Thursday 26 September 2013

The HBGBS study tour

At the end of June there was a study tour for all of the HBGBS trainees. It was a chance to meet everyone again before they all went off in different directions to do further other things, get some careers advice & mutual support, and get passionate about seeing gardens and plants together.

Here are photographic highlights of the my favourite parts of each garden we visited:

A privately owned ex-Jekyll & Lutyen Edwardian 20 acres garden. It is open to the public on special open days. It has a formal garden with a lily pond, terraced lawns, a special fountain by Lutyen, a large landscape rock garden & arboretum with a stream meandering through it, and a kitchen garden with new sections being developed, including a rose garden.

Fascinating fasciation - the vascular bundle of this Asparagus in the kitchen garden has been damaged, possibly by a viral infection carried by aphids. It is usually not re-occurring.

A lovely mass of scented Crambe maritima flowers in the formal garden. A garden that gives a great insight to the plant & colour palette of Gertrude Jekyll.

A tree with a face.

One of my favourite plants Cornus kousa seen in situ.

Barnsley House
A garden once owned by Rosemary Verey, now a boutique hotel. Rosemary Verey in the 1950s & 60s popularised English gardening including making kitchen gardens more ornamental.

The well known Laburnum Walk.

My favourite part of the garden - The Potager, a wonderful blend of flowers and vegetables, formerly managed by Ed Alderman, now the current Christopher Lloyd scholar. A man of my own heart - using heritage seeds from places like the Heritage Seed Library.

A beautiful companion plant and green manure Phacelia tanacetifolia

A great colour combination of red Latuca (lettuce) and Brassica.

10.5 acres of Arts & Craft styled garden set around a manor house. Created and belonged to rich American Major Lawrence Johnstone. Now a National Trust property. It is one of the few NT gardens where the plants are not labelled.

A view that gives you a peek at the many layers of rooms in the garden.

This satisfied my personal craze for chandelier primulas this year.

A large garden with the potential to stumble upon small pockets of rare and unusual plants like these black irises...

and double petalled red Helianthemum.

I'm always admire a good fruit cage and am interested in how people lay out their veg gardens.

Perrot's Brook - John Sale's garden
John Sales worked for 25 years as the National Trust's Chief Garden Adviser, a heavyweight in the world of horticulture. His garden consists of ornamental sections, woods and meadows, and as you can imagine not your average garden, full of unusual plants and interesting methods. Perrot's Brook is open on special open garden days.

His garden is up on a hill so is very well sited, as the frost drains away from them.

Different meadow management:
Dixter cuts their meadows twice, once around the end of July/ August and again in November for the spring bulbs. John has two 'squares' of meadows, one square has no spring bulbs and that one he cuts again and again, keeping it around 4" long up until the Chelsea Flower Show. At that stage he will leave it until September to help the Rhinanthus minor germinate, this one is classed as his 'summer' meadow. His other one has spring bulbs of Scilla, Chionodoxa, and Cyclamen. This one will have no cuts in the beginning of the year until September and then the grass is taken off for hay. Orchids have also come into the meadows of their own accord here too, the ones he has are similar to our spotted orchid Dactlylorhiza fuschii, they are also pyramidal but are a darker pink. He also has lots of Iris latifolia. For unwanted weeds in his meadows like Heracleum sphondylium, he manually digs them out.

Quote: 'Management makes gardeners not designers' - John Sales.

The man himself. 

Lilium martagon self-sowing everywhere. He also had the thinnest Buxus sempervirens hedge that I have ever seen, that he cuts during Ascot week, and the biggest Heptacodium micinoides tree in the country.

An amazingly rare saxifrage type plant that John does not know the name of.

He had a kind of gravel/ rock garden at the front of his house. I love how he had very niche specimen plants spill out of the trough and into the gravel or the cracks of paths.

Another special saxifrage type plant from the Crassulaceae family specific to the Cotswold: Chiastophyllum oppositifolium

Last but not least was my favourite garden, created from the 1920s by three generation of women, a romantic place, like an amazing silent refuge, that at once took one away in time and then to surprisingly modernist elements. Built almost on a cliff, a place that feel full of secrets with breathtaking moments. A real plants lovers garden too with an amazing array and choice of perennials. Temptingly they have their own little nursery selling their own unusual plants. The is only opposite Hidcote and interestingly the first lady who started it Heather Muir, was a good friend of Lawrence Johnstone, but instead of designing the garden first on paper, she developed it organically as she went along - which is probably what gives it its unique character. It is open to the public during the months April - September.

Before you get into the garden - an interesting red hedge.

Hidden and revealed views

One of the dramatic pools

Dictamnus albus - which Christopher Lloyd couldn't grow at Dixter but enjoyed at Glyndebourne Opera House. To demonstrate the volatility of the oils given off by the plant in the evening, he would light a match above it.

The first time I saw the moss rose Portulaca grandiflora.


  1. Wonderful post, Maggie! Nice to see some favorite gardens and a new one, John Sales garden, as well!

  2. Thanks Julie! I have finished my official scholarship at Dixter, but I am determined to tie things up, and finish posting every last day that I spent doing it, and then I will move on to my next blog Hortiventure that reflects my next stage of adventures which I will announce more info of soon.


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