Review: Influential Australian Garden People: Their Stories

For a book about garden people, rather than gardens, to succeed and hold interest, they need to be exceptional people with stories that are relevant to and resonate with everyday gardeners. Dr Anne Vale’s list is impressive, covering garden communicators and educators in print, radio and television, as well as a range of garden designers from around Australia. Continue reading

A road trip with a botanical garden difference

Like so many other baby boomers, my husband Peter and I love to travel. We enjoy experiencing other cultures and are particularly attracted to remote places with wide open spaces where people are few and the countryside reveals its natural beauty. Peter, a geophysicist, is seriously into rocks and I am seriously into plants. We both like animals, but unlike plants and rocks, they rarely stand still so getting a good look at them on a road trip is often more frustrating than satisfying! Continue reading

Review: ‘Disobedient Gardens’ by Michael Cooke & Brigid Arnott

I first became aware of Michael Cooke in the 1990s when I was an occasional customer at his plant nursery on Sydney’s northern fringe. Belrose Nursery was, then, one of the last ‘proper’ retail plant businesses that grew and sold exciting and hard to get plants. Gardeners and landscapers would battle the intolerable Sydney traffic just to seek out his interesting range of perennials and other ornamentals. Continue reading

The Great Broad Walk Border at RBG Kew

I was recently lucky enough to sit with Richard Barley the Director of Horticulture, Learning and Operations at Royal Botanic Garden Kew, in amongst the plantings of the new Great Broad Walk Border at the end of its first summer. We talked about the history of this part of Kew, the development and design of the new borders, the plants that stop people in their tracks, seasonal succession planting and also the new pedestrian path surfaces now being used at Kew. Continue reading

How to design an interesting and elegant symmetrical garden

Symmetry in a garden design can look perfect and is easy to achieve. But the downside is that symmetry can also look boring and predictable. However there is a secret, used by all great garden designers that’s the basis of designing a breathtakingly beautiful symmetrical garden that will not ever make you bored, and now I’m going to explore it with you. Continue reading

Makeover gardens at Garden World’s Spring Festival

Many of the display gardens at Johannesburg’s Garden World Spring Festival are makeovers of older gardens. It’s a challenging design brief but one that’s very similar to what a designer can find in a residential situation, where you have to work with existing garden features. Here are two 2016 gardens that are makeovers of old gardens. Continue reading

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