Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Belvoir Garden on TV

Well this is a first... one of our clients gardens is to be filmed on More 4 tonight.  16th September 2015.

With the discovery of the Capability Brown's unfinished plans at Belvoir, and his tercentenary in 2016, Belvoir became the spotlight for a TV series.  Belvoir was one of the last designs Brown did, and sadly it was never finished in his lifetime.

Martin and I were lucky enough to see this plan a couple of years ago and it is something to behold.  The most astonishing thing is its size.  Probably 6' x 9'' (in old money).  Every tree has been hand painted with the shadow drawn in.  At the same time the archivist showed us logs in the diary when Brown visited the 4th Duke.  These diaries are beautiful kept and written 'Date of Arrival, Name,  Date of departure, in wonderful scroll.

  We both both felt very privileged.

The landscape is not really on our patch - we just look after the small gardens (26 acres!).  But it was fun having the filming crew round us.  

At one point we were pruning the roses in the rose garden and suddenly heard a drone camera hovering over us.. the noise was like a swarm of bees.  "Don't look at the drone, it spoils the effect", says the director,  so of course all you want to do is look at the drone!

The Duchess has moved heaven and earth - literally - (thousands of tonnes of it), to put into place more of Brown's ideas.  It has been a Herculean task, and the finished effect is quite spectacular.

The final planting before the last TV production.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Colours of the Rainbow at Belvoir Castle

This is my equivalent to fireworks night!  and why I love my job.

For six months of the year we go to work on cold, misty and gloomy days; 
We slip down steep boggy slopes in the pouring rain, 
Shake heavy snow off conifers, with flakes falling down our necks; 
Fight thorny battles tying in stubborn roses:  40' up castle walls!
Wrestle brambles deeply rooted at the bottom of Rhody's
Re-stake Plants blown over in hurricane winds...... 

and why do we do all of this: because of these..

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Garden fireworks at Belvoir!

How I love this time of year.  After months of cold and gloom, suddenly it is like a firework display with colours exploding in all directions.  We visit Belvoir every two weeks and the difference is incredible.  

Following on from our visit to the Magnolia Holy Grail last week I think we are holding our own at Belvoir, just look at this one called Caerhays surprise.  He has 15 flowers this year so is doing well considering he was only planted in 2012.

On Monday morning our lawn at home was white over and I needed the ice scraper to clear my windscreen, so I feared the worst. for the Camelias.  But luckily they weren't caught and are looking their best.

This Camellia is about 15ft high!

We have yet to identify this Rhody - that will be next years job!  We are still finishing identifying all the trees at the moment!

The Great White Cherry (Prunus Tai Haku) looks stunning against the deep blue sky

Pieris looking superb, this is now a tree, about 15ft high

Another Magnolia, a Stellata, but I am not sure which one yet.  More research to do!

And finally a view into the Japanese woodland.  New paths have just been laid, so it looks better than ever.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Visit to Caerhays Castle

To see the best Magnolias in the country this is the place to go.  Caerhays Castle in Cornwall is home to one of England's national Magnolia collections and what a magnificent collection it is! 

Unfortunately my photos don't do it justice as the weather was misty, wet and at times, just pouring with rain.  Us gardeners are a hardy bunch though, so it didn't dampen spirits, but keeping the lens dry was another matter. 

In the company of some esteemed gardeners, Martin and I were taken round the gardens with Charles and his wife, Lizzie.  Bearing in mind Charles's ancestors were responsible for employing two of the famous plant hunters G. Forrest and E.H.Wilson, it gives you some idea of the time and expertise that has gone into making this collection.

It was such fun listening to the maestros debating the naming of certain trees. Robert Vernon from Bluebell nurseries, Robert Hillier, Charles and his head Gardner Jamie Parsons!  I was struggling enough pronouncing mollicomata!  

One of the oldest Magnolias was planted in 1870 and is one of six champion trees being monitored.  A champion tree is the largest and most splendid of their species grown within the British Isles.   To think this was the year that Charles Dickens died - now that's some history!

Walking at a hearty pace Charles showed us new areas of the garden he is clearing, creating large spaces on hillsides for more Magnolias.  This is so familiar to Martin and I and compares well with our progress at Belvoir where our Magnolias are now looking their best; we are certainly a month behind Cornwall.

To choose a favourite would be difficult but the last Magnolia we saw was called Lanarth (pictured below), with beautiful large deep pink/red flowers displayed on bare branches.  Another star of the show was 'JC'; already we had picked up the lingo!  This Magnolia was bred by Charles' Grandfather, John Charles.

I am passionate about trees, they are the backbone of any garden design.  It is so important to see them as a mature specimen to appreciate their real potential.  Visit Burncoose Nurseries to see all the varieties available and much more.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

A taste of Trinidad

Had to share some of these with you...  they were all taken in the Trinidad rain forest sat on a balcony at the Asa Wright Centre.  A bit of a 'twitcher mecca', but we managed to blend in!

and look at some of the plants ...

This one was called the Jade Vine, for obvious reasons.  It was such a stunning colour and originally came from the Philippines.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

The Beautiful Hamamelis

Gosh, how time flies..  it was December when I last blogged!

Since then we have moved house and enjoyed a long awaited holiday in Trinidad.

We now have a garden, which I am so excited about.  All the quirky ideas I have for designs I can now practice on at home - poor Martin!   But this will have to wait.  We now have 5 designs on the books as well as exciting events at Belvoir (Channel 4 filming), not to mention 3 of our existing clients who are opening their gardens for charity this year.

If you are looking for a design, please do send an email in plenty of time as the waiting list is getting quite long.

So what is happening in the gardens..  the snowdrops are out at last and look at these superb  Hamamelis.  Sadly these are acid loving shrubs so if you have any lime you need to grow them in pots.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Trees at Belvoir

If my salary depended on blog updates, the company would be in the drink!

As you gardeners know the 'back end' of the year is always a busy one!  We have just finished planting up a design in Lincoln that had a large Cedar dominating the proceedings.  I'm pleased to say he now looks part of the furniture, doesn't take centre stage any more, but still has all his beautiful sweeping branches.  Photos to follow:  

So what have I been doing... well the Cedar is the link..

Studying trees and reading up on my garden history.  This all started because we are currently listing and mapping all the trees at Belvoir Castle, as you can imagine there are some magnificent specimens.

This fabulous Oak, who has certainly stood the test of time was planted in Tudor times!  We do not have a date yet, but this gnarled old trunk supports one of the oldest trees on the estate.

The large tree in the background is probably one of the easiest to identify.  This is the Monkey Puzzle (Araucaria araucana)  whose seeds were first sent from Chile to the United Kingdom in 1841.  The records at Belvoir show the tree was planted in 1842, so it must be one of the first to be planted in the Country.

From the same family as the Monkey Puzzle, this Wollemi Pine (Wollemia nobilis) was first identified in Australia as recently as 1994.  This was planted at Belvoir in 2008, so again will be one of the first in the country.  I'm not sure what it will think to our harsh winters so we will keep a close eye on this one.

This is a Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria japonica), known in Japan as the Sugi which is their national tree.  But as this lovely old tree is not labelled the jury is still out on my nomenclature!

This is the fruit of the Magnolia (Magnolia campbellii mollicomata).  This large variety is one of the  first to flower in February with large, pink to rose-purple water lilies.  It can take 10 - 15 years before the first flowers appear - luckily this one now covers herself with a stunning display. (Pics to follow in Spring)

This superb display of autumn colour is from the Sorbus sargentiana.  If you look at the picture of the Monkey Puzzle tree you will see this one in the background.  Walk past this in the spring and summer and you just wouldn't believe what a spectacular display is about to unfold.

Well enough of my indulgence - if you see someone hugging trees you will now have a good idea who it is!