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Visiting Gardens


By AndrewR


What do you look for when visiting other people’s gardens?
Some gardens we have to accept for what they are but are just not relevant to us – acres of ornamental trees or masses of large rhododendrons are never going to fit into our postage stamp of a garden on alkaline soil. But others are more relevant in parts or in total.

Being a plantaholic, I am always on the look-out for new plants. An exotic bloom, an interesting leaf, a dwarf form. Or maybe a mix of colours or using plants in a way that is fresh. For example, the poppy ‘Patti’s Plum’ has a smoky pink colour I have always found difficult to place. Then I saw it in a garden in Surrey, surrounded by shrubs with rich green or dark purple foliage and set off by only white flowers – perfect.

Yesterday I visited nine gardens here in Bracknell open to raise money for a local hospice. Some were disappointing, some were mediocre but there were a couple well worth the visit. The first was full of bedding plants – not garish but all mixed into full borders. Not my cup of tea but all done to perfection and may be up to Yellow Book standard. The second was beautifully planted on a difficult sloping site with dry, sandy soil. Everything could cope with the conditions and was looking healthy despite little rain recently. A particularly dry and shaded border was filling out nicely with various ivies and vincas while sedums in pots revelled in full sun by the front door. Right plant, right place.

Finally there are others I visit that where nothing excites or inspires me and I come away feeling disappointed or cheated. But what was it that irritated me about them? There is always something to learn from other people’s gardens.

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Interesting thoughts Andrew. I personally hate loud gardens full of summer bedding and not much else but others love the vivid colours which are naturally lacking in this country.The point really is that we are all different and that is what makes the world go around.You are right that we can always learn from other peoples gardens whether we like them or not. And through this site we can visit very many gardens without leaving the home!

29 Jun, 2008


Often people who are not really into gardening will plant shrubs under the windows at the front of their homes .They then proceed to totally ignor them. It especially irritates me when these srubs grow so tall and are too close to the house, often with tree seedlings sprouting throughtout them. With the windows totally blocked I can only imagine how dark it must be inside those rooms. I understand that gardening is a passion that you either have or you don't but why some home owners allow such neglect is beyond me.

I find it very interesting to see the how the personalities of gardeners shine through their gardens, as is evident on this inspiring site.

29 Jun, 2008


I believe sometimes we can inspire others into at least having a bit of interest in their gardens. The people next door to me had nothing atall in theirs, but now since I've moved in here they've been talking about having some plants, so I've given them some roots from my garden and I had quite a long conversation with them about their garden. They told me how they were going to develop it etc. Maybe seeing my garden had nothing to do with it but it's funny how they've been living there for 25 yrs and only now are deciding to grow something.

29 Jun, 2008


You've met my neighbours Nancym!

29 Jun, 2008


im afraid i AM that neighbour lol, in my defence up until recently ive been working 24/7 but since cutting back i decided to concentrate on the back garden as this is the most used,,, i have my plans for the front of the house and as promised before i shall take pics to shame myself lol,,,,, Blodyn i would say it is def because of your garden that your neighbours are now taking an interest in theirs, well done.

29 Jun, 2008


Well my front "garden" is horrible and I'm ashamed to put a photo of it. I must say though that I've only lived here 2 & 1/2 yrs and between the back garden and inside the house, the front has had to wait. I have plans for it though and you'll see the diff. when I put photos but it will be quite a while yet I'm afraid.
See I'm a plantaholic like you Andrew so I'll have no trouble finding plenty of plants once I start to revamp it.

29 Jun, 2008


I agree with Popymikes comment in that we are all different and everyone of us has their own views about what makes a 'successful' garden. I really believe that gardens also reflect the personalities of their owners. There is also the old saying that 'Beauty is in the eye of the beholder' which is also very true. The 3,500 gardens that open for The National Gardens Scheme are all diverse and different, each with its own unique character. With my background in the visual arts and teaching, I always try to appreciate the character of a garden in the same way as we look at aspects of art, a painting, sculpture,dance or music. We have a rich heritage of diversity spanning many years.
When we visit gardens we try not to compare them because they are very personal spaces, and each one is unique and very special. We are so lucky to have so many diverse gardens to enjoy and celebrate in the U.K.

29 Jun, 2008


I always say to people to put what they want in their gardens, not what the 'fashion experts' tell them. If you want to grow orange marigolds next to pink petunias then go for it. I have a border with white and red flowers; some people will throw up their hands in horror and say putting these colours together is unlucky but it is my garden and I like it!

29 Jun, 2008


I think that people who open their gardens for charity as part of a Community effort - as many villages do here in Somerset - are very brave. They will hear comments about their little piece of heaven, maybe mostly complimentary, but some possibly not - sometimes rather loud remarks! These folks didn't apply as those gardeners do who join the Yellow Book Scheme, they do it just to help a local cause. They may not even consider themselves as 'gardeners', they just wanted to join in for a good cause like the local Church roof fund. They probably won't have spent hours and hours preparing for the Open Day, either, as I have learned on this site that the NGS 'openers' do I applaud them. What do I look for? The owner - to thank them!

29 Jun, 2008


Very interesting - am watching "open gardens" on UKTVGardens as I peruse and "speak". Personally, I don't care how or what folks grow - as long as they get out there and grow stuff!!. I would NEVER leave a garden visit feeling disappointed. Our children's intro to gardening usually commences with "boring" bedding schemes, but these, whether they are in gardens or parks, often ignite that initial "spark". I will post a pic from earlier nthis year, which should illustrate this! As for "Patty's Plum", I have posted a pic of ours (against a white background). I love it - conjures images of Pernod, dark and white chocolate, Victorian dresses with a revealing bit of white lace petticoat - double standards in the plant world often mimick what we do in life!

30 Jun, 2008


As I have "confessed" before I've only been seriously gardening for 2 years. I like a mix of colorful perennials and lots of greens. So far I've done nothing very unusual or spectacular, however, my garden simply gives me such a good feeling and always a smile. My goal is to have a densely planted garden (to help cut down on weeding) and I truly love the look of these types of gardens, realizing there is a fine line between beautiful and out of control. "Full and Lush"...that's the name of my game!

30 Jun, 2008


What do I look for? Something different! Something that has had a bit of thought put into it. I've visited a few gardens that have had plants planted in big square blocks and you just get the feeling that they're just there to fill the space and in the same gardens you tend to see patches of bare soil too. That would never do in my garden! Like 1198, my garden is brimming with plants (due to my obsessive plant buying!) and that's just the way I like it! :-)

30 Jun, 2008


HHHHHhhhhhhmmm iv never visted a persons open garden like your own Andrewr? But i think id like2 c the flowers of the season out@the time of my visit& also few Trees&Shrubs that compleamnet them,Something Colourful&different:)

8 Jul, 2008

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