Book review: RHS Companion to Wildlife Gardening

If I had a shelf of gardening books to choose from, a ‘Companion to Wildlife Gardening’ would not have grabbed my attention. I think of myself as being reasonably knowledgeable on the subject, but I found the book to be a very accessible and enjoyable read and I have happily come away with a list of plants to acquire and changes to make. Continue reading

Review: The Florilegium – Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney

I knew about this book a long time before it was published, having seen some of the beautiful art produced for the Florilegium Society at the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney. I imagined some sort of coffee-table picture book – nice but something you’d leaf through fairly quickly, just looking at the lovely pictures. I wasn’t expecting something you would have so much enjoyment reading.★★★★½ 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

Review: Royal Botanic Garden Sydney – The First 200 Years

I started to read this history of a garden and soon realised that what I was actually reading was a history of so much more – a struggling settlement, a growing city, and a developing nation. More than any building or natural landscape, this Garden holds the layers of Australia’s 200 years of European settlement as well as the lighter footprint of many more years of indigenous occupation. And it is a story well-told, with multiple voices adding colour to this woven tapestry of discovery and loss, exploitation and love, export and import, neglect and care, and loyalty and deceit. ★★★★½

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Review: ‘Gardens of the Italian Lakes’

Most garden lovers have heard about the lake gardens of northern Italy – maybe read about one or two – enough to know they are significant places. I, for one, almost negligently, haven’t visited any of them. So when I had the opportunity to review ‘Gardens of the Italian Lakes’ I took it! I hoped it would give me an inside view of these famous villa gardens and a good notion of their visiting worthiness. It did that! ★★★★½ Continue reading

Review: Queensland Garden Expo 2016

Last weekend was one of the year’s biggest for Queensland gardeners.The annual garden expo in Nambour (approximately an hour and a half north of Brisbane) is the largest garden event on the Queensland calendar, and many thousands of keen gardeners from all over Northern NSW and South East Qld make the annual pilgrimage. Continue reading

Review: Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2016

It may not have the glamour of its sister Royal Horticultural Society show – Chelsea – but the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show certainly makes up for it in other ways. Covering some 14 hectares (34 acres), it is three times the size of Chelsea and boasts an incredible 47 show gardens and over 500 exhibitors, making it the largest flower show in the world. Continue reading

Review: ‘The Garden Wanderer’ by Julie Kinney

I received my copy of ‘The Garden Wanderer‘ the day before I set off on a trip heading north of Perth into country that is very different from the Margaret River area south of Perth, Western Australia, featured in the book. Up north, only truly determined gardeners take on the red soil and the hot, dry, seemingly endless summers to eke out a green oasis around their homesteads. I wondered how much a book set firmly in one place would resonate with gardeners elsewhere. The only way to find out was to read the book and, as I read it, I began to appreciate its relevance for gardeners anywhere. Continue reading

Review: The Calyx reveals its Sweet Addiction at Sydney RBG

Newly opened at the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, The Calyx is the purpose-built exhibition space that the Gardens has needed and wanted for some years. On the outside it’s an architectural and very beautiful structure occupying the site of the old glass square pyramid Tropical Centre and built on to the Ken Woolley-designed quarter-circle ‘Arc’ glasshouse which survived demolition. I like the way its stark and severe white ribs around the circular open courtyard area contrast with its green and leafy garden background, and also the wonderful shadow patterns they throw on the internal courtyard space. But what’s inside? Continue reading

Melbourne Flower & Garden Show 2016 – trophies, trends and titbits

As a show, the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show (MIFGS) 2016 felt a little quieter than previous years but there were still many fine gardens. I like to stand back first for a while to get an overall impression, then examine each part of the garden more closely. Although good gardens have strong overall design qualities, they are always supported by interesting detail that’s not immediately obvious, but definitely adds to the sum of the parts. Continue reading