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….

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…