When a digger nearly fell over the high retaining wall overlooking the overgrown dell just down from the main front garden, the new owners of Chateau Colbert realised there could be more to the long, unkempt site on the western side of the estate.
Mickael Vincent, head gardener at the Potager Colbert, who is taking me around the garden on a bright morning in late August, says earlier plans showed there had been a kitchen garden here, but that before that incident in 2012, there were few signs left of its former glory.
January 2020 – Winter was once the final frontier for garden folks. The cold season just meant leafless shrubs, perennials cut back to the ground, and muddy borders. Of course you could always count on holly, yew and various conifers for greenery and structure. The odd Christmas rose would bring a bit of colour until the first snowdrops popped up, along with winter aconites, followed by crocuses heralding the imminence of spring and a return to floriferous times. But mostly, in winter, gardens went into hibernation.
Not anymore. In the past couple of decades or so, gardeners and landscape designers have started thinking positively beyond flowers. In a growing number of gardens, winter now involves not only winter-flowering shrubs but also colourful barks, shapes and textures, providing a new kind of year-round interest. The Savill Garden, a self-contained area in Windsor Great Park, provides, to my mind, one of the most varied examples of this new outlook, with colours flashing from stems, twigs and grasses in unabashed exuberance.
February 2019 — A sharp breeze sweeps across the hill, ruffling the silver-green eucalyptus grove in the distance. It forcefully combs the grasses and buffers the young monkey-puzzle trees that are dotted around the meadow. The air is crisp and the sky is clear. Apart from the hissing of the wind in the branches, there is barely a sound. Gondwanaland, on the western fringe of the Marks Hall estate, feels a bit otherworldly.
February 2019 — Search for ‘Betula jacquemontii’ on the internet and the chances are the first page of results will include several pictures of the white birch grove at Anglesey Abbey. It’s a testament to the garden design team that, despite the internet’s ability to warp our perception and unrealistically heighten our expectations, this should still be a striking sight when you eventually see it in real life. Continue reading “Anglesey Abbey: kingdom of stems and scents”
March 2019 – In less than a month, it will be hanami, cherry-blossom time, at Europe’s largest Japanese garden. My last visit to the oriental park at Maulévrier, near Cholet, in France’s Anjou region, dates back to mid-November, on the last day of their autumn season. In the woodland, the nearly bare branches of deciduous trees are holding on to the last gasps of fieriness. Continue reading “Last days of autumn in the Japanese garden”
June 2015 — It’s early June at Chaumont-sur-Loire’s annual garden festival, and one of the 26 gardens created around this year’s theme, ‘A Collector’s Garden’, is already getting more attention than others.