English Garden november 2013
READER OFFER
SARAH
RAVEN
Autumn
Range
Autumn is a fantastic time to be in
your garden - you can make the most
of the milder weather before winter.
It’s the ideal moment to plant up your
pots and bulbs for next spring.
Following on from our free bulb-
planting instruction booklet in the
October issue, this month you’ll find
our mini autumn catalogue with lots
of ideas for your garden. Download
a copy here: tinyurl.com/sarahraven
Really happy gardening,
Get 20% off Sarah’s
full autumn range
by quoting offer
code TEGAT13
20%
Off
TERMS & CONDITIONS
Offer valid until 30 November 2013. Offer
cannot be used in conjunction with any
other offer. Subject to availability.
HOW TO
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To order, call
0845 0920283 and
quote offer code
TEGAT13 for 20%
off for our readers.
You can also
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www.sarah
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enter the code
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58 the english garden November 2013
PRIVATE VIEW
PHOTOGRAPHS MARIANNE MAJERUS | WORDS STEPHANIE MAHON
Take a sneak peek over the hedges of this exquisite, private Norfolk
garden, designed by maestro Tom Stuart-Smith
November 2013 the english garden 59 emb emb emb emb emb mb mmmmb mmmmb emb b emb mb mb emb mb m emb emb mb mmmb mmm emmb em mbber er er er er er er er er er er r er er er er er er eeer rrr errrrrrrrrrr 201 201 201 201 201 20 201 201 01 2001 201 201 201 201 20 20 200 201 201 20 201 201 201 0 201 2011 0 201 22222 333333333333333333333 t t t t t t t t ttttttttttthe he he he he he he he he he he he he he he he e ee hhe eeee he he eeeeee e he hhe hh eng ng eng eng ng eng eng eng ng eng n eng eng n eng eng eng enng eng eng en eng ng eng n enggg nggg en enggg n engg en eng e gglllis llllllllli lis lis lis lis lis li lis llis lllllis li llllllis lllli li is is is li ii h g h g h g hh g h g hh g h g h g h g hhh g hhhhh g hhh g hh gard ard ard ard ard ard arrd rd rd rd rden en en en en n ennnnn en en 59 59 59 9 59 59 9 559 9
F
rothing grasses surge
upwards, reflected in narrow
channels of water, while
neat green cushions march across
a contrastingly calm lawn. This
stunning scene is from a garden
close to the north Norfolk coast.
Tom Stuart-Smith created it while
his client was still a bachelor, and the
brief was to maintain the property’s
edgy, isolated feel, to be ‘an essay in
private view
M
60 the english garden November 2013
semi-detachedness’. Elements and
characteristics of the surrounding area
were referenced within the enclosure of
the garden, such as the many clean-lined
rills and reflecting pools criss-crossing
the planting, mimicking the canals in the
wider landscape. When Tom was first
called in by architect Ptolemy Dean, the
site was quite different. The house was
white and there was little or no garden,
save for some 15m leylandii hedges that
blocked the sightlines. ‘It was repressed,’
explains Tom. The client wanted to
modernise the house and extend it, and
wished to have a complementary style
garden with a kitchen garden and a
swimming pool. Tom chose his signature
mix of generously rotund evergreen
domes with fireworks of tall grasses and
colourful late-season perennials to create
impact - especially beautiful when
turning gold and crimson in November.
SURVEY THE SCENE
The garden by the house is
enclosed with hedges and is
stepped down a slight slope. Large
box cushions and a raised border
filled with perennials and grasses
soften the straight lines.
MIX IT UP
This is an old property in an area
where the vernacular style for the
houses, outbuildings, walls and
hard landscaping is a mix of six or
seven different building materials,
including brick and flint. It was a
challenge to add to this, but Tom’s
use of wood and rusted metal fits
the bill perfectly.
November 2013 the english garden 61
GROVE OF PLENTY
A grove of Rhus typhina looks
beautiful in the autumn sun
as the leaves change shade.
Below the multi-stemmed
trunks is a sea of textural
Hakonechloa macra,
punctuated by low evergreen
box domes. The area has a
defined boundary from the
swimming pool, emphasised
by a hedge of the grass
Miscanthus ‘Purpurascens’,
which turns a wonderful
mix of gold and red as
the season develops.
private view
ROCK STEADY
Tom’s ‘rocks’ of box sit alongside the swimming
pool. The Leaf Lounger from Dedon is available
from www.leisureplan.co.uk and
www.canefurniturewarehouse.co.uk
WONDER WALLS
Free-standing walls of rusted
metal occur throughout
the space. The rust colour
complements the vast variety
of materials used on the
property without complicating
the palette, and also mimics
the copper leaves of the
beech hedges in winter.
M
62 the english garden November 2013
As well as grasses, Tom also included a multitude of late-season perennials, to provide
flowers and then later the form and texture of their seedheads
FLOWER FULL
As well as grasses, Tom also included
a multitude of late-season perennials
in this scheme, to provide flowers
and then also later the form and
texture of their seedheads. Asters,
heleniums and the browning stems
of Eryngium yuccifolium help achieve
this long season of interest.
BOX CUSHIONS
The domes of box are spread out
across the garden in a loose curve -
‘as if they are the detritus left behind
after a wave receeds,’ explains Tom.
The pattern is only visible from
above, but it adds movement.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
The client asked Tom to leave space
for and help encorporate a kitchen
garden into the plan, complete
with greenhouse and colourful
ornamental flowers as well as crops
like tomatoes, beans and peas. The
area is marked out with a frame of
the same rusted metal as used for
the free-standing wall sections
elsewhere in the garden, and which
now in autumn picks up the
changing shades of the Rhus
typhina foliage beyond.
private view
November 2013 the english garden 63
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TOM STUART-SMITH set up his
landscape design practice in 1998.
Projects include numerous large
private and public gardens in the
English countryside, and many
overseas projects. He has created
eight Gold-Medal-winning gardens
at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, and
three Best in Show. He has recently
been working on a new garden
for the Royal Academy of Arts,
completed in September 2013. N
HOW NOW BROWN COW
This tiny pond towards the end
of the garden remains from the
original layout of the garden. Tom
left it looking natural to create
an easy transition with the land
beyond the property’s boundaries.
The whole garden is an exercise in
the enclosed versus the heath.
FIZZLING FIREWORKS
Grasses are used here for a variety of height, colour,
form and texture of seedheads. They include Carex
testacea, Miscanthus sinensis ‘Ferner Osten’, and
Molinia caerulea subsp. arundinacea ‘Transparent’.
November 2013 the english garden 65
Our practice often works with
architects to settle a property
extension into the garden
space. Regularly, the proposed
structure impacts upon a site
awkwardly, arising in a garden
layout that needs renewed
consideration. It is our practice’s
job to provide a solution in
linking the new building into
the garden, but also into the
surrounding locale. Often the
new layout impacts enormously
on the garden the client has
become accustomed to,
changing levels, orientation and
views from and into the new
structure. The most successful
design collaborations occur
when a client has the foresight
to include a garden designer
from the initial concept stage,
when architect, client and
designer set into motion
a collaborative project.
The seed of an idea is set,
grows and develops into a
harmonised cohesive scheme,
where the landscape supports
the proposed building, and the
building integrates into the
space. If you are planning an
extension, when you make that
initial call to your preferred
architect, call your garden
designer too.
Extending
your house?
TIP It’s the start of bareroot season, when shrubs and trees
can be purchased with great cost savings. Take advantage!
Consider how to light your
c hos e n g a r de n f e a t ur e :
downlights, uplights, wall-
mounted fittings, ropes and
bollards are just a few of the
light fittings available.
I most often use adjustable
spike spots on long cables with
or without a height extension
kit or glare guard, depending
upon the effect we are creating.
These can be easily adjusted,
moved, or heightened as plants
grow up around them.
If you install the below-
ground cables when your garden
is dormant, then provided your
circuit board has the capacity,
you can add to your lighting
system over a few years as
your budget and ideas grow.
Ensure t hat a regi st ered,
qualified electrician installs
your lighting system.
Many lighting systems are
now control l ed by remote
control. This allows you to
cont r ol t he s ys t em f r om
anywhere inside or outside
your home, and i t i s cost
effective too, negating the need
to chase out internal walls to
fix light switches.
Lighting systems can also be
expanded to enable dimmable
channels and timers. Smart
phone/ t abl et cont rol and
wireless touchscreen panels
are also available.
LIGHTING
THE GARDEN
NOW THE GARDEN HAS
BEGUN ITS RETREAT BELOW
GROUND, PLAN FOR CABLES
TO BE INSTALLED OVER THE
COMING WINTER MONTHS
Garden designer Ann-Marie Powell suggests lighting and
sculpture for the garden, and an interesting event for your diary
Sculpture in a seat
One of the most influential designers of our time, Ron Arad
continues to explore the technical boundaries of industrial
materials in his rust-coloured, rotational-moulded polyethylene
Folly bench (below). Suitable for indoor and outdoor use, the
stretched seat and back rest continuously swoop into one
another to form a piece that is wonderfully sculptural.
The bench measures 370 x 110 x 95cm. Price £3,026.
Tel: +44 (0)20 7692 4001. www.madeindesign.co.uk
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66 the english garden November 2013
1 BENEFITS
Whether it’s an outsized urn,
statue, sundial (bottom right) or
abstract piece, sculpture should
always improve a garden view,
enhancing the landscape and
capturing the spirit of a place.
2 INSPIRATION
The most successful sculpture
should become a natural part of
your garden. Find inspiration in
your garden itself; adding a piece
that would reinforce a given area
or view; rather than falling in love
with a piece, then later trying to
shoehorn it in. Consider the
interaction of light on a potential
piece of sculpture when it is
placed in shadow, full sun or a
dappled mix of both. Sculpture
doesn’t have to be serious. Some
of the most successful pieces bring
a smile to your face. Sculpture
that’s present through the seasons
adds a sense of permanence;
adding vitality to a garden even
in the barren depths of winter.
3 LOCATION
I find the most successful
positioning of sculpture is when it
is chanced upon in the hidden
nooks of a garden; an unexpected
piece found around a corner,
among trees, nestled into a
meadow’s edge. Almost without
exception, avoid the ‘middle
of the lawn’ approach.
4 THE LOOK
Sculpture doesn’t have to be
expensive. Found objects,
particularly when they have arisen
from the confines of the garden
itself, can enliven a space. The
perfect example of this can be
found at Derek Jarman’s garden
at Dungeness (left). Consider
how the proportion of a piece will
work within your garden, and
remember, lighting enables
you to enjoy it all year round.
Hello, my name is
Paul Smith
15 November 2013 -
9 March 2014
A must-see for anyone
interested in design, the
‘Hello, my name is Paul Smith’
exhibition at the Design
Museum in London promises
to take you into the world of
the eminent fashion designer.
A section of his office, famously
overflowing with eclectic
inspirations, is to be recreated,
and the exhibition will also
include insights into his design
process, and a look
at the world of the
Paul Smith shop.
http://design
museum.org
A recent trade symposium
organised by Palmstead
Nurseries discussed the
theme, ‘Native versus
non-native: which is best?’,
with the catalyst for the
discussion arising from
industry difficulty regarding
BREEAM, the design and
assessment method most
used to measure the
environmental performance
of commercial buildings.
Leading landscape architects
have found the method
frustrating. In order to
achieve a good BREEAM
rating, native plants must be
specified regardless of their
value for biodiversity. In
many locations, landscape
WHAT’S ON
EVERYONE’S
LIPS?
architects are arguing that
some non-natives would be
more appropriate selections,
offering not only more
aesthetically pleasing
plantscapes, but more value
to wildlife. The debate led
me to consider if natives
are indeed better for garden
wildlife than non-natives?
In 2009, the RHS began
researching this very question;
planting 18 raised beds at
RHS Wisley, with each bed
containing plants from one
of three geographical zones.
The intensive data collection
for the RHS’s ‘Plants for
Bugs’ study should reveal
whether there are any
recordable differences
between these plant groups
in terms of both invertebrate
numbers and species;
allowing gardeners to
make informed plant
choices when gardening
for wildlife. The project
is ongoing, and results will
be available next year.
TIP It’s time for
tulips. After a
couple of frosts,
I shall reach for
a long-handled
bulb planter (above)
and spend a day
planting tulip bulbs.
Tulipa ‘Ballerina’,
‘Abu Hassan’ and
‘Negrita’ are some
of my favourites.
Sculpture in
the garden
DESIGN OPTIONS
PLANTS
FOR BUGS
I
M
A
G
E
S
/
B
U
L
B

P
L
A
N
T
E
R

-

H
O
W
A
R
D

W
A
L
K
E
R


S
U
N
D
I
A
L

-

W
W
W
.
S
X
C
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H
U


T
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P
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68 The English Garden november 2013
November 2013 the english garden 69
Pick of the
After much deliberation, the judges chose Fran Wakefield’s
walled garden in Berkshire as Britain’s Best Gardener’s
Garden. Welcome to her prize-winning plot...
PHOTOGRAPHS & WORDS NICOLA STOCKEN
bunch
W
I
N
N
E
R
!
L
R
eams have been
wri tten about
the complexities
of designing the
i deal garden,
but when Fran Wakefield
decided to tackled hers, it was
surprisingly simple.
‘The most important thing
was that it should complement
t he house, ’ she
says. Her 1760s
br i ck and f l i nt
barn conversion
has great period
charm, so Fran
wanted something
traditional in style,
unde r s t at e d i n
t one , but wi t h
unexpected touches.
‘I wanted to recreate the
classical walled garden look,
with a formal framework of
low hedges, straight paths,
lawn and box-edged borders,
filled with roses and perennials.’
Six years on, and the walled
garden at Tithe Barn, in the
small Berkshire village of
Ti dmar s h, has not onl y
exceeded Fran’s expectations,
but also those of the three
judges - Graham Paskett of
Paskett PR, Gardencare’s
Elizabeth Chaloner
a n d G e o r g e
Pl umpt re, chi ef
executive of the
National Gardens
Scheme. They chose
it as the clear winner
of Gardencare’s
Gardener’s Garden
competition, which
was supported by this magazine.
‘I was delighted just to be
shortlisted in the last three,
but when I heard I had won, I
couldn’t wait to phone my
ABOVE Fran
Wakefield’s
Berkshire
garden stood
out from the
crowd for
the judges.
BELOW Rosa
Perennial Blue.
Fran Wakefield is looking forward to choosing
her £1,000 worth of Gardencare equipment
from www.gardencaregb.co.uk - a prize
any gardener would welcome.
70 the english garden November 2013
children. They were thrilled,’
says Fran.
There was a time when such
joy was inconceivable, as the
period house next door was
demolished and replaced with
a development of tall town
houses. ‘I’d lived here for 24
years, and within months,
I went from having a totally
private garden with views over
the meadows to the River
Pang, to being overlooked by
all these houses.’
To compensate for this, the
developer built a beautiful
3m-high wall to make Fran’s
quarter-acre garden completely
walled, thus restoring some
of her seclusion. Gradually, it
occurred to her that the wall
was not such a bad thing, since
it provided scope for indulging
her love of climbing plants.
Ev e n t he r e mov a l of
boundary trees and the loss of
a beautiful old acacia in the
middle of the lawn was not
too disheartening. ‘As light
began to flood into the garden,
I could see the possibilities,
and it spurred me on to make
radical changes, starting with
levelling the uneven ground.’
With a blank piece of paper
and her mi nd empt y of
preconceived notions, she
began to redesign the garden,
starting at the impressive
arched doorway located in
the centre of the house. ‘It
seemed obvious to lay a path
in line with the doorway,
stretching from the house to
the far back wall.’ Fran also
decided to install a parallel
pat h r unni ng f r om t he
entrance gate to the back wall
and a thi rd path runni ng
perpendicular along the back
wall of the garden.
With the paths in place, the
plot naturally divides into
rectangular shapes that became
lawn and beds. And near the
new westerly wall, you will
find box-edged herbaceous
beds that peak in summer,
with Rosa ‘Albéric Barbier’,
Allium ‘Globemaster’, pink
Paeoni a l acti fl ora ‘ Sarah
Bernhardt’, Oriental poppies,
hardy geraniums, catmint
and delphiniums.
On the nearby wal l are
espaliered apple and pear
trees, with a mass of blossom
in spring. This is where Fran
keeps her beehive - she believes
bees bring great energy to
a garden. Other wal l s i n
the garden are smothered
with clematis and climbing
roses such as Rosa ‘Félicité
Per pét ue’ , ‘ New Dawn’ ,
Perennial Blue and ‘Goldfinch’,
which overhangs a corner
filled with Fran’s collection of
Vi ctori ana kni ck-knacks.
‘ Mos t of i t comes f r om
rummaging through salvage
yards,’ she says.
There is a Victorian iron
table, terracotta pots filled
wi t h pe l ar goni ums and
dianthus, and lovely square
ABOVE The
3m-high wall
has restored
the seclusion
of the garden
and is now
clothed with
climbers.
RIGHT Fran
has scoured
salvage yards
to source
troughs and
planters.
L
FRAN’S TIP Buy espaliered apple trees already trained into two tiers,
so all you have to do is follow the pattern. Make sure you prune at the
correct time of year, and in August reduce the bunches of apples to the
two healthiest fruit, ensuring they are evenly spaced along the branches.
November 2013 the english garden 71
Fran transformed this galvanised feed trough into a water
feature that has become a favourite drinking place with the
wild birds that visit her garden.
JUST ADD WATER
TOP RIGHT
A row of
standard pink
Rosa ‘Nozomi’
lead the way
to a wall
covered in
climbing Rosa
‘Goldfinch’.
RIGHT Fran’s
collection
of Victoriana.
W
I
N
N
E
R
!
72 the english garden November 2013
A white bench and
purple blooms of
Rosa Perennial
Blue provide the
focal point at
the bottom of
the central path.
seed pans filled with succulents
and thyme.
Every corner of the garden
holds something unexpected.
At the west end, an arbour
sits beneath trees. It’s an area
of dry shade where all that
grows is pachysandra, ivy,
hostas and periwinkles. ‘This
is now the one place in the
garden that is totally private,
and cannot be overlooked,’
explains Fran.
Nearby, an old galvanised
feed trough perches on brick
pillars, lined with butyl rubber,
filled with water and planted
with water lilies and aquatic
grasses - now a favourite place
for birds to drink.
On the opposite side, a
stumpery spills over with ferns
and hostas. ‘I’m passionate
about hostas. I grow about 20
different varieties, and plant
them with ferns, because the
leaves are a nice contrast.’
The York-stone terrace is
shielded from the windows of
the new houses by a yew screen.
‘It was a difficult decision
because it means partially
screening the garden from
view, but actually it’s nice to
see gl i mpses through the
gaps. You don’t want to see
everything at once.’
More recently, Fran has cut
the top of the yew into a wavy
shape, ensuring the highest
part of each wave blocks views
from the neighbouring houses.
‘Plus the waves make the
hedge appear l ess heavy
visually,’ she adds.
Such changes woul d be
impossible without the input
of her gardener, Daryl Shelver.
‘He’s taught me so much,’ she
insists. ‘Only last autumn, he
helped to empty and replant
t he herbaceous beds. I ’ d
planted everything I was given,
so they were a bit of a mess.’
As time has passed, Fran has
made changes to her original
design. A central section of
t he mai n pat h has been
widened to create a square
to house a still round pool.
‘The pool I wanted was very
expensive, so I improvised
with a section of concrete
pipe.’ To Fran’s delight, her
bees sit on the edge to drink.
Another magical addition is
mistletoe on the apple trees.
‘I harvested mistletoe from the
village green, and squashed the
pips to obtain the seeds.’
Fine gardens rarely stand
still, and Fran’s is no exception.
She has plans for another
November 2013 the english garden 73
WHAT’S NEXT FOR FRAN?
G SHADY PROBLEM An old crab apple tree was casting a broad shadow until Fran ‘lifted its skirts’. ‘Now
that light fills this area, the lawn is growing well.’ Her next plan is to underplant it with shade-lovers such as
ginger lilies, epimediums and tiarellas.
G BEING SUPPORTIVE To minimise the risk of heavy downpours damaging top-heavy flowering plants
such as alliums, peonies and Oriental poppies, Fran plans to buy more rusted-iron structures to prop them
up. She gets hers from www.leanderplantsupports.co.uk
G BEE HAPPY After a false start with bought bees, Fran was surprised when a feral bee colony moved into
her beehive, providing 40 pounds of honey in their first year. ‘They’re such lovely, placid bees, I’m now filling
a second hive.’ She’s had great support and advice from local beekeeper Tim Sheldon.
The front garden offers a complete contrast to the back, with
a mini meadow of wildflowers.
WI LDFLOWERS
arbour with a living roof, but
in the meantime, with a time-
consuming career as a pilates
teacher, Fran treasures every
minute spent in the garden. ‘It
gives me a huge amount of
pleasure. I love when a plant
returns year on year - it’s like
seeing an old friend.’
Tithe Barn garden is open for
the National Gardens Scheme for
one day each June. For details, visit
www.ngs.org.uk
ABOVE Fran’s garden is full of unexpected touches. Old terracotta pots
have been planted up to decorate a short flight of steps.
W
I
N
N
E
R
!
FRAN’S TIP When training
climbing roses to run evenly along
walls, prune regularly. It’s no good
pruning once in a blue moon. You
have to keep on top of it.
74 The English Garden november 2013
STAN FAIRBROTHER
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seasonal recipes
the cold
Keep warm with some hearty recipes from Silvana de Soissons
using home-grown produce from the autumn veg garden
PHOTOGRAPHS JASON INGRAM
L
IN FROM
76 the english garden November 2013
O
utside it might well be dank and dull, but there are certainly
three of the very best ingredients for the cook to enjoy in
November: fresh celeriac, scallops and chestnuts. Celeriac
smells and tastes just like celery, but with deeper, more
woody, nutty and earthy undertones. It needs a great deal
of space to grow and tastes far better after a light frost, although is not
able to withstand a harsh one. When cooked with potatoes and apples,
a rich, velvet, creamy soup can be created in minutes. The perfect foil for
this, certainly, is salty crispy bacon. Steaming hot mugs of this
soup, eaten outside with crusty bread rolls, can transport you into a warm
and aromatic comfort zone.
Many people are quite cautious about cooking scallops, but I can assure
you that it is simple and achievable for cooks of all abilities. There are two
types available: the larger king scallop and tiny queen scallops. They only
need a very short amount of cooking, until opaque and crispy. They
accompany leeks very well; a handy tip is that the latter should be sliced quite
finely to ease washing away soil and grit, and avoid sliminess. When served
in large chunks, leeks have a tendency to be quite stringy.
For years I have tried to collect, roast, peel and cook my own chestnuts but,
finding the task too onerous, I now find it far easier to buy them pre-cooked
in a vacuum bag from France. Similarly, the best marrons glacés come from
northern Italy. Just like the use of lemons and vanilla pods in patisserie, there
are many plants and ingredients that even the keenest gardener must purchase
from abroad. The colder months heighten our ingenuity and resourcefulness
as cooks, and in the darker shorter days, I spend hours researching my
cookbook library for the most flavoursome ways of feeding my family.
Serves 4 (or 6 as a starter)
Ingredients
- 4 rashers unsmoked, streaky bacon
- 1 large potato, peeled and chopped
into small cubes
- 1 small celeriac head, peeled and
chopped into small cubes
- 1 litre home-made vegetable stock
- 150ml crème fraîche
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 250g cooking apples, peeled and
chopped into small cubes
- 2 tbsps finely chopped
rosemary needles
- 1 tsp finely chopped thyme leaves
- Warm, crusty bread to serve
Method
G Derind and cut the bacon into
strips, then fry in a large saucepan
until brown and crispy. Remove and
set aside somewhere warm.
G Place some olive oil in a soup pot.
Add the potato and celeriac pieces and
sauté for two to three minutes. Add
the vegetable stock and bring to the
boil. Simmer the vegetables for 10-12
Celeriac, apple & bacon soup
minutes, or until they are nearly
cooked and quite soft.
G Stir in half of the crème fraîche,
the fresh herbs and apple pieces. Bring
to the boil, and then blend to a smooth
purée. Season to taste with sea salt
and freshly grated black pepper.
G Ladle the soup into individual
soup bowls and top with the bacon
and a spoonful of the remaining
crème fraîche. Serve with slices
of warm bread.
November 2013 the english garden 77
Serves 4
Ingredients
- 2 medium-sized leeks
- 50g butter
- Olive oil for cooking
- 200ml double cream
- Sea salt and black pepper
- 400g fresh scallops
- Fresh chervil or flat-leaved parsley
Method
G Wash, trim and finely chop the leeks,
and fry them gently in the butter and two
tbsps of olive oil. Add sea salt and grated
black pepper. The leeks should be soft
and wilting, rather than brown and crispy,
so keep mixing so that they do not stick
to the bottom of the pan. Add just a little
water to help create steam.
G Add the cream and continue cooking
the leeks for two more minutes. Set aside
somewhere warm.
G Season the raw scallops with sea salt
and pepper, and then fry in a hot pan
with olive oil for two minutes on both
sides. The scallops should be brown and
crispy on the outside, but still soft and
moist on the inside.
G Spoon the soft creamy leeks onto
a plate. Place the scallops on top and
decorate with fresh chervil or flat-leaved
parsley. Add more grated black pepper
to taste. Serve hot.
Creamy leeks
with scallops
seasonal recipes
L
Chestnut, orange
& Cointreau
meringue puddings
seasonal recipes
78 the english garden November 2013
Serves 8
Ingredients to make the meringue
- 200g raw cane caster sugar
- 4 egg whites
- Seeds from one vanilla pod
Ingredients to make the chestnut cream
- 250ml double cream
- 300g cooked chestnuts, chopped
into small pieces
- 2 tbsps Cointreau liqueur
- 1 heaped tbsp icing sugar
- Zest of two oranges and juice of one
- 8-10 marrons glacés, chopped into
small pieces
Method
G Pre-heat the oven to 110°C.
G To make the meringue, whisk the egg whites
in a very clean bowl until stiff. Add the sugar,
a little at a time, and the vanilla seeds, and
continue whisking until the meringue mix is
really glossy and shiny.
G Spoon or pipe small mounds of meringue
onto a baking tray that has been lined with
baking parchment. Leave plenty of space
between each meringue because they do
spread in the oven.
G Bake in the pre-heated oven for
approximately one hour, then turn off the oven
and leave the meringues to cool in the oven.
They can be left to dry out even overnight if it is
more convenient. The meringues can be stored
in an airtight container until needed.
G To make the chestnut cream, whisk the
double cream until it forms stiff peaks. Mix
together the chopped chestnuts, the whipped
cream, Cointreau, zest and orange juice and the
icing sugar. Set the creamy chestnut filling aside,
in the fridge if you are not going to serve the
pudding immediately.
G When ready to serve, place a small meringue
at the base of a pudding glass, cup or bowl and
spoon on top some chestnut cream. Layer
another meringue on top of the cream, spoon
another layer of cream and top with chopped
marrons glacés. N
november 2013 The English Garden 79
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November 2013 the english garden 83
Sissinghurst is truly iconic, the epitome of an English garden. Its new Head Gardener
Troy Scott-Smith explains his vision for the future of the world-famous plot
created by Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson
PHOTOGRAPHS JASON INGRAM
revitalising vita
L
Troy Scott-Smith
stakes verbascum
plants during his
first summer as
Head Gardener at
Sissinghurst. He is
the first male Head
Gardener here in
more than 50 years.
84 the english garden November 2013
I
had my first encounter with
the soil at Sissinghurst more
than 20 years ago, when
I worked here as a gardener;
a period that set the tone for
the rest of my gardening career.
I learned to love detail. I learned
great techniques. And I learned to be
inquisitive about plants and critical
in their effective juxtaposition. I had
no thought then that one day I
would return and be responsible for
the garden. However, I was tempted
away from beautiful Bodnant
Garden in north Wales, and that is
exactly what happened. I arrived
back at Si ssi nghurst as Head
Gardener in May this year.
There can be nowhere more
beautiful than Sissinghurst in the first
few weeks of May, and I couldn’t
stop myself wanting to be in the
garden: mowing the lawns at dawn
or enjoying the ethereal beauty of the
White Garden at dusk.
Along with the immense privilege
of gardening within these six acres,
I was also immediately aware of the
responsibility and huge challenge
that goes with it.
I soon asked myself: ‘How do we
conserve a garden of predominantly
herbaceous material in the manner
of its creator, after they have gone?’
For me, the answer is clear. We
must garden with a freedom and
ease that comes wi th a deep
absorption and close affinity with
the place. It is only in this way that
the style and spirit of the garden
wi l l be mai nt ai ned, ref i ned,
enriched and enhanced.
Therefore, I make no excuses
for focusing my attention over the
past few months on trying to
understand the distinctiveness
of Sissinghurst and the characters
of its creators, Vita Sackville-
West and Harold Nicolson: their
phi l os ophy, t as t e, mot i ves ,
i nt e r e s t s , g a r de ni ng s t y l e ,
prejudices, constraints and ideas.
Vita and Harold’s aim was never
t o make a gr eat gar den f or
posterity. They intended it solely
as a place for their own pleasure
and enjoyment. They liked a mix
of elegant spires and colourful
carpets of small plants in lavish
abundance. They might consider
the greatest treasure in the garden
to be a sel f-sown seedl i ng; a
favourite hedge might be a loose
tangle of sweet briar.
Constant experimentation and
renewal were part of the life of the
garden, and Vi ta and Harol d
experimented all the time with
shapes and colours, moved whole
groups of plants to better places, and
rejuvenated the garden every season
with new varieties or fresh ideas.
How do we conserve a garden in the manner
of its creator after they have gone?
ABOVE Rosa
mulliganii in the
White Garden
provides two
seasons of interest:
one in early July
when it flowers;
and again through
September and
October when
the rose hips turn
a fiery red. LEFT
Troy became Head
Gardener in May,
arriving from
another National
Trust property,
Bodnant Garden
in north Wales.
L
sissinghurst: kent

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT Bidens ferulifolia
fills the famous copper planter at the centre
of the Cottage Garden; cutting flowers
for arrangments is a daily pleasure; Rosa
‘Ulrich Brünner Fils’ provides a good display;
a glimpse behind the scenes at Sissinghurst
provides a fascinating insight into the tricks
needed to keep the garden in peak flower -
here Troy binds pruned branches into
bundles, ready to create plant supports
for use in the large borders next spring;
understated elegance in the Lime Walk -
a cool retreat on a summer’s day; hessian
sheets are used to move material in and out
of the garden, as the paths are too narrow
for garden machinery to access.
Sissinghurst
is intimate in
scale and rich
in plants. It sees
up to 200,000
visitors each
year.
‘People don’t come to Sissinghurst because it is quite like everywhere
else... but because it is exceptionally itself’
88 the english garden November 2013
November 2013 the english garden 89
To perpetuate such a garden
requires gardeners not only with
supreme horticultural knowledge
and skill, but also gardeners with
vision, sensitivity and an instinctive
feeling for the spirit of the place.
Over the years, Sissinghurst has
attracted such people. Within the
architectural framework and colour
schemes, and remaining faithful to
the spirit of the garden, they have
experimented, refined and perfected
successful planting associations.
At the same time, however, a series
of innocent actions have taken place
that, by steal th and wi thout
realisation, accumulatively threaten
to overwhelm the beauty of the
garden. Vita and Harold’s grandson,
Adam Nicolson, writes: ‘People
don’t come to Sissinghurst because it
is quite like everywhere else, shaped
by the tasks of everywhere else, but
because it is exceptionally itself. Its
potential for beauty and richness
needs to be entirely understood and
made entirely explicit, not buried
under a duvet of the average.’
We must truly understand what
we’ve got and reassess what we
do; shifting from a focus around
standards and presentation to things
that really matter. Not least,
gardening in a way that seeks to re-
capture the distinctive qualities of
Vita and Harold’s Sissinghurst; a
more reflective, romantic, slower,
deeper place than much of what the
modern Sissinghurst has become.
We must be true to the garden’s
historic distinctiveness, to take what
is great and intensify the enjoyment,
allowing ourselves expression
of creativity and plantsmanship.
Sissinghurst should be romantic
yet practical, experimental but
traditional; an emotional experience,
a garden of timeless quality, where
flower borders foam in unorthodox
exuberance and roses tumble from
the walls in lavish swags.
Resistance to this change or
freezing Sissinghurst in time risks
creating a branded theme park that
i s unabl e to adapt. I am not
advocating a heavy-handed approach
but rather an accumulative effect; a
series of interventions that together
over the years are significant. Past,
present and future should all equally
co-exist. It is only with a deep
absorption and close affinity with
the place that the true Sissinghurst
will emerge from under the duvet.
Sissinghurst Castle, Cranbrook, Kent
TN17 2AB. Tel: +44 (0)1580 710701.
Open in 2014 from March to October -
see www.nationaltrust.org.uk for
events and opening times.
Troy’s tasks in his first summer
OPPOSITE The
Elizabethan Tower
- Vita wrote at the
very top, in her
study. ABOVE
Managing a
garden like
Sissinghurst
requires constant
observation.
Troy admires the
delphiniums in
the famous White
Garden. LEFT
The Moat Walk.
Sissinghurst should be romantic yet practical,
experimental but traditional
L
90 the english garden November 2013
sissinghurst: kent
IF YOU VISIT US AT SISSINGHURST...
Sissinghurst Castle Garden is open all year; come see us and also try:
G STAY IN THE GARDEN The Priest’s House at Sissinghurst is a holiday
cottage where you can stay. You can dine in the White Garden and have it to
yourself when all the visitors have gone home; and enjoy full access to the
whole garden at any time during your stay. www.nationaltrustcottages.co.uk
G NURSERY Marchants Hardy Plants It’s a little further afield, but this
nursery, owned by the brilliant Graham Gough, is where I often get our plants.
2 Marchants Cottages, Mill Lane, Laughton, East Sussex BN8 6AJ. Tel: +44
(0)1323 811737. www.marchantshardyplants.co.uk
G GARDEN Great Dixter No visit to the southeast is complete without a visit
to Great Dixter, the influential garden of the late Christopher Lloyd. Northiam,
Rye, East Sussex TN31 6PH. Tel: +44 (0)1797 252878. www.greatdixter.co.uk
G I’ve learned to trial plants new to the garden in
a nursery bed for a year to assess their worth.
G Hemerocallis and kniphofia will both repay
the trouble of lifting and dividing one plant from
the group a year in advance, ready to replace the
group the following year.
G Gardens of small dimensions like this can soon
get out of proportion. Shrubs need to be kept from
getting too large by careful shaping, which is often
best done soon after flowering.
G Wear occurs in much-used entrances and also
in what we call ‘admiration patches’, when visitors
are attracted to a particular part of the garden. We
raise turf from seed so we have a supply for patching.
G Any jobs that can be done during winter
to speed the pressing tasks of summer will
now be given priority.

Clay soils can be very
difficult to work and
are easily compacted
if it is at all damp,
making borders and
beds hard to access.
At Sissinghurst, we
use planks of various
lengths laid on the
surface of the soil to
distribute our weight
and avoid undue
compaction.
DEALING WITH
DIFFICULTIES
WHAT I KNOW NOW...
DIVIDE & CONQUER
Bearded iris need dividing every few years. I dug them up in early July and sorted out
the plump pieces of root. Then I cut down the leaves into a fan shape of about 10cm
in height. I potted these up using a gritty compost, and then we kept them in the
pots for eight weeks before planting out. Next year they will put on a great show.
first summer at SISSINGHURST
KITCHEN CROPS
We’ve been harvesting from the Kitchen Garden all
season. All our produce is picked for the restaurant, with
most crops delivered fresh to the kitchen within a
couple of hours of harvest. Surplus produce is offered
for sale at our shop and at our fortnightly farmers’
market, held on the green outside the garden gates.
PRETTY IN PINK
Old-fashioned and
shrub roses are part
of the character of the
garden at Sissinghurst.
For best results, we
‘peg’ them down to
put the sap under
pressure and prevent
it from going to the
top of each leader.
This way, buds
with short-flowering
spurs are encouraged
along the length
of the stem.
92 The English Garden november 2013
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November 2013 the english garden 93
Working in harmony with the landscape is the ethos behind Bodenham Arboretum in
Worcestershire, where the family that runs the estate lets the trees do the talking
PHOTOGRAPHS CLIVE NICHOLS | WORDS DEBORAH CURTIS
True colours
trees: arboretum
Euonymus hamiltonianus
‘Koi Boy’
Berberis wilsoniae Magnolia sprengeri var. diva Acer palmatum var. dissectum
‘Garnet’
Liriodendron tulipifera
‘Ardis’
Acer palmatum
‘Beni-kagami’
Acer pycnanthum Euonymus alatus
Acer griseum Acer palmatum
‘Amatum’
Cornus amomum subsp.
obliqua
Aesculus parviflora
L
trees: arboretum
94 the english garden November 2013
W
hat inspires a man to
plant trees he might
never see i n thei r
magnificent maturity?
For James Binnian,
it’s about continuing the work begun by
his father, David, who started planting
Bodenham Arboretum in Worcestershire
in the early 1970s.
‘My father loved trees and conservation,’
says James. ‘He bought the place as a
derelict farm and basically brought it back
to life. We dammed a couple of streams to
create several pools, and planted trees, and
it grew and grew. There really wasn’t a
plan to do this at the beginning.’
The arboretum opened to the public in
May 1998, and today visitors come to the
168-acre estate to enjoy a mixture of
mature woodland, specimen trees and
shrubs, which have been planted around
two acres of pools and lakes.
There are more than 3,000 species of
trees and shrubs from all over the world.
All are carefully labelled, mapped and
catalogued, and there are a number of
important collections here too, namely
acers, North American oaks and alders.
James is helped in his selection of new
species by experts at the Royal Botanic
Gardens, Kew, and by Shropshire-based
plantswoman Jenny Marshall (known as
There are more than 3,000 species of trees and shrubs
from all over the world, carefully labelled and mapped
TOP There are plenty of beautiful walks at Bodenham, such as the beech avenue. CENTRE Sweet
gum and Taxodium distichum var. imbricarium ‘Nutans’. ABOVE Trees growing by the pool include
Carpinus betulus ‘Fastigiata’ and Liquidambar styraciflua.
November 2013 the english garden 95
Plantfinder Jenny), who can seeks out the
most obscure specimens.
‘It is Kew’s policy to supply Westonbirt
Arboretum, RHS Wisley, Bodenham and a
few other private sites with rare species for
safe keeping. Bodenham receives between
30 to 40 unusual specimens annually,
which are planted in the arboretum
to ensure they are grown on for posterity
and are available for the public to see,’
explains James.
The trees are all laid out in sympathy
with the landscape and the planting policy
is to mix up the colours, shapes and sizes
of the trees throughout the arboretum. For
James, the emphasis is on choosing species
that will do well in the climate and soil
conditions of this part of Worcestershire.
‘I want to work with nature rather than
against it,’ he says. ‘I want the trees to
thrive rather than just survive. They have
got to suit our local heavy clay. It is only
a small percentage of visitors who
appreciate that we have got some very rare
specimens. Most people appreciate
the beauty of the landscape in its entirety
and what we have created here.’
LEFT Sheep graze in the fields beside the
arboretum - Bodenham is not just a place for
trees. There is also an award-winning farm,
gardens and restaurant on the estate. ABOVE
Many trees and shrubs also have interesting
berries at this time of year, including this
sorbus, as well as berberis and cornus.
M
96 the english garden November 2013
TOP Bodenham is peaceful and tranquil, as it is
situated in a protected valley. On the drive, there
are Quercus palustris, Betula utilis var. jacquemontii
and Carpinus betulus ‘Fastigiata’. ABOVE The
pools are a breeding ground for many water
fowl. ABOVE RIGHT Liriodendron tulipifera.
RIGHT Acer palmatum ‘Beni-kagami’.
trees: arboretum
The epicentre of the arboretum lies
around the big pool, where many rare and
ornamental trees can be seen in flower and
fruit at all times of the year; but they are
especially stunning in their full autumnal
glory. The colourful display is particularly
vivid when plentiful sunshine is followed
by an early frost. The acers turn from
bright yellow to vibrant oranges and reds,
while the scarlet oaks, as their name
suggests, fill the woods with swathes
of brilliant vermillion.
‘Our undulating topography is perfect,
as it provides a huge range of growing
conditions, which ensures a vast selection
of trees can thrive. This may make walking
through the arboretum a little harder, but
the overall blending of trees and shrubs
provides a beautiful landscape.’
Bodenham is a real family affair, with
both of James’ sons now working on
the estate, and although his father, David,
died earlier this year, the vision with
which he began Bodenham some 40
years ago, lives on in the beauty of the
setting he created.
Bodenham Ar bor et um, Wol ver l ey,
Kidderminster, Worcs DY11 5TB. Open in Nov,
Wed-Sun, 11am-5pm. Tel: +44 (0)1562 852444.
www.bodenham-arboretum.co.uk
98 The English Garden november 2013

November 2013 the english garden 99

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Now is the perfect time for planning and planting for next summer. If you’re inspired by
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And why not add more bright whites to your garden with our other amazing offers?
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A sweet-scented climber flowering all of
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1 plant: £13.99
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HARDY
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November 2013 the english garden 101
GIVE
&
GROW
We celebrate the successes of
Green Guardians in Gloucestershire,
a Marie Curie Hospice in Newcastle
and a budding young gardener from
Bristol - an exciting time had by all
with some fabulous end results
WORDS SUE BRADLEY
Gardeners working to enhance
public spaces across Scotland are
being given a £100,000 boost by
the Royal Horticultural Society
(left, community tree planting in
North Berwick). Projects include
plans to build a physic garden for patients at Ninewells
Hospital in Dundee, and a new growing space at Moniack
Mhor Creative Writing Centre in Kiltarlity. Meanwhile,
Knockando Woollen Mill in the Spey Valley, near Aberlour,
has received funding to expand an existing green space. The
investment follows a successful initiative in Yorkshire from
which 32 gardening groups are benefiting. ‘Our plan now is
to continue to invest in grassroots gardening across the UK,’
explained RHS director general Sue Biggs.
People living in the tiny
but dynamic Hebridean
island of Colonsay have
created a garden to be
proud of. Volunteers
were mustered from a
population of just 130
to help clear an overgrown site outside the village
hall in Scalasaig (left), close to the point where the
mainland ferry lands. A community ‘strimathon’
- attendees of which included a man wielding a
scythe - revealed a wet, boggy site covered in
bramble and bracken roots and littered with
rubbish. Applications to the Woodland Trust
yielded 400 trees to provide shelter-planting for
the windswept site, while an Elspeth Thomson
Bursary provided fencing materials and paths,
together with plants to augment those donated
by local people. The islanders also contacted the
Beechgrove Garden team for advice on garden
design, and were delighted when they were
picked to be featured on the BBC TV
programme. Local development officer Morna
Piper said the enthusiasm of the islanders and
community had been amazing.
TEAM
WORK
Windswept wonder
CASH
BOOST
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102 the english garden November 2013
volunteering
DID YOU KNOW? The 2013 Garden Re-Leaf Day raised £61,379 towards the
work of the charity Greenfingers, which creates gardens at children’s hospices.
Garden Re-Leaf events were held at garden centres throughout the UK in March.
The 2014 event takes place on Friday 14 March.
Green Guardians
A charity that works with
volunteers to take care of
unused pieces of land,
and encourages school
children to grow their
own fruit and vegetables, has had two special
reasons to celebrate in 2013. For not only is the
Stroud Valleys Project (SVP) marking its silver
jubilee, but it has also just been named winner
of the Green Space Guardians category in the
National Trust’s Octavia Hill Awards. Last year
alone, SVP planted 3,120 hedgerow plants and
958 trees, with volunteers (above) giving 1,612
days of their time. This year, they launched ‘Get
Growing’, through which more than 1,500
children in 23 schools are learning to grow and
harvest food. ‘Everything we do is about
bringing people together to appreciate and
contribute to the environment,’ said SVP chief
executive Clare Mahdiyone. For more details,
visit www.stroudvalleysproject.org
If you are looking for volunteers or are involved in a project, share it by writing to us at The English Garden, Archant
House, Oriel Road, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL50 1BB, or send an email to theenglishgarden@archant.co.uk
A bleak courtyard in East London has
become a productive garden that is
providing therapy for Armed Forces
veterans (left, veteran Peter Hughes)
and is a quiet spot where they can
relax. The transformed space at
Community Housing and Therapy’s
Home Base project in East Acton is
Gardening Leave’s first horticultural
therapy outreach garden in the
capital. It was built by ISS Facility
Services Landscaping, which gave its
workers’ time and most of the
materials free of charge, while the
raised beds were funded by facilitating
organisation, The Besom, and filled
with Dalefoot Compost.
Groups of corporate volunteers have played a part in securing an outstanding level five
accolade from the Royal Horticultural Society’s ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ scheme for
the Marie Curie Hospice in Newcastle. Their enthusiasm for tasks such as spring
planting and autumn clean-ups means that the grounds of the hospice provide an oasis
for patients and their families (left). ‘The pride of the Marie Curie Hospice in Newcastle
has to be our stunning gardens,’ said spokeswoman Jan Aitchison. ‘All the patients’
rooms open out onto the main garden, and the day care centre has an enclosed garden
where patients, staff and volunteers can eat their lunch.’ www.mariecurie.org.uk
With a little bit of help from their friends
YOUNG GROWERS
m
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NEW
RELAXING
GARDEN
Children in Bristol, Bath, North Somerset and Wiltshire
can take a leaf from Oliver Parkes’ book by planting a
daffodil bulb and creating a beautiful wrapper for its
pot to help raise money to support Marie Curie nurses.
Oliver (right) won first prize in a painting competition
organised as part of the charity’s ‘Mini Pots of Care’
fundraiser. The idea is for children to plant bulbs
during the autumn term and create wrappers, before
taking their daffodils home in return for a donation to
the charity. To register, visit www.mariecurie.org.uk
HOPE FROM
HORTICULTURE
november 2013 The English Garden 103
A range of beautiful hand crafted steel plant supports and obelisks
designed to provide architectural structure within the garden whilst also
complimenting and enhancing the plants features.
www.artisanplantsupports.co.uk
Email: info@artisanplantsupports.co.uk Tel: 01538 753128
Woodside Farm, Clamgoose Lane Kingsley Moor, Staffordshire ST10 2EG
Visit our website or telephone to request a brochure:
104 The English Garden november 2013
November 2013 the english garden 105 October 2013 the english garden 105 September 2013 the english garden 105 August 2013 the english garden 105 July 2013 the english garden 105
ON SALE 13
NOVEMBER
PLUS
G The best repeat-flowering roses
G NEW garden wildlife series
G Foraging for Christmas
treats & decorations
G Raymond Blanc’s
garden goes festive
G Warming winter
recipes
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in our december issue...
SEASONAL
COLOUR FROM
Hampton Court Castle
Sir Harold Hillier Gardens
Drummond Castle
& Bressingham Gardens
Find us in selected Marks &
Spencer, Waitrose and WH Smith,
and all good newsagents
SAVE £1 OFFour next issue
Pre-order the THE ENGLISH GARDEN DECEMBER issue and SAVE £1 OFF
the cover price with FREE UK delivery! (RRP £3.99).
Go to www.buyamag.co.uk/EG
USE DISCOUNT CODE
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KG3 8
¢
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A WEALTH OF

Winter
Gardens


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SARAH RAVEN
CALENDAR
worth £9.95

The
Making of
the English
Gardener
by Margaret Willes
(Yale University Press,
£14.99)
This is the century that
catapulted the English
garden from a backwater
of gentle gillyflowers
and woven arbours to
a riot of striped tulips and spouting water gardens - and
Willes explores these influences. With all the familiar names
- the Tradescants, John Evelyn, Bishop Compton and the
Duchess of Beaufort - the book gives space to exploring
the connections between them and with the wider plant
community. It’s a book that explores the networks of
communication and exchange of ideas that allowed gardens
and nurseries to develop; and with topics such as the complex
web of intrigue that was the Tudor and Stuart court, Willes
entices us along a fascinating path, revealing new discoveries
along the way. It is indeed an inspirational book for all
those fascinated by the making of the English garden.
Reviewed by garden historian Twigs Way
Lost
Lanes
by Jack Thurston
(Wild Things
Publishing, £14.99)
Feeling inspired
by our own Biker
Boy’s adventures
around the
countryside? (see
Chris Beardshaw’s
column on pg 114)
Longing to
spontaneously set
off and discover some hidden treasures along the way? If so,
Lost Lanes, a guide to rides around southern England, is most
certainly for you. Written by bike enthusiast Jack Thurston,
presenter of The Bike Show on Resonance FM and writer for
many well-known publications, you can certainly trust his
knowledge of the landscape. Depending on whether you’d
rather plan your trip around ‘Best for Families’ or ‘Best for
Weekends Away’ (among others) or by region, it caters for all.
The guide includes a map, info on where to get the fastest train
to your starting point, and a really helpful download link for a
printable paper route (leaving room in your rucksack for
nibbles). Definitely recommended for the adventurous.
Reviewed by Jessica Farmer
T HE
R E VI E WE R
BOOKS | BLOGS | BROADSHEETS | RADI O | TV | TWI TTER | ONLI NE
BOOK REVIEWS
Things we
LOVE
Banish the autumn blues with books on riding the country lanes and trekking in the woods; and learn to identify
trees or mushrooms. Or you could try something different with an armchair tour of Venice’s finest gardens...
MORE THAN HONEY
(DVD on sale 21 October)
An eye-opening documentary by
Markus I mhoof, discovering and
analysing the main causes of the
decline of the much-loved honey
bee. Certainly one to watch for all
the wildlife enthusiasts out there.
£12.99
FI ELD STUDI ES COUNCI L
COMMON TREES APP
A handy tool to help identify common
British trees, first by leaf type and then
from a list of possible trees, with tree
specifications - bark type, location, uses
etc - to further your identification.
Based on the FSC’s popular fold-out
chart; a reliable source.
THE EDEN PROJECT BLOG
www.edenproject.com/blog
Certainly one of the best blogs for a
diversity of topics. From outdoor
activities to enjoy with the kids to
event recommendations, plant news
and tasty recipes; and with constant
updates from the team, this blog
is one to follow.
WANT
MORE?

ENJOY MORE
EXCELLENT READING
BY SUBSCRIBING
TO US NOW
See page 22
The White
Company
Lavender
soap (£12
for three)
These sweet
heart-shaped soaps have a strong scent of
lemon, with hints of lavender. With a very
creamy lather, it leaves hands feeling lovely
and smooth. Certainly one to remember for
the Christmas stocking, or for a treat to
yourself. Visit www.thewhitecompany.com
Twentyeight Isles of Scilly
Samphire soap (£4.30 each)
Handmade with essential oils, on a flower
farm in St Agnes, Cornwall, this soap smells
strongly of this shoreline gem - bringing
back memories of summers past. Others
are available,
such as rose
and mint.
Visit www.
28miles.
co.uk
Hidcote: The Garden and
Lawrence Johnston
By Graham S Pearson
(National Trust/Anova, £12.99)
An insight
into the
past; how
plantsman
Lawrence
Johnston
influenced
and developed Hidcote. With
photos and old newspaper
excerpts, you really get a sense
of this iconic garden. There’s
also a list of the books borrowed
by Johnston in 1905, if you want
to look further.
Dream Plants for the
Natural Garden
By Piet Oudolf & Henk Gerritsen
(Frances Lincoln, £20)
A reprint of
a book by
two design
gurus, this is
full of 1,200
beautiful
hand-picked
plants (perennials, grasses,
bulbs and shrubs), all usefully
arranged according to their
behaviour, strengths and uses.
A bible for those interested in
turning their garden into a
naturalistic haven.
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NOVEMBER’S FRESH PICKINGS
INTERVIEW
LITTLE TREATS Great soaps for cleaning up us green-fingered, muddy-nailed folk
Elizabeth Gilbert,
best known for her
2006 bestseller Eat,
Pray, Love, has a
written a new
novel that has
caught our eye.
A Signature
of All Things
(Bloomsbury,
£18.99) follows the great botanical
explorations of the 18th and 19th
centuries. Beautifully written, it
tells the story of Alma Whittaker,
who delves deep into the world of
botany; following in the footsteps
of her father, Henry. He began as
a vagrant under the command of
Joseph Banks of Kew Gardens,
but explored the world when put
on Captain Cook’s HMS Resolution.
Great for anyone who wishes to
learn about this period and how
it affected the botanical world of
today. We caught up with Elizabeth
to see what inspired her to write
her latest novel.
Where did the inspiration for
this novel come from?
From my first garden, which I
began when I settled down
after years of travelling. I grew
up on a Christmas tree farm
with a mother who was a master
gardener, but I thought I had
run away from that when I
moved to New York. But like
any new gardener, I wanted to
know the provenance of what
I was planting, which led me
to delve into the history of
botanical exploration.
Does any particular
place inspire you?
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew,
and the Hortus Botanicus in
Amsterdam, where the novel
initially sparked, and I ran into
a 150-year-old shagbark
hickory from Pennsylvania and
thought: ‘What are you doing
here?’ And lastly, the Botanic
Garden in Tahiti.
What’s your garden like?
An English cottage garden style.
I love to look out of my window
and see a riot of indispensable
and unpragmatic beauty.
Which three garden items could
you not live without?
Bonnie, Sandy and Catherine
(one a sister, one a neighbour
and the other a friend who is a
brilliant landscaper); they are
my garden godmothers.
Interviewed by Jessica Farmer.
The Gardens of Venice
and the Veneto
By Jennie Condie.
Photographs by Alex Ramsay
(Frances Lincoln, £35)
The first to
really examine
the gardens
the Veneto,
including
Venice (with
images by
Alex Ramsay, who regularly
features in The English Garden)
- most of which are open to the
public. Sit back and delve deep
into the 20 magnificent gardens
and plan a trip next year.
Mushrooms
& Toadstools
(Dorling Kindersley,
£16.99)
A reprint
from 1996,
featuring
more than
450 species
of fungi;
all the latest
discoveries
with scaled artwork; plus a
short introduction to each with
comprehensive advice on spore
deposit, habitat, fruiting and
range. It really is the ideal guide
for any mushroom enthusiast.
e
k l
Mill Cottage soap (£4.50 each)
Handmade in Wales from high-quality,
natural plant ingredients, and no palm
oil. Great after working in the garden, it
leaves your hands silky and smelling of
sweet orange. Bespoke bars are available
with your own
imprint (see ours,
left). Available
online at www.
millcottage
soap.co.uk
GARDENS & ARBORETUMS TO VISIT
HERE’ S YOUR I NSPI RATI ON FOR GREAT DAYS OUT THI S AUTUMN
P R OMOT I ONAL F E AT UR E
MARKS HALL GARDENS AND ARBORETUM
Coggeshall, Essex CO6 1TG | Tel: +44 (0)1376 563796
Email: enquiries@markshall.org.uk | www.markshall.org.uk
Marks Hall Gardens and Arboretum near Coggeshall provides a great day out for the whole family. Our
extensive grounds are home to an amazing tree collection with plants from all over the world in both formal
and woodland settings. A garden for all seasons - our autumn highlights include beautiful woodland walks,
magical lakeside reflections from the millennium walk, and the stunning colour of the memorial site. Also
enjoy our tea rooms, shop, plant centre and a children’s play area.
OPEN: Until 10 Nov, Tuesday to Sunday, 10.30am - 5pm, and 15 Nov - 22 Dec, Friday to Sunday 10.30 - dusk.
ABBOTSBURY GARDENS
Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens, Bullers Way, Abbotsbury, Dorset DT3 4LA
Tel: +44 (0)1305 871387 | Email: info@abbotsbury-tourism.co.uk
www.abbotsburygardens.co.uk
The enchanted floodlit garden event - 17 October - 3 November 2013. Lights turned on at dusk to 8.30pm.
Magical lighting throughout the garden. Stroll along candlelit pathways surrounded by autumn colour. Hot
food available in the Colonial Restaurant and Christmas gifts in the shop. Individuals and groups welcome.
OPEN: 10am - 8.30pm during the event, normal admission applies.
THORP PERROW ARBORETUM
Thorp Perrow, Bedale, North Yorkshire, DL8 2PS | Tel: +44 (0)1677 425323
Email: enquiries@thorpperrow.com | www.thorpperrow.com
100 acres of woodland to explore - join one of our guided tours. It is mixture of colours and scents throughout
the year, but is particularly stunning in autumn. A photographer’s paradise! Join our expert for a fungus foray to
find out what is edible and what is not. There are three entertaining displays a day at the bird of prey and
mammal centre - please allow plenty of time for your visit. Events throughout the year. Also enjoy the licensed
tearoom, adventure play glade, plant centre and the special group rates.
OPEN: All year round
BIRMINGHAM BOTANICAL GARDENS
Westbourne Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 3TR | Tel: +44 (0)1214 541860
Email: admin@birminghambotanicalgardens.org | www.birminghambotanicalgardens.org.uk
Beautiful autumn colour in acres of glorious gardens with four glasshouses. Also enjoy our woodland walk, alpine
yard, rock pool and cascade; bonsai collection, Japanese garden and lawn aviary. Our shop is well-stocked with
quality gifts, cards, plants. Also available a car park, tea room and children’s playground. Bring this cutting for a
10% DISCOUNT OFF full adult admission to gardens until 31 December 2013 (photocopies not accepted).
OPEN: Daily (except Christmas day and Boxing day), Monday - Sunday, 10am - 5pm.
THE BISHOP’S PALACE GARDENS
The Bishop’s Palace, Wells, Somerset, BA5 2PD | Tel: +44 (0)1749 988111
Email: info@bishopspalace.org.uk | www.bishopspalace.org.uk
Stroll through 14 acres of gardens at the home of the Bishop of Bath & Wells. Crunch through fallen leaves;
watch the arboretum specimen trees change from green to red, to burnt orange and yellow; enjoy our new
sensory trail; take part in workshops and tree-inspired activities. Under 5s free.
OPEN: Daily all year round, except January. In October, 10am - 6pm; November, 10am - 4pm,
until 20 December, 10am - 4pm.
P R OMOT I ONAL F E AT UR E
BATSFORD ARBORETUM AND GARDEN CENTRE
Batsford Arboretum and Garden Centre, Batsford, Moreton-in-Marsh
Tel: +44 (0)1386 701441 | Email: arboretum@batsfordfoundation.co.uk | www.batsarb.co.uk
Enjoy spectacular autumn colour as Batsford’s maples and cherries take centre stage in a blaze of reds,
yellows, oranges and gold. Indulge yourself with homebaked foods on the deck of the Garden Terrace café;
browse new season bulbs and plants and choose from a fabulous selection of gifts and shabby chic furniture.
Call our autumn colour hotline on +44 (0)1386 701441 for up to date information. Winner of the Cotswolds
Tourism Large Visitor Attraction of the Year 2013.
OPEN: Daily, 10am-5pm.
LOSELEY PARK
Loseley Park, Guildford, Surrey, GU3 1HS
Tel: +44 (0)1483 304440 | Email: groups@loseleypark.co.uk
www.loseleypark.co.uk
Group Visits to Loseley Park (minimum 10 people) are welcome by prior arrangement from May to September
next year. You should allow three to four hours for an enjoyable visit. Available are disabled facilities, pre-
booked catering, a gift shop, chapel and a moat walk. There’s plenty of free parking available, and coach
drivers receive complimentary refreshment vouchers, together with free entry to our beautiful gardens.
OPEN: Sunday to Thursday, Loseley House is open from May to August, 1pm – 5pm and our Walled Gardens
are open from 11am – 5pm from May to September.
ABERGLASNEY GARDENS
Aberglasney Gardens, Llangathen, Carmarthenshire, SA32 8QH | Tel: +44 (0)1558 668998
Email: info@aberglasney.org | www.aberglasney.org
A heritage garden of excellence; historic Aberglasney House and Gardens is recognised as one of Wales’
finest attractions, covering 10 acres with an Elizabethan cloister garden at its heart - the only surviving
example in the UK. Excellent shop, plant sales, art exhibitions and café.
OPEN: Daily, except Christmas day; October to March, 10:30am-4pm, last entry 3pm.
BLARNEY CASTLE
Blarney Castle, Blarney, Co.Cork, Ireland | Tel: +44 (0)353 21 4385252 | Email: info@blarneycastle.ie
www.blarneycastle.ie
Blarney Castle’s 60 acres of gardens are a joy to explore. Visit the fern garden, poison garden, Irish garden, herbaceous
borders and historic Rock Close. Make a wish on the magical wishing steps while the waterfall cascades alongside you.
Picnic by the lake or in the arboretums, but don’t forget to kiss the famous Blarney stone! Partial disabled access to base
of the castle and gardens. Facilities include Café, entrance shop and coffee shop.
OPEN: : October-April, Monday to Saturday, 9am to sundown; in summer 9am-6.30pm and Sundays in winter 9am to
sundown. Last admissions are 30 minutes before closing. Car park operates at same opening times as listed above.
The Castle, Rock Close Gardens and Lakeland Walk to Lakeside are open all year, except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
SPETCHLEY PARK GARDENS
Spetchley Park Gardens, Spetchley, Worcestershire, WR5 1RS | Tel: +44 (0)1453 810303
Email: hb@spetchleygardens.co.uk | www.spetchleygardens.co.uk
Surrounded by glorious countryside and a deer park, this 30-acre Victorian paradise has been lovingly created
to boast an enviable collection of plant treasures from every corner of the globe. We also have a fantastic tea
room serving light lunches and afternoon tea. A wonderful day out.
OPEN: Weekends only in October, 11am-5pm.
advertorial
PERFECT
pots
Choose from these select
pots to grace your garden
this autumn
HADDONSTONE
Haddonstone is the UK’s leading manufacturer
of fne garden ornaments and architectural
stonework, from planters, statuary and sundials
to balustrades, columns and follies. Pictured
is the charming Clarence Urn from a standard
collection of over 1000 designs, in traditional,
classical and contemporary styles. Inspirational
204-page catalogue available on request.
Tel: +44 (0)1604 770711
Email: info@haddonstone.co.uk
www.haddonstone.com
ITALIAN TERRACE
Italian Terrace design and create exceptional
garden planters, vases, oil jars and wall plaques.
They use time-honoured expertise, fne Tuscan
clay and the best technology to produce robust
terracotta with a mellow colour and aged
texture. They are based in the UK and USA, and
deliver worldwide. For more information call or
visit the website.
Tel: +44 (0)1284 789666
www.italianterrace.co.uk
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J’S POTS AND POTTED GARDENS
We stock an ever changing mix of antique pots in the
form of stone troughs, copper pots, old terracotta in
various sizes, stone pots, cast iron urns, hoppers for
wall pots, lead planters and more. We will also source
individually for you.
Tel: +44 (0)1905 381679 or +44(0)7930 576881
Email: julia@jsgardens.co.uk
www.jsgardens.co.uk
THE POT COMPANY
The Pot Company has recently introduced the palm
pot collection to its extensive range. Made from the
trunks of palm trees, these pots are hand carved
to create a unique and striking look that will add
depth to any garden or landscaping project. The Vas
Langkai, pictured left, utilises most of a trunk and is
available in 1.2m, 1.5m and 1.8m sizes, from £162.
The Jambang, pictured right, is a large round planter
that’s been hollowed out and sanded, leaving a
smooth and rich exterior. It is available in 55cm and
60cm sizes, from £230. Both styles are perfect to use
in contemporary or Mediterranean settings. Please
do not hesitate to contact us for more information
on any of our ranges, which also includes fbreclay,
polystone and terracotta planters.
Tel: +44 (0)1892 890353
Email: sales@thepotco.com
www.thepotco.com
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FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT US AT
WWW.THEENGLISHGARDEN.CO.UK
NEW TO THE SHOP
THIS MONTH
BULBS AND SEEDS
FASHION
GREENHOUSES
GREENHOUSES HEDGING AND TOPIARY
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FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT US AT
WWW.THEENGLISHGARDEN.CO.UK
PET SERVICES
PLANTS
PEONIES
Binny Plants, Ecclesmachan, West Lothian, EH52 6NL
t. 07753 626 117 | e. contact@binnyplants.com
www.binnyplants.com
Over 300 varieties Herbaceous - Intersectional - Tree
FREE full colour catalogue
WILDFLOWER FARM
Producers of native wildflower seeds, plants,
bulbs and trees since 1978
NATIVE CORNFIELD
ANNUALS SEED MIX
• 100g - £4.80
• 1kg - £41.00
LAPWING MEADOWS, COACH GAP LANE,
LANGAR, NOTTS NG13 9HP
TELEPHONE 01949 860592
Opening Times: 11am - 5.30pm April 1st - Sep 30th
FREE ADMISSION!
www.naturescape.co.uk | info@naturescape.co.uk
PROPERTY MAINTENANCE
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To: Climatised Coatings (UK) Ltd, Freepost, Chester CH2 1ZZ or telephone Chester (01244) 378488
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WEB SERVICES
ROSES
For Every
SPECIAL
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Tel: 01939 210380
OVER 1000 Varieties
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www.countrygardenroses.co.uk
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Specialist growers of rarer more unusual perennials.
PERHILL PLANTS
ONLINE SHOP
www.perhillplants.co.uk
Tel: 01299 896329. email: perhillp@btconnect.com
Mail order catalogue available (six 2nd class stamps please)
FREE UK delivery. For delivery overseas please add £3 for Europe or £5 to the rest of the world.
Please allow up to 28 days for delivery.
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0844 848 8059
Take a look inside England’s
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O
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Issue 2 showcases some
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look to some clever conversions,
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We’re looking forward to
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home, plus some glorious
gardens for when it is just too
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Lifeathome
Something
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114 the english garden November 2013
the fabulous biker boy
Mountain magic
Chris Beardshaw cycles off to Europe and the Pyrenees, where he discovers familiar
plants thriving in more challenging situations than our coddled British borders
M
y c ol umn
this month
i s r a t h e r
unusual as instead of
being based around the
UK, this time it’s all
about the mountainous
region of the Pyrenees. The reason for this
departure from the norm is because a few
weeks ago I took part in a road cycle race
from Catalonia to South West France,
crossing the Pyrenees and covering 750km
- all in seven days. You might have forgiven
me for not noticing anything about the
breathtaking scenery, stunning views,
historic towns and
vi l l ages and the
botanical riches of
the area but, even
though the trip was
gruelling, I did look
out for and appreciate a huge amount of
floral treats on my way.
I was cycling with a couple of friends
from the UK, and we joined a larger group,
the infamous Black Widows Cycle Club,
just outside Barcelona. We were given our
weekly briefing and issued with our team
kit - which was mostly pink! We had a list
of 20 mountains to climb, so for those on
the ball that equated to three mountain
climbs a day!
It was blisteringly hot
the first day - we
started about an
hour and a half
northwest of Barcelona, at the foothills of
the Pyrenees, and commenced the first
mountain. As we made our way around,
I became extremely aware of the differing
habitats and environments. The river valleys
were softly winding with wetlands and
deciduous forests rich in ferns, covering
much of the valley plain. When in full sun,
the heat was extremely intense, but by
contrast as we made our way through the
wooded areas, the smell of the moisture and
ferns was quite startling.
As the climbs progressed a little higher,
I noticed they were still cultivating hay
meadows, which you would have thought
were quite late for September, and they
were very short, around shin height. They
were also florally rich and not sown
meadows - this was just the natural
wildflowers seeding themselves.
As I made my way round the relentless
hairpin bends, we came out of the tree line
and into scrubby vegetation, where I
realised it was possible to see the plants’
ecosystems first hand. There is no subtlety
about this type of region - it is either a
completely exposed site that is windswept
or under snow for many months of the
year, or there are cracks and crevices in
which to cling, or boggy areas due to the
constant trickling of water. The sundews,
Drosera rotundifolia, caught my eye as
I saw them basking in a sunny fertile spot.
Along the routes, I saw various types of
iris, oenothera, Digitalis lutea, aconitum,
Sedum alpestre, Veratrum album, Eryngium
campestre and Tragopogon crocifolius.
I found the sheer amount and intensity of
wildflower on display surprising. I also
found it really exciting to see many of our
known garden plants growing in these
mountain terrains, but instead of being
pampered and nurtured as they are in a UK
garden centre, plants such as aconitum and
oenothera were just hanging out of the
hedgerows and cliffs. I think we forget,
when we tend to our herbaceous borders,
that many of our plants originate and thrive
in more challenging conditions. The biggest
difference is they
are much smaller
and shorter than we
would be used to.
When you see them
in the wild, they are
thriving, but not overly showy, as their
stature is reduced with the conditions.
Among the plants more native to the area
were the Pyrenean bellflower (Campanula
speciosa), the alpine aster (Aster alpinus)
and two types of saxifrage, S. aspera and
S. longifolia (the Pyrenean saxifrage). Given
that I saw such spectacles of flowers a
couple of months after their peak, then I
guess it would be staggering to visit during
the main summer season.
Maybe that’s a visit I need to book - but
without the racing next time! N
I found it exciting to see many of our known garden
plants growing in mountainous terrain
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