Category Archives: Garden visits

In search of the 287, two years later

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I drafted this post two years ago, but for some reason never got round to posting it so, lacking inspiration currently (and wasn’t the weekend weather FOUL!), I thought I’d share today.  I’m not absolutely sure when I visited but I’m pretending it was still January.

As a ‘friend’ of Ventnor Botanic Gardens, I receive regular email updates and recently heard that this year’s new year flower count had totalled 287!  I’ve been meaning to visit since I’d heard and finally, on Saturday, during a long awaited dry afternoon, off I went.

I think it’s fair to say that a number of those 287 had exhausted themselves in the intervening month, but there were still many blooms to admire, not least the Magnolias, including Magnolia campbelli alba (above and below) and M.campbelli ‘Charles Raffill’ (pink).

Whilst Ventnor’s incredibly mild microclimate means they have avoided any frost damage, they have clearly been battered by both wind and rain, leaving a number rather strangely ‘naked’ like the one above.IMG_9950

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The two below, still in bud, are in much better condition.  Perhaps the weather will allow these ones to flower in peace?

Magnolia x soulangiana ‘Triumphans’IMG_9954

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Against a west facing wall another white flower, this New Zealander, 10ft tall Glory Pea or Lobster Claw, Clianthus puniceus albus.  It’s supposed to flower from April to June, but clearly hasn’t read the books…

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A shrub I don’t remember seeing before is Buddleja offinalis.  I’m not a big Buddleja fan but this one is a lovely soft lilac and is scented and winter flowering.  Apparently it’s usually reserved for the conservatory in this country, but was thriving at VBG.IMG_9927

More shrubby interest was provided by this Cestrum fasciculatum ‘Newellii’, another plant ignoring the calendar to flower now.

I do love those arching stems, I wonder if they would last in a vase?IMG_9924

And anyone know what this one is?  It was covered in these pretty white flowers and growing in the ‘Australian’ area (hence the Eucalyptus in the background).IMG_9946

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And to finish, Ventnor’s pride and joy, a little mirror orchid, Ophrys speculum.  I was lucky enough to see these growing in the wild in southern Spain last year (see post here).  They really are very special.
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East Ruston Old Vicarage

In June I visited East Ruston Old Vicarage gardens and was so overwhelmed by the scale and invention that I felt the post deserved some proper time spent on it.  Sadly, I didn’t find the time, and the moment passed.  However, preparing my yearly round up reminded me, so here it is, six months late, but who’s counting.

As the site is just 1 1/2 miles from the North Sea (adjacent to Norfolk’s eat coast), shelter belts of Monterey Pine, Alder and Eucalyptus were planted soon after the owners Graham Robeson and Alan Gray arrived in 1973.
The gardens now cover 32 acres and encompass an astonishing variety of garden styles, all, in my view, absolutely ‘nailed’.  To succeed at just one style is impressive, but to tackle so many and somehow make them work together as a cohesive whole is just extraordinary.   The different gardens are generally set within immaculate hedges, which adds an incredible sense of discovery to the visit.
I’ve included the link to the map from the website to give some sense of the scale and ambition of the project.
Please enjoy the photos – but more importantly, go and visit for yourself.  I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

 

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With many thanks to Graham and Alan for creating and sharing such a wonderful, inspirational place.

 

 

 

End of month view – yearly round up 2017

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I’ve started my Yearly Round up with a photo of the garden in June as June saw me coordinating the St Helens Secret Gardens event (the garden opening of a dozen local gardens in aid of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance) for the first time.

I was so relieved and delighted all went smoothly – largely due to the fabulous weather.  The event is only every other year so I can put my feet up this year!

As ever, there were successes and failures in the garden, with a really annoying number of bulbs, particularly tulips, lost to some nibbling critter.  I like to think it might be one of our beautiful red squirrels as at least that means they were lost to a good cause!  However, there were also successes, and I’ve shared some favourite garden photos below:

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I added a new tree to the garden – Albizia julibrissin ‘Ombrella,’

had fun with pots

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and tried new edibles in the greenhouse – Pepper ‘Tequilla’ and

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Aubergine ‘Slim Jim.’

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I also continued creating various vases, both for Cathy’s ‘In a Vase on Monday’ meme IMG_2342

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as well as to take to work with me.IMG_2237

I shared a few more photos taken on the daily dog walk on the St Helens Duver –  the National Trust land opposite where we live that gives this blog its name.img_1532-1

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And also shared plenty of garden visit photos, including, in March, Le Jardin de Secret

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and Jardin Majorelle, both in Marrakech,dsc00100

in May, Gravetye Manor,IMG_2462

and Parham House and Gardens.

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In June, The Old Rectory Gardens, open for the NGS on the Isle of Wight

In September, Hauser and Wirth in Somerset

and in October, a couple of gardens on the Cote d’Azur – Jardin Exotique d’Eze

and Ville Ephrussi de Rothschild.

On the learning front, I finished the second year of my Level 3 Certificate in Garden and Planting Design course at Capel Manor College.  I toyed with the idea of embarking on the RHS2 course but I was concerned it would all be a bit ‘schooly’ with little of the lovely gardening chat we had on the design course, so instead I took a six week photography evening class at the Bishopsgate Institute.  However, the learning highlight must have been my crafty visit to the reopened Garden Museum where I created my festive robin.image

So, another busy year chez Duver Diary – to be honest, sometimes rather too busy, and blogging has increasingly taken a back seat on occasions since I went back to working full time in February, but I still enjoy capturing and sharing photos both of my garden and others, and hope I can continue in 2018.

Thank you so much for supporting Duver Diary and sharing your likes and comments.  They are such delight when work – or the wider world – are getting me down!

Wishing you and yours a fabulous, flowery 2018.

Hauser and Wirth

It was only seeing Hauser and Wirth on Gardeners’ World recently that I realised I’d never blogged beyond my Wordless Wednesday teaser last month.

Although a rather grey day, this was another bucket list garden, and despite it being the OH’s birthday weekend, I was indulged with a visit (although I did have to pay for lunch!)

Hauser and Wirth is a fabulous arts centre near Bruton in Somerset and was created from a number of historic farm buildings a couple of years ago.

Sadly, the gallery itself was closed on the day of our visit, but there was still amazing art work around the venue to enjoy.

Behind the gallery, Piet Oudolf has designed a 1.5 acre perennial meadow.  The garden exhibited the classic Oudolf approach to design, relying on contrasting forms and textures for interest, rather than clever colour combinations.

The view back to the gallery shows these interesting circular ‘plats.’  I really like these – they add a novel (and child friendly) dimension to what would otherwise have been a featureless path.

Looking the other was you can see the birthday boy himself!

There were numerous planting combinations that were just that bit different, and, as with another Oudolf garden, Scampston Hall (which I visited a couple of years ago), there was a comprehensive plant list, so it was good to be able to identify less obvious plants.

And of course, there were plenty of grasses.

So, thanks Hauser and Wirth, not only was it a great garden, but we also had a truly delicious lunch.

Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild – what a gem!

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The second garden visit I managed to slip in during last week’s French sojourn was the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild overlooking the Bay of Villefranche and the Bay of Beaulieu, about 10 kilometres from both Nice and Monaco.

The Villa is situated on the Cap Ferrat peninsular and has spectacular views in all directions.

Béatrice de Rothschild bought the land in 1905, having recently divorced her husband (a banker, Maurice Ephrussi) and lost her father and consequently inherited a tidy sum.  At the time, the plot was just a rocky outcrop and she set about both building the villa and landscaping the beautiful gardens.

Maybe it was the weather, or maybe the views, but I really do think this was one of the most beautiful gardens I’ve visited.  Not only was the site incredible, but the design, apparently designed to echo the prow of a ship (to fit the peninsular’s shape), led you on a wonderful journey through different gardens from Spanish to French to rose and exotic. What an adventure!

The entrance, to the western side of the house, took you past this rather glamorous display featuring, yes, marigolds!  However, the thing that intrigued me were those marvellous Asparagus ferns.  What a gorgeous fresh colour and funky shape!

Through to the Spanish garden and whilst I’ve seen Brugmansia (previously Datura) before, I’ve never seen them in such a gorgeous soft peach, never planted as an avenue lining both sides of a pool, and also never such an astonishing display of glorious, pendulous blooms.

The sign suggested this one is B. x candida and I’m so taken with it I’m tempted to see if I can get it to grow here.

As well as exotic blooms, there were plenty of plants you could grow in the UK – this rose and perfectly matched bizzy lizzy for example,

or striking Salvia

(maybe) Cuphea and Hibiscus

or a peachier Hibiscus.

This first view out of the gardens was looking north west towards Villefranche.

and here, in a similar direction, through a beautiful iron gate,

and again, through an arbour.

Here, looking due west

and again.

I loved the extraordinary colour of this plant –  I think it’s an Iochroma

The Exotic Garden had a similar array of plants to those at Eze, but (to me) not quite as successful, perhaps because they were amongst non exotic trees as a backdrop?

Next came the Rose Garden, covering quite a significant area, and still smothered in a restrained palette of rosy blooms.

However, what was extraordinary was the fact that the very ‘English’ Rose Garden was smack bang next to the Exotic Garden.  So much for ‘right plant right place’ – amazing what an irrigation system will allow!

The Rose Garden was the furthest (south) from the villa so we started to make our way back, through the Provencal Garden, past Leonotis leonurus planted with lavender

a stunning Salvia

and yet more views, firstly, almost south towards Paloma Beach

and then looking east towards Cap-d’Ail

Back to the gardens, the final ‘hurrah’ was the French garden, clearly seen from the villa and consisting of a formal arrangement of beds and pools, where, according to the website “To add to the fairytale feel, musical fountains spring from the large pond like a grand aquatic ballet.”

Beyond icing and beyond cake, just wow  🙂 

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Thanks Béatrice, it was an absolute joy.

Taking it Eze-y on the Cote d’Azur

We’re just back from a last minute walking holiday to the Cote d’Azur, blessed with absolutely fabulous weather.

Aside from walking around 9 miles a day, I was delighted to squeeze in two garden visits.  The first was Eze which turned out to have a wonderful Exotic Garden (Jardin Exotique d’Eze), perched on a rocky pinnacle.  Not only were all the plants in fabulous condition, but the garden was enhanced by elegant sculptures of rather elongated ladies by Jean-Philippe Richard,

as well as stunning vistas in every direction, both inland

and out to sea.

Oh, and see the umbrellas below?  They turned out to be on the terrace of the Chateau Eza Hotel which served a very good cup of coffee with the best ever biscotti.   Worth every one of the 24,565 steps it took me to get there!