Vortex Garten, Darmstadt: A Philosopher’s Garden

Henry Nold, the owner occupant of Haus Martinus in Mathildenhoehe, created the Vortex Garden (garten in German) in its grounds as a sanctuary. Born poor, he allows access to his garden free of charge to members of the public in the hope that they will find peace and inspiration there.

White door with arc window and colour chip border

The ideal solution for those of us who are unsure which colour to choose for our door

Haus Martinus is a listed, Art Nouveau-style villa, built in 1921 by Jan Hubert Pinand. Garden visitors don’t have access to the villa, but a deluxe suite of rooms can be rented, and concerts are sometimes held there. It must be a memorable place to stay.

Haus Martinus's porch is decorated with tiles and motifs

Tiles and motifs decorate the Haus Martinus’s covered porch that looks out over the Vortex Garden

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Cothay Manor’s Courtyard Garden

Topiary, tree fern and summer flowers in Cothay Manor's courtyard garden

Flowers spilled from a stone planter in the courtyard

One of the nicest things about blogging is the ability to share a peek into a magical place. I’d not be surprised to hear that even some of the people who have visited Cothay Manor have left without experiencing the courtyard garden. I happened upon it as if by mistake on my second or third circuit of the garden. It seemed such an intimate space that I asked the lady quietly gardening there whether visitors were welcome.

Path through topiary, rock stack, seating to Cothay Manor

Accessories included pieces of stone balanced on a wooden pillar

She assured me I was welcome and we talked a little about roses. The walls of the manor are clothed with roses and other vines, including Rosa mutabilis trained as a magnificent climber which I had not seen done before. We’d missed seeing most of the roses in full flower, but there was plenty more to admire. Continue reading

Pictures Of Hestercombe Gardens In Taunton, Somerset

Pink shrub roses around Hestercombe's Arts and Crafts garden

Pink shrub roses at Hestercombe

Hestercombe’s celebrated Arts and Crafts style garden is a must-see for anyone interested in the history of garden design who finds themselves with time to spare in Somerset. 

White standard roses at Hestercombe Garden

White standard roses (tree roses) grow in square holes in the lawn

The estate dates back at least to the 11th c. and has been furnished with a 16th c. manor house, and an 18th c. pleasure garden of woods, follies, pools and cascades running through hills and valleys, but the Edwardian garden is its crowning glory.

Of course, the true test of an English garden is whether its constituent parts have atmospheric names. Daisy Steps, Chinese Seat, Great Plat, Valley of Cascades, Gothic Alcove, Temple Arbour, Witch House, Mausoleum and Grey Walk all attest to Hestercombe Garden’s greatness.  Continue reading

Arley Hall’s Double Herbaceous Borders In Their Summer Glory

Arley Hall's double herbaceous borders in full bloom

View of the double borders in summer with The Alcove (left) and the entrance (right)

The grand sweep of the double herbaceous borders at Arley Hall Gardens has been delighting gardeners for about two centuries: this is one of the oldest examples of its type to be seen anywhere in the world. Exuberant summer perennials fill long, parallel borders, the garden’s brick wall and formal topiary hedging providing a traditional backdrop.

When you first walk in through the huge, decorative gates in summer and turn to see the flower borders stretching out before you, behind you, to either side, it’s hard to know where to look first. Continue reading

Eutierria Mindfulness Garden at the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show 2019

Eutierria garden with textural plants and sweet chestnut decking

The Eutierria Show Garden (pronounced you tee air ia), designed by Neil Sutcliffe and built by Creative Roots, drew inspiration from the cliffs of the River Trent. It was part of the mindfulness category of mood-enhancing spaces at RHS Chatsworth that demonstrate how access to nature and our wellbeing are interlinked. 

Shade tolerant plants supplied by Miles Nurseries channelled the margins of woodland, but with gardenesque touches. White anemone ‘Ruffled Swan’, bronze ajuga, claret astrantia, blue geranium and a froth of tiny, chartreuse yellow alchemilla mollis flowers provided pops of colour against a green, textural planting of fern, moss, hosta, tiarella and brunnera. Trees and shrubs added architecture.  

Eutierria Show Garden with rammed wall, pebble mulch, and green water wall

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RHS Hampton Court Flower Show’s Twilight Zone

Cross-sections of a boulder fitted together to make a path

A 8ft meteor has fallen to earth, coming to rest in a garden. The impact has blackened the fencing, scorched vegetation and reduced trees and shrubs to charred branches.

The path is miraculously unscathed: not quite so old as the meteor, it has been made from a Caledonian boulder formed millions of years ago. Smaller boulders lie around, giving the floor added dimension and creating a lovely backdrop for the silhouettes of low growing plants and twisted embers of wood.

Charred, twisted branches amongst foliage and flowers

The dark planting scheme glows red hot in places: the chocolate-red cosmos and orange-red helenium firing up the green and pewter foliage, the burnt wood and the futuristic lilacs. This is the Elements Mystique Garden from RHS Hampton Court Flower Show 2018, but the setting would not be out of place in an episode of The Twilight Zone.  Continue reading

Gate leading into wildflower field with foxgloves

Hay Time In The Dales: People’s Choice Award Winner At RHS Chatsworth

Chris Myers and I were chuffed to bits by the turn of events at The RHS Chatsworth Flower Show last week. We both had good reason. After a slow start (the judges’ Silver Medal theoretically rated it worst in show), the garden he’d designed was validated by the popular vote, being named the one the public loved most. Me? I’d been rooting for it!

Foxgloves and wildflowers growing beside a cottage

Naturalistic plantings were a theme of this year’s show, but his garden was a hymn in praise of wildflowers (or more of a folksong). I enjoyed lingering awhile, listening to the sighs of pleasure as people glimpsed Hay Time In The Dales for the first time and felt its emotional pull. I knew this garden would haunt me, and it already is.

I thought of it when our evening walk took us past a flower-rich hay meadow between Edgworth and the Wayoh Reservoir. Around its peak now, the wildflowers include buttercups, yellow rattle, meadow vetchling, red clover, wild blue lupins, and a blend of grasses. A public information sign beside the meadow explains this patch of land represents what is now one of the rarest habitats in the UK.

It all seems so normal, and that’s part of the problem.    Continue reading

Two Styles Of English Garden: Cottage and Formal

Yellow, apricot and blue cottage garden

If every garden (and every human) was the same, the world would be a pitiful place. These very different gardens seem to suit their respective home perfectly. Viewed together, each accentuates the other’s beauty.

The first, a private cottage garden in the grounds of Dorothy Clive Gardens, is super colourful, flower-filled and just a little laissez-faire. Flowers in shades of apricot, yellow and blue gaily tumble over each other above the unifying green, partly obscuring the view from the home and creating a feeling of privacy.

Formal garden with topiary cones

The second garden, Levels Hall in The Lake District, is grand, formal and manicured. Mullioned windows of a centuries-old stately home overlook topiary cones, tall yew hedges and garden benches. A stone urn acts as a centrepiece above a circle of bedding plants. Gravel makes the area pleasant for visitors to stroll through and continues along the same neutral vein as the benches and stone building. Our eyes, naturally alert to colour and variation, find interest in the different greens while noting the feeling of harmony and restraint.   Continue reading

Pebble Mosaic Garden Paving At Gresgarth Hall, Lancashire

Part of the joy of visiting Gresgarth Hall Garden is the chance to admire so many well-sourced, premium quality garden accessories – all the bits and bats as we say up North. Each thoughtful touch beautifully enhances the space, from the frog decorated tap (faucet), to garden benches, gates, cloches, terracotta planters, greenhouses – even the plant labels. The lady of the house, Lady Arabella Lennox-Boyd, includes five gold medal-winning Chelsea Flower Show gardens amongst her credits as a landscape designer. So the stone mosaic walkways in Gresgarth’s Zodiac Garden are par for the course: superb modern interpretations of an ancient art.

Pebble paving design: lion and sun motif

The Zodiac Garden’s hand-made pebble mosaic pathway features astrological signs (in this case, Leo) representing family members.

Knowing that pebble floor designs of ancient Greece, Rome and Mesopotamia still exist today makes me wonder how many centuries these designs will live on the garden pathway.  Continue reading

March Squares And Circles

Round water bowl with blue mosaic design

Becky’s March challenge asks us to share some circles within squares. I’ve enjoyed watching others take part and decided to contribute a few of my own. This blue water bowl was part of a collection of garden ornaments waiting their turn to be rolled out to a client by a garden design company. My landscape architect friend Rick Griffin believes that every garden should have all four elements, earth, air, water and fire, in real or symbolic form. Even empty, I think he’d agree the blue mosaic bowl does a great job of representing the idea of water.

View of a vegetable garden through a round hole

My second image shows a glimpse through a porthole shaped hole in the fence into a kitchen garden that is looking very green, bathed in sunlight.  Continue reading

Summer gardens from the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show: Final5 Retreat Garden

Final5 Retreat Garden

The small show gardens are a great way to see how plots of land diverge when each is dressed in carefully chosen colours, features and accessories to create a designer’s idea of gardening heaven.

I’ve only recently arrived back in the UK and this year’s show is all over but for the shouting. Undeterred, I’m determined to get into the spirit by giving a shout out to the Final5 Retreat Garden from last year. If you’re concerned that these pictures are old hat now, as styles have moved on to quarries and such-like in 2017, I won’t be hurt if you give this a miss and search The Reader for Hampton Court Flower Show instead. But if you’re still with me, here goes!   Continue reading