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Why Sissinghurst Has Continued – For More Than 70 Years – To Inspire Gardeners From All Over The World

One of the greatest collaborations in the making of a garden is that of Vita Sackville West and her husband Harold Nicholson.

Here’s a peek at  Sissinghurst, one of the most famous and loved gardens in the world.

For the history of Sissinghurst, visit The National Trust website.

More about Vita and a love letter she wrote to Virginia Wolf in the book The 50 Greatest Love Letters of All Time at Brain Pickings.….one of my favorite blogs.

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RIGHT UP THERE – INVEREWE

Looking south over the walled garden over loch Ewe.

This is one of those really famous gardens, but in such a remote location that you don’t just drop in. Fifty miles from the nearest supermarket, inform my hosts, as if this is now the definition of distance from civilization or maybe survival. Inverewe on the north-west coast of Scotland is famous as a ‘sub-tropical’ garden, which is nonsense, but it is an illustration that with a bit of shelter, the climate here is amazingly west-coast mild, rarely that cold, and never hot – ideal for New Zealand flora and good for a lot of Himalayan foothill stuff. The contrast with the surrounding barren treeless scenery is extraordinary and gives the place its magic. Continue Reading →

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Photographing foliage

A garden photograph is not simply a landscape photo taken in a garden.  It should communicate something about gardening, something that enlarges the viewer’s understanding and appreciation of gardens.

This photo of fresh emerging, nearly chartreuse foliage of Rhododendron hyperythrum is a fine landscape photo, a nice leaf pattern with a sense of vibrant young leaves unfolding, but it says little about gardening.  True, part of the reason we take photos is simply to share the beauty of plants and the wonder we see, but I challenge my students to “think like a gardener” and find a photo that goes deeper than that. Continue Reading →

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From the seventeenth century

Godolphin House in Cornwall, is a relatively recent National Trust acquisition. A great house until the 17th century when the money began to run out, it never got ‘modernized’ by Capability Brown or his cohorts, so retains old formal features. Previous owners popped in the old rose bush and tree peony but little else, or at least not much else has survived a period of neglect. The primroses have gone mad as they do in Cornwall, self-seeding everywhere, loving the wet, the mild winters and cool summers which gives them the long growing season they like; truly a flower of the Atlantic fringe, where the weather is remarkably similar through the year. This is a pavement of stones set into the ground. For some reason primroses flourish here better than grass.

Why the odd pink one I don’t know. Possibly because primroses-gone-wild in gardens have some genes left over from crossing with garden polyanthus. Seems pretty universal in ‘feral’ populations. Continue Reading →

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Hard Light – Back Light

There was a time when I would never shoot in harsh, hard light.  Bright, strong, contrasty light tends to have deep, black shadows and no color subtlety.  As a garden photographer, when the sun came into the garden I would retreat to the shadows where the light was soft.

But I am also a California garden photographer and the sun is an important element of many a garden’s story.  People expect to see sunny California gardens, and when a photo can manage to show some bright sun somewhere in the picture, the scene will glow. Continue Reading →

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