The Empress of the Flowery World

The Empress of the Flowery World is just one of the names given to Nerine sarniensis, the Guernsey Lily or Jewel Lily. This autumn-flowering bulb comes originally from the Cape region of South Africa. It was brought to Europe in the mid-1600s and found its way to Guernsey, some say as a gift from theContinue reading “The Empress of the Flowery World”

Toot sweet: A whistlestop tour of Exbury Gardens

To the delight of our six-year-old son, we begin our visit to Exbury Gardens with a steam train ride straight out of Harry Potter, climbing on board at a charmingly old-fashioned little station. As we chug around in a loop of the top part of the garden, past a lush rockery and dragonfly pond, heContinue reading “Toot sweet: A whistlestop tour of Exbury Gardens”

Six on Saturday: Chelsea snowdrops

This week I was lucky enough to find myself in the Chelsea Physic Garden right in the middle of its Heralding Spring snowdrop festival on a rare sunny day. There was such a wealth of wonderful Galanthus and other early spring bulbs that I could not resist bringing this week’s six from this green oasisContinue reading “Six on Saturday: Chelsea snowdrops”

Land art and the gardener

When does gardening become art and when does art become gardening? This was the question that fleeted through my mind as I stood watching a video of one of the great land artists of our time at work in the brilliant David Nash: 200 Seasons exhibition at the Towner art gallery in Eastbourne. The exhibitionContinue reading “Land art and the gardener”

Big garden on the Prairie

Laura Ingalls Wilder was one of my very favourite authors when I was a child, so I have long wanted to visit the Sussex Prairie Garden. Of course, the prairie in the name refers to the naturalistic style of planting, although I was pleased to see a herd of metal buffalo. My children are increasinglyContinue reading “Big garden on the Prairie”

7 Reasons to love the Charleston Festival of the Garden

The Concept: the two-day Festival of the Garden was curated by leading landscape designer and 8 times Chelsea gold medallist Tom Stuart-Smith. This year’s subtitle was ‘Gardening for Curious Minds’, with themes including husbandry versus wildness, allotments and sustainability and the healing garden. I was only able to attend – as a volunteer – onContinue reading “7 Reasons to love the Charleston Festival of the Garden”

An Arts and Crafts Garden

Standen in East Sussex is one of our go-to places for a family day out. There is something there to please everyone. The house was designed in the Sussex vernacular by Philip Webb as the country retreat for the Beale family who moved there in 1894. Featuring a wealth of William Morris wallpapers and fabrics,Continue reading “An Arts and Crafts Garden”

Six on Saturday: How to plant an apple tree

This week’s six come not from my own garden, but from the garden at Charleston Farmhouse in East Sussex where I volunteer one day a week. This week, we were joined by Zuky from Sussex Apple Trees, who showed us the best way to plant an apple tree. Charleston has bought a small collection ofContinue reading “Six on Saturday: How to plant an apple tree”

Nymans: a theatrical garden for all seasons

Overlooking the beautiful South Downs in the West Sussex village of Handcross, Nymans, now a National Trust garden, was once home to the Messel family, whose descendants included the famous theatre designer Oliver Messel and photographer Lord Snowdon. The garden is perhaps best known for its herbaceous border, which blazes with colour in the heightContinue reading “Nymans: a theatrical garden for all seasons”

Lakeland, wolves and Peter Rabbit

The first time I visited the Chelsea Flower Show was in 2005, when my favourite garden was designed by the former pop singer Kim Wilde on a Lakeland theme. I thought about this when we visited the Lake District in May and I was blown away by the lushness of the vegetation. I grew upContinue reading “Lakeland, wolves and Peter Rabbit”