NOVEMBER – THIS MONTH’S GARDENING JOBS

We are already some way into November – how did that happen? I think I imagined that things would slow down by now on the gardening front but actually my to do list is really long and I feel like there is a rush to get everything in place before December comes. By then I want to have finished all the autumn gardening jobs to focus on getting ready for Christmas. We have had the most gorgeous autumn weather here in London, misty mornings followed by sunny clear days. Perfect gardening weather which draws you outside the moment you open the curtains in the morning. Fingers crossed it stays like this for a while longer so I can get everything on my list ticked off in the next couple of weeks. Here is what I will be doing in the garden this month:

Planting spring bulbs

Now is the time to get all those bulbs into the ground. A somewhat daunting prospect if, like me. you like having a lot of them. When all the bulbs have arrived and I lay them out to get myself organised, the realisation hits that the one who will have to plant them all is…me. It is so much fun to browse the websites and order the best varieties but I must confess that planting them is not my favourite job. But of course it is all worth it when spring comes around and you have all that unreal beauty in your own back garden so best to just get on with it. The good news is that tulips in pots are super easy and quick to do – I have actually toyed with the idea of growing all my tulips in post just because it is so much easier. But I do want them in the beds too so I need to set aside a few days to get this job done. Digging hundreds of holes in fairly heavy soil is very hard work so this year I have invested in a long handled bulb planter and I’m hoping this will make it a lot easier.

Order bare root roses

November is the start of bare root rose season and I always get a few new roses at this time of year. Buying bare root roses are a great way of building up a collection of them as they are more affordable than potted ones. You can plant them any time between November and March but I find it best to get them in now so they have more time to establish before flowering time next year. Also, if they are going into beds that will have bulbs, you need to plant your roses first so you don’t risk disturbing the bulbs. The trickiest thing about this is to choose which roses to go for. I have a long wishlist and will buy a few that I have been thinking about for a very long time. Exciting.

Lift and store Dahlia tubers

As soon as the first frost hits, Dahlia season is over. The plants will quickly wilt and go brown when the cold weather arrives and this means it is time to lift the tubers. In the UK, you can leave them in the ground and hope for the best – they should be fine if you add a bit of mulch on top to protect them from frost. I prefer to lift the bulbs so I can check how they are doing. All you need to do is dig up the tubers carefully, making sure not to damage them. Then you cut the stems off and shake the compost off. Some people rinse them in water to remove all the soil from around the root and tubers but I don’t bother – a little bit of dried mud left on them won’t do any harm. Leave the to dry for about a week then pack them away in a box and keep them somewhere dry and cool. And don’t forget to label them so you don’t end up with a lucky dip next near. I’m useless at labelling and remembering what things are but am determined to do it this properly this season.

Pot up indoor bulbs

For my birthday I received some indoor bulbs – lucky me! Now it is time to plant them up so the flower in time for Christmas. If you want to have paper whites or other indoor bulbs, make sure to buy the ones that are specially prepared for forcing.

Collect leaves to make leaf mould

This month I spend a lot of time picking up leaves. Absolutely love my gravel paths but it is not ideal when leaves fall. Each little cluster of leaves quickly rot down and become sludgy brown piles of growing material in which weeds can take take root and grow – quite amazing how quickly this happens in the moist, mild autumn ….. . So I have to keep on top of it and pick up all the leaves at least once a week. Most of the leaves go on the compost heap but I will stash some away in old used compost bags and let them rot done to become leaf mould. Leaf mould is a great mulch and can be ready to use in just six months. All you need to do is make sure there is some moisture on the bag and that it has some holes in for ventilation. If you don’t have many leaves to collect in your own garden, head out to a nearby park and pick up a few bags full of leaves. The feeling of using your own homemade mulch or compost is so great, it is totally worth the tiny amount of effort you put in.

Happy gardening!

What I know about tulips

There is nothing I get more questions about than tulips. I did a Q&A all about tulips on Instagram and was asked some great questions so I thought it would be a good idea to answer them here on the blog as well where I can expand on some of the answers. So here we go – here is what I know about tulips!

Do you keep your tulip bulbs after flowering or get new ones every year?

This is the number one most frequent question I get asked. The answer is that I buy fresh bulbs every year. Some tulip bulbs are perennial and will flower for many years, but to achieve this you need to leave the foliage to die back before you lift and store the bulbs. Since I have such a small garden, I need to keep it tidy so I can’t have lots of scruffy looking tulip leaves hanging around. I also don’t have anywhere to store the bulbs over the winter. But the main reason is that I want a reliably gorgeous display – fresh bulbs are the only way to guarantee this. It can take three years for a tulip to flower again and I just don’t want to take the risk of ending up with just a bunch of leaves. Extravagant for sure but to me, totally worth it.

Should you cover tulips in pots?

My tulip pots all stay outside over winter with no cover. Cold weather is not a problem for tulips, in fact they need a chilly spell to flower well. People who grow tulips in mild climates have to keep them in the fridge until it is time to plant them. Rainwater is also not a problem as long as you have adequate drainage – several holes at the bottom of the pot and some crocs or grit at the base. If you think about it, the tulips that are planted in the ground get rained on just as much but they are fine.

Do you need to water your tulip pots?

Yes! Over the winter there will inevitably be some rainy days and you don’t need to worry about the tulips drying out, but as soon as the weather gets milder you need to watch them. Water the pots roughly once a week in dry weather.

When should you plant your tulips?

It depends on where you live but generally later than you think, there is no hurry. Here in London it is very mild so November or even December is perfect – I have to get mine in the ground by the end of November because after that I’ll be too busy doing Christmassy things. If you live somewhere colder then do them a little bit earlier. I am not sure if this is true but my feeling is that if you plant them early, they will flower earlier in the spring. With the mild winters we are having I find everything in the garden is happening too soon and I try to do whatever I can to delay things. Tulips for example are a May time flower for me but this year they flowered in April. If I had planted them sooner they might have come out even earlier. So that’s another reason why I try to leave the bulb planting session as late as possible – I don’t want the garden to peak to soon!

How do you plant your tulips in mixed borders without accidentally digging them up?

It happens. But my tactic is this – I do all my tidying up, moving and dividing plants, planting bare root roses and other new perennials in October/November. Once that’s done the tulip bulbs go in. So between November and April I don’t do any digging and avoid disturbing the bulbs.

How do you choose the colours?

Oh my gosh, this is really difficult because there are so many gorgeous ones to choose from! Tulips websites are like sweet shops for grown ups, all those mouth-wateringly gorgeous and tempting tulip pictures… I find them impossible to resist. My tulip buying tactic goes like this: I start by identifying my must have varieties and make sure to order these early so they don’t sell out. Then I build my colour scheme around these key tulips, adding other varieties that go nicely together. It is quite good to look at some nice websites for inspiration – Sarah Raven have the best tulip collections and you can get some great ideas from her even if you buy your bulbs elsewhere. The next step is to wait for the bulb sale. At that point I sometimes go a little bit wild. I want to have lots and lots of tulips so I LOVE the sale! Having the colour scheme clearly worked out is super helpful at this point – I know which colours I’m going for so anything that’s left in the sale that fits my palette goes in the basket. That’s it! Until the moment when the all the bulbs arrive and I realise that the person who will have to plant them all is… me.

Do you need full sun to grow tulips?

Luckily for me, you don’t. Mine are in part shade and it works very well, in fact I find it really beneficial that they are in the shade for part of the day as it prolongs flowering quite a bit. I really noticed it this spring when we had such warm weather in April. My tulips carried on for much longer than other gardener’s I know because they were not sitting in the baking hot sunshine all day. I haven’t grown tulips in full shade but have been told it works just fine if you get new bulbs each year.

Where do you get your bulbs from?

I order nearly all of mine online. That way you have such an amazing range of varieties to choose from. I have ordered from Sarah Raven, Farmer Gracy, Peter Nyssen and Crocus. Am bound to pick some up at a garden centre or DIY store too if I see something gorgeous.

I hope these tips are helpful, feel free to ask any additional questions in the comments below and I will add them too. Happy tulip shopping and good luck with the planting, it can be a bit of a mammoth job if you like to have lots of them like me. Only six months until tulip time 2021 – can’t wait!

October – this month’s gardening jobs

Last year’s narcissi pots

The season is coming to an end but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do in the garden. In fact it is quite a busy time of year as you can start planning and preparing for next year – exciting! These are some of the jobs I will be doing in October:

Ordering spring bulbs

For me it’s too early to start planting bulbs yet but it’s definitely time to get planning and to buy the bulbs before the best ones sell out. I order the majority of mine online because that gives you such a huge variety of gorgeous things to choose from, but of course you can pick them up from a garden centre or DIY store too. If you like to have flowers in the house I would definitely recommend buying a few extra bulbs to grow for cutting – I can’t tell you how much happiness I got from my tulip cutting patch last year! More about bulbs and tulips specifically to come. It’s all I think about right now…love them!

Hardy geraniums that need dividing

Dividing perennial plants

Now is a really good time to dig up and divide perennials that have grown too big or look like they need reviving. This is such an easy and satisfying job – creating new plants for free from what you already have in the garden. I like to get this done before I start planting bulbs so I don’t disturb them once they’re in the ground. I have some geraniums that have got really huge so I will be digging those up for sure. Other perennials that are easy to divide are japanese anemones, hostas and Lady’s Mantle Alchemilla mollis.

Best nasturtiums I have ever grown

Collecting seeds

My nasturtium arch has been amazing this year and I definitely want to try this again next year, although I’m slightly nervous it won’t work nearly as well when I try to replicate this years look which was a complete accident. I will be collecting seeds from this years plants to dry and keep for next season. All you need to do is look for the nice plump ones, pick them when they come off really easily and leave them on a piece of kitchen towel until fully dry. Then you can put them in an envelope or paper bag until springtime when it’s time to sow them. This way you can get tons of plants absolutely free – win win! As well as nasturtiums I will save sunflowers seeds, calendula and a few other things. A top tip is to keep your eyes peeled when you’re out in a park or walk past any public planting. If you see plants with ripe seeds on them, go ahead and take some. As long as you do it in a careful, considerate way there’s no harm done and you get lovely seeds for free.

Viola grown from seed

Planting up winter pots

Normally I shut the back door at the end of November and hardly go outside until spring comes around, but this year I am going to make an effort to use the garden more in autumn and winter too. To have some colour going on all year round, I will be planting up some winter pots with viola, cyclamen and other goodies. I will put the pots close to the back door so we can enjoy them even on rainy indoor days.

Rooted rosemary cuttings

Taking cuttings of Rosemary and Thyme

So happy to finally have my greenhouse up because it means I can start growing things from cuttings – I have never been able to do this before because my house doesn’t have a single useful windowsill to put tender young plants on. Rosemary and Thyme are both quite slow growing and we use a lot of it for cooking so it will be great to have more of it. I like to root my cuttings in a glass of water before sticking them into a pot, that way you can see what’s going on and I have had a higher success rate when doing it this way.

Our visit to Cerney House Gardens

The other week we spent a glorious sunny weekend in the Cotswolds – English summer at its best. On the way back home to London we made a stop at Cerney House Gardens, a lovely hidden gem of a place. I have visited once before in springtime and it was amazing then with gorgeous tulips and other spring bulbs, so I was really excited to return in high summer and experience the garden at a different time of year. The main event here is the beautiful walled garden, situated on a slope surrounded by tall trees that filter the sunlight and gives it a real ‘secret garden’ feel. I love the vibe in this place, it is somehow very real and relatable, not as perfectly manicured as some of the major showstopper gardens but all the more lovely for it. Here I am standing on the steps at the entrance to the walled garden.

How about that for an entrance! I’m sure I’m not the only one dreaming of having a rose cascading over an arch in such a relaxed way.

Lots of roses to see here, how pretty is this baby pink one mingling with the lilac clematis – gorgeous!

The view towards the entrance, a strip off lawn flanked by deep borders on either side. Dreamy evening strolls to be had here.

At the top of the garden is this little summer house with a medicinal herb garden in front.

Bright orange day lilies showing off in the dappled afternoon sunlight.

Loved this combo of hot pink roses and crocosmia, so bold and vibrant!

Here you get a feel for the general vibe – relaxed, secluded and very tranquil. Such a beautiful spot.

There is a lovely Victorian glasshouse with cold frames attached.

Absolutely love these brick cold frames with the bench in front, a mass of poppy seed heads spilling out.

View from the top of the garden over the glasshouse. The Japanese anemones were out already and truly stunning! Mine are only just budding here in London but they are in a much shadier position so I’m guessing that’s why.

There is a lovely knot garden at Cerney House, I remember this looking spectacular in May time with tons of tulips peeking out from those box hedges. The box has been badly hit by blight but is currently being treated and I hope that it will recover soon. The structure of it still looks gorgeous and I enjoyed this part of the garden even though it was looking slightly sorry for itself.

And finally, the rose walk that leads down to the house. Such a lovely garden to visit, all very low key with an honesty box for the entry fee and self service tea room. Both times I have visited it has been really quiet with just a few other visitors which means you can really enjoy the place at your own pace. Highly recommend a visit – hope to return in spring next year!

THREE THINGS ON MY MIND – ROMANTIC NOSTALGIA

Instead of endlessly browsing Netflix for something decent to watch in the evening, we have been taking the opportunity to revisit a bunch of favourite films. I am not interested in seeing anything remotely challenging at the moment, it seems that real life is providing enough grit and sadness. Some escapism of the gentle, romantic sort suits me much better right now. The other night we watched A Room with a View, I haven’t seen it in ages and it was every bit as lovely as I remembered. Beautiful settings, a sweet story and lots of giggles to be had at the awkward genteel English and their preoccupation with manners and etiquette.

And of course I must mention Lucy Honeychurch’s outfits. If you are still not convinced about volume sleeves, this movie will do the trick. Plenty of square necklines, lace and embroidery too, all of which are key ingredients to this summers fashion looks.

That pale blue dress with the wide yoke and full sleeves… I feel like I have seen this look on Instagram 100 times just today – hat included! Cutter Brooks have helpfully put together great versions of some of the iconic moments from the film. Here is the tennis look, the meadow scene and the plait and boater hat combo.

Personally I am looking forward to putting on this cotton broderie dress, also know as the Suffragette dress because every time I wear it, someone asks if I have chained myself to any railings recently. But I love it very much. From Topshop a few years ago but you can get similar at most retailers right now or if you are lucky, you might find a vintage one.

Moving on. Robin Lucas has spent his time in lockdown creating a new vegetable garden. Talk about making the time at home count! Looking at this photo I feel as though I have been transported straight into a Beatrix Potter story, Mr McGregor just out of shot as he chases Peter Rabbit away. So beautiful and so very low key. Nothing fancy, all the materials found on site. Just lots of hard work and a good dose of that magic touch that money can’t buy. The gorgeous fence is particularly wonderful and would be quite simple to replicate. You can see more of the garden and listen to Robin talk about it here.

I have noticed a lot of references to the classic children’s book The Secret Garden recently – seems I’m not the only one entertaining my nostalgic side right now. To anyone with fond memories of that story I would highly recommend this book, also by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The making of a Marchioness is a really enjoyable Cinderella story with a bit of mystery thrown in. I wish I hadn’t read it already so I could experience it for the first time.

My edition is published by Persephone Books, they specialise in forgotten books by women writers. Here is a snap I took in their store in Bloomsbury a while ago. Would very happily browse away in there for a couple of hours right now.

Such a lovely store, I can’t wait to visit once we are allowed shop again. Until then I will support them by ordering my next batch of books through their website. Must always have a pile of good books on the nightstand!

TIME FOR ROSES

The unseasonably hot weather has returned and with that, the first few roses have opened in the garden. So I guess we can say that it is summer now? 20 degrees plus forecast for the next ten days and no rain in sight. Yes, summer is definitely here. First out this year was James Galway. This photo is from two days ago, by now this flower has opened out further and is the size of my palm. I adore this rose.

Next up – oh my goodness, just look at it! This is Olivia Rose Austin, one of the new bare roots that I planted back in November. I had this one on my wishlist for ages and finally got one last year. Good decision, how gorgeous is it! Like a perfect fairy tale kind of rose, the softest cool pink and the scent is incredible. I may not get any more flowers this year so will make sure to really enjoy this one while it lasts. And hopefully next year the plant will be bigger and covered in blooms.

And if you are wondering where to find me over the next few months, I will most likely be doing this. The other night we had the windows and doors open and I could smell the roses inside the house even though only three or four flowers had opened. The best time of year might just be right now.

SUNNY SUNDAY WALK

On Sunday I left the house on my own for the first time in 7 weeks. I went for a really long walk and wow, how nice it was to be alone with my thoughts and not be responsible for anyone else for just a few hours. I have really missed my walk to work and all the gorgeous gardens I see on the way so decided to head that way, choosing my favourite route this time, not the quickest one. But first, Sunday pancake breakfast. The very last tulips were on the table and the jug full of wild flowers I picked a week ago still going.

Checks on checks – my new Converse making me happy. And getting dressed properly and even putting on a bit of makeup. A nice change after what feels like a lifetime in loungewear.

Across the canal to look at the view. In the far distance you can see the Gherkin right in the middle of this photo. You can’t really walk on the towpath at the moment, completely impossible to maintain social distancing there. Look forward to being able to walk along the water again sometime in the future.

The rose borders in Victoria Park have just come into flower. Think this may be Queen of Sweden?

By 11 o’clock it was boiling hot and the scent of roses and jasmine heavy on the streets of Hackney. Once again, thank you to all the kind gardeners who put beautiful plants in their front gardens where lots of people can enjoy them.

First take away coffee in 5 weeks!

Poppies, gems and aquilegias in this wonderful front garden, love the mediterranian/cottage garden feel. Nothing wrong with mixing it up!

A rambling rose with a scent that would stop anyone in their tracks no matter how much of a hurry they were in. This rose trails along a brick wall and up a house and reaches across a good 10 metres. Highly recommend looking at ramblers to anyone choosing climbing roses. They have that wild look that I love, and as long as you have enough space they are a great option.

Happy me basically standing in the rose to fully gorge on that perfume.

Foxgloves out in force everywhere.

And here, the main event. This house with its amazing white wisteria is one of my all time favourites. If it ever comes up for sale and I happen to win the lottery the same week, well then I’ll have it. I like to walk past and have a look sometimes even though it is a detour. And this time of year when the wisteria is in flower, I always have to go and have a look. Was worried it was going to be over already but gosh, how beautiful it looked. The whole front garden is to die for, packed full of gorgeous things like foxgloves, peonies, nepeta and lots of climbers.

Just look at those flowers, best dangly earrings I ever saw.

It trails around the side of the house and carries on all along this wall. Beautifully trained and full of flowers.

The house used to be a pub and the old sign is still there.

From one closed pub to another. After all that Wisteria-related excitement, I could have done with a drink but of course that will have to wait a while longer. Gosh, how I long for a pub lunch. Just – can’t – wait!

Back home to the amazing cow parsley froth that Victoria Park treats us to at this time of year.

And a sit down in this spot to rest my tired legs. This is a new little corner of my garden, the perfect place to enjoy a drink in the evening. And that’s just what I did!

WOMEN AND FLOWERS

A gorgeous flower image always catches my gaze. A figure in the picture adds a sense of scale and time. I picture myself in that moment, in the image, with those flowers, in that mood. Wearing that dress. Take the woman out of the picture and it is no longer a moment – just flowers. The centuries are different but the flowers are the same.

By Xenie Zasetskaya, image via Blumenhaus Magazine.

Jane Birkin, posted by Laura Bailey.

In the Bey’s Garden by John Frederick Lewis (1865) from Watts Gallery.

Kate Bush having an Ophelia moment. From Paul Bench.

Peonies by William Merritt Chase (1889) from Lucy Davies.

By Mordehai Avraham, curated by Mert Alas.

Hans Thoma (1876) ‘Forest Meadow’, image from Roni Milla.

From Rakesprogress.

Stella Tennant photographed by Martin Parr in 2018. From Brit Peel.

‘London Fields’ print by Christoper Kane SS20, image by Vogue China.

MY GREENHOUSE – A DREAM COME TRUE

Try to find me a gardener that doesn’t dream of having a greenhouse and I think you would struggle. Personally I never seriously considered it, thinking our garden is too small. Then I came across The North South Garden and suddenly thought, why not? So for my birthday in 2018, I got myself a little greenhouse. Nothing big or fancy, just a basic one big enough to grow tomatoes and keep tender seedlings. And to have a cup of tea in when it’s raining.

A year later and the greenhouse was still sitting in boxes in a sorry looking pile. As far as DIY projects go, this one turned out to be pretty daunting. Somehow I nominated myself to lay the concrete slab base – not sure what I was thinking but eventually, thanks to the extra time we have been spending at home due to the current situation, I finished it. And had a back ache to prove it. Finally, over Easter weekend this year, my husband put the greenhouse up and I couldn’t be happier with it. Here you see it from the very back of the garden with the raised vegetable beds in front. So cute!

This is what I love most about having the greenhouse. As soon as it was up, the whole space at the back of the garden made sense and sort of became something – trust me, before the greenhouse this area was very much just nothing. I love the way you can see a glimpse of it all the way from the house, it draws you out and into the garden. That classic trick of having a focal point at the end of a vista.

And from the other side. I love how this area looks now. A lot of work to do here still but so much closer to how we want it to be. This is the place to sit with a drink in the evening, the low sun hits these steps right on. And behind the greenhouse are the raised vegetable beds and compost bins. That little kitchen garden area has now become a lovely enclosed space which you can’t see from the rest of the garden. So on a rainy day (or a sunny day, or any day in between) you know where to find me. I LOVE my greenhouse!

WHEN WE WENT TO CHARLESTON HOUSE

In August last year we went Charleston House in Sussex, country retreat of the Bloomsbury group. It would be no exaggeration to say that I have thought about this place every day since. I had wanted to visit for a really long time and was looking forward to it so much, but the day didn’t start very well. We ended up being late, the weather made a turn for the worse and we almost didn’t make it before closing time. Let’s just say the atmosphere in the car was not the best but as soon as we arrived at Charleston, the mood changed. It was late afternoon and most other visitors were leaving so we could look around pretty much undisturbed. The sky brightened up and there was the most amazing glowy light. Even though it was a warm afternoon, there was a fairly strong wind which added to the experience of the garden by making the tall late summer plants sway and the long shadows of them flicker. I felt as though we got there just at the right moment. It was special. Here is the entrance to the house and just look at it – the gate, the rustic urn, all the climbers. What a welcome.

The front entrance with that wonderful powder blue door frame, flanked by two huge fuchsias. You can just about make out the baby pink door.

A place to sit with a view of the pond which I don’t seem to have a photo of. The upside down butterfly shape of the bench legs ❤️.

Picture perfect.

And looking the other way, the gate leading into the garden. The planting here gives a hint of what’s to come – the bold colours, the exuberance. And those lilies that add a touch of the exotic and unconventional to this rural idyll. They seem to perfectly reflect the people that lived here and made it into the Charleston we know. At this point I just have to point out that we have actually not even entered the garden yet. All this beauty is just in the one border in front of the house. Now, let’s go in.

The main part of the garden has long wide borders with gravel paths that lead to and from the house, most of them edged with dianthus.

Every bit of border packed full of gorgeousness, everything allowed to grow tall and towering. For me the height of the plants and the vicinity of them as you walk the paths was key to the feel of the place. It brought to mind childhood experiences of running through winding garden paths, hiding and getting lost among beautiful flowers.

A lovely pink corner with tonal japanese anemones and cosmos below.

The path leading from the studio, white anemones and one of many statues just visible.

This little bit right here completely stopped me in my tracks. That mix! Made me throw everything I thought I knew about colour out the window.

A clearer view of this incredible combination. Kniphofia, zinnias, tithonia, pompom dahlias, delphiniums and – lilies! It is the pale blue in the mix that makes it so amazing. Try covering that blue up with your hand and look at the photo. Very gorgeous but conventional ‘hot’ colours. Uncover the blue and look again – unbelievable, see! I love this so much and am attempting something similar at home but I am absolutely aware that it won’t be 1% as exciting as this.

The dahlia border, chock-a-block with blooms in every colour, white lilies thrown in on the sides for good measure.

Enough there to fill the house with bucketfuls of flowers.

This is the stuff of dreams if you are into dahlias.

There they are again, those lilies peering out underneath the hollyhocks that are flopping all over the place.

The back wall with a doorway leading to the greenhouse.

Squashes trailing along the old wall.

View of the house from the kitchen garden with sweet pea wigwams and artichokes in the foreground.

Happy me, strolling.

Most gorgeous tangle I ever saw. Crocosmia spilling out onto the path.

Behind the wall is a greenhouse with sunflowers, cosmos and sweet peas in front. Nothing fancy or grand, just a normal working greenhouse.

Perfectly beautiful if you ask me.

Chard, nasturtiums and calendula at ground level. A lovely apple at the back.

All garden visits are memorable for one reason or another, but some leave stronger impressions than others. I am generelly less interested in very grand stately homes with gardens spreading across acres and armies of gardeners to maintain them. Smaller settings appeal more, perhaps because they are easier to relate to as a gardener with an average sized plot and modest resources. But ultimately, I know that it is the people behind the places that make them special. Most of the gardens that I return to frequently, both in thought and in person, were created by people who were not afraid to break the mould. At Charleston, the spirit of the Bloomsbury group is tangible in every room of the house and every part of the garden. It would not look like this and feel like this if the people that founded it had been concerned with adhering to convention. Well worth remembering I think as sometimes, the gardening world seems so full of rules and advice on how things ‘should’ be done.

You can’t talk about the garden at Charleston without looking at the house too, it is just not possible to separate the two. But I will have to do that another day as it deserves its own post. In the meantime you can learn more about Charleston and the Bloomsbury group here.