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Upgrades
Like at home (this is the view from my desk today!), we have been having building works on our website including new additions and redesigns.  It has been a totally enjoyable experience as we have been working with the most wonderful team of inspiring professionals (Emma DeBanks our website designer, and Christoph and his team at Olamalu of website developers).  I hope you enjoy perusing our pages – we would relish your feedback. 

Dale & Heybrook Garden Designers have also stepped into the world of social media so please do keep in touch via our posts.  We would love that!

We are working on many really interesting and enjoyable projects and we will keep you posted on exciting developments.  Hopefully you will find them as energising as we do.

Laura, 8 May 2016.

PS – hope you are having the same wonderful sunshine and warmth as in Oxford today, also enjoyed by my Tulipa clusiana Cynthia!

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Bonanza blossoms!
The early, golden days of summer are
upon us and this year seem even more sensational. 

Several Head Gardeners have commented that they’ve never know blossom as good and I couldn’t agree more.  Country lanes are overflowing with flowering hawthorn, cowparsley and other wild beauties including buttercups, daisies and already dandelion seedheads.

In the garden, lilac and magnolia blooms seem bigger than ever, whilst the new leaves of trees have taken on incredible variations of fresh hues of green.  A client returning from work in New York was also taken aback by the colour variation in this years’ spring foliage on his estate.

It really has been a glorious unfurling
of spring into summer.  Do step out and enjoy the continuing festival – the roses are poised to take centre stage.  Definitely time to celebrate – there is so much to look forward to!

Laura, 23 May 2016

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Wonderful Wisley
Many years ago I trained in Garden Design at Merrist Wood College, Guildford, near to where I lived and also to the incredible RHS Garden at Wisley.  I spent hours at the latter, chiefly because so many plant species are there to be seen and observed over the seasons and because almost every plant is identified. 

You could (and still can) even see their trial beds, from which they base their reputed plant RHS Award of Garden Merit on.  Everything from magnolias to lettuces, sunflowers to hostas – you name it, they had it and trialled it!

It really was an invaluable, living, plant library (of course they have a fabulous library too!), particularly for an aspiring garden designer.

So, how wonderful to return to a champagne reception last week with Sir Nicholas Bacon and Christopher Bradley Hole to hear about their new major development plans, including exciting re-designs for the garden entrance and brilliant designs for a Hilltop Science and Learning Centre being developed by WilkinsonEyre Architects.

A pity I am no longer just down the road – there will be much to savour at Wisley over the coming months and years.

Laura, 16 May 2016

PS my hopeless photo! tried to capture the setting sun on the Glasshouse as we toured the empty gardens...

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Pelargonium paradise
The truly glorious pelargonium polytunnel yesterday at one of my very favourite plant nurseries, Wootten’s Plants of Wenhaston.  Here is Julie with  a pot of Pelargonium ‘Pink Capricorn’ ready for their display at the Suffolk County Show this week.

Do visit www.woottens.co.uk for incredibly beautiful and beautifully grown mail order plants.  You won’t be disappointed!
 
Laura, 1 June 2016

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Bearded iris
Here is a wonderful display of bearded iris at Woottens Plants.  A true harbinger of early summer and so glamorous too!  Here is Iris ‘Buto’ with the yellow standards of Iris ‘Rajah’ in the background.  The flowers are total showstoppers, but not for long so we tend to use them in larger gardens.

In June, I LOVE to visit Wootten’s 2 acre iris fields to breath in and savour the gloriously gentle perfume of these sumptuous, velvety flowers.   The fields are to the public now until 16th June and people travel for miles to see them.  Seize the opportunity if you can!

Laura, 4 June 2016

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Robin Lane Fox
This week I was lucky enough to taken for a tour by Robin Lane Fox around the gardens he has created at New College, Oxford.  What a treat it was.  Wordsmith extraordinaire, he brims with erudition, joie de vivre and great passion for many things including gardening. 

“Zeus has heard me” he began, as we looked up at the grey skies and entered other-wordly quadrangles.  I savoured his every word – often outspoken and always of very firm opinion.  “I’m no fan of Eurograsses!  Borders should be like a good supper.... at least four courses to enjoy... Never declare all your hand at once... there should always be succession of changes, including colour.... Sometimes you have accidental successes...  Do not plant in blocks, more in lines...” and so it continued until the skies started to deepen grey and champagne was offered.

His planting reflected his spirit – flamboyant yet classical, surprising, witty and riotously enjoyable.  Also a devotee of Nancy Lancaster, he can’t go wrong in my mind.

His book, Thoughtful Gardening: Great Plants, Great Gardens, Great Gardeners, is one of the best books I have come across recently. 

Laura, 15 June 2016

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Visiting gardens
There’s nothing like visiting a great garden to fire up imagination, enthusiasm and general joie de vivre.  And some gardens stoke the fire beyond imagination. 
Bryan’s Ground in Herefordshire is one, the creative genius of Simon Dorrell and David Wheeler. 

Here is Simon, the most welcoming host, in his garden this week.  Many more thoughts on this garden to follow. 

In the meantime, this 6 star garden is worth a long detour before its 2016 season closes in a few weeks.

Laura, 23 June 2016

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on form 16...
It all certainly was on the last day of the fabulous stone sculpture exhibition at Asthall Manor in the Cotswolds.  Owner and co-curator Rosie Pearson (pictured) was brimming with energy and knowledge of the sculptures, including ‘Congo Bean’ in breathtaking Kilkenny Limestone by Anthony Turner.  The gardens and views across the Windrush Valley were
glorious too.

What a reputation to live up to – roll on the next show in 2018! 

Laura, 10 July 2016

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Fragment, black granite
by Mark Stonestreet

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Fabulous roses
“I like my roses to flower into the
Autumn, smell fabulous... definitely
not red – rather apricots and soft
pinks...” So uttered a client 18 years
ago when designing his rose parterre garden. Some of these original plants
now need replacing, so today I revisited
a specialist rose grower and breeder. 

I timed my visit carefully, in late August,
to select varieties growing in the field displaying highly scented flower power
(as well as other factors including general form, health, stem and leaf colour
and shape).

Rosa ‘Chandos Beauty’ is still a top rated rose, so more of these were ordered.  Newer varieties were also selected including R. ‘Mary Berry’, R. ‘Royal Parks’ and R. ‘Debbie Phillips’.

No need to wait until next June to enjoy the flowers, they are still in full glory
and for weeks to come.  Summer is not over yet!

Laura, 26 August 2016

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Hedges
I am often amazed how productive some journalists are in creating and publishing works.  Perhaps I should invest in a dictaphone, useable in a car.  Someone please tell me that they exist!  So I could merrily convert driving thoughts post-garden visits into content.  Old fashioned, I still pen out words after the flurry of the day. 

Yesterday I visited Radcott House, ten years on since my last visit.  Neither lovely owners nor I could believe the time lapse, yet the growth of beech and yew hedges was unbelievably confirmatory.

Laura 3 October, 2016

Cloud box hedging
We have a client who seeks a fairly instant cloud box hedge to screen cars. 

Earlier this week I was delighted to visit a marvellous grower and passionate enthusiast of one of my favourite plants, Buxus.  The plant has had bad press over recent years because of box blight and, more recently, caterpillar.  However it is possible to keep box plants healthy with judicious, yet not time consuming maintenance.

Here are some of the plants that we intend to use to create the most beautiful, organically shaped cloud box hedge.

Laura, 13 October 2016

PS – what a magnificent oak tree too!  Another of my favourite plants!

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Urban Greening
As my usual tube station at Marylebone was closed, I alighted at Edgware Road.  What a welcome discovery this magnificent living green wall was, particularly as it is sited right beside the pretty hostile A40 flyover.

New research continues to conclude that green walls (and roofs) help improve city life, including reducing air pollution (typically 10-20% lower nearer green walls than surrounding areas), reducing sound energy (aka noise) and also inner city ‘heat island’ temperatures.

Greening cities is definitely on the agenda – many major cities including Toronto, Munich Tokyo and Copenhagen have made greening commercial urban buildings a requirement.

Images of a current green roof project to follow in the next few weeks.

Laura, 31 October 2016

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Tulipes Contre Le Cancer
(Tulips against Cancer)

Whilst many tulip (and other spring flowering) bulbs are being planted in clients gardens, this wonderful charity will also be planting fields and fields of them in locations across France and Belgium.  The fields are then opened in April and May for visitors to pick their own, share stories and much more....

Tulipes Contre Le Cancer is an incredible success story, with impressive and heart warming statistics.  Since starting in 1988 with 100,000 tulip bulbs at one location, the charity now involves over 3,000 sponsors (organised through Le Lions Club), 4 million bulbs, 53 locations, generous farmers who lend their prepared fields, countless volunteers, over 250,000 visitors....   And more than €1 million has been donated towards funding medical research and care of patients in hospital.

We visited fields at Falaise in early April where acres of labelled tulips could be savoured and harvested.  A brilliant achievement of all those involved – vraiment fantastique!

www.tulipscontrelecancer.org

Laura, 1 November 2016

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Feathery Friends
In one garden, hundreds of pounds have been spent on bird feeders, seeds and nesting boxes.  And a bath.  The garden now offers six star luxury full board accommodation to a host of feathery friends, including migratory visitors in the spring.

The spirit of a garden is lifted into magical realms with the regular presence of birds, they enliven the senses even on a dreary winter morning.

This friendly robin followed me as I perused the bird products at Burford Garden Centre.  His conversation was heart-meltingly exquisite.  I’ll have crusts in my pocket when I next visit.

Laura, 12 November 2016