Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Highlight at Chelsea

There were a couple of absolute highlights for me at Chelsea. One was the delightful artisan gardens and in particular Kazuyuki Ishihara's Satoyama Life. How can such a small garden be so beautifully balanced? Exquisitely composed and full of detail and yet completely devoid of clutter,it was a miracle this garden got to show at all given the destruction of so much in the tsunami. The garden deservedly received a gold medal, and I would not be surprised if it was voted as People's Choice Award. When you look at this picture it is almost impossible to tell where the garden begins or ends, never mind comprehend that it was not there three weeks ago, and in two weeks time there will be no evidence left of its existence.
And then of course there is Diarmuid Gavin's garden? I know for many people his concept would be deemed incomplete, untidy, and 'what on earth is it anyway'. But he poses a real question, and for me an answer. As our cities become more and more crowded there is less and less room for gardens. The only way therefore is 'up'. A modern Hanging Gardens of Babylon, if you like. So I take my hat off to him for creating this, and for Westland Horticulture for taking up the challenge, because it must have been an epic act of construction for the contractors. And there is some really good planting. The problem is that it was impossible to see it, unless you were able to get in there. So thank you Diarmuid for making us think again - that after all is what designers are all about.


What a day of contrasts Tuesday was; bitterly cold to start with and then so hot that people were passing out! Who ever said the British weather was boring? Impressions? Well as one lady put it: 'If you put together grasses, stones and water you have a Chelsea show garden'. Harsh perhaps but fair. To put it in perspective, the weather conditions for Chelsea have been atrocious so many gardens had flowers that were yet to bloom - so with this hot weather by Thursday this week everything should be starting to look spectacular. However, when I went there were very low light levels, it was very cold and I have to say that none of the gardens made me either laugh (very important) out loud with delight, or stop dead stunned by the planting or beauty. For me the highlights were: Joe Swift's Homebase Teenage Cancer Trust Garden (above right) which had fabulous wooden structures that sang with warmth and contrasted and complimented the planting; and,
Chris Beardshaw's Furzey Garden (left) which may go some way to bringing azaleas, rhododendrons and shrubs back into fashion (long overdue), and yes Diarmuid Gavin's The Westland Magical Garden of which more late.

Monday, May 14, 2012


Looking out of the window the sky is overcast and it is 'mizzling' as we used to call it. That rain that soaks you through without noticing..... not quite drizzle, and once it is set in, it tends to stay for the day. So to brighten up the day and start the week on a positive note, I thought I would post a picture of some Red Campion (Silene dioica) and the beautiful bluebells (hyacinthoides non-scripta)that are
peppering our banks and woods at the moment. The origin of the name of Red (or White) Campion delights me on such a day. Silenus was the drunken, happy god of the woodlands in Greek mythology. Entirely appropriate for a flower that creates splashes of colour along the banks of lanes. As for our beautiful bluebell, which is under threat from hybrisation (sounds like an electric car) and/or the Spanish bluebell, they are finally blooming despite dire warnings about an early spring. The miserable April we had has put their flowering back and they are only just carpeting the woods and banks around me, like an inverted sky.
This weekend I also sighted my first Orange-tip butterflies - such pretty butterflies and much less commonly sighted around here than the Peacocks and Red Admirals.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Left field

I was thinking of all the possible titles I could use, and they were all so hackneyed I gave up. Independent Gardening was set up to focus on designing/advising on therapeutic gardens (you could debate that all gardens are therapeutic, and therefore there should be no separation but that discussion is for another day). However, I also 'do' project management for Adrian Fisher who designs the most incredible mazes. I am also fortunate the work with the best contractors I have ever come across (take a bow Wright Landscapes) and we have just completed a wooden panel maze. Now, I have to admit that ridiculous though it is I get chlaustrophobic in mazes.... I know I know. This wooden panel maze is in Liverpool and is simply fantastic. Have a look at the pictures. The guys did sooooooooooo well, right angles all over the place; everything lined up and stunning. It forms part of an adventure area down by the Mersey at Aigburth and is quite quite amazing.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


I have to admit to having had a 'fiddle'. Somewhat frustrated at my inability to find pictures to improve a gardening concept I am working on and with my creativity in full flight, I decided to update my blog design. I hope you like it! I would be interested in any feedback you might have about what you would like to see more of on here - or even less of! I will try and get some more pictures put on here, particularly at the moment when the countryside is exploding into fabulous colour; the intensity of the green is mind blowing and the primroses, wood anemones, and violets seem to have lasted for months. The year is cracking on, with Chelsea Flower Show in a couple of weeks time; I will report back on what I have seen there.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

We are fashionable!!!

The title is slightly tongue in cheek, but it is nice to see that Cleve West is following in the footsteps of our Combat Stress Therapeutic Garden which was designed and installed at Hampton Court Flower Show two years ago. Cleve is designing Horatio's Garden for the Duke of Cornwall Spinal Treatment Centre in Salisbury and there is a very similar theme developing. Resin-bound gravel paths (they are brilliant and smooth for traversing); amelenchier, box balls, stipa, panicum, acanthus, agastache, echinacea, dry stone walls........ Perhaps, finally the awareness of how important gardens are in the healing process is getting across to the general public, institutions and the like. It would be nice to think so.