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.

Lukesland Gardens

I feel very lucky to have friends with friends with amazing gardens. Last weekend I stayed with John and Lorna Howell, owners of Lukesland in Devon.

Lukesland 2 Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

The garden covers around 26 acres of woodland, streams, arboreta (there's more than one), rhododendrons, azaleas, wild flowers and a kitchen garden.

Lukesland 1 Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

The garden was started by the Matthews family in the 1860s, followed by the McAndrews in the 1870s, but has been tended to and developed by the Howell family since the 1930s.

Lukesland 7 Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

The garden has become known for some of its "Champion" trees, which means they are the oldest, tallest or with the largest girth in the county or country. The high level of rainfall, acidic soil and mildish climate makes it ideal for Camellias, Rhododendrons, Azaleas and Magnolias.

Lukesland 8 Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

.I was told the Rhododendrons were past their best by the end of May but they still looked pretty good to me. However, this is prime Azalea flowering time, the reflections in some of the ponds were particularly stunning, better than the Isabella Plantation I think.

Lukesland 3 Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

For me the streams and ponds are the highlight of the gardens. Addicombe Brook tumbles through the garden over cascades and Dartmoor granite rocks. It's not without hazard though as floods in recent years have washed away paths, bridges and sculpture and silted up ponds. They've been rebuilt and restored and you'd never know there'd been such devastation.

Lukesland 4 Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

The wild flowers are also particularly attractive. There are bluebells in the Beech wood and in the Pinetum where they flower in the open with grasses, and along the stream with Red Campion.

Lukesland 5 Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

The dampness means plants like Iris sibirica, asiatic Primulas, Gunnera and ferns thrive here, as well as some of the trees like the giant coastal Redwoods from the USA.

Lukesland 6 Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

Lukesland is particularly well known for its three large Davidia involucrata, also known as the Hankerchief Tree, which were flowering during my visit. Unfortunately none of my photos could do them justice but if you're in the area in late spring seeing them is worth a visit on their own.

Lukesland 9 Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

Although the tea room was busy (and yes I can recommend all the cakes as I tried most of them whilst serving the tea...) the gardens are so large it's easy to find a quiet spot to yourself.

Lukesland 10 Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

One of the advantages of staying overnight is the opportunity to get up at the crack of dawn and wander around on your own, although the weather conspired against me and I didn't quite get the mist and low sunlight I was hoping for. Next time maybe...

Lukesland 12 Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

The gardens are only open in the spring and then again in the autumn as the foliage of the Rhododendrons, Azaleas and Acers is stunning I'm told.

More wildflowers at Lukesland Arthur Road Landscapes.jpg

This garden is maintained by Lorna and John, John's mother Rosemary (who runs the guided tours) and three very part-time gardeners. Hats off to them all.

Lukesland - http://www.lukesland.co.uk/Index.htm

You can rent a cottage in the grounds - https://www.helpfulholidays.co.uk/cottage/Devon-East-Anstey/The-Clock-House-976251.html

Many thanks to John and Lorna and Rosemary and Desna (and Rob..).