Alnwick Garden – A 21st Century Pleasure Garden.

The Grand Cascade

The Alnwick Garden has always sharply divided opinion. On one day it can be a delightfully tranquil place for the garden visitor (- my weekday visit in late September), yet on another be something akin to a theme park with … Continue reading

Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden – Playing with Space and Form

Forget the Trebahs, Trewithins, Trelessicks and Tre ..whatever… this garden is the highlight of any trip to Cornwall, and despite its diminutive size is the most exciting and remarkable garden I saw last year. It was the quality of the … Continue reading

Chiswick House and Gardens – the Transformative Effect of Lottery Largesse

Chiswick House Main Front

When I first moved to West London I was curious to check out local parks and gardens, the first being Chiswick House and Gardens. The house at that time was a faded, tired but spectacular small villa under the custodianship … Continue reading

Cliveden – A Great Landscape not a Great Garden

Cliveden Landscape

  Cliveden poses me with a dilemma – how much should I write about its colourful history, and how much about the garden itself? It would be impossible to write about Sissinghurst without Vita Sackville-West, or Great Dixter without Christopher … Continue reading

Fondation Maeght – The Artist, The Architect and the Client

Put together an enlightened client, a great architect and a famous artist and something wonderful might happen……….. However, my first impressions of the Fondation Maeght were not favourable; unfriendly ticket office staff, high admission charge  (justifiable in view of it … Continue reading

Hampton Court Palace: The Privy Garden ‘The Little Gentleman in the Black Velvet Waistcoat’

View from Queen Mary’s Bower Looking Towards the Palace

It was ‘the little gentleman in the black velvet waistcoat’ that led to the demise of William III and as a consequence the rapid decline of Hampton Court Palace’s great formal gardens. The little gentleman in question had pushed up … Continue reading

Hauser & Wirth Durslade Farm, Somerset – Cutting Edge in the Back of Beyond

Oudolf Field and Radic Pavilion

I have always been a bit suspicious of the modern and contemporary art market. I can remember Alfred Taubman, the chairman of Sothebys, being imprisoned in the early 2000s for price-fixing, New York dealer Larry Gagosian being embroiled in a … Continue reading

Hidcote – The Elusive Mr. Johnston and the Extraordinary Mrs. Lindsay.

The Pillar Garden

Sometimes it is the person who created the garden that is more interesting or curious than the garden itself, and in the case of Hidcote this turns into a fascinating detective story. Who was the elusive Lawrence Johnston and what … Continue reading

Karl Foerster Garten – The Unfamiliar Pioneer

It was a trip to see my old friend Gerhard and time on my hands that led me to the Karl Foerster Garden in Potsdam-Bornim a short train ride from Berlin. It’s a journey that can easily be combined with … Continue reading

Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park 1 – Serpentine Follies

: Interior of the Selgascano Pavilion - 2015

One of the highlights of my London summer, along with 200,000 other people is a visit to the Serpentine Pavilion. Each year the Serpentine Gallery finds prestigious wealthy sponsors and chooses an internationally famous architect who have never built anything … Continue reading

Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park 2 – A (Royal) Breath of Fresh Air…….

The Sunken Garden

Gardens inevitably reflect the times and wishes of the people who commission and design them and altering or restoring an historical garden presents a problem. To what period and to what extent do you reinstate it, particularly when it has … Continue reading

Me and my friend ‘Capability’……

Hammersmith’s Statue to Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown

Through much of my life, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown has been just a few steps away from me……….I wonder how true this is for other people? Whilst a boy, I would pull my father’s golf trolley around Belton Park in Lincolnshire, … Continue reading

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – ‘If you haven’t got vision, you very quickly degrade the landscape’.

North Park Meadow and Velodrome in 2012

‘If you haven’t got vision, you very quickly degrade the landscape’. These were the prophetic words spoken five years ago by James Hitchmough the designer of much of the landscape planting at the 2012 Olympic Park (now renamed the Queen … Continue reading

Regent’s Park 1 – Queen Mary’s Rose Garden – A Fashionista’s Nightmare

Gates to Queen Mary’s Rose Garden

The gardening professions divide into two occasionally hostile camps, the horticulturalists and the designers, and what is one’s cup of nectar is often the other’s draught of poison. At its most extreme it is an obsession with new cultivars which … Continue reading

Regent’s Park 2 – The Secret Garden – Calm and Tranquility

The Secret Garden: The Circular Garden

I have on many occasions thought of writing a review about The Secret Garden but then it wouldn’t be secret anymore and do I really want more people to know about it? Its proper name is the Garden to St. … Continue reading

Richmond Park: Charles I’s Great Legacy

Isabella Plantation: Kurume Azaleas

Many would consider Charles I’s great legacy was his fabulous art collection of over 1500 pictures and 500 sculptures, sold off by Oliver Cromwell, and after the Restoration only partially reassembled by Charles II; but for me and many other … Continue reading

Sanssouci, Potsdam, Berlin – an Agrarian Versailles

Sanssouci Palace from the Great Fountain.

No description of Sanssouci would be complete without reference to Louis XIV’s great palace and garden landscape at Versailles. This was such a statement of power, splendour and taste that even 30 years after Louis’s death, diminutive copies were still … Continue reading

St James’s Park – Delighting Five Million Visitors a Year

View from the Blue Bridge to Buckingham Palace

The remarkable thing about St James’s Park is not its undoubted charm but the fact that it has over five million visitors a year yet still looks fresh and well-kept, a tribute to the Royal Parks. The sense of tranquillity … Continue reading

Stowe – The Corpse That Revived

The Palladian Bridge

At last, it looks as if the final part of this great jigsaw is about to fall into place. Stowe was a garden that always irritated and disappointed me. Undoubtedly it has the finest collection of 18th century temples, follies, … Continue reading