Reckless Gardener is a website for garden enthusiasts and lovers of heritage and landscapes. We feature all the major RHS shows, from RHS Chelsea to Tatton Park and news, views and features from garden visits to personalities. We also feature garden advice and garden book reviews.
Guest writer, Susie White, concludes her three-part series on Sweden’s Gardens. In this third part she visits Jonsered Manor and Sammels Farm.
I had a sunny breakfast outside Naturum watching the geese on Lake Vanern before heading south again towards Gothenburg. I was looking forward to revisiting the garden that I designed two years ago for Jonsered Manor and to meeting up again with Head Gardener Peter Svenson.
Divided into four sections, the main area at Jonsered has a rose garden designed by Peter who is a well known rosarian. He grows many of his favourite highly scented roses including the very pretty double pink spinossissima cultivar ‘Poppius’ from about 1850 and named after a Finnish botanist Dr Poppius. The other areas are a formal garden, a vegetable garden with observation bee hive and the classic English garden that I designed.
As with every day of my visit, it was very hot! Although at Jonsered it can be very frosty in winter, plants in the garden here also have to be able to withstand heat in this bowl in the land. It’s much like my own garden which has seen a swing of nearly 50 degrees and was shown on BBC Gardeners’ World as an example to gardening with extremes of temperature! That was what gave me an insight into what I could plan for Jonsered.
The angelica grew tall above my head and was covered in pollinating insects. Pale yellow lupins and foxgloves were in their prime and the peonies were in full flower. Ladies mantle spilled over the path, the original sweet pea ‘Cupani’ was starting to climb up hazel poles and the leaves of Actaea ‘Brunette’ shone a rich chocolate colour.
The garden, as in all the gardens on my trip, was full of painted lady butterflies. They rose in pale clouds from the wide lines of catmint that run down the centre of the garden, an idea of Peter’s for calling to mind what was once a water feature.
Two new gardens had been added since my previous visit – a humorous garden with the large leaves of rhubarb growing next to a little wooden net and a white garden by Anna Mannheimer.
We had fika in the greenhouse area of the garden. This Swedish tradition is not just about the cinnamon buns but about giving a moment of pause within the day and bringing people together. At Gunnebo Castle garden, all the craftspeople have fika together, a time for chatting things ove and taking decisions.
My last garden was one that opens for the Trädgårdsresan scheme and a complete contrast, being a small private garden created in just the last few years from farmland. Sammels Farm is near Landvetter airport so if you fly to Gothenburg it’s possible to fit in a visit. It’s been a family farm since 1856 and the Samuelsson family have lived and worked here for five generations. They are skilled and self-sufficient being able to turn their hands to anything including furniture making and house building.
Christopher Samuelsson showed me around, explaining how he had made the network of small gardens, paths, walls and meadows. (pictured above) It’s a place of discoveries, of not knowing when you follow a path quite where it will lead to and has some delightful quirky features. It was also one of the bee-noisiest gardens that I have been in, the right plants attracting bees from their six hives as well as a mass of bumble bees and butterflies.
As stones were ploughed from the land, Christopher used them to make terraces on what was a slope below the wooden house. Paths are also made from salvaged stones with rock plants growing in the cracks between them. There’s a meadow with ox eye daisies and other wildflowers but also crocuses, tulips and irises followed by alliums and oriental poppies, enclosed by the traditional Swedish fence of slanted wooden poles. (pictured below)
“It was another lawn,” said Christopher, “but I got tired of pushing the lawnmower.” Without a background in horticulture, he has just experimented which was really refreshing. When he had some saplings and wanted to make a larch and then an oak hedge he was told it couldn’t be done. “I thought I’d just try it anyway,” he said and now there is a series of garden enclosures flourishing within rather unusual hedges. “I learn as I go along,” he added, “and it’s easy when you’re interested to get skill and information.” He is trying out bending trees to form shapes and training beech to make a rectangular tunnel. I was fascinated to see prickly pear, Opuntia, outside and made possible by growing it in sand and siting it amongst stones to hold the heat. We were accompanied round the garden by two of the ten cats.
There were lots of idea in this garden. A line of sea buckthorn grown as standards, Saxifrage ‘Tumbling Waters’ planted in gaps in the tops of the boulder walls, plants normally recommended for shade growing happily in full sun and plants in the nursery plunged in sand to reduce watering. Free range chickens scratched amongst the apple trees; the family have planted 1,000 trees of 15 varieties and aim to double that.
There was something exuberant and spontaneous about Sammels Farm that I really enjoyed. As wet sat in the shade of an apple tree eating cakes made with homemade raspberry jam and whipped cream, it was a lovely relaxing end to my trip around the gardens of West Sweden. (pictured right: lupins in the classic English garden at Jonsered Manor).
I spent the last night at Eggers Hotel in Gothenburg which is right next to the central train station and to the bus station for getting to the airport. Grand yet cosy, it’s one of the oldest hotels in Sweden and with its parquet floors, Oriental carpets, chandeliers and palms in the conservatory it has a delightful nineteenth century feel. Breakfast was delicious, staff very helpful and friendly and it really set me up for the return home.
Visitors to the 2019 RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival, supported by Viking, were rewarded with perfect weather, superb gardens and a host of ideas to take home from the world’s largest flower show.
The sought-after accolade of Best Show Garden went to the ‘Smart Meter Garden‘ (Gold) (pictured banner above) designed by Surrey-based Matthew Childs. Matthew’s design highlights how we can make small individual changes in the face of climate change to help our environment and featured drifts of shade planting surrounded by a perimeter of trees to showcase their importance in reducing CO2 in the atmosphere. This is the second year in succession that Matthew has won the coveted title and he was absolutely “over the moon” to have won the award again: “It’s amazing for me personally for the second year but it’s also a real endorsement of all the people who have made this garden happen,” said Matthew. “The thing I really hope everyone will take away from the garden is that climate change is real and the only way we can do something about it is if we all come together; if we do small things collectively, we can make a huge impact.”
‘The Cancer Research UK Pledge Pathway to Progress‘ garden, (Gold) designed by Tom Simpson, was awarded the Best Construction Award with Rosebank Landscaping. (pictured above, Tom receiving the Award from RHS Director General Sue Biggs.)
Tom’s immersive walk-through garden represents the important role of gifts in wills in funding Cancer Research UK’s progress towards a day when all cancers can be cured. Tom was delighted to be awarded his second gold medal: “It’s a testament to all the months of hard work that has been put in by the team,” he said.
There were four Gold medals awarded in the Show Garden category – The Thames Water Flourishing Future Garden, designed by Tony Woods and the Viking Cruises Lagom Garden, designed by Will Williams, also scooped Gold.
Best Lifestyle and Global Impact Garden was awarded to Dave Green (a former RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival Manager) for his ‘Stop and Pause Garden” (Gold). This garden also won the Best Construction Award in that category. (pictured above)
RHS Judge, Paul Hervey-Brookes commented that the standard of the gardens this year was extremely high: “With the new Global Impact Gardens and Lifestyle Gardens categories, the RHS has shown a way to highlight the work of garden designers in creating spaces which both challenge us to think about the future and address our immediate desires for gardens of refuge and inspiration,” he said.
The People’s Choice Awards went to The Cancer Research UK Pledge Pathway to Progress garden, (Gold) designed by Tom Simpson and to The Naturecraft Garden (Silver) designed by Pollyanna Wilkinson. (pictured above on her garden).
A total of 42 Gold Medals were presented to nurseries in the Floral Marquee, Festival of Roses and Dig In area. Newcomers Andy’s Airplants and the National Plant Collection of Ginkgo were among the gold medallists. In the Plant Village, Best Exhibit went to Proctor’s Nursery for their exhibit of shrubs and perennial plants. Best exhibit in the Floral Marquee went to The Salutation Garden and Nursery for their Plant Hunter’s Jungle Camp. Hooksgreen Herbs were awarded Best Dig In Exhibit and Hogarth Hostas Best Plant Heritage Exhibit.
(above: The Dream of the Indianos garden – designed by Rose McMonigall -Silver)
The Rose of the Year was awarded to Sweet Honey ‘Kormecaso’ bred by Kordes Rosen of Germany.
David Austin Roses were awarded their 18th gold medal and third consecutive ‘Best Rose Exhibit’ accolade for their display featuring a fragrant central pathway flanked by four vibrant square beds.
The ‘Back to Nature Garden‘ co-designed by HRH The Duchess of Cambridge and Landscape Architects Andree Davies and Adam White, once again attracted a lot of interest. Designed to encourage families and communities to engage with nature and spend time in the great outdoors, the design was inspired by the original garden at RHS Chelsea with many key features including the waterfall, dens and hollow log returning alongside new elements including a wildflower meadow.
RHS Director General, Sue Biggs, commented that the impact of the RHS Back to Nature Garden at Chelsea resulted in a record month for RHS Membership with over 12,000 people joining in May: “This is incredibly positive and shows how powerful this collaboration is, really motivating people to garden, grow and access outside space and nature, which is good for their health and also for the environment and wildlife,” said Sue. Elements of the garden are being moved to RHS Garden Wisley to be part of a new children’s garden.
A major exhibition of modern and contemporary sculpture has now opened at RHS Garden Wisley in Surrey. The exhibition runs until the 1st December 2019 and will feature the work of six seminal 20th and 21st century artists to highlight the relationship between sculpture and the cultivated landscape, in the first exhibition of its kind at an RHS Garden. (pictured banner above: Rising Beast by Lynn Chadwick)
‘Sculpture at Wisley’ is curated by Susan Bacon, noted sculptor and wife of RHS President Sir Nicholas Bacon. Pieces on display will be carefully sited around the 240 acre garden to demonstrate a connection between the spirit of the works and their surroundings.
Lady Bacon points out that each piece of sculpture chosen connects to the landscape and becomes part of it: “Sited within the ever-changing long views of Wisley, these huge pieces affect that change as well as opening the eye to see both the gardens and the sculpture in a different way,” she says.
Dating from the 1950s through to the present day, the selection of sculpture offers a unique opportunity for visitors to view work by some of the most important modern and contemporary artists. There are four Henry Moore artworks including the vast Sheep Piece (pictured above) – only the second time this sculpture has been exhibited outside of the Henry Moore Foundation – and pieces from the Estate of Lynn Chadwick including Little Girl 1,II and III.
Also taking up temporary residence in the landscape will be larger-than-life works by Phillip King and Henry Bruce.
(above) Draping Figure, Henrey Moore
Maquettes of the Four Seasons by Philip Haas and an instantly recognisable neon by Tracey Emin will also feature in the new RHS Garden Welcome Building which opened in June.
The cost of the exhibition is included in admission. Artworks featured in the exhibition have been kindly loaned to the Royal Horticultural Society by the Henry Moore Foundation, The Testate of Lynn Chadwick and Blain|Southern and Ivor Braka Limited.
This year’s RHS Flower Show Tatton Park (17th to 21st July 2019) promises to be a celebration of all things big, bright and bug-filled with brand new features, elaborate planting and garden design innovation.
RHS Tatton is the North-West’s very own special show welcoming crowds who come to enjoy the popular Back-to-Back Gardens, the Show Gardens, the fantastic Floral Marquee and Plant Hub and the long established champion of youth in horticulture, the RHS Young Designer Competition.
Look out for ‘The Perfumer’s Garden‘ designed by Cheshire-based Charlie Adams, highlighting how urban spaces can be transformed by fragrant planting, and Matt Johnson’s antidote to the modern work, utilising every inch of space to show what’s possible in a limited outdoor area.
Visitors will also see the RHS Bridgewater Garden, designed by Leon Davis and Peter Gregory, inspired by the natural woodland and potential for play at the new RHS Garden Bridgewater, Salford.
‘The BBC North West Tonight Sunshine Garden – in Memory of Dianne Oxberry’ will showcase how even the smallest space can be bright and uplifting. Designed by Lee Burkhill otherwise known as ‘The Garden Ninja’, the garden works in synch with the weather and features prairie-style planting features, heleniums in egg yolk yellow to citrus orange and sunflowers and promises to be the perfect tribute to the lovely Diane who tragically passed away earlier this year.
Four young designers go head-to-head in the RHS Young Designer competition, which has become synonymous with championing youth in horticulture and provides a platform for our budding young talent. Laurence Senior (25) from Yorkshire has created a classical garden inspired by Baroque and Tudor formal Design. Aidan Cifelli (24) has created a contemporary space – the ‘Caledonian Coastal Garden’, inspired by the beauty of a rugged, exposed landscape. Charlie Hartigan (28) from Worcester, has created a garden to raise awareness of endometriosis with a design offering a place of healing. Kristian Reay from Somerset, draws attention to plant health and the threat posed by pests and diseases like Xylella – ‘The Phytosanctuary Garden’ appears to be a beautiful space but look deeper and you see a more worrying story.
A popular regular at RHS Tatton is Cheshire-based Pip Probert (pictured above) who has designed the ‘Contemplation Corner’ a show garden offering a place to sit, relax and escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Simon Tetlow has designed ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar‘ – a reinvention of the urban front garden containing colours and forms inspired by the fictional classic, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Bug inspired School Garden designs and a host of special children’s activities in the Green Fields family area will also feature.
A field of over 5000 Dahlias will feature in five different varieties and the chance to get to grips with home turf at Mow Town with live demos and advice on achieving the lawn of your dreams is not to be missed.
Visitors are also invited to the new ‘Dig in‘ area featuring a cookery and gardening theatre, edible allotments, vintage tractors and a variety of herbs and edible plant displays to satisfy any grow-your-own guru. Widnes & District Horticultural Society will exhibit a different approach to growing edibles and North West Incredible Edible will demonstrate the diverse gardens created by community groups from across the North West. Garden Organic will showcase rare cultivars that have been saved from extinction by Garden Organic’s unique Heritage Seed Library. One such seed is ‘Blackdown Blue‘ a pea plant that a young soldier returning from the battle of the Somme introduced, after he brought a pocketful of seeds back with him.
Creepy-crawlies take over the huge Dome structure this year as The Bug Hub explores how some of our insect friends and foes interact in our gardens.
The Floral Marquee and Plant Hub will entice you to indulge you in your favourite florals and there will be a record number of over 200 talks and workshops taking place across eight different location sites with advice on everything from beer brewing to the secret language of plants and bees.
RHS Flower Show Tatton Park runs from 17th to 12st July. Tickets can be purchased at: www.rhs.org.uk/tatton
Garden writer, Susie White, presents the second of a three-part mini-series on the Gardens of Sweden.
After a good breakfast at Naas Fabriker I went north to see two gardens on the shores of Lake Vanern, Sweden’s largest lake. It’s a fascinating area to drive through with undulating farmland dotted with red-painted wooden houses and 12th century churches. Lupins have become an invasive species in Sweden, colouring roadsides in purple and pink spires and sometimes entire fields. As well as field poppies, it was a delight to see the blue of cornflowers amongst the wheat.
The garden of Hallekis Manor was mentioned by Carl Linnaeus on his journey through West Sweden in 1746 and the site was chosen for its shelter and fertile soil. Tucked between Kinnekulle mountain and the lake, it has unusual winter warmth. Head gardener Joachim Löfgren, who showed me around, told me: “The temperature is more like that of southern Sweden and there can be frost all around us but not here.”
Linneaus mentions that walnut trees could be grown at Hallekis thanks to the microclimate. “Last year,” said Joachim (pictured left), “we harvested 10,000 walnuts from just two trees!” The arboretum which is close by the manor house has 120 unusual trees and includes two species previously known only from fossil specimens: dawn redwood, Metasequoia glypstotroboides, and ginkgo, Ginkgo biloba. The ginkgo, a female was planted in 1902 and is one of the oldest in Europe; a male has now been planted nearby. There are two other trees that are rare for West Sweden, Catalpa bignoides and sweet chestnut. A curiosity is the Laburnocytisus ‘Adamii’, a graft hybrid between laburnum and broom, that bears hanging purple and yellow flowers on the same tree.
Four colour themed perennial borders are backed by hedges. Rusty plant supports pick up on the colour of a huge copper beech and the borders are full of sumptuous peonies, irises, oriental poppies, geraniums and scented daylilies. At the centre is a globe sculpture made from parts of recycled farm machinery by Den Flygande Gnistan – The Flying Spark.
(above: Rose Garden at Hallekis)
At the end of the borders is a circular rose garden of highly scented old-fashioned varieties with lavender ‘Munstead’. Joachim explained that he cuts the lavender back hard twice a year to keep it compact, in April and in early August. As with all the gardens I visited, it is run on organic principles. The cafe at Hallekis was in an old vine house and I had a delicious lunch of wild garlic soup with home made bread sitting beneath the apple trees.
On the other side of a bay is Läckö Castle, (pictured right) a Baroque mansion of whitewashed walls, towers and turrets with dark red roofs. It is here that Simon Irvine has made an exemplary vegetable garden laid out in waves and patterns: “I want to show people how beautiful vegetables are,” he told me. “There are no labels so visitors have to ask the gardeners about the plants and I think it’s part of my job to talk to people. A garden is a meeting place.”
“We have 50 acceptable weeds,” he says. “Plants such as musk thistle, milk thistle and onopordum. I like not being in control.” Goldfinches feed on their seedheads and the garden is full of bumble bees and butterflies. Simon lets cow parsley, red valerian, yellow corydalis and viper’s bugloss seed themselves along the castle terraces, along with fennel, a favourite of his, marigolds and echinops.
In winter the lake can be frozen solid until mid April. The castle stands on a promontory so it is surrounded by ice and freezing winds. It’s simply not possible to work the garden then, though the stony ground does help to keep some warm: “I usually can’t start digging until the end of April,” Simon said.
He has added lots of compost to the already fertile soil and likens making compost to making sourdough bread. Some of the previous heap is used as a ‘starter’ and these heaps are large at 20 cubic metres and 1.6 metres high, built in layers and incorporating hay from the meadows. A great advantage of Sweden’s growing conditions is daylight length so plants grow tall. Cardoons grow to 2 metres. (pictured left: side terrace steps with self seeders Läckö Castle.
The walled garden enables vegetables to be grown until the end of October. The curving sensual lines include colourful varieties – beet ‘Bull’s Blood’, beet ‘Crapaudine’, lettuce ‘Batavia’, lettuce ‘Veneziana’, new chards from Switzerland and the Plainpalais Silver Thorny Cardoon. Simon harvests 60-70 heads of lettuce a day which are used by the nearby restaurant ‘Hvita Hjorten’ (The White Hart) in the Naturum visitor centre on the edge of Lake Vanern. Clad in narrow bands of wood that echo the reed beds, Naturum has exhibits about wildlife, geology and plants as well as accommodation and it is where I stayed the night.
(above: vegetable in patterns at Läckö Castle)
Hvita Hjorten is well known for its superb food made using local ingredients. Chefs Katrin Ljungblom and Stefan Söderholm work closely with Simon in using the produce from the beautiful vegetable garden at the castle. I had a delicious meal of pike-perch from the lake in a butter sauce with oyster plant, yellow pea hummus and grilled curly endive from Simon’s garden. Potatoes were flavoured with fennel and chive flowers, dill and fennel being very popular herbs in Sweden. Pudding was a blackcurrant sorbet with dried birch shoots and thyme, beetroot marinated in blackcurrant, and Creme caramel. Wow!
In Part Three of this mini series, I’ll be visiting two final gardens, Jonsered Manor near Gothenburg and Sammels Farm with its meadows, herbs, apple trees and plants for bees.
Dublin-based Garden Designer Peter Donegan, will host the Royal Horticultural Society of Ireland (RHSI) Talks Stage at their forthcoming show on Sunday 28th July 2019.
Set in the beautiful parkland setting of Russborough, Blessington, Co. Wicklow, there will be plenty to occupy both the experienced and novice gardener, children and families at the Show.
This will be Peter’s first stage appearance as MC since interviewing BBC’s Terry Walton at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Talks Theatre at RHS Flower Show Cardiff in April this year. The RHSI Show will also see Peter teaming up once again with contractor Ed Burnham, the brains behind the build of no less than 16 RHS Show Gardens (including Donegan’s silver medal winning design celebrating garden charity Perennial’s 180th anniversary at RHS Cardiff in Spring 2019).
Among the list of accomplished horticultural voices planned for the Theatre, staged at the stunning Russborough House Hippodrome, TV Presenter and stalwart of BBC’s Gardeners’ Question Time, Anne Swithinbank, will be one of those interviewed by Peter.
The RHSI and The Alfred Beit Foundation have teamed up for the third year to host this already established garden show. There will be garden design clinics, music, demonstrations, workshops and garden tours.
Leading nurseries, including Camolin Potting Shed, Leamore Nursery, Rare Plants Ireland and Shady Plants Nursery will head up those wishing to pick up some specialist plant advice as well as a select stalls for garden accessories, cut flowers and botnic-inspired art and craft.
Show Director, Elaine McDevitt is delighted by the surge of support for the Show, from speakers, gardeners and nurseries: “It’s an honour to bring so many interesting people together in this most beautiful of settings to help spread an important message and have some fun in the process,” she says.
This year, the Show focuses on sustainability and biodiversity with the day’s activities taking place under five main banners – Grow, Learn, Explore, Shop and Eat.
The Talks Theatre in the Hippodrome hosts under the ‘Learn’ banner and will see Peter introducing such luminaries as E’anna Ni’ Lamhna, Oliver Schurmann, Mick Kelly, Hazel Proctor and Hester Forde, in addition to Anne Swithinbank and Ed Burnham.
In 2018 Peter was selected to represent Ireland in the design and realisation of the Irish WW1 Centenary Peace Garden in the moat of the Chateau de Peronne in the Somme region of Northern France and in the Spring of 2019 Peter became the first Irish Designer to design and win an RHS Medal for a Garden at RHS Cardiff.
“I am delighted to be acting as MC for the RHSI Talks Stage,” says Peter. “It will be a privilege for me to introduce so many talented guests at the Show.”
Advance admission tickets are available now via Eventbrite and rhsi.ie
The Show runs from 10am to 5pm on Sunday 28th July 2019 at Russborough House & Parklands, Blessington, Co. Wicklow.
Innovative young designer Tom Simpson will be working with Cancer Research UK to create a stunning garden at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival, (2nd to 7th July 2019) to shine a light on the progress made by the charity thanks to its researchers and supporters.
Tom (29) has already achieved a lot in his career, winning a Gold medal at his first ever RHS Show at Hampton Court last year and being listed as one of Pro Landscaper’s 30 under 30.
The ‘Pledge Pathway to Progress‘ garden is inspired by supporters working together with researches to beat cancer for future generations by pledging a gift in their will to the charity. The design is a calm, still and quiet space in a woodland setting lending itself to improving mental wellbeing. At the centre of the design Tom has placed a reflection pool, surrounded by muted tones of soft woodland planting to add a relaxed feel. A tulip tree has been chosen to represent the impact of legacy donations for future generations.
Planting is richly scented and vibrant, designed to address the changes patients experience in their senses during chemotherapy as well as helping to improve mood and wellbeing. Dotted among the garden are beautifully carved timber stakes – eight of which are ‘pledge’ stakes containing the name of a supporter and why they have pledged a gift in their will. Ten are ‘progress’ stakes containing a moment in time when significant progress was made by a cancer researcher.
Core colours include purples and pinks, associated with the Cancer Research UK logo, including Salvia ‘Armistad’ and Rosa ‘Fru Dagmar Hastrup’. Other plants have been chosen specifically for their cancer treatment affinity, such as yew hedging, the clippings of which are used to make the chemotherapy drug docetaxel.
Tom (pictured left) is thrilled to be working with Cancer Research UK’s legacies team and to be designing a garden with such a positive and important message: “The work they do changes lives and I hope that the garden goes some way to encourage more pledges of support so that this important work may continue.
“Working on the project has really opened my eyes to the links between plant life and cancer treatment, inspiring me to design the garden with Cancer Research UK’s incredible supporters and researchers at its heart,” he said.
Clare Moore, director of legacies at Cancer Research UK points out that Tom has created an incredible space allowing visitors to quietly reflect on the contribution of the charity’s supporters and researchers who have pledged to beat cancer for future generations: “The carved timber pledge and progress stakes are a perfect way to capture our appreciation of their legacy. At Cancer Research UK over one third of all our funding comes from gifts in wills, which means that people who leave gifts to us fund a third of our life-saving work. This work is vital in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer, and has helped save millions of lives,” she says.
The charity is grateful for the several companies who have generously donated their support to the garden including Tom Simpson, Rosebank Landscaping, Ben Barrell Sculpture, Kings Seeds and Majestic Trees.
Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research. Today two in four people survive their cancer for at least 10 years and Cancer Research UK’s ambition is to accelerate progress so that by 2034, three in four people will survive their cancer for at least ten years.
We wish Tom and his team every success with the garden and a successful show. For more information visit: Cruk.org/pledgepathway
Garden writer, Susie White, presents the first of a three-part mini-series on the Gardens of Sweden.
Having been to Sweden in winter and had tantalising glimpses of how gardens might look in summer, I jumped at the chance to go on a June gardens tour this year. Links between the gardens of West Sweden with North East England began when volunteers from the National Garden Scheme gave advice on setting up a similar scheme. Now in its second year, Trädgårdsresan (Swedish for garden journey) is flourishing, with visitors enjoying an eclectic mix of gardens and helping to raise funds for pollinators through the Bee Fund.
In celebration of this link, I was asked to design a classic English garden for Jonsered Manor near Gothenburg. In the second part of this international garden exchange, a Swedish garden known as the Buzzing Garden is being made within historic Saltwell Park in Gateshead and will open in August.
(above:Water feature Gothenburg Botanical Garden)
My June tour began in Gothenburg Botanical Garden, 430 acres in the city that includes an arboretum and nature reserve where you might see hare, fox, deer or elk. Opposite the main entrance is a canal-like Reflective Pool that narrows in a play with perspective to increase the sense of distance. Huge Koi carp move languorously through the water, delighting children and feeding from the hand. In the greenhouses there are collections of orchids and carnivorous plants, succulents, alpines and wild collected bulbs. I found it particularly poignant to see a single specimen of Toromiro, Sophora toromiro, once endemic to Easter Island but now extinct in the wild. There are efforts in conjunction with Kew to reintroduce it to the island.
The cultivated area of Botaniska covers nearly 100 acres and winds gradually uphill to the world famous Rock Garden. I walked past colourful perennial borders and dahlias in a haze of painted lady butterflies (pictured above) that had arrived from North Africa on southerly winds; Sweden was having a heatwave in this week of Midsummer. The path went up through the shady Rhododendron Valley, past a flowering handkerchief tree to the cool serenity of the Japanese Glade and the fabulous Rock Garden. Set in a natural rocky bowl, there are over 5,000 species of plants growing here, beautifully laid out below a spectacular waterfall that plummets down from a high viewpoint from where you can look out over Gothenburg.
A rock tunnel runs below the cascade. Smaller streams have cleverly placed rocks to amplify the sound of water. Steps and paths interlace, each twist and turn a new view of alpine treasures, of irises, sages and thymes luxuriating in the heat or stands of royal ferns cool by the large pond. Two sculptures really spoke to me, both in wood. A dead oak, its surface polished and drilled with tattoo-like patterns, was decorated by Stuart Ian Frost, a UK artist. In the woodland, a 3 metre high circular sculpture in chestnut was made by Jaehyo Lee from Korea. (pictured left)
From Gothenburg I went to Gunnebo Castle, (pictured banner top of page) a neoclassical 18th century summer villa built for the wealthy merchant John Hall. This, like Gothenburg Botanical Garden, is free to visit. I had lunch sitting in the courtyard outside the restaurant which daily uses organic produce from the kitchen garden next to it according to what vegetables are in season. An excellent lunch of fish in a butter sauce with new potatoes, salad and herbs. Of the many lovely cakes, some were decorated with red clover or pansies from the garden.
Using foraged or garden produce is a theme with many Swedish restaurants. The previous night I’d eaten at Familijen in Gothenburg – a memorable meal of gnocchi flavoured with spruce shoots with kale and white asparagus followed by one of the best puddings I’ve ever tasted – goat’s cheese ice cream topped with baked yoghurt and caramelised rapeseed.
At Gunnebo, gardener Daniel Lundberg (pictured above) showed me round the garden, starting with the compost heaps because they are the foundation of healthy soil: “It’s a complete ecosystem“, he said. “Compost grows the vegetables, the waste from the restaurant goes to make compost and this completes the cycle.” Daniel was wearing the eighteenth century inspired clothes of all the garden staff: thick white shirt, dun coloured trousers and black waistcoat.
Close clipped topiary creates strong lines leading the eye to the mansion. The formal gardens descend in terraces with decorative urns filled with tender plants put out for the summer. A wooden trellis arcade forms the structure for a green tunnel of limes, a link to the woodlands and the English landscape park beyond.
The unusual thing about the gardens at Gunnebo is their experimentation with historic gardening techniques – hand-pushed cylinder mowers or scythes to cut the lawns, billhooks for pollarding and knives for pruning. When I was there, the meadow had just been cut using a horse-drawn mower and haystacks were being formed around wooden poles; the gardens are fossil fuel free. The orangery is being reconstructed using 18th century skills.
Two hedged enclosures surround areas where historic lawns are being tried out, their maintenance drawn from written evidence. It’s this mix of the tightly clipped and loosely grown that creates a special atmosphere at Gunnebo. The grass in twin parterres within box hedges by the house are cut using scythes, adding a softness to the straight lines of formality.
I spent the night at Naas Fabriker, a converted 19th century cotton mill, and had another excellent meal using local produce. The restored brick buildings with their factory chimney stand by Lake Sävelången and a contemporary black wooden Bath House has saunas and hot tubs with a pier from which you can plunge in the lake! (pictured right, Orchids in Gothenburg Botanical Garden).
Swallows and swifts nest under the eaves and I watched them from a suspended walkway linking the buildings as they swooped in to feed their chicks. The interior is all cool and modern and Scandi, an interesting contrast to the living museum of Gunnebo and its gardens.
In Part Two of this mini series, I’ll be visiting two gardens by Sweden’s largest lake, Lake Vanern – Hallekis Manor and Läckö Castle.
A special treat awaits visitors to the 2019 RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival (2nd to 7th July) where they will have the opportunity to view Queen Mary II’s Exoticks National Collection as part of the Plant Heritage Zone.
Regular visitors to Hampton Court Palace may already be familiar with some of the very special plants that are looked after by the estates team at Hampton Court and the inclusion of this special national collection is sure to draw a lot of attention.
With intriguing names such as Flower for an Hour, Lipstick Tree and Marvel of Peru, the collection is one of only a handful of historically-themed plant collections recognised by charity Plant Heritage.
The Exotick plants are a recreation of part of Queen Mary II’s extensive 17th century plant collection. Certainly a ‘plantaholic’ of her day, she obsessively collected new, exotic tender plants for William and Mary’s gardens in Holland and England. Many of these were brought back from Dutch voyages to botanical hotspots such as South America and South Africa.
She employed her own botanist and in the 17th century, the plants were displayed in an area that was Henry VIII’s former fish ponds. In winter they were kept in glasshouses but by the early 20th century, Queen Mary’s original Exoticks had disappeared from the palace.
It was in the 1990s that a new collection of exotics was started by the Gardens and Estates team. The current collection of around 400 plants, from 260 different plant taxa, including nearly 100 citrus trees is ever expanding.
The Plant Heritage Zone at RHS Hampton Court will see the charity showcasing selected Plant Collections: Hakonechloa macra cvs. and Ophiopogon japonicus, Pinus, Hemerocallis with the RHS AGM, Hosta (miniature and small), Podocarpus & related Podocarpaceae, Rubus spp., Hebe, Kniphofia (cvs. & AGM species) plus (spp., subsp. & varieties) and the Queen Mary II Exoticks display. Visitors to the RHS Hampton Court Garden Festival will also learn about Plant Guardian plants and key Missing Genera for 2019 as well as having the opportunity to participate in the ‘name the Dahlia competition’.
Barry Clarke will showcase new cultural introductions such as Rubus playfairianus, a rare Chinese species, the first time this has been grown in cultivation, and a new hybrid, also the first of its kind, Rubus nepalensis x pectinarioides.
Philip Oostenbrink will display Hakonechloa and Ophiopogon japonicus in a representation of a Japanese Roji garden – the garden outside a Japanese tea house which aims to calm the senses. Hakonechloa prefers a semi-shady position as full sunshine will scorch the often yellow coloured leaves, while Ophiopogon are used in Japan around water basins or rocks for accentuation and to soften their base.
Visitors to the Zone will also find Jonathan Hogarth’s Hostas where a new variety just landed at RHS Chelsea, ‘Ruffled Pole Mouse’ (mini-hosta) will be available to buy. Jonathan will be highlighting the cuttings method that John Carr developed, ‘Aeroponics’ to propagate cuttings of Hosta.
The Eden Project will be exhibiting their National Collection of Kniphofia – the herbaceous perennial indigenous to Africa with up to 70 species including six subspecies and four varieties.
Caerhays Castle are showcasing their collection of Podocarpus at Hampton Court for the first time too. Like other genera Podocarpus are threatened in their natural habitat, and Caerhayes is researching which species are hardy in the UK.
The Hebe Society will be showcasing these delightful plants, native to New Zealand and occurring naturally in the Falkland Islands and southern Chile. Possibly the most diverse genus of plants in the world of botany, they range from the large leaves and flowers of Hebe speciose to the tiny leaves of Hebe buxifolia.
Plant Heritage has a mission to conserve the diversity of our garden plants and does so by encouraging the establishment of well-documented and researched National Plant Collections, through its network of Plant Guardians and individual members.
If you are visiting the Show be sure not to miss out on the Plant Heritage Zone to see these fine examples of National Plant Collections and perhaps to take time to wonder at Queen Mary II’s Exoticks.
Reckless Gardener talks to Garden Designer, Cherry Carmen who returns to this year’s (2019) RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival with a show garden for the Association of Professional Landscapers.
When Cherry Carmen returns to the RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival (2nd to 7th July 2019) it will be the second garden that she has designed for the Association of Professional Landscapers (APL) at the prestigious Show. Last year, Cherry designed a feature garden for the APL (not judged) but this year her design will be entered as a judged Show Garden marking a first for the APL.
Carrying the same title as last year’s feature garden – ‘The APL -A Place to Meet‘ – the garden will showcase just what is achievable when the finest designers, landscape contractors and suppliers within the industry, collaborate.
Cherry admits that she has a ‘soft spot’ for RHS Hampton Court as it is where her first experience of show gardens began. Although better known for her work on larger private estates and gardens, it was at RHS Hampton Court in 2016 that she designed her first show garden winning a silver medal. That garden had the deepest depth ever dug at the 10-hectare showground – in 2018 the APL garden also had sunken planting and for 2019 Cherry explains that the design is set to have multiple levels of planting and a raised seating area.
“It is a beautiful setting,” Cherry says. “I love the space the show ground gives you and I love seeing the deer and wildlife as I drive in every morning – a true haven in the midst of a bustling London!” Cherry looks forward to seeing familiar faces every year and she gets excited to see the other gardens being built, slowly unveiling their creativity: “My favourite part is the real sense of camaraderie between fellow designers and landscapers, you get to know your neighbours and we all become firm friends. The build then becomes quite a bit of fun with lots of laughs in between.”
The concept of the garden demonstrates how to fuse contemporary and modern landscaping while being beneficial to nature. ‘A Place to Meet’ will be a continuing title for every APL garden each year as Cherry explains: “The APL are a very friendly bunch and the space needs to be inviting, a meeting point where people can sit, enjoy the garden and learn a little bit about the APL. This year I have included a plunge pool, inspired by the hotter and drier summers we have due to climate change. I have always liked playing with multiple levels in a garden and this one has raised seating areas as well as sunken beds and floating steps.”
The garden is being built with the help of APL members, so it is a real collaboration with different companies coming in everyday to offer their special skills. It is a build that echoes what the APL is about.
One of the aspects of the garden will be to demonstrate how contemporary hard landscaping materials can be used in alternative ways. Cherry (pictured right) explains that they will use only two materials – a black granite and Pearl Sandstone: “All the hard landscaping you see in the garden will be one of the two,” she says. “The Sandstone is used for the majority of the patio but it is also used as all the cladding, including the face of the floating steps and the interior of the water feature and pool. The black granite is used for the steps leading up to the patio, the coping that frames the pool and also the steps that lead you into the pool. I have also used setts of black granite to create a bit of a water feature where the water will be pushed through in between the setts to create movement in the water.”
As to planting, Cherry has tried to use as much part shade to full shade plants as she can: “Mainly because the more commonly known wildlife friendly plants prefer a very sunny aspect,” she explains. “I also like to use wild flowers and grasses that most people would consider weeds, to show that they can be beneficial and beautiful too. I have Angelica sylvestris vicars mead, Filipendula ulmaria, Gallium odoratum, Persicaria speciosa Firetail, Bunium ferulaceum. I also have a very interesting tree, Zanthoxylum simulans which is a sichuan pepper tree, it has spikes on the trunk of the tree but delicate ash-like leaves and sprays of yellow flowers that are loved by bees. It stays small, so perfect for a small urban garden.”
She enjoys the challenge of designing show gardens because she likes the fact she can be as creative as she likes, stepping outside the comfort zone of what many private clients want to come up with some crazy ideas that would be welcome at a show garden: “I also like the extra pressure that the time constraints of a show garden give, there’s something about being so focused on one thing for a short period of time. The meticulousness of creating a show garden also lets me unleash the OCD side of me as I do like being a perfectionist whenever life lets me.”
Cherry was in her early twenties when she realised that the career she was engaged in was not as fulfilling as she had hoped. She realised that she had to make a decision to start something new and something that she was passionate about: “I knew I wanted to work outdoors, I was already a nature lover and really didn’t suit office work. I loved gardening, so I decided to study horticulture,” she says. “I didn’t set out to be a garden designer but after gaining my qualifications and having the experience of working in nurseries, I wanted to have my own business. The garden design aspect of my career came about as I had always been a creative person and this way I could add and fuse that with my horticultural knowledge.”
For Cherry, meeting new clients, seeing the space and being given a brief is a challenge that tests her creativity and knowledge all the time: “I enjoy talking to my clients about the ideas I have and seeing them becoming enthusiastic about the new changes coming to their own gardens.” Being self-employed also means she can balance her garden design business and home life more easily.
A big animal lover, Cherry has three rescue dogs and a three-legged cat! They are her children, she admits, so she spends a lot of time with them: “I love taking them for little adventures out in the countryside or to the seaside. I really have a passion or dogs and in particular rescuing the mistreated and unfortunate ones. I have also become a Trustee for my local RSPCA branch and am working on fundraising and volunteer work.”
With regard to the APL, Cherry points out that the organisation really brings everyone in the industry together: “They are always there for any advice and support,” she says. “They are so welcoming, even if you are not a member or just starting out in the industry the APL and all of its members are there to encourage and help you make the most out of your business.”
She also points out that the association is a great way to meet other landscapers, designers and suppliers in your area and is an opportunity to discuss matters or ask advice: “With membership you get the accreditation behind you and you are inspected annually which means clients have the peace of mind and confidence that they are employing someone with very high standards.”
Phil Tremayne, APL General Manager comments that he is delighted to be using Cherry Carmen Garden Design as the designer of the ‘APL – A Place to Meet’ garden at RHS Hampton Court, this year: “The garden is a great way of showcasing the work of APL members and the APL are grateful to Kebur for once again sponsoring the garden.”
The garden will be built by Kebur Landscape Division, Farnborough. Landscape Plus is also sponsoring the garden alongside Kebur and The Association of Professional Landscapers.