Thursday, 28 April 2011

Pillar Garden

An early-evening view of the topiary Yews that are a feature of the Pillar Garden, taken from an archway on the Long Walk. The almost lime-green colour of the Hornbeam hedges at this time of year is really quite spectacular.

Bee Inspection

Today I was inspecting the bees! This is always good fun as I get to poke around in the hive and see what they’ve been up to. Fortunately, they were in splendid form plus they’re storing well with some honey capped already. This dry, floriferous English spring has been perfect for the bees and I for one hope it continues! Although with perhaps a little bit more rain, but just a smidgen mind.

Photograph taken (from a safe distance!) by James, one of the other gardeners.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Syringa palibiniana

Seen flowering in the Lower Garden at Kiftsgate Court. This variety has an unusually delicate leaf.

I can’t help but get excited when I see a flower like this, that long neck resembles so many of the excellent specimens you see butterflies flocking too! A flower shaped like that reads, “Bar open: happy hour!” to your butterfly. And, no matter how much they drink they remain elegant and well turned out, which you have to respect really!

Deutzia x rosea

In flower now in the Rose Garden at Hidcote’s magnificent neighbour, Kiftsgate Court.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Abutilon ‘Orange Hot Lava’

Flowering now in the Plant House.

Great Dixter

Whilst traversing around glorious Kent I had time to nip over to Great Dixter, which is just across the border in East Sussex. The sun was putting on a jolly old show of it, and the temperature felt rather more like a midsummer’s day than late spring. Unfortunately, we could only hang around for an hour or so, but nevertheless this was long enough to wet my appetite for the placement I will be completing here in August.

What is a garden without a cat?

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Sissinghurst plants

There were just so many outstanding specimens on display; I’ve had a jolly hard time of it trying to select a handful for the old blog. Nevertheless, here they are, but please bear in mind this is just the tip of the iceberg!

Erysimum scoparius

Coronilla emerus being accosted by a bee

The plant labelling system is handled meticulously

Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Sissinghurst Blue’

Pyrus salicifolia ‘Pendula’ with Vestal Virgin statue

Primula ‘Black Lace’

Chaenomeles x superba ‘Knap Hill Scarlet’


I have just completed the most glorious work experience placement at Sissinghurst in Kent! This was my first visit to the garden and the gods were with me; I honestly could not have asked for better weather, every day we were bathed in magnificent sunshine! It was a varied trip, as the head gardener seemed keen for me to sample a flavour of the daily life at Sissinghurst. Fortunately, the garden team is made up of a prize collection of good eggs, who were all quite willing to share their vast wealth of knowledge with me and answer my endless questions! Like Hidcote, the place is in itself utterly beautiful; the picturesque ruins of an old castle are surrounded by perfect English countryside for as far as the eye can see. This framework is then embellished with a resplendent garden, all billowing borders bursting on to the path and colourful climbers creeping up and over the old walls. The lawns and hedges are, of course, expertly maintained.
Hidcote remains my favourite garden but please, if you are ever anywhere near Kent, be certain to visit Sissinghurst Castle!

The Tower

Tower Lawn

Lime Walk

The Nuttery

The Cottage Garden

‘Hot’ planting scheme of the Cottage Garden

The wonderfully trimmed yews of the Rondel

The Moat

A passing hot air balloon

Beryl came along too for a pedal around glorious Kent

Speckled Wood butterfly

Sunday, 17 April 2011


Today I leave for the Home Counties, as I’m away on a placement at Sissinghurst in the garden of England, Kent. A full-colour update to follow when I get back to the babbage machine! In the interim, please accept this visual interlude:


Muscari paradoxum

Seen flowering on the Alpine Terrace.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Erythronium ‘Hidcote Beauty’

Seen flowering on the Acid Border. This delightful specimen was recently re-discovered in the garden and has been propagated by a local grower.

Echium fastuosum

Behold the utter brilliance of these majestic blue spires! What a plant! Warning: do not plant these if you are anaphylactic; bees will travel miles for them and lay siege to your garden!
Taken a few weeks ago in the Mediterranean biome at the Eden Project.

Cardamine pratensis

This is a native English wildflower, known as Lady’s Smock or Cuckoo Flower. Seen here flowering on the ha-ha of the Huntingdon Elm Avenue.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011


Throughout the seasons many incredible things happen in the garden at Hidcote, but twice a year (April & September) the plants are outshone by something a bit different and utterly spectacular! Over the space of a couple of evenings, the Central Axis view ends with the sunset framed perfectly in Heaven’s Gate. It’s a real have-your-cake-and-eat-it moment, and another garden design masterclass courtesy of the Hidcote hero, Major Lawrence Johnston!
Unfortunately the garden is closed when this happens, and so very few people get to enjoy it. This is quite an irritating state of affairs, so this autumn we’ve arranged an evening tour for visitors who can come along and witness this rather magical occurrence.

 Two photographs taken last September (click to enlarge):


Yesterday we were visited by National Trust butterfly expert and all-round good egg, Matthew Oates. He popped along to discuss a butterfly project we are doing in the garden this year, and also to provide some advice on encouraging the various wildlife seen around Hidcote (not including Buster). Happily, the sun was cracking the flags and we saw several interesting bees buzzing about the place, plus some Scarlet Tiger moth caterpillars who were having a fine old time munching their way through a drift of Comfrey by the stream. Matthew had been talking all day about seeing a Holly Blue butterfly, and it was just after we left him that we finally spotted one! Matthew informed us that Hidcote is a prime spot for these, on account of the vast amount of Holly, Ivy and Holm Oak we have here, and on which the larvae of these wonderful chaps feed. Happy days indeed!

Matthew in action.

Scarlet Tiger moth caterpillar.

Holly Blue (click to zoom in).

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Long Walk

Hidcote is a magnificent flower garden, and an almost endless stream of delightful specimens can be discovered here throughout the seasons. However, some of the best areas of the garden have no flowers at all! Behold; the Long Walk!


Just down the hill from Hidcote Manor is another amazing garden, Kifsgate Court. It’s certainly worth a look-in after a visit to Hidcote; this is the incredible view from the Pool at the bottom of their garden!

Viburnum x burkwoodii

This is flowering in the Courtyard now, and fills the entire area with an absolutely stunning scent!

Monday, 11 April 2011

Plant House

Lawrence Johnston (Hidcote’s creator) built several structures around the garden to house and display those unfortunate weak-hearts from the plant kingdom, lacking in the necessary grit to survive our tough English climate. The best of these is the Plant House, which overlooks the Lily Pond and Pine Circle, and is heated throughout the winter months.

The beams overhead will eventually be covered with the climbers.

The Bays seen here are patiently waiting for Jack Frost to clear off, after which time they will be planted out in the Pine Circle.

The delicate blue flowers of Sollya heterophylla.

Hardenbergia violacea, a truly delightful climber that unfortunately finished flowering many weeks ago (winter flowering).

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