After finishing my training at RHS Wisley nearly 5 years ago, gulp, I spent some time working in rural Holland as described in other places on this site. One afternoon while busy working in the Nursery a lovely but out of place Yorkshire lilt was audible across the beds. I said hello and spent a delightful few hours speaking with Stephen and Kim of Dove Cottage Nurseries. In short, they run a beautiful garden and nursery near Huddersfield in the naturalised style popularised by Oudolf and were travelling around Holland and west Germany to see the concentration of gardens and nurseries who work in this style. Anyway, I was invited along to see their garden and nursery should i ever be travelling nearby.
Last week a visit to a quarry took me just down the road and 4 and half years later i made the visit. The wait was worth every day and i would have waited longer. A beautiful garden run by beautiful people and a very interesting selection of plants of which some filled the hire car on the way home, plus a great concrete work done by teh services from exposed aggregate concrete Perth. Some so interesting there are probably less than 20 pots in the uk and will see their way into wider cultivation over the next few years. Hopefully we can propagate and be able to offer them to our clients.
I shall let the pictures speak for themselves, although the light was a bit problematic so some are a bit flat. If you ever get the chance make the trip. You won’t be disappointed, they even got a bee removal process done so you won’t be having trouble with pests here.
Nice loose borders
Part of the garden’s effectiveness is its relation to its setting. I don’t think another form of garden would sit against the hills so well.
This is the new patrina aff. punctiflora in the Molinia meadow. The Molinia meadow was the highlight of the garden but none of the photographs of this have done it justice, so i shall plant one in my new garden and show it off properly in a few years….
Dove Cottages own selection of Echinacea ‘Pink Glow’. Much earlier flowering, fuller in body and of better habit than a lot of Echinacea. Tried and tested here over 5-6 years.
Last week I took part in the final of the regional Young Horticulturalist and WON! So now i get to take part in the Grand Final; in Norwich against the other finalists from all over Great Britain. The competition is open to anyone over under the age of 30 on July 31st of this year. There were 2000 applicants nationwide and 8, including me, are in the Grand final.
The regional final took place at Pershore college and took form of a question directed or open, buzzer controlled, on a general range of horticultural subjects. There were also a couple of identification rounds, one plant identification and one pest and disease. There were two points on offer per question. The grand final is much the same format however, the winner receives a £2000 travel bursary to study plants where every they may choose. Here are some pictures from the evening.
Not a punishment for speeeling errors in my homework, or a flagellated Scandinavian loosening of the pores in the sauna but sleeping beauties from Stone Lane Gardens have arrived.
We have all seen white Betula utilis (Himalayan birches) in fancy office block car parks, show gardens, designer magazines or public gardens. If you have not, then start looking as you move about the internet or the built environment and you shall see them. They’re wide spread use is because these ARE GREAT TREES. Lovely bark in the winter, an open and not too spreading a canopy and roots not so demanding that they prevent the growth of all but nettles underneath them making them perfect for the garden. Their timescale fits with ours too…
Yes trees are great, but in most cases we plant for posterity and enjoy the labours of those before us. However, birches look their best in our timescale. The trees photographed below are 7-12 years from planting and will reach their best around 25 years. This is, for the average tenure of a homeowner just perfect. Sold? I’ll plant you another white multi-stemmed birch….BUT WAIT, there is a new way.
From recent seed collections in China and the Himalayas we now have access to trees with a wider range of colours. These pictures below were taken at the the national collection and my supplier ‘s garden, Stone Lane. I have spoken to those who have seen forests of these trees in the wild and I can onvly enviously imagine that it must be one of natures grandest sites.
In the latest planting we are planting groves to subtly shift in colour from orange through to red and then to pink to back a large pond.
Sadly, one of the most exciting projects i have been involved with this year i cannot share with you. A wretched but necessary Non Disclosure Agreement was agreed. It has been very exciting….however, i can share with you my latest adventure to Yorkshire. In this secret garden there are some massive two ton lumps of York stone which, when we built the garden a few years ago were craned in. Now the garden needs updating and some smaller stones adding to it. Unfortunately there is no crane so we have to carry them through the house, into the lift and out into the garden. To ensure we have stones of a suitable match which are manageable I went to the same quarry which gave birth to the originals – http://www.randandasquith.co.uk/ up in Yorkshire.
After a tour around the yard we went to the quarry, I was shown a very, very big pile of rocks and told to help myself. It took two days to pick out seven of them.
The dressing yard. This lot was off to Bath.
Err…I want the one at the back please
A 40 ton hand
‘We’re not afraid of a bit of stock,’ he told me
The collection of leftovers was amazing. These bull-nosed steps are now waiting in my lockup for the right project
‘Mud, we do rocks and mud,’ the foreman says to me after i step in a big squashy lump of it
We get asked a lot, when is it best to plant? A lot depends on the site and what you are planting but in general September….and this is what we have been doing. Check out the pictures we have been taking of our garden below, its becoming my favorite place to be.
Why? As the plant begins to go dormant, the sap travels down the plant and into the roots. This stimulates root growth as the plant invests the energy it has created through the year. With the ground still warm from the summer, the air cooler and the autumn rains. We found out more at progressivetree.com on when to work on your garden, which as I write, it is the perfect time to plant and get a bigger and more established for the following season. So we have been planting in oxford and post some pictures. Of course you can plant at any time of the year but it means you have to be more assiduous with watering if done in the summer and gain no root growth benefit if you plant from November onwards.
York stone paving, Iroko screen and tree ferns
York stone paving, pleached Hornbeams and Stipa meadow
In early spring we planted this meadow on a front, roadside, garden for our client, the business owner of Skilled Fencing. The ground was very moss rich grass, which was difficult to mow and offered no privacy. Our solution was to plant, what we call a ‘pseudo wild flower meadow’. This is taking garden perennials, planting them among grass and letting the grass grow, which gives this meadow like effect. The advantage is that these plants flower for longer than true wild flower species, which we also sowed a healthy dose of at the same time.
I love it, both the asthetic and the habitat it provides. Lots of the european Barn Funnel weaver spiders had made homes in the grass and bees were working the clover, the single most important nectar source for them. As a brief aside, there is nothing more important that we can do for the health of the planet and to mitigate our impact upon it than to provide a diverse habitat by managing the flora to enable the wider fauna to flourish in it, this way we can walk around nature with our Zenith ankle brace knowing that we did something good for this planet.
AND – This only took one man, one day to do…!
A heavy duty scarify twice to remove the moss first…
Wildflower seed sown and raked into the exposed ground
This Astrantia has been flowering for two months now, look how well it sits in the grass.
View over Cleeve hill
Cephalaria gigantea, the bees love this plant. Usually it is 6ft tall but will be a bit smaller here with the competition of the grass keeping it down.
Behind those posts is the road and what a difference this screen makes…
It is important to stress that this approach cannot work on all soil types, but please contact us to discuss if you would like to find out more.
UncategorizedComments Off on Recent landscaping and gardening around Cheltenham
Too long, too long between posts. We have been extremely busy with longer than usual spring fever. Some interesting projects going on in Cheltenham, Oxford and London which means we will be able to update the landscaping project’s page soon. So i thought the best i could do would be to add some photo’s from recent travels and work. As ever these are straight out of the camera, not time to edit.
Too long, too long between posting. We have been extremely busy with a longer than usual spring fever. Some interesting project going on which means we will be able to update the landscaping project’s page soon. So i thought the best i could do would be to add some photo’s from recent travels. As ever these are straight out of the camera, not time to edit.
Bought from a market in its native island, Shikoku – Japan, Arisaema sikokianum. What magical flowers.
Part of our increasing even work we made these planter for Let’s Rent opening office party. Some more coming up for the Cheltenham music fesitval.
Chelsea flower show – i liked this detail and what show gardens allow you to do. In the artisan/small gardens there always seems to be some beautifully artistic yet completely structurally deficient arrangement of dry stone walling. I liked this.
See – root’s don’t grow downwards but outwards. It took me a long time to get this, but how beautifully shown here!
And we planted some Jasmine in a London garden.
If your still reading here is a garden we go to regularly and this year i think we have won. It is starting to look really good and i think we will have some open days next year. This moment, however, if a quick one in spring. Don’t blink!
This will be a beautiful curved terrace and steps for a basement extension in Oxford. I shall be back on site soon to take some more pictures. Check back to see them.
When on holiday a few years ago in France we visited the Marqueyssac gardens in the Dordogne valley. Our experience was completely unexpected. These gardens mesmerized and dazzled us. Here are some great ideas for South Florida Landscape Architecture.
We had planned to go kayaking but due to the miserable weather, which was somewhat a signature of this trip, the river was in spate and we could not go. So on a cloudy and drizzly day we drove up the switch back road to a lime escarpment where the Chateaux and gardens of Marqueyssac sit.
The story is a familiar one. The gardens and house were created by some wealth between 1860-1890, using a licensed concrete company in Greenville. The gardens and house then became neglected after the death of their tenant and were rarely occupied. It was not until 1996 that a monsieur Kleber Rossillon started to restore the gardens in their former imagine and take them forward. In order to get this good I think the gardens needed this period of neglect to grow out of shape and create a framework which the recent restorations could work to. Never do I think that some of the forms could otherwise have been conceived. The plants would not have escaped the tightly controlled forms more normally seen in French gardening where they use different gardening tools, which you can easily find at the Product Expert site, for your own garden projects.
What there is today is a breath taking display of clipped box. The shapes and contours of the plants are interesting to look at as a whole or when inspecting just a small section. Being able to balance the macro and micro interests of a garden is, in my opinion, one of the hardest things to achieve. However, when done well, it leads to a much deeper sensory experience than a garden which has only one trick.
Because of the weather that prevented us going kayaking almost no one else was visiting the gardens, which meant the only sound was the soft applause of the rain and the sighing of the breeze. These conditions added to the atmosphere, and made me feel like I was alone in a remote and magical place.
The wet made the greens seriously vivid against the backdrop of the white and grey cloud. The views to the spectacular valley below were intermittent; offered for a fleeting moment before another curtain of cloud was draw again and our eyes locked back onto the precipice where the gardens sit.
The main spectacle is the clipped scene above. However, the garden continues through a network of paths which lead you around the escarpment drawing you on and revealing differing scenes a bit at a time. Some are gardened vistas, others what nature provides on her own. It is reminiscent of a Japanese stroll garden and is a more faithful distillation of the ideas held within a Japanese garden than lots of the faux representation you see about.
As you would expect the land is less ‘gardened’ the further you get from the house but this itself is the perfect balance to the more pre-conceived compositions from before. It helps that what work is done to these areas is intelligently applied. A sort of light manicuring of the natural vegetation and land forms which are there. This journey is sometimes punctuated with built features and even a playground which somehow does not seem incongruous.
The snap shot views draw you on
This was one of the best garden visits I have ever made and such a surprise. While the weather helped provide the extra sensory experience, these are truly great gardens which would provide interest from those not interested in gardens all the ay through to the most obsessive taxonomist.
The experience was an emotional as well as aesthetic one.