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Showing posts from June, 2016

My garden, three years on

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I feel so at home in Bibury that it's strange to think I moved here less than four years ago. This Sunday, 3 July, I open my garden for the National Gardens Scheme, so it seemed like a good time to take stock. Those of you who remember my old blog, Victoria's Backyard,  will know that I used to open my garden for the NGS when I lived in London, so I'm used to the last-minute panic, and the frantic baking of cakes and so on. Here in the Cotswolds, I also open my garden at the end of May, in aid of the village hall. This means that most of the major gardening projects for the year have to be completed by then, so I always feel like I'm ahead of the game by mid-June.  Still, journalists will be journalists, and there is nothing like a looming deadline to make me ...  go and read a book, or rearrange my bedroom. Anything, in fact, to avoid the job in hand. My excuse is that we've had heavy rain most of the week, so I couldn't get much gardening done. I've been…

The perfect English village fete, in the perfect English garden

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Bibury, like many other villages up and down the country, holds an annual summer fete. It's very much a local affair - volunteers run the tea tent, and the raffle stall, and face painting, and the games for the kids, and the Women's Institute sell cakes and so on.
Until recently, the village fete was held on the lawn at Bibury Court, a Jacobean mansion that is the local "big house", but a couple of years ago, that arrangement came to an end, much to the dismay of villagers.
This year, however, Mr and Mrs Robert Cooper, owners of another "big house", Ablington Manor, offered the use of their gardens as a setting, and yesterday, at 2pm, to the strains of a brass band, the fete got under way.
I'd visited Ablington Manor before, because I wrote about it in my book, Secret Gardens of the Cotswolds, and in an article for The English Garden magazine last year. I was interested to see how the space would be used, because although there are large, reasonably lev…

First glimpse of RHS Bridgewater

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The new RHS garden, to be created on a derelict estate in Salford, is one of the most exciting garden projects I can remember in my lifetime. I went up there last week on the first press tour, and wrote this piece for the i newspaper.
The RHS announced the go-ahead in October, but this was the first chance for outsiders to see what was involved. The charity is hoping to open the garden in 2019.
In horticultural terms the challenge is huge. The walled kitchen gardens, all 11 acres of them, are choked with the sort of thuggish weeds that give gardeners nightmares: brambles, horsetail and so on. In the wooded areas, there are volunteer saplings all over the place, and the avenue of limes that would have led from the gates to the estate to the house (now gone) is unrecognisable. Where horse-drawn carriages would once have passed, there is now a tall crop of Himalayan balsam. It's going to be a huge job, but a fascinating one.
I've posted some pictures below that the i didn't u…