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For everyone who loves beautiful gardens

Vote Now!

Choose the nation’s favourite garden




Celebrate Late Summer Ideas to keep the display going

Brilliant short courses to try this autumn September inspiration


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6 issues of

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from just £19.50 For everyone who loves beautiful gardens. “The English Garden is a constant reminder of the beauty of English gardens, and keeps alive not only the British tradition of gardening but the passion that all gardeners feel for the plants and flowers that do so well in our cool temperate climate.” Alan Titchmarsh, TV presenter

The English Garden is your monthly source of inspiration for beautiful gardens. Every issue delights its readers with beautiful photography, captivating stories, expert planning advice and glorious design ideas, all delivered with a passion for Britain’s best gardens. Subscribing to The English Garden will ensure that you receive your own copy, delivered to your door, to enjoy it before it is on sale in the shops. You also save money on the shop price and, in the UK, benefit from free postage.

“The English Garden is revered worldwide and it’s fantastic how this style of gardening has long been represented in this beautiful and informative magazine.” Chris Beardshaw, award-winning garden designer & TV presenter

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Stephanie Donaldson Garden writer Stephanie spends her time writing, travelling to see plants in the wild and tending her coastal garden in East Sussex. She pays a visit to Malthouse Farm on page 20.

Alexandra Davies Alex has mainly photographed people for the past 11 years, but has diversified and now takes photos of her other favourite subjects: flowers and gardens. She photographed The Grange on page 51.

Welcome O

ur feature rounding up just a handful of the thousands of short courses and workshops gardeners can take this autumn has made me long to sign up for something myself. There are some listed that I’d love to do, like being shown by Fergus Garrett how bulbs are used at Great Dixter, or heading to Iford Manor for new head gardener Troy ScottSmith’s workshop on creative containers. Turn to page 93 to see if there’s anything that tempts you to learn a new skill. That people like Fergus and Troy are willing to share their experience and knowledge with us is just one example of the generosity of gardeners. Sharing plants and tips is second nature; other gardeners go further, and share their gardens with visitors to raise money for charity under the National Garden Scheme. You have been nominating your favourite NGS gardens all summer, and in this issue we now present a shortlist of 30 gardens from which you can vote for the ultimate winner. They are all gorgeous and worthy candidates – choosing where to cast your vote could be tricky!


PS. Speaking of gardeners’ generosity, why not treat yourself or a friend to a subscription to The English Garden? You’ll save 49% and receive a free gift of secateurs. See page 35 for details.


Liz Ware Liz is a writer and photographer. She also runs Silent Space, a scheme encouraging gardens around the UK to reserve an area for silent reflection. In this issue, she visits The Grange, in Oxfordshire on page 51.

ON THE COVER Deep-orange Dahlia ‘Autumn Lustre’ gives a well-placed bench at Malthouse Farm in West Sussex a backdrop of colour. Photographed by Mimi Connolly.



DIGITAL PLATFORMS Purchase digital editions of The English Garden for phone and tablet from the App Store for iPhones, and Google Play for Android.




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6 issues of

Save up to 52%

from just £19.50 For everyone who loves beautiful gardens. “The English Garden is a constant reminder of the beauty of English gardens, and keeps alive not only the British tradition of gardening but the passion that all gardeners feel for the plants and flowers that do so well in our cool temperate climate.” Alan Titchmarsh, TV presenter

The English Garden is your monthly source of inspiration for beautiful gardens. Every issue delights its readers with beautiful photography, captivating stories, expert planning advice and glorious design ideas, all delivered with a passion for Britain’s best gardens. Subscribing to The English Garden will ensure that you receive your own copy, delivered to your door, to enjoy it before it is on sale in the shops. You also save money on the shop price and, in the UK, benefit from free postage.

“The English Garden is revered worldwide and it’s fantastic how this style of gardening has long been represented in this beautiful and informative magazine.” Chris Beardshaw, award-winning garden designer & TV presenter

Plus FREE BURGON & BALL SECATEURS Gift offer applies to UK Direct Debit orders only.

Order today online at www.chelseamagazines.com/VTEGG79A, by phone +44 (0)1858 438 833 quoting code VTEGG79A

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For everyone who loves beautiful gardens theenglishgarden.co.uk The Chelsea Magazine Company Ltd, Jubilee House, 2 Jubilee Place, London SW3 3TQ Tel: 020 7349 3700 Email: theenglishgarden@chelseamagazines.com


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DEVELOP YOUR PASSION FOR PLANTING DESIGN At the London College of Garden Design our aim is to provide world- class, inspirational garden design training. Our six month Planting Design Diploma has been created to enable students to learn from the very best designers and plants people.


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Through practical workshops, inspirational lectures and visits the Planting Design Diploma explores contemporary and traditional approaches to support and develop your planting design skills. This is a unique course not found anywhere else in Europe, delivered over 30 days from January to June at our home in the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. The course is led by Andrew Fisher Tomlin, designer and Chartered Horticulturist, and we are fortunate to have leading specialists lecturers including Neil Lucas of Knoll Gardens, Tony Kirkham from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Nigel Dunnett from the University of Sheffield. Designer tutors include James and Helen Basson, Jo Thompson, Ann-Marie Powell, Carolyn Willitts and Amanda Patton.

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© The Chelsea Magazine Company Ltd 2019. All rights reserved. Text and pictures are copyright restricted and must not be reproduced without permission of the publishers. The information in The English Garden has been published in good faith and every effort has been made to ensure its accuracy. However, where appropriate, you are advised to check prices, opening times and dates etc before making final arrangements. All liability for loss, disappointment, negligence or damage caused by reliance on the information within this publication is hereby excluded. The opinions expressed by the contributors of The English Garden are not necessarily those of the publisher. www.chelseamagazines.com: Publishers of The English Home, Artists & Illustrators, Baby, Little London, Wedding Ideas, BRITAIN, Discover Britain, Cruise International, Independent School Parent and associated guides, Racecar Engineering, Classic Boat, Sailing Today, Yachts & Yachting and Popshot.

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September 2019




The English Garden subscription PAGE 35

36 Gardens 20 Malthouse Farm Taking blue clay soil and strong south-westerly winds in her stride, Helen Keys has created a multi-faceted latesummer garden in the South Downs. 28 Hampton Court Castle At summer’s end, these Herefordshire gardens just keep on giving, offering a mix of formal and informal and warm and cool flowers and foliage. 36 Poole Cottage With big results achieved on a small budget, this three-acre garden in Herefordshire offers a contemporary twist on the traditional English garden. 44 Floors Castle This productive walled garden in Kelso has been revamped to include layers of plants woven together. 51 The Grange An overgrown Oxfordshire garden, filled with half-hidden features, has been lovingly brought back to life. 6 THE ENGLISH GARDEN SEPTEMBER 2019

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59 Nation’s Favourite Gardens Thousands of you nominated your favourite National Garden Scheme garden – now it’s time to vote for the winner from our shortlisted 30.

Design 93 Courses for Gardeners Whether you’re looking for something practical or artistic, choose from one of these short courses. 101 Land Girls To mark the 80th anniversary of the start of WWII, we look at the vital role taken on by the Women’s Land Army.

Plants 67 Top 10 Plants These stunning blooms reveal their scent and luminosity at dusk. 73 Plant Focus With their exploding globes of white or every shade of blue, agapanthus make a fabulous garden spectacle. 79 In Season Whether pickled, stewed, or slow-cooked to sweetness, the onion is an integral part of our culinary heritage.


85 Autumn in the Greenhouse Don’t shut up your greenhouse once the last tomato is picked. Use it to extend the season.

Regulars 9 This Month Our guide to gardens to visit, places to go, things to do and nature to note.


17 Shopping Orchard accessories for an easy harvest, plus weathered metal ornaments.

9 67

83 Essential Tools Find the perfect pair of shears for every job in the garden.

73 17

107 The Reviewer September’s literary digest, and a chat with Tim Richardson. 114 Last Word Katherine Swift on the dazzling beauty of the often overlooked hoverfly.

Offers 35 Subscribe & Save Subscribe to The English Garden and save money. 66 Home Insurance Specialist insurance quotes for readers of The English Garden. 77 Sarah Raven 20% off bulbs to plant now. 91 Competition Win one of The Posh Shed Company’s new Potting Sheds, worth £2,637. SEPTEMBER 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 7

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Gardens to Visit

Seek inspiration for your own garden by visiting one of Britain’s best


Sussex Prairies Henfield, West Sussex

Spade & PEN


Many of Britain’s best-known writers found their gardens helped the creative process. Visit these five sources of literary inspiration Bateman’s

Hill Top

Monk’s House

Rudyard Kipling’s love of roses is evidenced in the stunning rose garden he designed to sit beside the lily pond at his garden in East Sussex (above). Three varieties of floribunda roses flower through summer into autumn. Tel: 01435 882302; nationaltrust.org.uk

When gardener Pete Tasker arrived at Beatrix Potter’s Lakeland home 30 years ago, the original planting was mostly gone. Now flowers and crops fill the garden once again. Tel: 015394 36269; nationaltrust.org.uk

Virginia Woolf was greatly inspired by her garden in East Sussex (below left), beautifully designed by her husband Leonard Woolf. It boasts views over the Sussex Downs, ornamental beds, orchard and vegetable patch. Tel: 01273 474760; nationaltrust.org.uk

Dove Cottage

Newstead Abbey

William Wordsworth described his fell-side garden in Cumbria as ‘a little domestic slip of mountain’. With views over Grasmere Vale, the garden has been restored to the half-wild state the poet loved. Tel: 015394 35544; wordsworth.org.uk

The gardens and parkland at Nottinghamshire’s Newstead Abbey cover more than 300 acres and were once home to Lord Byron. Enjoy lakes, ponds and waterfalls, plus formal gardens ablaze with Japanese maples. Tel: 0115 8763100; newsteadabbey.org.uk

This exciting, eight-acre prairie garden, created in the shape of a spiralling nautilus shell, has been planted in a naturalistic style with 60,000 plants and over 1,600 different varieties, including a range of unusual ornamental grasses. Visitors can roam bark-chip paths through the layers of colour, texture and architectural splendour in huge borders. Surrounded by mature oak trees with views of Chanctonbury Ring and Devil’s Dyke on the South Downs, the garden also features a permanent sculpture collection, along with rare-breed sheep and pigs, and a new, tropical entrance garden. Sussex Prairies, Morlands Farm, Wheatsheaf Road (B2116), Henfield, West Sussex BN5 9AT. Open on 8 September, 11am to 5pm. Home-made teas. Adults £8; children free. Visit ngs. org.uk for details.


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Places to Go

Unmissable flower shows, plant fairs, courses and exhibitions to attend this month

Prickly FUN CactusWorld LIVE 21 & 22 September, Kent Stunning cacti are on show, with stands from leading nurseries at Lullingstone Castle. Tom Hart Dyke, patron of the British Cactus and Succulent Society, will lead two guided tours of his World Garden alongside Ann Swithinbank and Jane Perrone. There’ll also be cactus talks, demonstrations and workshops to attend, plus a range of familyfriendly entertainment, Mexican food and music. Tickets: £10; children under 15 free. Tel: 01322 862114; lullingstonecastle.co.uk

Splendour in the GRASS Knoll Gardens’ Festival of Grasses 1 September – 31 October, Dorset Autumn is when the gardens at Knoll reach a crescendo, showcasing the deep jewel colours of grasses and fallen leaves from rare trees and shrubs. The new Festival of Grasses marks 25 years since garden owner Neil Lucas arrived at Knoll and will feature a programme of events and workshops, including guided walks, grass masterclasses and photography workshops. Standard admission: £6.50; children £4.50. Tel: 01202 873931; knollgardens.co.uk

LOOKING AHEAD: AUTUMN 2 September-10 November, Yorkshire To mark RHS Harlow Carr’s 70th birthday, sculptors from around Yorkshire will create artwork to display for 70 days. Usual entry charge. Tel: 01423 565418; rhs.org.uk

Autumn Country Market 3 September, Lincolnshire Find over 60 plant, craft and food stalls at Easton Walled

Garden with beekeeping and botanical painting demos. Usual entry charge. Tel: 01476 530063; visiteaston.co.uk

Autumn Artisan Craft & Design Fair 6-8 September, Devon Browse gifts for home and garden from independent traders at RHS Rosemoor’s celebration of local talent. Usual entry charge. Tel: 01805 624067; rhs.org.uk

Harrogate Autumn Flower Show 13-15 September, Yorkshire Plan your plot with the help of expert demos, find inspiration in the Floral Pavilion and shop for garden gifts and gear. Tickets: £16.50 Tel: 01423 546157; flowershow.org.uk

Autumn Plant Fair 15 September, Suffolk Attend a range of gardening workshops and buy plants

from over 40 nurseries at this Helmingham Hall event, with live music and local food and drink. Tickets: £7; children free. Tel: 01473 890799; helmingham.com


Autumn Sculpture Trail



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Things to Do Keep up to date in the garden with our monthly guide to key gardening tasks

Checklist Begin to prune climbing roses as the flowers start to fade. Remove deador unhealthy-looking stems by cutting them to ground level. Plant springflowering bulbs such as daffodils, crocuses, scillas and hyacinths in borders and pots now. Protect ripening fruit from birds by covering with tightly stretched netting or growing trees and bushes inside a fruit cage.

With soil still warm from summer and reliably moist, autumn is a good time to divide established clumps of early summer-flowering perennials Once your perennials have finished flowering, either cut them down to tidy your borders or, if they have goodlooking stems and seedheads, leave them in place for winter interest. You can also lift well-established clumps, or any plants that are starting to go bare in the centre now, and divide them to make new plants and reinvigorate them. Summer-flowering perennials, such as delphiniums and daylilies, are best divided now, but if this autumn is wet and cold, or you have heavy clay soil, wait until spring. You should also wait until spring to divide tender perennials.

Method 1 If the weather has been dry, water perennials well the day before you divide them. 2 Use a fork or spade to lift the entire clump, bringing its whole rootball up and out of the soil.

3 Many wiry-rooted plants divide well using the back-toback forks method (left). Push two forks into the centre of the clump, back-to-back, then pull the handles in opposite directions to prise the clump apart. Repeat the process to produce more divisions if necessary. If the clumps are relatively small, you can often do the job with your hands. 4 Plants that have more woody roots, such as daylilies may need to be sliced into smaller portions using a knife or a sharp spade. 5 Dig organic matter into the soil before replanting the divisions in groups.

Plant autumn onion sets about 8cm apart in well-drained soil with the tips just visible. WORDS PHOEBE JAYES IMAGES GAP/HOWARD RICE; SHUTTERSTOCK

DIVIDE Perennials

Start mowing the lawn less frequently as growth slows and, towards the end of the month, remove thatch, aerate and top dress with a mix of two parts sieved soil, two parts sharp sand and one part sieved garden compost.


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Nature to Note

Your monthly guide to encouraging and caring for garden wildlife

Commonly SPOTTED How to help our native ladybird populations Appearance: The UK’s most common ladybird species are the seven-spot ladybird (pictured) and the two-spot ladybird. They have red wing cases and black spots, with the seven-spot ladybird being about 2–3mm larger. Habitat: Ladybirds hibernate in cracks, crevices and leaf litter over winter, but from April to October they can be found in gardens, parks, meadows and woods. What you can do: In April this year, a shocking report in Biological Conservation revealed that the world’s insects are headed towards extinction, largely due to overuse of pesticides. It’s more important than ever to encourage garden bugs, and ladybirds give back by eliminating pests. They eat pollen as well as aphids so plant pollen-rich plants and make a bug hotel with dry sticks for winter shelter.

Queen Anne’s Lace Anthriscus sylvestris, also known as Queen Anne’s Lace, cow parsley and mother die, is rich in folklore. The name ‘mother die’, was thought to stem from the fear that bringing the plant indoors could quite literally bring about the death of one’s mother. One explanation for the title ‘Queen Anne’s Lace’ was that Queen Anne would traditionally travel in the month of May, which is when the plant appears, leading people to believe the roadsides had been decorated in her honour.

Help wildlife this SEPTEMBER

Fatten up birds for winter; leave seedheads on plants; plant pollinator-friendly flowers; apply a mulch of fallen leaves Birds will be busy developing their winter plumage, thickening them with up to 70% more feathers for the colder months. Keep them well nourished by leaving out protein and fat-rich foods. Leave seedheads on plants and allow vegetation to die back naturally – this will provide food and shelter for garden wildlife in autumn and winter. Choose plants with attractive seedheads – echinacea or phlomis, say – to keep borders looking good. Plant herbaceous perennials at the end of the month, while the soil is warm from late-summer sun, but still moist. Choose nectar-rich perennials such as Verbena bonariensis, phlox, agastache, scabious and sedum to attract pollinators.

Spread fallen leaves over your flowerbeds to provide a rich mulch as well as a good habitat for birds, frogs and invertebrates.




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Harvest Time

Use these orchard accessories to take the strain out of autumn fruit gathering 10


1. Fruit picker basket and handle, £39.95. Tel: 0333 4006400; harrodhorticultural.com 2. Heathfield wicker trug basket, from £23. Tel: 01202 422600; thebasketcompany.com 3. The English Garden limited edition secateurs, £24.99. chelseamagazines.com 4. PowerGear X telescopic tree pruner, £84.02. Tel: 01903 776610; powertoolsdirect.com 5. Harvesting bag, £22.50. Tel: 01404 890093; vigopresses.co.uk 6. Garden bag, £15. Tel: 01993 845559; gardentrading.co.uk 7. Pear braided storage basket, £63.75. Tel: 0800 5877645; amara.com 8. Grafting knife, £15. Tel: 01404 890093; vigopresses.co.uk 9. Tripod ladder, from £169. Tel: 01747 445059; niwaki.com 10. Stihl Handycut folding saw, £24. Tel: 01905 619522; gardenmachinerydirect.co.uk






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3 4 1



Any old Iron


Rusted metal ornaments and accessories add weatherbeaten charm to the garden 1. Gallo rusty rooster, £38. Tel: 0345 2591410; artisanti.com 2. Rusty flower garden ornament, £21.50. Tel: 0344 5672400; thefarthing.co.uk 3. Davey well glass pendant, £269. Tel: 020 7351 2130; originalbtc.com 4. Lobster pot plant support, from £65. Tel: 0333 4006400; harrodhorticultural. com 5. Rusty pig sculpture, £55. Tel: 0344 8001895; shop.nationaltrust.org.uk 6. Nian planter, £119. Tel: 0800 5877645; amara.com 7. Abstract Zagora candlestick, £30 each. Tel: 020 8847 2212; rajtentclub.com/shop 8. Antiqued iron plant holders, £64. Tel: 020 8847 2212; rajtentclub. com/shop 9. Cow parsley sculpture, from £35. Tel: 0750 1213800; gardenartandsculpture.co.uk 10. Raw iron firebowl, £179.99. Tel: 0344 5672400; thefarthing.co.uk



8 9


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Last But Not Least Taking blue clay soil and strong south-westerly winds in her stride, Helen Keys has created a multi-faceted garden in the South Downs, whose finest hour comes with a glorious blast of late-summer colour WORDS STEPHANIE DONALDSON PHOTOGRAPHS MIMI CONNOLLY

In the vegetable garden, tagetes, potted salvias and dahlias mingle with rhubarb, cucumbers, red kale and amaranthus. SEPTEMBER 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 21

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Above Persicaria and eryngium prettily frame the expansive views out over the South Downs. Left In the front garden, a path flanked by box, teucrium and Bupleurum fruticosum leads to a sculptural, slatted hornbeam hedge.

elen Keys has a penchant for latebloomers. Indeed, of the many flowers she grows at Malthouse Farm they are among her favourites. She has designed her garden to be full of interest all year round, but it is now that it excites her the most, when the colours in the hot borders are at their vibrant best and vivid plants compete with one another to be the most eyecatching. Dahlias, salvias and tithonias stand almost as tall as the sunflowers at the backs of the borders, while lowergrowing plants in the foreground, including penstemons, sedums and nepetas, are interwoven with grasses and follow the curves of the lawn. But, as glorious as the hot borders are, there is far more to this five-anda-half acre garden. Surrounding the house is a series of intensively planted rooms including cottage and kitchen gardens and a box parterre. As you move further away, the detail and the bright colours gradually diminish as the garden progressively links to the wider landscape. A small orchard leads on to meadows featuring strong structural elements that include a pair of curving hornbeam hedges, a willow tunnel, a birch maze and a snail mound. It is a garden full of considered design and great planting that is a credit to the creative force behind it. When Helen and her husband Richard moved to Malthouse Farm outside Hassocks in West Sussex 20 years ago, it was the view of the South Downs that was the clincher: Helen knew it would make the perfect backdrop for the garden she planned to create. At the time there was hardly any garden in evidence, just some small borders close to the house, a lot of concrete and a huge paddock that was a legacy of the space’s previous use as a stud farm, where the owner raised Arabian horses. “We did a huge amount to the house and when that was done, I made a start on the garden, working outwards,” says Helen. “We put up all of the garden walls and planted all of the hedges except for the one between the old and new parts of the house. It came right up to the building, so I removed the section closest to it, reduced it in height, and cut an archway through from the one garden to the other – we just changed everything.” “I took a series of garden design classes run by a friend. That opened my eyes to a lot of things and


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Top left Softest peach-apricot rose ‘Cornelia’ features in the front garden and cottage garden borders. Top right Amaranthus is used both in the hot border and as a crop in the vegetable garden. Bottom left Dark, velvety, chocolate-scented flowers of Cosmos atrosanguineus. Bottom right Brilliant Penstemon ‘Garnet’ has elegant spires of tubular carmine-pink flowers.


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Above A towering clump of Dahlia ‘Autumn Lustre’ backs the Lutyens-style bench that is the focal point of a hot border

featuring sunflowers, Salvia verticillata ‘Purple Rain’, Hylotelephium ‘Autumn Joy’ and dahlias ‘Gallery Art Deco’ and ‘Mambo’.


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I have also been working with garden designer Alex Bell for the past 15 years. He and I have sort of grown-up together as gardeners and garden designers. Alex is now very busy with his design practice, but he still gardens with me – he says he loves coming out and getting his hands dirty. We bounce ideas off each other, although much of the structural work is my own design. I had done most of it before he came to work for me.” The garden is immaculately maintained, so as well as Alex and his assistant, Leila, there’s Nathan who looks after the lawns and someone who comes in to do the hedges. “We have quite a lot of help,” Helen admits, “but then this garden needs it.” Although it faces due south with no lack of sunshine, the garden is very vulnerable to hardhitting south-westerlies, so Helen has planted protective shelterbelts to filter the wind. As for the soil, she says: “It is terrible blue clay. We could make bricks! We have improved it hugely over the years by mulching with mushroom compost but I am concerned that the long-term use of such an alkaline mulch could affect the current neutral pH.” It has to be said that the entire garden is a picture of health, but Helen is sensible to keep an eye on this. In the hot borders, the virtual absence of any structural shrubs and a minimum of evergreen planting is striking. In such a large garden there isn’t

Top Helen’s brother, David Jackson, made the glass water feature at the arched entrance to the cottage garden. Middle Natural willow sculpture in the orchard. Bottom Helen Keys took classes in garden design to assist with her transformation of the Malthouse Farm garden.

the usual pressure for ‘year-round interest’ and because the borders are concealed from the house by the pleached hornbeam hedge, they can be cut back in late autumn and early winter, mulched and left dormant during the winter months. Plant supports are essential because of the strong winds, and Helen uses a combination of home-grown willow, together with pea sticks and metal supports and string. Her intention is that by the end of July the supporting structures will no longer be seen and that there will be no bare soil. Tucked into a corner of the late-summer garden is a striking louvred building painted chestnutbrown and ochre. “Originally it housed a Jacuzzi that Richard bought for me to sit in, in the garden” explains Helen. “Of course I never have time for that, so now it has been turned into a summerhouse with lovely views through the garden to the Downs.” There is much more to admire as you move from room to room. In the cottage garden, mixed borders feature roses, shrubs, perennials and herbs in a soft palette of colours, punctuated by box topiary. Box is widely used throughout, and Helen keeps it healthy by spraying with Topbuxus four or five times a year between April and September. “I thought I was going to have to take out the box parterres behind SEPTEMBER 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 25

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the house because they were so badly affected by blight, but it has made a huge difference.” All the box does look healthy and it’s hard to believe blight has ever been a problem here. Through the arch in the hedge and conveniently close to the kitchen, four large raised beds provide an abundance of vegetables and flowers for cutting. A central path leads between them to a gravel garden designed by Alex that was originally planned as another cutting garden. Helen, however, is increasingly filling it with salvias that thrive in this hot spot. “We’ve done an experiment with Salvia ‘Amistad’ this year,” says Helen. “We leave it in all year and it gets so tall, so this year we have given it the Chelsea chop to see if that works better.” Beyond the formal planting, the orchard is where Helen grows apples, plums and pears, as well as a quince, a medlar, an apricot and an almond. “Years ago I did a fruit growing course with Monty Don and he said I would never get fruit trees to grow here because it’s too windy – yet here they are.” A white metal gate leads through to the field planted with sinuous hedges of hornbeam that are designed to echo the distant Downs. Off to one side is the Jardin Plume-inspired meadow with its grid of grasses, which incorporates a variety of garden landforms, including the Birch Maze and the Snail Mound, from which you can look down on the meadow.

Top left The box parterre

features glass sculpture by David Jackson. Top right Towering sunflowers and Tithonia rotundifolia add a sense of colourful height at the back of the border. Above Orange ‘Autumn Lustre’ is one of Alex Bell’s favourite dahlias.

Working in a garden with so many different areas that demand such a lot of attention, how does Helen prioritise? Is she very disciplined about the tasks she intends to do? Helen’s response is a very definite no… “And I’m also very naughty because I have a bad habit of going out in my good clothes and shoes and before I know it I find myself in the middle of a border!” True gardeners will recognise a worthwhile sacrifice. n Malthouse Farm, Streat Lane, Streat, Hassocks BN6 8SA. Opens for the National Garden Scheme on Sunday 18 and Wednesday 21 August, 2-5.30pm and from 16 July to 30 September by arrangement. Tel: 01273 890356; ngs.org.uk


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6 issues of

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from just £19.50 For everyone who loves beautiful gardens. “The English Garden is a constant reminder of the beauty of English gardens, and keeps alive not only the British tradition of gardening but the passion that all gardeners feel for the plants and flowers that do so well in our cool temperate climate.” Alan Titchmarsh, TV presenter

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Ranks of potted agapanthus in the Dutch Garden; the pavilion is a legacy of the early tennis courts that used to occupy this area.


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Growing HOT & COLD At summer’s end, the gardens at Herefordshire’s Hampton Court Castle just keep on giving, offering a melee of formal and informal and warm and cool flowers and foliage WORDS JACKY HOBBS PHOTOGRAPHS CLIVE NICHOLS


ot to be confused with ‘the other Hampton Court’, the historic Grade I-listed Tudor manor house of Hampton Court Castle in Herefordshire precedes Henry VIII’s Surrey palace by over 70 years. Hampton Court Castle was built in 1427 by Sir Rowland Lenthall; its encircling gardens, like the castle itself, changing according to fashion and finances over the centuries. Originally the castle gardens would have been planted with ornamental, productive and medicinal plants, with the surrounding 1,000-acre wood dedicated to hunting. In the 18th century, fashionable Italianate gardens were added by eminent designers London and Wise, only to be erased in the 19th century by a more formal English landscape design. It was during this period that the current walled garden was built and a small glasshouse attached to the castle. In 1810 Richard Arkwright bought Hampton Court Castle and for three generations the gardens enjoyed renewed embellishment and investment. Joseph Paxton built a formidable, independent glasshouse and a fernery (now the Sunken Garden). The wisteria arch was planted in 1860 and one of England’s first tennis courts was built in 1880, in the spot now occupied by the Dutch Garden. Its pavilion is still evident today. Sadly, the property and gardens fell into decline during the war and frequently changed ownership. Its fortunes were revived in the 1990s, when, under the stewardship of the American businessman Robert Van Kampen, garden designer Simon Dorrell breathed new life into the gardens, which SEPTEMBER 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 29

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Above Water cascades and courses throughout the garden, eventually emerging in the sunken former fernery. Below Globes of Echinops bannaticus ‘Albus’ attract bees to the kitchen garden.

opened to the public in 2000. After Van Kampen’s death, The Daly family bought Hampton Court Castle in 2006, intent on preserving the character of the gardens while opening the castle itself to the visiting public. Simon’s design unified past and present. He introduced water into the gardens, linking previously fragmented areas while adding a sense of movement and musicality. He drew water up to the top of the garden from the nearby River Lugg, pumping it into the revised Dutch Garden’s new long, rectangular pool, which was formerly Arkwright’s tennis court. From here, the water cascades down staircases and through canals and spills into the heart of the Walled Flower Gardens, which are broadly cut with a lavender-edged waterway. Twin handcrafted oak pergolas, built by local craftsmen, straddle the water and are accessed by a series of wooden bridges. These offer glimpses into a series of compartmentalised Elizabethan-style flowering knot gardens and parterres, with each themed enclosure incorporating different colours and styles. The water then courses swiftly underground, beneath a huge, undulating yew hedge, which runs westwards, parallel to the walled garden, trapping billowing lavender, lemon-themed herbaceous flower borders and the surviving 19th-century wisteria arch in between. Finally, with a flurry of streams, falls and pools, the water resurfaces in the former Victorian fernery, which is now the Sunken Garden. You can walk right behind the waterfall and enter a subterranean passage that Simon created to connect to a three-storey, stone, gothic-style viewing tower, which is the epicentre of the 21st-century maze. More than 1,000 yews were planted to create the classic horticultural puzzle which, on scrutiny, bears Van Kampen’s initials. Scale the tower for a bird’s-eye view of the gardens and you can start to piece together this intricate garden jigsaw before attempting to fathom your way out. In late summer, it is two contrasting garden rooms that draw the greatest attention. In the kitchen garden, the informal tangle of ripening fruit, vegetables and flowers is warm and mellow. In complete contrast are the soothing blues and greens of the clean-cut Dutch Garden, enveloped in emerald yew and bisected by a rectangular mirror of still water. It’s lined with rectangular box parterres and decorated with box quatrefoils, a design directly lifted from the castle’s ballroom ceiling. In the middle of each parterre, and underplanted with lavender ‘Little

th a flurr strea s alls and p ls the water resur aces n the r er erner


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The maze hedges, formed of 1,000 yews, spell out the initials ‘VK’, for former owner, Robert Van Kampen.


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Sapphire agapanthus spill from double rows of terracotta pots either side of the canal

Above Gail Bridges keeps the Dutch Garden pristine by regularly skimming algae from the rectangular pool. Below Dahlias, sweet peas and zinnias in the packed borders of the kitchen garden.

Lady’, are alternate columnar yews, Taxus baccata ‘Fastigiata’, and fresh green, domed mushrooms of the Portuguese laurel, Prunus lusitanica. Sapphire agapanthus spill from double rows of terracotta pots either side of the 26m-long central canal that gardener Gail Bridges cleans daily, removing blanket weed and pollen scum. The agapanthus, which have occupied the same pots for several years, are planted in a free-draining mixture of compost and grit. “I water the pots weekly and apply a seaweed feed every other week,” Gail explains. The two-acre walled garden is swathed in flowers and enveloped in perfume – it’s more of a kitchencome-cutting garden, both colourful and culinary. Organic methods are employed, and companion planting combats pests and diseases while adding charm and beauty. Many of the plants start life each year from seed grown in the glasshouse. “Growing from seed means I can try a variety of heritage and other vegetables and ring the changes with the flowers to suit my colour schemes,” says Gail. Fruit espaliers and tall yew hedging cordon off more intimate growing spaces, while orchards and wildflower meadows grow beside cutting patches of dahlias designed to draw in pollinators and the beneficial insects that safeguard the garden’s produce. “Masses of single or semi-double-flowered dahlias attract pollinators and tend to be hardier and lower maintenance than double blooms,” advises Gail. “I particularly wanted to encourage pollinators into the garden, so each vegetable is coupled with flowering herbs or flowers.” Defensive principals apply more fully in the more regimented portion of the productive garden which is laid out geometrically with 28 oak-edged raised beds. Here pest-deterring plantings and religious crop rotation intensify output. Hyssop accompanies lettuces, while nitrogen-fixing clover follows nutrient-depleting root crops like carrots and parsnips. Gail uses other organic methods of pest control including nematodes and beer traps for marauding slugs and snails. She staggers sowings for a successional supply of produce, or makes two separate sowings, one early and one late. Occasionally she lets a few plants to bolt, distracting pests away from newer and more succulent arrivals. Hampton Court Castle, Hope under Dinmore, Herefordshire HR6 0PN. Open daily until Sunday 3 November, 10.30am to 5pm. Tel: 01568 797777; hamptoncourtcastle.co.uk


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Hampton Court’s DUAL-PURPOSE PLANTS Bright flowers fill the kitchen garden with colour, as well as luring pollinating insects




Abundant bicolour flowers on this compact, multi-headed sunflower.

Seedlings of this dahlia spring up, with flowers tending towards being single.



This scented, delicate annual lupin flowers over a long period. Soak and sow the hard-coated seeds in spring.

Sow this half-hardy annual in mid-spring and plant out after the frosts for longstemmed flowers in vibrant orange.





Gail uses red clover as a green manure in vacant vegetable beds to replenish soil fertility as part of her crop rotation.

Architectural artichokes are a real focal point, with their large silver leaves and bold, thistle-topped flower stems.

This L. longifolium hybrid has elegantly elongated trumpets with superb scent. It’s gorgeous paired with blue eryngium.

Plum-purple domed flowerheads on a statuesque 1.2m plant with bold leaves attract all kinds of pollinators.

Pale-yellow petals with a circular flare of crimson on this 1.8m tall sunflower.


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Below Using flowers

such as single dahlias, penstemon and ‘Blue Bedder’ echiums helps lure pollinators to the flowers of crops. Bottom Hyssop pokes out between rows of slug-free lettuces.

COMPANION Planting Advice on producing organic crops, from gardener Gail Bridges Grow simple species and pollinator-pulling flowers among fruit and vegetables to attract beneficial insects. Borage, Echium vulgare ‘Blue Bedder’, Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’ and Hyssop officinalis are our favourites.

Use strongly scented or pungent plants, to distract pests and create a physical barrier from edible targets. Fennel, Foeniculum vulgare, distracts low-flying carrot fly, while alliums, calendula and chives distract aphids from lettuce and broccoli.

Include dual-purpose, insect-friendly flowers for cutting, such as globe artichoke, Cynara cardunculus, Echinops bannaticus ‘Albus’, eryngium, dahlia, helianthus and phlox.

Plant pest-specific plant deterrents. Key combinations include: slug-repelling hyssop with lettuces; summer savory, Satureja hortensis, with broad beans to deter black bean aphids; hoverfly-

attracting pot marigolds (Calendula officinalis), with kale to prevent outbreaks of aphids; and nasturtiums with tomatoes and cucumbers to deter whitefly. Plant sacrificial plants around sacred plants. For example, basil distracts whitefly from tomatoes, radishes encourage root fly away from cabbage, and you could also allow a few lettuces to bolt to distract pests from succeeding crops. n


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For everyone who loves beautiful gardens. “The English Garden is a constant reminder of the beauty of English gardens, and keeps alive not only the British tradition of gardening but the passion that all gardeners feel for the plants and flowers that do so well in our cool temperate climate.” Alan Titchmarsh, TV presenter

The English Garden is your monthly source of inspiration for beautiful gardens. Every issue delights its readers with beautiful photography, captivating stories, expert planning advice and glorious design ideas, all delivered with a passion for Britain’s best gardens. Subscribing to The English Garden will ensure that you receive your own copy, delivered to your door, to enjoy it before it is on sale in the shops. You also save money on the shop price and, in the UK, benefit from free postage.

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A large clump of Persicaria polymorpha fits the informal planting style at Poole Cottage, with Lythrum salicaria and crocosmia.


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The Birth of A CLASSIC

With big results achieved on a small budget in just eight years, the three-acre garden at Poole Cottage in Herefordshire already offers a contemporary twist on the traditional English garden WORDS NOEL KINGSBURY PHOTOGRAPHS REBECCA BERNSTEIN


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Above Grasses act as the ‘evergreens’ in this big, banked border, with a frothy mass of Alchemilla mollis at the front. Below Bronze fennel seeds into and around a gravelled seating area.


irst impressions count. Especially in a landscape as generous and beautiful as the Wye Valley where Herefordshire meets Gloucestershire. Jo Ward-Ellison and Roy Smith’s cottage sits hidden in a dip on a wooded hillside. Enter the garden from the house and your eye will inevitably be drawn up a grassy slope, at the end of which sits a rather impressive border, filled with big grasses and perennials. At first it isn’t obvious that it belongs to the cottage, but the mind quickly makes a connection with a strong showing of grasses in the more formal area near the house. “Originally,” explains Jo, “we were going to put some traditional clipped planting close to the house, integrated with shrubs and filled with perennials, but instead we have used grasses to take the place of the evergreens, which seemed to fit better with our plan to create a modern country garden.” The use of grasses is not surprising, since Jo recalls a pivotal experience in her life as a gardener being a visit to Bury Court in Hampshire: “The Piet Oudolf design gave me that lightbulb moment… it showed me how a garden could look and feel very different to gardens I had visited before. I still remember it so clearly,” she says. This inspired Jo to take a course in garden design at Merrist Wood College in Surrey in 2002, and she has worked as a designer and garden manager ever since. But she hasn’t always been a gardener: “As a youngster I avoided it, but Roy had grown up gardening with his


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A belt of Persicaria amplexicaulis stretches along a grassy path, its wiry pink flowers reaching for the sky.


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Poole Cottage’s PERENNIAL PLANTS These mostly informal perennials blend well with grasses for a contemporary look




Pastel pink and apricot flowers mean that this dahlia is entirely in keeping with Jo’s soft, textural planting.

As it matures and flowers, the foliage of bronze fennel loses its purplish tint.

Flowering from June to September above a neat, spreading mat of leaves, this makes excellent groundcover.




With flowers in fiery coral-red, this crocosmia tones perfectly with bronze and beige grass flowerheads.

Also known as meadowsweet, this is a superb choice for moist soils, thriving in stream or pondside locations.

Vivid purple flowers help this cultivar stand out. Protect the crowns of the plant over winter in cold areas.



Tall spikes of purple hooded white flowers are produced in high summer, above a mound of large-toothed leaves.

Pink-flowered echinaceas are always the most vigorous, holding their own in mixed planting and reliably hardy.

SANGUISORBA ‘PINK TANNA’ Bobbly flowers are borne above large clumps of deeply divided leaves.


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Top Stipa tenuissima spills over the path at the front of a border with cotinus and spiraea. Above Jo Ward-Ellison, who has created the garden from scratch.

parents, who grew all their own vegetables. But making our first garden together in London changed everything.” The couple then moved to Herefordshire in 2008 and found themselves with three acres of land; two they fenced, leaving the other for the local deer. This is a magnificent setting, with a wooded hillside to the rear, but extensive views from every other angle. “I needed to plan the garden on a scale that would fit in with such a wide outlook and blend into the natural landscape as well as keeping to the scale of the existing large and overgrown pond,” says Jo. “I have always been into creating gardens not just growing plants. This is an old industrial area with old quarries and lime kilns up on the hill, so the soil is a mixture. It’s definitely fertile and generally a good loam, but some of it is quite heavy, there’s some exposed subsoil around the pond, and in other places some of it is quite thin and chalky.” A plan was decided on and most of the trees and hedges were planted early in 2011.

“We put in hedging to create big curves that reflect the natural landscape here”

Now there is everything you would hope to find in a country garden: a vegetable garden with an edible hedge made up of berry-bearing plants, an orchard, a pond, roses growing informally in long grass, a hazel copse and some formal planting. But it wasn’t always like this. “The site was a blank canvas,” says Jo. “It needed a strong structure and we wanted to divide it into different areas, without the expense of changing levels.” The couple also wanted to be able to concentrate their maintenance efforts in clearly defined areas. Their solution was to use trees and shrubs to create patterns, while leaving relatively large swathes of unmown grass with paths cut through to create a graphic sense of order and make it clear that the lack of mowing was deliberate. “We put in hedging to create big curves that reflect the natural landscape here,” explains Jo, “and arranged the orchard on a grid pattern with mown paths crisscrossing through it, as well as planting an avenue of small flowering trees.” This avenue consists of varieties of malus and sorbus and creates a sight-line through to the big border at the end of the garden. The formal garden closest to the house has a red, pink and green colour scheme, and is clearly the heart of the garden. It features lots of big robust perennials, with lines of Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’, and blocks of miscanthus, which SEPTEMBER 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 41

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together make a statement from early summer to late winter. In between there are varieties of sanguisorba, big long-flowering clumps of Persicaria amplexicaulis, the striking dark-purple foliage of Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’ and, at ground level, creeping Persicaria affinis and feathery Stipa tenuissima, the latter short-lived but reliably self-seeding. Amid this planting, a strikingly pink chair creates a structural focal point. Sanguisorba tenuifolia var. alba also makes an impact. “It’s a wonderful plant,” enthuses Jo. “We have a whole ribbon of it, curving through two beds, and it produces lovely ferny foliage from quite early on with tall clusters of white catkin-like flowers in mid-summer.” In spring there are plenty of daffodils (mostly Narcissus ‘Thalia’), and clumps of acid-green Euphorbia characias. “I tend to use the same thing in different ways, either singly or in groups,” notes Jo. It is this repetition that is one of the most effective aspects of the garden, subtly outlining where the garden is in the landscape, while giving it a sense of rhythm. The repetition also reflects how Jo and Roy created the garden on something of a shoestring. “We didn’t have money for masses of plants,” says Jo, “so we propagated them ourselves. I started off with one plant of Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ bought from Knoll Gardens in Dorset, and all the others have been divisions from that initial plant. We’ve divided a lot of our perennial clumps too, and we’ve taken winter hardwood cuttings from some of our shrubs, like the dogwoods.”

Repetition subtly outlines where the garden is in the landscape, while giving it a sense of rhythm

HOW TO Manage weeds

Jo and Roy on how to cope with weed problems in the fertile soil of the mild and wet west of Britain “If it doesn’t spread or compete with other plants I leave it,” says Jo. This is particularly important when managing mare’s tail (or horsetail, equisetum species), generally reckoned to be one of the trickiest weeds. “You’ll never get rid of it, so we just grow other large plants around it – it has actually got nice foliage.” “I always say to people ‘know what your weeds look like’, so that way you can distinguish between

them and your own plants that are self-seeding,” suggests Jo. Manage your time effectively and if you just don’t have time to completely dig out and remove weeds, you can at least keep them in check and stop them from setting seed. Concentrate on easy targets. Jo says she has spent years focusing on pulling out ragwort, with the result that it has now mostly disappeared from the garden.

Jo is delighted by the increased birdlife in the garden, observing that its habitat has constantly changed as the trees and shrubs planted just eight years ago have grown up. Indeed, research from the University of Sheffield’s BUGS project has shown that diversity of habitat, the presence of trees in particular, is the most important factor in making a garden attractive to wildlife. This is an ambitious garden that has turned its back on the traditional romantic notion of an English country garden to embrace a contemporary spirit. It is still young and rapidly developing, and is sure to mature to become a classic of its time. n Top left Structural allium

seedheads are left intact. Top right Shaggy flowers of leucanthemum make a good contrast with the whippy bottlebrush blooms of persicaria. Above Jo has matched her planting to the wide sweeping landscape.

Poole Cottage, Coppett Hill, Goodrich, Rosson-Wye, Herefordshire HR9 6JH. Open by arrangement for the National Garden Scheme until 30 September. Tel: 01600 890148; ngs.org.uk


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6 issues of

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from just £19.50 For everyone who loves beautiful gardens. “The English Garden is a constant reminder of the beauty of English gardens, and keeps alive not only the British tradition of gardening but the passion that all gardeners feel for the plants and flowers that do so well in our cool temperate climate.” Alan Titchmarsh, TV presenter

The English Garden is your monthly source of inspiration for beautiful gardens. Every issue delights its readers with beautiful photography, captivating stories, expert planning advice and glorious design ideas, all delivered with a passion for Britain’s best gardens. Subscribing to The English Garden will ensure that you receive your own copy, delivered to your door, to enjoy it before it is on sale in the shops. You also save money on the shop price and, in the UK, benefit from free postage.

“The English Garden is revered worldwide and it’s fantastic how this style of gardening has long been represented in this beautiful and informative magazine.” Chris Beardshaw, award-winning garden designer & TV presenter

Plus FREE BURGON & BALL SECATEURS Gift offer applies to UK Direct Debit orders only.

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Royal TAPESTRY The productive walled garden at the impressive Floors Castle in Kelso has been revamped to include stunning ornamental planting, with layers of plants woven together to create an astonishing patterned effect that makes the most of texture and colour WORDS JO WHITTINGHAM PHOTOGRAPHS RAY COX

Hot coloured borders lead to the grand Head Gardener’s House within Floors’ spectacular four-acre walled garden.


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jewel in the Scottish borders, Floors Castle was built by the first Duke of Roxburghe in 1721 as a Georgian country house, with views over the river Tweed towards the Cheviot Hills beyond. Between 1837 and 1847, the castle was transformed by the architect William Playfair into the romantic, turreted design that still stands amid the idyllic wooded parkland of the vast Roxburghe Estate. Now the family home of the 10th Duke of Roxburghe, and the largest inhabited castle in Scotland, it is also well known for its spectacular four-acre walled garden, which lies to the west and is completely hidden from view by tall trees. Built in 1865, the walled garden still plays an important traditional role in the day-to-day life of the castle, supplying fruit and vegetables for the table along with cut flowers and decorative plants to adorn the numerous rooms. Under the creative influence of Virginia, the Duchess of Roxburghe, an interior designer by trade, it has also become an incredibly vibrant ornamental garden. She has been able to draw upon the extensive plant knowledge and enthusiasm of head gardener Andrew Simmons, who came to Floors in 2006, having previously been head gardener at Balmoral. “Andy and I have developed it together, with the help and advice of Jim Marshall and Sarah Cook,” the Duchess explains. Jim Marshall first became involved during the early 1990s, when he worked as a gardens advisor for the National Trust and was asked for advice following storm damage to the Star Plantation, an area of ornamental woodland between the castle and the walled garden. He later helped to create the Millennium Garden, which was laid out in an area adjoining the walled garden where there was once a rose garden, overlooked from an upper terrace by the Queen’s House (so named because it was built for a visit by Queen Victoria) and a huge range of glasshouses. Jim designed an elegant French-style parterre displaying the initials of the Duke and Duchess in crisp gravel and the Roman numerals MM planted in box to mark the year 2000. “The second stage of the parterre involved planting Scottish varieties of apple trees that were trained in the French style,” says Jim. Almost 20 years later, these carefully pruned specimens of ‘Bloody Ploughman’, ‘Scotch Dumpling’ and ‘Galway Pippin’ clothe their circular frames and are laden with fruit in early autumn. SEPTEMBER 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 45

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Attention then shifted to developing borders in the walled garden, where Jim and his wife Sarah Cook, who was then head gardener at Sissinghurst in Kent, worked together on the silver and blue border that runs parallel to the Terrace Café. They were, however, keen to retain the vast double herbaceous borders that run the entire width of the walled garden and are planted for spring colour in one half and for high summer in the other. “The summer borders were, to my mind, the best herbaceous borders in Scotland and some of the best in Britain,” explains Jim. “In the Scottish tradition they were not planted according to a colour scheme – it was just a case of go for it!” This theme was enriched and is still maintained today, resulting in a riot of colour that rises up to meet swags of deep-pink Rosa ‘American Pillar’ and R. ‘Dorothy Perkins’ at the back of the borders. Bold groups of pink Eupatorium maculatum Atropurpureum Group, Phlox paniculata and Persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Firetail’, stand alongside contrasting swathes of yellow solidago and burnished orange Helenium ‘Moerheim Beauty’. These vibrant colours are interspersed with the cooler silvery-blues of Perovskia ‘Blue Spire’ and echinops, and tall white Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Apollo’. The result is a clever patchwork, given cohesion by the regular repetition of plants along the borders, so that, in Andrew’s words: “they ‘jump’ from one side to the other”. He uses the same technique to create balance in the double Hot Border running along the garden’s east wall, which is filled with the characteristic fiery reds, oranges and yellows of late summer. This is one of the Duchess’s favourite parts of the garden: “I find the Hot Border rather wonderful because it’s colours that I wouldn’t necessarily work with in the house, but in the garden you can be brave and it looks fantastic.” By September, bright yellow daisies are weaving their way through the packed planting, from lowgrowing Rudbeckia fulgida var. deamii up to tall ranks of Helenium autumnale ‘Gartensonne’ and Rudbeckia laciniata ‘Herbstsonne’. Feathery drifts of fennel and the flat flowerheads of orange Achillea ‘Terracotta’ and cerise A. ‘Fanal’ add softness, while orange spikes of Kniphofia uvaria ‘Nobilis’ rise like rockets at the back of the border, their form repeated down towards the path with the yellow of K. ‘Wrexham Buttercup’ and salmon K. ‘Timothy’. Andrew punctuates the planting with the rich purple foliage of Lysimachia ciliata ‘Firecracker’, Angelica gigas and Atriplex hortensis var. rubra to accentuate the vivid blooms, as well as Amaranthus ‘Garnet Red’, with its cascading red flowerheads. Crocosmias and fuchsias spill over onto the gravel path, which leads the eye towards the rather grand Head Gardener’s House.

Top Late-blooming heleniums add a warm glow to the hot borders. Middle Head gardener Andrew Simmons has been working at Floors Castle since 2006. Bottom Agastache’s blue flowers stand out against a backdrop of golden rod, solidago.


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Above The herbaceous In 2016, the plant borders offer a typically centre that had Scottish riot of colour. previously dominated Left The textured beauty the walled garden was of the Tapestry Garden. closed and a new garden created in its place. In collaboration with the garden designer Angel Collins, Jim and Sarah seized the opportunity to move away from the formality in the rest of the walled garden and designed the Tapestry Garden, which is made up of curving beds and intertwining gravel paths to allow visitors to become immersed in the planting. “I was very keen to have single plants, or small groups of three, that are much more interwoven than they are in the herbaceous borders to give a tapestry effect,” explains Sarah. “We have also underplanted spring bulbs and perennials, such as dicentras and pulmonarias, to provide layers of seasonality.” The height and varied foliage of Gillenia trifoliata, sanguisorbas, veronicastrums and the ripening hips of Rosa


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HOT COLOURS AT Floors Castle A fiery mix of annuals and perennials fan the flames of Floors’ hot borders




This 60cm tall perennial will flower continuously from August to October.

Handsome clumps of hemp agrimony will attract bees and butterflies.

Purple foliage and deep-red flower tassels on this half-hardy annual.




Daisy flowers in glowing marmalade shades of yellow, orange and red.

A golden-flowered cultivar with delicate arching stems and strappy leaves.



Goldenrod is a vigorous plant, so keep on top of its spread to prevent it from overpowering its neighbours.


In the Mediterranean bright-blue and Plant tubers invivid mid-spring to enjoy the pink salvias. agap anthus flecked and splashed bicolour flowers of artemisia contrasts with this dahlia latepink. summer and autumn. Sawyer and in vivid

Zesty yellow flowers rise from grassy leaves on this reliable red hot poker.

Sprays of tangerine Turk’s cap lilies add a touch of the exotic. Try ‘Tsing’ for deep orange flowers similar to this one.


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‘Geranium’ make it a fascinating space to explore, set off beautifully by the surrounding dark purple hedges of Prunus cerasifera ‘Pissardii’. Opposite the Tapestry Garden is an area devoted to vegetables, which boasts an impressive fruit cage at its heart, built in 2016 out of oak from the estate, and adorned with acorn finials and plaques bearing the names of previous head gardeners. Four surrounding decorative beds, designed by Angel Collins, are filled with silver, purple and blue, and backed by step-over apples. Immaculate rows of crops, including asparagus, cabbages, kale, peas and Jerusalem artichokes are grown to supply the house and café. Andrew is always moving things around and trying new crops, keeping weeding and digging to a minimum by thickly mulching with compost after harvesting and planting through it in spring. Traditional beds of peonies and delphiniums can be found beyond the vegetable garden, with a collection of hemerocallis, planted as part of an RHS trial. The glasshouses, lined with colourful blocks of Dahlia ‘Patricia’ and pink crinum lilies, are managed by gardener Simon McManus. One houses peaches, nectarines and vines dripping with fruit, while the others are packed with dazzling streptocarpus, pelargoniums, fuchsias and chrysanthemums, and specimens of bougainvillea and Jasminum sambac, ready to fill the rooms of the castle. The real joy of this garden is that while the Duchess of Roxburghe and her skilled horticultural team are looking to future developments, they continue to make full use of it in its traditional,

Above Immaculate drills of cabbages and asparagus line up in front of a large oak fruit cage and glasshouses.

productive role. Her Grace’s enthusiasm is clear when she says: “It’s a fantastic walled garden, which we’re really trying to bring back to its heyday.” n Floors Castle, Kelso, Roxburghshire TD5 7SF. Opens to the public, 10.30am to 5pm, April to October; 10.30am to 4pm, November to March. Tel: 01573 223333; floorscastle.com

Brilliant BORDERS Perennial planting advice from Andrew Simmons Lift and divide plants every two to three years to keep them healthy and vigorous.

starting in November and covering the plants; they will grow up through it in the spring.

Contain the growth of thuggish plants, such as Lysimachia ciliata ‘Firecracker’ by submerging barriers around them beneath the soil.

Monitor plants throughout the year and mark any that need to be divided or are in the wrong place so that you know what to do in spring.

Stretch netting between posts along the back of a border and allow plants to grow through it for additional support.

Constantly tweak the borders and put something new in every year, to keep them looking fresh and keep people interested.

Pile a thick 8cm (3in) layer of home-made garden compost on the borders every year to enrich the soil,

There are always gaps to fill, so have a few plants like dahlias and malope ready to drop in. SEPTEMBER 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 49

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THE GRANGE Pennisetum, miscanthus and stipa fill large beds with textural flowers and spiky forms, alongside Verbena bonariensis.

Lost & FOUND

An overgrown Oxfordshire garden, filled with tantalisingly half-hidden features, has been lovingly brought back to life by Vicky and Peter Farren, whose knowledge has grown with the planting WORDS LIZ WARE PHOTOGRAPHS ALEXANDRA DAVIES


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Top On the lake’s island, a gazebo and deck are positioned to soak up the evening sun. Above Sedum and salvia mingle with fountains of grasses.

ooking across the lake at The Grange in Chalgrove, Oxfordshire, to a tapestry of late-summer colour, it’s hard to believe that this beautiful garden almost didn’t happen. A little over 12 years ago, its creators, Vicky and Peter Farren, were planning to move to Cambridgeshire. Although they scarcely had time for their one-acre garden in North London, Vicky had a hankering for something larger and more interesting beyond the suburbs. Of the many sets of property particulars that dropped through the letterbox, one caught Vicky’s attention. “The Grange looked intriguing,” she recalls “but it was in Oxfordshire not Cambridgeshire, so I put it straight in the bin.” A few days later, one of their daughters needed a lift to Heathrow. Realising she would be within an easy drive of Chalgrove, Vicky retrieved the details from the rubbish and planned her detour. “As soon as I drove through the avenue of trees at the entrance, I knew this was the one,” she admits. “I almost didn’t care what state the house was in.” Although in need of work, the house was in reasonable condition. It had been well constructed from Oxfordshire stone by a local farmer for his growing family in the 1950s. He had built it close to a stream and then created a garden from the surrounding field, digging a large lake with an island, fortifying the banks of the stream with enormous boulders, and planting great hedges of yew, beech and hundreds of conifers. By the time Vicky Farren made her first visit, large areas of the garden had been abandoned. “It reminded me of


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Clockwise from top left

Cooking apples ripen on the tree; statuesque eupatorium, with its fluffy flowers, is a classic of prairie planting; vintage apple crates; Echinacea purpurea with Stipa tenuissima; the long-lasting golden flowers of helenium.

The Sleeping Beauty,” she says. “It looked as if no one had set foot in it for 20 years. In places it was completely overgrown, but the bones were there.” Perhaps it was fortunate for this garden-in-waiting that Peter’s horticultural knowledge was so limited. He accepted Vicky’s assurances that the ten acres would be low maintenance. “When was ten acres ever low-maintenance!” she says, laughing. Since his retirement, Peter has got more involved, though. “I wouldn’t be taken in quite so easily now!” he insists. It took months to hack a way through the undergrowth. “We were dealing with years of deferred maintenance,” notes Vicky. To their surprise, completely hidden in the thickest vegetation was a very deep pond. With the help of the team SEPTEMBER 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 53

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working on the house, they reduced its depth and made it more manageable. But it was a puzzle: why would anyone dig such a deep pond when there was already a lake? The answer came when Vicky conducted a garden tour for a private group. “I know because I dug it,” one visitor announced. “It was a swimming pond for the owner’s children.” Hundreds of conifers were removed during those first few months. “They were planted only feet apart and most were dead or dying. We used the wood to make gates, furniture and a pretty shack on stilts at the side of the pond where our son and daughter-inlaw spent their wedding night,” says Vicky. There wasn’t a masterplan for the garden’s development. Work began on each new area as time permitted. Because the garden sits in a frost pocket and is visited by deer, it was essential that Vicky, a former florist, extended her plant knowledge. She studied for the RHS Level 1 and 2 Practical Horticulture qualifications as she gardened, expanding the garden as her knowledge grew. Perhaps as a result, each section of the 10 acres at The Grange has an atmosphere all of its own. “One of the things I love about the garden is that I feel completely different in each part of it,” she explains.

“One of the things I love about the garden is that I feel completely different in each part of it” Top A wooden bridge leads across the lake, now cleared of reeds and its island planted. Above Eupatorium maculatum and Nicotiana mutabilis in the herbaceous border.

The herbaceous border was one of the first areas to be created. The tall yew hedge, part of the ‘bones’ of the old garden provided a perfect backdrop. “There wasn’t a flower to be seen here when we moved in,” Vicky remembers. “We reduced the height of the hedge by about a metre and cut gaps to give views through to the old apple orchard behind.” In late summer, the dark pinks of Eupatorium maculatum, Atriplex hortensis var. rubra and Hylotelephium ‘Thunderhead’ complement a rich mix of salvias and clumps of Echinacea purpurea. Layers of blue are provided by Perovskia ‘Blue Spire’ and Nepeta racemosa ‘Walker’s Low’, punctuated by drifts of Nicotiana mutabilis. Visitors to the garden are always amazed to see the ‘before and after’ photographs of the lake and stream, both of which were once clogged with SEPTEMBER 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 55

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reeds. In the streamside border, Ricinus communis, canna and Darmera peltata, are interspersed with Helenium ‘Moerheim Beauty’ and Sorbaria sorbifolia ‘Sem’. The island, once completely overgrown, is home to exotic looking Gunnera manicata, Rodgersia pinnata, and a wide range of healthy hostas – slugs are dealt with efficiently by visiting ducks. The gazebo is positioned here with a west-facing deck for enjoying sundowners. “Not that I’ve ever had time to sit there,” adds Vicky wryly. Given the amount of lush vegetation, it’s little surprise to learn that the Farrens make their own compost and leafmould. “Nothing is wasted,” says Vicky. The garden’s fertility is boosted by the horses that graze between the meadow and the wildflower meadow, and their owner, a family friend, helps Vicky in the vegetable garden. As Vicky points out, “there’s too much for us to do on our own.” A few years ago, Vicky went to a talk by Piet Oudolf. This was the start of her love for grasses and an enduring interest in prairie planting. She decided to create prairie beds in a field beyond the lake. By now a little more knowledgeable about gardens than when they first moved in, Peter spoke up. “He decided we had enough garden already, but I didn’t listen,” says Vicky. “It was hard work,” she admits. “We’re blessed with neutral soil but some parts are easier to dig than others. Occasionally I had to use a pick-axe to get through the clay.”

Top Blue-flowered Catananche caerulea with Pennisetum ‘Fairy Tails’ in the prairie beds. Above Bold ricinus and cannas thrive in the moist soil by the stream.

“The combination of latesummer evening light and the beauty of the grasses has moved me to tears”

Vicky visited Le Jardin Plume in France with friends and came back inspired. Gradually, the area devoted to grasses and prairie planting expanded. The result is a striking mix of Echinops bannaticus, Echinacea purpurea and Salvia sclarea var. turkestanica. But it is the grasses that bring Vicky most joy. Beds of Pennisetum ‘Fairy Tails’, Stipa gigantea, Miscanthus sinensis ‘Ferner Osten’ and Stipa tenuissima are interplanted with Verbena bonariensis and catananche. “The combination of late-summer evening light and the beauty of the grasses has moved me to tears,” Vicky admits. “In the low sun, the miscanthus are magical.” There’s little doubt that the long and gradual process of revealing the garden glimpsed beneath the undergrowth on Vicky’s first visit to The Grange has brought her great pleasure. “I had no idea what I was taking on but I’ve never felt sorry that I started. It has been an adventure and an amazing privilege and I really enjoy sharing the results.” n The Grange, Berrick Road, Chalgrove, Oxfordshire OX44 7RQ. Opens for the National Garden Scheme by arrangement until 31 October. Tel: 01865 400883; ngs.org.uk


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Thirty Favourite Gardens Thousands of you nominated your favourite National Garden Scheme garden – now it’s time to vote for the winner from our shortlist of 30



hroughout spring and early summer, you have been nominating your favourite gardens from the vast array that open their doors to the public for the National Garden Scheme, as part of our competition to find the nation’s favourite. We received thousands of nominations, from which our panel of judges – National Garden Scheme chief executive George Plumptre, garden designer Paul Hervey-Brooks, garden photographer Clive Nichols and The English Garden’s editor Clare Foggett – have selected a shortlist. There are 30 shortlisted gardens, five in each of the Scheme’s six regions (South East, South West, East, Midlands,

Wales & The Marches and North). They’re the result of nominations that truly reflect the diversity of gardens within the National Garden Scheme, from small private gardens to well-known attractions; from contemporary to timeless and traditional. Now we move to the second phase of the competition: voting to choose the winners, one for each region, and one overall champion. Visit theenglishgarden.co.uk/ngs between now and 30 September to place your vote for your favourite shortlisted garden. And don’t forget that by voting, you could also win a fantastic River Danube cruise with our partners Viking. See theenglishgarden. co.uk/offers/win-a-viking-cruise for details.

In association with


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South East

ir Edwin Lutyens laid out The Salutation in Sandwich, Kent, in 1912. Today the gardens include a series of symmetrical rooms each with a different purpose and the flamboyant planting includes heirloom, rare and drought-tolerant plants. For 40 years, Great Dixter, in Kent, was the home of gardener and garden writer Christopher Lloyd. Now under the stewardship of Fergus Garrett and the Great Dixter Charitable Trust, its planting reflects a combination of Lloyd’s creativity and Garrett’s skill. Seven walled sections comprise the three-acre gardens at Little Court in Winchester, Hampshire. Dating from the 19th century, the gardens include fulsome herbaceous

borders, and thousands of naturalised crocuses that bloom in spring, making it a superb place to visit early in the year. Rich summer colour abounds in later months. The Old Rectory in Farnborough, Berkshire, was once the home of John Betjeman. This is a classic parsonage garden with herbaceous borders, roses, a secret garden, productive garden and even an arboretum and bog garden. The property dates from 1749. Kew Green Gardens in London is actually five discrete but adjoining gardens that combine to form one large and unique space extending over one-and-a-half acres. Borders are low and contribute to viewing, while clematis and roses climb between gardens to unite the whole.

The Salutation

Great Dixter

Little Court

Kew Green Gardens

The Old Rectory


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Felley Priory

Mitton Manor

The Old Vicarage

Little Malvern Court


Coton Manor Garden



ormal lawns and plant-filled borders are a feature of the three-acre garden at The Old Vicarage at Burley in Rutland. This country garden, planted for year-round interest also contains a walled garden with a vine house and a rill with an avenue of standard wisteria. Work on transforming the overgrown wilderness at Mitton Manor, Stafford, began in 2001. Today the seven-acre garden attached to a Victorian manor contains rooms of different styles, as well as box topiary, prairie planting and a woodland bordered by a stream. In Underwood, Nottinghamshire, Felley Priory is a garden for all seasons with yew hedges, topiary,

snowdrops, hellebores, herbaceous borders and a rose garden. There is also a small arboretum and borders filled with unusual trees, shrubs and bulbs. Little Malvern Court in Worcestershire is a former Benedictine Priory and its striking architecture is the foil for garden rooms and terraces designed and planted in the 1980s. You will find a chain of lakes, terraces and a maze, as well as a notable collection of old roses. Old yew and holly hedges bring structure to the ten-acre grounds at Coton Manor in Northampton. Herbaceous borders are a speciality and are especially eye-catching in late summer. An adjacent nursery is stocked with plants propagated from the garden. SEPTEMBER 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 61

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arah Price designed the garden at Maggie’s in Newcastle Upon Tyne. Wildflower beds, roof gardens and multiple planters filled with seasonal displays provide interest to those visiting this cancer care centre. Copper beech and cherry blossom feature, as well as various bulbs. Near Leyland, Lancashire, Glynwood House is set in a rural location where its meandering woodland walk, pond and cascade water feature fit right in. Victorian platform tiles, raised beds and terraces with a pergola provide further interest. The south-facing Bluebell Cottage Gardens in Dutton, Cheshire are wrapped around a cottage on a quiet rural

lane. The classic country style includes informal beds packed with hardy herbaceous perennials, while in spring a woodland walk comes alive with the cottage namesake. Larch Cottage in Penrith, Cumbria, is well-known for its nursery but the surrounding gardens are important in their own right. Find a Japanese dry garden, flowing perennial borders, a small lake and even an Italianate columned garden specifically for shade plants. A steeply sloping elevated site with far-reaching views define the garden at Scape Lodge, near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. There are cutting and kitchen gardens, and gravel paths lead between mixed borders and planting chosen for year-round interest. Bluebell Cottage

Glynwood House

Maggie’s Newcastle

Larch Cottage Nurseries

Scape Lodge


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Horatio’s Garden

South Wood Farm


Bristol Botanic Garden


The Old Rectory


South West

hree generations of women have gardened at Kiftsgate in Gloucestershire, where the distinctive grounds are packed with tree peonies, hydrangeas and abutilons, as well as species and old-fashioned roses, not least ‘Kiftsgate’. Arne Maynard designed the gardens at South Wood Farm near Honiton, Devon. Marrying contemporary design with a 17th-century thatched cottage, the gardens include yew topiary, a knot garden, extensive productive areas as well as herbaceous borders, roses and meadows. Designed by Cleve West, Horatio’s Garden at the Duke of Cornwall Spinal Treatment Centre in Salisbury, Wiltshire, features low, sinuous, limestone walls and

densely planted beds that double as seating. The garden opened in 2012 and is maintained by a head gardener and volunteers for the benefit of long-stay patients. The University of Bristol Botanic Garden is unusual for being contemporary in design. A network of paths leads visitors through Mediterranean flora, rare native and useful plants, and those illustrating plant evolution. There are also glasshouses containing further collections. Five acres at The Old Rectory in Netherbury, Dorset have been tended by the present owners for 25 years. While formal topiary defines beds close to the house, the gardens open up to large drifts of naturalistic planting, and a bog garden with pond and stream. SEPTEMBER 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 63

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athy Brown’s garden at The Manor House in Stevington, Bedfordshire, beautifully combines garden rooms and views. In late spring, cherries, lilacs and orchard trees blossom above meadows of camassias, while wisteria flowers above swathes of alliums. In Rayleigh, Essex, The White Garden is exactly that: inspired by the white garden at Sissinghurst, owner Louise Reed has planted it entirely with white-flowering plants including roses, clematis and hydrangeas, in an informal cottagey style that beguiles its many visitors. East Ruston Old Vicarage in Norfolk is the work of Alan Gray and Graham Robeson, who have transformed

the once featureless farmland around their home into a multi-faceted garden full of flamboyant colour and features, such as the Desert Wash, which is peppered with California poppies. Near Grantham in Lincolnshire, at Easton Walled Gardens, Lady Ursula Cholmondeley is renowned for growing magnificent sweet peas, but there is much more to explore at this lovingly restored estate such as the rose meadow and pretty cut flower ‘Pickery’. In Letchworth, Hertfordshire, Serendi is a garden for all seasons, with spring bulbs soon followed by summer roses. Innovative gravel areas such as the ‘dribble of stones’ feature angel’s fishing rods and grasses.

Manor House

The White Garden

Easton Walled Gardens

East Ruston Old Vicarage



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Nant y Bedd

Stockton Bury

Wollerton Old Hall

Ysgoldy’r Cwrt


Hurdley Hall


Wales & The Marches

ear Leominster in Herefordshire, the four-acre gardens of Stockton Bury have developed over 30 years into an acclaimed garden that includes the original Victorian kitchen garden, pigeon house, tithe barn and an extensive collections of plants, many rare and unusual. Find Nant y Bedd in the Black Mountains near Abergavenny. The garden here blends wild and tame, with organic vegetables, a natural swimming pond and wildflowers hidden within a woodland setting. There’s also a strong emphasis on eco-friendly gardening. The garden at Hurdley Hall in Powys surrounds a timbered 17th-century house and boasts herbaceous and

mixed borders, ponds, topiary and a kitchen garden. Its setting, adjacent to a nature reserve, includes meadows, ancient woodland and a newly planted orchard. Wollerton Old Hall, near Market Drayton in Shropshire is well-known to many and loved for its picture-perfect borders with towering delphiniums, timbered 16th-century house bedecked with climbing roses and immaculate mirror-like water feature. In Tregaron, Ceredigion, Ysgoldy’r Cwrt, is a oneacre hillside garden with sloping ground given over to wildflower meadow. Four natural ponds and a bog area extend the planting opportunities; there is also a rose walk, acer collection and a large collection of irises. n SEPTEMBER 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 65

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Floral Nocturne

As the sun slips from the sky, these stunning blooms reveal scent and luminosity


wilight plants have qualities that are revealed or enhanced as the sun goes down, adding an extra dimension to a garden and allowing you to make the most of your outdoor space in the evenings, which takes on a particular importance if you’re out at work all day.

Night-scented plants release their heady perfumes, while the cool tones of blues, lilacs, creams and whites come to the fore as they develop a special luminescence in low light levels. Use our top ten favourites around a seating area and grow some in pots near doors and windows so that their fragrance drifts indoors too.


1 Matthiola longipetala subsp. bicornis Night-scented stock is a hardy annual that’s quick and easy to grow from seed. Although its short, wiry stems look a tad scruffy in daylight when the flowers are tightly closed, the pale pink, lilac and ivory blooms unfurl as the light fades, gleaming like tiny stars and emitting their intoxicating perfume.


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2 Dianthus ‘Memories’

3 Verbena bonariensis

The spicy clove aroma of garden pinks lingers well into the evening. ‘Memories’ was bred by Whetman Pinks in Devon and is similar to classic ‘Mrs Sinkins’, but much improved. It’s compact with narrow, grey-green, leaves and sparkly white blooms with a long flowering season (May to October) if you keep deadheading.

The tiny clusters of purple flowers on tall, slender, branching stems of up to 2 metres take on almost neon qualities at dusk to create a haze of glowing colour. Verbena bonariensis isn’t completely hardy, but it will survive most winters and will self-seed around and about. It thrives in full sun and free-draining soil.

4 Zaluzianskya ovata

5 Gladiolus murielae

Plant table-top pots with night phlox, a compact tender perennial that’s native to South Africa, whose scented blooms pack a punch. The deep-pink buds open in early evening to reveal unusual, white, heart-shaped petals and an intense evening perfume. Overwinter somewhere frost-free or treat it as an annual.

For late-summer scent and evening luminosity, plant bulbs of Abyssian gladiolus, more commonly known as acidanthera, in pots. This tender bulb should be planted in late spring and will soon produce strappy green leaves and slim flower spikes with white petals and burgundy centres from August until October.


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6 Gaura lindheimeri ‘The Bride’


The slim, wiry stems of gaura fade away into the evening gloom so that the delicate white flowers look as if they’re fluttering like tiny butterflies. This is a tender perennial that can easily be grown from seed if sown in early spring. Plant it in free-draining soil and mulch in autumn with chipped bark to help to protect it from cold weather.


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7Lilium ‘Casa Blanca’

8 Lonicera ‘Rhubarb and Custard’

One of the most evocative scents of summer has to be that of lilies. The oriental lily ‘Casa Blanca’ produces huge, trumpet-shaped flowers on stems up to 1m high, which give off a heady perfume. The white blooms will also sparkle in the gloaming. It needs acid soil, or can be grown in containers filled with ericaceous compost.

Honeysuckle is a quintessential English garden scent but it can be quite a rampant climber. For small spaces try this new cultivar, which grows to around 2 metres by 1.5m across. It’s ideal for growing over a covered seating area and compact enough to be grown in a large container with an obelisk for it to scramble up.

9 Fatsia japonica

10 Nicotiana sylvestris

As light fades so does our ability to see, and small details in particular are lost. So try using plants with bold foliage and striking silhouettes like fatsia – its glossy leaves are useful too since they will reflect outdoor lighting. It’s hardy in most places, but new growth can be damaged by late frosts so give it a sheltered spot.

White flowers can often appear washed out in strong sunshine, but twilight is their time to shine. This tobacco plant is a statuesque beauty with tall stems (up to 1.5m) and long, white, trumpetshaped flowers held in drooping clusters that give off a sweet perfume at dusk. It will happily cope with some shade.




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The Big Bang With their exploding globes of white or every shade of blue, agapanthus make a fabulous garden spectacle. Lady Christine Skelmersdale of Broadleigh Bulbs explains which to choose



The gorgeously rich colour of ‘Indigo Dreams’, a deciduous agapanthus with small umbels and lax stems. SEPTEMBER 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 73

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old and architectural, agapanthus bring colour, excitement and a touch of the exotic in highsummer. Brilliant blue and occasionally white, their flower-heads erupt above lush, strap-like foliage, bursting from papery sheaths to create starbursts of multi-floreted blooms which flourish for six weeks or more. Select early-, mid- and late-flowering varieties, from an abundance of cultivars, and you can enjoy a summer-long show. Use agapanthus to bring bolts of saturated colour to traditional herbaceous borders, or they can be threaded through grasses for a more contemporary feel. They thrive in containers too, brightening terraces and balconies. Their sturdy-stemmed, longlasting flowers are excellent for cutting and their trumpet-like florets attract bees and other pollinators to the garden. The colour palette spans the entire spectrum of blues, from deepest purple and indigo to sapphire and the palest of pastels. There is also a handful of elegant, white agapanthus, like the classic ‘Headbourne White’ and pinktinged ‘Glacier Stream’, plus a few subtle bi-colours such as ‘Silver Moon’ and new ‘Twister’, which give a striped or twotone effect. Height varies, from the diminutive 10cm ‘Baby Blue’, which works well in a rock garden or shallow pan, to statuesque plants such as the Septemberflowering ‘Loch Hope’, which reaches 1.5m tall. The majority though are midheight, between 90cm and 1.2m high, perfect for billowing borders and pots alike. The shape of the flowers varies too – most form rounded spheres but cultivars of Agapanthus inapertus have dramatic, drooping blooms. Individual florets can number anything from 20-100; the more a flowerhead has, the longer it will last because the florets flower sequentially. However, the most crucial variable is hardiness. Agapanthus are native to South Africa and won’t tolerate prolonged, severe, winter wet and cold. Deciduous varieties, which die back over winter, are capable of withstanding outdoor temperatures down to -15°C, but evergreen varieties have to be overwintered under glass, in their containers, and protected from sub-zero temperatures. Lady Christine Skelmersdale, owner of Broadleigh Bulbs in Somerset, has been growing agapanthus for

Above ‘Double Diamond’

is a recent introduction, with double white flowers on compact plants, perfect for pots.

more than 40 years and has amassed one of the finest collections in the country. While their allure is multifold, Christine enjoys their ease of growing and how varied and versatile they are. “Tall, small, deciduous, evergreen, variegated, in all shades of blue. There’s one to suit every garden, from the smallest patio to the largest herbaceous border,” she enthuses. Christine’s agapanthus collection began back in 1972 when she was given a packet of Headbourne Hybrid seeds. “It was a curious engagement present from a close friend of my future in-laws, Luly Palmer of Headbourne Worthy Manor,” she says. Christine was teaching abroad at the time, so she


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Clockwise from left

Lady Christine Skelmersdale; the indigo buds of ‘Royal Velvet’; agapanthus at Broadleigh Bulbs in Somerset; vivid blue ‘Super Star’; new bicolour cultivar ‘Twister’, which has white flowers with a blue base and holds an AGM.

entrusted these agapanthus seeds to her parents and, on her return, was greeted by an abundance of vigorous plants. When she and her husband bought Broadleigh Bulbs, these agapanthus became an integral and ongoing part of the nursery. Additional cultivars, including several of the ‘Royal’ Series from John Bond at The Savill Garden, helped swell Christine’s growing collection of largely outdoor, fully-hardy cultivars. Stock plants were increased by division and seed was collected from the very best cultivars and sowed on. Finally, her dream of discovering choice new variants among the throng of agapanthus was realised, and Christine SEPTEMBER 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 75

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PLANT FOCUS introduced three fledgling varieties: ‘Broadleigh Babe’, a 90cm tall, late-flowering, dark-blue cultivar with upright stems and pendulous blooms; ‘Aimee’, a 75cm, bicolour flowering between July and August; and ‘Jonny’s White’, a short, 45cm, freeflowering white that has gone on to win an Award of Garden Merit in the very latest RHS trials, along with another 55 additional candidates, almost a quarter of the 245 cultivars trialled. Christine, who helped to evaluate the trials, is thrilled to see so many agapanthus, both hardy and non-hardy, deserving of the award. “Previously only a few had an AGM, because the best cultivars had

Above Evergreen variety

‘Snow Crystal’ has large, ornate, white blooms. Right With their long stems, agapanthus make spectacular cut flowers too – that is, if you can bear to remove them from the garden.


Caring for agapanthus Lady Christine Skelmersdale explains how to grow these spectacular plants Plant agapanthus in open ground any time during their growing season. Give them well-drained soil in full sun and allow time to settle since established plants flower best. New plugs can take at least four years to flower. Mulch with straw or leaves to protect deciduous plants over winter. Do not disturb until plants become over congested and flowering decreases. Lift and divide in spring as they come into growth. Use a pruning saw to cut through the crown, but don’t make plants too small or you will have to wait longer for flowering. Trim the roots by half before replanting. In containers use loam-based compost and place the plant in the middle of the pot. They will eventually reach 1m across so start in a smaller pot and move up a size each year.

Evergreen, non-hardy agapanthus need winter protection, so move them into a frost-free glasshouse or garage, or cover with bubblewrap and bring indoors if severe frosts threaten. Do not water at this stage: keep compost damp but don’t fret if it dries out. In pots, even hardy deciduous cultivars will need to be kept frost-free to prevent root damage. When active growth begins in spring, feed with low-nitrogen fertiliser or tomato feed to improve flowering and water regularly, at least once a week but do not over-water. Plants flower best when potbound, but once pots become over-congested, divide as above. It can be difficult to extract mature, overgrown plants from containers, so consider planting in plastic pots and concealing these within.

been bred after the last trial in 1990,” she reveals. Of the AGM winners, she has many favourites. Among the deciduous cultivars, which are hardy down to at least -10°C, she rates vibrant blue ‘Midnight Star’ and ‘Northern Star’, both intensely coloured. Paler ‘Blue Moon’, scores highly with her – “it’s the best all-rounder”, she says – as does the new bicolour ‘Twister’. Among the pendulous-flowered cultivars, ‘Sky’ and ‘August Bells’ both won AGMs, as did the tall and late-flowering, deep-blue ‘Loch Hope’. All of these cultivars are brilliant in borders, but the tender, evergreen varieties have to be grown in containers so they can be moved into a greenhouse or conservatory over winter. It’s also best to protect hardy agapanthus against cold and frost if they are grown in pots. Christine explains that this extra effort is rewarded by “large, dramatic, flowerheads”. While the evergreen agapanthus produce fewer blooms, they are bigger and better than the profusion of smaller flowers on deciduous cultivars. Among the evergreens, new bicolour ‘Fireworks’ picked up an AGM; it also won third place in the Plant of the Year competition at Chelsea 2019. White-flowered ‘Snow Crystal’ and dark-purple, lilac-striped ‘Megan’s Mauve’ won AGMs too. n Broadleigh Bulbs, Bishops Hull, Taunton, Somerset TA4 1AE. Display gardens open all year Monday-Friday, 9am to 4pm, except Bank Holidays (£2.50 donation to charity). Tel: 01823 286231; broadleigh-bulbs.co.uk


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Sarah Raven’s

PERENNIALS FOR AUTUMN PLANTING “Autumn is an excellent time to plant perennials. The plant roots will settle in well, for stronger, more established plants in spring.”


Spend £30 or more to receive 20% off perennials in the fabulous autumn range, exclusively for readers of The English Garden

Agapanthus ‘Navy Blue’

Erigeron karvinskianus

The most popular agapanthus, also known as ‘Midnight Star’. With strong stems and deep-blue heads, it’s a structural and graceful addition.

A versatile plant that can be used as ground or wall cover, or in containers, borders and hanging baskets. Flowers for up to nine months of the year.

1 x 9cm plant £8.95 3 x 9cm plants £24.95 2L plant £17.50 Code: 200267

1 x 9cm plant £4.95 3 x 9cm plants £11.50 6 x 9 cm plants £18.95 Code: 200269

Eryngium bourgatii ‘Picos Blue’ One of the bluest of the beautiful sea hollies, this one has delicate whorls of spikes around the egg-shaped centre. Bees and butterflies love these. 1 x 9cm plants £7.50 3 x 9cm plants £19.95 Code: 200314

Visit sarahraven.com for more garden inspiration

HOW TO ORDER For 20% off the prices above, call 0345 092 0283 and quote offer code TEG19SEPT or order online at www.sarahraven.com and enter offer code TEG19SEPT at checkout T&Cs UK only. Offer ends 30th September 2019. 20% discount applies to perennials only but other products can be added to the same order. Order total must be £30 or more, prior to any discount and excluding P&P, for the 20% discount to be applied. Cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer or discount. Standard P&P charges apply. Not redeemable against: previous orders, sale items, gift vouchers, gift wrap, or items in the Perch Hill shop or other retail outlets. Subject to availability of products. See individual varieties for delivery times.

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Refreshing in a tangy pickle, savoury in a stew, or slow-cooked to caramelised sweetness, the versatile onion is an integral part of our culinary heritage


haraohs were entombed with them, the Greeks praised them and in Pompeii Romans grew them abundantly – in fact, it was the Romans who introduced onions to Britain. In short, it is difficult to imagine life without the ubiquitous onion. Bulb onions, as opposed to the slender bunching types that include spring onions, can be harvested now, after a spring planting. Of these, brown onions are most common in the UK but red onions are now increasingly popular. White onions grow best in hot,

dry conditions and don’t generally perform well here. Meanwhile, lesser-known Welsh onions (Allium fistulosum) are annuals that can be overwintered. Sautéed with celery and carrot, onions form a mirepoix, the basis of much European cooking, but their varying shapes, flavours and sizes warrant recognition. Caramelise red onions for a tart filling, give them a quick pickle for a welcome astringency in salads, or simply sweat them in butter until their melting forms are as indiscernible as the gentle flavour they bring to dishes of every kind.

Above After harvesting,

tie onions in bunches and then leave them to cure in an airy shed or greenhouse.


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Growing advice

Serves 4 INGREDIENTS 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 small onion, peeled and very finely chopped 1 celery stick, trimmed and very finely chopped 1 medium carrot, trimmed and very finely chopped 100g unsmoked bacon or gammon, chopped 400ml well-flavoured stock A bouquet garni of fresh parsley, thyme, marjoram

400g shallots peeled 200g button mushrooms, trimmed Salt and pepper METHOD 1 Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the onion, celery and carrot and fry briskly, stirring until the vegetables begin to caramelise. Add the bacon and fry for 5–10 minutes. Pour in the stock, then add the bouquet garni. Once the mixture has come to the

boil, simmer until reduced by about half. 2 Put the shallots and mushrooms in a clean pan. Strain the stock over them. 3 Continue to cook gently, stirring from time to time. When the onions are tender (about 45 minutes), the stock should be reduced to a few spoonfuls of thick, slightly syrupy liquid. Season. Adapted from Roasts by Laura Mason (National Trust Books), £16.99

Plant sets in well-drained soil in a sunny position, about 5cm apart for smaller bulbs and 10cm apart for larger ones. Harvest when leaves turn yellow and collapse. Hang them up to dry so their sugars can move from the leaf to the bulb, but don’t cut the leaves. Rotate crops and practice good hygiene to help prevent white rot and stem eelworm. Orange pustules indicate leaf rust.

Varieties to grow

‘Long Red Florence’

‘Barletta Silverskin’

‘Stuttgarter Giant’

‘Red Baron’

This is an elongated onion of Italian origin. Harvest it young for a spring onion effect, or allow its bulb to develop to maturity. It has a mild flavour and is good in salads.

These small, white, quickcropping, pickling onions are actually bunching onions allowed to grow large. Harvest from June to September. Marshalls supply.

Plant sets of this reliable brown onion in spring for semi-flat bulbs that can be harvested in late summer and early autumn. If cured well, it will store for many months.

This mid- to late-maturing F1 hybrid with an Award of Garden Merit is one for a greenhouse trial: start it in January or February for extralarge bulbs that store well.



For easy sowing use sets rather than seed. Plant in mid-spring and autumn depending on variety, for a steady supply of onions.


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Neat & Tidy Whether you’re trimming perennials or tackling branches and thicker stems, there are shears for the job



n bearing a shaggy, anarchic look, hedges and schoolboys are not dissimilar at this time of year. Six weeks’ growth could do with a trim and a rendezvouz with a pair of shears isn’t an unreasonable proposition. In the garden, a good pair of shears is invaluable. Their long blades provide a broad surface area with which to cut slender-stemmed growth, making them ideal for hedges, certain climbing roses, lavender, honeysuckle and jasmine – wherever there is quite a lot of growth to remove. Keep in mind that loppers, which have much stouter blades and longer handles, are better used on thicker woodier stems, and reserve shears for stems up to a quarter of an inch across. If it is a large surface area for cutting you seek from a pair of shears, Darlac’s tri-blade design could be just the thing. The design may look fearsome, but its novel third blade is intended to increase surface area and, consequently, improve cutting speed. Telescopic handles extend reach, too. Other shears feature blades with wavy edges, as well as a wider aperture, making them suitable for thicker stems. These will, however, require professional sharpening. Fiskars, Wilkinson Sword, and Spear and Jackson supply. When it comes to cutting back live growth, a bypass mechanism is best. Blades slide past each other as they close, delivering a smooth, clean cut that minimises opportunity for infection. The alternative mechanism, an anvil, although powerful, results in more damage to surrounding material and is best reserved for cutting dead wood.

SHARP TACTICS Some shears are self-sharpening but if yours have blunted after a summer of use, give them some TLC. Clean them well, then sharpen with a flat file held parallel to the angle of the cutting edge. Protect them with oil or WD40.

Some bypass shears, including models from Fiskars and Bulldog, feature a gear mechanism that offers additional cutting strength. This extra ability means these shears are often much lighter than regular shears and so reduce strain on hands, wrists and arms – ideal for arthritic joints or where repeated cutting is called for. There is, however, much to be said for keeping things simple with an eye on longevity. Niwaki’s Garden Shears feature nothing more than white oak handles and simple blades, but because they are made from SK steel, they are as sharp as can be. n

Kit to try : Shears for snipping, trimming, chopping and tidying

Bulldog Pedigree Geared Hedge Shears, £25.60.


Darlac TriBlade Shear Telescopic Handles, £27.99.


Garden Shears, £79.


Kent & Stowe General Purpose Shears, £16.99.


Fiskars Single Step Hedge Shear, £21.15.



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Don’t shut up your greenhouse once the last tomato is picked. Use it in the colder months to extend the season and make the most of this precious space


nce the last of your summer glassgrown crops have been harvested and the garden outside is winding down for winter, don’t abandon the greenhouse until spring. Make it earn its keep over the winter months by maximising the extra space it offers. Even if you don’t heat the greenhouse during winter, just by virtue of being enclosed by glass its interior will be a degree or two warmer than outside. That may not sound like much, but it could be all you need to nurse borderline

hardy plants through the colder months – many need only a minimum of 3°C to tick over, as long as they are kept dry. And it also enables much more: an unheated greenhouse can be used to prepare winter blooms for the house, to start off seeds for next year, to propagate plants and to grow winter crops. Use heating to increase the temperature, and even more possibilities will open up. The first step, in late autumn, once cropping has finished, is to clear the greenhouse of this year’s plants. Put the last few green tomatoes in a bowl

Above As temperatures

begin to fall in autumn, the greenhouse comes into its own as a place of refuge for tender plants.


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AUTUMN GREENHOUSE wash benching and glass with a disinfectant like Citrox to further reduce the risk. Although some say this level of hygiene isn’t really necessary, a side-benefit is that it cleans the glass of dirt and green algae, which lets in more precious sunlight over these gloomier months – maximising light is essential for healthy plant growth over winter. Definitely do it if you experienced problems with pests such as red spider mite during the summer months. If the prospect of a sponge, a bucket of soapy water and hours of elbow grease engenders feelings of dread, Hartley Botanic can supply and build a greenhouse that has self-cleaning glass. And some greenhouse suppliers offer a cleaning service, such as Alitex’s Clean and Care Service, which involves a hot water jet wash, followed by disinfectant and a check on all the moving parts: hinges, vents and lever arms. This is also the time to have any broken panes of glass replaced and repair cracks or damaged seals.

with a banana, which will hopefully turn them red, and put old plants on the compost heap. Untangle cucumbers from their supports, pick the last peppers, and have a clear out of end-of-season detritus: old plant labels, module trays that have split or cracked, sun-bleached, half-finished packets of seeds. Remove any shading that went up during the sunnier months. While the clear-up needn’t be too obsessive, it is important to remove spent plants and old foliage, to reduce the risk of botrytis – the fluffy grey mould that plants are more susceptible to in cool, wet conditions. When the greenhouse is empty, you can

Above Dig up and pot

a clump of lily-of-thevalley to force it into earlier flower using the warmth of the greenhouse.

Over-wintering plants under glass Most of us use the greenhouse to keep frost-sensitive plants safe over winter, so as the temperature starts to drop, begin bringing plants inside. It’s as well to thoroughly check over pot plants before putting them in the greenhouse, removing any dead leaves, old flower stalks and lurking snails and slugs. Check that the plants are firmly anchored in their compost – no root damage courtesy of vine weevil grubs – and that they’re otherwise healthy. No point expending effort and potentially costly heating to keep plants that aren’t worth it. Some plants will need cutting back. Pelargoniums, for example, are usually cut back by about half and their leaves removed. Woodier plants such as fuchsias and lemon verbena can be left unpruned, their dead stems cut back in spring once you can see where new shoots are springing from. What happens next depends on whether or not the greenhouse is heated. To give tender plants the best chance of surviving winter, the temperature really needs to be at least 7°C and ideally 10°C. In the UK,


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that means heating. All forms of greenhouse heating cost money, so carefully evaluate whether it will be worth it: a prized collection of rare orchids may warrant it; a few bedding plants will be cheaper to buy again next year. Many gardeners prefer to take a chance, overwintering their plants in an unheated greenhouse and taking a que será será attitude towards any losses. If you are going to heat your greenhouse, keep bills as low as possible by insulating the greenhouse with bubble wrap. In a larger greenhouse, use a bubble wrap screen to portion off the smallest possible area where heat is required rather than needlessly heating the entire house. Greenhouse supplier Hartley Botanic has a helpful calculator on its website for

Clockwise from top left

Wipe away any greenhouse shading applied over summer; pelargoniums should be cut back before overwintering; bubble-wrap insulation helps retain heat; space plants out along the bench for good air circulation.

working out, roughly, how much power will be required to heat a greenhouse, depending on its size. A thermostatically controlled electric fan heater is the best option, although your greenhouse will need mains electricity. When buying and installing a new greenhouse, always consider whether electricity can be installed with it – it’s as valuable for lighting as it is for heating and is rarely regretted. The advantage electricity has over fuels such as gas or paraffin, is that it’s clean and doesn’t emit water, soot or carbon monoxide, all of which can adversely affect plants. Gas heaters are an alternative but can be bulky and heavy, while paraffin heaters are usually small and lightweight and, as a result, easy to knock over and a potential fire hazard that you may prefer not to risk. With heat, and a minimum temperature of 7-10°C, plants like pelargoniums will continue to grow over winter, albeit more slowly due to the reduced light levels. If they are growing, watering will be necessary, but be guided by the plant and never overwater: let the compost dry out between waterings. In an unheated greenhouse where plants are all but dormant over winter, keep compost on the dry side. Often, if the temperature dips below freezing for a short spell, having dry roots could just save the life of a half-hardy plant, although if the freeze is prolonged, they probably won’t get away with it. A cold, damp atmosphere inside can sound the death knell for many plants, so whenever the weather is sunny, open vents and doors to let fresh air in and allow condensation to evaporate away.

What to grow in winter Get ahead and look forward to the best sweet peas by sowing in mid to late October in a cold, unheated greenhouse. Sow single seeds into individual SEPTEMBER 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 87

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AUTUMN GREENHOUSE Rootrainers or plant eight seeds in a 12.5cm diameter pot, water thoroughly and leave in the greenhouse until germination. Only when you see shoots emerging should you water again. During winter, grow them ‘hard’, taking them outside on sunny days, and you’ll get bushy plants with well-established root systems ready to go outside in spring. They may need a little extra protection in the form of a sheet or two of fleece should temperatures drop below -5°C inside the greenhouse. Autumn is the time to plant bulbs such as ‘Paperwhite’ narcissus in pots for Christmas displays. You could also start forced hyacinths for festive flowers. Most cultivars need around 8-10 weeks in cool conditions before you can bring them into the warmth of the house to bloom, but remember that they also need to be kept in the dark, so put their pots inside a black polythene bag or cardboard box. In late autumn, you could try forcing other plants. If you have plenty in the garden, try digging up a clump of lily-of-the-valley (convallaria) and potting it up in the greenhouse. In a heated greenhouse, the plant will start to grow again, producing its beautifully scented flowers in early spring, when you can bring its pot into the house to enjoy. September is not too late to sow winter salads under glass. These crops are naturally hardy so don’t need heat to grow, just protection from the

Above left Paperwhite narcissi grown in the greenhouse will bloom in time for Christmas. Above right Autumn is the best time to sow sweet peas; grow them on in a cold greenhouse for strong, bushy plants.

worst of the winter cold and wet for a good harvest of umblemished leaves. Try American cress, lamb’s lettuce, winter lettuce cultivars such as ‘All The Year Round’ or ‘Arctic King’, mizuna or mibuna, and pak choi. You could also try sowing small trays with micro-leaves seeds for garnishes, or pea shoots. If you’re attempting to grow anything in the greenhouse over winter, keep nearby glass free of bubble-wrap insulation, since the plastic will dramatically reduce the amount of light that can reach through to the plants inside. And, as always, remember that having good ventilation and air flow around the plants is crucial, so open doors and windows as often as possible on crisp winter days. n

Hylite Slimline Green Eco Heater £32.50 Electric tubular heaters can be fixed to the greenhouse wall or stood on the floor to make efficient use of space. greenhousepeople.co.uk

Biogreen Phoenix from £214 Buy this electric fan heater direct from biogreen.world or from UK suppliers such as twowests.co.uk

Fir Tree Proheater from £155 A range of thermostatic gas-powered heaters with different outputs for small to large greenhouses. kdev.co.uk


Best greenhouse heaters


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Whether you’re looking for something practical or artistic, stretch the old grey matter by choosing from one of these garden-inspired short courses


Take Eva Nemeth’s Flat Lay Photography Workshop at Daylesford this autumn.

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o matter how long ago your schooldays were, September always brings with it that ‘back to school’ feeling, of new pencil cases and pristine pads of paper, all ready for the start of term. It’s also the start of autumn, the best time to plan and plant in the garden. So why not get the gardening year off to the best possible start by tying it with the academic year and signing up for a course that will brush up or encourage new skills in the garden? There are many to choose from, taught at specialist colleges or at gardens, nurseries and other gorgeous venues. The ones we have featured here are all short courses or workshops, chosen to fit in around busy lives and schedules. SEPTEMBER 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 93

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For flower growers and florists Flowers from the Farm, the co-operative of British cut flower growers, has a calendar at flowersfromthefarm. co.uk, with all the workshops their nationwide members offer. You’re sure to find something local, such as the Autumn Dahlia Workshop run by Philippa Stewart of Justdahlias in Holmes Chapel, Cheshire (21 September, £30, justdahlias.co.uk) or in Gloucestershire, a Dried Flower Wreath Workshop at Cotswold Posy Patch so you’re set for dried flowers’ resurgence. 9 November, £40, cotswoldposypatch.com Over two days, at the beautiful location of Belcombe Court in Bradford-on-Avon, learn The Art of Flowers with London florists JamJar Flowers. After this two-day floral retreat, you’ll be able to create free-flowing floral sculptures and elaborate centrepieces. 4-5 October, £1,250-£1,500 including overnight stay, jamjarflowers.co.uk Or spend two days with the London Flower School: in Two Days Inspired by Constance Spry you’ll create four arrangements inspired by the famous florist’s legacy. 24-25 October, £550, londonflowerschool.com. In Scotland, sign up to Cambo 2019 run by Sarah Statham from Yorkshirebased Simply by Arrangement and Rachael Scott of

Top left Take Tallulah

Rose’s Introduction to Floristry at Levens Hall. Top right Take a One 2 One class on all aspects of growing and arranging cut flowers at Green and Gorgeous. Above right Make a floral centrepiece with London florists JamJar Flowers. Above left Learn how to make your own dried flower wreath with Cotswold Posy Patch.

Hedgerow. You’ll gather autumnal flowers to create beautiful floral designs under Sarah and Rachael’s guidance. 23-25 September, £400 for one day, £750 for two, simplybyarrangement.co.uk If you want to grow your own cut flowers, Georgie Newbery’s Grow Your Own Cut Flower Patch workshop at Common Farm Flowers covers the essentials of managing soil and feeding plants, the best seeds to sow and perennials to grow. 25 September, £150, commonfarmflowers.com.


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At Green and Gorgeous, Rachel Siegfried can help you put your cut flower growing on a more professional footing with her One 2 One classes on flower farming and cultivation, arranging and styling. £400, greenandgorgeousflowers.co.uk. And for anyone interested in floristry, the Tallulah Rose Flower School offers three-day Introduction to Floristry courses at Levens Hall in Kendal. 27-29 November, £550, tallulahroseflowers.com


For fruit and vegetable growers There’s plenty of help out there on the basics of growing your own crops. Try River Cottage’s Get Growing course in Devon for a good grounding in organic, seasonal vegetables. 24 January, 15 February, 21 February, £145, rivercottage.net Or tap into Charles Dowding’s knowledge with an intensive No Dig Weekend held at his home in Shepton Mallet, Somerset. It’s described as ‘full on’, and is for both small- and larger-scale growers, but you’ll leave with lots of time-saving tips, knowing what to grow and how to make compost and sow seeds. 2-3 November, £330, charlesdowding.co.uk. If you can’t make it to Somerset, Charles also offers an online course on No Dig Gardening for £150. At Stillingfleet Lodge near York, Growing More and Better Vegetables with Tony Chalcraft will help improving or experienced vegetable growers by covering particular crops in detail, as well as succession planting and weed and pest control. 4 September, £35, stillingfleetlodgenurseries.co.uk

Above In Devon, try ‘Get

Growing’, River Cottage’s introduction to growing organic organic crops. Top right Mark Diacono’s one-day course, The Ultimate Kitchen Garden, takes place at the Yeo Valley dairy in Somerset. Above right Charles Dowding’s No Dig Weekends are run from his Shepton Mallet home.

Learn how to grow unusual vegetable crops with Mark Diacono and Lia Leendertz, who run The Ultimate Kitchen Garden, a one-day masterclass at the Yeo Valley dairy in Somerset, covering the finest forgotten flavours. 25 September, £140, yeovalley. co.uk. At Sarah Raven’s Perch Hill Farm in Kent, you could sign up for Edimentals with Chris Smith from Pennard Plants. The focus is on edible ornamentals to make your garden and containers look good while producing unusual and delicious things to eat. 6 September, £185, sarahraven.com Anyone wanting to plant their own fruit trees or orchard would benefit from Growing Apples, Pears, Plums and Cherries at West Dean College. This day course is taught by John Nash, who is a professional fruit grower with more than 50 years’ experience. 16 November, £128, westdean.org.uk

For gardener cooks In need of inspirational ways to use up a glut of home-grown fruit or veg? Head to the National Botanic Garden of Wales for its one-day Home Preserves: Making the Most of Your Produce. It covers jam and chutney making, pickling and bottling, dehydration and lactic fermentation. 22 September, £32.50, botanicgarden.wales If you’re expecting a bumper apple harvest, Cider Making at Daylesford in Gloucestershire will show you what to do with it. 15 November, £110, daylesford.com. At Brogdale in Kent, home of the National Fruit Collection, you can learn how SEPTEMBER 2019 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 95

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to make cider (£105, 25, 26, 27 or 31 October) or hedgerow wine (£120, 6 September) on courses run by forager Michael White. brogdalecollections.org Daylesford also runs foraging courses, and further north, Autumn Foraging with Fungi with Taste the Wild in Yorkshire, gives an insight into collecting edible autumn mushrooms, seeds and nuts in a sustainable and responsible way. 26 September, 24 and 30 October, £85, tastethewild.co.uk In Scotland, try Fungi Identification for Beginners at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh and learn how to distinguish different types of fungi and discover best practice for collection. 12 October, £55, rbge.org.uk

A taste of garden design Many gardeners find a course on garden design helps them make sense of their space and may even lead to a new career. Emily Erlam is known for her stylish designs and her course at West Dean College, Creating a Sense of Place in Your Garden, promises to help gardeners create something personal. 16-18 October, £260, westdean.org.uk Another good day course to ease yourself into the subject is the One Day Introduction to Garden

Design at the Cotswold Gardening School. It’s

for those seeking an overview of the theories and practices of professional garden design to help participants understand the process. 23 November, £95, cotswoldgardeningschool.co.uk If you want to learn how to create a design for your garden, the London College of Garden Design offers a course at Kew, called Designing Your Own Personal Garden, taught by award-winning Andrew Wilson and Andrew Fisher Tomlin, who help gardeners develop the structure and planting for their outdoor space. 10 and 17 October, 7 and 14 November, £500, lcgd.org.uk Inchbald is well-known for the calibre of its diploma courses, but also offers short courses, such as the 12-week Design Your Own Garden taught by designer Andrew Duff, tailored to those wishing to concentrate on their own garden. Study at Inchbald’s London campus on Thursday evenings, or learn from home with the online version. £1,050 (on campus) or £1,260 (online), inchbald.co.uk If you think online learning might suit you, look also to Learning With Experts, who exclusively offer online courses on a wide variety of subjects. Designing Small Gardens with Annie Guilfoyle,

Clockwise from top left Designing Small

Gardens; Autumn Foraging with Fungi in Yorkshire; One Day Introduction to Garden Design at the Cotswold Gardening School; Fungi Identification for Beginners in Edinburgh; Cider Making at Daylesford in Gloucestershire.


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COURSES FOR GARDENERS meanwhile, covers how to rethink small spaces, step-by-step. £629, learningwithexperts.com The English Gardening School’s distance learning course on Garden Design teaches you how to survey and analyse sites, draw plans and visuals, in a course that will leave you well equipped to rethink your own garden – and potentially other people’s. £495, englishgardeningschool.co.uk

If you want to further your plant knowledge, try the new Autumn Practical Gardening Course: seven Fridays of hands-on learning that alternates between the famous Beth Chatto Gardens and students’ own gardens covering seed collection, cuttings, pruning and bulb planting. 13 September-25 October, £210, bethchatto.co.uk. There is also a 30-week Designing with Plants for Practical Gardeners on Tuesdays from 1 October (£750). Get inspiration for the autumn season with Planning and Planting a Spring Bulb Display at Easton Walled Gardens – a bite-sized workshop of 2.5 hours, in which Lady Ursula Cholmeley covers all aspects of bulb planting. 16 October, £40, visiteaston.co.uk. Fergus Garrett will take you through Integrating and Using Bulbs at Great Dixter – a new study day covering the many varied ways to use bulbs. 28 October, £125, greatdixter.co.uk. Joseph Atkin, head gardener at Aberglasney in Wales will also cover bulb planting methods (17 October) in one of his Workshops with the Head Gardener. Other topics cover autumn propagation (3 October) and division (31 October). £55, aberglasney.org. Troy Scott-Smith of Iford Manor, shows you how to plant Creative Containers for Seasonal Impact, in a full day that covers planting combinations. 30 September, £160; gardenmasterclass.org. Or join rose expert Michael Marriott, of David Austin Roses, for a morning at Daylesford for Growing and Using Roses in Your Garden. 18 October, £65, daylesford.com If you’re nervous about pruning, try Pruning Around the Garden with Martin Fish. 25 October, £90, scampston.co.uk. Learn about long-term plant performance in The Rabbit’s Eye View with Noel Kingsbury at Wildegoose in Shropshire. Expect answers to questions like ‘How long will plants survive?’ and ‘Will my plants spread?’ 3 October, £140, gardenmasterclass.org. You’ll be taught by Noel and plant legend Piet Oudolf if you take the online course Planting the Piet Oudolf Way. £149, learningwithexperts.com

For crafters and creative types Improve your garden and plant photography on a 1-2-1 Photography Course with Eva Nemeth (£290) or take Eva’s Flat Lay Photography Workshop at Daylesford for Insta-perfect pictures every time.

Top Growing and

Using Roses in Your Garden takes place at Daylesford, with David Austin’s Michael Marriott. Above left Learn the art of Pebble Mosaics at West Dean in Sussex. Above right Try a new angle with Eva Nemeth’s Flat Lay Photography Workshop at Daylesford.

7 September, £65, daylesford.com; evanemeth.com Beginning Botanical Illustration at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a great introduction to recording plants. Monday evenings 23 September to 2 December, or Tuesday afternoons 24 September to 3 December, £110, rbge.org.uk. Or try your hand at depicting Seed Heads in Mixed Media at the Chapel Cottage Studio in Abergavenny, Wales. 28 September, £70, chapelcottagestudio.co.uk For something different, try stone carver Jo Sweeting’s course, Relief Carving in Stone – Plant Forms at West Dean, which guides you through creating a hand-carved limestone panel of your own. 14-16 February 2020, £274, westdean.org.uk. Also at West Dean, join mosaic artist Sue Rew in Pebble Mosaics – A Creative Garden Feature for a chance to make your own mosaic design. 2-5 September, £417, westdean.org.uk Rural gardeners with lots of hedges might be interested in one-day course An Introduction to Hedgelaying at Tatton Park in Cheshire. 9 November, £30, tattonpark.org.uk n


For plant lovers


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With men fighting overseas, the workforce of the Women’s Land Army fought the battle at home, working in agriculture and horticulture to keep the country fed during its darkest hours

The Women’s Land Army was re-established during World War II, with women coming from towns and cities to help in the countryside.


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allet dancers, typists and seamstresses signed up, a third came from London or large industrial cities, and their contribution to Britain’s war effort during World War I and World War II has been consistently overlooked. As the 80th anniversary of the start of WWII approaches, it is worth recalling the role of the Women’s Land Army, whose members were known informally as Land Girls. They brought much to the imperilled food supply in the country at the time, while their presence would later open up careers in horticulture for those women who sought them. The Women’s Land Army was a civilian group, established in January 1917 during WWI, when the number of men called from the fields to the trenches of Europe had resulted in an acute shortage of agricultural labour. When the Women’s Land Army disbanded in 1919, it must have been hoped that this most domestic of corps wouldn’t be needed again, yet in 1939, just 20 years later, food supplies

Above Land Girls at work in the fields. Thanks to their efforts, by the end of the war, Britain was 70% self-sufficient.

were once again compromised and the group was re-established in June that year. By September, the first women had been recruited to the organisation and in January 1940 food rationing began. The body continued to operate long after the war had ended, disbanding only in 1950. In all, over 200,000 mostly unmarried women signed up as Land Girls – or Lumber Jills if they belonged to the associated Women’s Timber Corps. The Women’s Land Army owed much of its success to Lady Gertrude Denman, who was appointed honorary director on the basis of her extensive contacts. She became the first national chairwoman of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes in 1917, had worked for the Women’s Land Army during WWI and was married to a diplomat. By 1939 she was in a position to galvanise women around the country and in rural locations especially. Later she would offer up her own home, Balcombe Place in West Sussex, as the headquarters of the army. “The Land Army fights in the fields. It is in


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the fields of Britain that the most critical battle of the present war may be fought or won,” Lady Denman is reported to have said. According to Cherish Watkins, Women’s Land Army historian and owner of the eponymous website womenslandarmy.co.uk, “She was a phenomenal woman and she was really keen to show that women could carry out farm work at a time when there was prejudice that women couldn’t do men’s work.” On signing up, Land Girls were issued with a uniform that included corduroy breeches, dungarees, knee-length socks and regulation jerseys. They received a pin, too, “and had to pledge themselves for the duration of the war”, notes Cherish. In The Women’s Land Army, published in 1944, Vita Sackville-West describes squash courts at Balcombe Place stacked high with folded uniforms waiting to be distributed to new conscripts. Being a Land Girl wasn’t without its challenges, particularly for those who knew nothing of farming life. “It was physically demanding work, and the recruitment posters offered a rose-tinted view of what life would be like,” Cherish explains. “You have to have balance and perspective: the Women’s Land Army gave a lot of women independence because they earned money and it was their first chance to move away from home. But they could also feel isolated, living away from home with farmers and their families.”

Top left & right Uniform for Land Girls included corduroy breeches, regulation jerseys and knee-length socks. Above For many women, joining the Women’s Land Army offered them a first taste of freedom. Right Wartime propaganda posters paint a romantic image, but the work of a Land Girl was incredibly hard.

In Essex, Beth Chatto took on Land Girls to help on the family fruit farm, but her biographer and garden historian Catherine Horwood notes that Beth found her assistants rather trying. “She wrote about how incompetent they were. London girls were sent to work in Essex, but when they arrived from the East End they couldn’t tell one end of a cow from the other and were quite horrified by it all,” she notes. “Although she was jealous of their uniforms…” Vita Sackville-West had similar thoughts. “I think the credit which some of these girls deserve can scarcely be exaggerated. I really do. Heaven knows that I have sometimes wished I might never see a Land-girl again…But how easily one’s exasperation melts away!” Cherish Watkins elaborates: “For many women this was their first


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WOMEN’S LAND ARMY time in the countryside and they had literally no idea what to do. There was the wider culture shock of coming from towns and cities but there was also resentment of these outsiders among local women.” Women were put to work in all areas of farm life: milking, hedge-laying, ploughing and rat-catching. “It was incredibly tough, and I think that’s why it got going so quickly again in WWII – they’d seen the value of women in WWI. But of course it was Catch-22, because the women were dropped as soon as the men came back,” muses Catherine. The Land Girls’ efforts paid off, however. “At the beginning of the War, Britain imported 70 per cent of its food but by the end we were 70 per cent selfsufficient,” explains Cherish. Many surviving Land Girls bore the physical effects of their hard work, succumbing to rheumatism or skin cancer. The endeavours of the Women’s Land Army and Timber Corps were not specifically acknowledged until 2014 though, when a statue of a Land Girl and Lumber Jill was erected at the National Arboretum, Staffordshire, sponsored by the Staffordshire Women’s Food and Farming Union. n

Below The Monument to

the Women of World War II on London’s Whitehall honours the many different jobs undertaken by women during both World Wars. Right Land Girl & Lumber Jill commemorates these specific war roles at the National Arboretum.

THE START of new opportunities Wartime shifts brought new employment possibilities for women inclined towards horticulture. Vita Sackville-West notes opportunities for those keen on pursuing a horticultural career in her book, The Women’s Land Army, but women’s long-term accession to the field was slow, especially since the return of men to the fields rendered them seemingly redundant. For women who wished to continue in this profession, Vita imagined smallscale market gardens modelled on the French style: “I see mushroom sheds and pedigree poultry runs; I see acres of flowering bulbs,” she wrote.

In 1918 30 women were employed at RGB Kew, with some staying on until 1922 when the employment of women ceased. In 1939 they were allowed to work at Kew again and there was a female staff of 12 in 1940, increasing to 25 by 1941. Most of these women had previously trained as gardeners, but some arrived through the Auxiliary Territorial Service and the Women’s Land Army. Women were employed in the propagating pits, flower and rock gardens and in certain sections of the tropical department. Yet by 1952, there were no women gardeners on record at Kew.


The war opened doors to women seeking independence through a career in horticulture


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