The gardener's eye

The Gardener's Eye

Friday, May 30, 2014

Vann, an Arts and Crafts Garden in Surrey

We were fortunate to visit an Arts and Crafts style garden called Vann during the Best of English Garden Tour. Vann, a house dating back to the early 16th century and the gardens which surround it, are in Hambledon, Surrey.

The current owner and gardener is Mary Caroe, the widow of Martin Caroe, whose family has owned the house since 1907. She gave us a tour of the garden and a short lecture on the house and garden’s history.

The garden is probably best known because part of the garden was designed by Gertrude Jekyll, a friend of the original owner W.D. Caroe. W.D. Caroe was an exponent of the Arts and Crafts Movement who nearly doubled the size of the house and added or renovated the outbuildings.

W.D. Caroe designed and created a pergola constructed of Bargate stone and oak beams which Mrs. Caroe believes rivals the work of the much more famous architect and Jekyll collaborator, Edwin Lutyens. The Pergola Garden is planted with a variety of euphorbias, kniphofia, hellebores and bergenias.

The Yew Walk is my favorite part of the garden. Although there is no evidence that Jekyll actually designed this section of the garden, Mrs. Caroe is certain that Jekyll gave W.D. Caroe guidance for the garden, as well as supplying the plants from her nursery in 1909. A pair of yew hedges flank a rill planted in the Jekyll style. Huge boxwood spheres add structure to the picture.

This path, made of Bargate stone, leads to the Jekyll Water Garden, a series of four pools with paths and bridges that criss-cross the stream. It is planted with woodland plants, many of which were supplied and introduced by Jekyll. Vann is a National Garden Scheme Garden (NGS Yellow Book) and is open to the public by appointment or on open days.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Putnam Park in Late May

I was pleased that the weather had been cool and rainy while I was away. I was surprised to find tulips still blooming in the parks.

Boccelli Garden: the Continuation of a Public/Private Partnership Project I

While I was in England, work was done to Putnam Park II  and the Boccelli Garden. The town has collaborated with a private donor to enhance the park. A new retaining wall has been added to the park to create a level space for a terrace next to the Boccelli Garden.

The apple tree that Michael Boccelli planted probably 70 years ago has been limbed up and shaped. Along the river, a new iron fence replaced an unsightly chain-link fence.

A new bluestone terrace has been added adjacent to the Boccelli Garden.

Soon work will be done to re-grade the park and planting will be added to the park on the opposite side of the new terrace.

Chelsea Italian Style

Two of my favorite gardens at the Chelsea Flower Show were the Laurent-Perrier Garden designed by Italian garden maker, Luciano Giubbilei and the Telegraph Garden designed by another Italian designer, Tommaso del Buono and his American partner, Paul Gazerwitz. The Telegraph Garden was inspired by the traditions of the great historic gardens of Italy reinterpreted in a “bold and uncompromising modern design.” Luciano Giubbilei’s garden for Laurent-Perrier was described as a “contemplative design” with a “geometric layout, inviting exploration of stillness and movement through relationships between the contrasting  forms and materials in the garden.”

Telegraph Garden

 Laurent-Perrier Garden

There were many similarities between the two gardens. Both gardens were divided into linear shapes with a central rectangular feature: the Telegraph Garden had a perfect emerald lawn and the Laurent-Perrier Garden had a canal-fed pool. Both central features were calming in their own way. Each garden had walls that combined green hedges with a simple clean panel of stone creating a very contemporary feel to the gardens. The Telegraph Garden relied on a classical symmetrical arrangement of the space while the Laurent-Perrier Garden was asymmetric with the planting beds at opposite corners of the garden space. Both gardens featured the soothing sound of moving water: the Telegraph garden water moved vertically while the Perrier Garden the water moved horizontally.

Both gardens featured clipped mounds: tightly sheared boxwood in the Telegraph Gardena and more loosely clipped beech in the Laurent-Perrier Garden. 

Telegraph Garden

 Laurent-Perrier Garden

Telegraph Garden

 Laurent-Perrier Garden

Finally, both gardens, like many of the Chelsea gardens in the last several years, had low herbaceous beds which contained a mixture of frothy flowering plants and ornamental grasses.

Telegraph Garden

                                                             Laurent-Perrier Garden

I liked the clean modern lines, combined with beautiful plants, which created peaceful spaces in both gardens. Luciano Giubbilei, by not relying on the symmetry of historical Italian gardens, took a greater risk with the design and was rewarded with the Best in Show Award.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sissinghurst Likes it Hot

The Cottage garden and Azalea Bank at Sissinghurst were ablaze with color when I visited last week with the Best of English Gardens Tour. The palate of the Cottage Garden tends toward the hot spectrum and late May was no exception.

The central feature of the Cottage Garden is four large Irish yews. The  yews are not perfectly upright, adding to a more informal feel to the garden.

Columbines were a prominent feature to the garden.

Seed is collected for the best coloring of this unnamed variety each year.

Wall flowers burnt brightly in the drizzle the day I was at Sissinghurst.

Apparently Harold Nicholson was not a big fan of azaleas and felt they were too suburban. Vita Sackville-West often won the debate over which plants made their way into the garden and the hot-colored azaleas were no exception and remain a feature in the Moat Walk.

Tulipa sprengeri was well-represented in many of the gardens we visited and made a worthy companion to the peeling bark of Acer griseum.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Playing Ball: Where they Landed

Earlier in the season, I was thinking of different boxwood combinations I might like to try. I ended up doing something rather subtle, but it feels "right" to me. I often suggest to gardening friends that they make upgrades to their garden that feel "inevitable" that is to say not forced but was feels as if it was always there. So I took my own advice and moved two boxwoods to the Blue Bench Terrace rather than the central lawn in the Lower Garden as depicted a few posts back. A safer choice for sure.

Originally, I had a pair of boxwoods flanking the top of the stairs leading to the Woodland Garden. They always felt isolated and lonesome. Last year, I added the larger boxwood behind the left bench and it felt much better. This year, I added two more boxwoods, one on each side. I am playing with the tension of the perfect symmetry (of the terrace, central stone base of a planter, the pair of benches, and the focal point of the Cercidiphyllum japonicum in the Woodland Garden) and the asymmetrical cluster of boxwoods on the outer edges of the picture. Grouping the boxwoods like this has also acted as a low wall at the top of the steep slope to the Woodland Garden and anchors that space so it doesn't feel like the visitor will slip off the terrace and down the hill. The contrast of the flowering Prunus x 'Hally Jolivette' adds to the picture in mid-May.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Tulip 'Gavota' at Peter's Gate

A favorite tulip, 'Gavota', is dark burgundy with yellow edging. It looks lovely in mass against the stone wall.


The planter at Peter's gate: Narcissus 'Kendron' and Muscari armeniacum

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Allowing a Shrub to Become a Small Tree

The Cornus officinalis in the Hall with Balls is the focal point as you cross the Upper Garden to the granite steps leading to the Lower Garden. It has had a full shrubby appearance that worked well as the hedge behind it grew and the boxwoods became larger. This tree, in many years, will become 20 feet tall and up to 30 feet wide.  As the flowers were just about to fade away, it was an excellent time to see what I was doing as I pruned the tree. The idea is to remove the lower limbs to allow more light for the box woods, to make the space seem less cluttered, and allow a large shrub transform into the elegant small tree it is destined to become.  

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Editing a Mixed Border Part II

We replaced the overgrown Picea pungens 'Glauca Globosa' with  Picea pungens 'Glauca Globosa Nana'.  It supposed to have half the growth rate of Picea pungens 'Glauca Globosa'. If that is true it will overgrow its spot in the garden in 28 years rather than 14 years. I hope I am around to see the next replacement.

Our Viburnum sargentii 'Onondaga' had all the bark girdled by mice 360 degrees around this year and was also replaced. Maude found a wonderful, and very heavy, specimen. No one will ever know what happened; all in a days work for public gardeners.

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Best of English Gardens 2014

It is that time of year again. I will be returning to England to help lead a tour of English gardens May 19-28.  This year, I will giving an American perspective on how to incorporate ideas from the English gardening to members of the Western MA Master Gardeners Association. We will begin our tour with the Chelsea Flower Show in London. We will also be visiting Great Dixter, Hidcote, Sissinghurst, Stourhead and Wilsey.  I think of myself as the "color commentator" to compliment Gavin Miller, the exceptional British tour guide, who will be leading the tour.

You can see the complete itinerary at The Best of English Gardens. They have a wide range of tours throughout Europe. For more information, see their website, Discover Europe.

Sissinghurst, the garden of poet/novelist Vita Sackville-West and her husband, historian Harold Nicolson

Great Dixter, the home and garden of the late plantsman, Christopher Lloyd

 The Red Garden, one of the many garden rooms, at Hidcote Manor

The modern pool at Kiftsgate Court Gardens

The Palladian Bridge and Pantheon, at Stourhead

Rosemary Verey’s iconic Laburnum Walk at Barnsley House

The Glass House at Wisley

A Favorite Garden at Last Year's Chelsea Flower Show: The Arthritis Research UK Garden designed by Chris Beardshaw


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