2018 - A good year?

Is 2018 - a good year to remember, or not? Maybe not for some reasons, but, politics aside, ignoring natural and man-made disasters, bad tempers and bad news in general, here is the good news round up of 2018 in the small corner of the world occupied by Arthur Road Landscapes.

Cherry Tree Hill Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

A new year, a new day and a new camera on the beautiful island of Barbados. Not too much in the way or horticulture here but when the landscape looks like this who needs a garden?

Hunte's Gardens Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

But of course I couldn’t resist another visit to Hunte’s Gardens.

The Palm House Kew Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

Having cleverly avoided the Beast from the East, but running full pelt into the Mini-beast, I made a beeline for the Palm House at Kew for a bit of warmth and humidity.

Bluebells Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

The cold winter and the sudden arrival of a very warm, but late, spring (who knew what was to come?) meant a very good year for bluebells. This little woodland of oak and ash was discovered by my parents in deepest Berkshire.

Chelsea 2018 Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

May means Chelsea. This was my favourite garden, by Sarah Price. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but definitely mine, I’m just waiting for a commission for somewhere in the Med…

Wisteria Lukeland Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

At the end of May I visited Lukesland on the edge of Dartmoor. Spring was a little later here so this Wisteria was still in its full glory.

Oxeye daisies Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

June sees the climax of our native wild flowers. Driving around Surrey I love the road side verges covered primarily in ox-eye daisies. Parts of the M25 are quite spectacular, something to enjoy whilst sitting out a traffic jam. It’s quite tricky finding somewhere to park and photograph them (I haven’t stopped to take any photos on the M25 I hasten to add).

Losely Park Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

The heat wave started around the middle of June I seem to remember. I went to Loseley Park before the weather began to take its toll and the White Garden here was looking splendid. Of course the thing about white gardens is that they’re not completely white.

The Homewood 5 Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

July and August seem to have been swallowed up in a blaze of sweltering heat and guilt about using a hosepipe (sorry/not sorry) but at the end of summer I went to The Homewood in Surrey. I hadn’t expected much of the garden but even I was charmed by the heather, Scots pines and rhododendrons.

Lime trees Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

A very busy autumn meant little time for visiting gardens but I did manage to get the odd half hour or so on Wimbledon Common. Being outside in bright sunshine whenever possible is my way of dealing with short days and long dark nights.

Twickenham courtyard 11 Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

This is beginning to sound like I haven’t done much work in 2018. Well it’s been a funny old year, a mixture of feast and famine. This sweet little courtyard in Twickenham was completed early in the year. The owners are bird mad so hopefully this spring will see a few new residents in the bird boxes.

Wimbledon back garden 6 Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

A large back garden project which has taken a couple of years, was finally planted in October. There’s not too much to see plant-wise at the moment but I’m looking forward to seeing it develop next year.

Maybe not a vintage year but not a bad one either.

Like these photos? Follow me on Instagram.

Cobblers Cove Hotel

Every year the Barbados Horticultural Society manages to persuade some of its members to open their gardens to the public. The last open garden of the year was the Cobbler's Cove Hotel in St Peter.

Cobblers Cove Hotel 10 Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

Every year the Barbados Horticultural Society manages to persuade some of its members to open their gardens to the public. The last open garden of the year was the Cobbler's Cove Hotel in St Peter.

Cobblers Cove Hotel 1 Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

his boutique hotel is owned by the Godsall family. The garden is as much of a draw as the luxurious rooms and beautiful setting on the coast

Cobblers Cove Hotel 2 Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

The garden has undergone a gentle upgrade under the eye of garden consultant Niki Farmer. From my conversation with her it has been an enjoyable job, despite the fact the owner doesn't like yellow flowers or variegated leaves.

Cobblers Cove Hotel 3 Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

All the rooms and suites open out onto or look over probably the most immaculate garden I've ever seen.

Cobblers Cove Hotel 4 Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

There are many tropical and meditteranean plants and flowers familiar to us in the UK, usually as house plants, such as Bourgainvillia, Brugmansia and dozens of different palm trees.

Cobblers Cove Hotel 5 Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

Some are less well-known, as plants anyway, such as this Ylang-ylang tree, whose flowers are used in many perfumes.

Cobblers Cove Hotel 6 Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

One of the guests had not checked in but was making himself at home anyway. I was just dying for this green monkey to nip in to the room and help himself to the hotel soap, but he was very well behaved.

Cobblers Cove Hotel 7 Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

The green monkeys are not native to Barbados but come orginally from Gambia and Senegal. Over 75 generations they have developed different behaviours and characteristics to their ancestors.

Cobblers Cove Hotel 8 Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

Its amazing to think this garden is just a few metres from the beach. Shelter from the prevailing winds, plus plenty of sunshine and rain, makes Barbados gardens lush. Large trees can reach maturity in just 25 years.

Cobblers Cove Hotel 9 Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

Brightly coloured flowers can co-exist in close proximity with shade-loving ferns, something that's almost impossible to achieve in the UK.

Of course there were refreshments. Tea, naturally, iced-coffee and, rarely to be found in an NGS garden, rum punch. The icing on the cake was a plentiful supply of fresh Bajan fish cakes, so hard to find after the strange disappearance of the world famous fishcake stall from Speightstown.

Cobbler's Cove Hotel - http://www.cobblerscove.com/

Niki Farmer doesn't have a website but I'm guessing she can be contacted through the Cobbler's Cove Hotel.

Ole Dam Mikkelsen's garden

Ole Dam Mikkelsen has made this magnificent garden in Barbados from an abandoned sugar cane field in just 33 years. It is full of huge trees, orchids, cacti and palms - only in the tropics can trees this size reach maturity in such a short time.

Ole Dam Mikkelsen's garden 2 Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

The tree on the left I was told is a coolie nut tree from Brazil. I've tried to look it up without success.

Ole Dam Mikkelsen's garden 3 Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

I hope you will bear with me in my ignorance of most of the plants in this garden. It is extraordinarily difficult to find the names of plants just by googling "tropical plant with stripey leaves" for example, or "tree with spikey bark from Barbados". The flower above is called Cat's whiskers but I've no idea what the Latin name is.

Ole Dam Mikkelsen's garden 4 Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

One of the main features of this garden was the variety of trees. This one, I have found, is the Silk Tassle Tree.

Ole Dam Mikkelsen's garden 5 Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

This tree featured on a Gardener's World programme recently but I can't find the episode to get the name.

Ole Dam Mikkelsen's garden 6 Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

However, even I could identify tiny mangoes.

Ole Dam Mikkelsen's garden 7 Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

And breadfruit, although I've still never eaten one.

Ole Dam Mikkelsen's garden 8 Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

What on earth is this? There was a row of them, each about 10m tall.

Ole Dam Mikkelsen's garden 9 Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

And these are the roots of a large fig tree, looking like a box of snakes.

Ole Dam Mikkelsen's garden 10 Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

The foliage, mostly evergreen, is pretty spectacular as well.

Ole Dam Mikkelsen's garden 11 Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

Not always very friendly, unusual for Barbados.

Ole Dam Mikkelsen's garden 12 Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

The flowers are vivid in colour and dramatic in form.

Ole Dam Mikkelsen's garden 13 Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

Here are the stripey leaves. I doubt I would plant this in a garden in the UK but here it looks fab.

Ole Dam Mikkelsen's garden 14 Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

This is some sort of semperviven, or maybe an aloe..

Ole Dam Mikkelsen's garden 15 Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

Now, where's that rum punch?

Ole Dam Mikkelsen's garden 16 Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg