Tag Archives | Noel Kingsbury

Noel On A Trip To India

 Written by Noel Kingsbury


A visit to the Gurukula Botanical Sanctuary in Wayanad region of Kerala in south-west India is a real inspiration and a very special place. Its basically a private trust who own a slab of virgin forest (in the Western Ghats bio-region, where only 3% of the original forest is left) and who are involved in habitat restoration on former tea and coffee plantations. They do also have a very good display garden of tropical flora (local, Indian and global) for educational purposes. Their conservation and research work is clearly rooted in a lot of good horticulture. I have a fantasy of coming here and spending time learning about the very different ways that have to be used to manage tropical species; there is clearly a lot to learn.

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Planting up is a nerve-wracking job!

Most of this went in 3 years ago, some 2. Mostly filled out nicely. Its actually a north-facing slope but gets sun for most of the day. Grass is Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’

Planting up a client’s garden the day before yesterday. The third winter I have done this particular one. Good design jobs go like this – it’s an illusion, partly fostered by TV design and ‘make-over’ programmes that you can go in and plant up, and before you can say “Bob’s yer uncle” the garden is “done”. No garden in ever “done”. And ideally, you and the client build up a relationship, you come back and see how it all turned out, you make suggestions, they ask your advice, you come back with more plants, and so it goes on, hopefully with an annual visit.

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It’s Very Cold

Written by Noel Kingsbury

My office in rather more of the white stuff than we’re used to


 As a visitor to the US I am always slightly bemused by the discussions of hardiness zones, overhearing conversations amongst gardeners like “I’m 3a and I can’t grow lady’s mantle, but friend is just a few miles away with 3b and it grows like a weed”. When asked “what zone are you?” I feel a bit like when visiting India and someone asks you “what caste are you?” (yes, this has happened). We, in Europe, simply do not use hardiness zones, although the USDA system has been applied here, and there are European Hardiness Zone maps doing the rounds – but we don’t take much notice.

So, with temperatures here plunging to –13C (9F), which I suppose might be regarded as a rather pleasant day in some places where this is being read, but is exceptionally cold for us, there isn’t much else to talk about. And we’ve had several weeks of this. Most unfair. A lot of gardeners wondering what’ll be alive at the end of it, especially after 20 years of mild winters (usually no lower than –5C (23F).

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Breathing Life Back Into A Blog

Recently I tackled the challenge of energizing an established blog.

The back story: In 2007, garden author Nan Ondra and I launched Gardening Gone Wild. (Photographer Rob Cardillo introduced us.) Nan and I wrote passionately about natural, free-flowing gardens. We loved writing without publishers and editors hovering. When comments came in from all over the world, we were surprised and thrilled.


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Time for The CHOP

Written by Noel Kingsbury

We’re delighted to have Noel contributing to GGW.  Alot of you are most likely familiar with his name. He has written several books; I have more than a few of them on my bookshelf. As well as being a prolific writer, Noel is a lecturer on plants and gardens. He has been in the nursery business as well as doing garden design. Mostly known for his promotion of naturalistic and wild-style planting design, his gardening interests are wide-ranging, global and eclectic. Two years ago Noel completed a PhD with the University of Sheffield on long-term plant performance; he is hoping to continue research on a number of different fronts. He has a fantastic blog that’s worth checking out.      Fran Sorin

I think everyone on the garden lecture circuit has a least favourite, but frequently asked question from the audience. Mine is “what about small gardens?” my own fault as the most dramatic pictures I show are usually of larger ones. Piet Oudolf’s is “when do I cut my perennials back?” There is a somewhat pained look on his face, as to him this is a rather absurd question. His reply is always “when you want to”.

Once upon a time there was always this idea in gardening that there is a right way and a wrong way to do just about anything. The right way would be explained in a Royal Horticultural Society manual (I always wanted to write a book – ‘Digging a Hole, the RHS Way’).  Nowadays we tend to be more pragmatic, but those new to gardening still yearn for clear and unambiguous instructions.

DSC_0233[1]-Noel Kingsbury 2-cardoon

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