Wednesday 26 June 2013

Cottage Gardens

Hello Lovelies ,
 I hope you are in the mood for a bit ( O.K. a lot ) of garden love. 

I have enjoyed gardening since my early twenties when we first owned our little starter home and transformed the bare earth of a new build plot into a garden. It wasn't perfect, by a long way. I didn't have much idea what I was doing , but I still enjoyed the process and the mixed results :0)

I can still vividly recall the first time I did any gardening there. We had a scruffy  lawn laid by a geezer who knocked at the door ( I wouldn't be so gullible these days) and the remaining bare earth was a mass of weeds by spring. 

One sunny day I couldn't bare to look at it any more so I forced myself to head out with a trowel do do battle.  As I sat on the warm concrete slab path that ran the length of that little garden, digging in the earth, I was astonished to realise I was actually enjoying myself. How could this be? there were no pretty flowers to look at, but still it was wonderfully therapeutic to dig  the soil and clear that patch of earth. I remember feeling almost sad when the job was done, but also elated that I had found a love of gardening . 

By the  nineties we had a much bigger garden and I had  a bit more knowledge about gardening, picked up mostly by trial and error and watching gardening shows . One of my favourite T.V. gardeners was the late Geoff Hamilton. I still treasure his cottage gardens book , published in 1996.

The photo with the book was taken by me when on a visit to Geoffs garden BARNSDALE in 1999, as was this ..........

The colours are a bit washed out but I think you can see what wonderful , inspiring place this is. I love the mass of flowers spilling over the paths. 

By 2003 I had three small boys to run around after and my own garden headed into the wilderness years....Mr BM still cut the lawn but I struggled to keep up the borders, there were simply not enough hours in the day for gardening.

Now the boys are older I can indulge my love of plants again. At this time of year I would love to visit gardens like Geoff's every weekend, but it wouldn't be fair on the rest of the family. However,  this weekend I decided that I should be able to visit some gardens as a birthday treat. Youngest was having none of it and went to play with his cousin at his Nana's house, but the older two came along with us.

The open gardens were being held in a pretty village I have only driven through a couple of times. We paid for a map in a local shop, easy enough, and headed off to find the first garden...not that easy !
I'm not sure why but I could not follow the directions and we ended up at the river. Gazing at a canal boat aptly called " rising damp " as the rain began to fall and the wind whipped at my legs and I wondered why I had chosen to wear a skirt and sandals.......

We all sheltered under a tree till it had eased, then, ignoring the boys pleas of  "Can't we just go home", we tried again.
This sight cheered me up a least we had found a pretty cottage .........

Then around the bend , with a rather small sign it would be easy to miss , we found an open garden. It was a courtyard space, full of plants in pots ........

 Phew, everybody cheered up a bit , especially as the sun came out right on cue.

The owner was outside so we chatted for a while ( and asked permission to take photos )  then explored alone.
We found a lovely green corner .......

 and this  path lead to...........

 a fabulous secluded corner. I thought it was simply gorgeous.

I was enchanted by the Astrantias, and the bees loved them too..........

And I loved the use of this old drain pipe as a wall planter.........

Once we had found one garden we made sure to ask the owners directions to the next.

 Some we did not take pictures in , though they were all lovely in their own way.

This garden , which I can only describe as enchanting, was owned by an elderly gentleman who welcomed us at the front of the house and told us his daughters were around the back.

Parts were a bit wild , but I think that really added to the charm..........

And he had some gorgeous flowers.
 Ooooh , Alliums....stunning.......

Bright pink Peonies....

wonderful clematis.......

And what a view at the bottom of the garden.........


When were were leaving I asked the two daughters who had shown us round if this was their swing. Yes, said these mature ladies , it had been their swing and they delighted in pointing out their sandpit and where their slide had been too. So many years of happy memories caught up here.........


We visited three gardens with canal side settings, what a treat to enjoy access to these normally private gardens in such a gorgeous location.........

Up the hill we felt a bit lost again , but finally found another gem . I swear it was windy, cloudy and cold around the font of this house, but when we entered the back garden it was like a different world. Sheltered and sunny..........

 There were tables and chairs arranged on the lawn close to the house and tempting cakes on display in the little conservatory. As soon as a table became free the four of us Made a bee line for it and I went to order.
The boys did have a soft drink , and shared the delicious carrot cake with their dad.
I loved the pretty miss matched china and the date cake........

 It really was an idyllic spot, hard to tear yourself away from . People chatted happily and an old dog plodded around looking for crumbs.

By this time I think we had seen about eight gardens so I promised the boys this would be the last one.
we followed a sign round the back and I gasped at the sight of these stunning climbing roses.....

 Just perfect don't you think ?

It turned out to be my most favourite garden of the day. I perfect English cottage garden........

There were loads of Geraniums ( not to be mixed up with Pelargoniums ) Claire explains the difference HERE.........

The owner was a real plants man and had helpfully labelled many of the flowers.These red beauties are "Lychnis chalcedonica" . I don't think I've seen them before.........

In the background of this photo you can just see some stunning  blue Delphiniums but the owner was keen to show us this favourite of the moment ..........

I loved it all and we were so lucky that the sun continued to shine during the time we spent there. The lady owner told me parts of the walls  were Elizabethan , they certainly made a wonderful backdrop.......

There was also a beautiful pond.........

But I think my favourite bit was this wonderful display of daises and geraniums........

Such a joyful, pretty and summery cottage garden scene, don't you think ?

Our weather maybe unreliable  and downright miserable at times but If it can still produce wonderful flowers like these and lush green countryside it can't be all bad.

All the gardens were generously shared by their owners and their enthusiasm was infectious. The event raised funds for a local hospice.

Thank you for indulging me today, I think I've rambled on a bit :0)
Hope you enjoyed the photos anyway.
Jacquie x


  1. Oh my Jacquie what a very beautiful pat of England. It's my dream to have a cottage garden with a meadow of wild flowers at the bottom of it please (um I'm not greedy, really :o)x Thank you for this special post...I'm still dreaming x Penny

  2. What beautiful photos and gardens you have captured this perfectly.
    I love cottage gardens x

  3. Oh Jacquie what gorgeous gardens. Thank you so much for sharing I love the daisies too ~ Sarah x

  4. I love the open gardens scheme. You meet lots of lovely people and you get lots of love ideas. I just wish I could grow Lupins and Sunflowers - its the slugs you know......
    Julie xxxxxxx

  5. Picture perfect! Gorgeous photos of gorgeous English cottage gardens. We can only dream of gardens like that here in the dry and dusty wheatbelt, our summers are extremely hot with no rain and winters are cold with little rain. You are so lucky to be able to grow beautiful gardens like that. Thanks for sharing, looks like you had a wonderful day out.

  6. It looks like you had a fabulous day, I need to fit in some garden visits. Geoff Hamiltons Cottage Gardens was the first gardening book I bought, I still enjoy looking through it now, I also need to find the time to attempt to make some of those beehive compost bins featured in the book.

  7. Well your weather seems to be better than ours. We get a week of rain or more at a time it seems, not just a day or two. But enough whining. I wanted to wish you a happy birthday and say how much I enjoyed all the photos of wonderful flowers. I have to agree with you that the last garden is a special treat. Enjoy your week.

  8. I enjoyed your walk through the gardens. I love a cottage garden too - just wish the sun would shine a bit more at the moment, so I could enjoy my own garden! x

  9. Thanks for sharing this wonderful stroll through other peoples gardens with us. I so enjoyed this. I too love gardening, but I am still learning all the time. My father was a very keen gardener and spent most of his time making our garden look like an art exhibition, I certainly don't have this talent or knowledge, but I definitely have the love. I just love seeing other peoples gardens so thank you for this wonderful post. My favourites were the first and the last, I just love the charm of a cottage garden. xoxo

  10. So beautiful - and pure summer! It is so cold here just now and everything is Kate. We had Lychnis in our previous garden. My mother knew them as Maltese Cross.
    I have the Cottage Gardens book too and still refer to it xx

  11. What a wonderful day. All the gardens look so pretty. Geoff Hamilton was my favourite too. I still have the VHS tape I made of his cottage garden series, though the player has long since been packed away! xx Debbie

  12. Hi Jacquie - what a lovely day out. I am lucky that Little Son loves nothing more than to tramp around gardens and enjoys anything outside. Geoff Hamilton is my fabourite too. I have a book called "Paradise Gardens" by him where people have made beautiful secluded gardens out of what would normally be suburban or town gardens. It is really inspirational. I like the last garen you visited best also. The daisies and geraniums are beautiful. Lily.

  13. What an absolutely fabulous trip out. I remember Geoff Hamilton and he was just a natural! x

  14. Those are beautiful pictures, and I can tell you had a wonderful birthday. My favorite is the daisies.

  15. Perfect rambling words and rambling roses. It was showery that day, I was belly dancing in the showers! Check it out on my blog Your photos Look great. Jo x

  16. Absolutely gorgeous! The flowers are wonderful!

  17. Thank you so much Jacquie for sharing with us pictures of the stunning gardens, such a brilliant birthday present.

  18. Ramble on .... that's why I like your blog. Such a varied posts and all interesting. Beautiful gardens and the best part for me would be the tea at the end.

  19. Ooh Jacquie, I have so much to say!!
    Firstly thanks for the link, geraniums are my fav.
    Its my birthday next week...I wonder if I can persuade the old man to drive me about?
    My big goal is to one day open my garden...maybe a few more years.
    I love/loved Geoff too, I have his paradise gardens book, really you need no other book!
    I'm guessing you dont live in the south, but if you're ever down this way, you are welcome to mooch about my garden xx

  20. I think the OGS is a fantastic thing, lots of great ideas and all for charity....oh and I'm dead nosey too! :) x

  21. I've done this before and It was a really enjoyable afternoon. You got to see some beautiful gardens :)

  22. Such gorgeous photos of gorgeous places, but my heart skipped when I saw the photo of Geoff Hamilton's Cottage Garden book! My most prized possession is a signed copy of this and I spent 7 years putting together a cottage garden with his inspiration and ideas. It's a shame he died so early! My favourite rose in my garden now is the Geoff Hamilton rose, so many layers in this old fashioned rose and they always make me smile. Thanks for a taste of summer! Chel x

  23. Wonderful post, Jacquie. I loved the tour round all the gardens and the photos are beautiful - shame about the weather though. I, too, loved watching Geoff Hamilton on TV, have that book and the DVD too - it was due to his influence that I now garden in the cottage garden style. And the Lychnis chalcedonica ... I can still remember vividly the first time I ever saw some flowering in an English country garden - absolutely stunning! Thanks for sharing your birthday treat. Elizabeth xx

  24. I'm so glad that you've shared these garden photos with you. It was fun to ramble along with you. xo

  25. How wonderful, you will never believe it Jacquie but we visited Barnsdale yesterday (I shall do a post soon) I like you have his book and used to hang on his every word...
    The gardens you visited are so breathtakingly beautiful thank you for sharing
    Thea x

  26. Thank you for sharing your day with us. I also love gardening, and I really enjoyed seeing all your photos - and I remember the late, great Geoff Hamilton very well.

  27. What beautiful gardens, if only I could be so greenfingered with mine.
    Glad you had a lovely day.
    Sally x

  28. What an amazing day you had. Are you planning on drawing any of it?

  29. As the rain tiddles down from the heavens as I type ... these photo's have cheered me up no end. Simply Lovely. Thank You.

  30. Your journey into gardening seems very similar to ours with a starter home garden and then learning so much from Geoff Hamiliton. We were so sad when we heard he had died. How lucky you are to have visited Barnsdale. We sadly caught the gardening bug despite the children and when they were younger they had to suffer many visits to gardens and garden centres. I'm glad you had such a wonderful afternoon out, looking at open gardens. The elderly gentlema's garden and the last one look fantastic. It must be amazing having a canal at the bottom of the garden. Sarah x

  31. I have Geoff Hamiliton's Cottage Garden book, I love it and have read it from cover to cover several times, and dip into it frequently sometimes just to look at the photos. I was sad when he died, I think he was one of our gardening greats. Your photos are lovely, It looks as though you had a wonderful afternoon out visiting gardens.

  32. Your post wasn't too long for me, I like nothing better than to look round other people's gardens!
    Those geraniums and daisies look lovely together.

  33. Yeah, they really are enchanting! Flowers are really powerful, don’t you think? It can really change the mood and ambiance anywhere, anytime. Aren’t they all lovely? I have two words for the garden you have featured, irrisistibly captivating! I really would love to have a garden same as that. But it will really require hardwork and time.

    Professional Doctorate by Dora


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