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Alpines: spring’s Tasty edibles


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Welcome
CONTRIBUTORS

Sussie Bell
Sussie is a location
photographer who
M ay means one thing in The
English Garden’s office, and
that’s the Chelsea Flower
Show. All spring we look forward to
seeing the show gardens we’ve been
specialises in interiors,
crafts and gardens, reading about come to fruition, following
and loves creating
atmospheric shots months of planning and weeks of hard work building them on
with natural light. Her
captivating images
the showground. Some may not be to everyone’s taste, but if
of foxgloves feature you’re a keen gardener you have to experience Chelsea at least
on page 107.
once. That’s why I’m especially happy to tell you about our
competition to win a pair of tickets to this year’s show, including
an overnight stay and VIP breakfast – turn to page 85 to find out
how to enter and what you can expect to see at Chelsea 2019.
The rest of this issue is just like May: bursting with fresh new
growth and excitement. There are vibrant rhododendrons at
the Dorothy Clive Garden, cascading wisteria at Heale House,
a fascinating Victorian fernery restoration at Ascog Hall and
Joe Wainwright
Joe is an award- chic new planting at pretty Shepherd’s Cottage. Meanwhile,
winning photographer
based in north-east
tree peonies are unfurling their buds to reveal staggeringly
Wales and working beautiful blooms, foxgloves are inspiring romance and whimsy,
throughout the UK. His
photos of the Dorothy and at Slack Top Nurseries, spring’s tough little stars, jewel-like
Clive Garden and
Aberclwyd Manor both
alpines, are starting to open their flowers. May really is a month
feature in this issue, like no other – I hope this issue helps you to make the most of it.
on pages 20 and 36.

CLARE FOGGETT, EDITOR

ON THE COVER DIGITAL PLATFORMS


The colourful Purchase digital
Holly Farrell spring planting at editions of The
IMAGES NEIL HEPWORTH; JOE WAINWRIGHT

Holly trained at Shepherd’s Cottage English Garden for


RHS Wisley and is in the South Downs phone and tablet
the author of books was designed by from the App Store
including Growing Ann-Marie Powell. for iPhones, and
Herbs, The Jam Photograph by Google Play for
Maker’s Garden and Nicola Stocken. Android.
RHS Plants from Pips.
She visits plant-based
skincare producer AS
Apothecary on p131. The-English-Garden-Magazine @TEGmagazine englishgardenuk theenglishgardenmagazine

MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 3


For everyone who loves beautiful gardens LEARN TO
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The Chelsea Magazine Company Ltd,
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Tel: 020 7349 3700 Email: theenglishgarden@chelseamagazines.com A GARDEN
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MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 5
May 2019

CONTENTS
46
Gardens
2O Dorothy Clive Garden This Shropshire
quarry garden blazes with the brilliant
colours of its glorious woodland wonders.

28 Shepherd’s Cottage Jackie Sherling has


channelled her creative energy into making
a classic country garden at her Sussex home.

36 Aberclwyd Manor This romantic garden


on a hillside near Ruthin blends natural
planting with architectural formality.

46 Heale Garden At this Peto-designed


garden on the River Avon, an English
country garden meets Japanese elegance.

55 Ascog Hall Intriguingly creative gardens


on the Isle of Bute harbour a glass-roofed,
sunken, Victorian fernery at their heart.

62 Dacorum House Designer James Scott


has skilfully edited a Hertfordshire garden,
opening some areas and closing off others.

Design
73 Chelsea Flower Show 2019 Discover the
key themes behind this year’s show and enter

55 95
our competition to win a pair of tickets.

87 Conservatories Choose and furnish the


perfect conservatory, creating a valuable
living space that links home with garden.

131 Craftspeople Amanda Saurin grows


her own plants to make natural skincare
products and botanical infusions.

Plants
95 Top 10 Plants Colourful and slug-resistant
garden flowers for indestructible beauty.

101 Tree Peonies Dave Root of specialist


nursery Kelways explains how to select
and care for silky, flamboyant tree peonies.

107 Foxgloves Plant up borders with this


ethereal cottage classic, arrange in vases and

17
use to style a gorgeously romantic picnic.

115 Slack Top Alpines Michael and Allison


Mitchell make the most of their nursery’s
challenging site by growing hardy alpines.

121 Unusual Edibles Mark Diacono spends


May harvesting blackcurrant leaves for
sorbet and sowing lesser-known herbs.

125 In Season Tasty, versatile cabbage


provides a year-round crop of goodness.

6 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


36

101

9
Regulars
9 This Month Our guide to gardens to visit,
places to go, things to do and nature to note.

17 Shopping Accessories for successful


pruning, plus outdoor wear for the garden.
IMAGES CAROLE DRAKE; RAY COX; JOE WAINWRIGHT; DIANNA JAZWINSKI; SHUTTERSTOCK; ALAMY

129 Essential Tools Garden forks to suit


your every gardening requirement.

139 The Reviewer This month’s literary


digest, plus an interview with Matthew Biggs.

146 Last Word Katherine Swift reads


Allan Jenkins’ powerful tale, Plot 29.

Offers
44 Subscribe & Save Receive limited-edition
secateurs when you take out a subscription.

84 Home Insurance Preferential rates on


insurance for readers of The English Garden.

94 Farmer Gracy Offer Get ahead and enjoy


10% off all spring bulbs for autumn planting

105 Hayloft Offer Get 20% off when you


order Hayloft’s unusual plant collections.

MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 7


MAY

Gardens to Visit
Seek inspiration for your own garden by visiting one of Britain’s best

NGS GARDEN

Melbourne
Hall Gardens
Derbyshire
Melbourne Hall Gardens,
with its sweeps of lawn,
avenues and unexpected
vistas, is one of the best
surviving early 18th-
century English gardens
in the manner of Le Notre.
These enchanting and
peaceful gardens are
spread over 17 acres and
feature an original wrought
iron arbour by renowned
ironsmith Robert Bakewell,
a yew tunnel, 18th-century
statuary and a variety of
water features.
The beautiful woodland

Peony PARTY and waterside planting


includes meconopsis,
Enjoy the ravishingly extravagant May blooms of peonies, as gardens candelabra primulas,
various styrax and Cornus
around the country let in visitors to see their show-stopping displays
kousa, as well as colourful
herbaceous borders.
Spetchley Park Gardens Hidcote Manor Gardens Highdown Gardens Melbourne Hall Gardens,
This historic garden (above) Stroll around a series of Herbaceous peonies stud Church Square, Melbourne,
in Worcestershire is home thematic outdoor rooms at this chalk garden in the South Derby, Derbyshire DE73
to rare plants, shrubs and this garden in Kent and enjoy Downs. It also has a superb 8EN. Opens for the NGS
trees from across the a flamboyant collection of tree collection of tree peonies in on 18 and 19 May, 1.30pm
globe. In spring, over 160 peonies in the Pillar Garden and its lower garden, including to 5.30pm. Home-made
herbaceous and tree peonies further herbaceous and tree P. delavayi and P. suffruticosa. teas available. Adult £6;
bloom. Tel: 01905 345106; varieties elsewhere. Tel: 01386 Tel: 01903 501054; f
spetchleygardens.co.uk 438333; nationaltrust.org.uk highdowngardens.co.uk

Cambridge University Hodnet Hall


WORDS PHOEBE JAYES IMAGES ANDREA JONES; CLIVE HAYNES

Botanic Gardens A chain of ornamental pools


Discover more than 8,000 run through this Shropshire
plant species growing in garden (left) with tree peonies
different areas. Peonies cluster growing near the water and in
in various sections of this woodland areas. Herbaceous
garden, including glamorous and intersectional Itoh
white Paeonia suffruticosa hybrid peonies cluster in the
‘Rock’s Variety’ on the Lynch walled gardens and pleasure
Walk. Tel: 01223 336265; gardens. Tel: 01630 685786;
botanic.cam.ac.uk hodnethallgardens.org

MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 9


MAY

Places to Go
Unmissable flower shows, plant fairs, courses and exhibitions to attend this month

Art amid ART


Art Unbound
26 May-8 September, Gloucestershire
Visit Painswick, England’s only complete
surviving rococo garden, for an exhibition
of contemporary outdoor sculpture inspired
by the garden’s quirky ethos. The exhibition
will showcase a diverse variety of works by
18 sculptors from around the UK alongside
a programme of artist workshops. Curator
Anna Greenacre says: “With its long vistas,
eclectic follies, secret spaces, formal
avenues and wild areas, the playful garden
is the perfect setting for this exhibition.”
Standard admission fees apply.
Tel: 01452 813204; rococogarden.org.uk

Party TUNES
NGS Midsummer Party
21 June, Hampshire
‘Music in the garden’ is the theme for this spectacular midsummer garden
party held in aid of the National Garden Scheme. Guests will enjoy exclusive
access to the 12-acre garden at Hazelby House, which has views out across
the wonderful countryside of the North Wessex Downs. The evening will
feature music from soul singer Natasha Watts and the East Woodhay Silver
Band, as well as a live auction conducted by Nick Bonham. Tickets: £35.
Tel: 01483 213 908; ngs.org.uk

LOOKING AHEAD: MAY festivals


RHS Malvern Spring Festival including talks, music and free Hay Festival 2019
9-12 May, Worcestershire camping. Weekend tickets 23 May-2 June, Powys
Be inspired by show gardens, £81.44; children free. Tel: This year’s festival will host
plant exhibitors, cookery 01580 241344; holepark.com more than 600 speakers over
demos and ‘Green Living 11 days, including Monty Don,
Spaces’ gardens. Admission Festival of Plants Derry Moore and Robert
£19-36 per day. Tel: 0844 18 May, Cambridgeshire Macfarlane. Events ticketed
WORDS PHOEBE JAYES IMAGES CLIVE NICHOLS

8110050; rhsmalvern.co.uk Enjoy the wonder of spring individually. Tel: 01497 822
at the Cambridge University 629; hayfestival.com Bere Mill, at this festival
Roots Gathering Botanic Garden, with guided featuring famous speakers,
17-19 May, Kent tours, a Q&A, talks, plant stalls Hampshire Festival creative workshops,
This family-focused micro and more. Adult £6, children 8-9 June, Hampshire demos and gift stalls. Adult
festival at Hole Park is a mix free. Tel: 01223 336265; Celebrate nature in the £8. Tel: 01256 314759;
of wood, fair and village fête, botanic.cam.ac.uk beautiful gardens at hampshiregardenfestival.co.uk

10 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


F OR TH E F INE S T CON S ER VA T O RI E S , O R A N G E R I E S A N D RO O F LI G H T S

R E Q U E ST A B R O C H U R E

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MAY

Things to Do
Keep up to date in the garden with our monthly guide to key gardening tasks

Checklist
Remove insulating
materials from around
plants and pots after
the worst of the cold
weather has passed.

Clear spring-
flowering bedding
plants and prepare
soil for summer by
lightly forking over it,
removing weeds and
adding fertiliser.

Plant up containers
with summer bedding
plants using good-
quality compost.
Harden them off with
a coldframe before
placing outside once
there’s no risk of frost.

Take CUTTINGS Plant out hardy


vegetables sown
earlier, such as leeks
Spring’s vigorous young shoots are ripe for propagating. Boost stocks of
and brassicas. Harden
perennials and shrubs for your garden by taking softwood cuttings now off tender vegetables
ready to plant outside
The tender new shoots of 10cm-long, non-flowering 3 Trim the cuttings, one by one, at the end of May.
perennials and deciduous shoots, cutting just above using a sharp knife. Cut just
shrubs will root readily if you a bud on the parent plant. below a leaf joint and remove Tie the shoots
take cuttings now. Propagate 2 Place the cuttings in a the lower leaves. of climbers such
your favourite plants to make polythene bag straight away 4 Dip the cut end in hormone as clematis, roses
more for free. Easy-rooters to and keep them out of the sun rooting powder (many plants and vines into their
start with include penstemon, to help them retain their water. will root without it, so this part supports using string
lavender, erysimum, fuchsia is optional) and insert the or soft ties
and hydrangea. cuttings, base first, around the
edge of a pot of compost, with
You will need the first pair of leaves sitting
A sharp knife just above compost level.
Hormone rooting powder 5 Water and cover the pot with
Compost a polythene bag. Place in the
Pots greenhouse or a warm spot
A polythene bag out of direct sunlight for six to
eight weeks. Keep the compost
IMAGES GAP; SHUTTERSTOCK

Method moist until the cuttings root.


1 In the morning, while plants 7 When roots have formed, pot
are still full of water, remove up individually and grow on.

12 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


HOME | OUTDOOR | LIGHTING

g a rd ent r a d ing .c o .u k
customerservices@gardentrading.co.uk | 01993 845559
MAY

Nature to Note
Your monthly guide to encouraging and caring for garden wildlife

Scarce in EVERY SENSE


Provide a home for the rare scarce chaser
Appearance: The scarce chaser dragonfly, Libellula fulva, is
around 45mm long with a broad abdomen, blue eyes and
distinctive black triangular markings on its body segments.
Young insects have vivid orange abdomens, but once
mature the male abdomen changes to a pale frosted-blue.
Habitat: Typically found in southern England, the scarce
chaser usually inhabits slow-flowing, meandering rivers
and dykes, although nearby ponds also sometimes
support populations. They prefer nutrient-rich waters with
submerged and floating vegetation and nearby shelter.
What you can do: The scarce chaser lives up to its name,
currently listed under category 3 (scarce) in the British Red
Data Book: Insects. If you have a pond, encourage scarce
chasers by ensuring it contains the necessary vegetation.

WILDFLOWER FOLKLORE
Help wildlife this MAY
Wild Strawberry Keep on offering food for birds; divide summer-flowering
Known also as woodland strawberry, perennials; plant seeds of nectar-rich flowers; feed hedgehogs
because it’s commonly found on the
edge of woods or in thickets, the wild Carry on feeding birds even if you Leave out plates of cat biscuits
strawberry’s delicate white flower can feel that outdoor conditions are or specialist hog food for hungry
blooms in late spring and its small improving and temperatures rising. hedgehogs who are building up their
red fruits follow. In folk medicine, the Winter may be over, but nesting season strength after hibernation
fruit has been used to cure a sore will still be a real time of need for them
throat, and a tea and they will benefit from the provisio
made from of high-protein foods, such as seeds,
its leaves dried fruit, mealworms, waxworms
was used and mild grated cheese.
to stimulate If you have large clumps of summer-
the appetite. flowering, wildlife-friendly perennials
In the 17th century, in your garden, such as bergenia,
WORDS PHOEBE JAYES IMAGES SHUTTERSTOCK

Dr William Butler wrote of salvia and verbena, this is the perfect


the wild strawberry, which time to lift, divide and replant them
is more flavoursome than separately to boost their numbers.
its commercial counterpart: Sow annual flowers that will attract
“Doubtless God could have pollinators in trays or pots now. Try
made a better berry, but cosmos, California poppy, poached
doubtless God never did.” egg plant or honeywort.

14 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


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Time for a Trim 4


Make pruning plants a snip
with this selection of shears
10 and accessories
1. Sheep shear sharpener, £5.99.
Tel: 01142 338262; burgonandball.com 2. Elite
telescopic hedge shears, £69.99. Tel: 01869
363635; wilkinsonsword-tools.co.uk 3. The English
Garden limited edition secateurs, £32.99.
chelseamagazines.com 4. Camofloral gardening
gloves, £25. Tel: 03456 049049; johnlewis.com
5. Garden bag, £15. Tel: 01993 845559;
gardentrading.co.uk 6. Compact topiary shears, 5
£13.99. Stockists at spear-and-jackson.com
7. Tool oil, £7.99. Tel: 0114 2338262;
burgonandball.com 8. HSA 56 cordless hedge
trimmer, £199. Tel: 01276 417678; stihl.co.uk
9. Cone topiary frame, £21.99. Tel: 01344 578111;
crocus.co.uk 10. Sarah Raven pruning snips,
£24.95. Tel: 0345 092 0283; sarahraven.com

8
WORDS PHOEBE JAYES

MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 17


SHOPPING

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10 Garden Wear
From pretty floral prints to
9 smart outdoor clothing
– we’ve got you covered
1. Eterna floral three quarter sleeve blouse, £69.95.
Tel: 0345 1360111; houseofbruar.com 5
2. Wild strawberry espadrilles, £24. Tel: 03333
202663; cathkidston.com 3. Navigator Panama
hat, £75. Tel: 01335 300003; panamas.co.uk
4. Garden apron, £25. Tel: 01993 845559;
gardentrading.co.uk 5. Leith crew neck sweater,
£79.95. Tel: 0800 9173000; barbour.com
6. Jumpy Chelsea boot, £45. Tel: 01202 232357;
backdoorshoes.co.uk 7. Rusher Whimsy Light
shoulder bag, £27. Tel: 0800 7831941; eastpak.com
8. Birds stripe shirt dress, £70. Tel: 03333 202663;
cathkidston.com 9. Gardener’s half apron, £38.50.
Tel: 01328 820699; carriercompany.co.uk
10. Summertime woollen printed scarf, £58.
Tel: 07903 971161; joedwardsretail.co.uk

8
6

7
WORDS PHOEBE JAYES

18 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


Entertain,
Relax, Enjoy.
The possibilities
are endless.

Cliveden
New collection for 2019 INSPIRED LIVING
Founded over forty years ago, Bridgman has a proud Luxury Furniture Since 1977
heritage of supplying quality, luxurious furniture. For 2019
we are introducing the Cliveden Modular Collection
featuring our exclusive waterproof cushions, working with
the National Trust helping the charity look after hundreds
of special places for the benefit of millions of people www.bridgman.co.uk
every year.
Our showrooms ENFIELD OLD AMERSHAM WALTON ON THAMES WILMSLOW WINCHESTER
In spring, the Dorothy
Clive Garden becomes
a technicolour feast
of bright azaleas and
rhododendrons.

Labour of LOVE
Initially a project to offer respite to his ailing wife Dorothy, this
Shropshire quarry garden became the life’s work of Colonel Harry
Clive, and blazes with the brilliant colours of its woodland wonders

WORDS JIM CABLE PHOTOGRAPHS JOE WAINWRIGHT

20 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


DOROTHY CLIVE
GARDEN
The waterfall is fringed
by fine-leaved acers, and
its pool edged with ferns,
rodgersias and alchemilla.

N THE WARMTH AND CLARITY OF THE LATE
spring sunshine, it is hard to imagine a safer
more comforting spot than the sheltered
Dorothy Clive Garden. A former gravel
quarry, it was carved out of a prominent
ridge of land in Shropshire by the Victorians.
This south-facing hollow is alive with the colour
of rhododendron blooms and sparkles with light
reflected from their glossy leaves and smooth bark.
It is a tiered landscape, with some of these veteran
multi-stemmed shrubs offering glimpses through to
what lies beyond, enticing the visitor around the next
corner, guided by the moss-covered logs that line
the paths. Lamium and ferns nestle in damp corners
beneath Japanese maples in their fresh spring regalia
and giant Himalayan lilies thrust towards the light.
The sound of water beckons and soon the source
is revealed; a magnificent waterfall dissects the
rockface and demands that you stop and simply
breathe. Take it all in and be thankful. This is such
a joyful optimistic garden, revealing its poignancy
only when you discover how it began.
At the outbreak of World War II, Elds Gorse,
the large Edwardian house on the west side of the
garden was home to Colonel Harry Clive and his
wife, Dorothy. Both in their late 50s, with grown-up
children, Harry witnessed the decline of his ‘Dolly’.
She was suffering from Parkinson’s, a disease far
less well understood than it is today. In response to
her doctor’s prescription of gentle exercise, Dorothy
would walk round and round their lawn, faithfully This south-facing hollow
followed by her chocolate Labrador. The story goes
that the dog, tired of this monotonous routine, one is alive with the colour
day lay down and refused to take another step. of rhododendron blooms

Clockwise from top


A lifelike bronze stag
lurks in a woodland
clearing; globes of Allium
hollandicum self-seed
freely; bright magenta
Rhododendron ‘Pink
Pearl’ welcomes visitors
to the Quarry Garden;
yellow Rhododendron
lutea glows in the shade.

MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 23


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worx.com MOWING
VEHICLE
It was at this time that Harry Clive ventured up
to the top of the garden where a bramble-congested
wood almost concealed a sheer-sided gravel pit. In
his diary he recounted the incident: “It was into this
I went, and there and then, that evening, marked
out the first twenty yards of path, which my man,
John Moore, always ready and willing for a new
job, skimmed off the next day. For twelve months
we hacked and sawed and brushed and burnt our
way through and round the wood, until half a mile
of easy walks lay there. Gradually our woodland
garden was born…”
Dorothy died three years later, but the new
garden created for her was just the start. Harry,
perhaps fuelled by his own grief, and aided by ‘his
man’, fulfilled a mission, adding hundreds of plants,
especially rhododendrons but also wild and hybrid
species of azalea, magnolias and flowering cherries,
and actively encouraged and welcomed visitors to
the garden. All this is faithfully recorded in his diary;
the frustrations of frosts, storms and droughts and
jobs achieved, like the first mowing of the season
or mulching beds with bracken and leaves. On
24 April 1947 he makes a diary entry referring
to his late wife’s favourite flower: “Dolly died
5 years ago today. The violets
on bank near greenhouse are
coming into bloom.”
Today the garden is in
the capable hands of the
Willoughbridge Garden Trust,
curator Kathryn Robey and
head gardener Zdeněk Valkoun-
Walker. Zdeněk has an assistant
gardener and an apprentice,
and together with a team of

Around the waterfall,


dedicated volunteers they ensure
that visitors continue to benefit
from the Colonel’s initial act of
kindness. Kathryn and Zdeněk shuttlecock ferns,
are both career changers:
with a degree in economics,
martagon lilies and hostas
Kathryn comes from a business are clustered together
background, while Zdeněk
credits the previous head
gardener, Marcus Chilton-Jones for helping him Top Shuttlecock ferns, One challenge of gardening on a south-facing
ascend a steep learning curve. “I owe this garden Matteuccia struthiopteris slope with sandy, free-draining soil is moisture
and bluebells form the
a lot,” he says, smiling. “I love my job. This garden conservation. In dry summers the historic collection
woodland understorey.
is so varied. We can spread our wings and fly; it is Above Rhododendron has to be watered, but elsewhere drought-tolerant
an incredibly creative process.” yakushimanum is plants are used. In damper spots, such as around the
That process is continuous, with Kathryn and smothered in blooms. bottom of the waterfall, moisture-loving shuttlecock
Zdeněk editing borders and testing out new plant ferns, martagon lilies and hostas are deliberately
combinations. Trees that are poorly shaped or have clustered together. If even they dry out, at least it is
outgrown the site and are shading other plants are a defined area to water. Zdeněk uses organic matter
removed in the constant battle for perfection. “You from the council’s green waste recycling scheme to
have to work so hard on maintenance if a plant is in mulch borders and work into the soil in places. He
the wrong place, but when you get it right there is a describes the microclimate of the garden as two
peace to it,” explains Kathryn. degrees warmer than the surrounding countryside.

MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 25


SEASONAL
ADVICE
By Zdeněk
Valkoun-Walker

Garden plants are


growing rapidly now.
Stay on top of tasks
such as mowing and
edging lawns and
stake herbaceous
perennials to keep the
garden looking sharp.

As the temperatures
warm up, keep an eye
on any pest problems
and deal with them
without delay. We use
biological controls in
our greenhouse to
keep pests at bay.
original introductions Above Paths fringed with
Keep on tying in ferns beckon visitors in
and a remarkable
new clematis shoots to explore the planting.
species that hails from
to their supports; they Left Scented pink
a single wind- and flowers of pale lilac
grow very fast at this
rain-swept island in Syringa x prestoniae.
time of year and can
Japan. A compact
run away in the blink
shrub, it is worth growing for the handsome
of an eye.
foliage alone, but add to that bell-shaped flowers,
We ‘Chelsea chop’ rose-pink in bud and fading to white, and it is no
(reduce by a half) surprise that it’s parent to so many hybrids.
suitable herbaceous Rhododendron ‘Christmas Cheer’ rarely
perennials such as lives up to its name but is early nonetheless with
sedums and monardas
early in the month to
‘Polar Bear’, releases its baby-pink display, and the ‘rhody’ season
runs right through until July when the species
keep them compact. its heady scent from Rhododendron auriculatum, parent of the lovely
This delays flowering
and reduces the need
showy trusses of white cultivar ‘Polar Bear’, releases its heady scent from
showy trusses of white, funnel-shaped flowers.
for staking. funnel-shaped flowers Yellow-flowering Rhododendron lutea stands
out beautifully against a carpet of bluebells.
Sow biennials such
Rhododendron ‘Blue Danube’ has violet-blue
as foxgloves later on
Frost rolls down the hill and away and the light flowers and, at under a metre tall, makes a good
this month to produce
soil warms up quickly. Add to that the enriching choice for a smaller garden.
plants that are ready
effect of the mulch and plants grow very well There is also much that is new at the Dorothy
to be planted out in
– sometimes too well, leading to flopping. The Clive Garden, including the Royal Botanic
September.
team now choose shorter varieties that do not Glasshouse housing Mediterranean-climate
Keep newly planted need staking when replanting an area like the plants and, this summer, a seasonal display
trees and shrubs well wedding border, now in its second summer, or of melons and aubergines. As Zdeněk puts it,
watered to aid their the newly restored cottage garden style borders “a garden is never static but always changing,
establishment. This is enclosed by low yew hedges next to the old drive. moving forward. That is gardening.” The Colonel
especially important These areas form a stunning prequel to what would most certainly have agreed. ■
for newly planted is still the soul of the place and home to many
rhododendrons as special plants, the 2.75-acre quarry garden, The Dorothy Clive Garden, Willoughbridge,
these resent being its narrow entrance guarded by a glorious Market Drayton, Shropshire TF9 4EU. Open
dry at the root. Rhododendron ‘Pink Pearl’. Just inside there is daily, 10am-5.30pm, until 30 September 2019.
an R. yakushimanum, one of Colonel Clive’s Tel: 01630 647237; dorothyclivegarden.co.uk

26 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


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SHEPHERD’S
C O T TA G E

COTTAGE
INDUSTRY
Jackie Sherling has channelled her
creative energy into making a classic
country garden at her Sussex home

WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHS NICOLA STOCKEN

F
EW VISITORS FAIL TO BE TRANSFIXED
by the glorious view from Shepherd’s
Cottage – a distant panorama of the
South Downs. But then the foreground
comes into focus: a captivating collage
of flowers and foliage that fill this English country
garden. “It’s hard to believe that we’ve completely
transformed our garden in just four years,” remarks
Jackie Sherling. The result is deftly attuned with its
backdrop of an ancient landscape, whether glimpsed
through silver birches and white foxgloves from
the upper terrace, or from the wildflower meadow
rippling with ragged robin and buttercups below.
When Jackie and her husband Alan first saw
this third-of-an-acre garden, the views over the
village of Stoughton and Kingley Vale were largely
obscured by a maple. “It didn’t take long to remove
it,” Jackie recalls. And on a long eastern boundary
that traverses the hillside, overgrown shrubs had
completely concealed a traditional flintstone wall, an
attractive feature that wraps around both Shepherd’s
Cottage and its next-door neighbour. “We removed
the shrubs as well to reveal the full sweep of the wall
around both properties,” Jackie explains.
Shepherd’s Cottage is one of two farm labourers’
dwellings but, over time, the semi-detached pair had
come to be seen as separate entities. “I thought it
would look better if we planted a selection of apple
and pear trees to continue our neighbours’ orchard
across both gardens,” says Jackie. Unusually, her
plot is irregularly shaped, narrowing to a point at the
Johnstounburn’s
lowest level, creating a triangular south-facingbox is
area
trimmed yearly in May,
that is ideal for a wildflower giving
meadow and orchard.
it time to recover
“Now when you look down before the garden,
winteryour
snoweyeand
is drawn to a swathe of abundant fruit trees
cold weather rather
strike.
than a mean dividing fence,” she points out.

MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 29


Above The garden has As a designer of clothes and interiors, Jackie has Sitting high above the cottage, the spring garden
lovely views of Kingley an eye for colour and form, and an ability to see never sleeps, and even in winter there are hellebores
Vale, uninterrupted by
amelanchiers and beds
both the bigger picture and the fine detail within. and silver birch trunks to light up the dullest days.
of geums, geraniums Initially she knew nothing about gardening, but a “It’s one of four main seating areas that catch the sun
and euphorbias. visit to a charity plant sale while she was living in at different times of the day,” notes Jackie. “I wanted
the Republic of Ireland, changed that. “I asked an a garden with separate places to relax and eat.” As
elderly gardener to choose some good ‘doers’, with spring pervades the woodland, informal beds fill out
notes on their care – that’s how I began to learn with snowdrops, ‘Thalia’ daffodils and acid-green
about plants,” she explains. Her previous garden euphorbias, before summer is heralded by white
was in County Wicklow, also on a slope, but with camassias, nectaroscordum, Anthriscus sylvestris
acidic soil. “I learned what plants would thrive there, ‘Ravenswing’ and foxgloves alongside ‘Ruby Port’
but here the soil is chalky, and initially I had no idea aquilegias, cranesbill and a froth of forget-me-nots
what to grow.” So, in 2015, she and Alan consulted lining narrow, winding pathways.
garden designer Ann-Marie Powell, who devised A strong but loose framework is created by
a series of linked terraces and densely planted repeated clumps of the wind grass, Anemanthele
borders to embrace the cottage and tame the slope. lessoniana, also known as ‘pheasant’s tail grass’ due
“Ann-Marie has created a superb structure; I would to its orange- and red-tinged autumn leaves. “I love
never have thought of putting a spring garden on the them – they create such a good froth – but they are
highest level,” says Jackie. vigorous, and you have to take care they don’t drown

30 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


out other plants,” warns Jackie. Now in their third
year, the wind grasses are looking a little tatty, so
she is investigating the best way to manage them.
“Because they self-seed in the paths, I’m finding
I can dig them up, providing a steady supply of new
plants to replace tired clumps,” she adds.
Jackie has now become well-acquainted with the
plants recommended by Ann-Marie, having learned
their strengths and quirks, while gradually adding
new choices. “Every year something fails, but I just
look on it as an opportunity to plant something
new,” she says philosophically. The heatwave in 2018
claimed two holly balls, while several sarcococcas
have “fallen by the wayside”, but she is not unduly
downcast: “Sarcococcas send up lots of suckers and,
since I’m always short of planting space, they don’t
always add sufficient value for the area they occupy.”
A couple of years ago, Jackie added a Judas
tree, believing it to be a white-flowered variety.
“It turned out to have pinkish-purple
flowers, but I’ve got used to it because
it tones with Magnolia ‘Susan’.” By
a happy accident, this pink-flowered
magnolia also matches a nearby
Cercis canadensis ‘Merlot’, one
of three different varieties she has
introduced. Then, just last year, she
added two small specimen trees that
will not block the view. In the centre
of the lawn is a Japanese crab apple,
Malus floribunda, while a rowan tree
is planted to the right. “Its autumn
colour is spectacular,” she exclaims.
Meanwhile, on the front terrace,
she has added two graceful, multi-
stemmed Amelanchier lamarckii to
the side borders. “I’d grown them in
Ireland, so when Ann-Marie suggested
them for this spot, I was delighted,”
she recalls. Blossoming in spring, the
amelanchiers are developing fruit by
the time the borders beneath peak
in early summer, spilling over with
a profusion of orange Geum ‘Prinses
Juliana’, Centaurea ‘Jordy’, aquilegias,
phlomis, Allium ‘Purple Sensation’
Top Vivid Geum ‘Prinses and the magnificent bearded Iris ‘Rajah’. Binding
Juliana’ with alliums, the planting together are Geranium x magnificum
chives and airy pheasant
grass, Anemanthele
‘Rosemoor’, a heavily veined purple cranesbill –
lessoniana. “hardy geraniums are the mainstay of the borders,”
Middle The charming Jackie insists – and Euphorbia amygdaloides var.
flint and brick cottage. robbiae, a spreading wood spurge that has long-
Bottom Geranium x
magnificum ‘Rosemoor’
lasting, lime-green flowers.
starts to flower in May. Jackie grows two other varieties of euphorbia,
E. polychroma and E. characias ‘Portuguese Velvet’,
and is delighted with them: “They’re amazing, and
have really come into their own in the third year.”
On the other hand, Centaurea ‘Jordy’ seems to have

MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 31


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Shepherd’s Cottage
STAR SPRING PLANTS

AQUILEGIA GEUM ‘PRINSES


VULGARIS JULIANA’
A granny’s bonnets seedling This perennial bears orange
that has popped up, with double flowers from May
pretty, pale-blue flowers. and in flushes during summer.

ROSA ‘SIR IRIS ‘RAJAH’ waned with each passing Top The woodland
PAUL SMITH’ Yellow flags and velvety dark year. Not so the two geums, terrace is home to white
camassia, euphorbia,
A climbing rose with highly burgundy falls with a golden ‘Leonard’s Variety’ and silver birches and more
fragrant double blooms, trim on this tall bearded iris ‘Prinses Juliana’, which pheasant’s grass.
flowering early in May. that flowers in May. flower for months on end – Above Each stone step is
“Although the geums took separated and edged by
woolly thyme cushions.
a couple of years to get
going,” she notes. By late
summer, as many herbaceous plants fade, the geums
are still going strong, joined by sun-lovers such as
coneflowers, daylilies, salvias and Verbena bonariensis
to prolong the colour in the terrace beds.
The Purbeck stone terrace stretches almost the full
width of the plot, creating a strong linear framework
that seamlessly links the cottage with flower beds,
pathways, seating areas and steps descending to the
lower areas. It is a scheme that artfully blends cottage
WOOD SPURGE SILENE LATIFOLIA garden favourites with contemporary style and vintage
Euphorbia amygdaloides var. Commonly known as white furnishings sourced by Jackie. From the terrace,
robbiae bears long-lasting, campion, this perennial seven stone steps pass between sloping borders before
lime-green flowerheads from wildflower produces pretty reaching a rounded lawn enclosed in yew hedging.
April into summer. pale blooms from May. These steps have been interplanted with woolly
thyme, Thymus pseudolanuginosus and, to each side,

MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 33


NOTEBOOK

Focal points
Bold accessories and seating, confidently placed
in key positions, help give this garden a sense of
style, while catching the eye

Above Growing below informal borders 2


the multi-stemmed echo the terrace 3
amelanchier are iris and
geum, euphorbias, dark
planting, blurring the
centaurea and faithful steps with a mixture
hardy geraniums. of geraniums,
euphorbias and
aquilegias. “Ann-Marie repeats plants throughout,
linking different areas, while adding new ones to
create a different atmosphere in each room,” Jackie
points out. The yew hedges are maturing well,
clipped into undulating forms. “I didn’t want ‘waves’
because it would look too perfect and modern, so it
is shaped to mirror the landscape, resembling two
arms that embrace you,” she explains.
From the lawn, a curving path leads both eye
and footstep straight down to a miniature orchard
and wildflower meadow. “The idea was to grow
wildflowers beneath the apple trees, but when I
tried it in my previous garden, it was overrun with
thistles,” she explains. “This time, we simply rolled
out meadow turf, so no thistles.” At the heart of the
wildflowers stands a curving bench, screened from
the lane by amelanchiers and a cotinus.
At every stage of her life, Jackie has enjoyed a
creative outlet, latterly as a fiction writer. But that
was in a period when she had no garden – and
gardening is now centre stage. “I have a limited 4
amount of creativity,” she notes, “and, rather than
being stuck at a computer, I like to spend my time
designing and being out in my garden.” ■ 1 The oak bench ended up double the length originally envisaged.
“When you look down from the house, it needed to be a certain width
Shepherds Cottage, Milberry Lane, Stoughton, to make an impact,” explains Jackie. 2 Stepping stones are countersunk
into the lawn, linking a lower gateway with the main path. 3 A bowl
Chichester, Sussex PO18 9JJ. Opens for the National
on the terrace, planted with sempervivums, dates back to the 1960s
Garden Scheme on 19-20 May, 2-5pm, and to groups and was found at Colombia Road. 4 The slatted bench from Fermob
by appointment from 1 May to 30 September. (fermob.com) is a favourite place to sit and enjoy the fabulous view.

34 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


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E STABLISHED in 1860,
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Bloms Bulbs Show Diary


Pashley Manor Gardens
(HHA / Christie’s Garden of the Year Award)
Tulip Show Garden open from April onwards,
Special Tulip Festival Monday 22nd April
to 7th May.
Morton Hall Gardens
In association with The Royal Shakespeare
Company. Early May Bank Holiday.
4-6th May.
Constable Burton Hall
Ev Meynell’s Early May Bank Holiday. 4-6th May.
‘Gossiping Graces’
Glenarm Castle
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photograph by David Dixon
Early May Bank Holiday. 4-6th May.
RHS Malvern Spring Show
9-12th May.
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21-25th May.

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1948-2018 Winner of 67 Gold Medals
Manor’s floral marquee. www.blomsbulbs.com
The Perfect
BALANCE
Blending natural planting with architectural formality has
allowed Irene Brown and Giuliano Sparvoli to create a
wonderfully romantic garden on a hillside near Ruthin

WORDS JENNY HENDY PHOTOGRAPHS JOE WAINWRIGHT

Persicaria bistorta
‘Superba’, geranium,
lily of the valley and
rodgersia fringe the
pond near to the house.

36 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


A B E R C LW Y D
MANOR
H
 
EADING SEVEN MILES OUT FROM THE Above The ruined wall long grass, trees including silver birch and diverse
historic market town of Ruthin and ‘folly’, cloaked in climbing rowans offer autumnal fruit and leaf colour. Simple
rose ‘New Dawn’.
climbing up into the Clwyd Valley wooden hurdles set in broad arcs bear the headily
Below Leaning against
you may discover a hidden jewel. one of the stone walls, fragrant white rambling roses ‘Bobby James’ and
This Victorian stone-built home, Cretan amphora. double blush ‘Princess Marie’. And the carefree
nestled amid woodland, is almost invisible ambience continues in the borders with self-
from the entrance. Neighbours are few and sown white foxgloves and purple-leaved cow
far between: the tiny hilltop village of Derwen parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing’)
is a hike up a steep lane and the stillness is intermingling with cottage perennials. Even
broken only by the bleating of sheep and the some of the old hedging conifers, clipped
mewling call of buzzards wheeling overhead. like fine-textured yew, play host to climbers,
By late spring, the swathes of snowdrops, including a soaring pink Clematis montana.
cyclamen and snake’s head fritillaries that Aberclwyd Manor was built in 1850 for
delight early visitors are a fading memory. a wealthy Southport family and there are
The terraced gardens, framed by clipped references to the original pleasure grounds.
hedges, boast a mix of flowering shrubs and But when Irene Brown and partner Giuliano
budding roses. Several tiered Viburnum Sparvoli moved to the four-acre site 22 years
plicatum f. tomentosum ‘Mariesii’, decked ago, there was no trace save for a giant
in cream, take centre stage, supported by monkey puzzle, four veteran Scots pines and,
choisya, lilac and rhododendron. along the boundary, a wealth of mature trees
Mown pathways lead through meadows including majestic copper-and-green beech.
dotted with lacy umbellifers, buttercups and “The grass ran up to the walls. The garden
red clover – a magnet for bees. Through the was barely more than a paddock with no hard

38 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


The stillness is broken only
by the bleating of sheep
and the mewling call of
wheeling buzzards
landscaping and no planting,” says Irene. Aberclwyd
Manor is now well known for its naturalistic
displays of winter and spring woodland flowers, but
“back then there wasn’t a single snowdrop,” Irene Clockwise from top left flags came from an old mill in Macclesfield, and
recalls. “I’ve planted virtually everything, including Syringa vulgaris Irene recalls barrowing hundreds of reclaimed bricks
‘Souvenir de Louis
the formal hedging and topiary. People don’t realise Spaeth’; dark purple
used to lay the long lavender-and-lady’s-mantle-lined
how quickly yew can grow.” hazel, Corylus maxima pathway in the formal Yew Garden.
Irene and local landscaper Len Embry created the ‘Purpurea’, trained into Echoes of Plas Brondanw, the private home of
bones of the new garden together. Heavy diggers an arch; the topiary Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, creator of Portmeirion,
reflects Giuliano’s Italian
contoured the sloping site and starting with the pond heritage; creamy flowers
can be seen in the geometry, sight lines and vistas at
and its dramatic curved retaining wall, year by year of Viburnum plicatum Aberclwyd, as well as in the timeless feel engendered
more terraces, pathways and timber features were f. tomentosum ‘Mariesii’. by the green architecture and clever use of reclaimed
constructed. Irene and Giuliano sourced much of the elements. The National Trust’s Plas Newydd with
antique and salvaged materials themselves including its spring woodland plantings and views across the
decorative ironwork panels. Weathered Yorkstone Menai Straits also struck a chord with Irene.

MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 39


Aberclwyd Manor
Corwen
4 acre garden on a sloping hillside overlooking the Upper Clwyd Valley. The garden has many mature trees
underplanted with snowdrops, fritillaries and cyclamen. An Italianate garden of box hedging lies below the
house and shrubs, ponds, perennials, roses and an orchard are also to be enjoyed within this cleverly
structured area. Mass of cyclamen in September. Abundance of spring flowers.
Open: 11am-4pm
Groups and private visit welcome. Cream teas available.
Telephone: 01824 750431 | 07783 262278
irene662010@live.com
Retaining walls are
colonised by ivy-leaved
toadflax and dainty ferns
At first, the new stonework felt raw to Irene,
especially the ruined wall ‘folly’ with its arched
entrance leading up through to the pergola garden.
Now, just 20 years on and smothered in the rose
‘New Dawn’, the feature feels as though it has
been there for centuries. Irene’s skill in creating
an unashamedly romantic experience for visitors
has come from balancing the tamed architectural
Len designed the elegant conservatory and wild naturalistic elements. Retaining walls are
porch that faces the Italianate terrace and colonised by ivy-leaved toadflax and dainty ferns.
lower topiary garden. But the latter was “You can’t leave it to its own devices though,”
Giuliano’s brainchild, a nod to his Italian cautions Irene. “The wall and paving plants have
heritage. “I made a rough sketch and Len to be thinned, and I remove surplus purple cow
turned it into scale drawings,” he says. parsley seedlings. I keep on top of things by weeding
Though the central monkey puzzle tree has through the winter, but I can’t bear the garden to
since had to be felled, its dinosaur-foot base look regimented or overly manicured.”
was deliberately retained in memoriam. One of the couple’s favourite features is the deep-
The terrace and viewing platform is a purple hazel tunnel trained over iron hoops. Red
piece of theatre, perfectly symmetrical painted wooden gates were commissioned to frame
and flanked by two Irish yew columns. the entrance to a wildflower meadow, and at either
Perched on the edge of the hillside, it offers side are two large yew ‘sentries’ clipped like tapering
uninterrupted views across the valley. A secret pond Top left Purple-veined tulip bulbs. In May there are myriad geraniums on
set beneath the stone arch is home to newts. flowers of Geranium the rock banks and raised beds as well as Brunnera
renardii rise above felty,
“I love classical lines and the year-round tapestry sage-green leaves.
macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’, tall bearded iris, Astrantia
of greens that you get with clipped box and yew,” Top right Sweeping ‘Hadspen Blood’, and the unusual and – in Irene’s
enthuses Giuliano. Despite working full time, he views over the valley. opinion – underrated Lamium orvala. In the large
clips the hedging and topiary, using an electric Middle Buttercups and pond adjacent to the house, dragonflies patrol a
clover stud the meadow.
powered trimmer for the sides, switching to hand Bottom Achillea and
forest of aquatic plants: white Iris laevigata, poker
shears for the top. “The secret is patience: you have vivid euphorbia throng flowered Persicaria bistorta ‘Superba’ and sculptural
to take your time to get a perfectly even finish.” around an old roller. rodgersia. Here giant terracotta pots house a range

MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 41


“This is a no-dig, no-hoe garden,” she continues.
“I control weeds like hairy bittercress under the
roses by mulching with cardboard covered with
compost. In spring I top dress all the borders and
pots with fish, blood and bone.”
On fine days, Molly, the couple’s ginger cat, likes
to keep an eye on the comings and goings from
the small patio by the kitchen door. Visitors often
comment on the fragrance wafting across this space,
not realising it comes from the nearby dwarf lilac
and Viburnum x burkwoodii. Guests staying in the
holiday let have the whole garden to explore but can
retreat to the shade of a treillage pergola smothered
Top Smart conical
conifers are the perfect with vines and white Clematis montana. The sunny
contrast to a delicate border below is planted in shades of mainly blue and
carpet of wildflowers. white with agapanthus and the wall-trained rose
Above Molly keeps an ‘Constance Spry’ featuring in high summer. Earlier
eye on proceedings from
of Japanese maples and white agapanthus. Acers a table on the terrace. vibrant tulips, Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii,
also feature in the Yew Garden, framed by clipped Left Irises and persicaria Choisya x dewitteana ‘Aztec Pearl’ and alliums add
box diamonds. There are striking reclaimed trellis cluster around the to the Mediterranean feel.
obelisks, and, at the far end, a blue gazebo covered stone-edged lily pond. “I put my heart and soul into this place,” says
with Rosa ‘Albertine’ leads through to the orchard, Irene. “No matter what the time of year, it brings
which contains the rare local plum ‘Denbigh’. me so much joy. On open days it’s wonderful to see
Irene manages the garden almost single-handedly someone claim an old bench seat under a tree, to
and is a keen propagator, especially of dog’s tooth enjoy the peace and tranquility.” ■
violets. She has help with strimming from David,
a retired local farmer, and together, in late July or Aberclwyd Manor, Derwen, Corwen, Denbighshire
August, they cut the meadows and rake off the hay. LL21 9SF. Opens for the National Garden Scheme
“It’s hard work but so rewarding. We introduced on selected dates between April and September,
yellow rattle to reduce the vigour of the grass and 11am to 4pm, and to groups by appointment.
now even bluebells are starting to reappear.” Tel: 01824 750431; ngs.org.uk

42 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


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A stone temple lantern
and red Nikko bridge in
Heale House’s Japanese
Garden, with Gunnera
manicata, astilbes and
ferns by the stream.

46 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


HEALE HOUSE

Where East
MEETS WEST
At Guy and Frances Rasch’s Peto-designed garden on the River
Avon near Salisbury, the billowing romance of a traditional English
country garden blends seamlessly with timeless Japanese elegance

WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHS CAROLE DRAKE


H
UNKERED DOWN AMONG THE CHALK architect and garden designer Harold Peto to
streams and water meadows landscape the grounds in his typical Italianate style.
of the Woodford Valley near Around the cheerful red-brick manor house, Peto
Salisbury in Wiltshire, Heale laid out stone-flagged terraces and paths, lawns,
House is surrounded by eight acres ornamental ponds, a walled rose garden and a boat
of intoxicatingly beautiful gardens. In late May terrace that pulls the garden down to meet the trout-
every structure drips with white, purple and mauve rich, crystalline River Avon, which flows along its
wisteria flowers that perfume the air as spring fades northern and eastern boundaries. In May, the boat
into summer. Home to Guy and Frances Rasch, their terrace balustrade is a tangle of cream-flowered
Below Framed by teenage twins Nancy and Freddie, and numerous Akebia quinata and Wisteria floribunda ‘Kuchi-
wisteria, a scrollwork
dogs, Heale has been in the Rasch family since beni’, in the palest of pinks. Originating in China
gate leads from the
Tunnel Garden to Guy’s great uncle, Louis Greville, bought it in 1894. and Japan and immensely popular in the Edwardian
the Japanese Garden. Greville enlarged the house and in 1910 employed garden, wisterias seem the perfect plant for Heale:
Louis Greville spent time in Japan
and Peto’s own garden at nearby Iford
Manor is full of wisteria. Heale’s first
wisterias, four standards on a terrace
beside the house, were planted by
Guy’s mother, Lady Ann Rasch, and
Frances has introduced many more.
Since taking on the garden when
she married Guy in 1996, Frances has
refined and ‘beefed up’ the planting
around the house with yew blocks
on the croquet lawn that anchor
the house into its setting, and a box
parterre and lavender borders to
smarten up a scruffy area beside
stables where trees had to be removed.
On the blank expanse of grass below
the croquet lawn Frances created beds
of a single grass, Miscanthus sinensis
‘Kleine Silberspinne’, punctuated by
white-barked Betula ermanii and
framed with screens of hornbeam and
yew spheres. “I was inspired to use a
single variety of grass when I went out
to see Guy harvesting a cornfield one
day and was struck by how beautiful
a mass of just one thing could be,”
she says. White Allium ‘Mont Blanc’
emerge through the grasses in spring.
Frances admits that before moving
to Heale, her previous experience of
horticulture extended little further
than the window boxes on her London
flat. “The reason I started to garden
was because I had Heale on my hands
so it was either sink or swim,” she
admits. She did a horticulture course
at the Chelsea Physic Garden, took
advice from her green-fingered mother
as well as from family friend Anna
Pavord, and visited specialist nurseries
including Marchants Hardy Plants
in Sussex and Crûg Farm in North
Wales. Frances also benefited from
the knowledge of Heale’s gardening
team, including present Above The pergola is
head gardener Michael festooned by Laburnum
x watereri ‘Vossii’ and
Maltby and plantsman beautiful wisterias.
Kevin Hughes who ran Far left Mauve and purple
a plant centre in the flags of bearded iris.
grounds for some years. Left Deep-pink Clematis
‘Broughton Star’.
“I fell in love with the Below Miscanthus ‘Kleine
garden and the plants in Silberspinne’ studded
it, and only later began with Allium ‘Mont Blanc’.
to get interested in the
design side of gardening,” explains Frances, who
went on to study for a diploma from the London
College of Garden Design at Kew and now creates
gardens for other people.
The Tunnel Garden produces a range of fruit,
vegetables, and flowers for the house within three
porridgy cob walls and a pergola, festooned in May
with a vibrant display of complementary coloured
flowers. The sunny-yellow, pea-like blooms of
Laburnum x watereri ‘Vossii’ alternate with purple
wisterias including richly scented, rosy-mauve
Wisteria sinensis ‘Amethyst’, elegant W. floribunda
f. multijuga with elegant racemes up to 1m long, and
double-flowered W. floribunda ‘Black Dragon’. In
the dappled shade below, Allium ‘Purple Sensation’
sends up flowery lollipops among the cool greens
of soft shield fern Polystichum setiferum and

MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 49


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Japanese anemones. There are wisterias everywhere
you look at Heale: trained as standards in the
Sundial Garden among silvery Elaeagnus
‘Quicksilver’, twining over the glossy red Nikko
bridge, scaling the warm brick facades of the house
and scrambling enthusiastically over Peto’s stone
balustrades; one has even escaped across the river
with an Acer pseudoplatanus ‘Brilliantissimum’.
Over the past decade, Frances
and her small team (head gardener
Michael, two part-time gardeners
and a few volunteers) have planted
many shrubs and trees in the
woodland garden where grass,
dotted with purple alliums and cow
parsley, is allowed to grow long.
Amelanchiers, tree peonies and
magnolias including late-flowering
yellow ‘Felix Jury’ have brought
more interest to this area, the first
part of the garden that visitors
encounter. Magnolias, seemingly
happy on Heale’s chalk because
of the constant moisture available
from the river, have to be chosen
carefully as the garden sits low and
can experience late frosts. In 2017,
wisteria buds were frozen to a soggy
brown pulp by one sub-zero night.
Frances’s favourite area is the Japanese garden.
“We can grow all those beautiful, large-leaved lush
plants there like rheums, rodgersias, hostas and ferns
and the light is wonderful because it reflects off the
water. There’s something untamed about it too.”
Inspired by his experience of Japan while working in
the British Embassy in Tokyo, Louis Greville himself
created this part of the garden with the help of four
Japanese gardeners brought over especially: this area
above all sprinkles Heale with magic. Set between
Peto’s formal design and the natural boundary of the
river, Greville’s homage to the Far East incorporates
elements brought back
Clockwise from top The from Japan, including
thatched Japanese tea
stone temple lanterns,
house sits over the River
Avon; sunlit Primula the red Nikko bridge
pulverulenta; lavender and even an authentic
lines a stone path with teahouse that straddles
clipped box and yew;
the river, complete with
large box domes
surround the pond in grass tatami mats and
the Tunnel Garden. rice paper screens.

MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 51


WISTERIA
ADVICE
By Frances Rasch

Wisteria floribunda,
W. sinensis and W.
brachybotrys and their
cultivars are those
grown in our gardens.

Plant in full sun or


a little shade in well
drained but moist
and fertile soil.

Although noted for


their flowers, wisteria
may also display furry,
pendent seedpods.
After leaf fall their
bare form is bold and
sculptural in winter.

Be sure to buy a
wisteria propagated
from cuttings or by
grafting. Those grown
from seed can take
20 years to flower. This sensual landscape
Train your wisteria is criss-crossed by glassy
against a sunny wall,
up a tree, over a
streams lined with skeins
pergola or even as
a standard using an
of emerald water weed
‘umbrella’ shaped
support. The detail and Above From the inside,
clarity of the Japanese the pergola drips with
Prune twice a year:
laburnum and wisteria.
in July or August garden have blurred
Right Stone lanterns
reduce the long over time making its emerge from a calming
whippy shoots of the beauty intense and backdrop of green ferns.
current year’s growth dream-like; a sensual
to five or six leaves landscape criss-crossed by clear, glassy streams lined
from the framework; in with pulsing skeins of emerald water weed, oozing
January or February, with moisture loving plants. In autumn the orange,
further cut the same red and yellow leaves of liquidambar, katsura and
stems back to two tulip trees carpet the ground, floating off along the
or three buds. streams, but for now wisterias steal the show. “I
love them in winter when their bare shapes are so
Avoid high- architectural, but when they flower wisterias are the
nitrogen feed as this most romantic of plants,” says Frances. The perfect
encourages leafy plant, then, for this most romantic of gardens. ■
growth. Use some
potash and bonemeal Heale Garden, Middle Woodford, Wiltshire
when establishing the SP4 6NT. Opens 1 March to 15 October, Wednesday
plant, but thereafter to Saturday, 10am to 5pm, and on Sundays and Bank
feed sparingly. Holiday Mondays, 11am to 4pm. Tel: 01722 782504;
healegarden.co.uk

52 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


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ASCOG HALL

A Fondness
FOR FERNS
Karin and Michael Burke are the custodians of Ascog Hall on the
coast of the Isle of Bute, where intriguingly creative gardens
harbour a glass-roofed, sunken, Victorian fernery at their heart

WORDS JULIA WATSON PHOTOGRAPHS RAY COX

The fernery’s elaborate


roof can be vented to
keep temperatures even;
ferns from New
Caledonia and the
Americas feature.

MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 55


W
ALK DOWN THE STEPS INTO Above The fernery is That the fernery is here to be enjoyed in the
Ascog Hall’s fernery and you kept lush and watered 21st century is down to the devotion of its recent
by natural springs.
are immediately projected owners, including Michael and Karin Burke,
Below Ascog’s owners,
back to the Victorian era. Karin and Michael Burke. who bought Ascog Hall six years ago and are its
Here, in a sunken current custodians. Neither had gardened
garden intricately lined with local sandstone much before – “I grew some carrots once,”
and artificial rock and spectacularly roofed Michael recalls – but the Burkes had been
in glass, is a remarkable collection of looking for a project very different from
temperate ferns from around the world, their previous life in countries such as Libya
looking exactly as it would have done in and Norway, where Michael worked as a
the 1870s when the fernery was created. physicist in the oil industry. Once their three
Plumed and ribbon-like, curled and children had grown up they were ready for a
feathery, diminutive or with trunks several hands-on challenge, and Ascog Hall, on the
feet round, the ferns are the stars. But the east coast of the Isle of Bute, surrounded by
building itself – part grotto, part glasshouse a three-acre garden, fitted the bill.
– is a Victorian work of art. Water trickles Michael’s scientific knowledge and
in through three small cascades, fed by a practical skills as a petrophysicist have
natural spring, a statue of Hebe holds out proved invaluable in looking after the
her cup, and the path sparkles with white garden, especially in maintaining the
quartz pebbles gathered from the beach. fernery, with its complex roof and water

56 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


Clockwise from right
Looking over the roof of
the fernery towards the
Scottish mainland; a
juniper makes a dark
exclamation mark on the
curving path; Primula
pulverulenta flourish
here; one of three
cascades in the fernery,
fed by a spring, and
covered with soleirolia.

system, and Karin has thrown herself into the


planting side. She fully admits that when they first
arrived, “the ferns just looked like ferns to me”, but
now she knows them intimately: “That one’s from
Chile, the one behind it is from New Zealand, and
there on the left is a fern from South Africa, Todea
barbara, which is more than a thousand years old.”
The man who built the fernery was a wealthy
merchant from Glasgow, Alexander Bannatyne
Stewart, a discerning art collector, father of eight
and keen orchid grower. Bute was something of a
playground for rich Glaswegians in Victorian times
– the coast is lined with magnificent villas – and
Ascog Hall, originally bought by his father, was the
family’s holiday home, to which Alexander would
travel in his steam yacht to entertain and relax. But it
was not all about pleasure; the Stewarts’ connection
to the island ran deep indeed, and Alexander was a

MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 57


Above As the fernery considerable benefactor to the local community. To
lies below ground, from this day, a commemorative statue of him stands on
some angles the roof is
the seafront in the island’s main town of Rothesay.
all that can be seen.
Left Dicksonia antarctica To help create his fernery, Alexander found just
gives the garden the right man: watercolourist and garden designer
a primeval touch. Edward La Trobe Bateman. “He’d recently returned
Below Fine-leaved
from many years in Australia, and had assisted in
Adiantum raddianum
‘Micropinnulum’. laying out the Melbourne Botanic Gardens, where
he’d learnt all about ferns,” explains Michael. “He
proposed building a fernery to emulate an Australian
temperate rain forest, having recognised that the
climate here was perfect for that, because we’re
right on the sea and benefit from the Gulf Stream.”
Excavating to put the building underground doubly
ensured that it would never get too cold; although
it’s unheated, the temperatures in the fernery never
fall below freezing.
Not long after it was completed, a correspondent
in The Gardeners’ Chronicle of October 1879
reported on his visit to Ascog Hall, and pronounced:
“The principal attraction of the gardens is a most
beautiful fernery,” going on to describe in detail the
planting within it: “First, there are two nice plants
of the Norfolk Island Pine, Araucaria excelsa; then
come the rocks well covered with Selaginella and
planted with Tree Ferns and other things; Dicksonia
antarctica has a fine stem, and so has also the
charming Silver Tree Fern, Cyathea dealbata, which
was 10 feet high...” The list continues, and
the accompanying engraving shows the interior
of the fernery looking very much as it does today.

58 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


Alexander Bannatyne Stewart sadly had little
time to enjoy his new garden feature, since he died
in 1880. As the decades went by and the property
repeatedly changed hands – in one incarnation it
was a hotel – both Ascog Hall and its gardens fell
into decay. It wasn’t until Katherine and Wallace
Fyfe bought the property in the mid-1980s that both
house and garden were rescued from dereliction.
Intrigued by a tangle of wrought iron and broken
glass in a patch of brambles, they investigated and
discovered the fernery, digging out the mud and
debris with snow shovels to avoid damaging the
pebble pathway. In among the rocks they found
a single charismatic survivor from the original
collection: the 1,000-year-old king fern that
remains within the fernery today and is the oldest
exotic fern in Britain. With the help of a grant
from Historic Scotland and the expertise of the
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, plus, crucially,
the comprehensive list of ferns gleaned from The
Gardeners’ Chronicle, they were eventually able to
rebuild and restock Alexander Bannatyne Stewart’s
extraordinary sunken treasure-house of ferns.

In among the rocks they


found a single charismatic
survivor: the 1,000-year-
old king fern – the oldest
exotic fern in Britain
Michael and Karin Burke bought Ascog Hall from
the Fyfe family not long after Katherine and Wallace
died, and have worked diligently in both fernery
and garden ever since. They have rarely had help,
and Michael is frank on the subject: “Our first four
years were pure drudge. We totally underestimated
it.” But much only had to be done once – drainage
improvement, for example, or the clearance of self-
sown trees to open up sea views – and by last year
they really began to feel they were having fun.
They have made their own mark on the garden,
building a new, rectangular pool on the site of the
bigger, circular Victorian pond that once filled the
whole space between the surrounding beds. Lined
with 19th-century
Top left Hebe, the concrete that had
Goddess of Youth serves cracked and was too
nectar and ambrosia
expensive to repair, the
from her cup; behind the
statue is Araucaria rulei. original pond is still
Top right Adiantum there beneath the lawn,
pedatum, a type of Karin notes, for future
maidenhair fern.
archaeologists to find.
Left Looking through a
thuja arch to the pond The Burkes have also
put in by the Burkes. created an outdoor Fern

MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 59


FERN
CARE
ADVICE
From Karin Burke

Deadhead
completely brown
evergreen fronds
and remove all dead
deciduous fronds.

Give ferns a dose


of fertiliser such as
tomato feed when the
new fronds arrive in
spring, and one other
feed during summer.

The soil in the


fernery is ordinary clay
garden soil mixed with
garden compost and
topped with a small
amount of orchid bark.

We water the
fernery once a day in
summer and once a
week in winter. Avoid
Alley beyond the indoor fernery Top Silky blooms of sky a reprieve. Could there be a middle
splashing water on the blue Himalayan poppy,
to accommodate hardier specimens way, perhaps? And Michael will
fronds as this results in Meconopsis ‘Lingholm’.
such as Dryopteris kuratae from Above A giant tree fern
continue his restoration of the
brown burnt patches.
Japan, Cyathea medullaris, the and gunnera by the new fernery roof and his search for
We monitor black tree fern, from New Zealand, rectangular pond, with an elusive leak somewhere below
temperature sensors and Polystichum setiferum, the soft a sheet metal sculpture ground. “When the spring dries
designed by Karin.
remotely in the shield fern, which is native to south- out in summer, we’ve been having
fernery. We can adjust west and central Europe. to top up with metered town
temperatures by They have put in a Wollemi pine, the ancient water, which is wasteful,” he explains.
opening or closing conifer from Australia, to add to the Jurassic Ascog Hall is a massive commitment, not
top windows, which Park atmosphere around the pool, and two new least because the Burkes open the garden every
draws cool air through monkey puzzles, Araucaria araucana, near the day throughout the season, but they revel in the
the door from outside magnificent individual specimen, estimated to be contact with visitors and are more than glad to
and expels warm air 160 years old, that towers high above the garden. help Bute’s tourist industry. In spring, when it
through the roof. The larger of the two new trees was an eBay is awash with magenta candelabra primulas,
We don’t protect
bargain, the drawback being that the buyer not the unfurling leaves of giant gunneras, blue
the crowns of outdoor
only had to collect but also dig it up, which made meconopsis and the first of the rhododendrons
ferns in winter due to
the trip down to Darlington even more gruelling. and azaleas, Ascog Hall’s garden is a delight.
the sheltered nature
“We spent around three hours digging the thing Best of all, of course, are the coiled springs of the
of the garden and
out,” Karin remembers. garden’s multitudinous ferns, the iconic shape
the maritime climate.
Karin’s artistic talents have developed known as ‘koru’ to the Maoris and an important
We have few frosts.
alongside her gardening skills. Several of the symbol of new life, strength and peace. ■
sheet-metal sculptures that are placed throughout
The British the grounds were made to her designs in her Ascog Hall, Ascog, Isle of Bute PA20 9EU. Along
Pteridological Society native Germany, and shipped back. As to the with nearby Mount Stuart, ancestral home of the
provides information future, she is eyeing the rose garden, which Marquess of Bute, Ascog Hall is a partner garden
for fern enthusiasts, at one time they thought they might give way of the RHS. Open daily, 1 April to 31 October,
ebps.org.uk to something less labour intensive, but which 10am-5pm, admission £5, children free.
flowered so beautifully last year that it earned Tel: 01700 503461; ascogfernery.com

60 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


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An Open &
SHUT CASE
Designer James Scott has skilfully edited a mature Hertfordshire garden,
interlinking compartmentalised areas and closing off others to frame vistas

WORDS CLARE FOGGETT PHOTOGRAPHS REBECCA BERNSTEIN

62 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


DACORUM
HOUSE

An old swimming
pool is reincarnated as
a wildlife pond, its sleek
lines in keeping with the
garden’s formal parts.
K
 
NOWING WHEN TO LEAVE WELL ALONE Above The cut-flower used. “We decided we didn’t want the swimming
is part of the skill of garden design garden, its four square pool, we wanted a wildlife pond,” says Fiona. James
beds edged with box
– clever editing can be just as was called in, the pool’s transformation was a huge
hedging, houses
effective as ripping everything out perennial blooms to success, and, as she explains, “it went on from there.
and starting again. And a skilful bring into the home. James had so many ideas that we implemented.”
edit is just what designer James Scott, of The Garden Because the garden was already quite mature,
Company, has applied here at Dacorum House, after James didn’t have to make sweeping changes. “We
its owner, Fiona MacLean, called him in to help her were lucky,” he says, “in that there were quite a few
make sense of this well-established space. Fiona, her nice things that happened to be in the right place, so
husband and their two, now grown-up children had we could retain a lot of maturity.” There was a large
lived in the house for 13 years before she decided to lawn, and what James thinks were 1970s planted
improve the garden – the trigger for action was an conifers, but also nice yews, many clipped into
inherited swimming pool that the family no longer domes. “We had a good rummage through and took

64 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


out the rubbish, but left the really
nice key plants,” he explains.
The other issue with the
garden, James felt, was a lack
of flow. There was a lot of
mature hedging, but almost too
much. “The garden felt over
compartmentalised,” he says.
He spent some time studying
the garden and working out
how to link its different spaces,
before opening up pathways
through various sections of
hedging and revealing views
and vistas. “There was a nice
bit of woodland to one side of
the garden, but it was shut off
by a hedge, so it looked as if it
sat beyond the boundary of the
property. We pulled a conifer
out of the hedge, which left an
odd-shaped gap, but then we
Top Many of the garden’s got a willow weaver in to make a willow archway
shaped conifers were in the shape of the conifer that had come out.” The
retained, lending both
structure and maturity.
new arch was lined up with an opening in another
Above Graceful spring hedge that shut off the cut-flower garden; both areas
stems of bleeding heart, were connected and a vista parallel to the house was
Lamprocapnos created. “Before, you had three things blocking the
spectabilis.
Left The newly opened
view across the garden. Now when you walk out you
vista, from cutting can see three times as far as you could,” says James.
garden to woodland. Conversely, behind that renovated swimming pool
he wanted to put in a ‘barrier’, of sorts. A line of
handsome, teardrop-shaped hornbeams (Carpinus
betulus ‘Fastigiata’) now stands behind it. “I felt
you took in quite a lot of the garden at once from
there,” James explains. “The hornbeams are a
reference point, giving scale and delineating where
the more formal, organised part of the garden ends,
but without a solid barrier. They frame the views
as well.” Those views of beautiful Hertfordshire
countryside, on the edge of the Chilterns, are well

MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 65


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Above Quartering the worth taking in too, but, again, a subtle edit was
cut-flower garden with required to make the most of them. “At the end of
paths is a simple yet the garden there was a 2.4m-tall hedge so you could
striking design.
Left Allium hollandicum. just see the tops of the trees beyond it, but nothing
Below Beyond the pool, else. We cut the hedge down to 1.5m and that simple
a large Abies procera change opened up really nice views,” says James.
‘Glauca’ bears steely ‘Subtle’ and ‘simple’ are the watchwords of this
blue needles and cones.
garden’s transformation, until it comes to the
swimming pool. Here the change was dramatic,
turquoise lining and deep-end vanishing before
Fiona’s eyes. “It was quite an engineering project,”
says James. “We cut off the circulation systems so it
became a self-managing body of water, and then we
partly filled the deep end with rubble.” The rubble
was capped with concrete to make it stable, and
high blockwork plinths were built for the stepping
stones that run along the pool’s length. At the same
time, blockwork planting beds were put in to create
shallow areas around the edge. “Animals can get in
and out and the beds are a good area for organisms
to live and breathe, which keeps the water clear,”
James explains. “It was the best thing he did for us,”
Fiona enthuses. “Newts, moorhens, ducks, frogs,
toads and dragonflies all turned up out of nowhere.”
The other key part of the garden is the cut flower
garden, originally mooted as a vegetable patch,
before Fiona changed her mind: “I don’t do much

MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 67


NOTEBOOK
gardening and I’m not Below Irises and

Old & New very knowledgeable,”


she confesses. “The
cutting garden was a
marginals in the pool’s
planting beds are a
haven for wildlife and
soften the straight lines
It was a case of evolution over revolution in this big success though. The of its landscaping.
garden’s subtle transformation, which made the idea was that I always
most of existing features while adding new ones have flowers for the house and James planted it
up with some really lovely things, and edged the
beds with box.” Bleeding heart, peonies and alliums
bloom in spring, shortly to be followed by roses,
1 flush with red-tinged new leaves. The four large
beds are overlooked by a painted wooden garden
room that was previously a large shed used to store
mowers. “It was quite austere-looking beforehand,
but the planting around it softens it,” James says.
Although many of the garden’s mature plants were
left in place, a lot of new planting was added. “James
brought a lot of year-round interest,” says Fiona.
“Lots of bulbs, carpets of daffodils and crocuses,
but all the way through to the end of the season.”
At the far end of the pool, naturalistic planting
involving rudbeckia, fluffy pennisetum and Verbena
bonariensis adds summer’s-end colour below the
2 hornbeams, before letting the garden’s structural
3 evergreens and conifers take over for winter.
Having transformed the garden and watched it
reach this level of refined perfection, it must have
been a wrench to decide to leave it, but Fiona and her
husband have in fact moved away, just a few months
ago. “Our two children have left home and the house
was too big for us,” she says. James is helping with
their next project – creating a garden from the ‘field’
around their new home, which is being built on the
site of an old farm bungalow. It helps, she says, that
the new owners obviously loved the garden and said
it was one of their main reasons for choosing the
house. “They came in July or August and the garden
was looking absolutely gorgeous,” Fiona says. For
sale: a beautifully designed, cleverly crafted and long
cherished garden – who could resist? ■

1 The converted mower shed makes a useful garden room and focal
point in the cut-flower garden, with rushy Luzula nivea filling its
beds. 2 An established wisteria is enhanced by a planting scheme in
shades of blue and purple. 3 Clipped evergreens were retained, but
complemented with underplanting, including ferns. 4 A woven willow
archway was installed in the gap left from removing a conifer from this
thick hedge to create a gateway into the woodland beyond.

68 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


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E
veryone who nominates an NGS makes its way through Austria’s UNESCO-
garden in our exciting competition to listed Wachau Valley. After the historic town PRIZE DETAILS
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have a chance to win a fantastic eight-day beautiful cobbled streets and the medieval 8 days on board
cruise along the romantic River Danube. city of Regensburg before you reach the 6 guided tours
The season of garden visiting is now truly numerous locks of the Main-Danube Canal All meals on board, plus
under way, with wonderful gardens across and the medieval city of Nuremberg. For wine, beer & soft drinks with
the country opening their gates to visitors terms and conditions visit theenglishgarden. lunch and dinner on board
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to raise money for the National Garden co.uk/offers/win-a-viking-cruise. All port charges, airport
Scheme’s deserving charities. If you visit one To nominate a garden and enter the prize taxes and overseas transfers
that captures your heart and imagination, draw, visit theenglishgarden.co.uk/ngs from For full prize details, visit:
why not nominate it to be voted the Nation’s now until 15 July. Your nominations will be theenglishgarden.co.uk/
Favourite? In doing so, you could win a shortlisted by our panel of judges before we offers/win-a-viking-cruise
relaxing tour along the scenic River Danube ask you to vote for a winner from 1 August
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MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 71


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72 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


CHELSEA PREVIEW

Chelsea TRENDS
We speak to some of the garden designers behind this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower
Show to learn about the key themes of 2019 and the sources of their inspiration

T
he RHS Chelsea Flower
Show is a barometer for
gardening’s zeitgeist, the
trends revealed in each
year’s show gardens
reflecting the mood of gardening on a
wider scale. This year, designers with their
fingers on the pulse are creating woodland
gardens celebrating the beauty of trees and
forests, while others – including Catherine,
The Duchess of Cambridge – are designing
gardens with children in mind. Water in
all its forms is a key source of inspiration
too. So here are the gardens and trends you
should look out for at this year’s show.

The garden that won


IMAGE JAYNE LLOYD

Chris Beardshaw the


accolade of Best in
Show at Chelsea 2018.

MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 73


CHELSEA PREVIEW

Into the woods


Woodland gardens abound at Chelsea this year, designed to celebrate the
beauty of trees and their many benefits for people and the environment

A
ndrew Duff’s first Chelsea show garden Above Andy Sturgeon’s Garden, her first Main Avenue show garden since
will showcase the benefits of trees. The woodland garden for 2011. It will feature native trees alongside more
M&G features dramatic
Savills and David Harber Garden was unusual choices. Monkey puzzle (Araucaria
burnt-oak structures.
inspired by woodland, and the Japanese Below Andrew Duff’s araucana), ginkgo and Japanese cedar represent the
concept of ‘forest bathing’. “I started reading about woodland clearing need for a mix of species and genetic diversity in
forest bathing, a practice prescribed by doctors garden, with its David forests, if they’re to be resilient to climate change,
Harber water feature.
in Japan prior to issuing medication,” Andrew pests and diseases. “Planting a greater diversity
explains. “A 45-minute ‘bath’ in designated forests of species is essential in ensuring our gardens and
saw a remarkable drop in drug prescriptions.” landscapes are healthy for generations
He hopes his woodland garden at Chelsea will to come. I’d like this garden to
evoke the feeling of a stumbled-upon impress, inspire debate, and spur
woodland clearing. “The light people into action,” says Sarah.
changes, the plants change Another Chelsea stalwart,
and your emotions change,” Andy Sturgeon is designing
he says. Turning notions of The M&G Garden, a woodland
a show garden on their head, landscape inspired by nature’s
he’s positioning his trees power to regenerate. It features
around the edge of the plot so some 50 tonnes of burnt-oak
onlookers have to work to see structures by Johnny Woodford
the clearing within. to represent a rocky outcrop,
Meanwhile, Chelsea veteran the space around it colonised by
Sarah Eberle celebrates the young trees and ferns. “I’ve tried
Forestry Commission’s 100-year to create a garden this year that’s
anniversary with The Resilience full of drama,” says Andy. “It will

74 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


Andy Sturgeon’s

Woodland
PLANTS be quite exciting.” Among the
trees, jewel-like flowers bring Above Sarah Eberle’s
colour to a long planting list of garden reflects the
Forestry Commission’s
beautiful shade-dwellers such as aquilegias, foxgloves and violas
work with diverse trees.
Gunnera killipiana. “It’s pretty Below Alastair Bayford’s in her wood’s edge garden, Miles
unusual, with an elegant bronze Family Monsters Garden Stone: The Kingston Maurward
leaf. I’ve found some interesting features silver birch. Garden. Andy Sturgeon thinks all
trilliums, and I’ve got Angelica this woodland inspiration could
dahurica, which is a bit different.” be a reaction to the times: “I have read theories
Woodland inspires in the Artisan Gardens, that people turn to things that feel natural and
Uvularia grandiflora
too, where Alistair Bayford’s Family Monsters comfortable during troubled times or austerity.
Yellow flowers dangle
Garden features a silver birch grove with a Personally, woodland reminds me of growing
from arching stems.
central pool of water, while Michelle Brown up, and green is comforting, so there’s definitely
will use dryopteris, ajuga, polypodium, something in that.”

Geum rivale Small, peach-


orange, drooping flowers
in spring and summer.
IMAGES SHUTTERSTOCK

Kirengeshoma palmata
Yellow flowers in sprays
on dark purple stems.

MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 75


CHELSEA PREVIEW

Doing it for the kids


The gardens set to grab the headlines this year all have one thing in
common: they’re designed to get children outdoors and gardening

T
he Royal Family have always Above The RHS Back Richard House in Beckton, London, after
been closely associated with the to Nature Garden will the show, something that Richard House’s patron,
champion the benefits
Chelsea Flower Show. As the Royal actor Jim Carter (Downton Abbey’s Carson) is
of the natural world on
Horticultural Society’s Patron, Her childhood development. looking forward to. Children being cared for at
Majesty The Queen attends each year, The Prince Below HRH The Duchess the hospice benefit from “being able to look up at
of Wales designed a garden back in 2002, and of Cambridge. the sky and the leaves”, he says, while their siblings
Prince Harry, now Duke of Sussex, has been “need somewhere to run around and let off
involved in show gardens that promote steam. The fact that the garden is there at
the work of his charity Sentebale. This Chelsea is brilliant.”
year, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Kate’s two-storey design features a lot of
has helped design the RHS Back to Nature exciting elements, including a Chelsea first:
Garden, with landscape architects Adam a water-powered lift. “The whole garden is
White and Andree Davies. step-free,” she says, “and because it doesn’t
One garden that will benefit children use the National Grid, the lift is very green
once Chelsea is over is Kate Gould’s and sustainable.” An inventive water feature
Greenfingers Charity Garden. Greenfingers has been created with hands that will wave
is a charity that supports life-limited as water passes over them (Greenfingers’
children and their families by creating logo features a child’s hand print) and
gardens at hospices across the country. there are places to play, relax and reflect.
Elements of Kate’s garden will be moved to It should highlight the therapeutic benefits

76 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


Kate Gould’s

Calming
GREENS

Hosta ‘Devon Green’


Glossy ribbed leaves on
of the outside spaces created by Greenfingers this sought-after variety.
over the past 20 years. Plants are mainly in a
calming green and white palette. “A lot of it
will be leafy,” says Kate. “We’re using Choisya
‘Greenfingers’, ferns, hostas, angelicas, lupins represent female-led, climate-smart agriculture
and campanulas – things that will go on year in sub-Saharan Africa, drawing attention to the
after year.” need to empower and educate young women in
Jilayne Rickards, is designing communities affected by climate
the Giving Girls In Africa a Space change. Meanwhile, Jilayne’s
Above A vibrant garden
to Grow garden for CAMFED to capture the spirit of Space to Grow neighbour
(the Campaign for Female Africa for CAMFED. Jody Lidgard has worked with Acanthus ‘Rue Ledan’
Education). Featuring edible Below Kate Gould’s Montessori on The Montessori White flower spires are a
complex two-storey classy change from purple.
crops such as papaya, banana and Centenary Children’s Garden
garden for Greenfingers
sweet potatoes amid a landscape has an innovative lift and this year, showcasing the value
of red soil and rocks, it will green planting scheme. of outdoor learning.

Angelica archangelica
Statuesque height and
architectural detail.
IMAGES SUZANNE PLUNKETT; SHUTTERSTOCK; ALAMY; CLIVE NICHOLS

MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 77


CHELSEA PREVIEW

Water, water everywhere


Designers this year have been inspired by watery landscapes of all kinds,
from coastline to water meadow, plus a replica canal complete with locks

J
oe Perkins’ Space to Grow Garden, The Above Mark Gregory at it more closely and challenge my preconceptions
Facebook Garden: Beyond The Screen, sets will recreate this idyllic about the online environment.”
Yorkshire canalside.
out to highlight the positive aspects of social Below Jo Thompson’s
The garden features rock formations that echo
media. “A lot of young people feel the time Wedgwood Garden is the coastline, and planting that demonstrates the
they spend online is positive and constructive,” also inspired by canals. variety found in coastal environments. “There’ll
he says. “Look at Greta Thunberg, be plants in between the layers of
the Swedish girl campaigning for rock, where things are clinging on
climate change. When you look for dear life, and further back from
at those sorts of examples, you the foreshore there’ll be pine trees
see how these platforms can be and flowering plants where there’s a
used positively.” But Joe’s original bit more soil and better protection
inspiration for the garden was the from the wind,” says Joe. One third
Basque coast in northern Spain, of the garden is given over to water
where he and his family spend itself, with an overhanging deck.
holidays. “My inspiration was “It’s reclaimed tropical timber from
the fact that my kids don’t play the Woolwich slipway. I’m hoping
video games when we are in this it will be worn and weathered,
landscape; they are out doing stuff. but quite beautiful. It still has
But it has been refreshing to look barnacles on it,” he adds. Look

78 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


Paul Hervey-Brookes’

Water
PLANTS

out for unusual seaside plants Above Joe Perkins’ In The Wedgwood Garden,
such as the mastic gum tree, coastal-themed garden Jo Thompson reflects the creative
will be one-third water,
Pistacia lentiscus – “its thick, spirit of Josiah Wedgwood by
with slabs of stone.
leathery leaves reduce water Below The Art of Viking bringing the pottery’s 260-year
loss and protect it against salt Garden, designed by history to life. A trickling stream
spray, but the overall appearance Paul Hervey-Brookes. will connect the garden’s key Myrica gale Damp-loving
is light and feathery” – wiry elements and echo the canals bog myrtle has aromatic
Corokia cotoneaster and the unusual succulent and watercourses of Staffordshire, which foliage and spring catkins.
Euphorbia tirucalli, also known as coral sticks. proved so vital to Wedgwood’s production.
Joe is not the only one inspired by water. Paul Hervey-Brookes is creating a wetland
Helen Elks-Smith is creating The Warner’s garden, based on a water meadow, with
Distillery Garden for Warner’s Gin, inspired by multi-stemmed birches and winding streams.
the watery landscape at the firm’s farm The Art of Viking Garden is
in Northamptonshire. “I was struck inspired by artwork on board
by the rural landscape interrupted Viking’s newest ocean ship, in
by natural particular that of Norwegian
springs and painter Jakob Weidemann and
aquifers that ceramicist Anette Krogstad. Darmera peltata Carries
emerge and Paul is also creating sculptures pink flowers above glossy,
umbrella-like leaves.
disappear,” for the garden himself,
she says. and planning technically
challenging paving that echoes
Krogstad’s work.
Perhaps the most direct
inspiration water has provided
will be seen in Mark Gregory’s
IMAGES ALAMY; SHUTTERSTOCK

The Welcome to Yorkshire Garden,


a recreation of a Yorkshire canal
flowing through the centre of Russian comfrey Mauve-
Chelsea’s showground. A towpath flowered Symphytum
and perennial meadow will border a x uplandicum.
faithful reconstruction of a canal lock.

MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 79


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80 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019
CHELSEA PREVIEW

Also at the show...


Chelsea isn’t just about the gardens – this year you’ll find new plants, new
designers, unusual vegetables and a sustainable gardening theme

MORE NEW FACES


Designers Colm Joseph and Duncan Cargill are Right Chris Beardshaw’s
creating their first Chelsea exhibit in the Great eco-friendly The Morgan
Stanley Garden.
Pavilion, where The Perennial Lifeline Garden will Bottom The Perennial
celebrate the 180-year anniversary of Perennial – a Lifeline Garden.
charity that helps horticulturists in times of need. It’s
a contemporary interpretation of Sir Roy Strong’s
classical garden, The Laskett. “We want to capture
the spirit of The Laskett by taking an idea Sir Roy
Strong is committed to, that gardens shouldn’t be
museums and things can be changed, while putting
a modern spin on the garden,” Colm says.
The Laskett’s classic rose garden is re-interpreted
as a contemporary rose meadow, with an innovative
maintenance regime. “We’re using species such
as Rosa glauca, some modern shrubs and patio
climbers that can be cut back hard every year, and
will shoot up in quite a wild, loose fashion,” says SUSTAINABLE GARDENING
Colm. Its classical statuary is re-imagined using This year, Chelsea regular Chris Beardshaw is
structural hornbeams that will sit in plinth-like creating a show garden with a light environmental
planters while water will cascade from a pair of footprint. In his construction of The Morgan
2.3m fountains that visitors to the show will be able Stanley Garden, he’s using greener equipment and
to walk below, in a modern take on a colonnade. materials, such as recyclable taupe plant pots, a new
The roses will emerge from meadow-like planting electrical excavator with lower carbon emissions,
of grasses and perennials and, in a Great Pavilion and battery-powered tools. Elegant porcelain
first, won’t be deadheaded, since they’ve also been paving uses a high proportion of waste product
selected for their autumn hips. in its manufacture, making it more sustainable
It’s Lilly Gomm’s first time at Chelsea too, and compared to stone, while two ‘pods’ at the rear
she’s designing the STIHL Hillier Garden – Hillier of the garden will be made from 2mm thin stone
hold the record for the most consecutive gold medals cladding – its lightweight nature means it uses less
at the show and Lilly is hoping her design will deliver of the natural resource and is less of a burden to
their 74th. White borders will transition to vibrant transport – and glulam, a laminated timber derived
pinks and oranges, before morphing into purple from sustainably managed forests. Low-voltage
hues, all set against an eye-catching water feature. lights and carbon-neutral bamboo decking complete
“I want the vibrancy of the garden to change as you the garden’s environmentally friendly credentials.
move around it,” says Lilly. Hillier’s new plants for Chris says: “While many think that gardening is
From top Isoplexis ‘Bella’
2019 will be on show, including compact Weigela inherently ‘green’, there are many areas of garden
and Weigela ‘Picobella
‘Picobella Rosa’, a zingy-orange isoplexis called Rosa’ are Hillier’s new design, construction and maintenance that benefit
‘Bella’, and new magenta Phormium ‘Pink Star’. plant introductions. from a review of the processes involved. The show
is an opportunity to reassure gardeners that moving
towards a more circular gardening practice doesn’t
compromise the aesthetic or emotional rewards.”
In the pavilion, IKEA will present its take on
sustainable gardening, with the Gardening Will Save
The World Garden, an installation masterminded
by designer Tom Dixon that highlights the virtues of
growing food locally, specifically micro-leaves that
can be grown in the tiniest space. Visitors will be
able to walk over the elevated garden, and explore
the ‘subterranean’ high-tech garden below.

MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 81


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82 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019
CHELSEA PREVIEW

UNUSUAL PLANTS
Following his debut at Chelsea last year, designer
Jonathan Snow will be back on Main Avenue,
this time with the Trailfinders Undiscovered Latin
America Garden. It’s going to feature plants from
Chile’s temperate rainforests, such as Lophosoria
quadripinnata, fantastic ferns, alstroemerias
growing as woodland-edge plants, and monkey
puzzle trees. “They are such an iconic Chilean tree
and I really want to do them justice as I know people
either love them or hate them,” says Jonathan. The
garden’s bright-red elevated timber walkway is set Above IKEA’s Gardening
to be a showstopper too, as is the 4m-high waterfall Will Save The World.
Below Jonathan
made from huge pieces of sandstone that mimics Snow’s Trailfinders
Chile’s dark volcanic rock. Undiscovered Latin
America Garden.
BESPOKE SCULPTURE
Art advisors Marshall Murray are collaborating
with Jo Thompson to furnish The Wedgwood
Garden with two bespoke sculptures by Ben Barrell.
One, a 4m2 frieze in stone appears to have been
carved by ancient rivers; the other is named Poldhu
Point, after the headland in Cornwall that creates
huge waves, and is a celebration of the power of the
sea. “Jo is using water to link the disparate spaces perfumed pink with
within her garden, echoing the canals that linked the dark buds that open to reveal
Wedgwood factories and ensured smooth transition pink flowers with a dark-maroon eye.
of their products. Ben’s dynamic creations are In keeping with Chelsea’s royal theme,
perfect counterpoints to the actual water that will Thorncroft Clematis are launching two new
flow throughout the garden,” says Oliver Hawkins, suitably named varieties: ‘Meghan’, a May- and
director of Marshall Murray. June-flowering clematis that reaches a modest 1.5m,
making it a good option for a pot, and pure-white
EXCITING NEW PLANT INTRODUCTIONS ‘Royal Wedding’. The nursery are also hoping to be
Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants can be relied on to able to bring along brand-new ‘Prince Louis’, which
introduce new varieties at the show, and this year bears a stripe of white along the centre of each petal.
three gorgeous perennials are making their Chelsea Intersectional, or Itoh, peonies have garnered
debuts. Digitalis x valinii ‘Firebird’ – a hybrid of plenty of loyal devotees, thanks to their wide range
Digitalis purpurea and Digitalis canariensis – is of colours on shrubbier-than-herbaceous plants.
robust, hardy down to -7°C and sports fruit-salad ‘All That Jazz’ will be launched at Chelsea by
flowers in raspberry pink and apricot. Next up is Primrose Hall Peonies and is bound to be in
Salvia ‘Amethyst Lips’, a purple-and-white-flowered demand, with its many petalled, lightly scented,
From top New Dianthus
shrubby perennial salvia that’s a subtler version ‘Cherry Burst’; Clematis
apricot flowers, flecked with dark pink. Primrose
of the popular red-and-white ‘Hot Lips’. Finally, ‘Royal Wedding’ from Hall’s Alec White has high hopes for its success in
Dianthus ‘Cherry Burst’ is a fully hardy, sweetly Thorncroft Clematis. Chelsea’s coveted Plant of the Year competition.

VEGETABLE PERFECTION
After nine years away, show vegetable champion
Medwyn Williams is returning to Chelsea, hoping
to add to his impressive haul of 11 gold medals from
previous exhibits. Expect vegetable perfection in
the form of immaculate, white-shanked leeks,
colourful beetroot, unusual watermelon radishes
(white with a greenish top and a brilliant pink
interior), chillies and okra. He’s launching a new,
perfectly round but also beautifully tasty tomato,
too: ‘Y Ddraig Goch’. “To my knowledge, it’s the
only vegetable that has a Welsh name,” Medwyn
notes – it translates as ‘red dragon’. ■

MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 83


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MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 85


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86 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


CONSERVATORIES

Beautiful furnishings and


lush-leaved plants help
to bring a conservatory
to life. Fabrics from
Sanderson’s Glasshouse
collection.

Outside In
We enjoy conservatories for the warm environment they create
for growing exotic plants, but a good conservatory will also
provide a valuable living space that links home with garden

MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 87


CONSERVATORIES

into the garden. However, ensuring a comfortable


and viable environment within any glazed structure
will require careful consideration of the impact of
increased exposure to the elements.

PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS
Base your choice of furnishings on how the area is
to be used. A relaxed family room or second living
space, for example, will require plenty of seating
in shapes that will not crowd the area. Sofas and
chairs in pale neutral colours or prints will be slower
to show fading, making light and breezy cottons
or linens a popular choice here. Jane Hindmarch,

W
marketing manager at Vale Garden Houses, suggests
“natural fabrics blended with polyester, nylon and
hen it comes to providing Above Consider versatile acrylic, since they are less likely to fade”. Investing
a bright and relaxing place in loose covers that can in blinds with a high-performance, reflective coating
which to spend time, nothing easily be changed. Long can further protect against damaging rays.
Island dining chair in
compares to a conservatory For a more traditional conservatory feel, Diana
Emma Sage, £340, and
or garden room. Most Winsford china, from Holloway, managing director of Holloways,
gardeners will wish to use these spaces for their £9.80 for two cups, champions a relaxed mix of “natural materials, such
intended function as traditional plant houses, but Neptune. as rattan, woven willow and abacá, or Lloyd Loom
Top right Add to the
a well-planned and executed glazed extension is furniture, since these can withstand the higher
garden aesthetic with
an excellent way to extend a home. Contemporary inviting throws – perfect levels of heat and humidity found in a sunny room,
structures are therefore required to fulfil many for use inside and out. making them the perfect materials for these places”.
functions, and while traditional conservatories are Throws from £40; Furniture fashioned from stone, metal or glass
Wimpole Meadow Grass
separated from the house by a door, current thinking brings elegance and is not sensitive to sunlight
cushion, £25; Mendi
favours a more integrated approach, culminating in Seagrass basket, £30, – or water splashes. Do not dismiss more rustic
flexible, open-plan spaces, ideal for creating multi- all National Trust Shop. teak for table and chairs, since this robust garden
purpose rooms that lead onto a terrace or directly favourite can also shrug off changes in temperatures.

88 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


Above left Install a Decorating with heritage hues, by the likes of
freestanding stove Little Greene and Farrow & Ball, offers a natural
to instil a warm and
welcoming ambience
progression from the garden to the interior.
on winter nights. Contura However, do be sure to test paints prior to
850 wood stove, from application, since strong sunlight tends to wash out
£1,825, Contura. colour. Nelly Hall, brand manager at M&L Paints,
Above right Stone
flooring is an appealing
recommends “painting pieces of paper in favoured
and robust option in shades to see how colours respond during the day
a conservatory. Dijon and which work best in different lights”. The use
tumbled limestone, of pretty printed wallpapers can create a unique
from £45.50 per square
metre, Floors of Stone.
feature, while simply exposing robust brickwork or
Bespoke bench seating, stone can instil relaxed, rustic styling and help link
from deVOL. a room back to the original.
Left Palm House fabric in Of course surfaces underfoot will need to be
Sanderson’s Glasshouse
fabric collection conjures
robust and durable, and low-maintenance flooring,
up a steamy tropical feel, such as sealed stone and ceramic, should cater to
£49 per metre. all aspects of conservatory living. Where timber is
preferred, Hindmarch suggests “engineered wood
for its structural stability”. Alternatively, hard-
wearing luxury vinyl, laminate or linoleum flooring
However, it is worth bearing in mind that, as a rule, also works well in glazed structures and should
most “wooden furniture can fade – walnut being a prove resistant to fading.
good example – or even get a suntan, as in the case With regard to lighting, Hindmarch suggests
of cherry or maple”, according to Hindmarch, who “lighting schemes should ideally be considered at
suggests “periodically moving pieces around, along the design stage of any build so unsightly wires can
with repositioning ornaments and lights, or selecting be hidden within the internal design of the room”.
painted pieces to alleviate this problem”. Where this is not feasible, a flexible combination of
wall, table and floor lights should suffice – although
HARMONIOUS DETAIL pendants should be added to the mix where possible.
To ensure an inviting environment and cohesive flow “Putting lighting on a dimmer will allow for a
between old and new, choose fixtures and fittings change of mood to suit every occasion,” says Sally
that blend sympathetically with adjoining rooms. Storey, creative director of John Cullen Lighting.
Remember also to consider the garden, since glazed While styles should complement adjoining spaces,
structures offer a link to the outside – this will also do take into consideration the size and shape of
determine the practical and aesthetic features. structures – a chandelier, for example, is a great way

MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 89


A style guide to the outside
Industr y exper t and founder of Out and Out Original, Daniel Fairburn,
brings you this season’s best deals on designer garden furniture.
Visit www.outandout.com or call 02037 728 752 for more
exciting deals and discounts.

Murcia - 5 Seater Lounge Set


This chic mocha shade lounge set is made from
high quality artificial resin which makes it virtually
maintenance free. Comfortable and stylish made easy,
the Murcia includes a 3-seater sofa, two armchairs
all with seat and back cushions and a coffee table with
a clear tempered glass top creating a functional centre
piece, perfect for drinks and snacks in the garden.
Includes a 12 month warranty. Normally £699, this
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Chill in your garden with this set of 2 Panama Sun
Loungers with matching ice box. Also included are
seat cushions for added comfort plus 4 different
reclining positions to create that holiday atmosphere
in your own garden. Made from all-weather resin
construction this qualifies for outdoor use all year round.
For added convenience they can be neatly folded
away when they are not in use. Normally £499, now
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Delano - 5-Seater Garden Furniture Set


The Delano patio furniture set is generous in
size and seats five in comfort. It comprises two
armchairs and a 3-seater bench, all with comfy
cushions and a matching waterproof coffee
table for storage. Contemporary in design,
it is bang on trend in this season’s taupe or a
stunning dark grey. This garden set is made
from UV stabilised resin, meaning that you can
leave it out all year round and the set is 100%
maintenance free. Was £499, it’s now just SAVE
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To receive your seasonal discount on any of these products quote discount code at
checkout at www.outandout.com or call 02037 728 752 before 22.05.2019.
CONSERVATORIES

can be programmed to maintain a pre-determined


temperature or close when rain is detected.
Traditional ceiling fans, such as those by Fantasia,
will also cool things down, as will extractor fans
that allow more frequent changes of air.
“Fitting blinds can make a huge difference
to temperature control and shading in the
conservatory,” says Richard Hussey, marketing
director at Appeal Home Shading. Roof blinds are
particularly effective at cutting down on heat and
glare. Investigate motorised systems for ease of
use, and consider traditional pinoleum or the latest
climate-control blinds such as those by Hillarys
or Thomas Sanderson, for assured, year-round
regulation. Alternatively, shutters are proving an
increasingly desirable option. In an orangery or
tiled garden room, some may want to consider more
standard treatments, such as Roman blinds, to
further soften the overall look.
When it comes to heating, Karen Bell, sales and
Top left Ceiling fans aid
to accentuate the height and grandeur of a lantern marketing director at David Salisbury, observes that
ventilation by providing
or high-pitched roof. “Always consider lighting a cooling down-draught “customers are increasingly looking to underfloor
something beyond the glass, such as flower beds or and drawing up air heating to provide a comfortable, even heat”. Just
trees, in order to draw the eye further, and create an towards open vents. like conventional radiators, water-based systems
Conservatory in Moss
enticing feature in the garden at night,” adds Sally. tend to be an extension of the home’s domestic
Green, from £35,000,
Marston & Langinger. system and, as such, will be dependent on boiler
CLIMATE CONTROL Top right Look to capacity. However, stand-alone, independently
Taming temperatures is key to success when making continuity of materials controlled electric underfloor solutions are also an
in open-plan layouts.
a space that can be enjoyed all year round. While option, and are particularly advantageous to those
Orangery from £40,000,
advances in glazing go a long way to improving Vale Garden Houses. with smaller or separated spaces. Contura’s Phil
thermal performance and comfort in garden rooms, Above This pared-back Wood, country manager for the UK and Ireland,
pay attention to the planning and installation conservatory has an advocates the addition of a real fire, “as the warmth
almost Mediterranean
of heating, ventilation and shading solutions. from a stove is enhanced when linked with outside
feel. Conservatory,
Investment in manual or electronic roof vents should £POA, Hartley Botanic. space”. Just bear in mind that strict regulations
ensure a good flow of fresh air. Automated systems apply regarding materials and flue height.

MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 91


CONSERVATORIES

DIRECTORY

G lazed structures provide a unique link to the maintenance-free aluminium.


garden and, according to the Royal Institution Prices start at around
£35,000. Tel: 01243 214550;
of Chartered Surveyors, can add at least
marstonandlanginger.com
five per cent to the value of a home. It therefore pays
NATIONAL TRUST
to employ a highly regarded firm to ensure a good
CONSERVATORY COLLECTION
return on investment. The reputable companies listed Timber conservatories inspired
here offer advice and guidance and full management by architectural periods,
of all aspects of the design and build. Some may available in various layouts.
also help secure planning permission. However, it is From £40,000. Tel: 08454 VALE GARDEN HOUSES

recommended that any prospective company is always 103030; nationaltrust Design and construction
of traditional timber
researched thoroughly prior to commission. conservatories.co.uk
conservatories (above),
PRIME OAK
orangeries and garden
High-quality, durable, bespoke
tiled rooflines. Prices from rooms, specialising in period
structures built with air-dried,
£40,000. Tel: 01278 764444; properties. Prices from
seasoned oak and available
davidsalisbury.com £40,000. Tel: 01476 564433;
with fully glazed, lantern
valegardenhouses.com
GLASS HOUSES or tiled rooflines. Prices on
BY JEREMY UGLOW application. Tel: 01384 296611; WESTBURY GARDEN ROOMS
Conservatories and primeoak.co.uk Custom-made glazed and
orangeries, designed timber buildings, including
RICHMOND OAK
and hand-crafted from orangeries, conservatories
Custom-made oak garden
hardwood. Prices on and garden rooms,
rooms, conservatories and
application. Tel: 01420 kitchen extensions and
APROPOS orangeries. Specialist in
520009; glass-houses.co.uk pool houses. Prices from
Specialises in the design conservation areas and
£45,000. Tel: 01245 326500;
and creation of traditional HADDONSTONE listed buildings. Prices on
westburygardenrooms.com ■
and contemporary-style Architectural cast stonework application. Tel: 01323 442255;
bespoke glass and aluminium for freestanding or attached oakconservatories.co.uk
structures. Prices from orangeries in the classical THE CAULFIELD COMPANY
£15,000. Tel: 0161 3428206; tradition, plus sourcing of Offering hand-built
aproposconservatories.co.uk joinery and glazing. Prices on conservatories in a range
application. Tel: 01604 770711; of durable hardwoods,
ARBORETA
haddonstone.com the company specialises in
Timber-framed garden rooms
and orangeries, which are HARTLEY BOTANIC heritage projects and listed
constructed from durable, Manufacturers of glasshouses buildings. Designs from
eco-friendly, green oak. A since 1938. Aluminium-framed £35,000. Tel: 0113 3873118;
vaulted garden room costs structures come in a range caulfieldcompany.co.uk
around £78,000. Tel: 0800 of designs, from traditional TROMBE
2888333; arboreta-oak.com Victorian styles to bespoke Contemporary glazed steel
BORDER OAK lean-to structures. Tel: 01457 or aluminium structures, and
Timber extensions, plus a 819155; hartley-botanic.co.uk also traditional timber-frame SUBSCRIBE
range of standard-design, MALBROOK construction and designs. The English Home,
green-oak-framed, garden- Designed and individually built Prices on application. Tel: 020 sister title of The English
7684 1065; trombe.co.uk Garden, is filled with
room kits, complete with conservatories and orangeries,
inspirational homes and
technical drawings. Kits crafted from durable, FSC- seasonal decorating ideas.
start from £11,876. Tel: 01568 certified hardwood. Prices Treat yourself to a trial
708752; borderoak.com from £48,000. Tel: 020 8780 subscription of three issues
for just £7.50 (usually
DAVID SALISBURY 5522; malbrook.com
£12.60) – delivered to
Timber orangeries and MARSTON & LANGINGER your door free of charge.
conservatories (above), Traditionally styled garden Visit chelseamagazines.
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92 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


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MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 93


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TOP 10 PLANTS

Indestructible Beauty
If you’re sick of waging war on slugs, opt for plants they don’t eat

T
he gardener’s worst enemy is neither more than the skeleton of a plant to greet you the
fast nor stealthy, yet the slug, which next morning. Last summer’s wet start meant that
breeds more quickly than rabbits, the slug population boomed and many a gardener
can wreak expensive havoc in our awoke to such horrors. To ensure you’re never faced
borders. Overnight they are capable with the heartache of a decimated border, opt for
of stripping their preferred fodder – rudbeckias, pest-resistant plants. Here are ten indestructible
delphiniums and more – of foliage, leaving nothing summer bloomers that slugs will slide past.

1 Geranium ‘Ann Folkard’


This border stalwart and AGM winner flowers all
summer long and keeps at it into late autumn if the
weather is mild enough. The young leaves are lemon-
yellow, maturing to green, and contrast well with the
WORDS HAZEL SILLVER IMAGE ALAMY

deep magenta flowers. Let it ramble through other


perennials and cut back after flowering to encourage
more blooms and keep the plant healthy. Prefers sun
or semi-shade and grows to 60cm.

MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 95


TOP 10 PLANTS

2 Lavandula ‘Arctic Snow’ 3 Dianthus cruentus


White lavender looks elegant grown in containers or as a low The blood pink is striking when combined with grasses or grown
hedge. This slow-growing dwarf variety has aromatic, grey-green in gravel; alternatively, use it as a ‘see-through’ plant in the middle
leaves and fragrant white flowers that attract bees. It prefers full of the border. Butterflies love the deep-red flowers, which bloom
sun and well-drained soil is essential, so dig in grit before planting. atop wiry stems and grass-like foliage from June to August. Prefers
Trim in April and cut back after flowering. Grows to 50cm. well-drained neutral to alkaline soil in full sun and grows to 70cm.

4 Anemone ‘Königin Charlotte’ 5 Euphorbia myrsinites


This Japanese anemone may look soft and pretty when it flowers Slugs won’t touch this little AGM-winning spurge, which produces
in August and September, but it’s as tough as old boots. It fares acid-lime flower bracts in April and May. Its trails of glaucous,
best in a spacious spot in well-drained soil in semi-shade since, dinosaur-scale foliage look good all summer, and it works well on
once established, it spreads with vigour, reaching 1m tall. Take top of a wall or the edge of a border in full sun and especially when
care when handling as the leaves can irritate skin. Height: 1m. grown over gravel. It tends to self-seed freely and grows to 15cm.

96 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


6 Lamprocapnos
IMAGES GAP/MATT ANKER/JONATHAN BUCKLEY; CLIVE NICHOLS

spectabilis ‘Valentine’
In April and May, the white-tipped, scarlet flowers of
this recently introduced bleeding heart are produced
on maroon stems. The ferny foliage emerges dark
red before morphing to green, but dies back after
flowering so is best planted beside summer-flowering
perennials such as penstemon, which can fill the gap.
Prefers sun or semi-shade and reaches 60-80cm.

MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 97


TOP 10 PLANTS

7Rosa ‘Roald Dahl’ 8 Digitalis ‘Foxlight Plum Gold’


David Austin introduced this free-flowering shrub rose in 2016. It This compact foxglove is sure to win fans. Its size means it works
produces tea-scented, apricot rosettes from coral buds throughout well in the middle of the border or in pots, and its flowers, which
summer. Being compact, disease-resistant and having few thorns, it appear in the first year and over a long period, are magenta with
is ideal in pots on the terrace or by the front door, but is also happy plum-and-gold-spotted throats. Cut spent stems after flowering
planted in borders. Prefers sun or semi-shade and grows to 1m. to encourage more. Prefers sun or semi-shade and reaches 60cm.

IMAGES DAVID AUSTIN ROSES; GAP/JONATHAN BUCKLEY; ALAMY

9 Scabiosa atropurpurea ‘Black Knight’ 10 Aquilegia chrysantha ‘Yellow Queen’


Lure butterflies instead of slugs with this wonderful dark scabious. Perhaps the longest flowering columbine, this is a joy from May
The maroon-black pincushion flowers have white stigmas and float through to July. Long spurs stretch out behind the lemon-yellow
atop dainty stems, making this as a ‘see-through’ plant among flowers, like hair blowing in the wind. It will self-seed around
perennials and roses. Treat it as an annual or short-lived perennial the garden with gusto, but is easy to remove. Grow in moisture-
and plant in well-drained soil in full sun. Grows to 90cm. retentive, well-drained soil in sun or semi-shade. Grows to 1m.

98 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


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PLANT FOCUS

With its beautiful


pink flowers, Paeonia
‘Yachiyo-tsubaki’ is
highly recommended
for first-time growers.

Frills & Spills


Nothing beats the intoxicating hit of tree peonies when their silky,
WORDS CLARE FOGGETT

flamboyant blooms appear for a short period in late spring before


fading away, says Dave Root of specialist nursery Kelways

PHOTOGRAPHS DIANNA JAZWINSKI

MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 101


PLANT FOCUS

do their thing from the day


you buy them, but a tree peony
is something you plant for what
it will be like in two or three years’
time. If you’re prepared for a bit
of a wait, though, you will be
blown away.”
Since they’re slow-growing and
slow to flower, these magnificent
plants require their growers to
have a deep well of patience to
draw on. Yet tree peonies, along
with their herbaceous relatives
(Paeonia lactiflora) captivated
Kelways’ founder, the Victorian,
James Kelway to the extent that
at one point London to Penzance
trains made a special stop to
allow passengers to view the
nursery’s ‘Peony Valley’. “The first
herbaceous peonies were brought
over from China towards the end
of the 18th century. In the early
1800s there were a few varieties
around, the French were starting
to get interested, and Kelway
saw them as an opportunity
to develop a plant. Of course
everything the Victorians did they
did to extremes: it was all about
collecting and getting hundreds of
varieties. He introduced at least
1,000 peony cultivars – whether
or not they were all distinct was
another matter,” says Dave.
Individual flowers are hand-
pollinated; four years later the
resulting seedlings will bloom.
Multiplying desirable varieties was
by division, one plant becoming
three after two years, those plants
divided again in another two

W
years. “It probably took them
about 15 years to introduce a
Above Paeonia ‘Nigata hen they have their moment, new peony cultivar,” Dave explains. “Even now
Akashigata’ is Dave there is nothing quite like they’re not plants that respond to micropropagation.
Root’s favourite cultivar,
with large white flowers
a tree peony, according to They’re still grown in the traditional way from
that are flushed purple. Dave Root, director at peony field-grown divisions.” The time it takes to produce
nursery Kelways in Somerset. tree peonies explains their slightly higher price-tag
See one in full bloom, and it’s hard to disagree: compared to other garden centre offerings, reflecting
these shrubs (not trees, despite the name) deserve the amount of care each has received at the nursery.
the epithet ‘show-stopping’ like no other, producing Maybe it’s because tree peonies can be expensive,
huge, multi-layered flowers, sometimes the size of a or perhaps it’s due to myths about their fussiness,
dinner plate, in late spring. Afterwards they recede, but many gardeners are nervous of them. “I think
spending the rest of the year as a leafy component of it’s just a case of understanding them,” says Dave.
a mixed border, before losing their leaves in winter. “One of my tips is that they do need regular pruning.
“You need patience,” says Dave. “These days most They produce woody stems that are not like those
garden centres are full of instant-reward plants that of a true tree. Each stem lasts for about five or ten

102 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


cut some back to ground level and the rest
the following year to encourage strong new
shoots. “You can sense people starting to
palpitate when you suggest this, but the
following year it will be a much better plant,
not waving around in the wind like a sail,”
says Dave. “As long as it was planted nice
and deeply with the graft below ground
level, it will re-shoot.”
Flowers are blowsy and feminine, in white
and palest pink, through to deep crimsons
and plummy reds. Over the past decade or
two, intersectional (or Itoh) peonies have
widened the colour range – these hybrids of
tree peonies and herbaceous peonies come in
a huge range of colours, and because they’re
woodier they don’t need staking as ordinary
herbaceous peonies often do. They’re free-
flowering (although their blooms are smaller
than a tree peony’s), they have good foliage
and they’re vigorous growers.
If it’s your first attempt at growing tree
peonies, Dave suggests you try ‘Cardinal
Vaughan’. “It’s a classic Kelways tree
peony,” he explains, “one of the very first to
years but will then die back to be replaced by more Top left Compact open in the middle of April, with beautiful episcopal
shoots that grow from the base of the plant. There ‘Rimpo’ is a good option purple flowers.” ‘Yachiyo-tsubaki’ is another easy
for smaller gardens.
is a constant replenishment of wood on a tree peony, cultivar to start with, according to Dave. “It’s one
Top right ‘Copper
and the fact that a stem is dying just means that a Kettle’ a richly-coloured of the best of all. You’ve got beautiful purple foliage
particular branch has had its time. Planting deeply, intersectional peony. with red stems, and the blooms are a wonderful
well below graft level, allows tree peonies to produce Above left Paeonia coral-pink. It’s very free-flowering and one of the
x lemoinei ‘Souvenir
those basal shoots.” easiest to grow.”
de Maxime Cornu’.
That ability to shoot from below ground level Above right Early At about 1m tall, ‘Rimpo’ is quite a short
also means that dieback after winter needn’t alarm Paeonia ‘Renkaku’. stocky variety flowering in late April to May. “It’s
unduly. Simply cut back to the topmost live bud, interesting because it has these big purple flower
advises Dave. And if the tree peony has become buds that sit half open for what seems like weeks,
leggy, or has only a handful of long, spindly shoots, then suddenly overnight the whole thing will pop,”

MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 103


PLANT FOCUS

a semi-double with generous white flowers that


have a central purple flare. ‘Mrs William Kelway’
is a classic from Kelway’s era: a double white, with
flowers that appear just before the leaves.
“I always equate tree peonies to magnolias,” says
Dave. “One amazing moment in the spring, then
they sit in the background for the rest of the year.”
When the moment centre-stage is as spectacular as
this, however, surely nobody would mind their tree
peony retiring to the wings until the next show. ■

Kelways, Picts Hill, Langport, Somerset TA10 9EZ.


Tel: 01458 250521; kelways.co.uk

GROWING ADVICE

Above Showy, purple- says Dave. Extend the


Tree peony perfection
red Paeonia ‘Cardinal flowering season with Kelways’ Dave Root shares how to succeed
Vaughan’ is an easy
cultivar to start with.
an early variety such with these exquisite flowering shrubs
Above right Paeonia ‘Mrs as ‘Renkaku’. “It’s
William Kelway’, with big, gorgeous,” he insists. Grow tree peonies in dappled Prune out any dieback or
pure-white blooms. “Massive flowers, or full shade, but make sure dead stems in spring, and
pointy buds, then huge they are in an open position vigorous new shoots should
single flowers with lovely fimbriated edges and where air can flow freely emerge from ground level.
a delicate pink blush in the centre.” ‘Souvenir de around them. Avoid windy Cut off any suckers that appear
Maxime Cornu’ is at the other end of the spectrum, sites, which could make flower from the rootstock (the foliage
as one of the latest to flower. “It’s a hybrid of P. lutea petals blow off. Soil should be will look different).
and the Japanese types, with wonderful buds that fertile and well-drained and not Work a little bone meal or
open up in a salmon colour, intensifying to a deep waterlogged in winter. rose fertiliser into the soil in
orange as the flowers mature, with red edges to the
Autumn is the best time autumn, then use a general
petals.” Over a few days, these huge, semi-double
to plant peonies bought in fertiliser in spring to keep these
flowers become football-sized blooms, their size
containers, or winter for bare- hungry plants well fed. An
and weight making them droop downwards. “Grow
root or root-balled plants. Make annual mulch holds moisture in
it on a wall or in a raised planter where you can
sure the graft union is at least the soil and will help keep your
appreciate it. It’s very easy to grow, vigorous and
8cm below soil level. peonies at the right depth.
free-flowering, and scented as well,” Dave enthuses.
One of his favourites is ‘Nigata Akashigata’,

104 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


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106 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


FOXGLOVES

Dreaming SPIRES
Embrace the ethereal charm of the foxglove, a country
garden classic steeped in folklore. Plant up borders, arrange
in vases and use to style a gorgeously romantic picnic

WORDS & STYLING SELINA LAKE PHOTOGRAPHS SUSSIE BELL

MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 107


FOXGLOVES

A
glade of common foxgloves
(Digitalis purpurea) is
a sight to behold. With
their spires of trumpet-
like flowers, these native
woodland blooms are well-loved for their
dramatic arrival from the end of May
into early summer. They are steeped in
folklore, much of which relates to the
fairies that supposedly hide within them,
giving rise to common names such as fairy
cap, fairies’ glove and fairy thimble.
Weave them into a border with daisies
and voluptuous peonies, or grow them
against garden walls and out-buildings,
where they will introduce a romantic
country mood to the garden.
Romantic PICNIC
While fairies are not guaranteed, whimsical
foxgloves may well inspire a picnic, perhaps in
Soft touch Throws and cushions will Casual comfort Keep a selection of
a hidden spot under a tree where you can style
keep off an afternoon chill and make old cushions for outdoor use. Linen
for comfortable outdoor seating. a setting for a small crowd in the manner of the is surprisingly robust.
great picnics in Emma or Brideshead Revisited.
Take colour cues from the flowers themselves
and gather a mix of rugs, vintage eiderdowns and
cushions in berry, blush pink, coral, rust and dusky
pink tones. Use tree stumps as impromptu seating.

Cerise pop Add to the wanton summer mood with Moveable feast Gather makings of a simple picnic in
a bag of plump cherries picked at their juicy peak. a crate: fresh bread, quiche, salad leaves and cordial.

MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 109


DIGITALIS rare | unusual | exciting

Buy all
twelve
Foxgloves
Digitalis purpurea Digitalis obscura pictured for

£12
Sugar Plum Dusky Maid Digitalis Dalmation White

THAT’S JUST £1 A PLANT

Digitalis purpurea
Candy Mountain

T HE NAME FOXGLOVE is said to have


arisen from a story about playful
fairies, wanting to help the wily foxes.
They slipped a foxglove over each paw
and ever since, the fox has had the
attribute of stealth. They even left their
little fairy fingerprints on the blooms in
the form of tiny spots as proof. Digitalis Dalmation Peach Digitalis ferruginea Digitalis x Summer King

Excellent for cutting too – lasting


7-10 days in a vase, although you may
not wish to deprive the passing wildlife
of a nectar-rich feast. Deadhead as
each flower is spent to encourage more
flowers and promote seed production
for self-seeding in the second year.
Fully hardy and biennial perennials.
Height 30cm-1.2m (12-48"), spread
30-60cm (12-24").
Your order will be confirmed with a copy
of our latest catalogue and your young
plants will be delivered within 14 days Digitalis grandiflora Digitalis Digitalis Digitalis Digitalis
with our No Quibble Guarantee. Carillon purpurea Alba Polkadot Petra Dalmation Purple Apricot Beauty

ORDER • ONLINE hayloft.co.uk • PHONE 0844 335 1088 QUOTE EG0519


SEND THE COUPON TO: Hayloft Plants, FREEPOST RTGR-JAGJ-JETG, Pensham, Pershore WR10 3HB EG0519
NAME & ADDRESS PLEASE SEND ITEM CODE PRICE QTY TOTAL

12 PLANTS (one of each) YPDMX12-EG0519 £12

P&P (UK ONLY) £4.95

Postcode¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥Tel TOTAL DUE


I enclose Cheque/PO made payable to Hayloft Plants Ltd or please debit my Mastercard/Visa/Maestro Please enter the last 3 digits of your
security code (CV2)

Card no. Expiry date Start date Issue no CV2

Thank you for your details which will be kept securely and will not be
shared with third parties. We may send Hayloft gardening catalogues
EMAIL in the future, if you prefer not to receive them, please call 01386 562999.
Thank you, we may update you on your order and we will invite you to sign up for our special offers. Occasionally the advertised delivery date may change, however, this will
be clearly stated on your order confirmation.
HAYLOFT PLANTS, MANOR FARM NURSERY, PENSHAM, PERSHORE, WORCESTERSHIRE WR10 3HB
FOXGLOVES

Cut & COLLECT


In Oxfordshire, Green & Gorgeous grows
foxgloves for use in installations and arrangements
Woven wonder Old baskets lined with Seed packets Collect seed in pretty
and you can visit them for inspiration or to buy
hessian make good planters, but be sure envelopes crafted with scanned and
to water well so plants don’t dry out. a bucketful from the farm gate. At home, pick the printed botanical illustrations.
main spire first so plants will keep flowering from
side shoots, and for a long vase life cut spires when
only the lowest flowers have opened. Cut stems
at an angle so they can take up water easily; after
a few days trim again to keep the stem open.

Buckets of colour Foxgloves and peonies bloom at the Crowning glory Bind flowers to a wire frame wrapped
same time – display in wide-necked vases or buckets. with fresh moss for a whimsical wreath or crown.

MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 111


FOXGLOVES

Growing
Digitalis
purpurea
Type of plant There are
many species of digitalis
and life cycles vary.
Digitalis purpurea is a
hardy biennial, growing
foliage in the first year
then flowering, setting
seed and dying in the
second year.

When to sow A single


plant produces thousands
of seeds best sown in late
summer. Scatter the tiny
seeds in a tray where they
will germinate in ten days.

Varieties TO TRY After three weeks they


will be a size suitable for
Of the many varieties of D. purpurea, some pricking out. Transfer to
are especially popular. Try ‘Silver Fox’, single pots until planting.
which has felted leaves similar to lambs’ ears They will flower one year
‘Suttons Apricot’ and blooms in soft lemon and creamy white. Natural beauty The from being sown.
The softest tones classic purple-pink hue
of apricot and pink.
‘Sutton’s Apricot’ develops spires of apricot- of the wild species. Flowering time
pink flowers and looks good at the back of a May to July.
cottage-style scheme, or use it for height and
drama in a partially shady wooded setting. Conditions Part shade
‘Pam’s Choice’, meanwhile, offers nodding, and will tolerate full sun.
white, trumpet-shaped flowers, with Grow in moist, well-
maroon splotched and freckled throats. drained soil.

Height Will reach between


90cm and 120cm.

Spacing Plant 30cm apart.

Stockists
Roger la Borde
shop.rogerlaborde.com
&Hobbs
andhobbs.com
Also Home
alsohome.com
Green & Gorgeous
greenandgorgeous
flowers.co.uk
Rockett St George
rockettstgeorge.co.uk

Magic wands Wild foxgloves are prolific self- ‘Pam’s Choice’ Rich maroon throats and Pipii
seeders and will colonise a country glade. a white-pink exterior define this variety. www.pipii.co.uk

112 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


an ra
M est
– fr ns

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M ic O am

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m en de

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to on gh
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0a p ar

itt r
es m in
:3
:3 ill o G

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11 w he

co hilh B
T

CHERRY TREE LAST NIGHT OF


WALK THE PROMS
Sunday 5th May, 2019 Saturday 29th June, 2019
See our Cherry Tree Walk in full bloom. Enjoy the We are thrilled to be hosting the Birmingham
beauty that Spring brings to Mitton Manor Gardens. Philharmonic Orchestra at Mitton Manor Gardens.
Treat yourself to Afternoon Tea and a glass of beer or This spectacular classical concert promises to be a
champagne to celebrate the Bank Holiday weekend. night to remember for the whole family.

OTHER DATES FOR YOUR DIARY 2019


SPRING – CHERRY BLOSSOM PAINTING IN ACRYLIC Saturday 11th May, 2019
Following our Cherry Tree Walk, come along to a Painting Workshop in association with local artist, Debbie Chatfield.
PRIDE & PREJUDICE Thursday 4th July, 2019
Garden Theatre production of Pride & Prejudice, in association with Chapterhouse Theatre Company.
NATIONAL GARDEN SCHEME OPEN DAY Sunday 7th July, 2019
AUTUMN – FLOWERS AND FOLIAGE PAINTING IN ACRYLIC Saturday 14th September, 2019
AsEnjoy our Festive
the Autumn Foodie
foliage starts to Treats
turn into&fiery
Licensed
colours,Bar
join Seating is provided
us for another Painting but you are
Workshop withwelcome
local artistto bringsChatfield.
Debbie rugs
For more information, visit our website, or phone to speak to our friendly team.
AUTUMN TOUR & TALK Sunday 29th September, 2019
Our annual Autumn Tour & Talk with Elizabeth Gooch MBE and guests, with an optional three-course Autumn lunch.

FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE VISIT OUR WEBSITE


mittonmanor.co.uk
Telephone: 01785 291391 Email: info@mittonmanor.co.uk
Mitton, Near Penkridge, Staffordshire ST19 5QW

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MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 113


TULIP FESTIVAL
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114 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


ALPINES

A Head for Heights


Michael and Allison Mitchell make the most of their nursery’s challenging
site by growing hardy alpines. Vivienne Hambly explores their extensive
collection of these deceptively delicate-looking plants

PHOTOGRAPHS SARAH CUTTLE

Trays of neatly ranked


alpines on display at
Slack Top, tempting
enthusiastic collectors
and dabblers alike.

MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 115


ALPINES

G
ales howl along the north-facing Alpines are small hardy plants that grow in
slope at Slack Top, a hamlet two challenging elevations, typically in mountains above
miles from Hebden Bridge in West the tree lines, often covered in snow in winter. Part
Yorkshire. The area can receive of their appeal is that they originate from so many
an annual rainfall in excess of unusual locations around the world: the Alps and
1,200mm, and its elevation, 900ft above sea level, the Himalayas, but also the Andes and mountainous
means winter temperatures can drop as low as regions in North America, New Zealand and parts
-16°C. These are terrible conditions for a nursery of Africa. Only about half a dozen of them come
– except, of course, if you’re growing alpines. from the United Kingdom, typically from such
“Customers say that if they see it growing here, it locations as Snowdonia and the Isle of Skye.
will grow anywhere,” says Michael Mitchell, owner One of the most iconic alpines stocked by Slack
of Slack Top Nurseries, the business he started from Top Nurseries is arguably Leontopodium alpinum.
his parents’ garden, 34 years ago. “After a few years, Better known as edelweiss, it’s the national flower of
I bought some land adjoining my parents’ house, several mountainous European countries, including
but I didn’t really have much of a plan and I had Romania, Slovenia, Switzerland and Austria, finding
Top The nursery’s no money at all. Everything was done on the cheap fame in The Sound of Music: ‘small and white, clean
gardens demonstrate but eventually it took off,” he explains. Since those and bright, you look happy to meet me...’
which plants thrive early days, Michael has been joined by his wife, “Alpines are usually cushion or mat-forming
at this exposed site.
Allison, and the pair have gone on to establish plants with really bright flowers that are easily seen
Above Allison and
Michael Mitchell of a reputation as one of the very best propagating from afar by pollinating insects,” says Michael.
Slack Top Nurseries. alpine nurseries in the country. “They’re very, very hardy too. They look delicate but

116 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


Alpine stars
MICHAEL’S PICKS

LEWISIA DELOSPERMA
REDIVIVA ‘ALBA’ ASHTONII
Can dry out completely in Fleshy, slightly hairy leaves
summer and revive in autumn and a fulsome, tumbling habit
rain. Has large white flowers. – ideal for retaining walls.

you have to think about Above Stone troughs


where the plant comes make perfect containers
for alpines, showcasing
from in the wild.” their small and delicate-
Alpines don’t only looking blooms.
appeal to those with
wanderlust; Michael points to their suitability for
window boxes and roof gardens. “Because they’re so
small, you can get a lot into a small space and they’re LINARIA ALPINA OXALIS
generally easy to grow and very colourful,” he notes. This fine, grey-leaved alpine ‘SLACK’S PEACOCK’
Just keep in mind that not all alpine regions have cold will produce its purple Tuft-forming, with near
climates – some, especially towards the tropics, can be flowers all summer given stemless flowers in attractive
warm by day, but cold at night. All alpines, however, full sun and good drainage. purple tones. Ideal for pots.
are averse to wet feet. “They tend to receive a blanket
of snow that doesn’t thaw until spring,” says Michael.
Slack Top Nurseries lists some 400 varieties in its
catalogue, but also has an extensive backlist that can
be called upon if necessary. One of the limitations with
selling stock propagated exclusively on site is that there
simply aren’t enough hands to do all the work that
could be done. “We can’t always propagate as much as
we would like to keep up with orders, but I think that’s
the charm of a place like ours. If you buy plants from
wholesalers, you have the same stock as everyone else,”
explains Michael. “We have different stock every year.
We’re not Amazon, but we do what we can.” ARMERIA MARITIMA SISYRINCHIUM
The intense and prolonged heat of summer 2018 ‘IN THE RED’ ‘E.K. BALLS’
proved to be an especially taxing period. “It was the Previously called ‘Rubrifolia’, A clump-forming plant that
most challenging time we’ve ever faced,” Michael pretty pink globes are held flowers all summer and likes
recalls. The relentless sunshine meant the couple had aloft on slender stems. sharply drained soil.
to erect a double layer of shade cloth every morning

MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 117


ALPINES

GROWING
ADVICE
By Michael Mitchell

“There’s no mystery
to growing alpines:
they just need good and take it down again at 6pm while some light
drainage and good remained. “We were watering a lot and had to
light,” says Michael. water plants individually. There wasn’t time
Many are also suitable to propagate much – and the cuttings would just
for partial shade. have cooked in those sort of temperatures.”
Spring brings gentians, but also saxifrages
Buy plants from
and hepaticas, and sales are strong early in the
a reputable source.
year. Michael’s theory is that once winter passes,
Some alpines are
anything with a flower on it is in demand. By
planted in peat
summer it is the turn of dianthus, campanulas
compost and it can be
and lewisias, including Lewisia pygmaea,
difficult to grow them
L. rediviva and L. cotyledon ‘Slack Top Strain’.
on from that. Use a
L. cotyledon is native to California, but Michael excellent candidate for a rock garden. Similarly,
soil-based medium
points out that they develop their own varieties various collectors and plant hunters will bring
mixed with grit or
at Slack Top, deliberately and by happy accident. specimens to Michael and Allison because they
sharp sand. John Innes
Potential new varieties are trialled for garden know they will be brought into cultivation. “I’ve
No 1 or No 2 is ideal.
worthiness and only the best make it through. also subscribed to expedition seed lists, with
Apply a layer of grit
An appealing group of plants such as varying success,” adds Michael. “Alpine seed is
to the surface.
alpines will inevitably attract collectors, and collected in the wild, but it’s often not labelled
Alpines are easily for this Slack Top Nurseries has particular properly, and sometimes they’re just weeds.
propagated from accommodations. “They can be quite specific in We’re always on the lookout for something
seed, cuttings or terms of what they want to add to their stock,” different, though.
division, depending Michael explains. Saxifraga grisebachii, is “We appreciate working outdoors. Going
on type. Lewisia ‘Little one such request. Hailing from the mountains outside in the lashing rain can be horrible,
Tutti Frutti’ is an ideal of Greece and Albania, it has “a flower that but when you’re out on a good day, you
starting point, since it emerges from a central rosette like a shepherd’s remember the advantages,” he maintains. ■
flowers for a long time crook and turns red and green
and grows well from as it unfolds, blooming from Top left Candelabra Slack Top Nurseries and Garden,
primulas add colour
seed. Collect seed in February until May.” Saxifraga Alpine House, 22A Slack Top,
to raised alpine beds.
summer and sow it in longifolia, from the Pyrenees, Top right Young Heptonstall, Hebden Bridge
autumn. It will come produces from a single rosette a Soldanella montana HX7 7HA. Tel: 01422 845348;
up in spring and make two-foot-long plume of “hundreds plants growing on ready slacktopnurseries.co.uk. Michael
for sale in the nursery.
a flowering plant the of white flowers” before it dies. It Mitchell’s Alpines – An Essential
Above right Spilling
following year. needs little water but also requires over a wall, low-growing Guide is published by Crowood
good drainage, so is therefore an Veronica prostrata. Press and priced at £16.95.

118 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


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120 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


UNUSUAL EDIBLES

Alternative Harvests
In his ongoing series about edible crops with a difference, Mark Diacono
spends May harvesting blackcurrant leaves for sorbet and sowing herbs

G
ive me the best any month can still in winter; the blue honeysuckle fruit and alpine
conjure up and I’ll take a day in May strawberries that come through this month present
every time: one of those May days more of a hopeful sign of sunshine to come. Also
that carries the warmth of summer known as honeyberry, blue honeysuckle is not
to come, with just enough of a calm a climber like its namesake but a low shrub that,
breeze to allow you to garden for as much of it as thanks to its cold-climate heritage, flowers early,
you like. The edible garden in May is exactly where paying no heed to the frost. Its small, fluted, yellow
IMAGE JASON INGRAM

I want to be; it’s full of blossom and promise, while blooms give the bees much-needed forage in early Above May is a month
that is filled with
already starting to deliver on flavours for the kitchen. spring before turning to small, deep-blue, oblong
blossom and promise
I’m still likely to be happily picking rhubarb in fruit almost overnight, ready to be picked by greedy in the edible garden
May, but it does feel like a harvest with one foot fingers before the end of May. says Mark Diacono.

MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 121


UNUSUAL EDIBLES

I’d grow them even if they weren’t so good to eat,


since their Siberian hardiness brings much needed
encouragement with its early leaves, flowers and
fruit, even when there’s a chill in the air. Thankfully,
the deeply flavoured harvest is delicious, somewhere
between blueberries and blackcurrants with a little
honey stirred through. Also, while blueberries need
acidic conditions, blue honeysuckle thrives in all but
waterlogged and very sandy soils.
I keep a keen eye on the blackcurrant bushes in
May, waiting for that point when their leaves are
just plentiful enough to steal a few to make the first
sorbet or syrup of the year. If you haven’t tried them
you must: force me to choose between blackcurrant
leaves and their fruit, and the leaves would win. If
you are unsure about which currant plant is which,
rub the leaves and the scent will identify whether it’s
blackcurrant: they are similar in flavour to the fruit,
with a floral freshness that’s almost spicy. I pluck a
few handfuls from across a couple of bushes to avoid
depleting them too much. These early leaves have the
best flavour, but I’ll be back again in July for more –
and perhaps even for one last autumnal sorbet before
winter smacks the leaves from the plants.
The first fortnight in May can lean a little too
much towards April in some years, but early or late
in the month there will be a pleasing passing of the
baton between the early herbs and those that peak
in summer. The herbs that show themselves before
you dare think winter
is coming to an end are Right Watering herbs
already through their first in the polytunnel; now’s
the time for flavoursome
flush: I’ll cut back the
summer herbs to step
salad burnet and lovage into the breach and take
to encourage lush new over from earlier crops.

Star performer
Shiso or perilla is the herb that’s got it all: flavourful
leaves and flowers and you can even cut it for vases
With the frosts hopefully behind perhaps three feet in height over
us, this is a good time to sow a summer. The flavour of the leaves
few herbs. I broadcast sow shiso, sits right between the freshness of
aka perilla, in a fairly quick and mint and the warmth of cumin; the
unconsidered way under trees, sunnier it is, the mintier they seem
around bushes and over any bare in scent and flavour.
soil I’d like to liven up with its I pick stems in armfuls to stand in
beautiful leaves. vases in the house, plucking leaves
It comes in lime-green and as I need them. Any that are left
deep-purple varieties, and quickly to grow will flower in the warmest
springs from nicely prepared soil. weeks; the blooms carry the same
With an occasional watering it will aromatic flavour and are superb
germinate fairly quickly and reach torn and strewn over salads.

122 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


Weird & WONDERFUL
Six crops for planting or sowing in May

YACON ANISE HYSSOP


A South American tuber that With insect-attracting, purple
tastes of pear with a hint of bottlebrush flowers, the
celery. Delicious, refreshing, sweet leaves of this herb
and easy. Plant tubers now have a gentle aniseed flavour.
for harvesting in October. Sow direct now.

SOCIETY GARLIC PERPETUAL SPINACH


One of the best edible Expect a long season of
flowers, full of sweet garlic tender leaves from New
intensity and delicious strewn Zealand spinach. Sow now,
through leafy salads. Start soaking the seed overnight
from plants in May. first to speed germination.
IMAGES JASON INGRAM; GARDEN WORLD IMAGES; GAP/JULIA BOULTON; ALAMY; SHUTTERSTOCK

leaves and take some Top The oblong fruits


of the sweet cicely seed of blue honeysuckle
have a honeyed flavour.
that has appeared along
Above Blackcurrant
with a second wave of leaves are as delicious as
flowers. Left to fall on the fruit, used in spicy-
the ground, the seed will floral syrups for sorbets.
germinate after soaking
in winter’s chill; I usually pluck at least half of these
sweet aniseed treats for infusing in gin, vinegar and
to use as a spice in crumbles and with asparagus.
The woodier herbs are, thank heavens, growing
well again. Ginger rosemary – an incredible coming CHINESE BROCCOLI JAPANESE QUINCE
together of two fine, familiar flavours – is the one Sow kai lan in modules and Chaenomeles produce oval
I most look forward to harvesting from. It’s a tricky plant out when the roots first fruit that share many of the
balance, taking enough but not too much to slow appear at the module’s base. qualities of tree quince. Plant
the plant down: a few inch-long tips thrown in with Cut and come again regularly now so they can get growing
roasting lamb or vegetables, or infused into a syrup to prevent woodiness. ahead of producing next year.
for cocktails are so very good. ■

MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 123


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IN SEASON

Squeaky Green
Versatile cabbage is a brassica with many uses. And with the right protection
from pests it’s so easy to grow, providing a year-round crop of goodness

C
WORDS VIVIENNE HAMBLY IMAGE GAP/MARTIN HUGHES-JONES

abbage is the unsung hero of the veins, the deep-purple bloom of a ‘Rookie’ or
brassica family, yet this unassuming ‘Rodeo’, or the crinkled leaves of a Savoy. If there are
vegetable is versatile and ubiquitous – any drawbacks for the grower, they are only that the
as comfortable sitting alongside chilli cabbage is beloved of pigeons and susceptible to club
and lime in a raw Asian salad as it root, cabbage white caterpillars and cabbage fly – all
is served with sticky sausages and buttery spuds. It of which can ruin a crop if precautions are not taken.
is also robust, hard-working and delivers a welcome Spring and early summer cabbages planted in
supply of green leaves throughout the year. autumn traditionally have a pointed head, but newer
Above The dark-green
It also has the looks, for can there be anything varieties will have a more rounded shape. Start
leafy hearts of versatile
prettier than a cabbage in its many guises? Those sowing and planting now to enjoy a delicious late- cabbage, a vitamin-rich
tightly packed, squeaky leaves, the pronounced summer and winter harvest. treat at any time of year.

MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 125


IN SEASON

Growing
advice

Cabbage is best sown in


a nursery bed or modular
cell trays, and the resulting
young plants transplanted
into the vegetable garden
after about five weeks.
RECIPE: POTATO, CABBAGE & GARLIC SALAD Cabbage fly larvae
will attack cabbage roots,
Serves 4 METHOD sweet potatoes and toss so protect seedlings with
INGREDIENTS 1 Preheat the oven to 180°C. in the hot oil. Roast for 50 cabbage collars.
1 bulb garlic Put the garlic bulb on a piece minutes until lightly coloured.
of foil, drizzle with ¼ tbsp oil, Use fine mesh to
3 tbsp vegetable oil 2 Remove the garlic from
500g potatoes, peeled then wrap the foil around the net beds and keep at
the oven, squeeze the
and cut into 2cm dice bulb. Put on a baking sheet bay pigeons, and both
cloves from the skins and
450g sweet potatoes, and roast for 45 minutes. cabbage white butterflies
mash with a fork. Mix in the
cut into 2cm dice 2 Add the white potatoes and cabbage moths, the
mayonnaise, salt and pepper,
85g mayonnaise to a pan of boiling water larvae of which bore into
cabbage, sultanas and other
Salt and pepper and cook for 8-10 minutes cabbage heads.
ingredients and then stir.
40g blanched almonds until partly cooked. Drain. From National Trust Comfort Rotate your cabbage
55g sultanas Heat the remaining oil in a Food, with recipes by Clive plantings each year to help
200g sliced red cabbage roasting tin in the oven for Goudercourt (National Trust prevent club root, a fungal
2tbsp chopped parsley five minutes. Add the partly Books, £20). Photography by infection that causes roots
40g mixed salad leaves cooked potatoes and the Nassima Rothacker to swell and distort.

Varieties to grow
IMAGES GAP/JO WHITWORTH; ALAMY; SHUTTERSTOCK

‘Duncan’ ‘Ruby Ball’ ‘Hispi’ ‘Kalibos’


An F1 variety that holds an Develops a classic red ball Develops so quickly that it A red pointed cabbage from
Award of Garden Merit from of leaves that matures from can be planted in May for Eastern Europe that makes
the RHS. Harvest in spring July. It holds an RHS Award a late-summer crop. Close, a pretty salad with its ruby
for early greens, or let it of Garden Merit and is a good successional planting will leaves. Sow it outdoors now
form a heart for June picking. variety for pickling. ensure greens until winter. for an autumn harvest.

126 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


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MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 127


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128 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


ESSENTIAL TOOLS

Get to
the point
Whether you’re shifting compost,
aerating the soil or removing weeds,
you’ll find a garden fork to suit your
every gardening requirement

I
n so many depictions of cultivation and
harvest, be it photograph, etching or
painting, a sturdy fork is usually to be seen
somewhere in view: a fork as a resting post,
a fork tossing hay high into the air, another
slicing through deep soil as if it were moist cake. 
So integral are forks to gardening that there is a
type to suit almost every purpose. But the decision to
invest in such specialised tools depends on demand
and how much they will be used – or perhaps,
depending on your priorities, how beautiful they are. 
Traditional pitchforks have just two tines so as
to lift light materials easily, and tool manufacturer
Faithfull continues to offer a similarly shaped
hayfork. By contrast, Bulldog’s potato fork, with
special rounded ends has nine tines – ideal for
fishing out the smallest tubers from a productive Brush soil from Meanwhile, straightforward digging forks and
bed. Simpler potato forks have wider tines. the tines of your fork border forks are the stalwart tools of any garden
Rosarians will be familiar with rose forks, also before putting it away. and are as useful for dividing perennials as they
two-tined but sturdy and with a solid lug designed Or go a step further are for extracting dock roots: all manufacturers
to help lift rose roots with little disturbance to and wash it with soapy sell these forks. Sneeboer’s shorter planting fork,
surrounding plants. These tools are also good for water and hang up to designed for Great Dixter, has been designed for
helping to aerate more compacted ground. Kent dry before its next use. working in tight spaces. Forks can often be heavy,
and Stowe and De Wit both produce such forks. Occasional oiling will and to tackle this issue, Fiskars has now added
These, however, are niche tools for the gardener help prevent rust from a digging fork to its Light series. This fork is not
who is tackling more specialised situations. Of forming, and boiled designed for prolonged, heavy use, since feet
far broader appeal is a fork suited to compost and linseed oil applied to will tend to slip on the sloping lug, but it can be
manure, so as to turn heaps or deliveries from local wooden shafts will ideal for tickling young weeds from the soil and
farmers into place much more easily. prevent cracking. occasional transplanting in smaller gardens. ■

Kit to try: A selection of different forks for different jobs


WORDS VIVIENNE HAMBLY IMAGES GAP/ELKE BORKOWSKI

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130 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


CRAFTSPEOPLE

Handfuls of aromatic
petals are added to the
big copper still to make
the purest rose water.

Nature’s Bounty
Founder of Sussex-based AS Apothecary Amanda Saurin
grows her own plants, which she uses to make small-batch
natural skincare products and botanical infusions

WORDS HOLLY FARRELL PHOTOGRAPHS MIMI CONNOLLY

MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 131


CRAFTSPEOPLE

M
ost people when they see a field Above Roses in bloom When I go foraging I have lots of OS maps marked
of lavender, spikes of indigo on AS Apothecary’s with notes about what I’ve found, and when I found
pretty Sussex farm plot.
flowers nodding in hazy sunshine it. And then I turn them into beautiful things.”
Below Amanda Saurin
as far as the eye can see, would transforms these raw Amanda had an early lesson in plantsmanship
breathe deeply of the scented ingredients into natural from her childhood garden on the banks of the
air and think how beautiful and romantic it all skincare products. Firth of Forth – “we could only grow massively
is. Not Amanda Saurin, whose heart salt-tolerant plants” – and as a trained
sinks: “First, where’s the biodiversity? And herbalist and homeopath, she grew organic
second, what a horrible lavender!” She plants to use for her clients, wanting to be
much prefers to grow the less camphoric able to guarantee their quality. However,
English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia it was moving to Cyprus and meeting
‘Maillette’), not commercially-used Mariam Khan, a sufi (an Islamic mystic)
Lavandula x intermedia. that changed her life. “I was sitting in her
As the founder of AS Apothecary, kitchen when she asked if I’d tried orange
makers of natural skincare products, blossom water. I said no, so she sprayed
she freely admits to being obsessive and some – she had distilled it herself – and
picky about the plants that she uses, it was so incredible I asked if she would
but years of experience have given her a teach me how to make it. I spent seven
deep understanding of plants and their happy years learning how to distil plants.
therapeutic qualities. “People often think You can’t treat all plants the same – for
a plant is just a plant, but that’s all wrong. example, some need distilling hard and
A rose at the beginning of the season will fast, some low and slow – to best extract
smell different at the end of the season. the therapeutics and scents.”

132 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


Having moved back to the UK, Amanda added time weeding” – the plants are grown
distilled products to her herbalist repertoire until in rows. Roses, 250 of them, rub
she was approached by Content, a London-based shoulders with calendula, chamomile,
wellbeing shop, to make natural beauty products, lavender, artemisia and more. A third of every row
“at which point I literally fell about laughing”, she is left to flower for the benefit of the farm’s bees and
says. But, convinced by them that her skincare other wildlife, and they use comfrey from the farm
products would find a market, she began making and to make a liquid plant feed. Initially everything was
selling creams and balms – at first through Content, planted through plastic, weed-proof sheeting, but
but then under her own brand. Now she has a shop that didn’t leave any space for natural self-seeding
in Lewes, a business employing 15 women, and her of the annuals, so they are trialling alternative, more Above left Amanda’s
preferred English
products are sold across Europe and in Hong Kong. eco-friendly mulches such as cardboard.
lavender, ‘Maillette’.
Whatever plants they can grow themselves they Anything Amanda can’t grow in the UK she Top right Clary, Salvia
do, in a distilling garden located in the corner of a sources carefully from an extensive group of contacts sclarea var. turkestanica,
friend’s farm where the land has been organically she has created through her travels. Rose oil (she is dried before use.
Above Rosa gallica var.
managed for the past 100 years. Dissuaded from her only distils whole rose water from her plants, as
officinalis, known as
initial pretty garden plans by her friends – “they told the acreage required to extract just the oil from the the apothecary’s rose,
me I had to think like a farmer, or I’d spend all my flowers is immense) comes from a grower in Iran, is grown for its petals.

MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 133


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t: +44 (0) 1386 49094 sales@kedergreenhouse.co.uk
www.kedergreenhouse.co.uk @KederGreenhouse

134 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


CRAFTSPEOPLE

whom she meets in Istanbul every year to collect


the oil. Olive oil, orange blossom and cedar resin
among other ingredients come from Cyprus, many
of which Amanda harvests herself annually. She also
forages on the Isle of Harris to create unique island
ingredients such as sugar kelp water and bog myrtle
oil (the former tastes like the sea, “not fishy sea, but
deep sea”; the latter has overtones of cardamom-
laced gingerbread), some of which go into her
products and some of which are used by the Isle of
Harris Distillers in their gin.
It’s important to Amanda that she and her team
have control over the whole production process, and
when something needs picking urgently, everyone
helps with the harvest. Most of the plants are laid
out to dry overnight before distilling the next day,
but their attention to detail can mean hours at
a time spent plucking individual petals from the
rose buds (so that no green sepals contaminate
the rose water) or snipping up dried calendula petals
because it makes them easier to grind for
their Bioactive Mineral Powder #2.
They also cold press oils from seeds
such as nigella (‘black seed oil’) and
pomegranate, producing thick, unctuous
oils that go into the Wild Beauty Balm
and more. Amanda personally formulates
all her products, sometimes tinkering
with the recipe for a year, and considers
many factors. “First, it has to do what it

Top Flowerheads are is intended to do, then the therapeutics of the plants
painstakingly hand- have to be beneficial to that intention, and finally the
plucked from roses.
Above left Rose petals
scent has to be right.”
on the drying rack. Amanda has accumulated generations’ worth
Above right Calendula of plant lore and, coupled with an incredible
flowers are steeped in attention to detail at every stage, this ensures that
oil on the windowsill
of the distilling barn.
her ingredients are of the highest quality and her
Left Plucking calendula products are uniquely natural. She has little time
petals ready for drying for big-pharma: “the further you get from the
and grinding. original plant, the less effective the therapeutics
are. When a product says it is ‘naturally-derived’ on
the label, how many chemical processes has it been
through? Does it even resemble the original plant’s
compounds? And, when you take out just the active
ingredient, you lose the balancing effect of the rest of

MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 135


CRAFTSPEOPLE

the plant,” she says. By distilling, drying or pressing


her own ingredients, Amanda knows how many
extraction steps away from the original plant each
of them has gone, and it’s usually not very many.
This small-batch approach to her products extends
to the rest of the business. “I’m not interested in
being a big company,” she says. “I want to grow
sustainably, doing what we do well, collaborating
with other businesses I admire and like, and
employing and supporting amazing women along
the way.” New sidelines include WILDEVE Recipe
No. 1, a non-alcoholic, botanical infusion drink.
Amanda has a clear and effusive love of her
products and the plants and processes that go into
Top Amanda’s shop
creating them. “I am really obsessive about it,” she in Lewes, Sussex.
admits, “but it’s fun. What a pleasure it is to have Above A first-aid salve
found a job where I can get up every morning and made from calendula.
think, ‘Woohoo, work! What shall I do today – pick, Left Distilled rose water
trickles slowly from the
distil, or make?’ So many lovely choices.” ■ condenser.

For details, visit asapoth.com and wild-eve.com

136 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


Handcrafted Swing Seats, Pergolas,
Swinging Day Beds, Benches & Rope Swings
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. The Knole Garden Bench - New for 2019
See our full range at www.sittingspiritually.co.uk
or call us on 01297 443084
The only bespoke swing and bench maker Sitting Spiritually
licensed by the RHS Bramble Hayes,
Yawl Hill Lane,
Lyme Regis, DT7 3RP
© The Royal Horticultural Society 2018. Endorsed by the Royal Horticultural Society Registered Charity No 222879/SC038262 rhs.org.uk

Exceptional Terracotta

Vases
italianterrace.co.uk

Oil Jars
Tilston & Stretton Garden Trail

Statuary
2019
Take a tour of wonderful private gardens and
woodland trails in beautiful, quintessential
Plaques Cheshire villages. Including a garden featured on
BBC Gardeners’ World during 2018.
Etc Etc
Gardens are open 8th & 9th June from 11am to 5pm
Admission is £8 over two days. Under 16s are free.
Villages situated between Chester & Whitchurch on
Cheshire/Shropshire border. All gardens signposted.
01284 789666 Any enquiries please contact Christine Cottrell on
07736 743322
Proceeds to St. Mary's Church, Tilston

MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 137


Ironwork Door Canopies
370 FLOREO
Gardening gloves

SEE US AT
STAND EA/469

We are delighted to be exhibiting


our excellent range of Showa gloves catalogue available
www.centresalesgloves.co.uk at the RHS Chelsea flower show. 01225 851577
www.garden-requisites.co.uk

Discover the true glory of


naturalistic gardening
OF

S
25 YEAR
Visit us during this special ANNIVERSARY
anniversary year and join DON’T MISS OUR
FIRST FESTIVAL
Neil Lucas in the garden as OF GRASSES
he celebrates 25 years at Knoll CELEBRATING
KNOLL’S STUNNING
AUTUMN COLOUR
Our festival event
programme
also includes
Knoll Gardens walks, talks and
Masterclasses with
The UK’s leading ornamental grass specialist Neil Lucas; creative
Wimborne, Dorset BH21 7ND • 01202 873931 workshops; wildlife
walks, surveys, and
knollgardens.co.uk - plant catalogue online family events
Photograph courtesy of Philip Smith

138 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


BOOKS

The Reviewer
A selection of the best writing on the shelves this month

Vickery’s Folk Flora The Apprehensive Gardener Urban Garden Design


by Roy Vickery by Griselda Kerr by Kate Gould
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £30 Pimpernel Press, £16.99 Kyle Books, £20

In our modern age it is tempting to When Griselda Kerr took on her garden London garden designer Kate Gould is
presume that folklore bears no relevance in Derbyshire, she had little idea of what known for creating smaller city gardens
to daily life, yet Roy Vickery has found to do, and there weren’t any books that that are simple to care for, but which
it thriving in botanical and gardening fulfilled exactly what she wanted. So bring a sophisticated edge to a property.
communities around the country. The she set about gathering for herself the Having won five Gold medals at the
former botanist at the Natural History information she needed. Chelsea Flower Show during her 20-year
Museum and current president of the The result of Kerr’s extensive research career she has more experience than
South London Botanical Institute has is The Apprehensive Gardener, a handy most in designing for compact spaces.
been gathering folklore since the 1970s. guide to what needs to be done with In this book, Kate draws on these
The findings of his life’s work, which common garden plants, on a month- experiences to communicate the
are presented here, encompass lore by-month basis. Much of her material principles of small garden design. These
dating from before the 18th century and comes from information provided to her are notoriously tricky spaces to master,
up to the present day. by friends and, as such, the tone of her partly because so much is demanded of
It is certainly comprehensive: Vickery writing has a friendly, over-the-kitchen- them, but also because there is no room
claims over 2,000 sources and, because table tone to it. While Kerr has trained to hide either errors or the clutter that
of this, entries are restricted to vascular in horticulture and garden design at accumulates with life. Kate tackles all
plants. That is no hardship, however, various colleges, she doesn’t set herself these conundrums, covering how to
for what is presented in one book is a out as an expert, but as more of a well- deal with existing structures and plants,
priceless encyclopaedia of the kind of informed friend. design solutions for tricky spaces,
information that is extremely difficult The work is accessible and very much garden lighting and selecting materials.
to source online or in central libraries. designed to be used with a muddy There is guidance on planning and
Find in it notes on the cornflower’s thumb. An alphabetical table at the back thoughts on finishing touches.
WORDS VIVIENNE HAMBLY, PHOEBE JAYES

association with four long-established of the book provides a handy point of The book is illustrated with images
schools, and how ivy berries were reference, while a glossary of common that are instructional and inspiring. Its
boiled and eaten in the Channel Islands terms and plant names demystifies layout is clear, and its reference book
during German occupation. It finishes what can sometimes be an intimidating feel communicates important ideas
in modern times: a dead male tarantula subject. This is an ideal work for those clearly. Anyone presently enduring an
found on an imported Mexican yucca who may have recently inherited an unloved courtyard garden, or putting up
– and then, discovered in the buyer’s established garden, or who might wish with neighbours who are just a little too
duvet, a live female with eight babies. to extend their gardening practice. close for comfort, will be encouraged.

MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 139


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140 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


BOOKS

Q&A
In his new book, RHS A Nation in Bloom, Matthew Biggs reflects on the history
and developing role of the Royal Horticultural Society over the past 200 years

of new diseases, others work on biosecurity, climate


change, plant taxonomy, soil science and botany.
The number of PhD students has increased, and
they study subjects including decomposition rates of
organic matter, slug control, the effects of gardening
on health and wellbeing and climate change. The
RHS is at the cutting edge of horticultural science.

RHS Garden Bridgewater in Greater Manchester


will open in 2020. What is its intended purpose
and what are to be its key features?
The RHS’s first urban garden is already a garden for
the people, with over 500 local volunteers working in
it. The centrepiece will be the walled garden, part of
a masterplan designed by Tom Stuart-Smith, which
will include a paradise garden, a kitchen garden
incorporating permaculture and learning gardens,
and a wellbeing garden for practical use by local
charities. The first of several phases will be open to
the public in 2020 with other phases to follow.

What are some of the challenges facing the


What do you feel has been the RHS’s biggest RHS in the current era?
contribution to gardening over the decades? The status of gardening has changed from being an
Bringing together people with a common interest enjoyable hobby to a pastime with a positive impact
and sharing their knowledge of gardening. This on the quality of life of individuals, communities
has let thousands of gardeners develop their skills, and the environment. The RHS is being transformed
increasing their enjoyment and their levels of from a charity for traditional gardeners, to one with
success. This dispersal of knowledge is particularly a much broader remit. The challenge is to manage
important for new gardeners and has enabled people every facet effectively and for the benefit of all.
of all backgrounds and cultures to succeed. And the
advice on the RHS website is increasingly influential. Even the best-loved institutions have their
shortcomings. In your opinion, what have been
Which aspect of the RHS’s work appeals most? those of the RHS and do you feel they are being
They are involved in so many areas that it’s difficult addressed? If so, how?
to choose just one aspect. But their work with One major danger was the alienation of the
schools is very important: they are educating the traditional RHS members. There was considerable
next generation while creating an environmental disquiet about selling the lease on Lawrence Hall in
awareness that reaches into the wider world. In doing Westminster, and the feeling among many was that
so, they are educating the influencers of the future. the RHS was selling off the family jewels. However,
it made sense financially and demonstrated the
INTERVIEW VIVIENNE HAMBLY

Gardeners will know the RHS for its shows and RHS’s commitment to future projects. I suspect
gardens, but it does a vast amount of scientific that once the detractors have seen the impact of the RHS A Nation
work behind the scenes. Can you tell us about it? changes, they will appreciate why it was necessary. in Bloom
Behind the scenes there are expert entomologists, Transparency and communication will be the key by Matthew Biggs,
and pathologists, identifying and tracking the spread to winning hearts and minds. ■ White Lion, £30.

MAY 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 141


OUR GUIDE TO THE BEST OF BRITISH NURSERIES
LANGTHORNS PLANTERY ASHWOOD NURSERIES
Langthorns Plantery is a A traditional working nursery
second-generation family situated in the West
business specialising in top Midlands. We specialise in
quality ornamental plants, Hellebores, Hardy Cyclamen,
shrubs and trees, including Salvias, Hepaticas, Dwarf
many uncommon and heritage Conifers, Hydrangeas,
species that are more difficult Lewisias, Snowdrops, Primula
to obtain. auriculas and offer many
Our carefully chosen collection more choice plants. We feel
of more than 5,000 varieties Ashwood Nurseries is a
can be viewed online and plantsman’s paradise. Our
include ornamental and fruit mail order service sends
trees, herbaceous perennials, plants, garden essentials and
shrubs, grasses, alpines, gifts to UK and EU
bamboos, herbs, roses, destinations. Special events
climbers, annuals and throughout the year. Please
individually designed hanging visit our website for more
baskets. Open 7 days a week.
details. Open daily.
Tel: 01371 872611 Tel: 01384 401996
info@langthorns.com | www.langthorns.com mailorder@ashwoodnurseries.com | www.ashwoodnurseries.com
Langthorns Plantery Ltd, High Cross Lane West, Dunmow, Essex CM6 1TD Ashwood Lower Lane, Kingswinford, West Midlands DY6 0AE

WYKEHAM MATURE PLANTS WEASDALE NURSERIES


Specialist grower of Weasdale Nurseries have
large trees, specimen been growing hardy trees
shrubs and instant hedging and shrubs on their site at
for immediate impact. 850ft elevation in the Howgill
Specialists in screening Fells, at the heart of beautiful
for privacy and security. Cumbria, since 1950.
Supplying trade and public Specialising in mail-order
for over 40 years from our from the outset, their careful
150-acre nursery. Yorkshire packaging system has
grown – hardiness become legendary and
guaranteed! Advisory guarantees safe arrival of the
services and nationwide delicate contents anywhere
delivery available. Full in the UK. More than 1,000
planting service and advisory different plants are listed
site visits available (usually online and in the
within 100-150 miles of the comprehensive, illustrated
nursery only). and highly readable 128-page
catalogue.
Tel: 01723 862406 | enquiries@wykeham.co.uk Tel: 015396 23246
www.wykehammatureplants.co.uk sales@weasdale.com | www.weasdale.com
The Bothy, The Walled Garden, Wykeham, Scarborough YO13 9QS Newbiggin on Lune, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria CA17 4LX

RV ROGER LTD HEDGING UK


Family run, third generation Hedging UK are specialist
nurserymen, growing a huge growers of quality hedging plants.
range of roses, fruit trees and
Plants are available to purchase
hardy stock on a 200 acre site in
at wholesale prices across the
the Vale of Pickering since 1913.
UK through our mail order service.
Among a huge range of plants, Buy direct from the grower,
we offer over 650 varieties of
delivered direct to your door.
roses (bare root & containerised)
available by mail order Readers of The English Garden
throughout the year, including get a 5% discount
many heritage varieties. (quote TEG2019).
The RV Roger plant centre
is open daily for seasonal
plantings, as well as advice and
information. Special events
include the Ryedale Rose
Festival in July, and the award-
winning Apple Weekend in
October. Tel: 01704 827224 or 07789 922457
Tel: 01751 472226 sales@hedginguk.com | www.hedginguk.com
sales@rvroger.co.uk | www.rvroger.co.uk Boundary House Farm, Holmeswood Road, Holmeswood,
The Nurseries, Malton Road, Pickering YO18 7JW Lancashire L40 1UA
OUR GUIDE TO THE BEST OF BRITISH NURSERIES
DAISY ROOTS SPRING REACH NURSERY
Daisy Roots is a small Spring Reach Nursery
independent nursery grows a fantastic range
situated on the edge of of clematis, trees,
hedging, ferns, shrubs,
the county town of
fruit, perennials, roses,
Hertford. We specialise
climbers and grasses.
in hardy perennials and
grasses and sell each one
SPRING BLOOMERS
with a generous helping of
AVAILABLE NOW:
expert advice to make Alliums, Astrantias,
sure our customers get Clematis, Paeony ‘Sarah
the best from their plants. Bernhardt’ (see left),
The nursery opens Friday Syringa and Wisteria.
and Saturday 10am-4pm
from March-October. We
also offer a mail order
service, see website for
details.

Tel: 07958 563355 Tel: 01483 284769


www.daisyroots.com info@springreachnursery.co.uk | www.springreachnursery.co.uk
Daisy Roots, Jenningsbury, London Road, Hertford, Herts SG14 3LG Spring Reach Nursery, Long Reach, Ockham, Surrey GU23 6PG

WOOTTENS OF WENHASTON DAISY CLOUGH NURSERIES LTD


Established for 25 years, A busy nursery in rural
Woottens is a traditional Lancashire, Daisy Clough
plant nursery selling hardy specialises in a carefully
perennials, which are grown selected range of over 700
and propagated on their site perennials and grasses. Open
in rural Suffolk. seven days a week, the nursery
Woottens also specialises also offers a good selection of
in Irises, Auriculas, shrubs, trees, container plants
Pelargoniums, Hemerocallis and fruit. Plenty of homegrown
and an ever growing vegetable plants are available
collection of Salvias. through spring and summer.
The nursery runs an efficient The 2019 plant list is available to
mail order service and is open view on the website. There is a
to the public every Saturday. beautiful shop selling garden
A Spring Plant Fair is being sundries and homeware and a
held on Sunday 5 May fabulous new tearoom to round
See the website for full details. off your visit.

Tel: 01502 478258 Tel: 01524 793104


info@woottensplants.co.uk | www.woottensplants.com info@daisyclough.com | www.daisyclough.com
Woottens of Wenhaston, Wenhaston, Suffolk IP19 9HF Daisy Clough Nurseries Ltd, Station Lane, Scorton, Preston, Lancs PR3 1AN

TWELVE NUNNS KELWAYS PLANTS


Twelve Nunns mail order nursery Based in the heart of the
specialises in Harvington Somerset Levels, Kelways
Hellebores®, Trilliums, has been a leading UK
Erythroniums and Roscoea – all nursery for over 160 years.
plants which enjoy dappled We offer an extensive
shade in your garden. Plants, selection of plants from
bulbs, rhizomes and tubers are perennials and shrubs to
sent by post, carefully packed climbers, roses, grasses as
with planting advice enclosed. well as the largest selection
of peonies in the UK. We
Harvington Hellebore plug plants
mail order plants
are available to order from now
throughout the UK and can
until end of May. Hellebores are
offer a comprehensive
excellent garden plants offering
plant-sourcing service as
outstanding winter colour year
well. Use the code
after year.
ENGLISHGARDEN to get
Order online or phone for a mail 20% off your order.
© Clive Nichols order plant list.
Tel: 01458 250521
Tel: 01778 590455 sales@kelways.co.uk | www.kelways.co.uk
penny@twelvenunns.co.uk | www.twelvenunns.co.uk Picts Hill, Langport, Somerset TA10 9EZ
BESPOKE PROMOTION

GARDENS TO VISIT Late spring is one of the finest times to visit


a garden – here are some of the UK’s best

WATERPERRY GARDENS
Waterperry, Near Wheatley, Oxfordshire OX33 1LA
Tel: 01844 339226 | office@waterperrygardens.co.uk | www.waterperrygardens.co.uk
Waterperry Gardens – eight acres of spectacular ornamental gardens with a fascinating history and one of the
country’s finest herbaceous borders - blooming with lupins and alliums at this time of year. There is a Plant
Centre, Garden Shop, Gift Barn, Gallery, Rural Life Museum and Teashop on-site and events and gardening
courses run throughout the year.
OPEN: 10am to 5.30pm. Party bookings welcome by arrangement.

BLUEBELL ARBORETUM AND NURSERY


Annwell Lane, Smisby, Ashby de la Zouch, Derbyshire LE65 2TA
Tel: 01530 413700 | www.bluebellnursery.com
An enchanting, nine-acre woodland garden with many rare and unusual trees and shrubs on display! Many
of the trees and shrubs have been selected for their beautiful spring flowers and are well labelled, with
educational posters next to the more obscure specimens. The gardens surrounds our specialist tree and
shrub nursery. Royal Horticultural Society Partner Garden - RHS members admitted free of charge. Adults: £5.
Concessions: £4. Children: free.
OPEN: Gardens & Nursery - Monday to Saturday: 9am to 5pm. Sundays: 10.30am to 4pm

THE GARDEN AT MISERDEN


Miserden, Near Stroud, Gloucestershire, GL6 7JA
Tel: 01285 821 303 | gardens@miserden.org | www.miserden.org
Winner of Historic Houses Garden of the Year 2018, this timeless garden, with spectacular views over parkland
and the rolling Cotswold hills beyond, was created in the 17th Century and retains a sense of peace and
tranquillity. There are extensive yew hedges, including a notable topiary yew walk designed by Lutyens as well
as some carefully planted mixed borders, containing a wide range of roses, clematis and herbaceous plants.
The garden is a preserved, hidden gem in the heart of the Cotswolds.
OPEN: Garden, Nursery and Café open Tuesday to Sunday (and Bank Holidays) 10am – 5pm.

THE COURTS GARDEN


Holt, Bradford-on-Avon BA14 6RR
Tel: 01225 782875 | www.nationaltrust.org.uk/the-courts-garden
The Courts is an English country-garden retreat – a tranquil garden comfortably built on a hidden industrial
past. Spring is the perfect time to visit and stroll through its unique garden rooms. An arched bridge over the
Dye Pool provides a spectacular reflection on its naturalistic planting. New blooms are highlighted on helpful
border plans and you can pick up tips from The Courts’ Head Gardener on seasonal plant trails.
OPEN: Monday 25 February to Sunday 3 November 2019, 11am to 5.30pm (open every day except
Wednesdays). Please see website for admission, directions and parking.

ROUSHAM HOUSE & GARDEN


Rousham, Bicester, Oxfordshire OX25 4QU
Tel: 01869 347110 | www.rousham.org
Rousham represents the first phase of English landscape design, and remains almost as William Kent left it,
one of the few gardens of this date to have escaped alteration. Many features which delighted 18th century
visitors to Rousham are still in situ, such as the ponds and cascades in Venus’s Vale, the Cold Bath and seven-
arched Praeneste, Townsend’s Building, the Temple of the Mill, and, on the skyline, a sham ruin known as the
‘Eyecatcher’.
OPEN: Daily from 10am, last admission 4.30pm. No children under 15 and no dogs. Entry fee £8 per person.

GROOMBRIDGE PLACE
Groombridge Hill, Groombridge, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN3 9QG
Tel: 01892 861444 | www.groombridgeplace.com
Groombridge Place is a remarkable and beautiful country estate resting on the border between East Sussex
and Kent, on the edge of the historic village of Groombridge. With a 17th century moated manor house,
sculpted formal gardens and 200 acres of parkland, Groombridge Place is everything you might expect from a
traditional English country estate but with so much more to offer.
OPEN: 10am - 4.30pm. Only open weekends, bank holidays and school holidays
www.alitags.com
www.giftsandgardens.com
Annual labelling is a thing of the past
with Alitags. Simply write on Alitag
aluminium labels with Alitag or HB Bamboo Cloches
pencil. The pencil will react with
our specially made aluminium tags
and become permanent.

Wooden Keyrings over 90 locations

Made of bamboo woven into an open


dome. These attractive cloches
protect plants and seeding from damage
by animals, footballs, light frost and wind-chill.
Fleece and newspaper can be used to
cover the plants inside the cloches during
periods of heavy frost. The micro climate
inside the cloches promotes growth and
Alitag labels can also be punched with allows rain through to the plants.
Alitag character punches & jig.
Hanging Wooden Signs : 70 texts

Wooden Doorstops Teak Hanging Baskets Boulder Stone Pots

GARDEN FRIENDS. Made from aluminium that will not rust, and hand painted on both sides with
a very resilient finish. Suitable for outdoor.
Copper, Teak, Bamboo and Oak labels
are also available.

32 Bourne Lane, Much Hadham,


Hertfordshire SG10 6ER, UK.
Tel 01279 842685 32 Bourne Lane, Much Hadham, Hertfordshire SG10 6ER, UK. Tel 01279 842685
www.alitags.com www.giftsandgardens.com
LAST WORD

The search for solace


Katherine Swift reads Allan Jenkins’ Plot 29, a tale of a fractured childhood
related alongside his allotment journal, in which gardening becomes therapy

W
atering, tending, feeding, Finds there were seven half-siblings, with a mix of
nurturing, caring for: these fathers. Finds the grave of the man who may be his
are all metaphors equally real father. Finds more half-siblings and half truths.
applicable both to gardening Each revelation is a descent. Jenkins reads his case
and to loving human files: discovers he was admitted to a Dr Barnardo’s
relationships. I have just been reading Allan Jenkins’ Home aged three months; taken back by his mother
searing memoir, Plot 29 (Fourth Estate, 2017). is and abandoned again; taken back into care suffering

ed with
Its cover shows two small boys in new, too-large from impetigo, scabies and herpes simplex; offered
clothes, smiling uncertainly for the camera: Allan, for adoption but ‘not wanted’. Each time the rug
aged five, and his brother Christopher. It is the first
day in their new foster home. We learn later that
with is pulled from under his feet, Jenkins comes close
to breakdown, but continues to visit the allotment
there have been other foster homes, and that the those he where the love of his allotment family and the rituals
boys have previously been separated; that they have
been in and out of care the whole of their short lives. calls his of growing and nurturing – “like when I was small”
he writes, “and needed someone to care for me” –
Then you open the book. The endpapers are a
riot of different shades of green: the eponymous
‘allotment soothe and support him. “What I am growing along
with marigolds and sorrel” he says, “is solace.”
Plot 29, photographed by Jenkins’ friend Howard family’” As gardeners, we all instinctively know this. But
Sooley. Rows and rows of seedlings in verdant sometimes it takes a story as raw
growth; beetroot, salad crops, red-stemmed chard; as this to make us remember
the windmill-shaped flowers of rocket; wigwams and give thanks. ■
of runner beans; a glimpse of broad bean plants at
the top, a frieze of marigolds along the bottom – the
fecundity vividly contrasting with the small, grainy,
black-and-white snap on the cover.
The book alternates between these two
worlds – the world of Jenkins’ childhood
and a year in the life of the allotment – as
Jenkins researches his family background.
We learn that Plot 29 belongs to Mary Wood,
who has shared it with Jenkins and Sooley
since her husband died. Now Mary is ill,
and the two men look after her half too.
Each morning, Jenkins waters, sows seeds,
and tends crops; later he shares them with
Mary and Howard, with his family, with
neighbouring allotmenteers. At weekends
ILLUSTRATION JULIA RIGBY PORTRAIT RICHARD BLOOM

there are communal meals at home and at the


allotment, food and flowers shared with love,
with those he calls his ‘allotment family’.
Gradually, we learn more about Jenkins’
childhood. The foster placement is revealed
as chilly, the love conditional and later
withdrawn. The placement breaks down in
adolescence and Allan goes to live with the man he
supposes to be his father. He finds a sister he never
knew he had. Finds out what everyone else knew:
that he and Christopher were only half-brothers.

146 THE ENGLISH GARDEN MAY 2019


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