Arne's journal

Garden work underway at Gordon Castle

It has been an exciting week for the rennovation of the 8.5 acre walled garden at Gordon Castle in the Highlands of Scotland, for which we have designed the new garden. Until this week work has been focused on renovating the Victorian greenhouse (now looking fabulous with almost all the glass in), the new cafe and shop (designed by Craig Hamilton and built by staff at the Castle) and the artisan centre (created using existing stone garden buildings). But this week, finally, construction started on building the garden paths!

Our Foreman, Jonny, travelled up to Fochabers, a beautiful location on the Spey River in Moray, equidistant between Aberdeen and Inverness. He was there not to taste the world-famous local whiskies, but to give the Gordon Castle team a masterclass in laying brick-edged limestone chipping paths. Only a small section has been completed so far but all the paths are now marked out and the team have all they need to get cracking over the next few months before winter in the Highlands really sets in.

More next week on heritage Gordon Castle apples, re-discovered for the Walled Garden by R V Rogers, and you can follow the progress of the Gordon Castle Walled Garden here.

Dahlias at Cottesbrooke Hall

I have been working with Alastair Macdonald-Buchanan and his Head Gardener Phylip Statner at Cottesbrooke Hall for around three years now. Until now, our design work has concentrated on the herbaceous borders along Statue Walk and Lime Walk but now we are happy with the mix of perennials in those areas, our attention has turned to the Pool Garden. While our long terms plans are being finalised, and as we wait for some of the young structure we have added to mature, we trialled a mixed border of dahlias and autumn flowering annuals to add life and colour in late summer, early autumn. It has not disappointed, and although there are some tweaks we need to make for next year, we are confident this could become a regular feature in this part of the garden.

Britt recently visited to take shots of the borders for our portfolio. The day's weather was mixed and she endured a downpour before finishing the shoot. However, the resulting water on the dahlias gives the portraits a real life, they glisten with a freshness that makes you want to touch their richly coloured, perfectly symmetrical petals. We are really very excited about this part of the garden at Cottesbrooke and I'm looking forward to planning the mix for next year already.

[Arne's work at Cottesbrooke Hall has been highlighted alongside that of James Alexander-Sinclair in the book The New English Garden, written by Tim Richardson with photos by Andrew Lawson. The book is published by Frances Lincoln and is now widely available.]

Cosmos 'Double Click Cranberries'Dahlia 'Famoso'Dahlia 'Rocco'Dahlia 'Aloway Candy'Dahlia 'Vassio Meggos'

Rip-tide: the beautiful Chelsea 2012 bench is for sale

I started designing the Chelsea Flower Show garden I created for Champagne Laurent-Perrier in 2012 soon after my first appearance at the show in 2000. Over a period of about 10 years I had the opportunity to observe gardens at the major flower shows, see 'trend' plants come and go, and watch the hard landscaping get bigger and bolder. I knew I wanted to create a garden in which plants formed the main structures of the design, complemented by handcrafted paths, a sculpture and a beautiful bench for sitting to enjoy the views. I look back with enormous pride at the garden we created last year - visitors loved it and even now I sometimes find myself back there, sitting on the bench and enjoying the still evening air as the sun sets over the showground. It was a wonderful week for all involved.

 

Alison Crowther's work first came to my attention in 2001 when she worked with one of my designers on a garden at Chelsea. Since then I have bought pieces for my own gardens and have recommended her work to a huge number of clients and friends. Her knowledge and appreciation of oak is so obvious in her work - her organic sculptures and benches are hand-carved using the naturally occurring lines and grooves in the individual pieces of wood she uses. You can see Alison at work on the piece in this short film we made about the Chelsea garden.

 

So it seemed natural to commission Alison to carve the bench for the Laurent-Perrier Bicentenary Garden in 2012. I wanted the garden to have a real artisan, hand-made feel - something that resonated with the 200-year-old champagne house. Rip-tide sat perfectly on the terrace of the garden, enjoyed by the hundreds of clients entertained on the garden and the many thousands of visitors we spoke to during the week. You can watch the videos we made of our time at Chelsea (including footage of Alison carving the bench) here.

 

Rip-tide is now for sale and if I didn't already have a beautiful bench of Alison's sitting outside my kitchen window, I would be first in line for this one! Visit her new website for more of her work and get in touch if you are interested in owning Rip-tide.

 

www.alisoncrowther.com

Picnics and flowers

In mid June we held two weeks of courses at Allt-y-bela. The garden was fragrant and full, the weather kind, and judging from the feedback we've received, all enjoyed themselves. Our meal times were made especially picturesque by the beautiful 'napkin posies' made by Ursula Maynard, Arne's mother. Ursula gathered flowers from the garden, just before each meal, and everyday the flower combinations were different and stunning.

 

For the first time we took the courses on tour, to Oxfordshire, for the second day of the new three-day course 'The Planted Garden'. We visited Rousham Park in the morning, and after a remarkable tour of the house given by Mrs Cottrell-Dormer, Arne led the group of twelve around the garden. He spent time explaining what he loves so much about Mr (William) Kent's design, and how the lessons can be translated to a garden of any size. We enjoyed our picnic in the Praeneste Terrace on the newly created, faithful copies of the original Kent benches. It was a short drive from there to Appleton Manor, where the entrance courtyard was sparkling with the magical effect of sunshine on ox-eye daisies.  The garden Arne has worked with the owners to create was looking stunning, and it was a pleasure to see the work starting on exciting new areas.

 

We learnt more about putting together plant combinations during the last day, using hundreds of printed plant cards, and looking for colour inspiration from paintings and tapestries.  Elke came up from the London office to share some of her rare plant finds and show some special favourites.  We added these into the mix and with Arne's guidance, everyone put together plant mood-boards, and by the end of the day, whole borders were starting to emerge.

 

Later in the year we'll announce the course plans for next year - we're looking forward to them already!

Ursula Maynard, Arne's motherThe table in the granary set for lunch with Ursula's beatiful napkin posiesDetail of the beautiful napkin posies created by Ursula MaynardThe picnic baskets laid out at Rousham ParkCourse goers at Appleton Manor in OxfordshireSorting flower images in the granary at Allt-y-bela to create mood boards for planting plansAn example of one of the mood boards created on The Planted Garden course

Cottesbrooke annuals

I am really very excited to have been asked to design the late annual borders at Cottesbrooke Hall. We have selected a really lovely mix of annuals with a lilac and pink colour scheme including those pictured here (hover cursor over image for names). I have designed the borders to flower from August through to the first frosts, giving this part of the gardens at Cottesbrooke a fabulous and colourful late flowering feature.

 

Although the borders have been designed and planted as a temporary fixture until the permanent design for this area is finalised, we are all so excited about their development that I suspect we could carry them on for a few years if we like the results.

 

We started by editing undesirable plants from the area and adding four blocks of copper beech into the corners of the Pool Garden. The cubes act as brackets, giving the scheme weight and structure. The cubes also give this garden a connection to the Sculpture Walk which sits just outside the boundary and also features beech cubes.

 

The feel of the annual scheme is casual and meadowy - I wanted the garden to be simplified to allow the plants some breathing room. In the autumn we will add roses to the walls and in time the area could become a rose garden.

 

We were up at the garden a couple of weeks ago to plant out and with the gloriously warm weather we have enjoyed since then, the plants should be establishing themselves quickly.

 

In addition to those plants pictures here, the Cottesbrooke Hall annual border includes a large number of dahlias for late colour and a softer mix of:

 

Ageratum houstonianum 'White Bouquet'

Persicaria orientale

Ceratotheca triloba

Atriplex hortensis var.rubra

Consolida ajacis 'Misty Lavender'

Nigella damascena 'Albion Black Pod'

Gilia capitata

Gomphrena 'Fireworks'

Cosmos bipinnatus 'Double Click Rose Bonbon'

Didiscus caeruleus

Cosmos bipinnatus 'Double Click Cranberries'

Nepeta nuda

Papaver somniferum 'Dark Plum'

Salvia leucantha 'Purple Velvet'

Catananche caeulea

Amberboa muricata 'Desert Star'

 

www.cottesbrooke.co.uk

Dahlia 'Rocco'Dahlia 'Famoso'Dahlia 'Myama Fubuki'Acidenthera murielaeNIgella damascena 'Persian Rose'Scabiosa atropurpurea 'Beaujolais Bonnets'