January 14th, 2007


Other people's gardens as well as mine

Yesterday I went to my first NCCPG meeting in months. I felt guilty at letting them down by not being there to run the book stall but I just couldn't face going. At last I was resolved, it was nice to see the dear things and we had a good meeting.

Our speaker was Keith Wiley, who'd driven up from Devon with his wife, bringing a boxful of plants to sell. Keith is well known as the former head gardener at The Garden House, Buckland Monachorum. This was originally owned and designed by the late Lionel Fortescue and when Keith went there it was run as a traditional woodland and border garden. This was hard to manage with a staff of two and Keith introduced the naturalistic, self-balancing style for which he is now known. In a series of stunning slides he showed how the natural landscapes of Devon, California and South Africa had inspired him to reproduce the idea of this in the garden. For instance, an area designed as a 'South African' garden which had the style of the original but used plants from elsewhere. He has now left the Garden House (I think he fell out with the trustees) and is running a nursery while designing and building his own garden, free from all constraints. Well worth hearing.

Meanwhile in Dorset things are pretty waterlogged. I picked up some wood yesterday and that was about the limit of my gardening. The birds were making a terrible racket early in the morning and I'm sure I saw a deluded couple nest-building in a hedge. There was also a large bee zooming about. Down in town I have seen dwarf narcissi in flower already but here, apart from a couple of shrubs, the only flower out is the first hellebore,

a nice yellow one.