Hestercombe with 50 acres of varied gardens, based in Somerset, is a feast for the eyes. The Great plat - a large sunken parterre with geometric borders was completely deserted, due to the very heavy rain, but it didn’t stop our adventure!
The image below is one of the entrances to the formal gardens, with distant views over the stunning countryside beyond. Detailed stonework and climbers draped over the stone walls create a lovely enclosed feeling. Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932) created some 400 gardens, Hestercombe being one of the many beautifully designed Edwardian spaces she made in collaboration with Sir Edwin Lutyens.
A sculptural Acer acts like a centurion leading down towards the sunken garden. This is mirrored on the other side of the sunken garden with a purple acer.
Secret stone pathways with wisteria laden walls lead you down to the more formal area of the Orangery.
Steps, covered with Erigeron, heading towards the Orangery. Cleverly placed sculpture and pots lead the eye upwards over the herbaceous borders, creating a sense of depth and interest.
I have set up Landscape Masterclass - a series of events and workshops created to further your knowledge of the sciences behind the planted environment which will help inform our design choices. I felt that there was an opportunity to create something inspiring and fun, which are ideally suited to people with a keen interest and involvement in design, landscaping and ecology.
Dr Noel Kingsbury + Caroline Hanks - ‘Perennials and Meadows’
The first event is a workshop with the brilliant Dr Noel Kingsbury. He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of plants, particularly perennials. His passion is very apparent during his lectures and his workshop ‘The Rabbits Eye View’ focuses on the long term performance of perennials. https://www.noelkingsbury.com
He looks at how plants compete with each other and their suitability for a variety of locations, which helps us understand the long term maintenance required, and how this can be financially sustainable. By learning about the ecology and the natural habitat of the plants we use in our work, we can get a much better idea of how to use them to the best effect. I participated in this talk last year and left having learnt a huge amount and felt very empowered by my new found knowledge.
Caroline Hanks has extensive knowledge on creating perennial meadows. She will be discussing methods on how to establish successful meadows that have great ecological benefits too. The combination of Noel and Carolines talks will make for a fascinating and hopefully fun day. It is a hands on workshop, we will be down on our hands and knees actually looking at the plants, which is why the University of Bristol Botanic Gardens was such a good venue. It is the first new Botanic Garden to be created in nearly 40 years and has such a variety of interesting plants to look at and analyse. www.bristol.ac.uk/botanic-garden/
Hanham Court is based in Bristol. Situated on the Via Julia above the River Avon at an ancient ferry crossing. The Via Julia was a crucial trading road that went from Bath through to the historic port at Avonmouth. There is architectural evidence at the site in form of the Tithe barn, that dates from C.1042.
I visited the glorious gardens at Hanham Court during the National Garden Scheme open day in late May. The gardens were completely redesigned by Julian and Isabel Bannerman, who lived in the property for twenty years.
They have made something truly exquisite. A series of romantic spaces transition very smoothly from one to another, with wild planting enveloping a secret swimming pool and a completely hidden parterre amongst many other visual delights.
Hidcote Manor is a stunning 17th Century house with a magical garden, a real Cotswolds gem. A series of ‘garden rooms’ created by Lawrence Johnston, flow from one to another, each giving a very different feeling. Colourful borders, beautiful water features from reflection pools to a babbling brook and stunning views over the surrounding countryside.
An interesting more recent section of garden has been created with large topiary yew columns and deep plant borders, flanked by a wonderful secret orchard, provide much beauty and intrigue.
Biodynamic compost course at Old-Lands with the Land Gardeners
Old-Lands is an old family estate in Monmouthshire who run interesting courses based on traditionally green principles. They have the most amazing walled garden. The compost course, run by the Land Gardeners taught us about the principles of Biodynamics and the Berkley compost method. It was a really interesting day with a morning talk and some hands on action in the afternoon.
Composting is a real art form. If time is available, this method is well worth investing in. You will need to turn your compost every couple of days for the first two weeks and then occasionally for the next few weeks. You can create humic rich compost in 6-8 weeks, which is extremely quick.