Category A-Zchallenge

Parterre, the patterned garden.

One thing you need to view a parterre garden is a high vantage point, possibly a drone. But back in 15th Century France, there were no drones or hot air balloons. What you probably had to go with your parterre garden was a nice big house with storeys and lots of acres of land. Parterre […]

Orangeries bearing fruit

The Versailles Orangerie was built between 1684 and 1686, before the palace was even begun. It housed a thousand trees in boxes, mostly citrus trees, but also olives, oleanders and palms. From May to October the plants were moved out into Parterre Bas to bask in the sunshine. (Imagine the effort carrying those trees in […]

Ness Gardens – one man’s passion

Liverpool cotton merchant, Arthur Kilpin Bulley was one of fourteen children. Born in 1861, like many of his day, he followed the family business, which enabled him to travel and with a keen interest in unusual plants, he purchased 60 acres of land overlooking the Dee Estuary on the Wirral peninsula. There he established a […]

Mazes – a garden puzzle

“You keep taking the first turning on the right. We’ll just walk around for ten minutes and then go and get some lunch.” These are the words of Harris in Jerome K Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat as he leads a group of tourists into Hampton Court Maze and promptly gets them lost for […]

Landscape gardens – vandalism or greatness?

I touched on Landscape gardens with my post on Capability Brown. He wasn’t the only designer who had a habit of obliterating existing formal gardens and replacing them with picturesque landscapes. During the 18th century, the era of neoclassical architecture, estates were symbols of wealth and status. The grander, the better. The scale required new […]

Kew Gardens – botany goes big

In 2003 Kew Gardens, located in the borough of Richmond-on-Thames, was designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Better late than never, is all I can say. Once called Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, there has been gardens on the site since the 16th Century. That plural is due to the merging of two main gardens – […]

Japanese gardens – philosophy meets nature

In 1857 Japan opened its borders to visitors, ending centuries of self-imposed isolation. The inquisitive went to visit and returned with new ideas on many subjects. At the age of twenty-four Josiah Conder, an English Architect, went to Japan in 1877 to teach. He was keen to learn about Japanese art and eventually went on […]

Inverewe and Inveresk, a tale of two Scottish Gardens

In 1862 Osgood Mackenzie started a garden from scratch on barren land. Nothing too remarkable about that. Except, the 850 hectare estate is in the Scottish Highlands, an area not exactly renown for fair weather. Osgood’s mum bought him the Inverewe estate. Very nice of her, but what about a garden? Shouldn’t all big estates […]

Heligan – lost then found

Years ago, as a young child, my family stayed in a converted barn on a farm in Lancashire. The farm is part of a large estate that included a vast wooded area. Exploring the undergrowth, we discovered a lost garden with sweeping stone steps, a lake and archways of rhododendrons. There’s something truly magical, and […]

Miss Gertrude Jekyll and grand garden designs

Often wondered where Dr Jekyll got his name? Robert Louis Stevenson, who wrote the book Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, was friends with Walter Jekyll and borrowed his name. Walter though had a more famous sister, Gertrude Jekyll, who really should be better known for her name and its legacy. Gertrude Jekyll is an architect […]

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