Arne's journal

Britt escapes to the country

Britt Willoughby Dyer, Office Manager and in-house photographer at Arne Maynard Garden Design, recalls a beautiful early summer day taking photographs at Woottens Plants near her childhood home of Southwold.


A few weeks ago my office was transformed from its usual EC1 studio to a wonderful early summer day in the open countryside of Suffolk - what heaven! Arne asked me to join him at Woottens of Wenhaston to photograph irises. By mid morning I found myself standing in endless acres of stunning irises listening to heavenly bird song - a lovely change from the usual noise pollution of traffic congestion on Old Street.


I arrived early enough to get cracking on taking a few photos before Arne arrived - I knew I'd be distracted by his enormous enthusiasm and excitement as soon as he got there.  Together we walked the fields, drinking in the colour and scent of every iris, making notes of each of his favourites. Pictured here are some that we both found rather beautiful and elegant.


Iris 'Black Swan', Iris 'White City', Iris 'Benton Susan', Iris 'Thornbird', Iris 'Ginger Snap' and Iris 'Spuria Medallion'.


We couldn't bear to go home empty handed and purchased some of Michael's other treasures at his nursery including scented pelargoniums - an iconic heady summer perfume.  Michael's own herbaceous garden was overflowing with warm summer colour and scent inspiring us both to get home and get planting.

Woottens Plants, Blackheath Road, Wenhaston, Halesworth, Suffolk IP19 9HD

Home for June

We have enjoyed some great summer garden courses over the past couple of weeks. I have loved sharing the emerging garden at Allt-y-bela with a really lovely combination of people who have all contributed to a fabulous two week celebration of plants. Some of our visitors like to come to at least one of my courses each year and it is through their eyes I have been able to see the garden here this month. I see it almost every day and so I don't always notice the changes - but it has developed enormously this year and so it has been encouraging to hear the great response it has received from visitors.


People make a garden come alive and no more so than when using it to learn and create. I thoroughly enjoy sharing my knowledge and experience with the people who visit us for our garden courses.


Now that our June events are over I look forward to spending a few months visiting clients and enjoying some time in my own garden over the summer.

Cottage garden gems

Having spent four full years laying out and planting up the land around the house at Allt-y-Bela, I have found that this is the first year it is turning into a garden. The fruit and cottage garden looks amazing this month - some of my favourite plants have been flowering since early May.


Paeone 'Molly the Witch' opens early with my incredible black tulips Tulipa 'Black Hero' and T. 'Queen of the Night'. These have finished now and have been replaced by black Geranium phaeum and shortly the alliums will join in. Lupinus 'Masterpiece' has been exceptional this year and I have recently put in a new soft pink dahlia (Dahlia 'Naples') which I am looking forward to starting its flowering period next month.


On a recent visit to Watermeadow Nursery I bought a really lovely Super Poppy (Papaver 'Medallion') which I have added to this area. It builds its colour slowly and fades beautifully with no brown edges to spoil the effect. I would highly recommend it.


Watermeadow Nursery, Alresford Road, Cheriton, Alresford SO24 0QB

Star-cross'd lovers

We were thrilled to welcome the Willow Theatre Company to the garden at Allt-y-bela on 18 June. Over one hundred guests enjoyed al fresco dining around the garden before a thoroughly entertaining performance of William Shakespeare's famous tragedy Romeo and Juliet. The atmosphere was beautiful, not in the least bit dampened by a typical Welsh shower mid way through the first half. Umbrellas were brought out and the true British spirit prevailed bringing everyone together in a show of solidarity for the fantastic actors, who improvised brilliantly through the rain.


The second half enjoyed glorious evening sunshine and at the end of the play the appreciation of the audience abounded. We all dried off in front of a roaring fire and enjoyed a warming tipple before stumbling home to bed! It was a real treat - a magical evening which we will certainly be trying to replicate next year. My huge thanks go to the Willow Theatre Company - I am already looking forward to next time.

The Willow Theatre Company

An audience an Allt-y-belaRomeo and JulietDusk falls on Allt-y-bela and the Shakespeare players

Haddon Hall revisited

I am really excited to be able to talk about our latest work at the glorious Haddon Hall estate in Derbyshire. Lord Edward Manners is meticulously and sympathetically restoring the beautiful medieval fortified manor house, which is open to the public for much of the year. Having already designed his private garden here I have been asked by Lord Edward to design the areas around the main Hall.


We have started work apace this year - made possible by the filming last year of a feature film, starring Dame Judi Dench, of Jane Austen's Jane Eyre due to be released in September. The Fountain Terrace is now planted with the herbaceous borders already settling in well. Meadow planting under the reinstated topiary in this area has been really well received by visitors and serves to reconnect this formal garden with the magnificent Derbyshire countryside surrounding the estate.


I will be writing much more about this project over the coming months and will be posting more pictures so do come back to find out more.


Haddon Hall, Bakewell, Derbyshire DE45 1LA