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 up…

Hardy heaven: Marchants Hardy Plants, East Sussex

I could be forgiven for thinking I had slipped into heaven this morning when I visited Marchants Hardy Plants in East Sussex, on the first day of their autumn sale. With only two weeks to go until they close for the winter, there is 25% off all plants and I did not come home empty…

Gravetye: in an English country garden

“How many kinds of sweet flowers grow/ In an English country garden?” asks the song. It is an irony that perhaps the most classic example of an English country garden was created by an Irishman, William Robinson, editor of The Garden and pioneer of a new style of gardening which saw Victorian bedding replaced with…

Six on Saturday: Sunshine, no rain

I wonder how other SOS-ers in Europe are coping with the current dry weather? Two water authorities in the UK have now declared a hosepipe ban. If Southern Water follows suit I don’t hold out much hope for our new lawn. I am beginning to think that I will have to choose only drought tolerant plants…

Six on Saturday: Blooming madness

Today is our wedding anniversary and last night we stayed over at The Bell in Ticehurst, East Sussex. The Bell is quite an unusual pub with rooms, which also organises literary events and a mini music festival. We stayed in one of four lodges set in a charming, slightly overgrown garden which was designed by…

Smelling the roses at Charleston

After nearly a month away, it was wonderful this week to be back volunteering in the garden at Charleston – the former country retreat of artist Vanessa Bell, sister of Virginia Woolf and her painting partner Duncan Grant. Boy has the garden bloomed since I was last there. This week, head gardener Fi gave me…

Chelsea take aways

One of the themes of this year’s Chelsea Flower Show is inspiring people to take away ideas which they can use in their own gardens. After spending a perfect English summer’s day enjoying the show gardens and stands with my green-fingered mum, here are some of the trends, plants and designs which caught my imagination….

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….