Arne's journal

A visit to Peter Beales roses

We had a very inspiring day at Peter Beales Roses back in early February, where we met with the talented plantsmen Ian Limmer who is the Manager of the nursery and Michael who is a specialist grower from a long line of nurserymen.  They are using their expert knowledge to tenderly grow our roses for Chelsea. A large part of Michael's job is to look after our roses and the roses for the Peter Beales exhibit for Chelsea.  From now on he will breath, sleep and dream Chelsea roses!  

The roses are a major part of the planting scheme for the Laurent-Perrier Bicentenary Garden.  We have full trust and confidence that Ian and Michael can produce the perfect blooms and buds for our garden.  We will, however, have to hope that the weather is kind to us during the build of the garden.  We don't want rain otherwise these perfect blooms could be in trouble!   

Whilst at the nursery we saw all our roses covered in snow, looking a long way from their full glory. However, we were able to work out how we are going to arrange the roses around the hazel domes within the garden to create the effect that we want.  Some of the roses are now being trained in a gentle fan shape to enable us to tie them into the domes.  It feels really exciting and we can now envisage how they are going to look within the garden. 


Peter Beales Roses

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2012

Rose hips in snowPots of roses in the snowArne with the team at Peter Beales checking the plantsSnow covered roses at Peter Beales

Setting out at Crocus

We recently had one of our monthly meetings at Crocus to discuss the construction of the Laurent-Perrier Bicentenary Garden for the Chelsea Flower Show 2012 and check all of the plants, which are growing on at the Crocus nursery.  We were also able to walk through our garden for the first time as it was set out on the ground at Crocus, using wooden pegs and string.  This was enormously useful to get a feel for the scale of the garden I have designed.   We were able to walk around the area and see how it all works and decide on any adjustments which might be needed.  We made some minor changes to give a more generous feeling of space. 

The path felt too narrow, particularly when I envisaged the pleached copper beech trees linign each side of the avenue, so we have widened the path slightly.  Now hopefully the balance is just right. 

It was most exciting seeing all of the plants potted up and getting a sense of what their scale and texture will be like from those promising buds.  The plants are being beautifully cared for by Karen the nursery manager at Crocus and her team.  Some are showing new growth but many are still dormant.  Rather like pots of paint with the labels hidden, full of promise and one can only imagine the wonderful colours and texture which lies below.  It fills me with huge excitement and anticipation for May.



RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2012


Arne with Mark Fane at CrocusArne and Rachel with the team at CrocusWooden posts and string used for setting out the gardenJohnny and the team setting out the garden at Crocus

The Laurent-Perrier Bicentenary Garden

Since the turn of the New Year, the design studio has been energised with a renewed sense of expectation - and a certain amount of trepidation! With the Chelsea Flower Show on-site build only 16 weeks away we are ensuring we have all the materials, plants and support we need. I thought therefore that it was about time I share the design on the website - and we will be writing more regularly over the coming weeks about our preparations.


The Laurent-Perrier Bicentenary Garden is a timeless, ornamental 'gardener's garden'. All elements of the garden will be carefully handcrafted, complemented by a soft planting scheme to provide elegant structure. The design was inspired by Laurent-Perrier's 200-year heritage of time-honoured methods and reputation for creating pioneering champagnes. It showcases exacting attention to detail, combining traditional and contemporary elements through both the planting and landscaping.


The planting itself creates the structure of the garden. I have used architectural pleached copper beech trees to give height and a sense of enclosure, which will turn golden through winter months. Topiary arrangements have been formed to add character and shape to the planting and an antique pear tree provides a key focal point at the front corner. Flowing water will outline the garden adding movement and a cool elegance.


This garden is not intended to baffle visitors to the show - instead it has been designed as a 'real' garden, which will appeal to any visitor with a love of plants and a keen eye for plant combinations. It is relaxed enough to be able to gather a bunch of flowers for the house, or to entertain friends on the central terrace. I will be available throughout the week to answer questions about the plants and I hope that visitors will be inspired to try a few of the combinations in their own borders at home.

The Laurent-Perrier Bicentenary GardenThe Laurent-Perrier Bicentenary GardenThe Laurent-Perrier Bicentenary Garden

Autumn colours

I love the rich colours of this time of year.  The beech topiary at Allt-y-bela is looking stunning at the moment.  Following the unusually mild October, autumn colours have arrived late and suddenly, looking all the more spectacular against the green foliage of the woodland that is just turning yellow.

It was lovely to be able to enjoy the autumn glow this weekend and with my spring bulbs safely in the ground our attentions focused on chopping logs, raking leaves and making crab apple and medlar jelly and sloe gin.   We now have a log shed ready full of logs to stoke the fires inside the house throughout the winter.

I also got on with raking leaves for leaf mulch, which is one of my favourite jobs at this time of year -such a wonderful smell.  I emptied out my compost from last year onto the step-over apples in the kitchen garden and now there is plenty of space for the leaves.

Just before darkness and the frost arrived I gathered the last big armful of Dahlias from the cutting garden, which look so vibrant in the house.   Having collected those blooms I now feel like the garden can enter its winter sleep.

Pleached crab apples provide a frame around the herb garden to the front of the kitchen at Allt-y-belaAutumn colours of the topiary at Allt-y-belaAutumn colours of the topiary at Allt-y-belaPleached crab apples at Allt-y-belaclose up of the crab apples

November produce

William spent Sunday afternoon busy by the Aga cooking up batches of crab apple jelly and making sloe gin. Crab apple jelly is easy to make and absolutely worth it. It's a delicious alternative to chutney with cheese and cooked meats and I also love having a good stock to give away to friends.

At the same time as the jelly and the gin William prepared the most delicious fresh pasta dish for us and our houseguests.  This is how he did it.

William's Wild Mushroom Tagliatelle Recipe

Prepare the fresh pasta in a Kitchen Aid or Magimix by throwing in curly kale ripped off the stalk, with fresh Bantam eggs and strong flour. 

Keep adding the flour until it's ready to roll and then thread through a pasta maker until in strips of the desired size.

For the sauce simply roughly chop garlic, red chillis and wild mushrooms, toss through the pasta with extra virgin olive oil and serve immediately with freshly grated Parmesan.

Jars lined up on the kichen table at Allt-y-belaMedlars - before the potWilliam pouring in the sugar before sealing the jarsAllt-y-bela chillies used in chutney and pastaWilliam's homemade pasta