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

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

Open Gardens West Coast – my garden launches WA’s new scheme

My Perth garden is the inaugural garden opening with Open Gardens West Coast and I’ve been spending all my spare time making sure it lives up to the honour. The new, not-for-profit scheme will open three Perth gardens this year and a statewide program in 2017. Garden lovers are rejoicing as openings have been scarce in WA since Open Gardens Australia folded 16 months ago. Continue reading

Terracing: the gardener’s response to gravity and gradient, then and now

Terraces, terraces everywhere on the Cinque Terre’s vertiginous slopes. (And believe me for yours truly they are sickeningly vertiginous.) Sick, but impressive, as lines of terracing snake along the contours around the hills dropping away into an azure sea. The terraces allow crops of grapevines, vegetables, olive and fruit trees to be grown on slopes that would otherwise be far too steep for cultivation. The stone walls that comprise the terraces date back to the BC when Roman soldiers were rewarded with land to farm as a pension for their service to the conquering generals who happened to make Rome great as they built their political careers on conquests. 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

The world’s must see garden shows

Happily, there are plenty of great garden shows to choose from around the globe – to bathe in dazzling designer displays and floral flare. The most famous of all is in full swing right now in London. With this in mind, I’ve put together my list of ‘the’ shows for true garden lovers. Continue reading

Review: Link Edge metal garden edging

We’ve used DIY aluminium Link Edge metal garden edging in several places in our garden – edging the front lawn, between gravel paths and gardens, and alongside rendered walls. It’s easy to cut and join, it makes smooth curves and circles and crisp straight lines, and it can even be shaped underneath to curve down a slope too. A good-looking, very versatile and high performance product. It’s 2 years on now and it still looks fabulous. ★★★★★ Continue reading