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

Regular Random: Double Hellebore

Close up of a flower, held up to look inside

When you photograph a hellebore, you’re faced with some stark choices. Show the plant as it is and capture the natural essence of the bloom, or lift the flower to show the inside. It’s tempting to go for a macro shot like this one to reveal the beautiful pattern of veining but it gives me a weird feeling of misrepresentation; invasion, almost. It feels uncomfortably like peeking at a Victorian lady to get a glimpse of voluminous, lacy underwear.

A cluster of double hellebore flowers on sturdy stems

I would have said that this shot gives a better impression of the true character of the plant if the one in the back didn’t seem to be wearing a superman cape and keeping a watchful eye on a couple of conspirators in the foreground.  Continue reading

Spring Flowers, Picked And Growing

Crocus flowers, picked, lying on a slatted garden table

Yesterday’s trip to Gresgarth Hall Garden for the March hellebore open day is always pencilled into my calendar. One of my favourite bits is the table of floral goodies prepared for visitors to hang over, all neatly labelled. These crocus flowers were part of this year’s display.

Crocuses growing among dead tree leaves and moss

On the far side of the river, the crocuses were flowering in their natural surroundings. Slender, arching leaves, each with its silver stripe, made a lovely contrast with moss and fallen beech tree leaves.  Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: Seasons

Double hellebore

I called in at Gresgarth Hall last Sunday for snowdrop day. As expected, the snowdrops were looking fine, but what ought to have been a surprise is that so many hellebores were in full flower too. Hellebore day isn’t scheduled for another month, so it’s perhaps as well that their flowers are so long lasting.

Far from being surprised, I’d been eagerly anticipating the hellebores. After all, I’d have had to have been keeping my head in a bucket not to realise this season is a strange one. Since the start of 2016, gardeners the length and breadth of the country have been marveling out loud on social media at the range of flowers brought out early by the unseasonably warm weather we’ve had this winter.  Continue reading

Recipe for a Traditional English Cottage Garden

Described by the British Cottage Garden Society as an informal, abundant, diverse planting, this well-loved gardening style is always in fashion with ’real’ gardeners. If you’d like to create a cottage garden at home, follow this recipe. Add an extra dimension by including as many highly fragrant cultivars as you can from the plant lists below. Your challenge (should you choose to accept it) is to have no soil visible from year three onwards. Simple!

Essentials
  • Patch of earth (ideally cultivated and enriched for hundred years, though it’s never too late to start)
  • Some form of enclosure: hedge, stone walls, wooden fence
  • Path, winding
  • Garden gate

Continue reading

Gresgarth Hall Gardens: review and photo gallery

Wild boar at Gresgarth Hall GardensGresgarth Hall is home to landscape designer Arabella Lennox-Boyd and her husband Mark. Her private garden, open to visitors ten days each year, has been shaped by her artist’s eye for colour, a scholar’s understanding of structure and a seemingly effortless attention to detail.

A wild boar statue greets visitors: ‘Gresgarth’ is Norse for ‘enclosure of wild boar’. The original building dates from the 14th century – more modern additions have made it elegant as well as imposing. The hillside garden, cut through by Artle Beck, presented challenges that have drawn out all the designer’s ingenuity.  Continue reading