Tuesday, 9 November 2010


A soaring gateway to - nowhere very much now, not so when these magnificent warehouses and head offices were built in Manchester's Whitworth Steet.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

High Peak Garden

I made a return visit to plant some bulbs, but was thwarted by the frost. It made the planting look good though, the leaves of the Phlomis russeliana particularly. The woodland meadow is planted with Persicaria ampolexicaulis 'Firetail' Geranium psilostemon and Melica uniflora, with Narcissus poeticus recurvus.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Dead hedge

A good example of creating a stock proof barrier in a rural setting, when a fence won't do. Posts are driven in with brushwood woven in between. Whips (small trees/shrubs) can be planted which will eventually grow into a hedge. This one at the Waulkmill, joins beautifully to a wicket gate and drystone wall.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Let's hear it for autumn

Outside the Imperial War Museum in London is the Tibetan Peace Garden.
What could be cooler than white Japanese anemones and electric blue ceratostigma? The combination of flowering ivy and virginia creeper careering over a high wall is lush. Plenty pollen for the bees and colour for the eye until winter comes.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Trentham Gardens

Piet Oudolf's planting at Trentham, Staffordshire: Creamy Selinum wallichianum, with cauliflowers of purple sedum, plumy grasses and some eupatorium hanging about at the back.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Last tomatoes

Finally clearing out the greenhouse, here are the last ripe tomatoes of the season. Same number again of green ones! This year I grew Scottish Yellow and Mini Orange, both from the Heritage Seed Library, at Garden Organic. The Mini Orange has tended to mildew, even in the greenhouse. The Scottish Yellow has yielded well and looks good, but tastes better cooked. I got a great oven dried toms recipe from someone at our East Cheshire Organic group.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Staunton Harold

Two different gates from Staunton Harold. You know you are going somewhere special when going through these. And two different faces, the angel from above the doorway of the seventeenth century church and the twenty-first century green man from the adjacent craft centre.

Saxon sculpture

Two faces from the distant past give a Byzantine blessing. They can be seen at the church of St. Mary and St. Hardulph at Breedon on the Hill in Leicestershire. Incidently Breedon on the Hill means hillhill on the hill, each new invader to the area adding their own word for hill. It is a very lovely hill.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Garden matures

One year after re-planting, this garden is beginning to fill out. The soil has a tendency to dry out, due to the competing root systems of existing mature trees and shrubs. However with careful mulching and feeding the underplanting is thriving.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

St. Georges, Thornton Hough

A bestiary in stone at St George's, Thornton Hough. Designed by J. Lomax Simpson in 1907 for W. H. Lever. 'A tour de force of the stone carver's art' say the Armstrongs in their handbook of 'The Arts and Crafts Movement in the North West of England'.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Vernon Park Stockport

A Cheshire Gardens Trust visit to Vernon Park, Stockport's 'hidden gem'. Opened in 1858 it was restored with Lottery money in 2000.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Arley Hall Gardens

A privileged evening guided tour with the head gardener of Arley Hall Gordon Baillie, prior to a planning meeting about the Cheshire Gardens Trust's stand at the Tatton Park Flower show. Gordon has done a great job, the whole garden but particularly the famous herbaceous borders. The walled kitchen gardens are looking immaculate.

High Peak Garden

The planting has just been completed on this garden. My client had recently completed the renovation of the house and commissioned me to take on the gardens. The building of the project was delayed by the bad winter weather and did not start on site until early March. The bulk of the plants are small, 9cm pots, as the depth of soil is variable, the bedrock being just below the surface in some places. The site, at 220' faces into the prevailing westerly wind. An existing roofless stone barn was conserved and incorporated into the design, the drystone walls repaired and a new one built to make a raised bed. The sawn stone paving makes a contrast with the rough drystone walls. The contractor has made a really excellent job of all the stonework, paving and joinery. The small parking area was extended, levelled and the tarmac was replaced with gravel made of crushed local quarry waste. The fencing and trellis is woven oak to slow the wind speed rather than solid fencing which creates turbulence. The planting of heaths, birches and purple moor grass is designed to echo the adjoining moorland. There is a woodland meadow under the mature sycamore and birch, of Melic grass, with Persicaria 'Firetail' and Geranium psilostemon. In the deeper shade sweet cicely and sweet woodruff. There is a separate herb garden and a more traditional rose border. A raised pond with fountain is built against the barn, and visible from the house.

Poulton Hall Gardens

The world of wonders at Poulton Hall. Created as a memorial to the scholar and author Roger Lancelyn Greenvby his wife June, the garden is full of sculptural references to the themes of his books. There is also a dramatic stainless steel sculpture by Sue Sharples called the Breeze of Life, which is dedicated to the memory of Roger and June's son Richard Lancelyn Green, also a notable scholar and author. The garden is open under the NGS, but this was a visit organised by the Cheshire Gardens Trust. I love the surreal way scale is used, from the huge steel sculpture to the little model Buddha.

New greenhouse, new garden

My clients wanted to extend the season, particularly for growing salads and vegetables and chose a new Hartley Botanic greenhouse. Next problem, where to put it. Which is where I came in and rejigged the layout of the back garden. The design is as simple as possible with a moderate spoonful of Arts and Crafts. The build and planting was completed in October 2009. Challenges included a very wet summer and autumn combined with clay soil and a high water table. The contractor dealt with all the problems deftly. Some land drains were put in under the beds and lawn, leading to a new bog garden, planted with blueberries and camassia. Needles to say that at the moment everything is dry.

Bunbury garden revisited

Compare these photos with the entry for 21 August 2009. The stone work and the quercus fencing is still looking immaculate. The drought has affected some of the hamemelis and hydrangeas, in spite of the amount of mulch applied, the sandy soil does not retain much moisture.