The Magical Landscapes of Disneyland Paris

  There is something especially delightful about going on a holiday that one hasn’t organised. Perhaps it’s the element of surprise, or the ability to shirk responsibility for anything that goes awry. Either way one can sit back and – quite literally in the case of my recent holiday – enjoy the ride. I am […]

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Stourhead Revisited

  “We reached Stourhead at 3 o’clock. By that time the sun had penetrated the mist, and was gauzy and humid ….. Never do I remember such a Claude-like, idyllic beauty here. See Stourhead and die.” James Lees-Milne, May 1947   It is incredible to think 20 years have elapsed since I last visited Stourhead. […]

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Rhododendron Rebound

  Although I’ve never been able to grow them well, rhododendrons have always held a special place in my heart. I grew up visiting the gardens of Cornwall in the school holidays –  Trewidden, Glendurgan, Trengwainton, Lanhydrock, Trelissick and Penjerrick – long before the gates of Heligan and Trebah had swung open. As a small […]

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Chelsea Flower Show 2015 – Stars of the Show: Edo no Niwa by Ishihara Kazuyuki

I changed my plans this year and instead of dashing headlong for Main Avenue when the show opened on Tuesday, I hung a left and made for the Serpentine Walk where Chelsea’s Artisan Gardens can be found. These gardens are built on a smaller budget and are frequently sponsored by councils, tourism authorities and charities. Their themes […]

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The American Garden, Saltwood, Kent

Primped and polished gardens are all very well (we’ll be seeing a lot of them at Chelsea in a few days’ time) but for those of us who work and can’t afford help they can be a little intimidating. Small imperfections are natural and larger ones excusable. They render a garden approachable and understandable, revealing […]

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Sandling Park Open Garden 2015

The chance to view the extraordinary collection of rhododendrons and azaleas built up by the Hardy family at Sandling Park in Kent is one of the highlights of my May. I adore these acid loving shrubs, especially as I have neither the space nor the soil conditions to cultivate them. At Sandling, sheltered in a shallow valley deep with […]

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Saltwood Castle NSPCC Plant Fair 2015

Driving south to the pretty village of Saltwood for the annual NSPCC plant fair has become something of a tradition in our household. Even Him Indoors looks forward to going, or at least pretends to. We have both been poorly this week – Him Indoors with a cold and me with tonsilitis – but after a recuperative lie-in we […]

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Great Balls of Fire – Sandling Park in May

There was such an extraordinary amount going on in May that I am now working through a draft post pile-up. In contrast to the scarcity of blogging fodder during the winter months, early summer offers incredibly bounty. I find myself spoilt for choice and with a backlog of fine subjects to share. Now that June is […]

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Kentish Belles

Over the next couple of weekends, two of Kent’s most beautiful and enigmatic gardens will be opening their gates to the curious public. Both reveal their secrets on just one day each year, so are a must if you are in the county and love to visit special places. Kurume azaleas at Sandling Park The first of our Kentish Belles is […]

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Sandling Park Open Day 2014

Spring 2013 arrived fashionably late. This was convenient for us, as we’d been travelling in Bhutan during the prime time for camellias, rhododendrons and azaleas at home. One of the highlights on our return was a visit to Sandling Park, Kent, which opens just once a year in aid of Pilgrim’s Hospices.   Sandling’s gardens […]

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