The gardener's eye

The Gardener's Eye

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Chiffchaffs, a Plantsman’s Cottage Garden in Dorset


The Best of English Gardens tour took an unexpected detour to a delightful private garden called Chiffchaffs, another NGS Garden open to the public by appointment. The owner is an 87-year-old plantsman named Kenneth Potts. Mr. Potts studied forestry but later opened a nursery, called Abbey Plants, specializing in unusal plants. We had a wonderful morning in his garden.

One of his proudest moments was showing his Acer griseum tree which had self-seeded to produce two new offspring. Acer griseum is notoriously difficult to propagate because each tree produces a very low percentage of viable seeds.

There were extensive plantings of choice woody plants surrounding the house as well as a woodland garden which had enormous gunnera specimens.

The woodland garden had an especially nice Cornus alternifolia ‘Variegata’ tree, a North American native. Chiffchaffs, although a complex garden, is on a very human scale. It gives the impression that maybe, if you work very hard for many years, you might be able to create something like this in your own plot.


  1. A very appealing garden. I like the relaxed feel lent by uncut grass around some of the plantings.

    1. The uncut part was in the woodland garden which is not attached to the garden proper. I think you would have liked both the garden and the gardener, James. I now know that I am too young to be complaining about how tired I am after a full day of gardening!



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