Real, or not? Dubai, Chelsea & Aalsmeer

Some things you see when you’re travelling are amusing or thought provoking, and it’s nice to have a blog like this to share them. I’m very lucky to lead a garden tour to Europe each year, taking in the Chelsea Flower Show and visiting great and small gardens in different countries. On a loose theme of “Is it real or not?” here are some quirky items from my recent trip.

Continue reading “Real, or not? Dubai, Chelsea & Aalsmeer”

Chelsea 2012 review & retrospective

Sometimes it is hard to crystallise your thoughts about an event especially when there is so much visual white noise around. I found that after visiting Chelsea 2012. I have attended three Chelseas now, each separated by a period of 2 years and each time I try to distil the essence of the show in terms of trends. Continue reading “Chelsea 2012 review & retrospective”

Giant squill is simply delightful, Madeira

No I haven’t been to Madeira. But according to Greg Redwood, one of my colleagues here at Kew, I should go there rather than to (mainland) Portugal. This was in response to me listing the places in Europe Lynda and I had hoped to visit while on this side of the world. Oh, well. Next time. For now though I have the Madeirenese (I’m torn here between Madeiranese and Madeirenese – if only I’d studied Latin at school) flora to enjoy. And isn’t that the great thing about a botanic garden: you can visit the plant world without leaving home. Continue reading “Giant squill is simply delightful, Madeira”

War and Peace

On a day when all manner of people turned out to publicly and conspicuously commemorate ANZAC Day, marching, singing, praying, dressing up in uniform, waving flags, wearing medals, beating drums, playing trumpets, bagpipes and horns, then gathering noisily with family and regiment mates in watering-holes from Gallipoli to Goondiwindi to Greymouth, I dug deep to gather my thoughts of war and the fallen in my garden. Continue reading “War and Peace”

The floating gardens of London

Twice a year, a unique barge community of barge gardens floating on the Thames is opened to the public to raise money for charity. Known as the Downings Road Moorings or Garden Barge Square, the gardens can be viewed from the shore or river anytime but for a close-up view, you’ll need to visit on an open day. These occur annually in May and June, once for the National Garden Scheme (during the Chelsea weekend in May) and again in June for the London Open Squares weekend. Continue reading “The floating gardens of London”

Orchid fever

As a first time visitor to the Chelsea Flower Show in late May, I felt like a kid in a candy shop. So much to see in such a short time. The standard of horticulture, the level of presentation of plants and the sheer variety was even better than I had expected. With so much to marvel at, one thing stood out in my memory of that day and it was the exhibition and display of the Phalaenopsis, or moth orchids, set up as an overhanging ‘tree’. Continue reading “Orchid fever”

Great Dixter: a manic masterpiece

I have long been fascinated by the work of the late British garden designer Christopher Lloyd. So it was with great anticipation that I recently visited his Great Dixter garden in Sussex to the south of London. And I must say I was not disappointed by the extravagant use of interesting plant material throughout the landscape there. As a plant lover rather than a lover of landscape design I am a sucker for the perennial beds that Lloyd filled to overflowing with exuberant mixtures of foliage colours and textures. Continue reading “Great Dixter: a manic masterpiece”

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”

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?”

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.

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.

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

Chelsea Flower Show, London

Visiting the Chelsea Flower Show, the world’s most prestigious and talked about flower show, should be on every gardener’s bucket-list. Featuring renown garden designers from all around the world, Chelsea’s Best In Show award is the most coveted prize in landscape design. But Chelsea has much more than big show gardens – there’s the smaller Fresh Gardens with cutting-edge design, Artisan Gardens, magnificent floral marquee and garden products for sale.

Open Garden Squares London

Feed your curiosity with over 200 private, institutional, commercial and communal gardens to explore in this magical two-day event. Gardens range from the historic and traditional to the new and experimental and can be discovered across 27 London boroughs. Gardens may be open either Saturday or Sunday, or both days, and opening times will vary so consult the Open Garden Squares website

RHS Wisley Flower Show

Celebrate 25 years of the RHS Garden Wisley Flower Show this year. Featuring a variety of top quality nurseries and tradestands, there will be expert advice, plenty of shopping opportunities and beautiful floral displays from the National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies, and much, much more.

Adults £14, RHS members (plus 1 guest) FREE

Christmas at Kew

Follow our sparkling trail of over one million twinkling lights, illuminating heritage trees and buildings through the Gardens. Fairy-tale meets fantasy in a world of singing trees, larger-than-life flora, ribbons of light, giant baubles, and a flickering Fire Garden. The Palm House leaps into life with a dazzling show of laser beams, jets of light and kaleidoscopic projections.

Little ones can catch a glimpse of Santa and his elves at the North Pole village and enjoy a vintage fairground ride. Not so little ones can warm up with some mulled wine or hot chocolate and toast marshmallows around the fire.

Kew Gardens Thai Orchid Festival

Thailand’s vibrant colours, culture, and magnificent plant life will be the centrepiece of Kew Gardens 2018 Orchids Festival in February. Inside the tropical paradise of the Princess of Wales Conservatory, visitors to Kew’s 23rd annual Orchids Festival will get a chance to shake off the winter blues and get creative through a host of exciting new events and activities designed to appeal to all ages.

Free entry to exhibition after Kew Gardens entry. ‘Orchids Lates’ at Kew Gardens will be held on 15th, 16th, 22nd and 23rd February / 1st and 2nd March; 6.00pm – 9.30pm (last entry 9pm)

Christmas Glow at RHS Wisley

Smart Energy GB and the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) have entered into a partnership that will light up the winter sky at RHS Garden Wisley in Surrey from Friday 1 December to 3 January 2018.

The garden’s annual ‘Christmas Glow’ event, now in its third year, is a captivating light installation of giant, botanically inspired blooms, which enhance the natural beauty of the garden and provide a magical view after dusk.

Entry after 3pm is £11.20 adults, £5.60 child

RHS Early Spring Plant Fair

From 13–14 February 2018, the RHS kick-starts the gardening season with a mix of fresh spring colour and early-flowering plants. Workshops, experts on hand, plant sales, floral displays, garden designers.

12 February from 5pm-9pm; 13 February from 11am-8pm; 14 February from 11am-6pm