Yesterday was rather momentous for us I was checking my emails when an alert came in telling me the blog was five years old. Well howdee down doodee and Happy Birthday I thought to myself. It must have taken me a day to get my head round this new technology back in 2012 as I didn’t actually publish anything until the 1st of February so today is officially the blog’s 5th Birthday.
So how to celebrate this most momentous of days, well cake would be a good start, most five year olds like cake. And yet I feel it should be marked with something more and as luck would have it I know just the thing. More than cake, I know, it sounds hard to beat but I hope you’ll agree with me that finally being able to say to all and sundry
‘Ive designed a Show Garden for the new RHS Show at Chatsworth’ is better than cake.
It’s all been a bit of a secret, firstly when the design went in we didn’t say anything, who knew if it would be accepted. Secondly when it was accepted you have to keep it hush hush until after The RHS Chatsworth press release.
I’m thrilled to have this opportunity and also extremely grateful to have been advised and encouraged along the way by a fabulous mentor, thank you Paul, but beyond that the concept of this garden is something I feel passionate about. So apologies in advance but having kept quiet for so long you may, just, get sick of hearing about it.
Every year the Show Gardens at Malvern Three Counties get better and better and this year was no exception, with five out of the twelve being awarded well deserved Gold Medals.
Two of the biggest Gold medal gardens were opposite in style. The first of these two having a loose mix of the formal and natural with a relaxed languididy and the second being most definitely a representation of control and formality.
Once again Villaggio Verde brought a little slice of the Med to Malvern with their Garden of Romance. The edged beds filled with roses and lavender, although formal in design, were soft enough to blend seamlessly into the informal shapes of the surrounding trees and shrubs.
Even if you weren’t in possession of a catalogue, which I wasn’t at 7.30 am, there is no denying where Peter Dowle and Richard Jasper found their inspiration. Perfectly executed and like the garden before making very effective use of the borrowed backdrop of the Malvern Hills. I may not have adequately captured in the picture one of the things I particularly liked here, however, look closely and there is a mix of both reflective and rippled water.
Another garden making the most of reflective water was raising awareness for The Urology Cancer Research and Education charity or UCARE. Large pots of Tulipa ‘Caress’, which feature on the Charity’s logo, were used to good effect as focal points.
Now I have to be honest, I didn’t take the time to count, but, I wold think this garden features significantly more than a thousand flowers. Inspired by a glass work stud found amongst the Staffordshire Hoard, the jewel like colours echoed the glass of the gazebo above.
More jewel like colours again, this time in the garden designed as a space for bereavement counselling. I’m not a 100% convinced by the colour used in the central sculpture but it would certainly brighten up a grey day.
More colour in the Sunken Retreat, and yes green is a colour often overlooked in a garden despite it being the the most prolific. The background colours of bronze and green being echoed amongst the blocks of planting. I wasn’t sure I felt that this was a retreat, it seemed to me a brilliant space for socialising and a great party space with the central fire pit.
A different angle on formality was shown by The Low Line, one of the Three Festival Gardens, although a similar Bronze feel featured, this time with accents of blue and grey from the planting and composite decking.
Blue grey again in the Hidden Gems of Worcester garden in the hard landscaping, which was a work of precision. It cannot be easy fitting a square peg, or in this case square cut Digby Stone Slate into concentric rings, as the GK Wilson Landscaping team managed. This was softened considerably by the surrounding planting.
The last, *but by no means least, in the trio of Festival Gardens was the beautifully executed Water Spout garden. A relaxed and naturalistic garden filled with colourful shrubs, perennials and bulbs and accompanied by the relaxing sound of water from the natural spring in the garden. *It was most certainly not least as it scooped the Best Festival garden Award.
At first glance I wasn’t convinced by the Gardening Amongst Ruins garden, but I think once you overlook the plastic pots of the roses, which were still proudly on display and suspended your disbelief to remember that at any moment an 18th century gardener is coming to move the chickens to a new site before everything in the enclosure is trashed, then it works very well. Lots of detail in the planting and a skilfully achieved bucolic feel.
Nested amongst the trees and set apart from the rest of the garden I happened across the Woodcutters Garden. It made the most of its surroundings this was a representation of the home of Angus and Poppy Rowan, characters featuring in the novel ‘The Woodcutters Story’
The Macmillan Legacy Garden is another rustic garden in the round, just to show how sublime all aspects of this garden were the above photo is a view of the back of the garden. I’m afraid I failed to capture the truly exceptional qualities of this garden with my snaps.
You could spend a happy half hour or so looking at the intricacies of the planting and marvelling at the attention to detail shown here. This is 2016’s Best in Show and most deservedly it wouldn’t be out of place at Chelsea.
The forecast looks set to be sunny for the weekend of the show, so you may want to find a shady cloister to enjoy your ice-cream before it melts.
Have you noticed that everything’s a journey these days especially on the tellybox, everybody’s at it from butchers, bakers and garden makers
Well my lovely reader, not being one to shy away from the trend I too have been on a journey, both a personal one and a professional one. However as this is not “The Only Way is Gardening” you’ll be pleased to know that there will be no extended periods of navel gazing just lots of pictures of plants and gardens. Mostly mine in this post, but then again this is my blog so I think its allowed. There will be a more balanced approach in further posts I promise.
As some of you may know I was one of five designers from England chosen to have a design in The International Residential Garden Show held in the grounds of Huisten Bosh Nagasaki home of The Gardening World Cup.
There were lots of times during this trip I wish I’d had my camera to hand, not least the journey from the airport to my hotel. Traveling through the streets of Nagasaki by bus gives you an excellent view into gardens, which for a nosey Garden Designer was a treat. Lots of allotment style gardens with black loamy soil growing some plants I recognised and others which although I have grown before such as Colocasia or Elephants Ears I had never though of as edible (further research has lead me to believe they are) and lots of cloud pruning.
Further out of Nagasaki the landscape changed to take in fewer houses and more fields. Now being from a farming county fields are a common sight in Herefordshire, these however were paddy fields of a most glorious acid green and not surrounded by hedges but swathes of crimson Lycoris radiata also known as the hurricane lily. The sides of the hills were terraced with more paddy fields cutting onto forests populated by huge bamboos… stunning.
So far, so verbose, so it must be time for some pictures.
Nothing prepares you for Huis Ten Bosh, the scale of the place is epic as is the legendary piped music. You walk past the train station and over the bridge and bam, goodbye Japan
and hello Holland. It’s not often my journey to work takes me past windmills and canals.
And so to the grounds surrounding a replica dutch palace where my garden was starting to take shape….
…..and working with the ever cheerful Mr Ichinose and the ever resourceful Mr Masaki together we turned and empty plot into a little slice of England.
The irony of recreating a traditional British cottage garden in a replica Dutch town in Japan was not lost on me lovely reader.
We had everything you could need in this type of garden…..
……including naughty invisible chickens laying eggs in random places……
…..borders stuffed to the gunnels with a feast for the eyes, nose and stomach…….
…..so stuffed in fact the garden overflowed under the fence……
…..but in all the hustle and bustle of jostling plants my favourite spot…..
….somewhere quiet to take time out, and reflect on the garden and its visitors…..
Hide and seek seemed a popular game amongst the four and two legged visitors to the garden and I’ll leave you with perhaps my favourite picture, a little boy playing in the garden with his Mum.