Gleaning Inspiration

In just a few days I head off to England again to lead this years tour Great Gardens of Devon and Cornwall. Prior to each tour we offer a virtual get together as well as an in-person gathering (for guests who live within driving distance of us). These provide an opportunity for guests to get to know one another and to ask questions, but I also like to find ways to help them get the most out of each garden visit by presenting a short PowerPoint on Ideas for American Gardens from England. With guests from all over the United States, the reality is that not everyone will be able to grow all of the plants they will see on our tours. But that doesn't mean we can't glean ideas – if we know how to look. So for this weeks blog post I thought I'd re-share some of the blog posts I've written about English gardens which do just that – teach us how to look past the genus or species and focus on different aspects of the design. Here are six of my most popular posts for you to re-visit (or perhaps see for the first time if you're a new subscriber).

Inspiration Recap

Ideas for American Gardens from England (2021): covering small spaces, layering, sight lines, the use of foliage and more. Examples from Yorkshire and Derbyshire The Layered Garden (2023): more is more…. Inspiration for Dry, Sunny Gardens in Temperate Climates (2023): largely using Beth Chattos' garden as an example to showcase the use of texture, punctuation points as well as intriguing plants! Creating Abundance: Lessons from Great Dixter (2023): One of my favorite gardens with so many lessons Glorious Abundance in a Pint-Sized Garden (2023): a stunning private garden in Chelmsford with an exceptional eye for color. Color Snapshots from England (2023): stuck in a color rut? This post is for you!

Remember, that you can use these ideas as a framework whether you are visiting the next state or another continent.

Warning to Future Tour Guests!

Our fabulous 2023 tour group. Several are traveling with us again this year and our coach driver Elaine will be part of our team again too

These are the design elements that get me excited!! I'm just as likely to be down on my hands and knees photographing a detail in a pathway as I am a plant combination. Or squealing with delight as I notice the use of forced perspective or perhaps the juxtaposition of a loose meadow-like planting within a rigid boxwood fence. And of course I have to tell someone…. so tour guests will often be my captive audience when we are all back on the bus as I share my observations….. Good news is you can tune me out with your Air Pods! Or you can take notes – I'm easy either way. But you've been warned.

Summer Break

Cornwall is calling me!

Since I'll be traveling for a month I'm going to take a break from writing a regular blog post over the summer but you know I'll have LOTS to share from our adventures when I'm back online. I'll also post daily photo updates from our tour on my Facebook page if you'd like to follow along.

Have a great summer everyone

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A Collector's Garden

May 28 2024

Be warned. Gardening can become addictive! Jeanine Smith can attest to that. I recently met Jeanine at the annual conference of the American Rhododendron Society where I was a speaker. I was immediately drawn to her fun-loving personality as we chatted, so was delighted to be invited to visit her garden in Woodinville, WA while…
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Spring Celebration in the Woodland

May 14 2024

My woodland garden has three seasons of color with spring and fall being the most vibrant and summer being a cooler oasis of green. Since I rarely venture out into that part of the garden during winter I haven't included things specifically for winter interest although there are plenty of evergreen conifers, shrubs and perennials.…
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Spring Ideas from RHS Harlow Carr

Apr 30 2024

I'm just back from England where I spent two weeks visiting very special friends. It was wonderful to spend quality time together,  bumbling around my favorite villages and towns, hiking in the Yorkshire Dales, swimming in the Solent, and drinking lots of  'proper' tea. While in Yorkshire my friend Jill suggested an outing to RHS…
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Zinnias: how to grow and use them

Mar 26 2024

It's not too late to grow zinnias from seed! Which is just as well because I goofed. Let me explain. Zinnias hate cold, wet weather almost as much as I do. In the Seattle area we need to wait until night temperatures are stable at 55'f or above before planting out – which is typically…
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Creating Abundance: Lessons from Great Dixter

Mar 5 2024

If there is one word that sums up traditional English gardens it is "abundance". You won't find individual plants separated like little islands by oceans of bare earth. Nor will you see the extensive use of groundcovers that we are so accustomed to in America. I often describe English gardens, especially cottage gardens as "friendly":…
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Two Daisies to Know and Grow

Feb 20 2024

As new plants are introduced into the marketplace we often lose sight of some of yesterdays reliable performers. That is due in no small part to the declining number of retail and wholesale nurseries nationwide and the pressure on available display space in those that remain. Just like you, I enjoy experimenting with new varieties…
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Inspiration for Dry, Sunny Gardens in Temperate Climates

Feb 6 2024

Yes, I know it's the rainy season, but I've been working on my presentation  Water-Savvy Garden Design , which sent me digging back through my photo library. While my seminar covers dry shade and seasonally wet conditions, the section for "hot, dry conditions" is always of great interest to audiences, especially those who are from…
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Garden Screen Solutions

Jan 23 2024

We all want to hide something whether it's the neighbors or the trash cans, but before you rush off to the nearest box store for a generic screen  – or plant a row of arborvitae ask yourself a few key questions: 1. How high does the screen need to be? Is this viewed from inside…
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Garden Design: Mimicking Nature

Jan 9 2024

I'm a firm believer that gardens should be experienced – not just observed. They should invite exploration and contemplation, pique our curiosity in some way. On my recent trip to the Hudson River Valley, I visited three public gardens that really spoke to me because they achieved this so well and did so, not by…
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Heligan: History, Romance & Adventure

Dec 12 2023

Forget Hallmark movies for the Holiday feel-good factor. I've got a better story for you: The Lost Gardens of Heligan. Once upon a time, there was a vibrant estate in Cornwall, England called Heligan. The original Heligan Manor had been built in the 1200s, with Heligan House built in the Jacobean style in 1603, then…
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I'm a serious plant-aholic. In other words I'm usually covered in a layer or two of soil, I drive everywhere with a large tarp for impromptu plant purchases and I'm truly passionate about sharing the joys of gardening.

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