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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.

December 21, 2014 | H is for hairy hedges

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December 20, 2014 | Feast on your greens: winter gardening

December weather lays  bare the bones of the landscape and reminds keen gardeners of the delights of monochrome gardening.  Knock out  colour – except greens –   and think texture, movement, leaf contrast – all those things that design tutors at college chant as a mantra.

Last  autumn,  a group of us visited The Laskett in Herefordshire.  This is Sir Roy Strong’s  theatrical creation of an outdoor space.  The drama is in the greens and topiary.    It is an all-year round picture as the photo above shows.  The plant palette,  ever green.  So which to choose?

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December 20, 2014 | G is for ghastly

In  1458 Piccolomini set about the construction of a small  town but he was  called to Rome to become Pius 11 an the job never got finished.  Nethertheless Pienza is an absolute gem of a  Renaissance town. Perched on a hill top and garlanded with churches and piazzettas.

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December 19, 2014 | F is for Ian Hamilton Finlay

If you read a review of “Letters from IHF to to Stephen Bann”  which appeared in December 4th’s London Review of Books, you will learn that he was agrophobic, foul-mouthed and one to raise a mallet to his friendships, notably his best man Hugh MacDiarmid (described as the poineer of synthetic Scots).

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December 18, 2014 | E is for Edinburgh, a wordy sort of place

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December 17, 2014 | D is for Don't be stupid and Dahlias

At a Dahlia Show you will see the  the bionic boob and tippety heels of this type of plant.   Go and and wow at a Dolly Parton of a dahlia but do not expect to find inspiration for your borders here.  Tune it down and call instead on a mate who grows them.  Below, Dolly and friends and the less blowsy Jescot Julie in a cutting field in Suffolk.

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December 16, 2014 | C is for coleus

(equally S is for Solenostemon scutellarioides)  - plants that come from India and Thailand and get called the ‘painted nettle’.  You will either love them or hate them – seen in droves when I visited the trial grounds of Ball and Colegrave in the summer.  Run your eye down this lot, if you like them pay zealous attention to Plant Me Now’s online catalogue as B&C supply them and their purchasing manager was salivating over these plants too….pretty sure of that.

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December 15, 2014 | B is for Brian

Garden guides can be brilliant or so annoying that you want to rattle your teeth and burst into tears.  Brian,  I am happy to tell you, is my nominee for guide of the year award.  Tucked away up a remote valley in Umbria due south of Lake Trasimeno is the weird and wonderful architectural fantasy of La Scarzuola.  More about that one a blog post I put up in August and here is the link http://www.catharinehoward.co.uk/2014/08/07/garden-visits-the-wild-and-woolly-way/

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December 15, 2014 | A is for anonymous

This summer I  visited a garden in England that was designed by the elusive Pascal Cribier.  After an exchange of letters I was given permission to have a look but not to write about it and flaunt photographs.  So here are two anywhere pictures that respect the privacy sentiment.

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December 12, 2014 | Jardin d'Epi Cure - jardin de soin

I’m struggling a bit – my  french doesn’t go beyond ordering a cuppa  and Wiki translation is not helping.  I’m leafing through a document that is headed:  “La Maison des Aulnes, residence d’accueil pour personnes cerebrolesees”.    The computer throws up nonsense in translation.  The gist is obvious so, tear up the paperwork, and let me tell you about the remarkable jardin de soin in Maule, just outside Paris.

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