These are blog posts that Chris Young, Deputy Editor, The Garden has made.
I visited Overbeck's garden and museum, in south Devon, last week when I was on holiday. It is lovely garden – completely unassuming, but with interesting nooks and crannies, and some great plant specimens. At this time of the year it is most well known for its range of magnolias. The famous pinky-white Magnolia campbelli – which was planted in 1901 on a sheltered terrace, then tipped over after heavy rain in 1999, but was successfully (and thankfully) saved and continues to grow today – had just finished flowering, but others (see pictures) were in full song. (See also The Garden, March 2007, pp168-169.)
Surely one of the most common traits between gardeners is making do
with the materials around you. This is exactly what I have been doing
since December, whenever I have had a few hours spare – and I’m loving
every minute of it.
I am lucky enough to live in Rutland, on the
Northamptonshire / Lincolnshire / Cambridge border – it really is the
mid-lands. As a result, we are blessed with an endless amount of local
stone, some of which is just a couple of centimetres from the top of
the turf. Raised beds and lots of soil preparation are essential for
planting, but when it comes to dry-stone walling we are really
In my back garden, I am digging out a small area (2
x 3m) which eventually – wife / children / family permitting – will
become a seating area to catch the evening sun. All the spoil is being
used to form a low mound, hiding the kids’ sandpit and other
children-paraphernalia. At the front of the mound comes the dry-stone
wall (or technically, I guess, dry-stone retaining wall): slowly
growing to about 70cm in height, it is my pride and joy. Getting the
lines right, balancing the stone depths and making sure that the
‘cock-and-hen’ coping runs smoothly are self-imposed but achievable
Uncovering some of the stones dug up from the patio
area, combined with other stones lying all over the garden, makes for a
satisfying feeling of using local materials for a simple but effective
garden feature. I have already planted it 20 different times in my
head, but two plants I bought almost this time last year (Viburnum
tinus ‘Eve Price’ and Pittosporum tobira) will help with screening.
all else seems to be getting a little gloomy in the world, time digging
and making my wall is all the tonic I need. Next time I blog, I hope I
will have got it planted
I visited the new Future Gardens ‘show' last week. I say show, as I'm not quite sure what it is - an exhibition? Demonstration gardens? Design inspiration? Installation art? Designer showcase? However you define it, there is no getting away from the fact that this is a great addition to the summer-garden-visiting line-up.
Some of the gardens are beautiful, some shocking; some will take time to grow, others give instant gratification now. This isn't about perfect plants or high horticulture, but it is about what gardens can be and how you might want to think differently about yours. It is also, thankfully, about letting ‘show' gardens settle into the ground and grow from now until 4 October. Watching how they change will be particularly exciting.