UK Society of Botanical Artists Exhibition

Changing Seasons: an exhibition by the Society of Botanical Artists. For our new and regular visitors alike, we hope you will enjoy visiting us in the autumn of 2017 to delight in this seasonal change and maybe do some pre Christmas shopping before the City gets too crowded. As well as paintings on show, our shop will be full of cards, prints, books and new SBA products to tempt you.

Central Hall Westminster, SW1. Nearest Tube stations are St James or Westminster. 11am to 5pm daily

RHS Flower Show Cardiff, Wales

RHS Flower Show Cardiff is an early-spring show with the beauty of spring flowers set against majestic trees and contrasting hard landscaping within Bute Park. featuring show gardens, and the floral marquee, it’s a great family day out, with plenty of activities to keep kids and parents happy like the renowned Schools Wheelbarrow Competition as well as the Young School Gardener of the Year Competition.

RHS Botanical Art Show London

See some of the world’s best botanical artists on display plus the famous RHS Lindley Library collections. Free entry, open 10am to 5pm Saturday and Sunday. Meet the artists, pop-up studio, food available, find out about botanical art courses.

RHS Early Spring Fair London

The RHS Early Spring Plant Fair in London features high quality plant exhibitors, expert advice, previews of garden designs for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Q&A sessions with designers, expert plant and design talks, tours of the Lindley Library, floral art. Workshops on posy making and creating a terrarium. Evening opening 6pm-9pm 13 February, and 10am-5pm on 14 and 15 February 2017.

RHS Early Spring Fair London

The RHS Early Spring Plant Fair in London features high quality plant exhibitors, expert advice, previews of garden designs for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Q&A sessions with designers, expert plant and design talks, tours of the Lindley Library, floral art. Workshops on posy making and creating a terrarium. Evening opening 6pm-9pm 13 February, and 10am-5pm on 14 and 15 February 2017.

Garden review: historic Villa Gamberaia, near Florence

As gardeners, it is usual for us to want to see gardens that might inspire us. One garden I had read about, and heard about from fellow horticulturists, is the Italian garden of Villa Gamberaia, on the outskirts of Florence. Continue reading “Garden review: historic Villa Gamberaia, near Florence”

The Garden of Ninfa – is it worth all the superlatives?

It was at a meeting of heritage rose lovers that I first heard about Ninfa, a romantic, rambling, Italian garden built in the ruins of a medieval town. People spoke of it in reverential terms and my interest was piqued by their idyllic description – old roses and vines cascading from ruined towers and trees, scrambling along crumbling archways and overhanging crystal clear streams. Continue reading “The Garden of Ninfa – is it worth all the superlatives?”

Review: A tale of two Normandy gardens

A broad lawn sweeps downhill to a lily pond at lowest point, rather than being interrupted by the usual terracing of Continental gardens. On two sides of this lawn, woodland gardens of rhododendrons, herbaceous perennials and bulbs transition from humanised landscape to natural forest. On the far side, a series of themed garden rooms surround the country house and assorted farm buildings, leading to further woodlands beyond. Continue reading “Review: A tale of two Normandy gardens”

Amsterdam’s secret: an enchanted forest and gardens

For a lifelong cyclist Amsterdam is heaven – once you get your bearings that is. That skew-whiff grid of canals is totally bamboozling at first. The initial 24 hours completely did my head in. Utterly lost. Embarrassing for someone who prides himself on being able to find his way around. Since then however, the cycling has been sublime.

Continue reading “Amsterdam’s secret: an enchanted forest and gardens”

Canal Open Gardens (Tuinen Dagen)

More than 25 Amsterdam garden owners will open their canal gardens to the public. When the gardens were designed, in the 17th century, their purpose was to be useful. When the inhabitants grew richer, ornamental gardens became a status symbol. These days however, a return to utility is apparent in the canal gardens. It seems to be a trend to grow fruit, herbs and vegetables again.
Open Garden Days gives special attention to this trend, by creating a tour past these gardens as well as the beautiful ornamental gardens and exquisite garden houses. All gardens can be reached on foot or by bike

Festival des Architectures Vives

To face today’s economic mutations and technical, technological and societal changes, it is not enough to adapt – today we must innovate.

The Festival des Architectures Vives is an architectural path for the general public, who can discover or rediscover the historical landmarks of the city of Montpellier since 2006 and the city of La Grande Motte since 2013. The event invites visitors to go in contact this rich heritage by offering installations scattered around the city. In Montpellier, it takes place in the historic town and offers a path connecting mansions and courtyards, mostly private, that are usually not visible to visitors.

Estufa Fria – Lisbon’s greenhouse (serra fredda Lisbona)

[Scorri in basso per leggere l’articolo in Italiano – scroll down to read in Italian]

This enchanting “cold greenhouse” is located at the end of the Parque Eduardo VII in Lisbon, Portugal, in a protected and sheltered area of an abandoned former quarry. It occupies the surface of one hectare and a half and was inaugurated in 1933 on the project of the painter and architect Raul Carapinha, then renovated in the 1940s and 1970s with new facilities and a new pond. It is now divided into three different areas: Estufa Fria, Estufa Quente and Estufa Doce.

Continue reading “Estufa Fria – Lisbon’s greenhouse (serra fredda Lisbona)”

Ludwigsburg: one of the world’s best pumpkin festivals

When I was growing up the only pumpkin we ate was the Ironbark, which required the strength of an iron woman (or man) and a sharp axe to cut it up. Usually it was baked with meat and potatoes, until tender and delicious but sometimes it was boiled then mashed with butter and a dash of nutmeg. The shape and toughness of the Ironbark made it difficult and time consuming to peel so it was often baked with the skin on. The cooked flesh could then be scraped away from the skin but to be honest I liked the nutty taste of the skin and happily devoured it all. Continue reading “Ludwigsburg: one of the world’s best pumpkin festivals”

My challenge, the acceptance, and the Jardin du Bois du Puits

In May this year I contacted my friend and colleague Catherine Stewart with a challenge: find me a garden to visit in the middle of France I said. Or, more precisely…
‘We are catching ferry from Portsmouth to Cherbourg. Then drive to a rented house near St Malo. Then cross country heading for brother’s place in Monceaux-au-Perch. Via probably Domfront, Alençon that sort of direction.
It’s worth a good red!! I will owe you one’ Continue reading “My challenge, the acceptance, and the Jardin du Bois du Puits”

Garden travel – how do you temper your desire?

Garden travel starts with desire…you want all the beautiful gardens and exotic locations, delicious new foods and intriguing local culture. But after 10 years of leading garden tours, I know that this desire will be best satisfied when its balanced by restraint, as that’s what will give you the most holiday pleasure. Continue reading “Garden travel – how do you temper your desire?”

Wildflowers of the Dolomites, Italy – Part 3

During our 2013 trip to the Dolomites in northern Italy (Wildflowers of the Dolomites Part 1 and Part 2), we were captivated by the mountains and scenery, and were lucky enough to revisit them in 2015. Carrying less gear in our packs (but still too much – next time we’ll be going ultralight!) – we once again used several of Gillian Prices’ Walking in the Dolomites Cicerone Guide books, plus topographical maps. Continue reading “Wildflowers of the Dolomites, Italy – Part 3”

The Kiss: Gardening with Gustav

Have you ever seen a piece of art and imagined it as a garden? I am not a horticulturalist, garden designer or landscape architect. My only design experience comes from moving seventeen times in thirty four years and always having to cram my stuff into a new house and find a way to make it look appealing. But I am an art lover. Continue reading “The Kiss: Gardening with Gustav”

Welcome to the world’s largest maze, in Fontanellato, Italy

The Masone Labyrinth (Labirinto della Masone) of Franco Maria Ricci in Fontanellato, Italy, is 7 hectares (17 acres), making it the largest labyrinth in the world. Will you ever escape its tunnels of green gloom? Continue reading “Welcome to the world’s largest maze, in Fontanellato, Italy”

Book Review: ‘Lessons from Great Gardeners’

Lessons from Great Gardeners‘ is an inviting book. First, in terms of content. Forty ‘gardening icons’ – gardeners, garden designers and/or garden owners – are profiled, many with emphasis on one garden to which each has devoted a significant part of his or her life. You absorb their practical skills in terms of knowledge and experience. You respond to their creative ideas and their passion for gardens. You learn from them. Continue reading “Book Review: ‘Lessons from Great Gardeners’”

Promenade du Paillon in Nice, France: A Public Open Space that Works!

Why are public open spaces so often empty of public? Sometimes it’s obvious – my hometown Adelaide’s infamous Festival Centre Plaza’s concrete desert is blazing in summer and icy in winter, and images of the proposed AUD $90 million facelift suggest little to change that. Adelaide’s Torrens Linear Park and Parklands greenbelt girding the CBD are magnificent, but the latter is most full of the public when it’s fenced off for pay-per-visit events, Continue reading “Promenade du Paillon in Nice, France: A Public Open Space that Works!”

Which gardens make your heart sing?

When I first took an interest in garden design, it was all about the look. Some combination of colours, textures and forms would jump out at me from a page and I would ooh and aah about how beautiful it was. Continue reading “Which gardens make your heart sing?”

Sa Pedra Arrubia: Maurizio Usai’s garden

Sometimes I just need to take a quick look at a garden to understand the personality of its owner. I don’t think it’s because I am particularly intuitive; it’s more that for some gardens the aim of the design is so clear and easy to interpret. This is what happened when I visited the garden of Maurizio Usai. Continue reading “Sa Pedra Arrubia: Maurizio Usai’s garden”

Northern Portugal: like Scotland with more sun

A June trip to the Serra d’Arga mountain region in northern Portugal, just south of the border with Spain, reminded me of one of the many pearls of wisdom to be found in Catherine Stewart’s blog postings for GardenDrum. The one I have in mind was about the importance of pH (point number 3 in The 7 best pieces of garden advice I’ve had): “Other than drainage, it [pH] is usually the reason as to why something is not thriving”. Continue reading “Northern Portugal: like Scotland with more sun”

Whisper of stars: Daniel Spoerri garden

“Margherita, I would like to visit something really special before I will go back to Melbourne. Can you help me?” My friend Margherita has spent her life writing about gardens, plants and parks in the Italian magazine ‘Gardenia’. She also founded the Italian Botanical Heritage, an association that gathers well-known Italian gardens and hidden treasures like nurseries, parks and woods, providing specialised itineraries. She knows me, and she knows that I love when art is blended with landscape. Where sculpture meets the garden. Typically Italian, sorry! Continue reading “Whisper of stars: Daniel Spoerri garden”

A garden tour of Italy (Part 2)

Travelling in Italy, I am constantly – and refreshingly – surprised at the green planting that defines the gardens and the landscape. So much so that when colours crop up, they’re a kind of embroidery, something that focuses the eye – as with this wisteria at Villa La Foce – but doesn’t immediately attract it. Continue reading “A garden tour of Italy (Part 2)”

Chelsea 2015 Fresh: World Vision Garden

One of the Chelsea Flower Show 2015 gardens in the Fresh category that I loved was the ‘World Vision Garden: Grow Hope’, inspired by the beauty of Cambodia. It won a silver-gilt medal for designer John Warland, a four-time RHS medallist and a supporter of World Vision. It evokes the rice fields of Cambodia where children often survive, but are malnourished, on just two bowls of rice a day. Continue reading “Chelsea 2015 Fresh: World Vision Garden”