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.

Small but perfectly formed

Another of my projects; this back garden in Congleton was planted in March. The small lawn was replaced with planted terraces and the paved sitting area was enlarged to allow for table and chairs. The contractor painstakingly reused many of the existing clay pavers and mixed them in with the new. The prominent manhole cover has disappeared under a lovely birdbath designed and made by potter Gordon Cooke.

Quarry Bank Mill

In the gardens of the Mill Owner's house at Quarry Bank Mill, Styal, wonderful rock textures

Boden Hall Gardens

This private garden is open by appointment during June. See the entry in the Good Gardens Guide.


It is very hard to do any sort of justice to this garden in photos. It lives up to its reputation. The National Trust has treated it well and lightly.

Derek Jarman's Garden

The garden at Prospect Cottage, Dungeness. Although it is well maintained, there is a sadness, knowing the man who dreamed it, loved it and tended it is no longer there. Recommended book: 'Derek Jarman's Garden' with photos by Howard Sooley published by Thames and Hudson.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Lamb House Rye

The garden at Lamb House, as featured in the Mapp and Lucia novels of E. F, Benson.