Arne's journal

Watermeadow Nursery

When the poppies are in flower I love to visit this nursery.  (It holds the National Collection of orientale poppies.) This time I managed to combine the visit with a new job I needed to see which made the trip even more worthwhile. The Super Poppies, which Watermeadow grow and sell, are fantastic - they stand upright without the need for stakes and they flower for longer than their cousins.


As with so many plants I choose either for my own garden or for clients, I need to see them in flower and in season before I can settle on a colour or habit. In this case, and by happy coincidence, I found Papaver 'Medallion' - a beautiful dusky pink Super Poppy - in flower with a smoky purple wild comfrey. The contrast in flower size and the repetition of their furry leaves made for an unexpected but lovely planting combination.


I left the nursery with the familiar feeling that nature had, once again, transpired to inspire my work.


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

Bulbs in winter

There is nothing like the clean fresh smell of narcissi paperwhites or Roman hyacinths in the house in winter. It's full of the promise of spring and new growth. I love to fill old bowls and galvanized florists buckets with the specially prepared bulbs for forcing (I get mine from Peter Nyssen Even if you missed the chance to pot up the bulbs in October or early November - it's worth buying them ready potted so you don't miss out.

A heavy fall of snow

The way that Allt-y-bela sits in the landscape alters so much with the change of the seasons. But nothing alters the feel and look of a place so quickly and dramatically as a heavy fall of snow. Right now the sky has that grey whiteness that promises a flurry and I'm reminded of the heavy falls of snow in February this year. The world was instantly thrown back 50 years, viewed in black and white. Everything slowed down, sound was muffled and views were really intensified. It was fantastic for seeing the structure of the house and garden together and the clipped shapes of the topiary against the silhouettes of the trees. To a certain extent you can emulate this by printing photos of your house and garden in black and white - it can really help you to see what shapes and structure are needed where. It's good, but snow is better!

Cranborne Manor

Cranborne Manor in Dorset was the garden that awoke my passion for garden design.  Every week I would cycle over and wonder around the garden, helping in the nursery in exchange for a plant or two.  I learnt about old fashioned roses and absorbed the pattern making of the knot gardens and, more than anything else began to understand about creating atmosphere.  Although Lady Salisbury is no longer there and the garden has changed, it is still a fantastically atmospheric garden.  The mix of wild and clipped is a joy.