Gravity and Rotten Apples -Adventures of a Lewes Landscaper

Isaac Newton's apple treeSo, it turns out our kids are not interested in learning about Isaac Newton’s theory of gravity – well not yet anyway! It also turns out, to my shame that I knew very little about it! In an ideal world, we would have sat around this scion of an apple tree and paused for a stimulating, educational moment. An act of paying homage to the original tree which, it is said inspired Newton’s theory when he watched the apple fall. I would have then given an articulate breakdown of his theory and explained its significance! Instead I spent a while trying to get a photograph in bad light and the wrong season while the kids and their friends ran full steam ahead to explore the Cambridge University Botanic Gardens.

The tree itself is a variety of Malus pumilla called the ‘Flower of Kent’ and is said to have a beautiful pink flushed, white blossom. The crop they say ‘produces not particularly tasty and disease prone eating apples’. Now, for no logical reason I feel that apples with such an important heritage (in historical terms) should be succulent, fresh and full of flavour. Perhaps it was a rotten apple that dropped and we should celebrate in its disease prone flaws….but enough of rotten apples and my appalling lack of scientific theoretical knowledge! Here are a few highlights of this garden -we only explored a little, bit what we did explore we loved.

reflectionssucculentThe Glass house has to be a favourite. You walk in to a warm and exotic hub of the strange and beautiful. The kids were still a step ahead pretending to be in different parts of the world as they entered each glass house room – Australia, Asia, Africa. The big, the bold, the green and the luscious foliage fascinated them. I was lagging behind spotting animals in plants!

Orchid moleOrchid ElephantI realise as I write this that this strange (and now slightly obsessive) occupation may well have been inspired by my maternal grandmother, who kept a beautiful country garden. She would amaze her grandchildren by showing us the hidden dragons of the snapdragon flowers and how with just a hint of a squeeze these dragons would come alive and open their mouths. I remember it so vividly…on a hot summers day, hunting with my brother for the ‘dragons’ in the garden. In the glasshouse I spot a mole peeping out from an Orchid and a splendid elephant charging from another. The child in me wonders if they come alive at night! So many vivid colours and shapes – I could have spent hours exploring this place.

Grass mazeThe best find by far was the grass maze – discovered by the kids and played on vigorously.  Not a grand maze, but one you could very easily create yourself in a large outdoor space. A simple chair in the middle and concentric circles of planting with access gaps. A chair that became a throne, the grass that becomes the sea, the trees, the mountains – a living moving canvas that invites the kids in and becomes a great space for role play and imagination. So simple and so much fun! So much better then screen time play!

Tree barkSpring blossomTree barkAt the time of our visit many of the planting beds were in development or waiting to come into season, but you only had to look at the huge range of trees and shrubs all around us to get the most wonderful textural feast. Peeling bark exposes deep grooves and rich colour, the delicate new blossoms look stunning overhanging the many areas of water and you can get lost in the intricate and rich patterns of the foliage.  This garden is well worth a visit just to catch a glimpse of these botanical delights.

Garden textureTree barkGarden texture

There is so much on offer and the garden will be a different place altogether now that so many of the plants would have emerged and be at their very best.  Check out the huge range of talks and activities and more details about the garden here.

The Botanic gardens has a deep history going back six decades and their changing perspectives site, an on-line exhibition exploring the development of the garden from the 1950’s is well worth a visit. Particularly to hear the passion and knowledge of the gardeners involved in this great resource.

Here ends the latest instalment of Adventures of a Lewes Landscaper.

X Sophs

 

 

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Seedy Saturday, delights of a Lewes Landscaper

Stinking iris seedy saturday Lewes 2Iris foetidissima seedy saturday LewesOur favourite February moment is already here and is happening this Saturday 7th February. Seedy Saturday 2015 is run by the brilliant Common Cause Co-operative– this Lewes Landscaper never misses it!  A real community event full of delights with seed swaps, talks, gardener’s question time, plant and seeds for sale, delicious food (seriously good cake!), activities for the kids and so much more! Tickets are only £1 and kids free. What’s not to like!

Heritage seeds, thomas Etty, gardeners in Lewes, seedy saturdayIris foetidissima seedy saturday Lewes 2We get great inspiration from these kind of events – a lovely vibe with the hall filled with people who are really knowledgeable about gardens and horticulture. The gardening top tips you get are nuggets to treasure. Full of wise gardeners who have been working with and nurturing seeds forever it seems.

 

Bird feeder seedy saturday

Annemarie O'Sullivan made 14Our little’uns always come away having made something beautiful and learnt something about how we look after the wildlife in our garden. Our garden birds are already salivating in expectation of the bird feeders they will almost certainly be creating. Our favourite Lewes based willow Artist Annemarie O’Sullivan featured in our last blog will be running willow plant support workshops on the day. You need to book separately for these here. I can’t help but share her beautiful film Bundles of Willow again – a lovely thing to watch.

Check out what we thought of Seedy Saturday last year here.

Seedy Saturday is on Saturday 7th February, Lewes Town Hall, 10am-3pm. Find out all the details about the event here.

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Lewes and Brighton makers-true quality & excellence on offer– joys of a Lewes Landscaper

 

James Price

James Price

Lomax and Skinner

Lomax and Skinner

Annemarie O'Sullivan

Annemarie O’Sullivan

 

 

 

 

 

This Lewes Landscaper didn’t have to go too far a-field to get great design inspiration from the talented makers showing at Made 2014, Brighton. Stunningly crafted wares were on offer tempting cheeky Christmas purchases and possibly some personal ones too – shhh, don’t tell! It was great to see a real range of skill displaying true quality and excellence. Although based in Brighton, the show welcomed makers from many places; it was particularly exciting to see some of our favourite Lewes talents showing their beautiful work. Spectacular hats by bespoke milliners’ Lomax and Skinner, one off contemporary design must haves by Blacksmith Designer James Price and wondrous willow work by Annemarie O’Sullivan. We were particularly taken by the two films displayed about the making process of James and Annemarie, beautiful films in their own right showing just how much time, skill and talent it takes to produce these works of art. See The Blacksmith here and Bundles of Willow here – we highly recommend you take a peek!

Amy Daniels

Amy Daniels

Alice Walton

Alice Walton

James Price

James Price

 

 

 

 

 

Emma Calvert

Emma Calvert

James Price

James Price

Annemarie O'Sullivan

Annemarie O’Sullivan

 

 

 

 

 

Witshop

Witshop

Annemarie O'Sullivan

Annemarie O’Sullivan

A quick visual splash of those that caught our eye…the unique ceramics of Amy Daniels and Alice Walton, sculptural and beautifully crafted jewellery of Emma Calvert and we just had to share the fantastic veg riso prints of Witshop. Only a featured few of many greats at Made.

 

If you missed Made and are hungry to see some makers wares yourself -check out the Artists and Makers annual contemporary arts and craft fair happening this Saturday 6th December, Town Hall, Lewes.

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Adventures of a Lewes Landscaper – Inspired by Hepworth

Barbara Hepworth sculpture and garden palmsBarbara Hepworth signatureAs much as we love Lewes, sometimes this Lewes Landscaper needs adventure outside of stunning Sussex! St Ives bound and ready for the rugged Cornwall landscape, there was one garden location that was top of the list.  The Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Garden is based at Trewyn studios, now the Barbara Hepworth Museum, where she lived and worked from 1949 until her death in 1975. The gloomy clouds and bursts of rain meant I had the garden almost to myself.

Barbara Hepworth sculpture and gardenBarbara Hepworth sculpture and garden close upBarbara Hepworth sculpture archesBarbara Hepworth sculpture peeking throughWhat a privilege it was to see so many of Hepworth’s sculptures together in one space in the Barbara Hepworth sculpture and garden detailBarbara Hepworth sculpture round circle detailknowledge that most of them were positioned there by the artist herself. I loved the framing of nature through her bold shapes and the peek-a-boo glimpses of the other sculptures beyond. Garden design inspiration comes from so many forms but Hepworth provides particularly rich pickings. A must for a St Ives visit.

Barbara Hepworth sketch detailBarbara Hepworth wood sculptureMuch of the work remaining at the studio after Hepworth’s death was given to the nation and placed in the care of the Tate Gallery. Check out more here.

 

 

 

 

 

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Seaward weekend – Delights of the East Sussex Landscaper

Another rain filled East Sussex weekend and the landscaper of this partnership has certainly had enough rain to fill his boots over and over!But, in a possibly risky move we headed seaward to remember the delights of the salty depths.

sept 14 185sept 14 169sept 14 187Our Saturday walk along Brighton Marina was a rich bed of colour, texture and reflection. The old fishing boats became a springboard for imaginary tales of mermaids and pirates for our little ones adventurous souls.

sept 14 223sept 14 222sept 14 221Sunday was a lovely group walk/bike/scoot from Saltdean to Rottingdean. After bracing the sea air, we settled on the beach at Rottingdean, by ‘Molly’s At the Beach’ for delicious coffee. Adults catching up with life, while the kids scrambled like ants on the rocks searching out baby crabs and rock pool treasures. Back to Saltdean for lunch at the ‘Whitecliffs Café’, a great location, friendly staff and delicious Spanish food. We will definitely be doing this  again…..and only half an hour drive from Lewes – what’s a bit of rain anyway (she says wrapped up warm in the office!)

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Serpentin…unique inspirational garden

Serpentin garden GreeceSometimes gardens and the people who create them simply take our breath away, both in terms of the intrinsic beauty of the landscape and the gardener who has enriched it with their wisdom and playfulness.  Far from the East Sussex gardens we normally frequent, The Serpentin organic garden on the east slope of Mount Pelion in Greece has left its indelible inspirational mark.

trumpet of Angels and Glory treeSculptural Garden Greecerustic garden

 

 

 

garden artisian conservatorysculptural gardengarden artisian conservatory room

 

 

 

Created and nurtured by the extraordinary Doris Schlepper, Serpentin is a paradise of rare trees, historic roses and plants from all over the world. Doris has been developing the garden since 1990 and we were lucky enough to get a one to one tour with her, bringing her garden to life with garden stories, lessons learned and the knowledge you can only get with such deep horticultural dedication.  Luckily for us, she also had a wonderfully relaxed approach to our little ones treating the space as the best hide and seek location ever!

Garden furnituregarden water featurerustic garden furniture

 

 

 

Orchard Gardenartisean garden conservatoryrustic garden path

 

 

 

 

The variety of water features and the organic ethos of the garden have created a space where wildlife flourishes. Our senses were overwhelmed with the richness of colour and intense fragrance of the planting and there were many rustic resting places in which to pause and soak up this unique place.

garden gourdgarden Bug hotelGarden Driftwood and Buxus

 

 

 

Doris has encouraged many artists to work in the garden and there are some beautiful works that still remain, an ever changing gallery where even the placing of a rotting apple becomes a thing of beauty.

Natural GardenThe playfulness Doris has brought to the space delighted us and our little explorers, with plastic buoys hanging from trees, gourds placed everywhere and the best bug hotel we have ever seen. We came away full of ideas, full of admiration and revived by a simply beautiful inspirational garden.

 

If you ever find yourself in the beautiful Pelion, Greece – don’t you dare miss this special place! check out more info here

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Views from the river bank….East Sussex Landscape moments….Simon Scott Landscaping

River Ouse tree lineRiver Ouse natureRiver Ouse moody summerSummer living does not come better than this….the flora and fauna native to the River Ouse, East Sussex was on spectacular show this weekend. Four in a boat, oars in hand with clouds of electric blue dragonfly, basking fish and a gentle breeze guiding us through the natural garden of the river bank.

River Ouse viewReflections River OuseRiver Ouse bankViews to treasure, Swallows and Amazons we were, at bliss with the Sussex Landscape and at one with the world!…..Ok…so let’s be honest here….there was one particularly ‘interesting’ meeting with a huge nettle bank when the oarsman lost his way  (see last post for why, really this was not as funny as it seemed to some of us!)… but who managed to keep calm, carry on and join in with the peals of laughter coming from the little’uns end of the boat! Memories made, we will definitely be coming back for more..

We hired a boat from The Anchor Inn, Barcombe, East Sussex, which, weather permitting is open from 10am-6pm. We highly recommend getting there early as the river is much quieter at that time of the day.

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RHS Hampton Court Flower Show-Taking a closer look…the RHS Invisible Garden

 

Allium 3Allium bulb 1Allium 2Fresh from the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show and with so many things to see, do and get inspiration from, my main urge was to look closer and focus in. To get close to the scent and shapes of the exquisitely tendered plants in the show gardens, to look closer at some beautiful garden design and at the talent and skill from the wise, whose lives have been dedicated to nurturing and cultivating plants of so many varieties.

Foxtail lily bulb 2Foxtail lily bulbsfoxtail lily bulb 3The plant stands remind me of miniature art installations and you can’t help but want to buy what’s on offer and take a little bit of Hampton back with you. I loved the starfish like bulbs that turn into the foxtail lily and the sculptural elegance of the Alliums, which have such impact on mass.

My main highlight enabled you to get really close, the brilliantly conceived RHS Invisible Garden. I could have spent hours looking closer at this one. It’s giving visitors the chance to magnify usually unseen organisms, including plants and insects, to more than 1000 times their actual size. The RHS team were excellent, their knowledge and enthusiasm bursting and it was a real education to look through the microscopes and see the absolute miracle of what the human eye alone could never see. This should be rolled out in schools, an amazing introduction to science and nature.

The stunning wing of a Blue Morpho butterfly, the structure of which manipulates light and as well as being breathtaking in colour and intricacy, I learned it inspired the creation of amongst other things protective clothing. I also got the chance to get closer to a nettle, this time, thankfully under a microscope where you could see the hollow stinging hairs called trichomes, which act like hypodermic needles, injecting histamine and other chemicals producing the infamous nettle sting. An image that won’t leave my mind for a while, especially during our often nettle packed Sussex walks. You can find out about RHS invisible garden here. A really great day out for us as landscapers and garden designers and highly recommended to anyone who loves their garden.

 

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Patinated Copper stole my heart – Memories of RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2014

It’s only a month ago and the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is long packed up. Gardens which were painstakingly planned and created are dismantled. The plants have been sold at the great plant sale on the final frenzied day and the dust has settled. Such an occasion, but oh what a crowd! Almost impossible to take any images which capture the inspiring gardens on display. Standing on tip toes, crouching on knees, stretching out arms, the ever precious mobile phone camera button at the ready for a shot which ‘please oh please’ is not out of focus again! Is this any way to soak up the glory of design and beauty of the gardens – we tried as hard as we could!

Foxgloves at RHS Chelsea 2014discovering peeps at RHS Chelsea 2014Lupin planting RHS Chelsea Flower show 2014Here is what stayed with us after the dust had settled and let’s face it, here are the ones that were in focus and without body parts of the crowd in the middle of the shots! Some little pockets we managed to peep, windows of real beauty which remind us of why we love what we do and why we do it.

Cloudy bay sensory Garden - RHS Chelsea flower show 2014Patinated Copper archway - RHS Chelsea flower show 2014A highlight included the combination of strong structure and sublime planting as part of the Cloudy Bay Sensory Garden, which was beautiful. The Patinated Copper archway stole my heart as part of the Brewin Dolphin Garden, a stunning piece of artwork in itself. The excellent planting choices around this structure made them and the archway come to life, an exquisite collaboration, no crowd nudging can take that one away from me.

Check out the RHS Chelsea Flower Show website for a fantastic array of images and information on all the gardens at Chelsea this year and stunning Pavilion displays -no virtual crowd technique needed here! Bring on July and RHS Hampton Court Flower Show, elbows at the ready and stilts commissioned!

 

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Buried treasure pops up at ‘Tremendous Tulips’, RHS Wisley- Sussex Landscaper, garden design inspirations

Tulips wisleyNormandie Tulip in flowerNormandie Tulip in bud

 

 

 

 

In their incredible garden at Wisley, the RHS team along with their garden design collaborators use the impact of mass planting with irrevocable style. We particularly love the stunning Piet Oudolf borders and could spend hours in the area designed by Tom Stuart-Smith.

Russian Princess tulipReputationThe ‘Tremendous Tulips’ garden is a new addition and although contrasting in approach, has huge impact in relation to colour and is homage to the beauty of the tulip bulb…it uses 14,000 tulips and over 350 varieties…with some bulbs dating back to the 16th Century.  They are blooming beautifully, and there is not much time till these wonders fade, so catch them at their peak if you can. A few of our favourites are on display here.

Rococo budRococo bud openingIt’s always really satisfying when you can combine a trip that feeds your delight in gardening and also satisfies the adventuring younger parties of your group.  Wisley is fantastic for little ones too; they can run free and have lots of fun at the ‘Wild at Wisley’ playground. The tropical glasshouse provides a space where there is no limit to the imagination, many ‘Alien flowers’ were spotted there! Wisley has a great line up for May half term, check out more details here – our personal favourite is the bug hotel workshop – bring on the beetles!

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