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”

RHS Chatsworth’s Mandala Mindfulness Garden

As news broke that this year’s flower shows have been cancelled, I found myself gazing at a pile of dry, leafy debris, cleaned from my hens and chicks, wondering whether making a mandala would sooth my mind. It wasn’t the best of ingredients, being a uniformly dull beige.

Overhead view of hens and chicks mandala
Mandala made from hens and chicks in contrasting colours

My thoughts turned to last year’s RHS Chatsworth Flower Show. The Mandala Mindfulness Garden had been designed as a quiet space to allow an urban school to provide wellbeing sessions for small groups and in one to ones. A sense of rest (from the seating areas) and calm contemplation (the mandalas), was balanced by flow (the airy planting and the oval path). Continue reading “RHS Chatsworth’s Mandala Mindfulness Garden”

Where to See Snowdrops In Lancashire in 2020

Snowdrops with long outer petals

February is snowdrop month for much of the UK. I’ve gathered a list of places you can see snowdrops this month in my home county, Lancashire, with details of their snowdrop open days. If you’re planning to take close up pictures, go sooner rather than later to catch them at their freshest.

This post was originally published in 2019 and has been updated for 2020. For those who live elsewhere in Britain, I’ve added a link at the bottom for you to research local gardens with good collections of snowdrops.  Continue reading “Where to See Snowdrops In Lancashire in 2020”

Reflections on Glass: Fräbel in the Garden

Glass clowns in different postures by Fräbel
The Cavorting Clown Fountain

Clowns helter skelter after each other in what, we sense, ought to be an ordered line, but just isn’t. Embodied verbs, they pose, plunge, stumble, balance, strut, slip, bow and clamber, one or other body part defying gravity in that frozen moment to anchor the whole. Straight backs lend them dignity even as they take risks and cavort. We’re in the whimsical world of flamework glass artist, Hans Godo Fräbel, as seen at the Naples Botanical Garden, Florida, earlier this year.   Continue reading “Reflections on Glass: Fräbel in the Garden”

Six on Saturday From Arley Hall Gardens

Cluster of white and yellow flowers above botched leaves
Erythronium ‘White Beauty’

1 – This drift of Erythronium ‘White Beauty’ is calling out for a collective noun. An exhortation of trout lilies? (as these seem to be encouraging me to get out into the sunshine and stop writing) or perhaps we need a water connection – a splash of trout lilies? The marbled foliage is enough to send me into raptures, as some of you may remember, so you can imagine my satisfaction when they are all topped with flowers.

Plant with white-edged leaves and white four petalled flowers
White honesty (Lunaria annua var. albiflora ‘Alba Variegata’)

2 – Honesty is at its prime in my neighbourhood. It’s one of my favourite biennials, my fascination dating back to childhood when I loved to wonder over its flat, translucent seed disks. Lunaria annua var. albiflora ‘Alba Variegata’ with the white edging on its heart shaped leaves is an unusual form. Continue reading “Six on Saturday From Arley Hall Gardens”