Penshurst Place

Penshurst Place is one the finest manor houses in England; it sits in the heart of the Weald at the confluence of the Rivers Medway and Eden, surrounded by wooded hills and ridges. On a fine autumn day, the house and the grounds look like something out of an 18th or 19th century painting.

Abri d’art

The art of the gardens at Boisjarzeau in August are the dying borders of Allium, Rudbeckia, Gaura and Agapanthus and a host of others with forgotten names; tall sunflowers in orange and yellow, exuberant vegetable beds, laden fruit trees and raspberry canes, three blue beehives and four fat chickens in a run. The autumn golds…

Blooming Dungeness

On the bare shingle ridge, fishing boats are hauled up well above the highest tides. The stark shapes puncture the smooth lines of the foreland. Inland and the first vegetation is sea kale, yellow horned-poppy and prostrate broom. Further inland and the vegetation is more established in increasingly large patches and swathes; there is a…

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 plants…

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 a…

August at Boisjarzeau

The view across the Tude valley is dry and parched. The wheat is cut and fields disced and harrowed; the sunflowers are burnt brown and heavy; and the maize is still green with irrigation deployed to combat the long drought. A great banded grayling sets up territory on the lime tree and chases off all…

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 villages…

South Charente in August

The sunflower and maize fields clothe the hills in a pale yellow and dull green patchwork; the cereals have been harvested and the stubbled earth disced and left full of weeds. Fine Charente cattle with newborn calves and attendant bulls are in green pastures; the calves are only present for a few days before being…

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, have…