A Day with Heather Angel

12th March 2020 Heather Angel is one of the great wildlife photographers with a wonderful portfolio of images; she is a constant traveller, especially to China and the mountains of Sichuan, as well as a prolific nature writer. I had a day (thanks to a brilliant birthday present) with Heather learning how to photograph plantsContinue reading “A Day with Heather Angel”

Sissinghurst on Leap Day

The last day of February brings more squalls from the west with intervals of piercing blue sky and pristine spring sunshine. The castle garden is subdued with the plants starting to grow but needing a run of warmer, gentler days; white magnolias are bursting; the crocus, iris, squill and summer snowflake are out; and aContinue reading “Sissinghurst on Leap Day”

The Dart Estuary

The Dart Estuary is a sinuous flooded valley, lined with ancient oak woodlands that run down to, and hang over, the water. The influence of the Atlantic creates a damp, dark understorey of holly, birch and butcher’s broom with a ground flora rich in ferns and mosses. Between Dartmouth and Totnes, there are a handful of villagesContinue reading “The Dart Estuary”

Sissinghurst’s Rite of Spring

The gardeners continue to create colour wheel harmonies; bright and gaudy; cool and relaxed; the garden compartments have diverse compositions.  The spring bulbs, like brass, shout the loudest with purple and red fanfares everywhere. More muted arrangements in spring greens and whites are often simpler tunes in minor keys. All the many troughs, large and small, haveContinue reading “Sissinghurst’s Rite of Spring”

Ightham Mote

The rich afternoon light of autumn lifts the ancient, dark-tiled manor house out of the deep shade within the narrow, wooded valley. A dammed lake feeds a black mote around the richly patterned square of stone and half-timbered buildings within which is hidden a small, beautiful, cobbled quadrangle. On a dull dead winter’s day, the place is rheumy; drippingContinue reading “Ightham Mote”

Great Dixter

Great Dixter on a grey afternoon in May with rain threatening. The old manor sinks into the gentle hillside under steep-pitched roofs and tall chimneys; an Elizabethan galleon on a sea of meadows and woodlands that flow across this quiet corner of the Weald. The fields are full of buttercups and orchids but behind the high walls of neat-clipped yew Taxus baccataContinue reading “Great Dixter”

Sissinghurst in May

Sissinghurst Castle is a bustle of visitors and, on our second visit, the gardens have a degree of familiarity; the shape and juxtaposition of the different compartments, the various views and the patterns of colour more readily comprehended. Black and white images throw the place straight back to the 1930s when it all began, and show the dramaticContinue reading “Sissinghurst in May”

Bayham Abbey

Bayham Abbey is a fine example of 16th century destruction in an age of religious intolerance, grotesque public execution and profiteering. Today, it is a quiet place of crumbling sandstone set amongst beautiful and ancient trees at the base of a valley. The ruins sit next to an assortment of more recent buildings built by various belted earls, includingContinue reading “Bayham Abbey”

Bore Place

Just round the corner from Bough Beech, among the mosaic of woods and pastures of the Weald, is Bore Place, a fine old brick and tile manor house. Today, it is the home of Commonwork, a charitable trust that seeks to educate, inspire and support people through contact with sustainable agriculture and nature. The place is at its heart aContinue reading “Bore Place”