Arne's journal

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.

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'

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

Chelsea Flower Show 2013

One year on and without the adrenalin and excitement of creating a show garden I was back at Chelsea this week to simply enjoy the show and see what exciting treasures I could discover. I love the celebration of horticulture that is Chelsea and always come away having spotted new plants I want to use in my gardens. This year was no exception. One such gem was the Lillium martagon 'Orange Marmalade' that Ulf Nordfjell used in the Laurent-Perrier garden.

I really loved the formality and structure of The Daily Telegraph garden, designed by Christopher Bradley Hole, particularly the oak columns, which looked stunning with the burnt wall behind them. They gave the garden a real sense of depth and calmness, accented perfectly by the charcoal used as mulch on the ground. I had the privilege of walking through the garden, the vignettes glimpsed through the oak columns were fabulous. Equally brilliant was the planting - splashes of colour amongst a palette of greens. Particular favourites of mine were used: Astrantia major 'Claret', Rosa 'Tuscany Superb' and Tulipa sprengeri used with a lush grass.

A real treat though was one of the Fresh gardens - 'After the Fire' by designer James Basson and his wife Helen. This garden really summed up what the Fresh Garden category is all about. The message was simple and so inspirational; nature prevails in the face of adversity. Out of natural disasters can spring hope, and growth does return even after the harshest of fires, storms, drought or flooding.

This garden smelled of the South of France. I loved the lush foliage that had been grown using seeds left in the region of France that suffered severe bush fires three years ago. Contrasting the greens were rills lined with glazed orange terracotta, which snaked into an orange pool. The seating within the garden also used this orange glaze - they were beautiful and incredibly comfortable, made by Yannick Fourbet of Le Chêne Vert. Subtly set amongst the charred branches were little copper fibre optic lights, clinging and winding around the stems like copper candles. It was a truly magical garden and one that I felt I wanted to return to again and again. I really hope to see this designer in the large Show Garden category in future years.

Laurent-Perrier gardenLillim martagon 'Orange Marmelade'Daily Telegraph gardenDaily Telegraph gardenDaily Telegraph gardenDaily Telegraph gardenAfter the FireAfter the FireAfter the FireAfter the Fire

New topiary arrives at Allt-y-bela

As the late frosty mornings depart and a new spring air seems finally to have settled over Allt-y-bela, we are spending more time in the garden here soaking up the few rays the sun has allowed us. This year, our main change to the garden is the addition of new topiary, which gives me great pleasure. Topiary is a passion of mine and I thoroughly enjoyed placing my new trees around the courtyard here last week.


The lane leading to the house is very narrow and unsuitable for lorries so we had to unload and transport the trees one by one. A neighbouring farmer allowed us the use of his front loader and helped us bring the trees down to the garden.


Since painting the house and buildings last year I have felt that the yew topiary needed accenting with a different colour and texture. The wonderful rusty brown leaves of copper beech in winter, followed by the sumptuous deep purple of the summer foliage against the vibrant lime wash of the house and palette of existing flowers, seemed the most perfect combination. My renewed love of copper beech is as a direct result of the Laurent-Perrier Bicentenary Garden I designed for the Chelsea Flower Show last year. I have brought in balls and a dome beech around the courtyard to make the whole area feel more intimate.


I have for a while being contemplating a change to the way we use this courtyard area between the main house and the granary where we hold our garden courses. Ultimately I would like to cobble an oval area here, planting it with verbascums, nepetas and other self-seeders and layering with topiary.  By enclosing the views and entrances I am allowing the courtyard to be the centre of the garden, no longer a drive through for cars. Perhaps eventually we could divert cars completely via the track at the top of the common, leaving the courtyard to be entirely part of the garden. But for now, I am happy with the new topiary and am enjoying the fresh vistas they allow.

the new topiary arrives by lorry and has to wait at the end of the laneone of the copper beech arrives first