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The Gardening Coach

Catharine Howard is the Gardening Coach. Contact her for gardening advice and visit www.thegardeningcoach.co.uk for more information.
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November 3, 2016 | The Best Walled Garden in the World in Suffolk

This  year walled garden curiosity has quietly gripped me.  It started on the Isle of Mull in a squall, taking refuge behind the mossy stone of a 4 acre walled garden.  The kind climate of the Gulf Stream had allowed the rarest of shrubs and trees to flourish.  Back in Suffolk, a walk  through sandy onion-filled fields surrounded by creaking pines led to the out buildings of a large estate.  We peered through a tooth-gaped gateway in the walls into an emptiness of  tussock grass and waving brambles.

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October 2, 2016 | A visit to Bury Court to see planting by Oudolf and Bradley Hole

I can never make my mind up whether it is best to thoroughly research a garden before visiting first-time round, clued up and laden with information.  A good tactic but equally so is a full dive in without the background history.  This  can give a more sincere response to site, planting and atmosphere.

Over the years I have seen images of the Front Garden at Bury Court by Christopher Bradley Hole garlanding the glossy magazines.  It’s been on my  hit list.   Bradley Hole is one of the few Chelsea Flower Show exhibitors that pulls off show gardens that make sense, that stretch the eye and the mind with pared down planting.   They are always presented  within his habitual mathematical grids.  His Latin Garden of 1997,  a homage to Virgil is in  my mind as if I am still standing in front of the display.

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August 31, 2016 | Why I did not visit Jupiter Artland

Visitors to the  Edinburgh Festival and its cuckoo offspring, the Fringe, will find themselves beetling about from venue to venue in a mad rush to fit everything in.  In the frantic scurry-about, wearing down shoe-leather, the beauty of Edinburgh’s setting and architecture seeps into the soul.

This year we decided to take in landscapes as well:  Arthurs Seat, Isle of Inchcolm and Jupiter Artland.  The last one for the all the fresh news coverage in the wake of Museum of the Year award.  We bussed out of Edinburgh along a  street lined with supermarkets of the world and  were eventually set down at the  dusty yard of an agricultural wholesaler with a caravan selling butties and Ironbru.  The locals pointed us back up the road.  There had been a bus-stop “vandalised and burnt down”  the man in pink told us. Continue reading Why I did not visit Jupiter Artland

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August 4, 2016 | A Trip to East Ruston Old Vicarage Gardens

These gardens have become a bit of a pilgrimage site.  Particularly for those of us who live in the East.  There simply are not many substantial gardens in these parts.  Not the first time I have visited, but a week or two back, I treated myself and two others to the  Full Monty Alan Grey tour with lunch.

I made a mistake.  The two  were poles apart.  Friend one, a textile designer with many years of plying her trade.  Purity and attention to detail are her watchwords.  The other friend has bright pink hair, wears bling and delights to shock.  She in turn had Bernie in tow:  he works for her.  Then of course there was  Alan, looking immaculate in tight trousers and tee shirt with fashionable leather patch.

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August 3, 2016 | Planting combination for August: Tall, gauzy and with presence

By suspending all blogging activities for over a year, I have made some time to coax our garden into looking  more like a garden.  It has metamorphosed from a bramble nest, through deconstruction to the builder rubble era and now has plants.

One of most useful things that I learnt when I studied landscape architecture was to choose a look for the planting style and only then to choose the plants.  This has saved me from kleptomaniac horticultural tendencies.  And no doubt masses of money too.

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August 13, 2015 | Playing with Flowers

A friend of mine moved to the country and inherited a large and unruly garden. “How about a flower arranging course?”    This is a sure way to get intimate with your plants.  Yesterday  was a strong reminder of that advice.   I went over to local flower grower, Moat Farm Flowers owned and run by Frenchie Boscawen.  She is who also a mate and enviably has the greenest fingers round these parts.

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February 16, 2015 | Pattern of the DAY

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February 15, 2015 | The days of Narnia

are almost over.  Without looking at the man in the suit on the telly, who seems to know so much at long range, I can feel it.

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February 15, 2015 | Plant colour combos for your 2015 garden

Hours of the weekend have been spent drooling over  plant catalogues and trawling websites for ferns, clematis, dahlias, green manure crops and potatoes. And the rest.  Our  garden has been shredded and reduced to passive soil (bristling with weed seeds) and hard landscaping and after hours of penitential digging we are ready to go.  But what to choose?  Like King John’s Christmas, I want everything and now.

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January 29, 2015 | January Door

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