Tuesday, 10 September 2013

The Great Escape.... Gardener Style

Is it any wonder that gardeners love visiting gardens? Other people’s plots provide us with inspiration, confidence boosters, tea, cake and shopping opportunities. We return home fizzing with ideas and cradling the must-have plants which leap into the trolley we unwittingly drag behind us whenever we enter a plant sales area.

The Exotic Garden at East Ruston Old Vicarage
We all have our favourite kind of garden. I particularly enjoy newer gardens because I like to return and see them as they mature. I have visited the garden at East Ruston Old Vicarage over many years and have delighted in watching it develop. On a recent tour I was intrigued to spot a patch of bare soil and an array of splendidly funky obelisks. A plot under construction is the gardening equivalent of a cliffhanger and one thing is certain: I will be back to see how these borders come along. 


There are exciting developments at Holkham Hall too, where the 6.5 acre walled garden is being renovated. This year, gardeners and volunteers have planted in the region of 5,500 plants which are already attracting plenty of pollinators. Holkham Walled Garden has a blog*, so even if you are unable to visit, do follow the progress of this ambitious project. 

Arena of Plants, Holkham Hall
Piet Oudolf's Millennium Garden at Pensthorpe underwent extensive work in 2009 to re-establish two-thirds of the garden and look at it now!



Arranged in large groups  - don't think threes; think thirty-somethings - this is high-impact planting for humans and wildlife alike. It is not the only garden at Pensthorpe;  Julie Toll's Wave Garden is a serene and tranquil space and the Wildlife Habitat Garden is a lesson in providing for the needs of butterflies, bees, dragonflies, damselflies, amphibians, reptiles, beetles and bats. 


Common Blue Butterfly at Pensthorpe
There is something reassuring about seeing other gardeners gardening. When I visited East Ruston, Alan Gray was planting Sedum; at Holkham, volunteers were weeding; and at Pensthorpe, there was a gardener toiling in the Millennium Garden. To non-gardeners, the concept of a gardener taking a day out to a garden to watch a gardener garden might sound a bit like a cross between a busman's holiday and a bad tongue twister, but we return from these gardeners' getaways raring to tackle the weeds, or tweak a planting scheme and create space for the plants which slipped so cheekily into our shopping trolleys. 


 One-year-old border in our Farmhouse Garden 
We have a lot of landscaping work ahead of us at the farm and since this is our soon-to-be courtyard garden (I hope your imagination is firing on all cylinders), I am going to be in serious need of inspiration, confidence boosters, tea, cake and shopping opportunities.


Perhaps it's time for another day out.

http://holkhamwalledgarden.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/the-arena-of-plants-arena-of-plants.html?utm_source=BP_recent
http://www.pensthorpe.com
http://www.e-ruston-oldvicaragegardens.co.uk



43 comments:

  1. Such pretty gardens, good luck with yours.

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    1. Thank you! We need all the luck we can get... especially with the weather!

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  2. The one thing you always take away from a garden visit is inspiration. Even huge gardens have an area or a plant combination which could be used in a smaller garden, or it may be a plant which you haven't come across before, always something new to learn with gardening.

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    1. Absolutely! I once interviewed a very experienced gardener who was in her late nineties. She told me that she was still learning about gardening and had recently started a collection of cacti and succulents as a replacement for the greenhouse crops which were getting a little too much for her. She was an inspiration; as was her beautiful garden.

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  3. Look forward to seeing the courtyard garden develop

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    1. Thank you - me too, Sue. We hope to be in for Christmas! On the upside; things can only get better.

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  4. Visiting other people's gardens is the best for inspiration. A bit of this garden and a bit of that garden and than it is important to give your own twist to it. Am looking forward to see the result of your court garden, I have my imaginations already.

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    1. Oh Janneke - I hope your expectations for the courtyard garden are within my budget!

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  5. I'll be eagerly waiting for updates on your courtyard garden, we're at similar stages to you at the moment but even when you get one area finished more ideas pop into your head so we have to make more areas lol.
    The one thing I regret about living here so rurally is that there are not many gardens to go and look round without travelling for a day. I've seen the Castle of Mey gardens and Dunrobin castle gardens plenty of times now, how I wish I had looked at gardens when I lived in England.
    I mainly go to Pinterest for ideas now, which is actually quite detrimental to getting things done because I just keep adding to the list lol.
    Good luck with your garden :)

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    1. Thank you, Linda. It is tricky when there is so much inspiration. I spend ages editing designs and I am sure it is because of the constant stream of wonderful ideas we see on blogs/the internet/in books/mags and when we visit shows and gardens.

      Good luck with the developments at your garden!

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  6. I love visiting other gardens. It gives me ideas and even introduces me to plants that I wasn't aware of. It's also very calming...and an opportunity for beautiful photographs!

    Good luck with all your landscaping! It's a lot of work, but the end result is always worth it.

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    1. Thank you, Martha. It is always great to meet a new plant! I agree with you about how calming a garden visit can be; it is a truly wonderful way to spend a day.

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  7. Oh, how exciting, I will really enjoy watching your new courtyard area develop. I haven't done nearly as much garden visiting as I would like but blogs provide the virtual equivalent, much needed (though I have to provide my own cake) as I gaze out on the vast expanse of "opportunity" that is my front garden... And I agree about the extra inspiration from seeing a work-in-progress garden rather than a finished project, preferably complete with real-life gardeners happy to down tools and chat about how it is going.

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    1. Virtual garden visiting with cake is an excellent concept. Unfortunately, the kids (aka our resident bakers) have returned to school now, so there is no cake in the tin.

      I like the idea of your front garden being a "vast expanse of opportunity". I shall adopt this phrase whenever I wade across our muddy, tractor-riven farmyard.

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  8. Nothing better than visiting other gardens for inspiration... especially when there's cake and plant shopping involved. Your courtyard garden sounds exciting, can we all come to visit when it's finished?

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    1. Oh please do! I will even get the kids to bake a cake!

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  9. Those gardens all have such wonderful traits! The mass plantings and the new gardens! Such beauty! I too would love to just drift off to other gardens to learn and be inspired by beauty! I can not wait to see your courtyard!!!

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    1. We must both exercise patience on the courtyard front!

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  10. We don't have access to the sorts of gardens you have in your part of the world. A visit to England last year gave me a taste for looking at gardens. For now, I'll just have to be satisfied with looking at blogs such as yours!

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    1. We are very fortunate indeed to have so many gardens which are open to the public and also to have so many generous gardeners who open their private gardens for charitable causes. At least blog posts give us a view of gardens around the world. Since blogging, Pennsylvania has entered my wish list of places to visit for this very reason.

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  11. A courtyard-I'm paying attention. Thanks for the tour. Nice to catch up on what is going on at Holkham hall. I've put the gardens on my list for our visit back home next year.

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    1. I like the way you are already planning your trip home in such detail! I hope you get to the beach at Holkham too - when we visited, there were some amazing drifts of Sea Lavender in the dunes.

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  12. A courtyard-I'm paying attention. Thanks for the tour. Nice to catch up on what is going on at Holkham hall. I've put the gardens on my list for our visit back home next year.

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  13. I agree - love visiting even the smallest of gardens and gazing over garden fences! I haven't been to Holkham Hall for about 25 years... there was just a formal garden with annuals and roses from what I remember, so will have to make a trip there one day....
    Look forward to seeing how the courtyard develops.

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    1. Gosh - now I am wondering which, if any, of the gardens I visited a decade or two ago have changed so dramatically! Holkham Walled Garden is not so formal now - there is still a kitchen garden, but the Arena of Plants has a completely different feel to it.

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  14. I agree - visiting other gardens may seem like a busman's holiday, but it actually revitalises your own ideas and work. It can often be a tiny snippet of planting - a combination of colours or textures . It also stops any smugness which may begin to creep in - all those lovely gardens just leave you striving for greater things !!

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    1. Striving for greater things... and bigger gardens!

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  15. Good luck with your new project. I usually like to see mature gardens, so I can imagine how my plants will grow (and how large). But, you are right about new gardens being fun to watch as they put in new areas, and the anticipation of how a section will turn out. Like you, I like to see other gardeners gardening - I am always curious if they are doing something in a different way, and maybe learn from them.

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    1. Thank you. I can see your point about mature gardens. I like mature ones for their sense of history - that a child generations ago might have climbed an old oak tree for example, or to see the first plant grown after a plant hunter brought it into our country. Much as I hate graffiti, I do like to see old carvings in trees. I was examining a tree recently which had love hearts and carvings from 1930s/1940s and it was really very touching. That said, if someone were to carve their initials into a tree these days, I would be irate!

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  16. You'll have plenty of inspiration after visiting those gardens! Being London based, I was able to get to the Garden Museum last week to hear the lecture by Piet Oudolf and Dan Pearson. As slides were shown of their work, they each spoke of how they sourced and chose plants - there was so much to learn from them, I could easily have sat through it twice! I adore Piet Oudolf's work and I really must visit Pensthorpe. I'd come home with more than a few plants though!

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    1. I would have liked to have attended that lecture. I haven't been to the Garden Museum for a while; I must see what else they have going on and visit it soon. Thank you for reminding me!

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  17. I was lucky enough to visit Scampston Hall and see Piet Oudolfs beautiful garden there. I really prefer the NGS Open Gardens though as I get to see smaller garden design and planting. I visited Galmpton Village Jubilee Open Gardens Day last year with 15 local gardens open. I cam back full of inspiration (and several plants), such an enjoyable day out.

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    1. I would really like to visit Scampston Hall - it looks amazing! NGS/Red Cross/ Village Open Gardens are fabulous. It is lovely to trail around several plots in an afternoon, especially when the sun is shining; and since the gardens are open for charity, cakes and plants can be purchased without a shred of guilt.

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  18. One of my favourite things is to see other gardeners gardening in other gardens. I love watching someone else doing all the work for a change. I seem to spend all my time toiling in my own garden that getting out and seeing other people at it is almost a form of therapy. The thought of perhaps helping out never enters my mind (perhaps that's a bit selfish).

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    1. You may not offer to help out, but I bet if you were to see a weed going to seed on a garden visit, you would quietly remove it from the border.

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  19. You're absolutely right, there's nothing like seeing another garden to get you really excited about doing something in your own.

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    1. If only this worked for boring chores. It is such a shame that visit to a tidy cupboard doesn't whet my appetite for clearing out chaotic cupboards.

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  20. There is nothing so thrilling to me as bare earth! My mind start whirling with ideas, and much of the inspiration does come from other gardens I have visited, as well as those I have seen in books and on the web. I especially enjoy talking to other gardeners and hearing their experiences. I look forward eagerly to watching your courtyard garden develop. Just the name of it excites me.

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    1. Courtyard garden certainly beats boar pen, for that it what it once was! You would be more than a little delighted by the sheer quantity of bare earth we have here at the moment. Every time I have a spare moment, I carve out another border. I am hoping to get them planted up before the weeds reclaim them.

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  21. My imagination is certainly firing, I’d love a canvass as blank as your courtyard garden currently is!!
    I used to go to gardens and always got very inspired, these days I ‘travel’ through other people’s blog and watching TV, and I always see things I could use in my own garden. Good luck with your project!

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    1. Thank you, Helene. The internet is a very comfortable way to visit gardens. The best thing about a virtual garden tour is that you can visit in high summer when there is snow on the ground at home and you have plenty of time to make plans.

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  22. Your farm-house garden looks awesome. Ah! visiting a garden, gardening sales and coming home with plants -- they have energy-boosting, intoxicating power that only a gardener will understand :-).

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    1. Thank you! I agree with you about garden visits. After a lifetime of digging in their heels about visiting gardens, our older children are beginning to tag along without complaining. I am optimistic that they may be getting the garden bug at long last!

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