Gardens to inspire and delight

How do you choose your favourite garden? Is it one you visit for inspiration? Or the place you go for a family day out. Do you like modern or traditional English gardens? Below are a few of my favourites which I recommend visiting for both design and planting inspiration.

• The Beth Chatto Gardens, near Colchester in Essex (www.bethchatto.co.uk). This garden is an inspiration on the art of planting at its best. The gardens were developed by Beth Chatto from an overgrown wasteland with poor gravel soil and boggy hollows to an informal garden which shows off her planting skills to perfection. Her planting teaches us how to use both flower and leaf to best advantage and how to marry plants to the situation.

• East Ruston Old Vicarage, in Norfolk (www.e-ruston-oldvicaragegardens.co.uk). This is a modern garden with a microclimate that allows the owners to grow many plants that are normally too tender to thrive in East Anglia. Throughout the garden you will see many rare and unusual plants growing in a framework of walls and hedges. I think the best time to visit is early summer when the cornfield is ablaze with summer colour. However, throughout the season you will be able to get design ideas – from the sunken garden and long herbaceous borders to the Desert Wash.

• Wollerton Old Hall, outside Market Drayton in Shropshire. (www.wollertonoldhallgarden.com). This is a four acre plantsman’s garden with a classic English design and layout. Strong formal design has created separate garden rooms each with its own character but very much part of the whole. Emphasis is placed on perennial planting combinations that contrast colour and form, as well as many rare and unusual plants. Collections of clematis, roses andslavias result in planting combinations that inspire.

• The Dorothy Clive Garden in Shropshire (www.dorothyclivegarden.co.uk) is good for both design and planting ideas. This is a real contrast to Wollerton Old Hall, as it is more intimate and informal. It includes a variety of landscape features, including a Quarry Garden, Woodland Garden, Azalea Walk, Alpine Scree and beautiful herbaceous borders. This garden appeals all year with its great variety of both form and colour.

• The Royal Horticultural Society`s Garden at Wisley, near Woking (www.rhs.org.uk). This garden is now a renowned showplace for all aspects of horticultural practice. There are talks and demonstrations on gardening techniques and informative walks conducted. Wisley is acclaimed by gardeners throughout the and is also a wonderful place to visit whatever the season.

• Hestercombe Gardens near Taunton (www.hestercombe.com). The part of Hestercombe I love most are the formal gardens designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and planted by Gertrude Jekyll. It is the finest example of their work together and is one of the most important gardens constructed in the twentieth century. Together they created a garden that is both intimate and formal. Bressingham Gardens near Diss (www.Bressingham.co.uk) Here is where world-renowned gardener and horticulturalist Alan Bloom combined his passion for plants and gardens with his love of steam, to create a fun day out for all the family. The famous island beds are planted with a collection of herbaceous perennials for continual colour from spring until Autumn. Differences in heights and textures, as well as the colour of the blossoms, provide rich variety. Near by in Foggy Bottom, Adrian Bloom has created a garden full of specimen conifers inter planted with grasses to great effect.

• Pensthorpe Waterfowl Park, in Norfolk (www.pensthorpe.com). This is a 200 acre waterfowl park. However, it is the millennium garden designed by the Dutch designer Piet Oudolf that makes this garden one of my favourite. The perennial planting style for which he is famous is spectacular. Large drifts of herbaceous plants are interspersed with grasses such as Miscanthus. This combination brings swathes of colour from July to mid Autumn.

For a free consultation for your garden please call me on 01508 558743 or email info@smgardens.co.uk