Review: A tale of two Normandy gardens

A broad lawn sweeps downhill to a lily pond at lowest point, rather than being interrupted by the usual terracing of Continental gardens. On two sides of this lawn, woodland gardens of rhododendrons, herbaceous perennials and bulbs transition from humanised landscape to natural forest. On the far side, a series of themed garden rooms surround the country house and assorted farm buildings, leading to further woodlands beyond. Continue reading

Designer gardens at Garden World’s Spring festival 2016

Each year Garden World in Gauteng, to the west of Johannesburg, has its Spring Festival. This year there are more than 20 designer gardens on display until 4 September 2016. Many of these designer gardens are different from your usual show garden as some of them are revamps of the previous year’s garden and some are makeovers of a much older garden. This is good because it makes the designer see the show garden more like designing for a residential client where there are always things to keep as well as places for new ideas. Continue reading

Classical gardens and contemporary art in China

Western thinking on garden history tends to be almost unconsciously European in focus – we might evoke the eighteenth century, and think of ha-has and arboreta, or perhaps a Renaissance Italian stroll garden, ornamented with classical statuary. But when mediaeval apothecaries were busy enclosing medicinal herbs in box compartments, one of our greatest cultures was quite literally moving mountains. In China, where the most exciting contemporary art is also to be found, gardens and art have been inextricably linked for almost two thousand years. Continue reading

Cyril Jackson ArtsHouse and community garden

Something new is happening in one of Western Australia’s oldest suburbs. From its idyllic suburban home on the Cyril Jackson Senior Campus grounds, the ArtsHouse is a new creative space in Bassendean, Perth, aimed at connecting students and the community with artists of all kinds. Continue reading

Garden design with graceful grasses and strap-leaved plants

I recently attended a workshop on grasses and other monocotyledons, held by the Friends of RBG Cranbourne. We were ably led by experts through the details of classification of grasses (Graeme Lorimer), then other monocots (Neville Walsh). However, I am certainly not going to write about taxonomy. Two other speakers in particular touched on aspects more related to garden design and I have added further thoughts of my own.

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Ideas for summer plant-filled containers

Sitting in Boston Public Garden I’m enjoying a special early-morning moment on a lovely summer-like day. Relaxing on a shady bench in front of an active fountain, I embrace its gentle sound – except when the tourist with the creaky wheeled cart goes by. I’ve rediscovered that when you have a house guest from out of town, you become, for a while, a tourist in your own town, and take a mini vacation. Continue reading

Meet the Dutch Wave designers

As a professional garden designer who enjoys a second life as a host of European garden tours, I always wonder how I can best prepare tour participants for the wonders they’re going to see. And when the tour is over, I want to make sure they remember the plants, the landscapes, and especially the designers who created them. Continue reading

Narmbool heritage garden restoration

The heritage garden at Narmbool, outside of Elaine in Victoria, was severely damaged by a significant bush fire just before Christmas 2015. When the Australian Garden History Society visited in 2012 we thoroughly enjoyed the English-style gardens surrounding the bluestone homestead, and it was hard to imagine more than half of the lovely old garden destroyed. Continue reading