Ninfa – is it worth all the superlatives?

It was at a meeting of heritage rose lovers that I first heard about Ninfa, a romantic, rambling, Italian garden built in the ruins of a medieval town. People spoke of it in reverential terms and my interest was piqued by their idyllic description – old roses and vines cascading from ruined towers and trees, scrambling along crumbling archways and overhanging crystal clear streams. Continue reading

Amsterdam’s secret: an enchanted forest and gardens

For a lifelong cyclist Amsterdam is heaven – once you get your bearings that is.  That skew-whiff grid of canals is totally bamboozling at first. The initial 24 hours completely did my head in. Utterly lost. Embarrassing for someone who prides himself on being able to find his way around. Since then however, the cycling has been sublime. Continue reading

A first botanic garden for Laos: enchanting Pha Tad Ke

Starting a new garden from the ground up is daunting even for an experienced gardener in a familiar environment, but imagine being a non-gardener, in a foreign country, on unknown terrain in a totally different climate and contemplating the creation of a 14 hectare botanical garden showcasing the indigenous plants of a country where botany is little studied and new species are still being discovered. 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

Having fun in a GIANT’S garden

I am now living most of the year in New Zealand, and I must be honest immigrating to a new country on the opposite side of the globe is not as easy as one would think. Everyday things are done in quite a different manner, and adapting to the new culture and learning about the do’s and don’ts takes a lot out of a person. Continue reading

A small piece of Australia at California’s Taft-Ojai Gardens

On a trip to California earlier this year I had the good fortune to meet a very interesting Australian expatriate plant lover and horticulturist called Jo O’Connell. She has established an excellent niche nursery called Australian Native Plants at Casitas Springs near Santa Barbara, in order to grow a range of Australian plants. These are currently in hot demand as a result of the severe drought in California. 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

Mango tree of Fort Cochin

Checking in to our Fort Cochin Hotel, the friendly staff invited us to relax in the garden while waiting for our room. We didn’t need an invitation – I was already out there craning my neck to see what caused the dappling in the courtyard. It was an enormous mango tree, and as I looked up something caught my eye. There was someone sitting on a branch, a very long way up. Continue reading