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THE

english

GARDEN JULY 2020

For everyone who loves beautiful gardens

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Abbots Ripton Historic borders & rare elms

Recreate AN ICON

FOCAL POINTS

Sculpture for every garden

Be inspired by Sissinghurst Celebrate high summer The best WATERLILIES HARVEST tips from Babington Top 10 romantic ANNUALS Reinvigorate bearded IRIS

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Life in Bronze 2020 catalogue available. If you would like to be added to my mailing list, please get in touch. Sculptures shipped worldwide directly from my UK studio.

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CONTRIBUTORS

Howard Rice Howard’s birthday treat, aged ten, was a trip to Kew. Later, photography and conservation joined his childhood passion for plants. His photographs of Abbots Ripton feature on page 22.

Mark Lane

IMAGES HOWARD RICE; NEIL HEPWORTH; EVA NEMETH COVER IMAGE GAP/TIM GAINEY

A former publisher, Mark is now an award-winning garden designer, writer, TV and radio broadcaster, who works alongside several charities. His new series on Iconic Gardens starts with Sissinghurst on p75.

Welcome T

he four weeks that have passed since our last issue seem a blur of sun, heat and watering. Sunshine certainly helps make the ongoing lockdown more tolerable, but my garden is as dry as a bone. In between praying for a really good downpour, I’m concentrating on keeping my tomato plants happy, and giving the sweet peas a good soaking every few days to keep their flower stems long. I’ve been picking their scented flowers for my dining table/home office for a couple of weeks. With them and the weather, it feels as if summer’s truly here. The gardens in this issue have the same summery feeling: clear, bright colours in the herbaceous borders of Abbots Ripton Hall; blowsy, fragrant rose blooms at The Old Rectory on the Isle of Wight; and wildflower meadows at Somerset’s Cooks Farm, where you can almost hear the buzzing and whirring of insects from the page. Normally in such gorgeous weather, we’d be filling our diaries with dates and plans to visit these gardens and others like them. Some gardens are reopening now, but for many of us visiting is still on hold, so I hope that immersing yourself in the sumptuous gardens inside this issue will offer some consolation, plenty of plant ideas and inspiration for your own plots, and a few names to go on those must-visit lists for the future. Happy gardening and good health.

CLARE FOGGETT, EDITOR

Eva Nemeth

Eva grew up watching the changes in her grandmother’s cottage garden, first as a child and later from behind the camera, which she uses to create worlds of her own. Her Babington House images are on p103.

ON THE COVER The beautiful herbaceous borders at Abbots Ripton in Cambridgeshire reach their colourful peak in midsummer. Photographed by Howard Rice.

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July 2020

CONTENTS Gardens 22 Abbots Ripton Hall Historic architecture, landscaping and planting feature at this Huntingdon garden, from such great names as Peter Foster, Humphrey Waterfield, Lanning Roper and Beth Chatto. 30 The Old Rectory Louise and Derek Ness have applied an organic approach to reinstate native species and attract wildlife, while indulging a passion for roses in their garden on the Isle of Wight. 40 Cooks Farm An unspoilt valley of meadows and woodland drew Patricia Stainton and Robin Levien to this Somerset property, where they’ve developed a naturalistic garden to match. 48 Brillscote House This rose-filled garden in Wiltshire is a tribute to its talented creator, the late Simon Mounsey, whose legacy is tenderly preserved by his widow Jane.

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56 Craichlaw Tenacious gardener Mary Gladstone has found solutions to the unique challenges posed by the conditions and climate of lowland south-west Scotland to achieve this accomplished garden.

Design 65 Sculpture A well-chosen piece of outdoor sculpture brings focus and structure to a garden, with shapes, styles, sizes and materials to suit any space or budget.

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75 Iconic Gardens In the first in a new series, Mark Lane looks at Vita Sackville-West’s iconic Sissinghurst and shows how gardeners can adopt ideas from her White Garden. 95 Firenza Flowers Fiona Pickles of Firenza Flowers eschews the formal and the flamboyant in her floristry, preferring a natural style and home-grown blooms. 109 Craftspeople Family-run Shropshire Petals grows fields of flowers to make natural confetti, bringing colour, fragrance and ecocredentials to weddings worldwide.

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Plants 83 Top 10 Plants Mat Reese, head gardener at Malverleys in Hampshire, chooses easy annuals and biennials for a relaxed look.


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OUTDOOR ROOM Garden Design & Landscaping

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103 Babington House Sophie Turner offers growing advice to ensure healthy, bountiful crops of tomatoes, cucurbits and broccoli.

IMAGES NATIONAL TRUST/ANDREW BUTLER; CLIVE NICHOLS; HOWARD RICE; GAP/JASON INGRAM; SHUTTERSTOCK; NICOLA STOCKEN; JOE WAINWRIGHT

Regulars 11 This Month Garden people to meet, gardens to virtually visit, things to do in the garden, plus nature to note. 115 The Reviewer A round-up of some of July’s garden-themed literary offerings. 122 Last Word Gooseberries may have fallen out of fashion, but Katherine Swift believes that this unappreciated fruit, rich in both history and flavour, is ripe for a revival.

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JULY

People to Meet

Introducing the gardeners and growers we most admire in British horticulture

Derry Watkins

RECOMMENDED

Derry’s favourite gardens

WORDS PHOEBE JAYES PHOTOS REBECCA BERNSTEIN; SHUTTERSTOCK; GAP/JOHN GLOVER

The author, passionate plantswoman and owner of Special Plants Nursery on the joys of her day job, and how to make your garden work for you My garden at Special Plants Nursery sits on a sunny, southfacing slope near Bath with unbelievable views. It was just thistles to start with, but my husband, who is an architect, kept designing little sections of land that he handed over to me to plant up. He continued until I had to tell him to stop – I couldn’t handle any more! The garden is one acre on heavy clay soil. Straight away we created a gravel garden to provide the right conditions for Mediterranean plants, planning around one bulb in particular: Tropaeolum polyphyllum from Chile. It has amazing blue-grey foliage and every year it spreads out further in a sea of leaves. We also have a lovely, shady woodland area with a natural spring. Visitors can look around our garden on Tuesdays and all the plants we display are sold in the nursery. I enjoy everything about running the nursery. I love propagating, but this leaves me with too many plants. Customers take them off my hands and it’s such a compliment when they do! I adore talking to customers, so I have fun running courses at the nursery, although these haven’t been possible recently. Having closed everything bar our mail-order service

Great Dixter East Sussex Spectacular plants, setting and people: Great Dixter is the pinnacle of gardening and head gardener Fergus Garrett has produced a whole generation of keen, down-to-earth gardeners. Tel: 01797 252878; greatdixter.co.uk

Marchants Gardens & Nursery

for a few months, we are now preparing to reopen. The greenhouse looks amazing as it is bursting with pelargoniums. Now’s also the time for hardy, shrubby salvias, geums, hardy geraniums, grasses and annuals. I’ve visited many countries on plant-collecting trips. My first, three months around South Africa on a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship, was the best. The country has more species per square foot than anywhere else on earth. I brought back lots of seeds,

including those of the first ever white diascia to be found in the wild. It’s a truly beautiful plant with wandering, slender stems and a profusion of white flowers ageing to pink. If you want to grow from seed, just keep trying. Seed is inexpensive and plants want to grow! And for those of you who have clay soil: digging is the worst thing you can do. You are better off heaping compost or, if you’re anything like me, eight inches of gravel onto it! Plants like clay, by the way, it’s gardeners who don’t!

Laughton, E. Sussex The beautiful surrounding garden sits perfectly within the landscape. I have an issue with gardens that are just ‘plonked’ – this one is the opposite of ‘plonked’. Tel: 01323 811737; marchantshardyplants.co.uk

JULY 2020 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 11


JULY

Gardens to Visit

With many gardens still closed, satisfy cravings to visit with these excellent virtual tours

NGS GARDENS

Virtual Library Nationwide

Lockdown may be easing, but it isn’t quite business as usual just yet. So enjoy these beautiful gardens from the comfort of your own home Waddesdon Manor

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Mapperton House

Buckinghamshire Last autumn, local schools helped the garden team at Waddesdon plant 60,000 tulip bulbs that have now bloomed, producing swathes of colour. Watch the resulting display on video.

London Take a series of short virtual tours around different areas of Kew Gardens. New videos are being added each week so you can enjoy the amazing variety of plants growing at this London site from wherever you are based.

Dorset Join the Earl and Countess of Sandwich as they conduct weekly, interactive, live tours around the house and gardens at Mapperton. Tune in on Tuesday afternoons at 4pm via mapperton.com/live

Highgrove Gardens

Morton Hall Gardens

Gloucestershire Enjoy a slideshow tour through the varied landscapes of Highgrove (above), home of HRH Prince Charles. You’ll find stunning, high-resolution images, interesting facts and various video clips to absorb you along the way.

Worcestershire Read about the history of tulips and the enchanting effect they’ve had on us for centuries, learn more about this year’s stunning display at Morton Hall Gardens (left) and watch a video of the nodding flowers in their full glory.

Find the tours of all these beautiful gardens and more at theenglishgarden.co.uk/gardens/virtual-garden-tours 12 THE ENGLISH GARDEN JULY 2020

WORDS PHOEBE JAYES IMAGES GAP PHOTOS/HIGHGROVE - ROBERT SMITH; CLIVE NICHOLS; NGS

VIRTUAL Visits

Find a virtual library of tours around National Garden Scheme gardens on the charity’s website. So far, the library includes tours of varied gardens across the UK, including the gorgeous seven acres at Great Comp (below) in Kent, a packed plantswoman’s garden at Loughbrow House in Shropshire, and Alan Titchmarsh’s own private garden with wildflower meadows, topiary and rare plants in Hampshire. Everyone is invited to view and enjoy these videos, and then make a donation in lieu of what they would have spent on a garden visit. ngs.org.uk


JULY

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

Checklist Make sure plants in tubs and containers are kept well-watered in hot, dry weather. Even after rain they will usually need a top-up. Keep an eye on garden ponds and scoop out any blanket weed or algae that’s starting to proliferate in sunny weather. Deadhead bedding plants such as zonal geraniums and petunias so they keep producing flowers.

Glorious spring weather will have prompted a fantastic flowering display from bearded iris – and now is the time to reinvigorate any tired clumps Over time, as with all perennials, clumps of bearded iris lose their vigour and flowering potential, and need to be divided to give them a new lease of life. This is done about six weeks after they finish flowering, normally around late June or July. If you’ve noticed the amount of flowers has tailed off, or spotted a lot of old, nonflowering rhizomes in the centre of a large clump, now is the time to tackle them. This is something you’ll normally need to do every three to five years. Gently lift the fleshy rhizomes from the soil and either cut or break them into smaller portions. Each piece

14 THE ENGLISH GARDEN JULY 2020

should have a good-sized, young rhizome with roots, and a healthy-looking fan of leaves. Discard the oldest rhizomes, including those that don’t have the fan of leaves or any that are looking withered. To replant the divisions, make sure the ground is weed-free

and then dig a hole for each rhizome. Trim back the fan of leaves (see picture below left) and shorten the roots, then nestle the rhizome into the surface of the soil without covering it – unless your soil is particularly light and sandy, in which case plant the rhizome just below the surface. Leave about 30cm between each replanted division and water them in well. Make sure you water whenever the weather is hot and dry, which it likely will be at this time of year. If it doesn’t rain, watering every five days or so will keep the soil moist enough for the divisions to successfully re-establish.

Make sure your tomatoes are in their final planting positions, grow-bags or containers by the time they produce their first flower trusses. WORDS PHOEBE JAYES IMAGES CLIVE NICHOLS; GAP; SHUTTERSTOCK

DIVIDE bearded iris

There may be crops to harvest now, such as strawberries and currants. In the vegetable patch pull radishes and pick courgettes while they are small and tender.


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JULY

Nature to Note

The wonder of wildlife in the garden and countryside this month

Chirping CRICKETS Though Britain has only two native true crickets – the field cricket and the wood cricket – it is home to many different species of Orthoptera, an insect order that also includes grasshoppers. In fact, the UK has at least 30 species of bush cricket alone. In summer, male crickets can be heard ‘stridulating’: they rub the serrated lower surface of their wing against the sharp upper surface to produce a chirping sound. This call is loud and not only advertises their presence to females, but also functions as a repellent to other males. Male and female grasshoppers also chirp, although they produce noise by rubbing their long hind legs against their wings to make the sound. The collective din of Orthoptera chirping to attract mates in July and August is loud and unmistakable – one of summer’s most distinctive sounds.

ASPEN (Populus tremula)

WILDLIFE NEWS

How to identify it Round, toothed aspen leaves quiver (tremula meaning ‘to tremble’) in the lightest breeze. These deciduous trees have a broad crown and can grow to 25m. Aspen bark is grey and its branching can be distinctive – the uppermost branches of the tree are often bent over horizontally. In summer, female catkins ripen to release fluffy seeds. Where to find it Aspens are most common in North West Scotland. They grow in clonal colonies and enjoy the moist soil of ancient woods, heaths and welldrained riverbanks. Value to wildlife This variety of tree is the preferred tree choice of beavers (former UK natives that are now being

Hungry bumblebees spur early flowering

16 THE ENGLISH GARDEN JULY 2020

Bumblebees emerging early from hibernation have found a solution to a lack of flowering plants. By biting holes in leaves, queens spur plants into bloom weeks ahead of schedule, letting them gather enough nectar and pollen to begin new colonies. It’s thought the damage provokes early flowering and that hunger is the driving force, although it remains unclear how the habit evolved.

WORDS PHOEBE JAYES IMAGES SHUTTERSTOCK

re-introduced) for dam building. It also attracts a wide variety of insects that, in turn, are fodder for birds and ladybirds. Deadwood cavities in the trees provide shelter for nesting birds. Did you know? Aspens are dioecious, meaning male and female catkins grow on separate trees. In Celtic mythology, the trembling leaves were thought to be the souls of the dead communicating with the living.

Hunger games


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Drink UP

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Traditional kit and nifty devices to keep thirsty plants well watered as summer hits it stride 1. 10L galvanised watering can, £40. Tel: 01993 845559; gardentrading.co.uk 2. Superhoze, from £33.99. Tel: 0121 3131122; hozelock.com 3. RHS Burgon & Ball flora and fauna watering can, £16.99. Tel: 01344 578000; crocus. co.uk 4. Drip waterer, £6.95. Tel: 0345 0920283; sarahraven.com 5. Glass mister, £8. Tel: 01993 845559; gardentrading.co.uk 6. Hose trolley AquaRoll, £49.99. Tel: 0344 8444558; gardena.com 7. Flopro+ Activ watering lance, £29.99. Tel: 0344 5576700; marshallsgarden.com 8. Water smart flow meter, £22.99. Tel: 0344 8444558; gardena.com 9. Round Sprinkler Plus 254m2 , £22.49. Tel: 0121 3131122; hozelock.com 10. Galvanised steel water butt, £200. Tel: 01993 845559; gardentrading.co.uk

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SHOPPING

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Sit back and enjoy your gardening endeavours with a cool drink in a shady spot

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1. Aqua pom pom teepee tent, £125. Tel: 0114 3217000; bobbyrabbit.co.uk 2. Meadow lunch cooler tote bag 4L , £14. Tel: 0345 6049049; johnlewis.com 3. Pink Nina parasol, £399. eastlondonparasols.com 4. Iris bottle, £25. chillysbottles.com 5. White tea facial mist, £13. Tel: 01747 834698; nealsyardremedies.com 6. Rocking deck chair, £84.95. Tel: 0345 0920283; sarahraven.com 7. Azure hand blown jug, £45. Tel: 03332 401228; sophieconran.com 8. Modern pergola with awning, from £2,090. Tel: 0333 4001500; harrodhorticultural.com 9. Ice bucket with handles, £25. Tel: 01993 845559; gardentrading.co.uk 10. Aldeburgh fedora, £65. Tel: 01284 598005; hicksandbrown.com

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Historic PRESENT The past is given vibrant immediacy at Abbots Ripton Hall near Huntingdon, where owners Lord and Lady De Ramsey are curators of historic architecture, landscaping and planting, from such names as Peter Foster, Lanning Roper and Beth Chatto WORDS GARETH RICHARDS PHOTOGRAPHS HOWARD RICE

This page Gothic trellis

added by Peter Foster marks the mid-point of the herbaceous borders.

Opposite The beautifully trained rose tunnel.

JULY 2020 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 23


T

he historic county of Huntingdonshire is, in parts, a place of quiet country lanes, majestic elms and wide arable fields. There is nothing but the distant hum of a tractor or the warbling of skylarks to break the sound of the breeze rolling in across the flat fen landscape. Lying almost exactly in the centre of the county, Grade II listed Abbots Ripton Hall was built in around 1720, and although it was altered in both the 19th and 20th centuries, it retains an elegant Georgian air. Twentieth century alterations came in the form of the addition of striking white-painted trelliswork and a loggia designed by Peter Foster – a nod to the 1700s craze for Chinoiserie that gripped the nation as trade expanded and the foundations of the British Empire were being laid. A local man, Foster was an architect who directed the restoration of Westminster Abbey. At Abbots Ripton he designed not only the loggia but also the follies that are dotted through the grounds. Prominent among them is a gothic hardwood trellis crossing at the centre of the garden’s enormous herbaceous borders, marking the point where they march off towards elegant gates leading to parkland beyond. Venerable trees, a canalised brook with four bridges and various themed gardens, complete the picture. It’s a complex and interesting site – and one that bears the influence of some of the 20th century’s most celebrated designers and plantspeople. Although the site has been inhabited since the 11th century, almost everything you can see today dates from the last three. A few intriguing relics remain (such as the monastic eel pond) to hint at the more distant past. In the 1930s, the current Lord De Ramsey’s parents moved into the estate, which had become dilapidated following a long period of neglect after World War I. Repairs, family life and then the outbreak of another war meant that the development of the garden didn’t begin in earnest for another 20 years. The bulk of the garden was laid out in the mid20th-century by the present Lord De Ramsey’s parents in conjunction with prominent post-war designers and garden makers Humphrey Waterfield, Jim Russell and Lanning Roper. Today the gardens cover a little more than eight acres set across a wider landscape of managed parkland, which includes a five-acre lake. It was Waterfield and the De Ramseys who laid out the magnificent double herbaceous Right The traditional borders, backed with Double Borders contain yew columns and a cheerful and colourful mix of border classics: billowing philadelphus. tall delphiniums, hardy These make a strong geraniums and phlox, the axis, leading away from tiered planting backed the rear of the house by yew hedging. 24 THE ENGLISH GARDEN JULY 2020


JULY 2020 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 25


with its manicured lawn and imposing, centuries-old London plane tree. “The site has good trees and a bit of water, but it’s very flat – so you need surprises,” says John Fellowes, current Lord De Ramsey. These designs cleverly lead you on, creating intrigue through a series of enclosed areas. John and his wife Alison, Lady De Ramsey, took over the reins of the estate in 1993, and have been planting, replanting and replacing as necessary ever since. Trees are a particular enthusiasm of theirs. From a network of friends across Britain and the world, they have now collected more than 60 oaks, including many endangered varieties, along with some that are rarely seen in England such as the Schumard oak, Quercus schumardii. Elms are a particular specialty of the estate, which has several hundred mature specimens. Their billowing, leafy canopies speak of a lost England – since the arrival of a particularly virulent strain of Dutch elm disease in the 1960s, elm trees have all but vanished from the countryside. Huntingdonshire is one of their few strongholds and Abbots Ripton is full of them, thanks in part to genetic resistance from local elm varieties, and a ruthless felling programme for infected trees. Unexpectedly, some of the resistant trees on the estate recently set viable seed, so there’s renewed hope for a new generation of healthy, local elms. Back in the garden, planting is rich and varied, with over 1,660 recorded species and cultivars. Having such a total to hand is a by-product of the fact that plants are numbered rather than named, since plant labels used to disappear into the pockets of light-fingered visitors. A label with a number is somehow far less appealing to the casual voleur... Repeated rhythms of spires and clouds punctuate the long Double Borders. Delphiniums, lupins, dreamy white spires of white willowherb, (Chamaenerion angustifolium ‘Album’) leavened with fluffy clouds of plume poppies (Macleaya 26 THE ENGLISH GARDEN JULY 2020

Clockwise from above

Pyrus salicifolia ‘Pendula’ is set in a calm glade away from the colourful borders; elegant, urn-topped gates lead to parkland beyond the garden; climbing rose ‘Dorothy Perkins’; in the rose tunnel, roses are exquisitely trained along hoops and swags.


microcarpa and M. cordata) – and occasionally shot through with vibrant streaks of colour from plants such as alstroemeria hybrids, with variegated cordylines used as dot plants. Abundant campanulas and tradescantias provide contrasting cool pastels and blues, while shocking orange and yellow daylilies and brazenly magenta Geranium psilostemon up the colour ante. This use of vibrant zingy colours and startling combinations such as Euphorbia griffithii ‘Fireglow’ with pastel astrantias might appear to be a nod to Christopher Lloyd and his famous garden at Great Dixter. Certainly Lloyd was a great friend of the renowned garden designer Lanning Roper, who designed some of the plantings at Abbots Ripton, so perhaps this is an echo of the warm friendship between two of the 20th-century’s gardening greats. JULY 2020 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 27


The grief-stricken princess scrapped her garden, and with it a huge bed of irises – most of which she gave to the De Ramseys

28 THE ENGLISH GARDEN JULY 2020

An old wall of mellow red brick encloses what is perhaps the most intimate part of the garden, which is home to the Grey Border, greenhouses and pond. Designed by legendary plantswoman Beth Chatto in the 1950s, the Grey Border was “shockingly ahead of its time”, according to head gardener Gavin Smith. Roses, abutilons, geraniums, irises and artemisias mix with Agapanthus ‘Peter Pan’ and ‘Midnight Cascade’, backed with silver-leafed willows and whitebeams. Here the garden’s stiff boulder clay has been replaced with sandier soil to help the more drought-loving plants thrive. Some of the irises have quite a history. Princess Alice, the old Duchess of Gloucester, was a friend of Lord De Ramsey senior. Their sons were firm friends until Prince William of Gloucester was tragically killed racing an aeroplane at the age of just 31. The grief-stricken princess scrapped her garden, and with it a huge bed of irises – Above An immaculate, most of which she gave wide-striped lawn is a to the De Ramseys. perfect match for the They still grow in the elegant white trelliswork. garden today: ‘Green Left Try ‘Cotswold Queen’ for similar yellow Ice’, ‘Pigeon’, ‘Pierre spires of verbascum. Menard’ and baby Far left Old oaks by the blue ‘Jane Phillips’ are thatched summerhouse among them. date back to the 1600s.


Perennial CLASSICS Traditional roses and perennials combine to give the Abbots Ripton garden a timeless atmosphere

ALSTROEMERIA Choose a refined cultivar of these clump-forming plants, such as ‘Orange Glory’ rather than the invasive species.

DELPHINIUMS High-maintenance, but worth the effort of staking each spire and protecting from slugs for these vivid flowers.

CLEMATIS ‘PRINCESS DIANA’ A texensis type with trumpetshaped flowers in a beautiful, glowing magenta-pink.

EUPHORBIA GRIFFITHII Choose ‘Fireglow’ for bold orange bracts, but watch for wayward advancing shoots.

ROSA ‘JENS MUNK’

INULA RACEMOSA

Fragrant mauve-pink flowers appear from June to July on this rugosa rose, with a second, autumn flush too.

This bristly member of the daisy family is a classic for borders. Keep this tall and robust grower at the back.

Roses feature in Above The Grey Border, home to artemisias and many parts of the silver-leafed willows, had garden. Colourful its drainage improved by shrub roses adorn the replacing the boulder borders, and rugosas clay with sandier soil. such as Rosa ‘Jens Munk’ scent the air. A rose tunnel – also designed by Beth Chatto – strikes off in a south-easterly direction from the walled garden. Swathed in a mixture of climbers, ramblers and shrub roses trained as climbers, it is a pure delight in summer. The more vigorous ramblers, such as ‘Rambling Rector’ are kept in check by frequent summer pruning. Much better behaved, the small climber ‘Gloriana’ is a particular favourite for its very long flowering season, beautiful blooms and disease resistance. “Gardens are living things and if they’re not loved they slowly dwindle away,” says Lord De Ramsey. There is no chance of that happening here: this garden is awash with care and love, not just from its owners but also from Gavin Smith, head gardener here for 27 years now, and his colleague Darren Smalley. With such dedication, sensitivity to the past and a forward-looking approach, the gardens at Abbots Ripton should continue to flourish for many years to come. ■ Group visits only by arrangement. Visit abbotsriptonhall.co.uk for information. JULY 2020 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 29


Second NATURE

Having taken on a blank canvas at The Old Rectory on the Isle of Wight, Louise and Derek Ness have applied an organic approach to reinstate native species in the meadows and attract wildlife, while indulging their passion for roses WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHS NICOLA STOCKEN 30 THE ENGLISH GARDEN JULY 2020


A narrow path to the greenhouse is edged with borders of peonies and perennial white stocks, Matthiola perennis ‘Alba’.

JULY 2020 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 31


A

s the sun sinks behind the Old removed many dead and dying elms. “It was a shock Rectory, it suffuses the myriad to see such big gaps open up, but replanting with a flowers and grasses with a golden native hedge mix has provided both food and shelter glow so that, glimpsed from a nearby for wildlife, as well as being a visual feast for us,” hillside, the garden appears as a jewel says Louise. Every winter, Louise and Derek have set within wildflower meadows and copses, hills planted trees, including beautiful specimens such as and hollows. “It’s hard to believe that when we first Prunus serrula, Malus x floribunda, Sorbus ‘Joseph came, there was no garden,” recalls Louise Ness. Rock’ and Amelanchier lamarckii. In the outlying “Derek and I had wanted to make a garden from fields, they have established about half a mile of scratch, and then we found this blank canvas.” hedgerows, planting hundreds of mostly native trees Today there is nothing blank about the such as beech, oaks, hollies, whitebeams, Scotch outstanding garden created by this husband-andpines and rowans. wife duo, the bare canvas transformed into a vibrant Meanwhile, in the acre of garden cocooning the tapestry of plants contained within a framework rectory, they planted yew hedges that have matured of yew or beech hedges. A strip of bearded irises to divide the space into separate enclaves. “The flanks a rose cutting garden, while beyond, an original yews were barely knee-high and, being so allée of peonies leads past twin slow-growing, we just had to forget sunset-hued borders towards about them for a few years,” says a walled kitchen garden, rose Louise. In the meantime, her father garden, and double herbaceous paved a patio area outside the borders that run the length of the kitchen, while she filled the beds house. There is an abundance of with deeply fragrant, old-fashioned roses, scrambling over arches, up roses in shades of pink or white, obelisks and in countless joyful among them ‘Jacques Cartier’, unions with nearby plants. “I’ve ‘Fantin-Latour’ and, trained up loved roses for years. They are the house, ‘Blush Noisette’. On a real passion, but I have far too an arch, there is the pink rambling many favourites to name any rose ‘Laure Davoust’. single one,” Louise admits. In the neighbouring walled It is impossible to imagine this kitchen garden, two weeping garden bereft of roses, as it was 17 standards of the rambling rose Below Derek and Louise years ago, when Louise, her husband, ‘François Juranville’ cascade with Ness with their lurcher Derek, and their three small children clusters of coral pink roses. The brick Jack and dachshunds moved in, excited by the dual prospect walls were built in 2006 by Louise’s Otto and Tiggy. of renovating the late Georgian father, once Derek had landscaped Clockwise from top right Airy Stipa gigantea rectory and making their mark on the the site, which is similar in size to a glows in the light; the 12-acre garden resting in countryside doubles tennis court. A grid of paths late Georgian rectory, just outside Kingston on the Isle of in brick or gravel contain raised beds set within meadows and Wight. It has not been without its of flowers, raspberries, herbs and copse; lupin ‘Blossom’. challenges. Marauding vegetables. “It seems to rabbits meant new attract a lot of ants, but planting had to be they are quickly eaten enclosed in chicken wire by green woodpeckers,” and, although the site Louise says. is some five kilometres A central path links from the sea, strong the different enclaves, gales still carry salt leading from the patio inland. “The new garden past a greenhouse to needed shelter, so we had the rose cutting garden. to replace a huge, dying Initially, the path passed escallonia hedge with between shrubs and beech,” Louise explains. vigorous roses that “Salty winds most likely outgrew their allotted strike in winter when the space and were culled. beech leaves are brown “In the end, we could and desiccated anyway.” no longer squeeze a On the periphery of wheelbarrow past the garden, the couple without fighting our way

“I’ve loved roses for years. They are a real passion, but I have far too many favourites to name any single one”

32 THE ENGLISH GARDEN JULY 2020


through like the prince hacking through the sweet briars in Sleeping Beauty,” recalls Louise. Planted in their place are pink and cream peonies followed by Lilium speciosum to flower in August. Another area that has seen change is the rectangular 12m x 26m back garden, a tranquil space originally laid out as a crab apple lawn with a circle of box enclosing each tree, planted with white tulips followed by cosmos. Unfortunately, box blight took hold, and Louise reluctantly removed much of it. “You can save box by spraying with fungicide, but this wasn’t an option for us because we garden organically,” she explains. By this point, Louise wanted more space to grow plants, so the loss of the crab apples was more than compensated for by two long, deep borders. Between them runs a grassy path underlaid with leaky pipes that, along with a seaweed feed, ensure a lush green foil to the planting. “Our soil is very dry and sandy, JULY 2020 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 33


Clockwise from top In the

kitchen garden, chestnut poles wait to support sweet peas, pink rose ‘François Juranville’ rambles behind and red rose ‘Highgrove’ clothes an obelisk; peony ‘Bowl of Beauty’; delphinium ‘Guinevere’; Rosa ‘Blythe Spirit’ behind phlomis.

34 THE ENGLISH GARDEN JULY 2020


so the lawn quickly becomes parched in hot weather. Irrigating with our well water has made a huge difference,” she points out. Planted just six years ago, the borders have matured beautifully, with two magnificent clumps of Stipa gigantea dripping their golden panicles at key junctures. “I placed them especially to catch the last of the evening light, and they still look good in autumn,” Louise notes. In early summer, the borders open with a froth of white crambe, valerian and sweet rocket interspersed with spires of foxgloves, blue delphiniums or pink lupins, and clumps of Geranium ‘Summer Skies’, not to mention the mauve tree lupin ‘Aurora Blue’, which originated from Great Dixter. “It smells wonderful, and makes a great cut flower,’ says Louise. So too does lovely pink rose ‘Gertrude Jekyll’, which, along with Allium cristophii, is tucked behind an edging of ‘Hidcote’ lavender, a replacement of the original white variety that had grown too leggy. “We visited Versailles and came back inspired to add some permanent structure to the borders,” she explains. Water is an important element in the garden, and a long narrow formal pond is tucked away in a paved courtyard along with a wooden loggia that houses a dining table. “It’s a tranquil place to sit and contemplate – and too far away from the house to hear the telephone ring,” she adds. The borders are planted with white and shell-pink roses – ‘Claire Austin’ and ‘Great Maiden’s Blush’ – offset by silver foliage from Lychnis coronaria ‘Alba’, lamb’s ears and two weeping pears.

“The borders have matured beautifully, with two magnificent clumps of Stipa gigantea dripping their golden panicles at key junctures”

Top Peonies line a yew

hedge-enclosed path to the chicken house. Above right The delicate blooms of hardy annual Orlaya grandiflora make good cut flowers. Above left Hardy Geranium ‘Summer Skies’ is a pretty, ruffled double form in lilac that flowers from June.

JULY 2020 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 35


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The Old Rectory’s RIOT OF ROSES Sumptuous roses are a favourite plant here and are used in almost every part of the garden

‘RHAPSODY IN BLUE’

‘LADY OF SHALOTT’

‘GENTLE HERMIONE’

A sweetly fragrant shrub rose that has semi-double flowers of deep purple-magenta fading to slate-mauve.

This David Austin-bred English rose bears masses of highly fragrant, orange, chalice-shaped flowers from June.

Myrrh scented, light-pink, cupped flowers are borne from June on this David Austin English shrub rose.

‘BONICA’

‘THE LARK ASCENDING’

‘DUCHESS OF CORNWALL’

This modern shrub rose has clusters of small, rose-pink flowers on a sturdy plant that’s pretty yet tough.

Another from David Austin, with graceful, semi-double loose-petalled flowers in a soft shade of apricot.

Apricot-pink, cupped flowers fade to salmon-pink as they age, with a spicy fragrance on this old-fashioned rose.

‘GRACE’

‘BLUE FOR YOU’

‘BLYTHE SPIRIT’

Neat rosette blooms of purest apricot, darker in the centre, are produced in profusion throughout the summer.

The small, purple-mauve flowers produced from June on this Floribunda rose have a scent akin to violets.

This English rose produces dainty sprays of cupped, yellow flowers among small green leaves and is known for its health.

JULY 2020 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 37


NOTEBOOK

Natural beauty An organic ethos and a wildlife-friendly approach has resulted in healthy plants and a beautiful garden that everyone can enjoy

1

2 Twelve years ago, a wildlife pond was excavated in the corner of the orchard before Derek manoeuvred a heavyweight liner in to place, made from two layers of geo-textile with a layer of unexpanded Bentonite clay in between. “If there’s a puncture, the wet clay expands to self heal,” explains Louise. Once laid, the liner was topped with a foot of soil, to plant into. “So there is no visible plastic liner and it looks natural,” she adds. Within a year, the first newts appeared and last year, toad tadpoles were spotted. Overlooked by a summerhouse, the pond is enveloped in irises, reeds, willow and dogwoods. “As plants mature, the garden becomes softer and looser, and it is hard to remember how it was when we arrived,” Louise muses. Now, the garden is home to red squirrels, nine species of bats, countless moths and butterflies, and barn owls – two chicks were successfully raised in a loft box. “It has been such a joy to watch it develop into the haven that it has become for our family as well as wildlife,” says Louise, who is unfazed by the time and effort it has taken. “I don’t consider it to be work. I love doing it, and there is nothing else I would rather do than be in my garden.” ■

3

Above In the formal garden, waterlilies float on the long, narrow pond, while white roses and erigeron engulf the bench and soften the paving that surrounds it.

The Old Rectory, Kingston Road, Kingston, Isle of Wight PO38 2JZ. Usually opens for the National Garden Scheme during June by appointment. Check ngs.org.uk for updates. 38 THE ENGLISH GARDEN JULY 2020

4

1 It has taken a decade to reinstate natives, such as bird’s foot trefoil, lady’s bedstraw, musk mallow, ragged robin, selfheal and orchids in the meadows. 2 After box blight hit, Louise replaced border edges with bee-friendly catmint, lavender and teucrium. 3 The cutting garden is a mix of English roses, old shrub roses and hybrid teas. 4 Planted with oldfashioned roses, the courtyard by the kitchen is a lovely place to catch the evening sun. The wirework table and chairs are from Rayment Wire.


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urniture makers Barlow Tyrie are celebrating this summer after their new Layout Collection of garden seating and dining furniture received the prestigious Red Dot Award. For 65 years, this highly regarded award has recognised superior design. Each coveted Red Dot is awarded by a jury of 40 international experts, who assess manufacturers’ and designers’ innovations to recognise the very best design and quality craftsmanship. Barlow Tyrie’s new, Red Dot-winning Layout Collection has been conceived by furniture designers Nathalie de Leval and Andrew Jones. A modular, deepseating system and an eye-catching dining set each bring an elegant touch to outdoor living. The collection is based on indoor principles and comprises multiple elements that can be arranged in many configurations, so that it’s easily adapted to suit all garden needs. The Layout Collection’s range of upholstered seats and co-ordinating

tables can be used to create intimate or grand seating arrangements. Refined, powder-coated, stainless-steel frames support the upholstered seats and teak tabletops, while the dining suite features armchairs and benches with contemporary teak seats. Used together, the Collection’s different elements can create the perfect outdoor living room. With a 100-year heritage built on high quality and attractive designs, Barlow Tyrie is passionate about the furniture it produces. Each piece has a keen emphasis on design and elite craftsmanship, with the delight and comfort of the end user in mind. For more information on Barlow Tyrie collections, please call 01376 557600 or visit teak.com Top Barlow Tyrie’s modular deep seating

system brings a touch of luxury to outdoor living, without compromising on comfort. Above Poolside living, with Barlow Tyrie’s elegant, Red Dot-winning furniture set. JULY 2020 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 39


The Call of THE WILD An unspoilt valley of meadows and woodland drew Patricia Stainton and Robin Levien to Cooks Farm in Somerset, where they’ve developed a naturalistic organic garden to match WORDS HELEN BILLIALD PHOTOGRAPHS HEATHER EDWARDS

40 THE ENGLISH GARDEN JULY 2020


This garden, with its formal rill edged with fulsome pots of agapanthus, was inspired by visits to gardens in Spain.

JULY 2020 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 41


L

ook west from King Alfred’s Tower on the Stourhead Estate and you can trace the course of the River Brue as it winds its way through the Somerset countryside, parting a natural landscape of woodland, orchards and open fields. Thirty years ago it was this viewpoint, high on the edge of Cranborne Chase, that first captivated Patricia Stainton and her husband Robin Levien as they hunted for a home. “I’d spent about nine months looking for a rural property,” explains Patricia, “and I saw places with nicer houses – but the setting was never right. We first visited Cooks Farm on the shortest day of the year. Because we were early we went up to King Alfred’s Tower on the wooded ridge and looked down across the valley to the farmhouse below. It was nestled in the bottom of the valley next to the river and surrounded by fields, lots of beautiful old oak trees and strips of woodland. It was the setting and the place that we fell in love with.” The Cooks Farm of 30 years ago was a different prospect to the richly planted garden of today. Not only did the 400-year-old listed house and its courtyard of barns need considerable work, but grass ran right up to its walls, with only a vegetable plot and walnut, crab apple and lilac trees by way of a garden. Of crucial importance to Patricia, however, was the fact that the surrounding 22 acres had never been intensively farmed, so contained within their meadows, old cider orchard and woodland was an exceptional mix of wildflowers. The garden might have grown terrifically over the years, but its evolution has been a gradual one. “I didn’t have a masterplan,” says Patricia, “instead I was led by the landscape itself.” With the house making considerable demands on the couple’s time, they were able to get to know the garden’s setting gradually, learning where light fell in its undulating landscape, where there was shelter and how cold air would flow and collect at the bottom of the valley. It’s impossible to see the garden of today without glimpsing evidence of the couple’s background in art and design. Patricia’s training was in graphics and fine art printmaking, while Robin’s was in ceramics. Together they set up Studio Levien, a product design company whose tableware is now found in restaurants and homes around the globe. While Patricia might be the more passionate gardener of the two, Top Owner Patricia she credits Robin as a Stainton has brought her willing helper whose art and design eye to enthusiasm for cooking bear at Cooks Farm. has made him a natural Middle Rich colours of Clematis ‘Étoile Violette’. ally in the vegetable Bottom Stone walls give garden. Their gardener, the front garden a formal Selena, has also worked feel, with box balls and at Cooks Farm for over phlox to soften the look.

42 THE ENGLISH GARDEN JULY 2020


20 years, making an invaluable contribution as the area under cultivation has grown. Early on, Patricia made the decision to create a front garden that was structured and formal in terms of its underlying design, but with lines that soften and planting that becomes more natural as you move out into the wider landscape. For the southfacing front garden this means a corsetry of straight lines laid out in stone walls and box hedging, while within these bones is a jewellery box of intensively planted perennials. In summer, the path to the front door is picked out with the blues of veronicastrums and Phlox paniculata ‘Blue Paradise’, set against the darker tones of the sweet William Dianthus barbatus ‘Sooty’, Astrantia major and the purpleflushed foliage of a crab apple, all anchored by generous box balls that are the remains of a parterre whose dwarf hedges Patricia was mostly forced to remove due to blight.

Above Plunge into a melee of perennials by taking the narrow brick path; sweet pea obelisks and clipped box hedges provide structure.

The layering of plants within this small area is staggering and Patricia admits that it’s down to a high-maintenance technique – even though the outcome is one of apparent natural profusion. “When you plant a lot of plants together like that, they compete with each other, so you’ve got to work out what’s going to survive in that context and what isn’t: it’s a bit of an experiment,” she notes. To one side of this garden is the formal rill, an idea born out of a visit to Moorish gardens in Spain with their courtyards and all-important narrow channels of water. “I really like that feeling of movement and life in a garden,” says Patricia, “but I made my rill a bit wider than traditional designs because I wanted to get the reflection of the sky into it.” The rill brings a pause to the intensity of planting with the simple repetition of Agapanthus africanus pots along its length, echoing the blues of Eryngium bourgatii ‘Picos Blue’ beyond, where a narrow brick path JULY 2020 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 43


Top left Flower spires of purple loosestrife, Lythrum salicaria. Above right ‘Green Globe’ artichokes, dahlias and cornflowers in the kitchen garden. Below Veronicastrum ‘Fascination’ and rose ‘Bloomfield Abundance’. Above left Dark-stemmed Phlox ‘Blue Paradise’.

44 THE ENGLISH GARDEN JULY 2020


plunging through the planting conjures a sense of immersion. An eye for year-round structure gives three-dimensional heft to this area, with a layering of topiary, shrubs, trees and climbers joining the more ephemeral bursts of colour. At the back of the house the land falls away to the river and here Patricia worked with the undulating site, laying out old sailing rope along the contours of the ground to achieve gently curved borders that fit into the shape of the landscape. With it comes the shift to an increasingly pared-back palette where individual plants are used in generous swathes to echo the way plants are found in the wild. Colours become simpler too: in one area, large numbers of Eremurus x isabellinus ‘Cleopatra’, kniphofias and sunflowers add pinpricks of rusty orange, like embers strewn across a border. Beyond them a herd of box balls clusters beneath the walnut tree, all of them originating from a tray of cuttings taken soon after Patricia moved in, forming a simple green path on the way to the river. “If we get a plant that works well, we often buy lots of varieties of it,” explains Patricia. One outcome is a large collection of ferns near the river, while in spring it’s hellebores that hold court. A Lake District childhood with the freedom to roam ignited Patricia’s interest in linking plant to place. “Knowing where plants grow and the habitats they enjoy has really helped me,” she insists. “I go

on a lot of botany trips and I’m very interested in seeing what grows together naturally, how they grow together and the colour schemes that you see in nature. It helps you such a lot in your own garden. I also garden organically and don’t use peat. These are important factors in everything we do here.” Stretching into the wider landscape are the farm’s flower-rich meadows which are all the more precious when viewed through the prism of what has been lost: an estimated 97% of this country’s flower rich grassland over the past 70 years. Patricia’s lifelong interest in wildlife and plants has led her to focus on conservation, serving as both trustee and chairman at the Somerset Wildlife Trust. This year she has been part of a community interest group looking at conservation of the wider valley landscape. Ribbons of tightly mown lawn loop through the long grass of the orchard, and as more land has joined the original property Patricia and Robin have added ponds and a wetland area as well as working with a local botanist to regenerate 11 acres of grassland, recording how different techniques, including hay strewing from the farm’s best meadow, translate into the establishment of new wildflowers. At the edges, between grassland and garden, wildflowers have found favour in a new role as border plants. “I collect seed from the meadows,

Top left The wildlife pond, edged with lesser spearwort (Ranunculus flammula), with the orchard behind. Top right Vicia cracca, or common tufted vetch. Middle Knapweed and devil’s-bit scabious in the sunlit meadow. Above Horseshoe vetch, Hippocrepis comosa.

JULY 2020 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 45


grow plants on and plant them on the farm and in the garden,” notes Patricia. “A lot of the plants in the bed near the pond are from seed I’ve collected and some work really well as border plants where it’s a bit more fertile – plants like devil’s-bit scabious (Succisa pratensis) and betony (Betonica officinalis) at the front of the border.” Other wildflowers revelling in richer border life include ox-eye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare)

Above Flowers for cutting and for wildlife in the kitchen garden. Right Bee-attracting bergamot, Monarda didyma. Far right Nasturtiums scramble out of a terracotta container.

NATURAL selections Patricia’s advice on starting a wildflower meadow Establishing perennial wildflowers in a grass sward can be difficult, especially if you’re working on fertile soil. Try growing your plants from seed and then potting them on into 9cm pots before introducing them into grassland – this will give them a better chance of competing with the grasses. Meadows take time, so don’t be impatient and expect instant

46 THE ENGLISH GARDEN JULY 2020

results. Many wildflowers will take a couple of years to bloom. Include flowers with lots of pollen and nectar and you’ll soon see more butterflies and insects. This doesn’t just apply to wildflowers: choose cultivated garden varieties with wildlife in mind too. You learn by planting things. When you find plants that work, grow them in number.

viper’s bugloss (Echium vulgare) cornflower (Centaurea cyanus) and yarrow (Achillea millefolium), softening edges around the wildlife pond and the vegetable garden and hiding the line between the cultivated and the natural. Even here among the gravel paths of the kitchen garden there are wildflowers growing in the cut flower beds, encouraging pollinators into its profusion of vegetables and trained fruit trees. In July this abundance nears its tipping point as crops begin to be harvested and meadows are radically transformed by cutting, but Patricia finds the refusal of the garden to stand still to be one of its greatest charms. “I’m not frightened of things changing,” she muses. “I really like that, and the way one plant grows stronger than another and the borders change. So often in art and design you design things and they’re quite static. With gardening it’s ephemeral and it’s exciting because of that.” ■


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In Loving MEMORY

The rose-filled garden at Brillscote House in Wiltshire is a tribute to its talented creator, the late Simon Mounsey, whose legacy is tenderly preserved by his widow Jane WORDS SUE BRADLEY PHOTOGRAPHS SUSSIE BELL

48 THE ENGLISH GARDEN JULY 2020


Among other herbs, bristly borage and oregano jostle in Brillscote’s kitchen garden with succulent salads and courgettes.

JULY 2020 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 49


Below Alchemilla mollis

colonises every crack in the paving, sending up voluminous clouds of lime-green flowers in early summer.

T

he gentle days of early summer are the time when the garden at Brillscote House comes into its own. There’s an exultant symphony of colour, scent and birdsong, brought together by a man with an artist’s eye and joy in his heart. Simon Mounsey poured body and soul into a plot ravaged by building works. Over 14 years he took pleasure in seeing his ideas develop, with the hundreds of trees planted in his woodland reaching further into the sky and 100 or so roses filling out to blend with a carefully chosen palette of perennials to produce richly hued living tapestries. His discerning eye can be seen in the allée of Callery pears, Pyrus calleryana ‘Chanticleer’, leading along a stone path to a gateway beyond, the geometric box-hedged vegetable beds and a plant-clad ‘ruin’ – an intrinsic part of the garden, even though it was made in 2016. At the same time, it’s clear he understood the innate power and beauty of the natural world, giving silent words of thanks to the birds that dropped the

50 THE ENGLISH GARDEN JULY 2020

seeds of sedum into the cracks between his paving stones, from which yellow rivers of flowers spread more effectively than the thyme he had originally planted, and recognising the special qualities of meadow grasses: their graceful movement in the wind and the way they shimmer in the sunshine. Simon’s death in 2018, at the age of 81 was a shattering blow to his widow, Jane, but the garden he created keeps her going. “It makes a phenomenal difference to my life, especially when the sun is shining,” she notes. Both house and garden in the Wiltshire village of Lea are filled with memories of a happy marriage, and imbued with a sense of belonging that belies the fact that they’ve existed for


Top left The straight

legs of Simon’s Pyrus ‘Chanticleer’ allée. Top right Arching stems of lightly scented shrub rose ‘Cerise Bouquet’. Above Flowers of species rose Rosa davidii are followed by flagonshaped hips.

fewer than 20 years. Jane and Simon moved here in 1997 and spent seven years living in an old farmhouse, before deciding to divide the 18 acres they owned and apply for permission to build a new property and garden on one half. They engaged Nick Hare to come up with a design, using other period houses in Lea as a starting point. “We wanted a Georgianstyle house but Nick thought the planners would prefer a Regency look since many of the older houses in the village were of that period,” says Jane. “That’s why the front is sort of Regency and not as good looking as the Georgian style we have facing the garden at the back. The house has been here for almost 16 years and the garden a little less, but the way they work together has led people to believe the property has been around much longer.” The Mounseys were surprised when their scheme was approved within weeks. “I think the reason we got it so quickly was because it would be replacing 75 yards of barns in which a previous owner had stored antiques, plus ten concrete stables from when there had been a racing stables here,” explains Jane. The building work took around 11 months to complete, after which Simon set about transforming the rubble-strewn field behind the property. “He achieved a great deal during his working life and retired at 57,” says Jane, who, like Simon, was widowed when they met in 1996. “He rather JULY 2020 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 51


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blossomed in Wiltshire: he relaxed and made good friends here and started painting. Sometimes he drew a few plans for a new border, but a lot of it was instinct and his artist’s eye. There was a single oak tree here when he started, and the garden has evolved over time. Simon wasn’t keen on learning plant names and if he read about something he liked, he would note its name, buy it and try it in one of the borders. If it didn’t thrive he would move it.” Once the section of garden closest to the house was taking shape, Simon looked at the area beyond it, planting some 375 native trees and letting wild grasses grow for a natural look, albeit with the odd flower-filled border for colour. It’s here that he and Jane chose to display some of the artworks they had picked up over the years, including a ball made of driftwood and a sculpture of a woman reading. Simon wasn’t afraid to ask for help and benefitted from the input of good friend Rosie Abel Smith, the garden consultant at Bowood House, whose recommendations included the use of the Callery pear. He also enjoyed the help of gardener Les Bailey, who had learnt his craft under the tutelage of Rosemary Verey at Barnsley House, and Dave Andrews, both of whom continue to look after the grounds here. “I loved working with Simon because he was a man who enjoyed his garden,” says Les. The garden was Simon’s creation, but Jane added her own touches, such as the pots of pelargonium she grows from cuttings or sources from Fibrex Nursery in Worcestershire and Foxley Road Nurseries near Malmesbury and plenty of ‘Bonica’ roses, which she loves to have in the house. As her husband’s illness developed, she became a willing pupil, learning how to maintain the garden. She fondly recalls the

Top Tropaeolum

speciosum clambers up the wrought iron porch. Above Silver birch and meadow grasses offset a richly planted border. Left Fragrant shrub rose ‘Lavender Lassie’. Far left The pleasing simplicity of meadow grass allowed to grow long beneath trees. JULY 2020 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 53


afternoons he spent teaching her how to mow the lawn. “He used to sit at a table in the ruin with a glass of wine and shout at me if the lines weren’t straight,” she recalls, laughing. “Now I like to sit in the ruin and talk to him.” Jane has since overseen the completion of a woodland that Simon had conceived to protect a border from the wind, placing within it a large piece of local rock inscribed with

Above A carefully chosen

mix of shrub roses and perennials create a tapestry of colour in front of a stone wall. Right A sculptural ball created from pieces of driftwood is perfectly partnered by its informal meadow setting.

INTRODUCING wildness Les Bailey’s advice on encouraging wild grasses The secret to creating a successful wild garden lies in its preparation, which begins with the removal of coarse grasses.

but generally mowing is left until everything starts to flop, which is usually sometime in September, after everything has set seed.

A combination of mowing, removing the clippings, weed killing and rotovating started the process at Brillscote House, after which various native species of flowering grasses were sown with a liberal scattering of yellow rattle, Rhinanthus minor, a semi-parasitic plant that weakens nearby grasses.

At Brillscote House we use a motorised strimmer, which is similar to a modern Allen scythe, to chop down the grasses, after which they are left out to dry so that any remaining seeds can ripen and pop. The grass is then raked up and burned so that the seeds aren’t transferred into the compost heap. We use the compost on the flower bed and don’t want to transfer germinating grass seeds.

The grasses are topped once or twice if needed, particularly in spring when bulbs begin to emerge, 54 THE ENGLISH GARDEN JULY 2020

words from a poem about a man who planted trees, which was read aloud at Simon’s memorial service. The long clear days of early summer are a special time for Jane, for this is when Simon’s creation reaches a peak: new roses are covered with dewdrops that sparkle like diamonds; rich clematis scramble through trees; vibrant green canopies provide protective shade from sunshine; and a chorus of birdsong accompanies her walks around the garden. “Simon loved gardening and made the area around our previous home look beautiful, but it was after our new house was completed that he really came into his own,” she says. “I love it so much because I helped to build it with him. We talked about the garden a lot and it’s where I feel closest to him.” ■ Brillscote House will open on 13 June 2021 in aid of Youth Action Wiltshire, a charity that supports young carers. communityfirst.org.uk/yaw/


PROMOTION

FROM BOOK TO BRONZE The Chelsea Flower Show Gold Star award-winning sculptors of Robert James Workshop create captivating bronze water features and sculptures to bring magic to your garden

Clockwise from left Alice in Wonderland sculpture in bronze; Mr. Jeremy Fisher and Peter Rabbit eating Radishes, inspired by the much-loved Beatrix Potter tales; The Gorse Fairies; Sculptors James Coplestone (top) and Robert Ellis.

R

obert and James, better known as Bob and Jim, have been best of friends for over 30 years. They share a passion for stories, illustration and sculpture, and together they have embarked on many creative adventures. Just over ten years ago, Jim attended the RHS Chelsea Flower Show for the first time. It was an extraordinary day, brimming with colour, inspiration and the surprising realisation that there were no sculptures woven around stories. This was the moment that Alice in Wonderland rose from the page and the idea of a limited-edition run of bronze sculptures based on the classic story was ignited in Jim’s creative and quirky mind. Turning a page in a book to see an illustration that brings the story to life is magical. Even in today’s digital world, the page of the book is where it all begins.

English classics such as Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland illustrated by Sir John Tenniel, Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit and Cicely Mary Barker’s Flower Fairies are faithfully modelled from the original illustrations. Robert and James were invited by Penguin Books, who own the copyright on these treasured creations, to work directly from the archives held at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The pair use old, hand-made tools and finger prints to press, move and model clay into position, capturing the breath of the characters, as if they have momentarily stepped out of the book and into the three-dimensional world. Once modelled in clay, the pieces are cast in bronze and the highly collectible sculptures are installed in gardens, weaving their unique magic.

Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens on Dorset’s beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Jurassic coast, are the perfect backdrop to the permanent Wonderland Sculpture Trail. Explore the floral pathways of this exotic garden to discover these childhood characters in a timeless setting. The Robert James Workshop, nestled within these gardens, offers a chance for visitors by prior appointment to meet the artists and purchase work. Each piece is created in the UK and can be delivered worldwide. To find out more tel: 07515 126119 or visit robertjamesworkshop.com

JULY 2020 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 55


56 THE ENGLISH GARDEN JULY 2020


Box balls at the corners of four quadrants echo and anchor the central stone circle set into Craichlaw’s lawn.

Secrets of SUCCESS

Tenacious gardener Mary Gladstone has found that the key to establishing her accomplished garden at Craichlaw is to find solutions to the unique challenges posed by the conditions and climate in this part of south-west Scotland WORDS CLARE FOGGETT PHOTOGRAPHS RAY COX JULY 2020 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 57


T

rue gardening finesse comes when you’ve really got to know your garden: when you’ve been tending it for so long that you know your patch inside out. Mary Gladstone has been working on the garden at Craichlaw since 1992, when, newly married to her husband Andrew, she moved into the Dumfries & Galloway house and estate he’d inherited seven years before they met. Nigh-on three decades later, she’s transformed the garden around the house from what was more or less a blank canvas into a richly planted, well-designed space, and got to know it intimately in the process. From the peculiarities of the climate in this corner 58 THE ENGLISH GARDEN JULY 2020


of south-west Scotland, to the plants that do well and how their care has to be adapted to suit this particular spot, Mary has adapted her gardening to the location, with polished results. A post-graduate course in landscape architecture, which she says was brilliant for training the eye and increasing her plant knowledge, helped, but what awaited Mary at Craichlaw was still a challenge. “We have very difficult conditions here,” she admits. “We’re inland, 250 feet above sea level, with little natural shelter in an area susceptible to strong winds. The soil is thin and dries up quickly, we often have late frosts and, increasingly, we’re getting a dry period in late spring and more gales in summer.”

Above left A formal

layout houses seating and beds of perennials. Top Swathes of hardy geraniums, campanula and veronicastrum. Above Apart from the delphiniums, most of the perennials flower well into the autumn months. Left Planting merges into the meadow beyond. Far left Mary Gladstone with her dog, Norah.

Andrew had already made a start on neglected parts of the wider grounds, dredging the loch and trying to eradicate invasive Rhododendron ponticum and laurel from the woodland. Together, he and Mary planted trees alongside those already put in by Andrew’s forebears. “Our wedding list was trees,” she recalls, “although sadly a lot of them failed. They would have been fine in the south of England, but they just didn’t cope with the conditions here. I thought on the west coast of Scotland things would grow, but we’re not like an Argyll garden.” The first part of the garden ‘proper’ to be tackled was the area in front of the house. The house itself is impressive, a baronial mansion built in 1864 that incorporates a tower, the lower part of which dates to the 16th century. It’s imposing too, raised above the land that surrounds it, and built from a dark grey, bull-faced stone. “It’s a formal house and the obvious thing was to divide this area into four sections,” says Mary. A central stone circle set into the lawn is echoed by box balls that anchor each quadrant’s corner. An existing yew hedge was encouraged and added to so that it neatly ringed the new garden’s perimeter. One of the quadrants has been given over to seating, but the other three are simply filled with herbaceous perennials. “I’m not a great shrub person, and we’ve got lots of trees in the grounds,” JULY 2020 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 59


Above Box hedging and clipped hornbeam cones make a calm contrast in the adjoining gardens. Left Campanula lactiflora ‘Loddon Anna’ with Echinops ritro. Below right Mary’s favourite, Veronicastrum ‘Fascination’. Below left Reclaimed granite stones create focal points for vistas.

60 THE ENGLISH GARDEN JULY 2020

says Mary. “This garden is pretty formal in many ways, and it just called out for herbaceous planting.” Bold blocks of perennials that are tough enough to withstand the rigours of growing here – veronicastrum, hardy geraniums, inula – form a pastel wash of colour that lasts well into autumn. Now accustomed to the windy conditions, Mary makes sure the perennials are well supported, cutting birch sticks from the estate and also stretching netting horizontally across the beds, which the plants soon grow through and hide. “I can’t bear having a gale and then seeing everything flattened, so I spend a lot of time and energy on supporting them,” she says. “The planting is a little bit blocky – it’s all quite bold. I don’t mix things up that much and I use blocks for ease of management. There’s a lot of repetition too: I think without that it can all get rather bitty and I don’t want to be endlessly buying plants. I know what plants will work here and I divide what I’ve got. I usually grow a few annuals each year, but I buy very little now.” The yew hedging has now reached a point where it needs firm handling. Even hedges that are trimmed each year grow taller and wider over time, so Mary tackles it section by section, hard pruning so it regenerates at a reduced overall size. “We have to hack it to stop it getting too big, but we have to do it just one side at a time. If you did both sides you’d be asking for trouble.” Regular pruning is now done in


late February or early March, after Mary found 20 years ago that textbook autumn pruning didn’t work here. “The hedge was dying and we had to change how we managed it,” she says. “If you cut it in autumn there are fewer leaves, which means reduced photosynthesis during winter. This way, the yew has foliage in winter, then we cut in spring and get new growth – it works here.” Peeping over the yew are the slender tips of topiary hornbeam cones, in the gardens to each side of the formal, central space. A pared-back response to the colour of the perennial beds, these gardens feature low box hedging, standing stones of local granite, salvaged from a bridge that was taken down elsewhere on the estate, and the hornbeams. These were inspired by hornbeams Mary saw at Waterperry Gardens in Oxfordshire and, in what she describes as ‘pure luck’, they mimic the shape of the tower’s turrets. Calm, green spaces these two gardens may be, but they were originally conceived after Andrew and Mary’s four children, including triplets, were born. “We put in a Wendy house for the children when the triplets were two, and a sandpit, and we didn’t want it to be visible from the house, so we put a little room on the left-hand side, and then it seemed obvious to do the same on the other side,” Mary explains. Next to the house is a gravel garden, which Mary says “just rather happened” when she was deciding what to do with a bleak expanse of gravel. Now it is filled with hummocks of Santolina chamaecyparis, Stipa gigantea with its waving stems of oat-like flowers, Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ and the pink and white flower spikes of prickly Morina longifolia. “The santolina ‘hedgehogs’ are trimmed back very small in February each year – I used to do it all by hand and it would take ages, so now the gardener does it with a hedge trimmer and in half a morning the whole lot is done, rather than me taking a week,” says Mary. Verbena bonariensis weaves its way through and Mexican daisy, Erigeron karvinskianus, seeds into any available crevice. Beyond the formally gardened area is a meadow, originally mown every ten days when Andrew and Mary first moved in, but now left to grow until July and then cut for silage. For colour, Mary’s planted snake’s head fritillaries in the damper areas along with Primula pulverulenta. A vegetable garden

“The planting is a little bit blocky – it’s all quite bold. I don’t mix things up that much and I use blocks for ease”

Hardy HEROES

Plants that thrive in Craichlaw’s challenging conditions are repeated to great effect

THALICTRUM DELAVAYI

TROPAEOLUM SPECIOSUM

Choose this wiry-stemmed perennial for clouds of mauve flowers up to 1.5m tall.

The Scottish flame flower weaves through hedges and seeds itself into moist soil.

CAMPANULA ‘LODDON ANNA’

ROSA ‘JAMES GALWAY’

Pastel lilac-pink flowers are carried from June to August on this reliable performer.

A repeat-flowering English rose. Grow as a large shrub or train its stems as a climber.

ACHILLEA ‘WALTHER FUNCKE’

ERYNGIUM ALPINUM

Brick-red flowers fade to warm orange as they age on this grey-leaved, upright plant.

Give this large-flowered eryngium, with its finely cut metallic ruff, good, fertile soil.

JULY 2020 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 61


Top In the gravel garden,

plumes of Stipa gigantea catch the sunlight. Above Behind the house is a well-kept vegetable and cut-flower garden. Left Clipped santolina hummocks, pink hardy geranium and feathery Stipa tenuissima.

behind the house produces flowers for cutting and harvests of lettuce, beans, beetroot and courgettes. Summer is spent gardening and making lists of jobs to be done – “otherwise I might forget” – while in winter Mary seeks refuge from grey, wet weather in the studio where she works as a potter. “There’s always stuff to do,” she notes, but thanks to her skill, experience and tenacity, this most accomplished of gardeners will always get those jobs done. ■ Craichlaw, Kirkcowan, Newton Stewart DG8 0DQ, usually opens by appointment for Scotland’s Garden Scheme. Visit scotlandsgardens.org for updates.

62 THE ENGLISH GARDEN JULY 2020


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WORDS VIVIENNE HAMBLY IMAGE GAP/NICOLA STOCKEN NOTE DUE TO THE ONGOING GLOBAL COVID-19 CRISIS, SOME STOCKISTS HAVE TEMPORARILY CEASED TRADING.

A well-placed sculpture focuses the eye on a particular area, drawing it away from others. This figurative sculpture is by John Brown.

TRUE TO

A well-chosen piece of outdoor sculpture brings focus and structure to a garden, and there are shapes, styles, sizes and materials to suit any space or budget JULY 2020 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 65


SCULPTURE

66 THE ENGLISH GARDEN JULY 2020


GOOD SOURCES Susie Hartley Figurative sculpture, including animals in bronze and bronze resin. Tel: 07719 917480; susiehartley.com Simon Allison Artist-led fountain designs. Commissions include the Water Garden at Kiftsgate. Tel: 01295 758066; allisonfountains.co.uk Nigel Hall Recent work includes circular forms in varied materials, from bronze to beech wood. nigelhallartist.com

IMAGES GAP/CLIVE NICHOLS/CHARLES HAWES

Giles Rayner Sculpture is combined with water to make dramatic, large-scale focal points. Tel: 07989 320335; gilesrayner.com

ON REFLECTION

Outdoor sculpture is integral to its surroundings, affected by and affecting the elements close to it. Consider reflective surfaces for echoing nearby planting and forms. Torus (left) by David Harber has mirrorpolished steel, convex curves and an aperture that frames the view beyond. Tel: 01235 859300; davidharber.co.uk

SET ON STONE

The base on which sculpture is displayed affects the way it is viewed. A rustic stone setting brings a different mood to a formal plinth. Sycamore Seeds (above left) by Andrew McKeown, in cast iron but also available in bronze, can be assembled at home on a base of your choice. Tel: 01642 321104; andrewmckeown.com

ORGANIC FORM

Nature and gardens offer endless inspiration for organic shapes. Anne Curry strives to evoke the power of life at work in nature, as with Helleborus Niger Seed Pod (top right). Work is cast in resin or bronze in editions of six or nine. Her clients include the House of Commons. Tel: 01799 550368; annecurry-sculpture.co.uk

CHANGING SPACES

Since lighting is configured to suit art, consider planting effects and the treatment of a piece. Tavoleau by William Pye (above) is a bespoke piece for a Sussex garden, for which surrounding beds were redesigned so as to achieve better views and perspective. Email contact@williampye. com; williampye.com JULY 2020 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 67


             




SCULPTURE

GOOD SOURCES A Place in the Garden Zinc shapes such as spheres, pedestals and artichokes. Tel: 01403 864866; aplaceinthegarden.co.uk Andrew Kay Cumbrian sculptor working in finished steel to create life-size wildlife forms Tel: 07740 306412; andrewkaysculpture.co.uk Garden Art and Sculpture Cut-out metal sculptures with a rusted finish, from contemporary designs to botanical motifs. Tel: 0750 121 3800; gardenartandsculpture.co.uk Rupert Till Animalia with a special focus on equine forms fashioned from wire, in steel, bronze and aged zinc. Tel: 07921 771284; ruperttill.com

IMAGE GAP/JONATHAN BUCKLEY

DOMESTIC BLISS

Sculpture need not be grand in scale. Caroline Barnett’s limited-edition, rarebreed chickens (top left) in bronze resin bring a pleasing domestic element to a setting – ideal for a kitchen garden or spot close to the house. She works to capture the essential character as well as the outer form, and also sculpts dogs, hares and sheep. Email: info@carolinebarnett.co.uk; carolinebarnett.co.uk

STORIED PIECES

For a children’s garden, try whimsical characters that inspire the imagination. Robert James sculpts characters from children’s stories in either bronze or bronze resin, which permits the application of more detailed colour patination and is lighter and less costly. Choose from characters such as Jemima Puddleduck, Mr Tod and Peter Rabbit (top right). Tel: 07515 126119; robertjamesworkshop.com

TRUE LIKENESS

Busts or even full human forms of relatives or friends can enhance the intimacy of a garden, underscoring the fact that these are personal spaces in which we spend our days and years. Bronze is typically used, but for sheltered spots consider ceramic with a finish approximating the more expensive metal. Youth (above) by Jane Hogben. Tel: 01753 882364; janehogbenterracotta.co.uk JULY 2020 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 69


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SCULPTURE

GOOD SOURCES Piotr Gargas Stone Classical stone sculptor whose work includes gargoyles for Oxford colleges. Tel: 07516 756333; piotrgargas3dsculpture.com Chilstone Fine, cast-stone figures and garden ornaments, including fountains, plus a range of architectural stonework. Tel: 01892 740866; chilstone.com Tristan Cockerill Working in reclaimed slate and driftwood, Tristan’s pieces have a nautical theme. Tel: 07917 320572; tristancockerill.com James Parker Sculpture Slate sculptor of fruit, twists, cones and spheres, now expanding into glass sculpture. Tel: 07729 705257; jamesparkersculpture.co.uk

IMAGES GAP/JOHN GLOVER

CLEAN SLATE

Outdoor sculpture changes as it ages, adopting a patina specific to its surroundings so that no one piece is the same. On stone sculpture, moss and lichen can grow and the stone itself will weather, especially if it is soft. Joe Smith has been sculpting large-scale slate forms (top left) since the 1990s and continues with daughter Jenny. Clients include Highgrove. Tel: 01556 690632; joe-smith.co.uk

HIGH AND MIGHTY

Stone sculptor Jude Tucker’s Arcadia (top right) is made with Ancaster Weatherbed on Horton Stone. It’s 114cm tall, but with a different base it would be even larger. Use sculpture to draw the eye upwards, or to create a distraction from a less favourable view. Altering the height of the base will influence what is first perceived. Tel: 07971 489449; judetucker.com. On view at The Garden Gallery, gardengallery.uk.com

CAST AWAY

Cast stone (above) offers endless possibilities without the expense of solid stone. Choose a stone type and finish and then pick a design, be it classical or contemporary. Haddonstone offers a wealth of styles, from statues, armillary spheres and obelisks, to plinths and pedestals. Services include bespoke stonework and restoration. Tel: 01604 770711; haddonstone.com JULY 2020 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 71


SCULPTURE

GOOD SOURCES James Doran-Webb Animalia such as hares, horses, bears and wyverns are fashioned from driftwood. Similar figures also achieved in bronze. jamesdoranwebb.com Alasdair Currie Minimalist designs inspired by Japanese arts and crafts in wood, lead and concrete. Tel: 01465 861148; alasdaircurrie.com

Wild Wood Carving Andy O’Neill is a chainsaw carver of wildlife sculpture including ladybirds and owls. Tel: 07791 211515; wildwoodcarving.co.uk

SHIFTING SEASONS

Of all materials, wood is the most inclined to change with age. Its colour will alter, depending on treatment, but a large part of sculpting it is understanding where and how it will warp and twist. Experienced sculptor Alison Crowther works almost exclusively in English oak, with her pieces being sold around the world. Outer Sphere (top left) is in a private UK collection. alisoncrowther.com 72 THE ENGLISH GARDEN JULY 2020

TO THE CORE

Wit and whimsy are always valuable additions to a garden. Without levity, even the best gardens can seem rather dull. Tom Hare (top right) started throwing pots before directing his creative energies to weaving willow into outsize organic forms – find apples, toadstools, trees and seedpods among his commissions. Clients include the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Tel: 07776 405990; tomhare.net

ANIMAL MAGIC

Life-like animal forms bring intrigue to outdoor spaces – from a distance it may be hard to tell if they are real. They also offer the chance to memorialise beloved animals, as Prince Charles found when willow sculptor Emma Stothard created a sculpture of his Jack Russell with materials from Highgrove. She also makes horses (Mare and Foal, above), hounds and hares. Tel: 01947 605706; emmastothard.com ■

IMAGES JACQUI HURST; GAP/JOE WHITWORTH; TONY BARTHOLOMEW

Tom Raffield Steam-bent designs for indoors and out, including seating and planters. Tel: 01326 722725; tomraffield.com


Anne Curry Sculptures

Coup de Vent, Bronze resin H: 180 cm; W: 125 cm; L: 210 cm

Anne Curry is a member of the Royal Society of Sculptors. Her sculptures have been exhibited across the UK, and are displayed in gardens all over the world. They can be seen in her own studio and gardens, by appointment only.

www.annecurry-sculpture.co.uk


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ICONIC GARDENS

White Magic In the first in a new series, Mark Lane looks at Vita Sackville-West’s iconic Sissinghurst and shows how gardeners can successfully use ideas from her famous White Garden

Sissinghurst is most famous for its White Garden; here, tulips, stachys and eremurus fill beds in front of its recognisable tower.

IMAGE NATIONAL TRUST/ANDREW BUTLER

A

t Sissinghurst, notable Renaissance towers cast shadows across one of the most iconic gardens in England, just as they have for the past 500 years. Although the gardens here are a modern concept, in terms of age, the surrounding landscape has changed very little. Thousands visit each year from every continent, yet it is still possible to find a quiet place to sit and reflect on a history that has never been lost. JULY 2020 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 75


ICONIC GARDENS

T

he Sissinghurst estate, home to Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson from the 1930s, is vast at 450 acres, but the gardens cover a manageable five, and it is easy to imagine exploring its agreeable spaces in pyjamas. It has a soft, relaxed feel, with scent in the air and bees buzzing in every direction. A series of garden rooms make the space feel much larger, while an axial design and crossing linear paths invite the visitor to wander to its many parts. Although the gardens are large, the borders within the rooms are manageable and will fit into most outdoor spaces. Nicolson was the master planner, while Sackville-West was the plantswoman. A perfect match for a perfect family garden. To see the garden from above is a magical thing, despite the 78 steps up to the top of the tower, but it’s from this vantage point that the different spaces and shapes become apparent. The top courtyard, with perfect lawn and purple border, lead to the lower courtyard or Tower Lawn. Different planting schemes 76 THE ENGLISH GARDEN JULY 2020

Above The Rose Garden in June, its roses trained over dome-shaped supports made of hazel. Below The Cottage Garden’s colourful mix of tulips, wallflowers and zingy euphorbias.

keep it evolving, while spaces such as the White Garden, Rose Garden, Rondel, Lime Walk, Nuttery, Azalea Bank, Moat Walk, Yew Walk, Meadow and Orchard form some of the main features. Outside, in the far south-east corner are the lakes, while to the north-west is the Vegetable Garden. As is the case in many of the great English gardens, it is possible to get up close to the plants here. Vibrant shades of orange and lime are seen in the Cottage Garden with tulips, wallflowers and euphorbias. Hazel ‘benders’ support rose bushes in the Rose Garden, while climbers and ramblers scramble over the red brick walls, filling the space with their heady scent. Vita wrote: “A collection of old roses gives a great and increasing pleasure,” and the seat set within the curve of the wall is the perfect spot to appreciate them. Layers of colour and texture are supported by neighbouring plants, such as salvia, sweet pea, Francoa sonchifolia, Stachys macrantha, towering clouds of thalictrum and vertical accents from verbascums and delphiniums.


Sissinghurst’s KEY PLANTS

IMAGES NATIONAL TRUST/ANDREW BUTLER; CLIVE NICHOLS; GAP/TIM GAINEY/JONATHAN BUCKLEY/NICOLA STOCKEN/FHF GREENMEDIA; SHUTTERSTOCK

Shrubs for structure and flowers; perennials for season-long colour and interest at every level

ROSA ‘CONSTANCE SPRY’

ROSA ‘MULLIGANII’

BETONICA MACRANTHA

An English climbing rose with fully double, rich pink flowers with a heavenly myrrh scent, held on nodding stems.

A rich musk scent from myriad small white flowers held in large clusters on a plant that can reach an incredible 11m.

An upright perennial, also known as Stachys macrantha, with dense spikes of hooded, pink-purple flowers.

TULIPA ‘ORANGE EMPEROR’

TAXUS BACCATA ‘FASTIGIATA’

CLEMATIS X DURANDII

Perfect in pots or the border, this stunning tulip has petals in deep carrotorange shades with a pale-yellow base.

VERBENA ‘SISSINGHURST’ Clusters of lipstick-pink flowers that trail over urns and pots at Sissinghurst throughout summer and autumn.

This columnar evergreen with deep green foliage adds form and structure.

PULMONARIA ‘BLUE ENSIGN’ Blue flowers above dark green leaves on this excellent spring groundcover plant.

A long-flowering herbaceous clematis covered in a mass of rich-blue flowers – a mainstay in the Purple Border.

MELIANTHUS MAJOR A true giant, reaching 3m, grown for its grey-green serrated leaves. Reddishbrown flowers appear in hot summers.

JULY 2020 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 77


ICONIC GARDENS

Above At first glance, a sea of white, but Vita’s White Garden is a clever combination of form, texture and shapes, from both flowers and foliage.

The White Garden This garden, which peaks in early summer, is widely imitated. A careful balance of green, silver and white plants produces one of Sissinghurst’s most striking gardens. There is a freshness and lightness produced by a mix of bulbs, annuals, biennials, rhizomatous plants, herbaceous perennials, shrubs and climbers as well as neatly trimmed hedges of box and yew. To get a feel for its shape and structure, a winter visit is best. The maze-like patterns of box-edged borders and brick-and-slab pathways will shimmer with a sprinkling of frost. In terms of the planting, the borders’ composition changes, but the use of just one colour is timeless, elegant, simple and pure.

78 THE ENGLISH GARDEN JULY 2020

The textures, shapes and form of the plants result in a harmonious sea of white froth. It is difficult to maintain such a freshness, since white very quickly fades, and can look unsightly when it turns a tatty brown, which is why the White Garden has to be maintained to such a high level. Here, as in other areas of the garden, Vita liked vertical accents, such as delphiniums, lilies, foxgloves and veronicastrum to shoot up through mounds of textural plants. Vita always took into account her plants’ final size, height and form. Layers of planting ensure a continuous flowering, with groundcover and small plants at the front and taller plants at the back and middle of the borders. The borders are deep, but


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1 Pyrus salicifolia ‘Pendula’ sets the tone with its silvergrey foliage. 2 Year-on-year, Rosa ‘Mulliganii’ smothers the arbour’s metal canopy. 3 Chamaenerion angustifolium ‘Album’ with tall, white, tapering spires 4 Gillenia trifoliata produces masses of delicate, star-shaped flowers. 5 Lychnis coronaria ‘Alba’, with single white flowers on top of well-branched stems. 6 Umbels of delicate Ammi majus. 7 Galega officinalis ‘Alba’, with pinnate foliage and elegant spikes of white pea-like flowers.

this means plants can be seen from different angles. Mounds of various heights are formed, sometimes in a haze of white, sometimes in solid blocks. Foliage is important in any garden, as a restful backdrop to flowers, as a foil to flower colours and to help unite a planting scheme. In the White Garden, foliage colour, shape and texture are used to great effect. It is also important to remember that white comes in many shades, from pure linen-white to creamier hues, and what is planted around these different shades will either work and make the white ‘pop’ or might ‘muddy’ the desired look. For example, fresh lime-green and silver-leaved plants look incredible next to pure white. There is so much inspiration to be found in the White Garden. To transpose ideas to your own garden, focus on a single border or pick out key plants that will work together, contrast with each other and provide lasting interest. Mimic the use of verticals popping through mounds and think about height, either by planting a climber, a tree or a large shrub. Silvery-white plants such as Artemisia absinthium or Stachys byzantina, Cobaea scandens ‘Alba’ climbing through a small tree or up an obelisk, or architectural plants like Eryngium giganteum or Crambe cordifolia work well with white roses, delphiniums and love-in-a-mist. Extend the seasons by planting white crocuses, tulips, daffodils, galtonia and snowdrops for spring and Lonicera x purpusii ‘Winter Beauty’ or Prunus x subhirtella ‘Autumnalis’ for autumn and winter interest.

IMAGES NATIONAL TRUST/ANDREW BUTLER

Below Rosa ‘Mulliganii’ clothes the White Garden’s central arbour in a dreamy froth of flowers, while scented lilies line the path.

Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Biddenden Road, Cranbrook, Kent TN17 2AB. Tel: 01580 710700. Re-opens from 3 June and tickets must be booked in advance. For details visit nationaltrust.org.uk JULY 2020 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 79


ICONIC GARDENS

Creating a WHITE GARDEN Apply this elegant theme to your own garden, using Sissinghurst as a starting point

SELECT A SHOWSTOPPER Make sure spring is taken care of by planting tulips – the perfect bulb to follow on from a riot of daffodils. The pure-white, lily-flowered heads of Tulipa ‘White Triumphator’ add grace and elegance. Mix them up with single, late Tulipa ‘Maureen’, seen at the centre of this image, and Lunaria annua var. albiflora for a fresh start to your White Garden.

PRAIRIE STYLE

REACH UP

To create a prairie-style White Garden, introduce grasses such as Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’ with slender cream and green blades and Pennisetum villosum with fluffy white flowers for an elegant, flowing scheme.

The towering, creamywhite, densely packed flower spikes of lupins are perfect for adding the vertical accent that Vita Sackville-West loved and applied so well throughout the gardens at Sissinghurst.

80 THE ENGLISH GARDEN JULY 2020

Eryngium giganteum is a White Garden essential, its spiky bracts like an Elizabethan neck ruff surrounding a central cone. It’s a great silver-grey plant to add texture and a vertical statement. Likewise, Stachys byzantina is also essential, this time for furry silver-grey mounds at the front of borders.

WHITE GARDENS IN MINIATURE If you’re short on space, make a white garden in pots or with a living wall. Choose from: Libertia chilenses; Campanula ‘Weisse Clips’; Luzula nivea; Vinca minor ‘Gertrude Jekyll’; Brunnera macrophylla ‘Betty Bowring’; Tiarella ‘Spring Symphony’ (above); Gaura lindheimeri ‘Whirling Butterflies’; and Thymus ‘Snowdrift’. ■

IMAGE NATIONAL TRUST/ANDREW BUTLER; SHUTTERSTOCK; GAP/ELKE BORKOWSKI; ALAMY

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TOP 10 PLANTS

Self-Raising Flowers

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Mat Reese, head gardener at the awe-inspiring Malverleys in Hampshire, chooses easy annuals and biennials for a relaxed, country-garden look

WORDS VIVIENNE HAMBLY IMAGE GAP/JASON INGRAM

stablished in 2010, Malverleys in Hampshire is a sumptuous flower garden set within a larger estate. Head gardener Mat Reese trained at Great Dixter and the garden bears this influence as well as taking inspiration from the writings of William Robinson and Vita Sackville-West. Malverleys’ abundantly planted terraces and long borders are at their peak right now, but a visit will also

reveal wonderful themed rooms, including a cool garden, hot garden and a rose-clad cloister garden. Here, Mat selects ten of his favourite annuals and biennials to grow for a loose, English country look, with an eye on biodiversity. Malverleys, Fullers Lane, East End, Newbury, Hampshire RG20 0AA. For details of openings, visit ngs.org.uk or malverleys.co.uk

1 Papaver somniferum This is a beautiful, pure white, single poppy with just a hint of butter-yellow on its anthers and a limecoloured pistil. Poppies need sun and good drainage to grow well and will last a little longer as a cut flower if the stems are seared. This variety should come true from seed if there are no other poppies in the vicinity.

JULY 2020 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 83


TOP 10 PLANTS

2 Dianthus armeria

3 Verbascum olympicum

This dianthus, known as Deptford pink, is classified ‘Endangered’ in the wild in Great Britain, so grow it to encourage its survival. As a wild form of garden pinks it has smaller flowers and a more upright, grassier habit than the regulars of the garden centre. Seeds need a cold spell to break dormancy, so are best sown in autumn.

Native to Greece and Turkey, this is a drought-resistant, short-lived perennial that’s ideal for chalky soils. Its cheerful yellow flowers bloom from downy, green-grey stems that are themselves a perfect foil for surrounding plants. This is a towering plant, reaching over 2m in ideal conditions, so grow it at the back of a border.

4 Asperula orientalis

5 Ipomoea ‘Heavenly Blue’

Commonly known as blue woodruff, this is a great plant for attracting bees and butterflies, which will appreciate its pretty blue tubular flowers through May and June. As a hardy annual it can be sown from late summer for flowering the following year. Blue woodruff grows to about 40cm in full sun and poor soil.

Grow this annual climber and you’ll be rewarded with bright blue flowers and lush foliage that will clothe a trellis or frame in no time at all. Morning glory, as it is also known, will reach a height of 4m, with a spread of around 1.5m. It grows best in a sheltered spot in full or partial sun. Flowers are plentiful but last just one day.

84 THE ENGLISH GARDEN JULY 2020


IMAGES ALAMY; CLIVE NICHOLS; GAP/MARTIN HUGHES-JONES/JASON INGRAM; SHUTTERSTOCK

6 Persicaria orientalis It is difficult to resist a plant known as kiss-me-overthe-garden-gate, especially one with such a bushy, glamorous form. Deep-raspberry-pink blooms are produced in summer from seeds sown the previous autumn. Seeds need a cold spell to break dormancy – try putting them in the fridge for six weeks.

JULY 2020 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 85


7Agrostemma githago

8 Ammi majus

Corncockle originates from Eastern Europe but is well suited to an English climate. Reaching around a metre in height, it will need some staking but these airy flowers are light enough to be threaded through a planting scheme without obscuring surrounding flowers. Grow in light, well-drained soil.

These airy white blooms, which appear from June to September, make an ideal cut flower. Given a chance, this pollinator-attracting umbellifer will self-seed with abandon. If that doesn’t appeal, cut off the flowerheads, keep the seeds and deliberately sow in situ in September for a late-spring flowering the following year.

9 Isatis tinctoria

10 Nicotiana mutabilis

Woad has a long history on these isles as a dyer’s plant but the bright, airy flowers of this brassica are also excellent at bringing pollinators to the garden. Seeds have a protective coating that encourages dormancy, so soak them well before sowing to aid germination. Grows best in alkaline soil.

Of the species of nicotiana grown in gardens, this half-hardy annual is one of the prettiest – and most manageable. It reaches a modest 1.2m but its appeal lies in flowers that start off white but turn to shades of pink as they age. Stems are branched, which brings volume to planting schemes.

86 THE ENGLISH GARDEN JULY 2020

IMAGES ALAMY; SHUTTERSTOCK; CLIVE NICHOLS; GAP/JOHN GLOVER

TOP 10 PLANTS


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PLANT FOCUS Nymphaea ‘Laydekeri Lilacea’, a spiky, pert and pointy, free-flowering waterlily in pink.

Making an Impression Jacky Hobbs discovers more than 200 varieties of waterlilies at Bennetts Water Garden in Dorset, some suitable for containers and others for Monet-style lakes PHOTOGRAPHS CLIVE NICHOLS JULY 2020 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 89


PLANT FOCUS

W

aterlilies are the jewel in the water garden crown: a Monet painting of them may be unattainable, but waterlilies themselves are not. The majority are hardy, easy to grow and, once planted, require minimal maintenance. They can produce a succession of buds that open and flower from June through to September in a colour palette that includes white, pink, red, yellow and copper. They are not just iconic pond decorations either, but also practical aquatic plants. “They help keep ponds clean by preventing algae from growing,” explains James Bennett, of Bennetts Water Garden

90 THE ENGLISH GARDEN JULY 2020

Above Nymphaea ‘Pink Sensation’ is an ideal all-rounder for medium ponds; its starry flowers have a light fennel scent.

in Dorset, where the National Collection of waterlilies is held. “Their floating foliage provides summer shade and shelter for pond fish and they attract pollinating insects and amphibians.” The crucial factors to consider are size, spread and planting depth. These vary according to species and cultivar so pay attention to plants’ individual needs before being swayed by appearances. It’s no coincidence that the lily-filled pools at Bennetts Water Garden conjure up the magic of impressionist painter, Claude Monet. “The Japanese bridge was inspired by a family visit to the Monet Exhibition at the Royal Academy, in 1999,” admits James, but the source of the waterlilies also links this Dorset grower to Monet. Monet visited the World Fair in Paris in 1889 where, along with the Eiffel Tower, a revolutionary range of hardy pink, red and yellow waterlilies were being exhibited for the first time by specialist nursery Latour-Marliac. Previously only white varieties had been available in Europe. Beguiled, Monet created a large pond at Giverny in which to grow the new Latour-Marliac waterlilies. The rest is history. Seventy years later, in 1959, James’s grandfather, Norman Bennett, a former teacher, retired from education to establish a mail order aquatic nursery from home. He bought his first stock from Latour-Marliac too, securing over 800 plants, which included 25 different cultivars. When the business took off he moved to a redundant brick quarry nearby. “Excavations had resulted in over 60 random pools, which Norman adapted for waterlily stock,” explains James. When James’s father, Jonathan Bennett, took over in 1986, he landscaped the entire site, replacing the fragmented quarry pools with five large lakes, their differing depths accommodating a wide range of waterlilies. The Bennetts continued to amass these plants and in 1992 their 200-strong collection was awarded National Plant Collection status. The original Latour-Marliac lilies are now joined by a throng of species and hybrids from all over the world, including some tender specimens that bathe in the nursery’s purpose-built Tropical House.


Hardy waterlilies can be grown across the country but they flower best in full sun, with a minimum of six hours sunlight, according to James. “Young lilies need to build up reserves, so may not flower for the first few years. Then, each single flower lasts just five days,” he adds. “They open for around six hours between 10am and 4pm: if you’re out at work, you’ll miss them!” A few, like Nymphaea ‘Perry’s Red Wonder’ and ‘James Brydon’, tolerate some shade. Individual flowers are fleet, but vigorous varieties, like pink and white ‘Fritz Junge’ and copper-pink ‘Barbara Dobbins’, produce a summerlong procession of buds from June to September. “Sunshine yellow ‘Texas Dawn’ is one of the first to bloom and last to die back,” says James. All grow best in undisturbed water, where the temperature is more constant. Plant them away from pumps and filters so their roots aren’t disturbed by moving water, which weakens plants and inhibits flowering. Flowering is also affected by planting the waterlily too deeply. Adjust their depth by placing plants in aquatic baskets on shelves or supports, until they are mature enough to be lowered to the bottom

of the pond. James also warns against overcrowding: “Aim for a ratio of 2:1 open water to leaf coverage.” Thin and trim excess or yellowing leaves and if buds can’t rise to the surface, thin again. Top left A Giverny-

inspired Japanese bridge spans the pools. Top right Nymphaea ‘Rose Arey’ is an unusual American hybrid with incurving petals. Above right Large, magenta-flowered Nymphaea ‘Mayla’. Above Long-flowering Nymphaea ‘Texas Dawn’.

Waterlilies for different sized ponds For small tubs and shallow water (depth 10-25cm) James recommends miniature, pale yellow ‘Pygmaea Helvola’, one of the few waterlilies to hold an AGM. For larger tubs and small ponds (depth 20-40cm) ‘Perry’s Baby Red’ and red ‘Bateau’, whose blooms seem to float on a raft of flat petals, are good options. For small to medium ponds (depth 25-50cm) ‘James Brydon’ (AGM) is superb, early to bloom with bright pink flowers and burgundy-tinted foliage all season long. Free-flowering ‘Laydekeri Fulgens’ and ‘Black Princess’ top James’s list, but ‘Laydekeri Lilacea’ and ‘Almost Black’ are good too. ‘David’ is a newer, star-shaped, copper Latour-Marliac JULY 2020 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 91


PLANT FOCUS

GROWING ADVICE

Looking After Waterlilies James Bennett shares his expertise on planting and growing these exquisite aquatic plants Buy specimens of appropriately sized cultivars from weedfree nursery tanks to avoid contaminating your pond.

to achieve initial depth. Lower plants as they mature and grow, until they’re at the cultivar’s recommended depth.

Plant in late spring to late summer, in full sun and still water. Use sizeable aquatic baskets, allowing room for rhizome growth. If the leaves protrude above the surface, they need larger baskets or deeper water.

Regularly deadhead and discard any spent flowers or damaged foliage, cutting the stems below the waterline.

Trim any long roots and remove yellow or damaged foliage. Line the aquatic basket with hessian, fill it with aquatic compost, add aquatic slow-release fertiliser and plant the crown so that it’s level with the soil.

introduction and ‘Gloriosa’, an older Latour-Marliac cultivar from 1896, has big white flowers. James suggests starry white ‘Hermine’, ‘Pink Sensation’, salmon ‘Colorado’ and ‘Sunny Pink’ for medium ponds (depth 30-60cm). Alternatives include magenta ‘Mayla’ with ox-blood foliage, two-tone, pink-and-white ‘Fritz Junge’, incurving ‘Rose Arey’, rounded, shell-pink double ‘Lily Pons’, and lightly scented, pink ‘Amabilis’. ‘Sunny Pink’ bridges medium to large ponds. For large ponds and lakes (depth 40-100cm), James recommends fragrant white ‘Gonnère’, spiky white ‘Gladstoniana’, creamy-yellow Latour-Marliac cultivar ‘Marliacea Chromatella’ from 1847, and ‘Escarboucle’. “It’s one of the best free-flowering lilies with vermilion flowers,” he notes. He also likes ‘Joey Tomocik’ – “it holds its sherbet-lemon flowers upright, 30cm above the water.” The species Nymphaea alba, suits large ponds: it’s not as freeflowering but earns its place as a European native. ■ Above Nymphaea ‘Joey Tomocik’ holds its lemon sherbet flowers high. Below right The large, fragrant blooms of ‘Barbara Dobbins’. Below left Tiny ‘Bateau’ is a perfect choice for small ponds or tubs.

Bennetts Water Gardens, Putton Lane, Chickerell, Weymouth, Dorset DT3 4AF. Tel: 01305 785150; bennettswatergardens.com 92 THE ENGLISH GARDEN JULY 2020

Water well before submerging the crown, initially to a depth of 15-25cm, allowing the leaves to float on the surface. Stack bricks or use an alternative support

Propagate by lifting and dividing overgrown rhizomes in early spring or summer, every four to five years. Using a sharp knife, remove newer, smaller rhizomes with a shoot, from the main crown and plant on. Hose down foliage to help combat invasion by potential pests such as waterlily beetle, waterlily aphid, leaf-mining midge and brown china-mark moth. Do not use pesticides as they will endanger other inhabitants of the pond.


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Above left Informal beds

are filled with a riot of flower forms and foliage, that are ripe for picking. Above right Pink clouds of pretty rambling rose ‘Belvedere’ billow along the cobbled driveway.

one of the country’s most sought-after florists in a direction that is more in harmony with the natural world than the perfection of the florist’s window. Fiona and her husband Brian moved here 13 years ago when the garden was far more formal – too tidy even. “It had a neat lawn, the stone setts were pressure washed to within an inch of their life, and there was clipped box everywhere. It didn’t feel like mine,” Fiona recalls. She had left a successful career in the print industry, which had helped develop her eye for detail, to pursue a career in wedding floristry – “lots of roses and peonies in pastel colours” – even though she now considers that what she did then was ‘not her’. “I was going further and further down a creative route that left me empty,” she explains. While she recognised this, she did not know how to change. Once during those early days she was asked to take part in a florists’ photoshoot, creating a bouquet and buttonhole. “I incorporated flowers and foliage from my garden, but was embarrassed because they were ‘just’ seasonal garden flowers: I felt they were somehow inferior.” Then, in March 2013, a chance happening changed her life. She attended the annual meeting of the artisan British flower growers’ group, Flowers from the Farm, then a very small organisation. “It was a light-bulb moment,” she remembers. “They were growing flowers with character, style and scent – elements you can’t always get from imported blooms – and I knew these were the people I wanted to be around. I loved everything they were talking about.” Although other florists were startled by her new ethos, she was enthusiastic about using British flowers and knew this was the direction in which she wanted to take her career. But then her mother,


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JULY 2020 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 97


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FIRENZA FLOWERS

Shirley, a lifelong gardener and a huge inspiration, became very ill in the middle of Fiona’s busiest ever year. She cared for her mother and carried on working, providing flowers for over 40 weddings in six months. In the spring of 2014, her mother died. In early 2015, exhausted by a heavy workload and grieving her mother’s death, Fiona took a step back from floristry. She headed off on a road trip to visit flower growers and gardens that inspired her, before reinventing her business, Firenza Flowers, in line with her new style and approach. Over the past five years she has turned her back on imported blooms, using British flowers instead, not just for environmental reasons – although typically homegrown flowers have less than ten per cent of the carbon footprint of imports – but because they give her the movement she wants. “The flowers have

Top left Fiona cuts stems of purple-leaved Lysimachia ciliata. Top right A large clump of veronicastrum, a perennial with the ‘wild’ look that Fiona loves. Above An arrangement of flowers, Firenza style.

the shape, the personality, the colours and character, and if the stems aren’t all straight, so much the better. Most of what I use now comes from artisan growers about an hour and a half away.” In the early days it wasn’t easy. Florists order their flowers online from big wholesalers who deal almost exclusively in imports, and the flowers arrive the next morning. The first wedding for which Fiona used exclusively British flowers involved journeys to six different growers – but as more and more growers have come on stream, this has become easier. “There was no business sense in it, but I changed the way I work because it’s important to me,” she explains. She also turned her attention back to her garden, which had been neglected throughout 2014, and set about changing it completely. Out came the manicured box, the lawn was dug up, a winding path replaced the straight one and she let the garden have its head. “I’ve messed it up; it’s much more me, and I’ve put in the kind of plants I use in my floristry: heuchera, hellebores, hydrangeas and scabious,” JULY 2020 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 99


FIRENZA FLOWERS

says Fiona. “It’s much more tangled, but completely immersive. I teach one-to-one workshops here and my students come in and pick whatever takes their fancy.” The garden often appears to have no boundaries, blending into the spectacular moorland views. Even the rambling roses, clematis and honeysuckle are allowed to romp vigorously over the house, at times appearing to engulf it like a flowery thicket in a fairy tale. The countryside surrounding the house is a creative wellspring. Through mature sycamores, the views out across the moors include dry-stone walls that seem to defy gravity, disappearing straight up the fellside. “That’s probably why I’m so drawn to brown, sludgy colours,” says Fiona, “because the landscape here is so many shades of brown, purple and dark green.” Even the luxuriant covering of moss on her roof and garden walls – and this being the north of England, moss comes with the territory – is left alone because she loves its colour and texture. In the setts around the house, a small meadow of self-sown Shirley poppies flower between the cracks. When her mother died, Fiona put thousands of the poppies’ seeds in hand-printed packets for the mourners, so that come flowering 100 THE ENGLISH GARDEN JULY 2020

Above left Simple Shirley

poppies and nostalgic Rosa ‘Belle Époque’ are typical of Fiona’s informal style of flower arranging. Above right A loose arrangement with acer foliage and phygelius.

time, they would recall her mother’s memory. Initially she had planted the poppies close to the house, but gradually they migrated out into the garden, blooming abundantly each year. Flowers at their peak often do not catch her attention. If anything, she likes to wait until they have faded, taking on subtle new shades and a character of their own. A blown rose attracts her more than a perfect one; a leaf with brown curling edges more likely to take centre stage than a fresh green one. On her Instagram feed, her 40,000 followers are often surprised and amused when she posts some of her more ethereal creations, for this is a glorious kind of anti-floristry. She also creatively curates large, dramatic flower festivals, like Castle Howard in 2018, using exclusively British flowers. When she is demonstrating she takes her lead from how things want to twist, turn and weave rather than forcing the natural into the unnatural. She thinks it is all too easy to get sucked into doing what other florists are doing, especially when you see beautiful things on social media: “I would say work with what you’ve got. Even if I tried, I couldn’t be perfect and neat. I’ve got messy hair and messy clothes, so even if I try it always ends up looking rugged and imperfect. But I like that. It’s me.” There is so much call for tuition in her style, that she regularly travels all over the world, holding workshops and classes and teaching florists new ways of thinking about flowers and foliage. But it is in her garden that she is most herself, absorbed in what she sees, the light, the way things twist, grow and fade and the constant shifting mood of the moors, moving around with her florist’s snips dreaming up new ways with fading flowers. ■ For more information visit firenzafloraldesign.co.uk or follow Fiona on Instagram @firenzaflowers


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GROW YOUR OWN

July at Babington It’s time for the high-summer harvests in the productive Walled Garden of Babington House, and head gardener Sophie Turner offers growing advice to ensure healthy, bountiful crops of tomatoes, cucurbits and broccoli WORDS VIVIENNE HAMBLY PHOTOGRAPHS EVA NEMETH

A tumble of squash plants with ripening fruit, in the Walled Garden of Babington House in Somerset. JULY 2020 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 103


GROW YOUR OWN

Tomatoes Of all the harvests, a crop of tomatoes is among the most anticipated. From seed sown under cover in March, plants develop into either bushes or cordons, and the first fruits will be ready to gather by mid-July. Tomatoes benefit from the protection of a greenhouse, which they enjoy at Babington, but they also grow well outdoors during a hot summer. All tomatoes need some support, but if they’re cordons, as most varieties are, pick off the side shoots to maintain one central stem, and grow them up a cane, or twine suspended from an overhead support. “If you use twine, wind it all the way down the stem at first, then keep winding the plant around it through summer,” explains Babington’s head gardener, Sophie Turner. “Avoid using wire, which will cut into the stem and use a seaweed feed to get the plants going. As soon as fruits appear, move on to a high-potassium feed like Tomorite and water plants consistently.” Keep only the foliage that is absolutely necessary, so energies are focused on fruit. “Remove the leaves up to the first truss of fruit. When that truss ripens, take off the leaves up to the next truss, so you have a bare stem all the way up,” Sophie advises. Once 104 THE ENGLISH GARDEN JULY 2020

Above left Sophie grows climbers, especially cucumbers, over elevated window frames. Top right Feed and water tomatoes well to ensure good crops. Middle Nip off the growing tip so trusses have time to ripen. Right Tomatoes and even aubergines will thrive in the greenhouse.

JUTE NETTING Use jute netting as an easy, eco-friendly way to support climbing and trailing vegetables. It is biodegradable and doesn’t tangle as easily as plastic products. At the end of the season, cut it down and add it to the compost heap. Dobies, Marshalls and Agriframes can supply.

about four trusses have developed on bushes outside, or seven in a greenhouse, nip off the growing tip so the fruit can ripen fully on the vine. Blight is often the death of tomatoes grown outdoors. Varieties such as ‘Shirley’ and ‘Sungold’ have some resistance, but good practice also reduces its effects. Blight thrives in the moist, humid conditions of mid- to late summer, so leave space between plants for air to circulate. Remove affected sections, disposing of or burning the afflicted leaves.


Cucurbits This prolific group of plants includes squashes and cucumbers, both of which grow in abundance in the Walled Garden at Babington. In addition to plentiful water, cucumbers need support to thrive, whether they are growing in a greenhouse or in the vegetable patch. Pick out a central stem to develop, as with cordon tomatoes, and feed plants with Tomorite once the first fruits have set. “Cucumbers become misshapen only when they grow against an obstacle,” explains Sophie. For straight fruit, she advises allowing them to dangle as they grow. To achieve this, use an arch, tepee, or the support of an old window frame propped at a 45-degree angle. “Pick them when they are around 20cm or they will be hard and watery,” she advises. “Pick little and often, too. If you just leave them, you’ll end up with one really big one.” The same applies to summer squash, including crook necks, patty pans and courgettes. “Blink and you’ll end up with a marrow!” As is the case with cucumbers, summer squash need plenty of water to sustain their large size and the fruit they grow.

Below The flowers

of courgettes are as delicious as the fruits. Stuff them with ricotta, or fry in tempura batter. Bottom right Many cucurbits have prickly, irritating stems, so roll down your sleeves when you pick them. Bottom left Climbers will need good support – jute netting is ideal.

Mulch beds well, then water deeply but less often, about twice a week in very hot weather. Take care to water the roots, rather than the leaves, which are prone to mildew if they remain damp. A good flow of air between plants will help prevent mildew but once they are affected, cut off greying leaves and keep the ground clean. Then feed the plants with Tomorite or a seaweed feed. “The more room they have to spread out, the better,” says Sophie. “If the flower at the end of the fruit starts to rot, pick it at once or the rot will spread to the fruit.”

JULY 2020 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 105


GROW YOUR OWN Left Fennel flowers attract pollinators to the garden. Use the seed for a homemade tisane. Right Spring-sown carrots can be pulled up at this time of year. Below Watch for ageing broccoli; pick at the first sight of yellow flowers. Bottom Good kitchen gardens are as beautiful as they are useful.

Broccoli This cruciferous vegetable, which we call broccoli but the Italians call calabrese, will be maturing now and, depending on variety, could also be going into the ground. “If you’re harvesting it, keep an eye on the heads,” says Sophie. Broccoli is quick to set flower, so pick it at the first hint of yellowing. “Cut off the head with just a couple of inches of the stalk. If you leave some of the plant behind, side shoots can develop which will keep it cropping for longer.” Mature brassicas are heavy plants with thick stems that are prone to rocking in wind or simply listing. For this reason, they may need staking in their later stages. Reduce listing by planting seedlings as deeply as possible: aim to put most of the young stem below ground. Broccoli also needs watering at this time of year. “The plants are annuals, so they are hungry and thirsty,” Sophie advises. “The stronger you can get them, the better they will be.” ■ 106 THE ENGLISH GARDEN JULY 2020

LATE SOWINGS Put in a final round of French and borlotti beans. Pick the French beans when they’re young, but you can leave borlotti beans on the stem to fatten for drying. Gather when they’re swollen, then put them in a cool place to dry in their pods before shelling. Sow leaves like ‘Salad Bowl’ and ‘Little Gem’ in a partly shaded spot.


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108 THE ENGLISH GARDEN JULY 2020


CRAFTSPEOPLE

Ashley Corrigan, marketing manager for Shropshire Petals, a family-run, natural confetti grower.

Scattered Dreams In the rolling North Shropshire countryside, fields of gorgeous blooms are grown by Shropshire Petals to be sold as natural confetti, bringing colour, fragrance and eco-credentials to weddings worldwide WORDS HOLLY FARRELL PHOTOGRAPHS JOE WAINWRIGHT

JULY 2020 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 109


CRAFTSPEOPLE

A

shley Corrigan waves her hands in the air as she enthuses about her favourite confetti petals. As marketing manager for Shropshire Petals she knows more than most about the best way to throw confetti, and the team’s dedication to their job is evident from the petals that eddy around the floor every time someone opens the door. Large tubs line the walls of the packing shed – each with an evocative label: Icing Sugar, Pinch of Plum, Midnight Bloom, Mellow Meadow – where Amanda and Dawn are busy packaging samples to send out to brides-to-be. What’s on show here is a mere fraction of the 820 million petals the company harvests annually by hand and sends out to brides and companies near and far. “It’s quite humbling really, when you think about it,” says Ashley, “sending our little family company petals to the other side of the world.” But as one of only a handful of natural confetti growers globally, it is hardly surprising that demand for their product is increasing. The first flowers grown on the farm, in the rolling countryside of North Shropshire, were a hobby of Daisy Bubb, the then-farmer’s wife and a keen gardener. She took over a small corner of land to

110 THE ENGLISH GARDEN JULY 2020

Above Annual larkspur

grows in colourful stripes across the fields at Shropshire Petals. Right Up to 100 people are employed during the summer picking season.


grow flowers for drying and selling at market, and this was continued by her son Michael and his wife Rose, who devoted 150 acres to dried-flower production in the 1990s. When dried flowers fell out of fashion they looked to alternatives, and by 2000 had found a niche in the market for natural petal confetti. Production was turned almost exclusively to petals, and whereas with dried flowers the aim had been to keep the petals on the stems for as long as possible, now they were deliberately removed. In 2005 the Bubb family set up Shropshire Petals as a separate business and it has continued to expand ever since, now employing eight staff in the office alone and up to 100 for the summer picking season, producing around 140,000 litres of petals each year from 27 acres. The petals can be ordered online in small quantities for individual weddings and other occasions, but the company also has a number of trade customers, including candle makers, the cosmetics brand Lush and even the latest Aladdin film. Whatever the end destination, however, the petals are all grown in the same way. Although the family are conducting trials with perennials such as Alchemilla mollis and marjoram, the bulk of the petals are annuals. Larkspur (annual delphiniums or consolida), nigella, cornflowers (Centaurea cyanus) and marigolds (calendula) are the mainstays of their crop, with a small section of the land set aside for trialling other species every year. Anyone who sees something interesting – perhaps in a florist’s – brings it to the office to dry on the windowsill for an initial test of its abilities. They also keep a close eye on wedding and floristry fashions and introduced a lime-green zinnia last year to cater for brides wanting a white-and-green themed wedding. The larkspur is Ashley’s favourite: “It’s the right size, it holds its colour beautifully and it gently flutters down after it is thrown.”

Above left White

cornflowers, Centaurea cyanus, are perfect for traditional weddings. Above right Watching the weather forecast is crucial throughout the growing season. Right Bright orange calendula are grown in number; the year-old petals fade to yellow for yellow confetti mixes.

After the spring sowings, the team keep a close eye on the weather for the rest of the sowing season, since cold and wet (or conversely, drought) conditions can delay or reduce the flowering potential of the plants: “I don’t think I’ve ever been as in tune with the weather as I am now!” jokes Ashley, and there is even a weather station in the middle of the farmyard that can be consulted by the hour if need be. Teams of pickers harvest the flowers by hand three times over the season. What happens next depends on the variety. Some, such as the calendula marigolds, are de-petalled first, then dried. Others will be dried on the flowerhead and JULY 2020 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 111


CRAFTSPEOPLE

de-petalled afterwards. All of the petals are air dried naturally inside a large barn. Once dried, petals are stored according to variety or blended with other colours or varieties to create single colour or assorted colour mixes. Customers can buy one of these mixes or use the company’s pick-and-mix facility, all of which is done in a small shed adjoining the office. The team are clearly wellpractised as they move about, taking a scoop here, and a handful there. It’s cold both in here and the main storage shed, where larger boxes are stacked high, labelled with the mix or type and the harvest 112 THE ENGLISH GARDEN JULY 2020

Top left Bunches of a

traditional dried flower Lagurus ovatus hang upside down for drying. Top right De-petalling larkspur flowerheads after they have dried. Above right Packaged and ready for dispatch to brides across the UK and worldwide. Above left Mixes are available in a wide range of different colours.

date. This helps preserve the petals and moisture levels are monitored too, while moth deterrents hang from the ceiling. The only flower that fades significantly is the calendula, but this is used to their advantage. “We used to grow it in both orange and yellow,” says Ashley, “but the orange would fade to yellow after a year. So now we just sow the orange variety and use year-old petals for our yellow mix.” The petals lend this otherwise 2,000-acre arable and livestock farm a romantic air. “Brides often want to visit, so I make sure they are prepared for the reality: this is a working farm, with tractors and mud all over the place!” Ashley admits. Social media is an easier way to promote the prettier side, and Shropshire Petals is often featured in the wedding press and at wedding fairs up and down the country. While the company has come a long way since those first bunches were sold by Daisy Bubb, it still supplies dried flowers and wheat stems; wheat from Shropshire Petals went into the medal winners’ bouquets at the 2012 Olympic Games. The team are forward-thinking, and constantly re-evaluate sustainability, even down to being a disposable-penfree office. This is not just to tick a box or put a label on the website. As Ashley explains: “We genuinely believe in it.” Most importantly, they need not pretend when it comes to provenance: “The petals have come from our farm,” concludes Ashley. “We shout about that because we’re proud of it.” ■ For more information visit shropshirepetals.com


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BOOKS

The Reviewer

A selection of the best writing on the shelves this month

Pots For All Seasons by Tom Harris Pimpernel Press, £20

It was when author Tom Harris was confronted with a “rocky, almost soil-free garden” that “pots leapt heroically” to his aid. So began a lasting relationship with these often overlooked and even neglected elements of outdoor spaces. Transportable and contained, pots earn their place. For tenants unwilling to invest heavily in a garden that isn’t their own, they are ideal. For those wishing to grow plants that local soil conditions won’t accommodate, they open a world of opportunity. Pots bring spring cheer to the front door when the March wind blows and they turn terraces into something more than mere paving slabs and outdoor furniture. Pots for All Seasons offers practical, inspiring advice on how to make the most of these valuable garden additions. There is direction on planting techniques, container selection and plant management, as well as more aesthetic concerns such as colour selection and composition. At the heart of this book, however, are seasonal planting suggestions, and in this it really excels. Plant choices are sophisticated and tasteful and the containers used are something you’d actually want in your garden. The book concludes with helpful special care instructions, such as wrapping up for winter and organic pest control.

RHS Grow Your Own Veg & Fruit Bible

WORDS VIVIENNE HAMBLY

by Carol Klein Mitchell Beazley, £30

Current circumstances and a looming recession have directed our attention towards growing vegetables, as anyone who has attempted to buy seed recently will know. For those with rusty knowledge or who are just starting out on their kitchen garden journey, this detailed work, published in association with the RHS, is just what is required. Offering environmentally friendly methods for growing more than 75 fruits and vegetables, it contains everything you need to know, from making raised beds to training fruit trees. This new work has drawn from material in existing RHS titles, so images do look a little dated. If you own older copies of Carol Klein’s RHS Grow Your Own Fruit and RHS Grow Your Own Veg, you may find some material duplicated here.

Hydrangeas by Naomi Slade & Georgianna Lane, Pavilion, £25

Whether you prefer mopheads, lacecaps or panicles, is anything as sumptuous as a bed of hydrangeas in full bloom? Few plants declare summer as unequivocally as these wonderful plants. Naomi Slade’s latest in a series of lovely books focusing on single plants (see Dahlias, published in 2018) is a visual feast. She traces hydrangeas’ history on both sides of the Pacific, in Asia and North America, and their part in plant-hunter derring-do: they met with a weak reception in 19th-century England, garnering more enthusiasm in Europe, where they are known as hortensia. She looks at the best varieties to grow, gives instructions on floral arrangements and explains how to achieve those legendary colours. JULY 2020 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 115


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Large baffle to prevent aerial attacks from squirrels.

ALSO PEST PROOF

• INDIVIDUALLY spring

• • • •

loaded feeding ports only let the songbirds feed, not pests as these are too heavy and will close the feeding port. AUTOMATICALLY pest proof straight out of the box No setting or spring calibration to adjust So simple to use. VERY LARGE CAPACITY and so easy to fill, simply open the lid. WEATHER PROOF - No more seed clogging. Woodpecker friendly and also baby squirrel proof! FOUR VERSIONS of PestOff bird feeders available to suit all different seed types. GREAT VALUE EASY TO CLEAN - simply .99 'clicks' apart, no bolts to remove and replace. BUY TWO FOR

£24

PLUS P&P

£44.99

A

B

C

D

suet ball

PORT OPEN

Large capacity seed tube. Steel plates prevent squirrels gnawing.

For one of the finest selection of garden and indoor sculptures have a look on possibly the greatest dedicated sculpture website in Britain on

www.artparks.co.uk Baffle keeps birds and seed dry and stops squirrels sliding down.

Keeps Seed Dry

NEW!

PORT CLOSED

Sculpture for a deserving garden to give it that air of distinction

Bird seed not included.

Suet Ball Feeder

or visit: Sausmarez Manor, St. Martin, Guernsey Tel: 01481 235571 Email: peter@artparks.co.uk

or use your smart phone here

BULBECK FOUNDRY ENGLISH LEADWORK

INDIVIDUALLY SPRING LOADED

Order online & view other great products at

www.homgar.com

CALL OUR CREDIT CARD HOTLINE: 0844 7010055 Quo te Ref EG0218

or return coupon below using our free post service. Calls cost 5p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge

HOMGAR GUARANTEE If not completely satisfied with purchase return within 7 days for a full refund of purchase price.

Post to: Homgar, FREEPOST LON 12290, Borehamwood, WD6 1BR. Please send me the following: Please allow 4 days for delivery Item 1 x RoamwildTM Pest Off Bird Feeder 2 x RoamwildTM Pest Off Bird Feeders

Price £24.99 £44.99

Qty

Total

Please add £4.99 postage to complete order TICK TYPE REQUIRED

A

B

C

£4.99

D

Grand Total £

I enclose cheque (payable to Homgar) for £

or charge my Mastercard/Visa/Maestro/Switch Card account

Card No Security Code (last 3 digits) Name

/

/

Expiry Date

/

Issue No (Switch/Maestro)

Signature Designed in the UK

Address

Post Code Tel No

GUARANTEED

Email Address

EG0620

www.bulbeckfoundry.co.uk 01638 743153 JULY 2020 THE ENGLISH GARDEN 117


NURSERIES & GARDENS TO INSPIRE THIS SUMMER SPRING REACH NURSERY

THE GARDEN AT MISERDEN Spring Reach Nursery grows a fantastic range of clematis, trees, hedging, ferns, shrubs, fruit, perennials, roses, climbers and grasses.

Winner of Historic Houses Garden of the Year 2018, this timeless garden, with spectacular views over parkland and the rolling Cotswold hills beyond, was created in the 17th Century and retains a sense of peace and tranquillity. There are extensive yew hedges, including a notable topiary yew walk designed by Lutyens as well as some carefully planted mixed borders, containing a wide range of roses, clematis and herbaceous plants. The garden is a preserved, hidden gem in the heart of the Cotswolds.

Current feature plants for July are Achillea ‘Red Velvet’, Agapanthus ‘Northern Star’, Francoa ‘Pink Bouquet’, Hemerocallis ‘Stafford’, Hydrangea ‘Miss Saori’ Hoheria ‘Stardust’ and Salvia ‘Amistad’.

OPEN: Garden, Nursery and Café open Tuesday to Sunday (and Bank Holidays) 10am–5pm. Tel: 01483 284769 info@springreachnursery.co.uk | www.springreachnursery.co.uk Spring Reach Nursery, Long Reach, Ockham, Surrey GU23 6PG

Tel: 01285 821303 gardens@miserden.org | www.miserden.org Miserden, Near Stroud, Gloucestershire, GL6 7JA

WEASDALE NURSERIES

BLARNEY CASTLE & GARDENS Weasdale Nurseries have been growing hardy trees and shrubs on our site at 850ft elevation in the Howgill Fells, at the heart of beautiful Cumbria, since 1950. Specialising in mail-order from the outset, our careful packaging system has become legendary and guarantees safe arrival of the delicate contents anywhere in the UK. Contact us for your free copy of our highly readable, illustrated catalogue, listing over 900 different plants available from November to April. EG07/20.

Our 60 acres of gardens are a joy to explore. Visit the prehistoric Fern Garden, our deadly Poison Garden and our magical Rock Close. Make a wish on the famous wishing steps while the waterfall cascades alongside. Stroll by the lake and woodlands and see our magnificent collection of summer flowers in all their splendour. But don’t forget to kiss the famous Blarney Stone! OPEN: Please visit www.blarneycastle.ie for details

Tel: 015396 23246 sales@weasdale.com | www.weasdale.com Newbiggin on Lune, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria CA17 4LX

Tel: +353 21 438 5252 www.blarneycastle.ie Blarney, Cork, Ireland

ASHWOOD NURSERIES

WOOTTENS OF WENHASTON A plantsman’s paradise and an independent nursery situated in the West Midlands. We specialise in Hellebores, Hardy Cyclamen, Salvias, Hepaticas, Lewisias, Hydrangeas, Dwarf Conifers, Snowdrops, Primula auriculas and many more beautiful plants. Our mail order service sends plants, garden essentials and gifts to mainland UK destinations. Please visit our website for up to date information regarding opening times and events. Free colour brochure quote ENGGAR20

Tel: 01384 401996 mailorder@ashwoodnurseries.com | www.ashwoodnurseries.com Ashwood Lower Lane, Kingswinford, West Midlands DY6 0AE

Established for 25 years, Woottens is a traditional plant nursery selling hardy perennials, which are grown and propagated on their site in rural Suffolk. Woottens also specialises in Irises, Auriculas, Pelargoniums, Hemerocallis and an ever growing collection of Salvias. The nursery runs an efficient mail order service all year round. See the website for full details.

Tel: 01502 478258 info@woottensplants.co.uk | www.woottensplants.com Woottens of Wenhaston, Wenhaston, Suffolk IP19 9HF


HEDGING UK

RIVERHILL HIMALAYAN GARDENS Hedging UK are specialist growers of quality hedging plants. Plants are available to purchase at wholesale prices across the UK through our mail order service. Buy direct from the grower, delivered direct to your door. Readers of The English Garden get a 5% discount (quote TEG2020).

Riverhill will be re-opening from 30 May, with social distancing measures in place and timed pre-booked tickets only. Please visit our website to find out more and book. Come and enjoy the Summer with us and spend some much-needed time outdoors. We are firm believers in the importance of gardens during difficult times. Highlights include our fragrant Rose Walk and delightful Walled Garden with peonies, alliums and bubbling fountains. OPEN: March to November. Wednesday to Sunday, plus Bank Holidays. For up-to-date times please see website.

Tel: 01704 827224 or 07789 922457 sales@hedginguk.com | www.hedginguk.com Boundary House Farm, Holmeswood Road, Holmeswood, Lancashire L40 1UA

Tel: 01732 459777 Email: info@riverhillgardens.co.uk | riverhillgardens.co.uk Riverhill, Sevenoaks, Kent TN15 0RR

TENDERCARE NURSERIES

BUSCOT PARK Buscot Park’s gardens and pleasure grounds are one of Oxfordshire’s best kept secrets. Designed in the late 18th century to complement the Palladian style house, and later enhanced by the Lords Faringdon, they include the spectacular water garden designed by Harold Peto, the Four Seasons Walled Garden, and many other features.

Rest assured that you can buy from Tendercare safely during the current climate. You can research our plant availability on our webshop, download the Tendercare app to your phone or email us your lists. We deliver to you or you can visit to tag or collect your selection, when it is safe to do so. We offer a warrantied planting service and can assist with garden replanting advice online and with video links. See our website for the latest offers.

OPEN: 1 April to 30 September, Monday to Friday 2pm-6pm, and some weekends including Bank Holidays.

Best wishes from the team.

Tel: 01895 837120 sales@tendercare.co.uk | www.tendercare.co.uk. Southlands Road, Denham UB9 4HD. Next to Junction 2 on the M40.

Tel: 01367 240932 info@buscot-park.com | www.buscotpark.com Faringdon, Oxfordshire SN7 8BU

DAISY CLOUGH NURSERIES LTD

WATERPERRY GARDENS The gardens are ablaze with colour over the long summer days. Heading the way are lupins and roses followed by delphiniums within the world famous herbaceous border.

A busy nursery in rural Lancashire, Daisy Clough specialises in a carefully selected range of over 700 perennials and grasses. Open seven days a week, the nursery also offers a good selection of shrubs, trees, container plants and fruit. Plenty of homegrown vegetable plants are available through spring and summer.

Waterperry Gardens – a place to explore, relax and shop in beautiful surroundings all year round. OPEN: Please see website for details.

A full plant list is available to view on the website. The beautiful shop sells garden sundries and homewares and there’s a fabulous new tearoom to round off a visit. Tel: 01524 793104 info@daisyclough.com | www.daisyclough.com Daisy Clough Nurseries Ltd, Station Lane, Scorton, Preston, Lancs PR3 1AN

Tel: 01844 339226 www.waterperrygardens.co.uk Near Wheatley, Oxfordshire OX33 1LA


ACCESSORIES

CLOTHING

CLOTHING

Cornishwear

Tuuabankem Silk Velvet Tops, Kaaans & Couon Nighhes

Cornish smocks perfect for gardening Made in Cornwall www.cornishwear.com hello@cornishwear.com 01736 732236

PLANT SUPPORTS

Metal Plant Supports

Free Delivery on Order over £45* Steel and Galvanised Options

www.bespokeplantsupports.co.uk

Ongley-Snook Designs Each piece is handmade on the Sussex Coast Individually made to order Designed specifically for the garden.

www.ongley-snookdesigns.com

To advertise in the Classified Directory English Garden please call 020 7349 3700

07989 074641 | 01243 573411

AUTO VENTS

Tel: 01572 717 332 www.tuuabankem.com

GARDEN TWINE

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The Bayliss range of Autovents opens and closes greenhouse vents automatically without the need for electricity by using the warmth of the sun O2 Year Guarantee OCredit Cards Accepted OOnline Ordering OFree UK Delivery For a FREE brochure telephone or visit the contact us page

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Nutscene's a twine you will learn to treasure with a spool in your pocket tying's a pleasure!

No 1 choice for Gardeners worldwide Sustainable, Biodegradable Tried & Tested www.nutscene.com

www.baylissautovents.co.uk

Bayliss Precision Components Ltd, Airfield Ind Estate, Ashbourne, Derbyshire DE6 1HA

GARDEN TOOLS

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www.giftsandgardens.com www.alitags.com

Wooden Keyrings 90 locations

Annual labelling is a thing of the past with Alitags. Simply write on Alitag aluminium labels with Alitag or HB pencil. The pencil will react with our specially made aluminium tags and become permanent.

Hanging Wooden Signs

Alitag labels can also be punched with Alitag character punches & jig. Copper, Teak, Bamboo, Oak labels, numbered tags are also available.

Boulder Stone Pots

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Stone Labels

Teak Hanging Baskets Waterproof Cotton Umbrellas 7 feet tall 2 meters span 32 Bourne Lane, Much Hadham, Herts SG10 6ER, UK. Tel 01279 842685 www.giftsandgardens.com

32 Bourne Lane, Much Hadham, Herts SG10 6ER, UK. Tel 01279 842685 www.alitags.com


LAST WORD

Three’s Not Enough Gooseberries may have fallen out of fashion, but Katherine Swift believes that this unappreciated fruit, rich in both history and flavour, is ripe for a revival

122 THE ENGLISH GARDEN JULY 2020

Some are as dark as damsons, others so pale you can see through them”

Gooseberries come in four colours: yellow, white, green and red. Some are as dark as damsons, others so pale you can see right through them, and they vary in shape, from round to oval or egg-shaped, hairy or smooth, early or late. I feel a compulsion coming on. To make a little collection of different sorts of gooseberries would be a fine thing. R.V. Roger of Pickering, Yorkshire, offer 42 varieties on their website, including ‘Lancashire Lad’ (introduced in 1824) and ‘Yellow Champagne’, a delicious dessert variety that may well date back to the 17th century. But I can’t resist the appropriately named ‘Hero of the Nile’. The hero in question is Admiral Nelson, and the variety commemorates his victory over the French fleet at Aboukir Bay on the Mediterranean coast off the Nile Delta of Egypt, in 1798. A hero indeed. The critical question is when and how to eat your gooseberries. Leave them to ripen on the bush? Of course. But chilled or sun-warmed? Indoors or out? The early 20th-century epicure Edward Bunyard recommended ‘ambulant consumption’. “The moment of moments,” he says, “is on the return from church at 12.30 on a warm July day when the fruit is distinctively warm”, so the middle-aged devotee, wandering among the bushes, can benefit from a little gentle exercise as he or she eats. ■

ILLUSTRATION JULIA RIGBY PORTRAIT RICHARD BLOOM

G

ooseberries make unlikely heroes. After all, no one wants to be a gooseberry – the embarrassingly superfluous third in a trio of two lovers, plus one. Lowly, green, hairy, rebarbative, unlovely. Who could love a gooseberry? But we should. When did you last see gooseberries in a supermarket? They are the home gardener’s best-kept secret: left to ripen on the bush they attain a succulence and sweetness that rivals that of any imported kiwi fruit or grape. And the gooseberry is undeniably British: the best pears in my garden have French names, but gooseberries have the names of 19th-century British prime ministers or the lower ranks of the British army at Waterloo: Gunner, Rifleman, Lancer. Native to the whole of Europe, but especially well suited to the cool damp British climate, the gooseberry is grown here more than anywhere else in the world. The National Fruit Collection at Brogdale in Kent currently holds 159 varieties of gooseberry; RHS Wisley in Surrey has another National Collection of gooseberries, under the Plant Heritage aegis, with 185 cultivars. And the online version of RHS Plant Finder (rhs.org.uk/plants) lists 279 varieties, of which 55 are commercially available. But these numbers pale into insignificance beside the 700-plus varieties that were available in 1831. Most were bred for competition, the largest attaining the size of hens’ eggs. ‘Gooseberry clubs’ were set up by devotees across the north of England, with annual shows at which the gooseberries were weighed and presentations made. This was of particular interest to Charles Darwin, who once grew 54 varieties in his own garden in Kent. He could see that, although much depended on growing techniques to produce bigger berries (hard pruning, feeding and mulching, then restricting the number of fruits per bush), increased size was also due to breeding, feeding into his theories about natural selection. It’s a continuing tradition. The Old Gooseberry Show at Egton Bridge, near Whitby, is still going strong after 220 years. In 2019, a man from Yorkshire grew the world’s largest gooseberry ever, which weighed in at a whopping 64.83 grams (2.28 ounces).


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Profile for The Chelsea Magazine Company

The English Garden July 2020  

The English Garden Magazine, July 2020 issue

The English Garden July 2020  

The English Garden Magazine, July 2020 issue

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