What is Virtual Chelsea? A Guide to THE Gardening Event of 2020

Flowers and foliage

Update: although the week is over, you can catch up with the highlights of Virtual Chelsea online.

As The RHS Chelsea Flower Show had to be cancelled this year, Virtual Chelsea is the Royal Horticulture Societies’ morale boosting invitation to every gardener to immerse themselves in gardening online instead.

So, to ‘visit’ the Chelsea Flower Show in 2020, you don’t need a ticket, your most comfy shoes, to book a hotel or fly to England, and you won’t need to jostle with the crowds for the best view. RHS experts have curated a wide variety of special gardening features to share online during the week when the Chelsea Flower Show would normally be taking place.

If you love gardening, you’ll love Virtual Chelsea, whether your garden is massive, small or just few houseplants indoors or on a windowsill. We can look forward to demonstrations from the potting bench, to insights from award winning designers and celebrity florists, to virtual tours of private gardens and leading nurseries, and to spending time with plants people who specialise in many of our favourite plants. Horticulture experts will host daily lunchtime Q&A sessions to help us navigate some of the many gardening pitfalls so our fingers can get a little greener. Continue reading “What is Virtual Chelsea? A Guide to THE Gardening Event of 2020”

Kristian Reay’s Phytosanctuary Garden

Garden with decking, winding path, and copper swing seat

Kristian Reay was named Young Designer of the Year at last year’s RHS Tatton Park Flower Show for his gold medal winning Phytosanctuary Garden.

The Mediterranean themed garden had lots of flowers and scents, with a magnificent copper swing seat as a focal point. Round seats and bean bags offered more space for relaxing (or queuing for the swing?) on a curved area of wooden decking.

Kristian’s planting was a dreamy mix of English and French lavender, Achillea, Gaura, Agapanthus, Verbena, Erigeron, Artemisia, Echinacea, Allium, Nepeta, Kniphofia and Hemerocallis beneath one multi-stemmed Italian olive tree.

On a windy day, there was lots of movement. Plants spilled over a flowing path of Cotswold stone chippings. White Gaura floated butterfly-like over the borders and tall grasses waved in the background. Continue reading “Kristian Reay’s Phytosanctuary Garden”

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

Continue reading “Vortex Garten, Darmstadt: A Philosopher’s Garden”

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 “Cothay Manor’s Courtyard Garden”

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 “Pictures Of Hestercombe Gardens In Taunton, Somerset”