Sunday, 30 September 2012

New Treasure for National Trust

The beautiful and historic Duffryn Gardens in South Wales will soon be passing into the hands of The National Trust. I think this is a good thing, I've visited the garden several times and it would have been a tragedy were it to have closed. I just hope The Trust allow it to remain true to itself in its quirkiness. At Duffryn you have it all: a rockery, formal beds near the house, a newly restored kitchen garden and glasshouses, long borders, and a series of garden rooms contained by beautiful old stonework. The mish-mash of styles is what makes me want to visit Duffryn again and again - hopefully The National Trust won't try to 'pull it all together' with homogenous planting schemes. I look forward to seeing how the garden will continue to develop over the coming years. Meanwhile, here's how it looked in August when I last visited.

Formal beds, but not your standard planting

Part of the new glasshouse has been devoted to cacti

The long borders were looking ravishing, so here's quite a few pics of them:

Finally, waterlilies were at their best in the rill.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Borde Hill

A couple of weeks ago I visited this beautiful garden, which is about 40 minutes drive from my home here in East Sussex. I haven't visited for a couple of years, and I was pleased to see they have invested quite a bit of money into improving the visitor facilities. The cafe has always been good, and the toasted teacakes were on fine form. The Garden was created in the early 1900’s with plants gathered by the great plant collectors from their travels to the Himalayas, China, Burma, Tasmania and the Andes. Listed as Grade II* importance by English Heritage on its register of Parks and Gardens, Borde Hill contains the best private collection of champion trees in Britain and one of the most comprehensive collections of trees and shrubs in the world. The garden is open until 4th November, and more information can be found here.

The house has been turned into apartments.

Cleomes and aconitum compete for Tallest Plant 2012.

This new area used to be for plant sales.

A sunlit pathway

A more formal area

Dazzling Dahlias

A kaleidoscopic combination

The Italian Garden

And from the other side..

The symbol of Borde Hill

Tropical sunshine in September!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

A Late Summer Gem

On Sunday I visited the beautiful garden at Bates Green in Arlington, East Sussex. This garden opens under the National Garden Scheme several times a year, and is also famed for its stunning bluebell walk. A true plant-lover's paradise, the garden seems to be at its peak no matter when one visits. It also boasts a rather fabulous tea room with wonderful cakes and ploughman's lunches. What more could one wish for?!

Oh my gourd!

They've been squashed in....

Aster-way to do it!

Grasses and perennials associating beautifully

A frenzy of late-flowering pokers

A cleverly framed view of the pond

There have been so many Red Admirals this week

Dahlias add heat to the mix

In this border, pastels are the stars

Hot, hot hot!

I think Christopher Lloyd would have liked this border

Mellow yellow

Sunday, 16 September 2012


This week I spent a highly enjoyable day on a foraging course, based at a farm near Steyning, to the north of Brighton. Organised and run by the lovely Carol and Louise at Pick It Cook It, my mum and I were welcomed by Roo and Sam the farm dogs. After some yummy homemade cake we were taken for a walk through ancient woodland, where Louise pointed out many wild herbs and berries which we would never have spotted.

Beautiful ancient woodland

A clearing between the trees.

A birch plantation

The main focus of the day was to collect hawthorn berries (haws) in order to make haw ketchup. Louise guided us to the best crops and we set to work picking.

Me at my most butch...

Roo took a shine to Mum (who wouldn't!)

Carol and Mum de-stalk the haws back at the farm.

And so do I...

Finally there are enough to wash and cook. Just add vinegar, water and sugar!

I've never seen so many haws in one place!

Once cooked, the haws are sieved.

And here's the end result

Just pour into sterilised jars and...

The ketchup is ideal for marinating meats or vegetables, or adding to soups and stews.

I would never have thought of an activity like this, luckily I chanced upon an advert in the brochure of the Horsham Food and Drink Festival. Mum and I really enjoyed the day, and a highlight was the delicious lunch, including Carol's scrumptious homemade soup and bread and a ploughmans. We also enjoyed our first taste of stir-fried dandelion root - surprisingly tasty it was too! Thank you Carol and Louise for a truly memorable day.