The garden estate

It is all very well visiting great gardens with acres of herbaceous borders, towering yew topiary and water features the size of Lake Windermere, but there is a particular pleasure in seeing what can be achieved in an an ordinary back garden. Which is why I always look forward to Nevill Open Gardens, an event…

Volunteering in the garden at Charleston

My favourite time of day in the garden at Charleston is first thing in the morning when I arrive to work as a volunteer after dropping the kids at school and nursery. The garden is not yet open to visitors and there is often not a soul to be found, leaving space to imagine that…

Driftwood: a magical oasis by the sea

The day before we visit Driftwood, a party from Tokyo spent six hours in Geoff Stonebanks’ coastal cottage garden. And in May an Austrian garden society came to visit. It is a testament to Geoff’s passion and skill in turning the back garden of a bungalow overlooking the sea in East Sussex into an outdoor…

Into the Secret Gardens

Behind a row of Victorian terrace houses in the East Sussex town of Lewes where we live, is a large and hidden secret garden. It is privately owned, but opens each summer as part of the National Garden Scheme and Southover Open Gardens, a garden trail to raise funds for the Southover Bonfire Society (Lewes…

Chelsea 2017 Part 3: Every Garden Tells A Story

The best of the smaller show gardens at Chelsea this year each tell a story. Like the cover of a book, at first glance you can tell what genre of literature you are looking at. Then, as you spend a while ‘reading’ the garden, understanding it’s structure and planting, the story unfolds. Fresh Gardens Breast…

Chelsea 2017 Part 2: On the Sunbury side of the street

Peter Seabrook has been The Sun’s gardening correspondent for 40 years. As an aspiring garden writer it was a great pleasure to meet him in the Great Pavilion at Chelsea at 40 Sunbury Road, a 16mx5m plot put together by the Horticultural Trades Association and the Association of Professional Landscapers working with Peter to celebrate…

Chelsea 2017: A Festival for the Bees

Bees were everywhere at Chelsea today, and who could blame them with a strong naturalistic theme running through many of the Large Show Gardens. Best in show Our first stop was James Basson’s Best in Show M&G Garden inspired by a Maltese quarry. Here one plant in particular caught our eye: the so-called giant fennel  (Ferula…

Easter in Virginia Woolf’s garden

I have lived just down the road from Monk’s House, Virginia Woolf’s country cottage and garden, for nearly seven years, but only visited it for the first time this Easter weekend and was utterly enchanted. What put me off visiting before was the prospect of taking young children around a small National Trust property, but the…

Front garden flâneur

I have a confession to make: I am a front garden flâneur. That’s the fancy French term for it, you may prefer the plain English nosy parker. It comes from the best part of a decade spent pushing a buggy along urban streets, trying to soothe a baby or toddler to sleep, or merely escaping…