Growing My Own Tree of Life

For the last three summers I have been growing airplants outside in the Jungle Garden. Secured to the branches of a tree in dappled shade, they’ve added texture and interest where otherwise there was little else to amuse. In spite of their small size they have always attracted comment: few people expect to see these […]

Read More

Morrab Gardens, Penzance, Cornwall

March can be a wild and windy month, especially in the far south-west of Cornwall. So it was that we turned up at Trewidden to view the magnolias only to find the garden was closed owing to the inclement weather. All Cornish gardens of note rely heavily on shelter created by large trees and shrubs. […]

Read More

Trewidden, Cornwall: Anything But Magnolia

It’s been a cruel winter for spring flowering shrubs and trees. Today at Trewidden in Cornwall we witnessed the impact of subzero temperatures and six inches of snow on gardens that rarely experience such harshness. Rhodendron buds and tree fern fronds stood blackened and lifeless against a benign blue sky. Yet beneath the burnt and […]

Read More

Heligan Harvest

  I first started visiting The Lost Gardens of Heligan as a student in the very early 1990s. By then the Tremayne family’s forgotten pleasure grounds had been rediscovered by their descendant, John Willis. Thanks to Tim Smit, later of Eden Project fame, there was already an audacious plan to revive them. As the decade […]

Read More

Eternal Eden

  I can smell Cornwall before I can see it. Driving across the ancient border between Devon and Cornwall at night it’s pitch black, but I know that if I wind the car window down the mingled scent of damp heather, moss, fern and lichen will be forced up my nostrils faster than I can […]

Read More

Wonder Walls Part II

  Each time I return to the West Country I am reminded just how damp it is compared to Kent. A crude comparison of averages would tell you that twice as much rain falls in Devon or Cornwall versus Kent or East Anglia. On the surface, the impact of rainfall on landscape and nature is […]

Read More

Pretty in Pink: Podranea ricasoliana 

Draped elegantly over the high walls surrounding Marrakech’s wealthier villas and riads is an elegant climber known variously as pink trumpet vine, Queen of Sheba, Port St. John’s creeper and Zimbabwe creeper. As the latter suggests, Podranea ricasoliana, as it’s less attractively known in latin, hails from Southern Africa. I naturally assumed that there would be […]

Read More

Daily Flower Candy: Magnolia doltsopa

Magnolia doltsopa: Michelia doltsopa, sweet michelia There are trees and then there are trees. Queens among their ranks are the magnolias; strong, majestic, ebullient beauties that grace our gardens with buxom, florid flowers each spring. A well-grown magnolia in full bloom is a thing of breathtaking beauty, so ravishing that one can scarcely believe such […]

Read More

Tumbledown

We are staying at Trevoole, one of our favourite places in Cornwall. And because I am on holiday I can take precious time to see what’s in front of me. Outside our bedroom in the farmhouse there’s a romantically ramshackle entrance porch. Over the years the glazing has become increasingly cracked and opaque. Outside plants […]

Read More

Bewitched, Bothered and Bewintered

As winter draws to a close, I can sum it up in one word: soggy. Dreams of bracing walks along the beach beneath clear, blue skies have been denied, replaced by nightmare navigations along muddy paths and through swampy fields.  I promise myself every year that I will visit more gardens during the winter (Anglesey […]

Read More