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…

Mums the word

In France at this time of year the florist shops are full of colourful displays of chrysanthemums. But do not make the mistake of buying them for someone as a gift. Here as in most Catholic countries, chrysanthemums are reserved for placing on graves  on La Toussaint, All Saint’s Day, on November 1st. In China,…

Shortcuts: this week in the garden at Charleston

  As I have already written I volunteer one day a week in the garden at Charleston Farmhouse in East Sussex. Having studied for and gained the RHS Level 2 Certificate in the Principles of Horticulture, I want to get some practical experience under my belt. This week Fiona, the head gardener, set me to work…

Gathering

Last Friday on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour presenter Jenni Murray interviewed Shetland poet Jen Hadfield about gathering at the Autumn equinox. “I really feel that urge to gather in the autumn time” revealed the poet, who at this time of year line fishes for mackerel and picks porcini mushrooms from a secret hill. I cannot…

Garden bloggers bloom day September 2017

It is four months since I first joined in with May Dreams Gardens’ Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. I wish I had kept up with it every month, but life and the Little Weeds keep getting in the way – the same goes for my garden hence its rather shambolic state in September. Next year, I…

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…

This year’s failures

Today I am gardening in my own garden for the first time in about a month – and I feel like a failure. I love gardening, but right now there are people who care not a jot about horticulture who have better maintained gardens than mine. In my defence we are two weeks into the…

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…

Hollyhock Envy

There is something missing in my garden. Actually, there’s lots missing. In Spring it was filled with tulips, narcissi and hyacinths  from all the bulbs I planted last autumn. In early summer there were alliums and peonies. But now it is looking a bit bare and what I crave to fill it most of all…

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…