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Gardens Illustrated

Gardens Illustrated

https://www.gardensillustrated.com Fri, 30 Apr 2021 10:13:08 +0100 en-US hourly 1

National Gardening Week: 5 ways to turn your garden into a wildlife haven

https://www.gardensillustrated.com/garden-advice/how-to/turn-your-garden-into-a-wildlife-haven/ Fri, 30 Apr 2021 09:46:38 +0000


Spring is such a crucial time for garden wildlife creatures and – with the changes to routines through lockdown – this year more than ever, they may have become particularly dependent on receiving a little extra care.

National Gardening Week provides a perfect opportunity to get stuck in and turn your garden into a haven that encourages, supports and protects your local wildlife. We asked garden wildlife expert Sean McMemeny, director of Ark Wildlife, for his top tips for getting your garden to work alongside your other garden guests.


How to feed birds

Sean McMenemy Bird & Feeder

By providing food for birds in your garden, you can help ensure local species continue to thrive. When it comes to bird food, right now it’s best to start by filling one feeder with sunflower hearts and another with peanuts. Bear in mind that diets vary greatly across different species. For example, sparrows and goldfinches enjoy seeds whereas woodpeckers aren’t seed eaters at all – they prefer peanuts, fat, and even mealworms.

While many birds will visit a seed feeder, they all have their preferences. Blue tits will seek out fat and suet, while great tits and robins opt for mealworms. Then again song birds such as blackbirds and thrushes prefer fruit.

A bird box is a great option for all, as no garden is too small for one. Blue tits and house sparrows will flock to a bird box attached to the wall of a house.

Once you have set up your initial feed, and if you have the space, you can begin to offer a wider range of quality bird food set up at varying heights, such as ground, table and hanging feeders: this is known as ‘tiered bird feeding’, and will attract a higher diversity of species.


Plant flowers to help bees

Sean McMenemy Bee

Spring is when queen bees come out of hibernation, and begin to build future colonies. Queen bees use nectar and pollen from flowers to feed both themselves and their offspring. So by providing them with the right flowers, you can aid them in the pivotal role they play in nature’s life cycle.

Every garden regardless of size can be both bee friendly and beautiful. Bees have a similar taste to humans, in that they favour flowers with bountiful open blooms, and long flowering seasons. Examples of flowers generous in pollen and nectar include geraniums, lavender, open dahlias and globe thistle. Also, herbs such as marjoram, sage and chives and flowering shrubs like buddleia, cotoneaster and apple blossom.

A nice idea would be to make a bee ‘nectar filling station’. It’s simply a pot or pots filled with nectar giving flowers and a shallow dish of water (many may be surprised to know that bees need hydration too). Make sure you keep flowers blooming in the pot from March to September by changing them as they fade.


Help hedgehogs out of hibernation

Sean McMenemy Hedgehog

In the UK, hedgehogs tend to come out of hibernation between March and May. This can be a dangerous time for them, when it is critical that they have access to food and water, and are protected from predators. Their most urgent need when emerging from hibernation will be fresh drinking water. To help with this, set up some water in a sturdy dish at ground-level, as well as dry hedgehog food.

In the weeks after coming out of hibernation hedgehogs should begin to breed. After a 32 day gestation period, hoglets are born, and there are measures that can be taken to protect them from hazards.

Firstly, if you have a garden bonfire, always check for nests of hoglets or hedgehogs before lighting it. They are also prone to getting stuck in pea netting and goal nets, so ensure these are at least 8 inches off the ground to allow hedgehogs to move under them safely. As well as this, a hedgehog house or woodpile in a quiet area, ideally protected from the weather, can provide a comfortable sleeping space for them.


Take care of your pets


If you have a pet, it is important to bear in mind their safety too, so that you can keep them as well as plants and wildlife protected from any potential harm.

Laura Campanella, pet care expert and director at GroomArts, advises: “Make sure you are aware of the garden plants that are dangerous to dogs. These include rhubarb, foxglove, bluebells, bulbs from daffodils, amaryllis and tulips, and ivy. It is also advised to have a sectioned area for veggies or special flowers, either a raised bed or a fenced off space.

Put time into good training and stimulation for your dog so don’t get bored in the garden and resort to digging everything up. This means regular walks in large open spaces, plenty of play time, and toys to play with in the garden to distract them from other fun looking things like birds or squirrels. Training your dog is really important so they can respond quickly to commands, like teaching them not to chase birds and squirrels by saying ‘no’, ‘sit’, or ‘stay’. ”


Add a water feature or pond

The Fountain Garden at Tintinhull Garden, Somerset.

For those looking to embark on a bigger project, installing a water feature or even a pond in your garden is a really effective way to support and encourage wildlife. Sources of water can act as a habitat for a wide range of creatures such as frogs, newts, dragonflies and bathing garden birds. The best spot for a water feature is in a warm area that gets a good amount of sunlight. Plants, flowers, stones and logs make great additions around the edges of a pond, as well as having the added benefit of looking lovely!

If you are looking for a cost-effective and lower maintenance option, it is possible to create a pond using a buried bucket or trough, with stone steps or a wooden ramp for in and out access – it will essentially serve the same purpose as a more lavish pond.


Blenheim Palace Gardens & Flower Show return for 2021

https://www.gardensillustrated.com/gardens/blenheim-palace-gardens-flower-show-return-for-2021/ Thu, 29 Apr 2021 14:10:03 +0000


It’s National Gardening Week 26 April to 2 May, so what better time to announce the welcome news that the gardens at Blenheim Palace are now open for business and taking bookings.

This year the Oxfordshire UNESCO World Heritage Site has also created a series of outdoor route options for visitors to explore as well as a new audio guide for the formal gardens, downloadable for free onto any smartphone.

Visitors are being promised a magical mix of ancient woodland, lakes, formal gardens and ‘Capability’ Brown-landscaped parkland.

Blenheim Palace UNESCO World Heritage Site Oxfordshire

The fabulous Blenheim parkland

Created over the centuries by esteemed garden designers such as Henry Wise and Achille Duchêne, the formal gardens reflect a journey through the horticultural styles of the ages. These include the majestic Water Terraces, the Duke’s Private Italian Garden, the tranquil Secret Garden with all of its hidden treasures, and the beautifully delicate Rose Garden.

Meanwhile informal parkland around the estate is a perfect destination for a relaxing family day out with a number of excellent walks, perfect for spotting the array of wildlife and seeing the beautiful landscape.

Blossom in the walled garden at Blenheim Palace

Blossom in the walled garden at Blenheim Palace

We’re anticipating the same kind of rush for tickets that overwhelmed the opening of Buckingham Palace earlier this month, so do remember that you need to book soon in order to guarantee your place.

The famous Rose Garden blooms fully in June so – fingers crossed – you’ll be in plenty of time to see its circular walk, arched over by slender hoops supporting climbing roses, varieties being Albertine and Iceberg.

PLUS We’re delighted that the Blenheim Palace Flower Show makes a welcome return this summer – 25 to 27 June.

Visitors can enjoy garden talks with experts and enthusiasts, fabulous food and drink as well as more than 300 exhibitors, an outdoor ‘floral street’ and live entertainment throughout the weekend.

The Blenheim Palace flower show makes a welcome return for 2021

The Blenheim Palace flower show makes a welcome return for 2021

A riot of colour, fragrance and weird and wonderful plants, the 20,000 square foot Grand Floral Pavilion forms the centrepiece of the Show and features the UK’s finest nurseries and growers giving expert advice and gardening ideas.

“It’s fantastic to be back at Blenheim, it’s the perfect place to stage a flower show,” said Mig Kimpton, horticultural curator for the Blenheim Palace Flower Show. “I enjoy working within the stunning estate and engaging with all the plantsmen and all our visitors – especially having had a year off!” he added.

This year’s show features a series of new additions including the Floral Street; a newly created area that will see some new exhibitors display their plants in a unique way. The area will be creatively decorated and the perfect place to explore and linger as you decide which plants to buy.

Plantsmen and experts will be on hand to give tips and advice on all gardening issues, and visitors will be able to purchase plants from their nurseries directly at the show.

Visitors can purchase the fabulous flowers they'll see

Visitors can purchase the fabulous flowers they’ll see

How to visit Blenheim Palace Gardens and the Blenheim Palace Flower Show

For more information on visiting the gardens head to blenheimpalace.com. Please note that pre-booking before your journey is essential.

For more information on the Blenheim Palace Flower Show head here.


Inside Gardens Illustrated magazine – May 2021

https://www.gardensillustrated.com/gardens/inside-gardens-illustrated-magazine-may-2021/ Tue, 27 Apr 2021 16:39:14 +0000


On sale now – the latest issue of Gardens Illustrated, May 2021.

This month’s magazine is brimming with inspiration and ready for when summer strikes. Discover the perfect small garden and summer planting for striking foliage and exotic flowers.

Your garden in May has a determination and energy all of its own as green foliage and blousy flowers bring fresh restorative appeal. This month designer Dan Pearson reveals his passion for irises bred by artist gardener Cedric Morris. Famously growing as many as 1,000 seedlings a year, Morris selected those that he was drawn to for their ‘elegance, pride and delicacy’.

Also this issue we get a glimpse of Chelsea award winner Andy Sturgeon’s own garden. It’s perfectly fit for purpose as a family garden, filled with brilliant design ideas and richly planted.

Jimi Blake of Hunting Brook Gardens chooses his ten favourite plants for May.

While designer Alison Jenkins shows how to create subtle and beautiful container displays for late spring. And nurserywoman Marina Christopher admires the flat-headed inflorescence and ferny foliage of the pollinator-friendly Apiaceae family.

There’s all this and the gorgeous garden features we’re famous for, all to be inspired by in this month’s magazine.

Our May 2021 issue is out now and if securing your copy is proving more difficult than usual during lockdown why not save time, effort and money with our great subscription offers?

Get the magazine you love posted through your door each month without lifting a finger.

Screenshot 2021-04-27 at 17.34.25


National Gardening Week: The most popular gardening trends for 2021

https://www.gardensillustrated.com/gardens/national-gardening-week-the-most-popular-gardening-trends-for-2021/ Tue, 27 Apr 2021 11:12:52 +0000


What’s hot in the garden for 2021? What better time to reveal the answers than National Gardening Week?

So what’s a sure-fire way of finding out what’s on trend and what’s not? Social media of course, and gardening decor experts DIYS.com have put their internet skills to bear to deliver the most popular garden trends for National Gardening Week.

Cleverly searching Pinterest has resulted in the definitive top ten hot gardening topics based on the number of pins each garden topic has earned on the social media platform. The more pins… the more popular.

So here’s the official top 10 most pinned gardening looks for 2021, as discovered by the experts at DIYS.com.

And at number one…

Recycling and repurposing

Cutting out plastics and recycling more is the biggest trend for 2021 gardening

Cutting out plastics and recycling more is the biggest trend for 2021 gardening

The top garden trend for 2021 is the ‘recycle and repurpose garden’ with 269,869 Pinterest pins. Pinterest boards within this craze show inspiration on how to recycle everyday items and repurpose them as plant and flowerpots and garden decoration. It’s great to see such a worthy topic hitting the top slot.

Balcony gardens

Just because your balcony is small, it doesn't mean it can't be gorgeous

Just because your balcony is small, it doesn’t mean it can’t be gorgeous

In second place with 264,966 Pinterest pins are balcony gardens. Throughout the year, city occupants have had to become creative with their outdoor areas, and so this Pinterest trend displays examples of all of us who took that time into maximising all those small spaces. Gardening is bigger than ever – no matter how small the space.

Sustainable gardens

Wildlife-friendly sustainable plants such as salvias and knautias are increasingly popular.

Wildlife-friendly sustainable plants such as salvias and knautias are increasingly popular.

Ranking in third, and once again returning to eco-themes are ‘sustainable gardens’ with 250,613 pins. The trend supplies informative inspiration on limiting waste, how to be self-sufficient, and tips on guerrilla gardening (the act of cultivating public spaces and other areas you may not own in order to brighten up the world around us). Very noble.

The full top ten – in order of popularity

1 Recycle and repurpose garden – 269,869

2 Balcony garden – 264,966

3 Sustainable garden – 250,613

4 White garden – 215,156

5 Vertical Garden – 153,092

6 Garden office – 123,542

7 Social space garden – 14,644

8 Split level garden – 9,940

9 Staycation garden – 6,562

10 Rustic retreat garden – 6,529

Stefan Gheorghe from DIYS.com says:

“Gardens have become far more than just a place to plot plants. Over the past year, we’ve seen consumers wanting to convey a sense of relaxation into their accommodations and offices. And with the weather warming up, a lot of people are now looking to recreate garden spaces to mimic interiors such as garden studios and social spaces.

People no longer need a large plot of land to create their ideal green oasis – those with small outdoor spaces like balconies can create gardens via a multi-functional solution such as vertical gardening.

In addition, as staycations are on the rise this year, many homeowners are looking to design garden spaces that remind them of their favourite holidays. Bars and tall, leafy plants will be an emerging decor trend this year.”


Beetroot Bake with Parmesan

https://www.gardensillustrated.com/recipes/beetroot-bake-with-parmesan/ Tue, 27 Apr 2021 09:10:10 +0000


It is a great pity that many people will not eat beetroot – I suspect it is a hangover from school dinners. I think it has a much more interesting flavour and texture than potato, and maybe this is just the dish to convert them. Can anyone resist baked cream and parmesan? I could very easily eat a whole dish of this on its own, although it is also wonderful with a good roast chicken. Do try to hunt down some decent parmesan – it is worth the effort. Christopher Lloyd’s niece Olivia Eller brings a good quality parmesan over from France for me, and it is so much better than the version you generally find in supermarkets.

  • 1048
  • Total time

    2 hours 25 minutes
  • Prep time

    10 minutes
  • Cook time

    2 hours 15 minutes
  • Difficulty


  • Beetroot 7, golf-ball-sized
  • Dill leaves 1tsp, finely chopped
  • Double cream 4tbsp
  • Parmesan cheese 2tbsp, grated
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  • Step 1

    Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas 2. Butter a 25cm diameter baking dish.

    Step 2

    Twist the leaves off the beetroots (beet) but leave the long roots attached. Gently wash off any soil, then place the beets on a double thickness of aluminium foil and wrap loosely. Put the parcel (package) on a baking sheet and bake for about 2 hours, or until the beets are tender all the way through. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then cut off the roots andtops and peel off the skin.

    Step 3

    Increase the oven temperature to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Slice the beetroot about 5mm thick and arrange the slices in the prepared dish. Whisk the chopped dill into the cream in a small bowl and spoon it evenly over the beetroot. Sprinkle with the parmesan and a good grinding of black pepper. Put the dish back in the oven and bake for another 15 minutes or so until everything is heated through and the parmesan is starting to brown.


Cotswold Garden Flowers – Advertisement

https://www.gardensillustrated.com/directory/westmidlands/cotswold-garden-flowers-advertisement/ Mon, 26 Apr 2021 14:47:01 +0000


Founded by Bob Brown in 1990, this family run nursery specialises in a wide range of interesting and unusual perennials for the flower garden. In addition we have a range of tender plants including succulents.

There is a one acre garden attached to the nursery, which can provide planting ideas. There’s always something in flower in the garden.
Our mail order service runs all year.


9 of the best gardening shoes

https://www.gardensillustrated.com/garden-equipment/what-to-wear/9-of-the-best-gardening-shoes/ Fri, 23 Apr 2021 13:12:51 +0000




The classic easy slip-on

NEWScreenshot 2021-04-22 at 14.15.19

These slip-on clogs are designed to be practical; slip-resistant so you can wear them on a range of different surfaces with confidence, and you won’t be weighed down either as they are lovely and lightweight to walk in. Perfect for keeping near the back door, simply slip these stylish clogs on and you’re good to roam freely in the garden. Soil, water, mud; just give them a gentle wipe down after to clean and have them looking as good as new.

Slip-on clogs, £12.95


Half-cut boot

Screenshot 2021-04-23 at 14.08.19

A cross between a shoe and the iconic chelsea boot, this original design is one of the most popular items at Poddy and Black. A step-up from a classic clog, the gripped sole and heel add height and strength, and the tough, durable waterproof upper parts provide extra grip and protection. The front lip is much taller and wider than other designs, and provides that added protection from any mud, water and soil, and helps prevent rubbing and blisters.

The Half Cut in Bish Bosh Black, £75


Stylish weatherproof Wellies

Screenshot 2021-04-23 at 14.06.37

To jazz your gardening attire, this classic striped design pair of wellies is not only stylish, it comes with and the added bonus of resistant weather protection. Complete with a natural cotton lining for added breathability, comfortable cushioned footbed and made from 100% rubber, these classic boots are also vegan-friendly.

Kimberley Walsh Fairweather II Wellingtons Navy White Stripe, £34.95


Short wellies


This stylish polka-dot number is a practical addition to your gardening footwear. Lightweight, yet sturdily made, the modern design makes a welcome update to your gardening gear. A low gripped heel, and elastic at the sides makes these comfortable to walk and bend in, and easy to pull on and off. They also come included with antibacterial padding, ensuring your feet stay fresh, making them ideal for use in the garden and allotment.

M&S Collection, £25


Iconic mule

Screenshot 2021-04-23 at 14.05.27

Another bright, iconic design from Poddy and Black. Low-cut, strong rubber and waterproof, this mule can easily be slipped on and off and is a great essential item to keep by your back door. The bottom sole and heel have grip and height making them ideal to walk in and go about your gardening jobs. Plus, the soft, yet strong rubber has added flexibility, making them ideal for bending and reaching up on tiptoes in the garden. Their delicious shade of rose-red adds a stylish pop of colour to your essential gardening footwear.

The Stubborn Mule in English Rose, £70


Adjustable wellies

Screenshot 2021-04-23 at 14.02.20

If you want to add some colour and pattern to your gardening wardrobe, then Joules have the answer. These bright coloured wellies come with a clever twist; an adjustable back gusset to cater to individual preference. This clever design helps provides added security and grip around your shin, which is much needed whilst working in the garden. The polka-dot pattern and bolt of yellow add an ultra-chic touch to an otherwise plain design.

Printed wellies with adjustable back gusset, in French Navy Spot, £49.95




Available in a range of colours and sizes, the versatile Super-Birki can be worn by anyone and everyone. Made from dirt-resistant polyurethane, with a fabric footbed lining and non-slip sole, these are both practical and durable. The super-resilient shoe can actually be washed at up to 60C. Plus, the removable, cork-latex footbed can be removed and popped in the washing machine. A practical addition to keep by your door or in your allotment or greenhouse for sliding on and off.

Super-Birki, £50




This unisex design is brilliant as a lightweight, waterproof garden shoe. Think of a mix between a welly and shoe, these are made from neoprene for comfort and warmth, come with a 6mm Nitrocell footbed for ultra-comfort and athletic benefits; slip them on and off with ease. The under-foot chassis provides ample added luxurious comfort, enabling you to walk with ease as you work in the garden.

Grubs Woodline 5.0 Gardening Shoes, in Moss Green, from £39.99



Screenshot 2021-04-23 at 14.01.05

An economical and super-stylish design from Crocus, these flexible and lightweight clogs add a boost of colour to your gardening routine. Perfect for popping in a bag and carry to the allotment or keeping as a spare pair at the other end of your garden in the greenhouse or shed, these plastic clogs are waterproof and come with removable insoles for added comfort.

Sicilian lemon garden clogs, £11.99


Christopher Lloyd and the legacy of Great Dixter

https://www.gardensillustrated.com/gardens/christopher-lloyd-great-dixter/ Fri, 23 Apr 2021 12:57:26 +0000


Christopher Lloyd adored Great Dixter.

It’s the house where he was born 100 years ago this month and where he lived for almost his entire life. It was also where he gardened wonderfully for almost his entire life. For the past 15 years since he died it has continued to thrive under the guardianship of its long-time head gardener Fergus Garrett. It’s certainly Christopher legacy but so too are the gardens and gardeners it has inspired around the world.

Fergus Garrett with Christopher Lloyd:

Fergus Garrett with Christopher Lloyd

STOP PRESS: You can join Great Dixter’s head gardener Fergus Garrett for an exclusive Gardens Illustrated Masterclass online lecture on 28 April at 6pm UK. Click here to find out more.


Australian designer Michael McCoy recognises that much of the boldness of his planting combinations comes from the time he spent at Great Dixter in 1991. “Christo loosened me up and liberated me from my self-imposed notions of what good gardening looked like,” he says. “Working at Dixter made me almost immune to any concerns about failure. Failure was no longer a measure of my poor gardening; failure was an indicator of my experimental nature.”

Australian designer Michael McCoy (right) applies the tenets of succession planting he learned at Great Dixter to give the gardens he creates year-long appeal.

Australian designer Michael McCoy (right) applies the tenets of succession planting he learned at Great Dixter to give the gardens he creates year-long appeal.

For Michael’s friend Edward Flint, Dixter opened a door on to a completely different world. He first came as a 20-year-old student and often found himself sitting down to eat with some of the greatest horticulturists of the day, invited to join in their argument and debate. Everyone could bring an opinion to Christopher’s table, provided they could argue their case. Alongside his work as a head gardener in East Sussex, where he gardens in a high-input, high-output style he describes as ‘Dixter light’, Edward now teaches gardening and tries always to instil that same sense of questioning in his students. “Christo taught me to develop a critical eye,” he says. “Not just about plants and gardens but about literature, music, everything. There was so much more to Dixter than just gardens and gardening.”

Former Dixter gardener Hannah Gardner went on to garden at Blackland House, richly filled with seasonal flowers.

Former Dixter gardener Hannah Gardner went on to garden at Blackland House, richly filled with seasonal flowers.

Hannah Gardner also loved the stimulating life at Dixter when as a student she would come and volunteer in the garden. “It was informal and spontaneous, and I thought ‘my God this is gardening and it’s so much fun’,” she says. “The friendship between Fergus and Christo was so productive and vibrant. It was inspiring to think this is what being a head gardener could be.”

For head gardener Tom Coward, another volunteer student who later returned to the garden as Fergus’s deputy, it was that welcoming sense of community at Great Dixter that mattered almost as much as the plants. “It’s the people that make Dixter special,” he says. “And the atmosphere that has persisted since Christo. He would be overjoyed if he could see what is now being created.” Tom now gardens magnificently at Gravetye Manor Hotel, where he’s brought a touch of Dixter magic to his reinterpretation of William Robinson’s naturalistic plantings.

At Gravetye Manor, Tom Coward gardens in Dixter’s intensive multi-layered, multi-season style but has given it his own distinctive twist.

At Gravetye Manor, Tom Coward gardens in Dixter’s intensive multi-layered, multi-season style but has given it his own distinctive twist.

He’s added plenty of his own distinctive style too, but acknowledges Gravetye’s roots lie partly in Dixter, and still finds it a lovely compliment when someone tells him they can see he has worked there. “I learned so much from Fergus, especially about flower gardening,” he says.

Tom’s predecessor as Fergus’s deputy, Matthew Reese, fell “head over heels in love” with Dixter on his first visit and always knew it was where he wanted to work. When he finished studying at Kew he asked Fergus for a job for a few months, eventually staying six years, which allowed him to see how cleverly the garden changed through the seasons. “Christo didn’t just want a garden to be looking good for that summer climax, he wanted it to earn its keep for as long as possible,” he says. “He always wanted to be out there enjoying it and seeing things and, experiencing the ebb and flow of the garden.” Matthew is now head gardener at Malverleys, a ten-acre, private garden in Hampshire. It’s a soft, natural-looking garden with abundant layering of planting that includes, like at Dixter, lots of annuals and spring bulbs.

At the gloriously romantic Malverleys in Hampshire Matthew Reese gardens intensively with, in spring ,tulips planted between shrubs and perennials in his mixed borders.

At the gloriously romantic Malverleys in Hampshire Matthew Reese gardens intensively with, in spring, tulips planted between shrubs and perennials in his mixed borders.

“For me gardening is an artistic outlet,” he says. “It’s where you manipulate nature and exaggerate it, and play with it and come up with wonderful combinations. If your garden’s too rigid and too low maintenance, it’s not a garden.” Dixter is still training the head gardeners of tomorrow, and since 2010 has offered a scholarship in Christopher Lloyd’s name to talented students. Students get experience in everything from propagation to pruning, as well as the artistry of gardening.

“Dixter has a style of generosity. You’re encouraged to have fun and just put colours together that appeal to you, that’s what Fergus certainly does in the spirit of Christo,” says James Horner the first Christopher Lloyd scholar. At Dixter, James was given the opportunity to work alongside the Italian designer Luciano Giubbilei and has since worked as planting designer for Giubbilei on several gardens including his 2014 Best in Show at Chelsea.

James Horner:

James Horner: “Dixter has a style of generosity. You’re encouraged to have fun and just put colours together that appeal to you. That’s what Fergus certainly does in the spirit of Christo.”

Ed Alderman, the 2013 scholar, found his year at Dixter a confidence-boosting masterclass on how to do the basics well and then push the boundaries. “It showed me anything is possible,” he says. “It’s a fearless approach.” Ed is now head gardener for a private garden, but other scholars have found Dixter opens different doors. Jonny Bruce the 2017 scholar discovered he loved the symbiotic relationship between the garden and nursery at Dixter and now feels his future is in sustainably growing perennials.

Perhaps after Dixter, Christopher Lloyd’s greatest legacy is his body of writing. He wrote more than 20 books and for more than 40 years a weekly column for Country Life magazine, all full of opinion and wit and astute gardening knowledge. “There aren’t many people who can write well about gardening and who are also brilliant gardeners,” says the Dutch writer and broadcaster Romke van de Kaa, who was encouraged to write by Christopher while working as Dixter’s head gardener in the 1970s.

Great Dixter’s meadows were a favourite feature of one-time head gardener Romke van de Kaa. Christopher later extended the meadow planting to Lutyens’ Topiary Lawn.

Great Dixter’s meadows were a favourite feature of one-time head gardener Romke van de Kaa. Christopher later extended the meadow planting to Lutyens’ Topiary Lawn.

Aaron Bertelsen Dixter’s current gardener cook was persuaded to pick up the pen by Christopher. “One of the greatest lessons Christo taught me was that there’s a difference between looking and seeing,” he says. “He had such an eye for detail. For a writer that’s very a useful skill.” Aaron has now followed Christopher’s lead not just in publishing two books on cooking from the Great Dixter kitchen garden but also in writing a column for Gardens Illustrated magazine.

Who knows what Christopher Lloyd would have made of the gardens Dixter has inspired; he would surely have had an opinion and one that would be worth seeking out. “It makes me incredibly sad that Christo never saw Malverleys,” says Matthew Reese. “I think he would have liked it. Perhaps not everything, I don’t think he would liked the White Garden, but I would have loved to have shown it to him and know what he thought.”


Address: Great Dixter, Northiam, Rye, East Sussex TN31 6PH. Tel 01797 252878. Web greatdixter.co.uk


Win a Southwold Collection Bistro Set from Harrod Horticultural worth over £1,445

https://www.gardensillustrated.com/gardens/win-a-southwold-collection-bistro-set/ Thu, 22 Apr 2021 12:50:16 +0000


With summer days ahead of us, we can start thinking of relaxed moments in the garden and convivial gatherings with family and friends. Now might be the time to upgrade your garden furniture; choose items that are comfortable, long-lasting and practical.

The Southwold Collection by Harrod Horticultural is a delightful, new garden range of high-quality, traditional, handcrafted designs. It includes formal dining, bistro and coffee table furniture sets, as well as complementary pieces such as pergolas, obelisks, plant supports and trellis. Hot-dip galvanised and hand-etched to give an antique, silvery- grey patina, each piece is structurally guaranteed for 25 years.

One of the most popular items in the collection is the elegant Bistro Set. This comprises an attractive, slatted table top with four gracefully curved legs that end in scrolled feet and strong ring bracing. The arms of the carver chairs feature broadly sweeping serpentine curves, also ending in scrolls, which echo the detail of the feet and the rolled-top back. The chair frame is robust and ergonomically superior – built from strips of steel, precisely sized to give maximum support and allow the correct degree of ‘give’ as you sit down, it provides great comfort with or without a cushion.

For the full range within the collection go to harrodhorticultural.com


We have one elegant Bistro Set to be won, with two carver chairs complete with cushions, worth over £1,445 in total.
Key features:
• Designed to seat two people
• Table measures H73cm x 75cm diameter; chairs measure H88cm x W55cm x D67.5cm
• Handcrafted and finished using high-grade steel
• Galvanised for exceptional corrosion protection
• Hand-etched finish for antiqued patina; additional chairs and cushions available from the collection at own cost.


*Entrants must be UK residents, aged 18 or over. Prize as stated; there is no cash alternative. Prize not for resale. Prize delivered within UK mainland only. Closing date 11.59pm, 31 May 2021. Full terms and conditions can be found at gardensillustrated.com/harrodhort


Tom Massey: 21 sustainable and beautiful plants

https://www.gardensillustrated.com/plants/tom-massey/ Wed, 21 Apr 2021 11:57:27 +0000


Tom Massey

Tom Massey

Tom’s 21 plant choices for 2021 are all adaptable species, suitable for a range of locations and for the UK’s increasingly extreme weather conditions and challenging garden spaces. tommassey.co.uk

And don’t miss our other essential sustainable suggestions from:

Conrad Batten, Olivier Filippi, Marian Boswall and Nigel Dunnett.



Dramatic, tall and elegant flower spikes, loved by bees who crawl right inside the trumpet-shaped flowers. Large, dark-green, serrated leaves at the base that will hold though winter in milder areas. Perfect for lighting up shaded areas. AGM. H 1.5m. S 1m. C Moist but well-drained soil; sun to part shade or shade. SI Summer. HR RHS H6, USDA 7a-10b.



Asplenium scolopendrium

©Jason Ingram

Seen growing all over the British Isles, this little evergreen fern is great for filling gaps almost anywhere; it will grow in damp rockeries, dry-stone walls or crevices between boulders. AGM. H 45cm. S 45cm. C Moist but well-drained soil; part or full shade. SI Year round. HR RHS H6, USDA 5a-9b.



Avon Bulbs Nursery (3rd April 2019)

©Jason Ingram

Honeywort produces a sweet, honey-flavoured nectar irresistible to bees. It has very unusual bell- shaped, purple flowers, hooded by deep blue-green glaucous leaves. Blooming from spring to autumn, they produce large black seeds that are explosively released, don’t cut back too early and allow it to go to seed if you want it to persist in your garden.  H 45cm. S 30cm. C Well-drained soil; sun. SI Spring to summer. HR RHS H3.



Deschampsia cespitosa 'Goldtau'

©Jason Ingram

There are many good D. cespitosa cultivars to choose from, but this golden dew (tau is German for dew), is one of my favourites. Smaller and more compact than some, it produces a gold haze of gauzy flowers emerging from a buff-green base of slender leaves. Looks amazing planted en masse as a single species, or mixed with airy flowering perennials such as Sanguisorba ‘Tanna’. AGM. H 60cm. S 60cm. C Moist but well-drained soil; sun or part shade. SI Summer to autumn. HR RHS H6, USDA 4a-9b. 4721 76



Digitalis ferruginea

©Jason Ingram

My favourite foxglove – a real gem that will light up shady spots. Can be biennial or a short-lived perennial. Sends up tall flower spikes with close-set buds that open to short trumpets of orange-yellow flowers with brown veining. Looks great naturalised through ornamental grasses. AGM. H 1.2m. S 30cm. C Moist but well-drained soil; shade, part shade or sun. SI Summer HR RHS H6, USDA 4a-8b.



This rare perennial is fantastic for partially shaded or woodland planting areas. Bamboo-like stems of deep purple age to dark green. Narrow, bell-shaped green-cream flowers are followed by purple-black berries. Almost evergreen in mild climates or a sheltered spot but deciduous where temperatures drop lower. Cut back old growth before new purple shoots appear in spring. AGM H 1.5m. S 1m. C Moist, humus-rich, well-drained soil; part shade. SI Spring to autumn. HR RHS H6, USDA 5a-10b.



Eryngium yuccifolium

© Nick Cronin / Alamy Stock Photo

Fantastic for adding drama and an otherworldly feel to a planting scheme. Can be used as a filler to dot through a border, or as a statement in a pot. Protect from winter wet. H 1.2m. S 1m. C Poor to moderately fertile dry soil; full sun. SI Summer to autumn. HR RHS H4, USDA 3a-8b.



Euonymus europaeus

© MichaelGrantPlants / Alamy Stock Photo

Our native spindle comes into its own in autumn when leaves turn bright red and it produces berries that resemble little pink and orange lanterns. Looks stunning growing alongside ornamental grasses. H 3m. S 3m. C Moist but well-drained soil; sun or part shade. SI Autumn to winter. HR RHS H6, USDA 4a-7b.



One of my favourites among the many Euphorbia species, the broad-leaved, glaucous spurge produces whorls of fleshy leaves on trailing, prostrate stems. Acid-yellow flowers are produced in spring, but this plant has year-round interest. AGM. H 15cm. S 30cm. C Well-drained soil; sun. SI Year round. HR RHS H5, USDA 5a-9b.



Bright-yellow umbels appear on contrasting blue- green stems in mid to late summer, followed by aromatic seeds. The blue-green leaves have feathery bronze tips, which can give salads an aniseed twist. H 1.8m. S 5m. C Moist but well-drained soil; sun. SI Summer to autumn. HR RHS H4, USDA 4a-9b.




© Rachel Warne

Arching, elegant, green foliage that sways gently in the breeze. Fades through red to buff in the autumn; it will hold its foliage all the way through winter and can be cut back in early spring before new growth emerges. AGM. H 40cm. S 50cm. C Moist but well-drained soil; sun or part to full shade. SI Summer to autumn. HR RHS H7, USDA 5a-9b.



Luminous-green flower spikes held above dark- green, holly-shaped foliage make this a standout plant. Try dotting through a carpet of Euphorbia amygdaloides var. robbiae. AGM. H 1m. S 40cm. C Moist but well-drained soil; part to full shade. SI Winter to spring. HR RHS H5, USDA 6a-8b.



A fantastic sedge ideal for damp shade. Will tolerate very wet and boggy conditions. Dense clusters of arching, white flowers emerge in spring that look beautiful grown en masse. H 60cm. S 60cm. C Moist but well-drained soil; full to part shade. SI Spring. HR RHS H5.



A fantastic fern. Perfect for water-side bog gardens or swales. Often turns autumnal rusty orange before dying down to ground level; new fronds unfurl in spring. H 1.8m. S 60cm. C Humus-rich, moist but well-drained soil; part to full shade, SI Spring to autumn. HR RHS H5, USDA 3a-7b.



Plumes of feathery flowers emerge in summer and persist into the autumn, when this ornamental grass really shines; the foliage turns a beautiful mix of red, bronze and gold. Cut back in early spring before new growth emerges. H 80cm. S 60cm. C Moist but well-drained soil; sun. SI Summer to autumn. HR RHS H6, USDA 5a-9b.



Fine plumes of dark flowers are held on long vertical stems borne above a basal mound of strap- like leaves. In autumn it turns bright orange-yellow, and has a transparent, ethereal quality. Best where it is backlit by the sun. H 1.2m. S 60cm. C Moist but well-drained soil; sun or part shade. SI Summer to autumn. HR RHS H7, USDA 4a-9b.



A Colorado native wildflower that has intense cobalt-blue flowers held above an evergreen rosette of shiny green foliage. After flowering cut off the flower spikes right at their base, which will encourage a profusion of flowers next spring. H 40cm. S 25cm. C Well-drained soil; sun. SI Spring to summer. HR RHS H5.



Bright-red flowers emerge in the summer followed by miniature red pomegranate fruits. Leaves turn bright-yellow in autumn before dropping and leaving the fruit to shine. AGM. H 1.2m. S 1.2m. C Well-drained soil; sun. SI Summer to winter. HR RHS H3, USDA 7a-11.



A show-stopping biennial or short-lived perennial with incredible, candelabra-shaped panicles of pure-white flowers. Ruffled silvery-grey foliage provides interest before flowering. H 90cm. S 60cm. C Well-drained soil; sun. SI Summer. HR RHS H5, USDA 5a-8b.



The sulphur clover looks like a giant form of common clover with sulphur-yellow flowers loved by bees and butterflies. Native, but now quite rare, so grow this at home and help preserve the species. H 50cm. S 50cm. C Moist but well-drained soil; sun or part shade. SI Summer. HR RHS H7.



Veronicastrum virginicum 'Fascination' 04_v2

© Torie Chugg

Invaluable for adding interest to the middle or back of a border, this tall perennial bares long, thin, leafy stems topped with candelabra-like racemes of lilac- blue flowers that bumble bees love. Seedheads offer interest well into winter. H 1.8m. S 50cm. C Moist but well-drained soil; sun or part shade. SI Summer to autumn. HR RHS H7, USDA 3a-8b.


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