Every now and again, you’ve got to trust your gut. The head said to spend the day at the eye-poppingly blue Lake Bled, in Slovenia, and maybe have a lazy one, just reading. The gut said otherwise. The head said (upon arrival at Kranjska Gora, and not finding the promised walk signage) to turn around
There’s no doubt that Isola Bella, on Lake Maggiore, is totally and utterly over the top. What’s much harder to work out is how it gets away with this. It charms you into suspending discernment. You find yourself loving it precisely for its outrageous extravagance, and yet can’t help but feel like you’ve been taken
No gardener I know is entirely satisfied with their garden. And, curiously, the best gardeners I know are the least satisfied, smug or complacent about their gardens. They’re always pushing for them to be better still. But as owners, we’re often too close to them, and blinded by familiarity, to clearly see what they do
I remember being blown away when James Van Sweden, speaking in Melbourne in 1989 about his huge plantings of perennials in the USA, told us that many of his clients found that their favourite season was winter. They were surprised by this discovery. He was equally surprised. After all, it’s the time when there’s nothing
It’s hard to imagine that it’s even possible that a garden like Trott’s Garden, just outside of Christchurch, NZ, could be created in one lifetime, and by one man. It’s an astonishing achievement by Alan Trott, who has recently handed the garden over to a trust, to ensure its survival. There’s so many ways in
It would be easy to make the mistake of thinking that the bigger the garden, the bigger the design challenge. But the exact opposite is true. The smaller the space, the more discipline is required for a good outcome, and discipline is about as rare as patience in gardeners! The smaller the garden, the less
My thinking on planting design has been substantially recalibrated in the last 12 months or so by increased contact with the ground-breaking work of James Hitchmough and Nigel Dunnett, largely through their respective books, Sowing Beauty (Timber Press 2017) and the fresh-off-the-press Naturalistic Planting Design (Filbert Press 2019). These guys did the incredible meadow plantings
Great Dixter is one of my favourite places in the world. Has been for nearly 30 years. I’ve been deliriously happy there and horribly stressed. In that house and garden I’ve experienced high affirmation and crippling self doubt. My months there were amongst the richest in my life. Check out the video of Ash and
It’s completely baffling to me how English, American (and, frankly, therefore Australian) gardeners and designers have remained profoundly ignorant of the rigorous research being carried out in Germany, focussing on ecologically responsible perennial planting. A lot of it has occurred at Weihenstephan, just outside of Munich. Check out this ten minute video of my first
Watch as the German Landscape Architect Bettina Jaugstetter reframes my thinking about successional planting. I go on about what Christopher Lloyd taught me, then Bettina, having listened attentively, gently offers an alternative approach. Then she rattles my assumptions about irrigation. THEN, once I think I’ve caught up, she further rattles the new position I’ve only
I’m set up for the dry. The only water available is from our tanks, and we really only have enough for the house.
For this reason, I don’t grow vegetables over the summer, and the ornamental garden is designed and planted to survive without supplementary water.
I don’t think there are many plants that make me go weak at the knees. I wish there were more.
It’s plantings that are more likely to do if for me – great combinations of plants, bouncing off each other in such a way that all members of the troupe are glorified by the company.