Showing posts from 2017

John Massey's garden

First, an update. I've been busy most of this year on my new book , which is published tomorrow. Visiting gardens when I'm doing a book is very different from visiting gardens for my own pleasure, and quite often I get to the point where I don't want to have to think about gardens, or plants, or combinations thereof for quite a while. I'm pleased with the book and I think Hugo Rittson Thomas's photographs look wonderful, but completing it left me feeling exhausted. So it was very nice to feel enthusiastic about garden visiting again, thanks to my friend Hester Forde, whose garden,  Coosheen , is in Ireland, in Co Cork. Hester came to see my garden while visiting the Cotswolds this summer. I'm planning another jungle clearance project, this time beneath an enormous yew tree which is home to dozens of brambles and other weeds and saplings. Hester is a fantastic source of good advice and recommendations, and she suggested I raise the crown, or "limb up&quo

Trees at Colesbourne Park

The fabulous leaves of the Oregon maple, Acer macrophyllum Colesbourne Park, about 20 minutes from me by car, is known for its snowdrops, and a visit to Colesbourne to see them in flower, and perhaps buy a choice variety for the garden, is one of the few things I can think of that makes February bearable. Colesbourne is featured in my book, Secret Gardens of the Cotswolds , and I've visited several times since then, but I've never been at this time of the year. However, this year owner Sir Henry Elwes has decided to open the arboretum to the public , so I was invited for a private tour with Sir Henry and his head gardener, Arthur Cole, who trained at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh. The reason Colesbourne has such a wonderful collection of snowdrops is down to the current owner's great-grandfather, Henry John Elwes, who was an eminent botanist and plant collector. It is said that if Kew didn't know the answer to a query, they would write to Colesbourn

Jam, Jerusalem ... and bunting!

This summer, my local Women's Institute (WI) celebrated its 100th birthday by unveiling its centenary bunting in the village hall. It has all been made by local members, and a lot of it is  beautifully embroidered, or uses an imaginative range of techniques including applique and freestyle quilting. I'm a member of my local WI, and when I tell people this, they often respond with snorts of laughter, or blank looks, depending on their age and nationality.  The WI is often seen as a comedy stereotype in Britain, regarded as the domain of women in pearls and twin sets, busily making jam, baking cakes and generally bossing people around. Famously, the WI's "theme tune" is Sir Hubert Parry's setting of William Blake's poem, Jerusalem, which was adopted eight years after the WI was founded in 1915. Jerusalem , of course, is a wonderful hymn but we should remember that for the WI the lines: "Till we have built Jerusalem In England's green and plea

Spring has sprung at Awkward Hill

The weather is warm enough for short-sleeved gardening, or drinking a cup of tea on the terrace... There are primroses (the native variety, Primula vulgaris)... There are tulips ('Purissima') and multi-headed Roman hyacinths ... There are daffodils and daisies ... There is blossom on the ornamental cherries, the amelanchiers and the Magnolia stellata ... Rufus is enjoying the sunshine in the garden ... And there are new-born lambs in the field next door... I think we can safely say that spring has arrived.