This week is National Gardening week and I am sure were I to visit my local garden centre it would be packed with people. I have had to learn to be more patient though, as I garden in a frost pocket! This week is National Gardening week and I am sure were I to visit my local garden centre it would be packed with people. I have had to learn to be more patient though, as I garden in a frost pocket! My garden and the surrounding countryside is a great source of delight for me. Both for the produce we grow and for the inspiration for my sewing.
Last year I introduced a small cut flower bed – I love having flowers in the house but enjoy them in the garden too. Growing them especially for cutting seemed to ease the guilt of picking them. So this year I shall repeat the plan – dahlias, cosmos, and calendula, some bulbs like freesia, cornflowers and of course sweet peas. For me a summer without sweet peas would not be summer. They smell so delicious and attract all sorts of bugs that help pollinate the garden.
I also love visiting gardens and the here are some of my favourites. Some are open all year but others particularly those that open through the fabulous Yellow book National Garden scheme are only open for shorter times. This often gives you the opportunity to get into those private gardens that you would never normally be able to visit and help raise money for charity.
So here we go – my ten favourites
- RHS Rosemoor – I first visited this garden when my eldest son was tiny – I have the strongest memories of sitting holding him in the rose garden awash with the fragrance and emotion. Fabulous as you would expect an RHS garden to be – roses, bulbs, kitchen garden ideas, winter garden inspiration and a lovely meadow.
- Kiftsgate –a typically English garden with some surprising moments created over the twentieth century by three women gardeners
- Hidcote – very near to Kiftsgate, this National trust garden is one of our great gardens with many plants named after it e.g. Lavender ‘Hidcote’. It’s a series of garden ‘rooms’ which allow you to take many ideas for your own more humble garden
- Sissinghurst Castle – this is an absolute must for garden lovers – created by Vita Sackville West and her husband Harold Nicolson, it reflects his architectural planning and the romance and intrigue of her life. Today it is cared for today by the National Trust.
- RHS Harlow Carr – The RHS’s most northerly garden in Yorkshire is a treasure trove of differing styles from the Winter Walk to the teaching gardens, the kitchen garden to the Alpine house and of course there is also a wonderful Betty’s of Harrogate Tearooms on the site too.
- Forde Abbey – this has lovely formal and informal areas but my favourite part is the Walled Garden (I have a not so secret thing about walled gardens…) this is a fabulous example of a working and productive walled garden and I love it!
- Goren – this is not a garden in most senses of the word but a series of meadows opened to the public through the Yellow book scheme. You can wander through about 50 acres of wild flower meadows and see dozens of wild flowers and grasses, orchids and butterflies, enjoying beautiful views of the Blackdown Hills.
- Great Dixter – another must for garden lovers! Created by the late Christopher Lloyd on a Lutyens design and now maintained by the Great Dixter Charitable Trust and Fergus Garrett, this is another truly inspirational garden. Lloyd’s ability with plants and colour is legendary and having visited several times at differing times of the year, I can honestly say that you must visit if you can!
- Hestercombe – when I first visited Hestercombe it was a frosty winter’s day and I was in the house for an in-service training session back in the early 1990s. I can’t remember what the day was about but I do remember going into the garden during a break. In those days you could only go into the Lutyens and Jekyll formal part in front of the house. Frost rimed every step and tile and the whole effect was magical in the winter sunlight. There were very few plants but the structure was breath-taking. Sometime later the garden started opening to the public and seeing it with plants was a whole new experience – magical. Since then the virtually unknown 18th century garden in the valley behind the house has also been restored together with its follies and leats which feed the Lutyens gardens.
- Mapperton – a bit of a hidden treasure in Dorset. Tucked away behind and below a beautiful sandstone manor house are a series of gardens down through the valley. At the top is a croquet lawn, on the next level is the Italianate garden laid out in the 1920s, complete with grottoes, stone ornamental birds, animals and fountains. An orangery was added in the late 1960s and below the wall and summer house are fish ponds which lead to the wild garden with its wonderful specimen shrubs and trees.
So what are you doing in your garden this week and where will you visit this year? Please share your favourite gardens to visit.