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The Sheffield Gardens – Part 2 – James Hitchmough’s patch

So during our weekend up in Sheffield after visiting the garden of Nigel Dunnett, we moved on to explore the garden of his colleague, Professor James Hitchmough. This garden was half way up a steep narrow road near the city centre with terraced houses on both sides.

An NGS sign pointed us through a gateway, where a path took us through the side garden where a wooden gate opened up to reveal the back garden, where glimpses of yellow, orange and red invited us to explore further.

These colourful glimpses hinted at the array of South African bulbs such as watsonias and gladioli, which formed part of a garden that was one low growing meadow below a few gnarled old apple trees. This was no surprise as James Hitchmough is the pioneer of seed sown meadows mixed with such bulbs, but his public gardens such as the one at Wisley tend to be so much larger than his own little patch.

It is a gentle garden with foliage playing an important role and many blues, pinks and whites adding some subtlety.

This was a small but so interesting and atmospheric too.


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Post 500 – Tom Stuart-Smith at Serge Hill

As promised for the third in my week’s posts celebrating my 500th post we go down to Hertfordshire to explore Tom Stuart-Smith’s garden designs at his own home and the home of his sister. The family home at Serge Hill is surrounded by mature planting. The new gardens  designed by T S-S are within its grounds. When these gardens open they are very popular with thousands of visitors making an appearance. It looks very busy and taking photos is difficult as the gardens are only open for one day each year as part of the National Garden Scheme, so people find it in the famous Yellow Book. The friendly herd of Guernsey calves greeted every visitor. We wandered through the gardens around the house which had been there a long time but the influence of T S-S can be seen.

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In the gardens at Tom’s and his sister’s, both designed to suit their particular needs, we felt we had found the nearest to perfection in meadow planting, prairie planting and courtyard planting. Come with us and see what you think.

Firstly I shall share my photos of the courtyard at The Barn. It has an atmosphere of such calm. Those loungers must provide a wonderful place in which to relax and be content with the world. The rectangular corton steel pools with their sheets of water dyed black for extra reflection mirror so clearly the moving clouds and any overhanging plants. Looking into them it appears as if they are bottomless.

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The planting is so simple but effective. Every plant has its place and complements its partners perfectly. Chartreuse and purple flowers and bracts work together so well against their background of grasses and coloured foliage.

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Reaching the prairie we found fellow garden fellow visitors exploring every pathway that were winding throughout.

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Close by a huge area had been planted as a native wildflower meadow which provided a wonderful contrast to the more vibrant prairie. We shall look in greater detail at the prairie and meadow as well as Tom Stuart-Smith’s sister’s garden in the next post.



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A Modern Cottage Garden in Herefordshire

Church Cottage was the place we were seeking as we trundled down a narrow rutted country lane not far from Ross -on-Wye. Look for a definition of an English Cottage Garden and the main elements will be lawns with borders full of randomly planted perennials put together with no thought given to colour. The gardens at Church Cottage were so different. The garden was the creation of a garden designer who described herself as a plantaholic.

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We were soon absorbed in the soft planting and enjoyed the many calm places to sit and rest.

It seemed that the wildlife appreciated this garden as much as we did.

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After a quiet sit with tea and cake listening to the birds in every bush, tree and overhead and watching clouds of butterflies exploring the borders we set off for a most enjoyable wander.

It soon became apparent that this garden was designed by a gardener with a great eye for combining colours beautifully.

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There were archways, pathways and framed views to entice the visitors. Sometimes we were taken down a pathway as the design gave no choice but at other times choices were presented. Often equal choices. So visitors were sent and guided much of the time but on occasion the choice of route was totally up to the visitors themselves.

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In just the same way as the powerful design of the garden took us on journeys, on occasion we were stopped in our tracks by interesting and enthralling objects or cameos.

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But as in any garden the stars of the show were the plants and in this gardens some of the borders were exceptionally beautifully planted. There were outstanding plant groupings.

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This was a garden that appealed to us when we read the info in the Yellow Book and although it was further away than our usual day trips we just had a feeling it would be worthwhile. It was hard to find – but it was so worth the effort. We loved it!