Part of the ruined abbey in the gardens at Tresco

Abbey Gardens, Tresco

25 June 2018

Another ambition achieved - a visit to Abbey Gardens on Tresco in the Isles of Scilly. We arrived on a cruise around Britain, at 8 in the morning, which meant that apart from fellow cruisers, the gardens were fairly empty. A special place, helped by bright warm sunny weather. More in the trees section.

May blossom on the hawthorns at Appleton le Moor

Hawthorn, Appleton le Moor

26 May 2018

The May blossom on the hawthorns is the most spectacular I can remember. The trees on Appleton common were covered in white. I noticed a similar effect near Brambling Fields, where the hills look to have grown white rocks in recent weeks. More in the trees section.

Beningbrough Hall
New oak beams installed in a new development at the side of the restaurant

Scampston Hall

24 May 2018

The fine weather in May continues, and a beautiful day for visiting the walled garden at Scampston Hall, near Malton. Peonies were the most notable flower in bloom, but there is always lots to see here. Some pictures of trees in Scampston parkland are in the tree section.

Yorkshire Arboretum
Camassias in bloom at the Yorkshire Arboretum

Yorkshire Arboretum

13 May 2018

Camassias are widespread and in full bloom at the Yorkshire Arboretum, Castle Howard, which we visited this week to see the spring blossom at its best.

I have added a gallery showing some of the trees at the Yorkshire Arboretum.

Beningbrough Hall
New oak beams installed in a new development at the side of the restaurant

Beningbrough Hall

4 May 2018

A new overarching garden plan has been drawn up for Beningbrough Hall, and elements are already being developed. The aim is to improve the links between the alreaady popular areas , and create some new, modern, areas in currently quiet places.

Acorn Bank
Acorn Bank herb garden, on an early Good Friday in late March.

Acorn Bank

30 March 2018

A visit to Acorn Bank garden at Temple Sowerby. An early Easter meant that the structure of the garden was to be viewed, rather than the actual plants. A couple of exceptions - the daphne mezerium was in full blossom, and there were daffodils in the grass.

Pheasant visiting the garden

Pheasant in the garden

14 March 2018

We occasionally get a visit from a pheasant, checking out what might have dropped from the bird feeder. This one has very bright and colourful markings on his head, of the vicar variety with his strong white collar, and a white streak on top of his head.

Siskin visiting for sunflower seeds

Siskin on the seed feeder

14 March 2018

Another winter visitor popped into the garden, though these do appear fairly regularly in winter, providing sunflower seeds are put out for them. Smaller than a greenfinch, with little streaks on the rump, they are busy little birds when they come.

Fieldfares in the garden, brought in by a severe cold spell

Fieldfares in the garden

1 March 2018

The blast of cold weather this week brought some unusual visitors to the garden. Fieldfares and redwing both made an appearance, competing with the more usual blackbirds and starlings for the mealworms we put out to help them through the cold and the snow. The redwing flew off before I got my camera, but the fieldfares were regulars for 3 days.

Beast from the East
Snow covered topiary in early March

March snow in the front garden

1 March 2018

A week of severe weather dubbed "The Beast from the East" (weather from Siberia) saw temperatures stay below zero and heavy snow for a week. This was the effect in our front garden, before the high winds blew the snow off the hedging and drifted it up on our drive.

Queen wasp
Queen wasp with male wasp in an ambrace

Queen and male wasp

6 October 2017

We spotted this pair of wasps clasped together for at least half an hour, flying and on the ground. The larger one is a queen, the smaller one with the large wings is a male, who exists at this time of year simply to fertilise the queen who will then hibernate over winter and found a new colony next year.

A good crop of pears in Autumn 2017
Pear arch
Pears trained up and over a trellis arch

October pears

October 2017

This year seems to be a bumper one for pears. We have never had so many and in such good condition since we planted our Conference pear about 25 years ago. We have one bush planted and trained either side of a trellis arch. The trick now is to catch them just when they are ripe!

Box blight
Incinerating box blight casualty
Box blight
Box blight attacks established box topiary

Incineration of box badly affected by blight

4 Sept 2017

Severe box blight led to a decision to cut down and burn some 18 year old topiary. A hard choice. More details about this drastic treatment of box blight

Dyffryn Fernant
Cottage garden planting in front of the house at Dyffryn Fernant

Dyffryn Fernant garden

August 2017

Set in a valley near Fishguard in Pembrokeshire. A private garden open for people to ramble through the different named areas and enjoy the casual feel of a garden belonging to someone. Grasses, bog plants, cannas, ferns, are just some of the memorable features. More on Dyffryn Fernant garden

Colby Woodland Garden
The walled garden at Colby, Pembrokeshire.

Colby Woodland Garden

August 2017

A return visit to Colby Woodland garden near Amroth, Pembrokeshire - 20 years on from our last! Open spaces and wildflowers complement the ornamental walled garden near the entrance, with stone and trickling water offsetting the established planting. More on Colby Woodland garden

Laugharne Castle
A 19th century garden laid out in the ruins of medieval Laugharne Castle.

Laugharne Castle garden

August 2017

An unusual setting for a garden, inside the ruins of a medieval castle. This is actually a restoration by Cadw of what the gardens might have looked like when they were established in the early 19th century, as part of Castle House's grounds. More on Laugharne Castle

Tredegar House parterre
A parterre in the Orangery Garden at Tredegar House, made using minerals

Tredegar parterre

August 2017

A parterre in the Orangery Garden is shaped from different coloured sand, shells, lime, coal and other minerals, complementing the mown grass and minimal planting. Elsewhere is a wilder Orchard Garden and a colourful Cedar garden (dominated by an old cedar). More on Tredegar House

Hardwick Hall
A view of Hardwick Hall from the orchard area of the walled garden.

Hardwick Hall

17 August 2017

Hardwick Hall is a fine Elizabethan house in Derbyshire, not far from the M1 (sadly near enough to hear the constant drone of traffic). Since our last visit some years ago the stable block has become the entrance and cafe, leaving the ktichens in the house more authentic. There is fine herbaceous planting iin the courtyard at the front of the house, and a walled garden with a mix of wild areas, orchard and herb garden. More on Hardwick Hall

Hydrangeas in full bloom

Hydrangeas heavily laden

August 2017

Hydrangeas heavily laden with bloom this year, after a year without any flowers in 2016. Pruning at the wrong time was no doubt the cause of the missing blooms last year - I cut them back in winter. This year I didn't prune at all, and the flowers came in abundance, though on leggy stems.

Beningbrough Hall
Doorway from the herbaceous border to the restaurant area at Beningbrough Hall.

Beningbrough Hall

23 June 2017

Every time we visit Beningbrough Hall gardens there is something different that catches the eye, either because of the change of season or because of a new development. This corner has an enticing view through the doorway. More on Beningbrough Hall

Spiders' nest
Hundreds of tiny spiders in a nest

Baby spiders in their nest

7 June 2017

Two fuzzy balls appeared in the garden this week, both on the box plants. Closer inspection revealed hundreds of tiny spiders. When the bush was disturbed slightly they all spread out, only to regather in the ball once things had quietened down.

Red azalea
Brilliant red azaleas flowers cover the entire plant for a couple of weeks.
Purple azalea
A delicate purple variety purchased from Poets Cottage at Lealholm in 2016

Azaleas in pots

20 May 2017

I don't have acid soil, so azaleas need to be grown in pots, where they do quite well. They also have the advantage of being able to be moved into a position for best viewing during flowering, and then moved away to a shady area when they fade. As is often the case I cannot remember the varieties.

Sizergh Castle
Acers in the rock garden at Sizergh Castle

Acers at Sizergh

22 April 2017

Cold but sunny on a visit to Sizergh Castle, where the rock garden excelled with the old acers coming in to colour. Elsewhere the new stumpery was well planted, and now leads up to the long herbaceous bed in a natural progression on going through the gate to the gardens.

Levens Hall topiary
Topiary neatly clipped at Levens Hall

Topiary at Levens Hall

20 April 2017

Topiary at Levens Hall is amazing all year round, but particularly good in Spring, underplanted with primroses and with tulips. The structure of the garden comes to the fore, with hard pruning of limes and other shrubs, all waiting to burst back into growth. Blighted box borders have been replaced with ilex crenata and willow wands.

Muncaster Castle
Rhododendrons in bloom at Muncaster Castle

Rhododendron at Muncaster

18 April 2017

The rhododendrons, azaleas, camelias andmagnolias at Muncaster Castle in the western Lake District are enormous in places, and covered with colour at the end of April. This view is from the castle terrace, looking out towards the hills of Birker Fell.

Holker Hall
Tulips underplanting the ornamental hawthorns at Holker Hall

Tulips and structure Holker Hall

17 April 2017

Holker Hall is a stunning garden all year round, with something of interest always happening. The old tennis court garden was planted up with early tulips, and the bare structure of the shaped ornamental hawthorns is almost as appealing. As the daffodils were fading elsewhere, the rhododendron were coming in to bloom.

Forced rhubarb
Rhubarb forced under a terracotta pot.

Rhubarb forcer

April 2017

Two terracotta rhubarb forcers do their job in the vegetable plot, producing bright red and pink shoots on the new growth of rhubarb. We have to be careful though, if left too long the force their way out of the pot, knocking off the lid. Last year this resulted in a cracked lid as it landed on the path. The stalks taste much sweeter than if grown naturally, hardly needing any sugar when cooking.

Frogs in pond
Frogs gathering in the pond in early March.

Frogs' arrival

12 March 2017

The frogs arrived this week with the onset of a few days of mild weather and sunshine. Lots of frogspawn resulted in between the rushes and irises. Hopefully this will survive the inevitable frosty days yet to come. Newts are also in the pond - but harder to photograph!

Footprints in the snow
Footprints in the snow on a cold January morning. Mainly blackbirds.

Footprints in the snow

18 January 2017

Not much exciting happening in the garden at the moment, though the heathers are coming in to flower and snowdrops are beginning to push through. At least the birds provided some patterns in the brief snowfall last week, before the grey damp misty days returned.

More news from

A garden in Thornton le Dale
The top end of the garden is mainly grass, shrubs and trees, with a little topiary in beech, box, lonicera and golden privet.

Garth End Cottage garden

The top end of the garden is mainly grass, shrubs and trees, with a little topiary in beech, box, lonicera and golden privet.

There is a gallery of views of the garden available.

Many projects have been undertaken in my garden over the years. Here are some links to garden projects in recent years.

Octagonal summerhouse
A summerhouse for those pleasant but not quite warm enough days


I have done many illustrated talks on gardens over the years. Here are links to four garden talks I have given

Talk 1: A Garden in Thornton le Dale
Herbaceous Border
Looking down my garden from the pond. June 2012

The development of my own garden over 30 years, from a dumping ground for tarmac mainly down to grass, asbestos garage and tin shed, to its present state. Always changing, always some new development underway.

Riddlesden Hall
Courtyard at the rear of Riddlesden Hall, Keighley. September 2012
Talk 2: Yorkshire Gardens

Any gardener serious about developing their own garden will want to visit as many other gardens as possible, for enjoyment but also for inspiration and ideas.

This talk takes you on a virtual tour of thirty gardens across the 3 ridings of Yorkshire, from relatively small plots to grand stately homes.

Topiary at Rufford Old Hall
Clipped yews in front of Rufford Old Hall. September 2012
Talk 3: National Trust Gardens

The National Trust cares for 200 gardens in England and Wales, of which I have visited and photographed around 80 to date, plus others managed by the National Trust for Scotland and the equivalent in Ireland.


This talk covers up to 80 gardens (some fleetingly) and offers a personal view of the delights to be found in locations across the country.

Talk 4: Maintaining the garden
Clipped yew bird form
Clipped yew bird form.

It is great fun establishing a garden over the years: you get to buy new plants and objects, design and build, turn dull areas into something interesting. But then it all has to be kept to plan and in good condition. Weeding, mulching, composting, clipping, pruning, building and landscaping ....