Trentham Gardens – Part 2 – Italian Garden by Tom Stuart-Smith

A perfect example of old meets new, formal meets informal. Working from an existing traditional Italianate structure, from the 1800’s and filled with modern, naturalistic palette of plants. In 2004 it was planted with 80,000 perennial plants in 70 different flower beds. The box hedging, and topiary combined with many grasses, and architectural perennial plants provide year round interest.

Trentham Gardens – Part one – Piet Oudolf’s Floral Labyrinth

I visit lots of gardens, and I learn something from each one. Then there are those which I love so much that I don’t want to leave. Piet Oudolf’s abundant drifts of perennials towered around me, the bright, bold colours as valuable as the tiny subdued seedheads. I felt immersed in colour, texture, scent and the busy hum of nature. This is my type of garden.

Every garden needs a journey – Ideas from Melbourne Hall

I only wish I could convey my childlike joy, journeying through a garden of avenues & vistas with discoveries and options at every turn. Melbourne Hall gardens unfolded revealing delicious scents, pools & fountains, cloud pruned yew hedges, fine ironwork and statues. Finally, hidden within the dark formality an abundant, colourful garden with choice planting.

Ideas for your garden;

  • Scent – often forgotten, but so rewarding, I like to add near to paths and doorways. Winter flowering scented plants are extra special.
  • Frame a view – an archway, a dipped hedge revealing the borrowed landscape, or simple gaps in planting can set steer the route.
  • A focal point – seats, trees, pots, statues, sculpture, see my Pinterest board for more ideas.
  • Water – adds further dimensions for the senses; with reflections, sound and movement.

Melbourne Hall is open along with the garden and also has a visitors centre, and a brilliant tea room, checkout or  for more information.

Inspiration at Tatton Park RHS Show 2015 

A brilliantly inspirational show; here are a selection of my favourites with ideas to use for your garden.
Leon Davis – quantum of light features bands of planting (a definite trend) radiating out from a central pool. A solid blobbery of clipped buxus and strong steel columns providing a bold backdrop to a mix of more gentle planting including my favourite stipa tenuissima.

Sharon Hockenhull’s Light catcher, a great structure within the lightest, fuzziest planting including grasses brezia media, stipa tenuissima, deshampsia cespitosa,  and scabious, achillea, allchemilla, salvia & allium sphaerocephalon, all in the delicate dappled shade of silver birch.

Josh Chapman – ‘The Perfect Lawn. A bold timber structure provided a focal point and shelter for the garden along with copper paneled cubes topped with lawn for seating. The planting of bronze grasses complimented the timber and copper to give a very distinctive design. I loved the epimedium planted under the timber benches.


Hydrangeas National Collection at Darley Park, Derby

I finally managed to capture some pics of the Hydrangea national collection at Darley Park –

Hydrangeas have 2 main flowering types; the mophead type and lacecaps whose delicate flowers hold petals on the edges of the blooms. Useful for shadier sites and heavy soils, Hydrangeas are good in pots, borders and even for clothing walls and combine well with hostas and clematis.

A Playful & Elegant Garden of rooms – Scampston Hall Walled Gardens

I think a good test of a garden lies in how the space feels in winter. I visited Scampston in early spring on the opening day for the new season so the famous grasses and prairie planting were still dormant. Scampston, designed by Piet Ouldolf, had long been on my must see list and for good reason.

I had a delightful day here with my children (photobombing at every opportunity). The Easter quiz kept the children occupied allowing me to devour the useful plant list issued on entry.

Lining the garden wall, a border walk of pleached limes, beech hedges, cloud pruned buxus and layers of planting including choice viburnums and peonies bursting forwards to mark the turn of the season. I spotted fascinating new leaves unfurling of the jungle like tetrapanux.

The centre of the garden is divided into fun rooms with varying themes, a vegetable plot, formal gardens of symmetrical toparies and ponds.

The wavy topped yew hedges were my favourites, partly because my children squealed with laughter while racing back and forth between them.

This is a garden of style, substance and surprises. We will return.

Today’s new plant….Magnolia wilsonii

I love to add a new plant to my repertoire, and today the sumptuous, blossom of the purest white with striking dark stamens grabbed my attention and I quickly snapped these pics. I identified the distinctive pendulous flowers to be Magnolia wilsonii and I’ll be trying to find a new scheme to plant one of these.

Italian Inspiration

I was interested to recognise so many of our native plants growing in the wild in Italy when the climate there is considerably more extreme, sambucus, oak, etc and garden shrubs such as wisteria and philadelphus. Of course the longer hotter summers provide host to more succulent species and of course olives and figs a plenty too.

A sun bleached landscape is not easy to recreate back at home but I like to take inspiration from the simple…. charming, rustic style. To appreciate our native plants on mass and old mossy walls or peeling paint on old woodwork. In a bigger English country garden, I love the contrast of formal borders, bursting with flower power, with meadows and wild areas.

Not only is it better for wildlife if we resist the urge to manicure every corner,  we can learn to enjoy the unspoiltness.