Gardens, Jardins

Gardens that have inspired, entertained or are just on the must see list.


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This is one of my favourite gardens. It lies on the South Cornwall Coast in England, and in the spring erupts with a glorious display of rhododendrons, azaleas and magnolias, all above a carpet of primroses.


The house is set at the head of a valley overlooking fields and lake, sometimes highland cattle graze in the field, which adds to the atmosphere. The garden set above and behind the house.

Although we have visited several times, it is not the easiest place to find, amongst the maze of narrow lanes in the area, but is well worth the trouble.


map carte The Garden House

Rosemoor is the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) garden in the south west of England. There is a huge amount to see including two rose gardens, a superb winter garden, traditional long herbaceous borders as well as fruit and vegetable gardens both traditional and potager, an arboretum and the garden with the original house.

I recommend allowing a full day to see it all and visiting at any time of year is worthwhile as there is always plenty of interest.

The Garden House

map carte The Garden House

Situated in south Devon not far from Plymouth, this garden is a real stunner. There is a more traditional garden near the house which is truly beautiful, but the real show stoppers are the naturalistic plantings of perennials, annuals etc that have been developed over the years inspired by wild meadows and landscapes.


After 25 years as head Gardener at the Garden House, Keith Wiley left to create his own garden and run a nursery just down the road on the other side of the village of Buckland Monochorum, Devon.

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While at The Garden House he developed and reshaped the garden, making it into what must be one of the most beautiful and interesting in the country. Now at Wildside he is able to develop his ideas to the full with his wife Ros an artist, experimenting in 'new naturalism'. He draws very strongly from nature and natural plant communities he has seen around the world. Saturday was one of their open days and Martin and I decided to take a look see. I love The Garden House garden and having read his book 'On the wild side, experiments in new naturalism' was really looking forward to seeing his ideas in action.

The site has been sculpted into winding, sinuous gullies and ridges of varying heights and depths. Trees are planted on ridges allowing more light to the ground below where perennials and bulbs are planted in intermingling drifts. The garden is very much a work in progress with some areas having more planting than others and you can also see the bare bones where the ground has yet to be planted. Think alpine meadow / scree meets blooming desert with attitude. All the planting is informal with plants allowed to spread and self seed (within reason, some refereeing is required to stop the more vigorous taking over). Paths wind up and down and their sinuous curves invite exploration to find out what is around the corner. There are blind canyons with a bench to rest on, a small pool, with we think more ponds to come, paths winding up to views across the tops of the ridges and 2 areas of meadow with long grass, one open looking down the slope and the other amongst apple trees with a bench to enjoy the view.

The slopes and different aspects provide sun, shade and varying degrees of drainage and obvious favoured plants include epimediums, geraniums, low growing phlox, and when we visited rhodohypoxis baurii in drifts. The slopes also mean you don't have to plant tall perennials to show above those in front. Many trees and shrubs including acers and rhododendrons with skirts lifted above, with grasses, irises and many others beneath. The top soil has been removed and the plants are all grown hard, the poorer soil keeping them shorter and sturdier. They all look to be doing well.

The nursery naturally stocks the plants grown in the garden including many unusual varieties and is open on Thursdays as is the garden and some Saturdays, the next being in June. Well worth a visit.

Channel 4 are currently making a documentary about the garden due to be shown later in 2009, I'm looking forward to seeing it. I also recommend his book 'On the wild side experiments in new naturalism'. The text is clear and gives a real insight into his philosophy and inspiration, and the photographs are a delight (he is an excellent photographer), truly illustrating his ideas.

Piet Oudolf

Not a garden as such but a collection of gardens,from the designer Piet Oudolf, prairie inspired in the main.