Designing a garden to inspire dreams

There are a lot of formal gardens in France, especially at chateaux, and in the last three months I’ve seen a lot of them! So the prospect of visiting a contemporary garden in an historic town in Perigord Noir captured my imagination. Les Jardins de l’Imaginaire, in the very pretty if ‘business-like’ town of Terrasson, Continue reading

Let me show you my Italy this October

Are you planning to visit Italy this October but you want to see something different? Would you like to visit some unique gardens guided by an expert? Would you like a local guide that shows you places that only Italians know? If your answer is ‘YES!’ you should join me for the garden tour of Naples, Sicily and Sardinia. Continue reading

Morocco – land of kasbahs and palm oases

The land of the Berbers is a dramatic interplay of gorges, mountains, desert plains and valleys dotted with date palm oases. Amongst these, where there is water, rise ancient kasbahs* in various states of ruin or rejuvenation. Some kasbahs have been bought by foreigners, often French, who have renovated and re-designed them often as guest accommodation, usually with gardens attached – either surrounding the building or as an internal courtyard. Continue reading

Australian gardening inspiration from South Africa

To me, the essence of Australia is deep blue skies stretching as far as the eye can see; rich red soils bearing dry, oxidized iron; the distinctive blue-green foliage of Eucalyptus set amongst twisting, mottled-grey limbs; perhaps a small family of roos tucking into soft, long grass in its dappled shade. Nowhere else on earth will you come across a scene like this. Continue reading

A garden for the Queen: Château de Tarascon

In the years of the 15th C before France was consolidated as a nation by a succession of kings the country was ruled and contested by several Royal houses vying for supremacy among them those based in Naples, Provence, Aragon, Savoy, Sicily and Anjou. Between them they parlayed and sought alliances with bigger powers, particularly the Holy Roman Empire and the Papal State. Continue reading

The Hawaiian lei that wasn’t

Every morning at around 9.30am at our beautiful Waikiki hotel, a large white box would arrive and be secreted beside the valet and entry area. I loved this box, as I knew inside were hundreds of fresh dendrobium orchid leis which would be placed around the necks of weary but smiling guests of the hotel. Continue reading

Take the ancient Silk Road to a 2,500-year old garden

Nowhere but Iran can you walk among the ruins of a garden created more than 2,500 years ago. Nowhere else on earth can you find an entire suite of nine UNESCO World Heritage Persian Gardens. And nowhere else has one guiding principle of garden design not only persisted for more than two millennia, but also inspired and influenced the creation of the Mughal and other great gardens of the world. Continue reading

Berber home and garden, Morocco

East of Marrakech, over Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains, a desert landscape riddled with spectacular gorges and valleys presides. At the time of my visit in November, snow-capped peaks rendered this ancient land of Berbers even more panoramic. In their pink and red-hued villages, built so clearly from the earth right there, dwell a truly hospitable people. I had the good fortune to visit the home and garden of one Berber family. Continue reading

Jardin Antique Méditerranéen – a colonial Roman garden

Recently your Branch Head was honoured to lead a small party of keen gardeners and garden-lovers to Montpellier in the south of France, almost but not quite on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. A highlight of the tour was a visit to the Jardin Antique Méditerranéen at Balaruc-le-Bains on the bay Etang de Thau. The garden is intended to replicate the mood and reality of a colonial Roman garden of some 2000 years ago. Continue reading

Bhutan: The Land of The Thunder Dragon

Recently in a travel article, there was listed the ’10 safest destinations that aren’t involved in conflict’. Not a bad list but Bhutan was overlooked (possibly unheard of!) but, in my view, should have been top of the pile. Anyway – it’s a hidden gem and hopefully you will get a feel for one of my favourite countries when you read on. Continue reading