Arne's journal

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

Peter Beales Roses

I absolutely adore old-fashioned roses. Their heavy open blooms hang down from the plant offering both scent and colour. Seeing the field-grown roses at Peter Beales nursery in Norfolk is an incredible experience and one I would heartily recommend any plant enthusiast sees. When you see them growing together you are able to differentiate growth habits and colour variations and in my case, choose colours that work well together.


Two fabulous roses surprised me on this particular visit, ones I would not normally think to use. It is so important to see them flowering  - a photograph just doesn't show the clarity of colour you get when seeing a flower close to. Rosa 'Twice in a Blue Moon' is a smoky lilac coloured variety which will work brilliantly in a planting scheme including Monarda 'Elsie's Lavender', Veronicastrum virginicum 'Lavendelturm' and silver artemesia.


Rosa 'Sir Paul Smith' is a big blousy crushed velvet coloured rose with big heads which hang down. It will look brilliant trained over the top of a wall and I have already found a spot in the garden for it - it will grow wild in the grass up and over the wall that borders the cottage garden.


Peter Beales Roses, London Road, Attleborough, Norfolk NR17 1AY

A chat with The Foodie Bugle

William and I were recently interviewed by the online food magazine The Foodie Bugle. We had a lovely morning chatting about Allt-y-bela and enjoyed a freshly picked lunch from the bursting beds in the kitchen garden here.


I am passionate about fresh, seasonal produce and have strived to create a kitchen garden which offers us year-round food for the table at Allt-y-bela. So it was a pleasure to speak to Silvana from The Foodie Bugle, who shares our passion for food and is committed to raising the profile of artisan producers and local growers.


You can read the article in full here.

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