Category Archives: Travel

End of month view – yearly round up 2018

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As last year, rather than solely a December view, I’ve put together a round up of the whole year.

I struggled with the Isle of Wight garden this year.  There were a number of reasons – tricky weather (miserable early on and then so hot and very dry over the summer), too much time in London, too much work and lastly, the removal of the decking, which meant nowhere to sit out and made trying to keep the garden looking good all feel a bit pointless!

However, there were still highlights, and spring (above) was one of them.

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Things were still ok in May IMG_4064

but by June everything was very parched,DSC01071

with only the Mediterranean plants enjoying themselves.

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The dry weather meant all my dahlias were disappointing, and finished early, with even the stalwart ‘Happy Single Dates’ not happy for long.

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Conversely, the Zinnias loved the weather, and filled out the Grass Beds with lots of pickable blooms.

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Again, as last year, I had many pots IMG_3910

but by summer many were struggling in the drought, so I was glad a number of them were so large!IMG_4255

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On the edibles front the only new variety I tried was the French Bean ‘Masterpiece’ which did well and was very tasty.  Otherwise we enjoyed the usual runner beans, courgettes, tomatoes, ‘Slim Jim’ aubergines, Ratte and Pink Fir Apple Potatoes and raspberries and strawberries.IMG_4275

I continued to enjoy joining in with Cathy’s wonderfully friendly and supportive ‘In a Vase on Monday’ meme, albeit a bit haphazardly.

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I also posted the odd photo from regular walks on the National Trust’s St Helens Duver, directly opposite the house.IMG_3778

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As in previous years I was lucky enough to do plenty of garden visiting, both near and far – Villa Cimbrone on the Amalfi Coast DSC01001

and An Cala in Scotland in May,IMG_3777

The High Line, in New York,IMG_3911

Petersham Nurseries andIMG_4018

Kew Gardens (including the newly re-opened Temperate House) in June,IMG_4061

Castle House (just up the road) in August,IMG_4557

Church Gardens in Harefield, Middlesex in OctoberIMG_4557

and Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens, still looking fabulous in November.IMG_5203

And lastly, the biggest development this year, was the purchase of a tiny terraced house back in Richmond, and the transformation of the garden from thisHF304_170626S_IMG_09

to this

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Thank you so much for continuing to support Duver Diary and sharing your likes and comments.  They really are very much appreciated, even if I don’t always find time to respond.

I hope I can carry on sharing my ramblings and photos next year, and that you’ll all come along for the ride!

Wishing you and yours a fabulous, flowery 2019.

Abbotsbury Subtropical Garden

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Last weekend saw us staying at the fabulous National Trust ‘cottage’ ‘Portland House’ near Weymouth with the OH’s family to celebrate their mother’s 89th birthday.

Those of you in the UK may remember the weather that Friday was absolutely atrocious and, as I was the one who’d come up with both the idea of a weekend away, and found the property, the sound of 60mph winds howling and rain lashing down while we waited for everyone else to arrive made me think I’d made a very big mistake!

However, unbelievably, the scene that greeted us the following morning was this:IMG_5162

And, although there was plenty of rain during the weekend, there were also fabulous skies and quite a lot of sun – even enough to prompt me to suggest a visit to the Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens on the Sunday.  This was another ‘bright’ idea I was starting to regret as the rain came down, but then the rain stopped, the sun came out and we all enjoyed some absolutely fabulous autumn colour in this really fascinating and well tended garden.

Unfortunately the ‘Magnolia Walk to views of the Jurassic Coastline was closed but, to be honest, there was so much else to see we weren’t perturbed.

The photos were only taken with my phone but I’m sure you’ll get the idea.

What an unexpected treat!IMG_5227

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High on the High Line

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Before we even start talking about the High Line, I just have to record my total admiration for Chesley Sullenberger, the pilot who landed an Airbus 320 on the Hudson River (above), in which all 155 passengers and crew survived with only minor injuries.  It was an astonishing feat and, strolling along the High Line looking out over the Hudson and watching the helicopters buzzing about, reminded me of the film and brought home just what a feat it was.  It was properly choppy out there!  It’s not that wide!  And lastly, it’s a RIVER!  Hello!  What a guy.  If you haven’t seen the film (‘Sully’) just do.

I was in New York with my daughter to celebrate the end of her her degree.  I’d taken both ‘kids’ to New York for their first time a few years ago and she absolutely loves it.  She’s now been back twice without me and had, in fact, already walked the High Line.  However, bearing in mind I was (largely!) paying, she indulged me with another visit.  I have to say it’s been on my bucket list since I was first aware of it and it didn’t disappoint.  Having said that, the planting – designed by Piet Oudolf – is deliberately low key, with the aim to maintain a sense of the ‘feel’ of the line when it was abandoned and overgrown, and therefore it’s not ‘flowery’ in a conventional sense.IMG_3907

However, despite this, I loved it.  I loved the vision of ‘re-purposing’ an urban space (a disused railway) in such a bold way, and I loved the way it meandered above the city streets and brought greenery and beauty to what must previously have been an eyesore.  I couldn’t get over how many thousands of people now had this amazing green ribbon to admire.IMG_3886

The first section opened in 2009 and many trees are now becoming really mature adding shade, scale with some fabulous specimens of Cercis and Cornus amongst others.IMG_3903

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In places, the original railway lines have been left, and the planting is around and amongst them.IMG_3892

There was planting for sun,IMG_3914

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planting for shade,IMG_3901

planting that matched buildingsIMG_3913

and views of iconic landmarks.IMG_3911

Thanks High Line.  Now I know what I want to do when I grow up!

An Cala – a Scottish gem

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Not long after my walking holiday to Italy, where I visited the stunning Villa Cimbrone, I headed to Scotland, staying with friends for a more relaxing holiday, walking and garden visiting.

My favourite garden was the privately owned ‘An Cala’.  The garden was established in 1930 by Colonel Arthur Murray who had inherited a cottage outside the village of Ellenabeich on the Isle of Seil in Argyll.  He decided (with his new wife, the actress Faith Celli) to commission Thomas Mawson to draw up plans for their 5 acre plot.

It took a year to convert the terrain into a garden, including dynamiting bedrock, importing thousands of tons of topsoil, and creating terraces, walls, steps, paths and lawns.

Once the structure was in place, the Murrays planted up the beds and woodland using the acid loving plants including azaleas, rhododendrons, Japanese ornamental cherry trees and their great love, roses.

Whilst I visited a number of gardens, all reflecting the acid soil, it was this one that I loved.   The plant palette had been broadened to include more herbaceous planting, as well as bulbs.  As I’ve noted before, I’m not a big fan of ‘stiff’ plants, and to me azaleas and rhodos fall into that category and therefore I did struggle to really love the other gardens.  An Cala was different, not least because of the incredible engineering feat to make it in the first place, but more especially because of the more varied planting – and the wonderful use of water, coupled with stunning views.IMG_3759

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Pictures from the fir cone house!  The small building was built rather like a shell house, but instead of shells, there was an astonishing arrangement of different fir cones.

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Fabulous peony.

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The motto on this bench particularly struck me as our lovely hosts have planted some wonderful trees in their garden since they moved to Scotland five or so years ago.

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With thanks to the Scottish Gardens scheme (the Scottish equivalent of the NGS) and An Cala for sharing such a wonderful Scottish gem.

Villa Cimbrone garden – un bel giardino!

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I always try to ensure that posts are pertinent to the time the photos were taken, at least within a week or so, but we’ve been back from Italy for nearly a month and I’ve struggled to find time to pull this post together.  However, it really was a beautiful garden, so I hope you’ll  excuse this being almost a month late!

On the last day of our walking holiday on the Amalfi coast we were lucky enough to visit the gardens of the Villa Cimbrone.

Found on the outskirts of Ravello, the setting is absolutely breathtaking, on a south pointing ‘finger’ high above the coast, with sea views around 270 degrees.

The abandoned estate was rescued by Ernest William Beckett, Lord Grimthorpe after he discovered it as part of his Grand Tour when he came to Italy to get over the death of his wife.  He bought the estate in 1904 and, with the help of local Nicola Mansi, as well as Harold Peto, Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll, the gardens were laid out in what the guide describes ‘a happy combination of traditional English and Italian landscaped gardens’.

I’d worried that we might be too early, even on the Mediterranean, for many flowers, but magically our visit coincided with two fairly fleeting blooms – both the Judas Tree, Cercis siliquastrum IMG_3595

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and Wisteria.

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Both were featured repeatedly and provided fabulous colour to clothe wonderful structures.

One plant that was new to me was the one growing vertically (above) reflecting the Wisteria hanging down.  Here it is closer.  I’d seen it on previous days growing wild and would love to know what it is.  Any clues?  We discussed it within the group and thought it must be bulbous and perhaps related to Muscari?DSC00981

The next few photos reflect the stunning views out over the Amalfi Coast.  DSC01001

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as well as a few planting combinations which appealed.

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And to finish, two charming ‘housekeeping’ items.  Firstly, one of the elegant rubbish binsDSC00982

and secondly, the most beautiful emergency exit!IMG_3599

With thanks to Villa Cimbrone – you made my holiday!