Derry Watkins
On a chilly, grey, midwinter morning at Waterperry Gardens the international nurserywoman, Derry Watkins, sparkled with fabulous tales of her expansive planting hunting travels.  Her seemingly limitless knowledge of plants and their varieties would surely quell even the most addicted plantaholic.  Her nursery, Special Plants, in Somerset is a joy to visit – so many amazing varieties of plants and seeds on offer and also wonderful gardens and views.  Derry teaches quite regularly, including free “Tuesday” talks at her nursery.  Bounding with energy, wit and erudition she’s West End quality and a show not to be missed.

17 January 2017, Laura


The Beauty of Spring
What total bliss it has been savouring
the lengthening days and the beauty
of spring.  No wonder so many writers
are inspired by it.  The warm weather
is surely coming and soon the air will
be soft and it will be sowing weather.

Here are some photos I took yesterday
in a client’s garden.  Luckily, the sun burst out from behind the lightless grey clouds.

Laura, 14 March 2017


I adore all varieties of box, with
glorious Buxus sempervirens as
a desert island plant choice –  I just couldn’t imagine a garden without it. 
Dale & Heybrook Garden Designers
plant many varieties and forms of
Buxus regularly in their gardens. 

Box blight (a fungal disease resulting
in bare patches and die-back of box)
is an ever prevalent threat.  In order
to plant Buxus confidently in our
client’s gardens, we recommend a
twice annual spray of fungicide at the
beginning of March and August.

We have been doing this for many
years and with almost complete success. 
Here is our wonderful Russell spraying
130cm diametre box balls in a client’s
front garden last week.

Some varieties, such as the larger
leaved Buxus rotundifolia or narrow
leaved Buxus salicifolia, seem resistant
to the disease but their application
is not always suitable to the create
the effect required.

Laura, 14 March 2017


I visited a garden planted with many magnolias by its owner 40 years ago. 
Here is Magnolia ‘Heaven Scent’ looking lovely on a south westerly facing wall. 
The flowers on all east facing plants looked noticeably ravaged by early morning frosts. With almost as many years experience, we always site plants where they will perform their best.

Laura, 15 April 2017


Quercus robur
Our fabulous native oak, c. 130 years old with zingy bronze-lime spring foliage emerging.  Ravishing everyday at any age.  The king of British trees.

Laura, 17 April 2017, Suffolk

English Bluebells
In larger gardens with damp woodland, we often plant thousands of our native bluebells Hyacinthoides non-scripta.  More refined and elegant than their invasive Spanish cousins (H. hispanica) their scent is subtly exquisite yet travels far.  Towards the woodland margins and in more open areas, wild violets and primroses further increase the magic of mid spring.

Laura, 18th April 2017, Suffolk


Perch Hill
Lunch last week was with Sarah Raven. Gosh she is brilliant and so generous with her knowledge and time.   Her bunches,
all picked from the garden,  usually contain
“6 ingredients”.   This one includes Tulipa ‘Victoria’s Secret’, T. ‘Helmar’ and
T. ‘Royal Acres’  with Viburnum opulus roseum,
Cerinthe major 'Purpurascens' and Euphorbia palustris.  A sumptuous, late season tulip arrangement that sings
to my Dutch roots.

Laura, 4 May 2017


A top 10 garden
I don’t care for rankings or ratings much... comparisons are indeed odious.

However, the gardens at Great Dixter were in the realms of sublime beauty at my visit last week and are definitely now added to my top 10 British gardens list.  

It rained throughout my tour with an exceptional gardener possessing great knowledge and vision, currently on a Chanticleer Scholarship.  I shall visit again soon – perhaps to see the wildflower meadows next month or the exotic garden in late summer.
Laura, 8 May 2017.


Making an Entrance!
Grand or simple, flamboyant or subtle,
a considered dress to all entrances, particularly to the front door, is vital to making a beautiful, welcoming and alluring home. 

Depending on our client’s style and location, we design all entrances to
set the scene for what’s to come; creating both appeal and a sense of anticipation. 

Here are some wonderful entranceways that I have enjoyed recently.  All are considered and capture the spirit
of the place. 

Laura, 17 April 2017


Wonderful Arne Maynard’s bejewelled front garden in very early spring.


Recently created stone arch at
Hanham Court.


Entrance to artisan tile makers home,
near Chettinad, southern India.


One of a fabulous series of entrances to 11th century Big Temple, Tanjore,
southern India

National Garden Scheme
Such a wonderful idea to raise money for nursing charities by kind owners opening their garden gates. I love reading ‘The Yellow Book’ in the winter months to try to work a visit to an open garden with other commitments. Rose and I have just visited two spectacular NGS gardens Gloucestershire – Rockcliffe House and Upton Wold Garden.

Laura, 15 May 2017


Traditional terracing
Traditional terracing using local stone
sits effortlessly on the steep hills behind Portofino.

And the air was alive with glorious fragrance and birdsong.  

We love working with craftsmen to help
create timeless designs in the garden.
Laura, 21 May 2017


Iris Fields
A glorious Bank Holiday morning – the air was balmy, brimming with birdsong and the soft powdery scent of Irises.

Almost 200 varieties of iris are available to see and purchase at Wootten’s Nursery.  Iris ‘Empress of India’ really sang to me
–  very healthy and a generous flowerer, with an elegant habit and exquisite scent.  Closely followed by Iris ‘Indian Hills’ and Iris germanica ‘London Pride’.  All these will be trialled at home and, performance permitting, we will specify them in future garden designs.

Just as I was leaving the fields, the cuckoo called twice.  What a joyous surprise.
Laura, Wenhaston, 29 May 2017