Creative Combination Planting At Chihuly’s Garden And Glass, Seattle

Chihuly Garden And Glass In Seattle

We travelled to Seattle last May to see this unusual garden at its peak, when the perennials were in bloom. The underplanting feels as if an artist has laid out the plants by magic, with the sweep of a brush.

Combination planting

Underplanting is the idea of planting a garden in layers, with shrubs growing beneath trees, and shorter perennials and bulbs underneath them. The designer  thinks about the height and spread of each plant, their colours and textures, then combines them in the most pleasing way. I’ve seen many attempts but rarely seen the effect better realised.  Continue reading

Bodnant Gardens, Wales, In Spring Haute Couture

Pink blossom

This year it’s too easy for gardens to be on trend, the Pantone colour of the year being Greenery. Well… yes, I’ll go with that, but if Pantone’s colour trend experts think greenery is the colour for 2017, perhaps they should get out more. Hardly a passing trend, greenery should be named the colour of the millennium (in the hope it might, by some miracle, be the millennium to come, not the one we’ve recently left behind).

Field of daffodils

Bodnant Gardens, where these pictures were taken, had acknowledged the colour of the year with a knowing wink, but decided greenery was just the start. It was a great start – no one could deny that – but the surrounding countryside had got greenery off to a T too. So much so that after finally leaving the North Wales Expressway (an optimistic name on a very sunny Sunday) I found myself winding towards the National Trust garden along Llanrwst Road thinking “This land is such a bright green, it’s almost too much. How will the camera lens cope with this? Are my sunglasses not on?” (they were).  Continue reading

Weekly photo challenge: Atop

Garden silhouette

In the valleys of North West England, blue skies are elusive. When one does deign to grace us, it inevitably arrives with an entourage of fluffy clouds. So, for me, an unbroken expanse of blue sky is always something of a miracle.

That may be what motivated me to try a few experimental shots of trees and their canopies as dusk was falling at the wonderful San Diego Botanic Garden. If only this was a technique I could practice back at home! If there’s such a thing as blue sky envy, I’ve got it.

Sunset at San Diego Botanic Garden

Continue reading

Bodnant Garden: One of Britain’s Best Rose Gardens

Rosa 'Grace'

Bodnant is a hillside garden with five grand terraces overlooking the Conway valley in Wales. Like so many of our best-loved gardens, it was created over several generations by a succession of enthusiasts.

I first visited as a child and mainly remember the grassy hillside above the ‘main’ gardens. Children are such funny creatures. I wonder if I was encouraged to run off a little energy there or taken on a lengthy hike? More recently my sweetheart and I have visited at various times of the year, though never in autumn. Gathering the pictures for this post has given me a longing to go and see the fall colours, so another visit may be imminent!

Interesting at any time of the year, Bodnant is spread over 80 acres, so most visitors will only manage to explore a fraction on a single visit. During the summer I’m sure many people make a beeline for the rose gardens on the upper and lower terraces.

White roses at Bodnant Gardens

The upper rose terrace is so long that it has room for several colour themes. I’m sharing the white roses for the moon garden lovers among us – just look at all those buds!   Continue reading

The View Towards Windermere From Holehird Gardens

View of the Lake District from Holehird Gardens

Every time I visit a garden, I’m on a quest. Gardeners and photographers will understand. Unlike most quests, there’s no one goal: I’m open to enjoying whatever I find. I love flowers of all kinds so my attention might be caught by a demure woodland plant, shyly lifting a few flowers above its foliage, or a cottage garden classic at the peak of perfection. I rarely miss anything at my feet.

These days, I try to remind myself to lift up my eyes and take in the overall impression of the garden too. These are the pictures that really convey the individual magic of a place. Pictures of flowers can sometimes feel a bit disembodied so it’s nice to be able to give them a beautiful context.

I hope you enjoy the hillside view from one of my favourite spots, Holehird Gardens in Windermere, Cumbria.