The Winter Garden, Sissinghurst, Bateman’s and Nymans

Our ‘adventures of a Lewes Landscaper’ have taken us to many gardens. Sissinghurst, Bateman’s and Nymans are must visits in our calender even in the depths of the winter season. For us exploring the Winter garden always uncovers surprising delights and treasures. You get to see the ‘skeleton’ of the garden, the bare bones of what you know in time will soon become a mass of scent, sound, colour and texture.  We explore what we love about visiting gardens in winter and include some top tips of plants for winter interest. A new year, new growth and exciting beginnings.

New growth at Bateman's

New growth at Bateman’s

Garden Wall at Bateman's

Garden Wall at Bateman’s

Winter tree Sissinghurst

Winter tree Sissinghurst

Nymans winter trees

Nymans winter trees

Seed heads at Nymans

Seed heads at Nymans

Sissinghurst in December

Sissinghurst in December

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What then is the attraction of the garden in the cold winter months? The design and landscaping of the garden itself can become much more prominent when the majority of the garden is ‘resting’; the curves of the paths, the planting line of the trees, the shape of the beds and the flow of the design becomes much more apparent and can fully reveal its splendour. The exposure of all the gardens other elements allow real focus on form that is often hidden by mass foliage and flowers in other seasons; the gnarly branches of  a wise old climber, a weathered kitchen garden wall, metal work of a pergola and stubborn seed heads still standing strong. It’s the chance to pause for thought and reflect. A more meditative journey through the garden space.

Galanthus at Nymans

Galanthus at Nymans

Gunnera at Nymans

Gunnera at Nymans

Hydrangea at Bateman's

Hydrangea at Bateman’s

 

 

 

 

 

But it’s not just the structural elements that reveal themselves. It is also the new signs of life and of re-growth. The tiny glimpses of green from buried bulb treasure or the new fresh buds and stems which will develop and emerge fully in the months ahead. It is the feeling of hope and the early signs of re-growth that are uplifting and exciting and the potential of what lies ahead. Decaying leaves protecting the tender growth below it.

Trachelospermum asleticum at Bateman's

Trachelospermum asleticum at Bateman’s

Cornus midwinter fire at Nymans

Cornus midwinter fire at Nymans

Evergreen structure at Nymans

Evergreen structure at Nymans

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are some real plant performers that shine during the winter months. It can be their evergreen form, or their stem colour, their berries, flowers or smell that make them them stand proud. Indeed sometimes because of the very bareness and dormancy of their surrounding landscape these plants become the main attraction.

On a recent trip to Sissinghurst the garden team provided a sample of the very best in the garden.

Ruscus aculeatus

Ruscus aculeatus

Myrtus communis

Myrtus communis

Jasminum nudiflorum

Jasminum nudiflorum

Chimonanthus praecox

Chimonanthus praecox

Garrya elliptica

Garrya elliptica

Daphne tangutica

Daphne tangutica

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sissinghurst's Winter interest display

Sissinghurst’s Winter interest display

It was like a little gift, presented so perfectly in vases at the entrance to the garden – we just had to share it with you.  Especially useful if you are thinking of designing with all round seasonal interest. We have also included information on each Sissinghurst plant via links to the RHS website. We would highly recommend using this fantastic resource from the RHS to identify which plant would work best in your garden considering all factors, including its aspect, soil and exposure.

 

Ruscus aculeatus, common name – butcher’s broom

Myrtus communis, common name – common myrtle

jasminum nudiflorum, common name – winter jasmine

Chimonanthus praecox, common name – wintersweet

Garrya elliptica, common name – silk tassel bush

Daphne tangutica, Tangut daphne

Happy New Year from us and here’s to the wonderful winter garden in all its glory!

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Reflections, texture and decay…my ‘palette of pauses’

rustAloe vera upcloseDecaying GunneraSomething a little more visual today with my images of reflections, textures and decay. These make up a few of what I’m calling my ‘palette of pauses’, evidence of what stopped me in my tracks, what made me look and look again. Lush green foliage, decaying and delicate flower heads and leaves, views up to the bright and moody beyond or within the magic liquid ‘canvas’ of water.  Design inspiration and memories made. Touch, texture and bold shapes – always good to look again at what and why something caught your eye.

New growthpurple texturewater reflection

sky and tree
Lush green textureMud and waterGrass
river

delicate dry hygrangeaSedum close up
Cactusreflections

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RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show– where perennial memories are made…

The life of a Lewes Landscaper…So this week Simon nearly melted in the heat while building a beautiful Lewes Courtyard garden.

The life of his other half…So this week (guiltily but all in the name of research!) I delighted in the quintessentially English experience of visiting the lovely RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show (on now until 5th July). This is a tradition which has now firmly been carved by my mum and I and one which I really cherish.

Allium sphaerocephalon

Every year she buys me a plant. 2014’s plant was Leontopodium alpinum (edelweiss), as I had never seen it before and got slightly over excited when I spied it in the floral marquee.  In my head it had a daisy like form, but it was totally different to what I had imagined with a white felt like foliage, small but strong. It sits proud in one our raised beds -a perennial memory of our day together. This year, she treated me to a huge batch of Allium sphaerocephalon (round-headed garlic) which will be duly delivered in September. I have their planting place already planned and know that next summer when they start to bloom, it will be her that I think of.

The Macmillan Legacy GardenMacmillan Legacy Garden plantingIt was a show with some great show gardens. Our highlight amongst many, was The Macmillan Legacy Garden, designed by Ann-Marie Powell Gardens.  The planting was beautiful and did create a real sense of calmness with a very wonderful palette of colours. I particularly loved the mass planting of Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’ and Astrantia  ‘Star of Beauty’. The Verbascum ‘Firedance’ was also very striking. The fern pod was beautiful, particularly with the birch growing through.

African Vision Malawi GardenThe SMART vision gardenSynaesthesia GardenThis year’s conceptual gardens had the theme of ‘sensations’ where designers were asked to create immersive and interactive installations. From a design perspective many chose to invite the ‘audience’ in, breaking down the barrier of the show garden’s fourth ‘wall’ as it were. So the African Vision: Malawi Garden, invited us to peep through metal peep holes. The SMART vision Garden, invited us to peep through metal slots. The DialAFlight Synaesthesia Garden invited us to walk through a white canvas dome.

Audience for synaesthesia gardenSMART vision audienceThe message that the designers of these gardens were aiming to communicate were, of course all very different. What interested me most was how the audience responded, they were delighted by the invitation of interactivity through the design, at being ‘participant’ in the experience. I wonder if this trend will develop further.

My background is in contemporary arts and I was very excited to see that Track, an ‘environmental work and moveable participatory installation’ by Graeme Miller is happening this weekend 3-4 July. It is part of the Winchester Hat Fair. Take a look at the film of the work. A very different perspective in audience participation – fully immersive and interactive. If you get the chance I would highly recommend that you check this out. One day I would love the chance to be viewer and particpant of this piece…to lie back and watch the world go by.

X Sophs

 

 

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Relishing in reclamation and plant nursery pickings

cowslipEuphorbia amygdaloides var. robbiaeDicentra spectabilus valentine

 

 

 

 

I was lucky enough to spend my time this week discovering  sumptuous plant nursery pickings at How Green Nursery . A plant nursery with great perennial stock, top quality plants and staff with expert knowledge and infectious passion for all things horticultural.  My highlights included a beautiful red Primula veris, the lure of  the lime of Euphorbia amygdaloides var. robbiae and Dicentra spectabilus ‘valentine’.

Sedum

hidden treasure

Nepeta

 

 

 

 

Sedum on mass, buried treasures holding who knows what and rows of Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’ with it’s purple promise. Beautiful Myrrhis odorata, top quality Taxus Baccata balls and the incredible silvery furry foliage of Salvia argentea.

Sweet cicely

Taxus  ballsSalvia argentea

 

 

 

 

Also spent the day relishing in reclamation yards while in search of a trough for a water feature with one of the garden designers we work with. It is going to be beautiful! So much to choose from and some great finds. My favourite were these tactile terracota balls which apparently go on top of bean poles – they are definitely on top of my wish list.  I can’t wait to get my hands on some of these planters for our own garden – imagining them full with evergreens and a tulip spectacle.

TroughBean pole protectorsRusty planters

 

 

 

 

A great couple of inspirational trips. Always worth it to ignite ideas and get excited about gardens, plants and design all over again. Even better to go with a friend.

This Lewes Landscaper will be going on many more of these kind of adventures in the near future! How Green Nursery are a wholesale nursery but their next public open day is on Sat 13 and Sun 14th June. I highly recommend a visit – get that date in your diary and don’t miss out!

X Sophs

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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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