How Great Dixter gets its garden ready

  As I walk up the York stone path to the timber-framed porch of Great Dixter my first thought is “I wonder what’s in the pots?” I have visited the famous East Sussex garden and home of the late Christopher Lloyd on three previous occasions and have never failed to be impressed by the display…

Half-term crowds at RHS Wisley

As we turned into RHS Wisley on a sunny Friday towards the end of half-term, I thought we had made a terrible mistake. While we queued to get into the overflow car park and watched legions of welly-booted sprogs marching towards the entrance, Mr Carrot suggested turning back and trying somewhere else. I pointed out that…

Into the Wilderness

Warning: this is a post about our Christmas tree, so if you have already reached peak bauble please move on. Every year for the past eight years, since moving to East Sussex, we have bought our Christmas tree from Wilderness Wood, 62 acres of coppiced woodland on the edge of the village of Hadlow Down….

Rewards and fairies

  “I’m Puck, the oldest Old thing in England,” says the eponymous magical creature in Rudyard Kipling’s children’s book Puck of Pook’s Hill.  The landscape around Kipling’s East Sussex home Bateman’s seemed very old, almost timeless when we visited on a beautiful crisp autumnal afternoon. It is that time of year when the leaves on…

Pumpkin parade

Over the half-term holidays we visited Leeds Castle in Kent with the Little Weeds. I had always feared Leeds Castle might be a bit too commercial, but even on a drizzly October day was pleasantly surprised to find it is a very well-run destination, with something for everyone. The ticket price was not cheap –…

Adventures in the Enchanted Forest

It was forecast to be a dull October Sunday, but as we arrived at Groombridge Place in Kent, it turned out to be one of those perfect autumn days, when the year reminds you how beautiful the growing season has been. It was a day for adventures and Groombridge is definitely the place to have…

All the world’s a stage

Although I live just ten minutes down the road from Glyndebourne, I have only been to see two operas there: a technicolour version of Englebert Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel in which the witch was the cashier in a Roald Dahl-esque sweetie supermarket; and a sumptuous production of Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail in baroque…

Lush: garden adventures in West Cornwall

When I see flame-coloured Crocosmia growing like wildflowers by the side of the narrow  lanes, I just know that the flora of the Penwith peninsula is going to be unlike anywhere else in the UK. During our fortnight’s holiday in the sub-tropical far west of Cornwall – a place special to my heart as we…

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…

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…