#RHSHampton – Perennial Charity Sanctuary Garden

You can’t fail to be drawn in to Tom Massey’s vibrant garden at RHS Hampton Court. The colourful planting is like a magnet,  and who can resist a spiral path which leads to an oasis of calm. 


Tom’s Sanctuary Garden – for the charity Perennial- is all about the emotional journey a person makes from crisis to safety. Perennial is the only charity dedicated  to supporting everyone in the horticulture industry- and is therefore a cause close to my heart. I have made a living from horticulture for the last 25 years in one way or another. So a charity which helps the people I work with, is something I’m going to shout about. 


Tom’s garden is a colour wheel, 18 metres in diameter. The changing palette  poignantly symbolises the journey people face with difficulties such as illness, injury, poverty and debt.  At its outer edge, the plants are hot colours, representing the chaos of being at crisis point. Following the winding gravel path, plants fade to calmer colours of blue and green. It’s a representation of what happens when Perennial steps in to offer a helping hand- guiding people from tough times to safety. 


Hemerocallis Crimson Pirate, Helenium Moerheim Beauty, Crocosmia Lucifer and Dahlia Mystic Enchantment feature in the hot colour scheme.

 

As you walk though the garden, the planting becomes taller and more immersive with the colour scheme moving to stimulating yellows and oranges, representing hope.


Achillea millefolium Terracotta, Helenium Mardi Gras and Geum Totally Tangerine  are woven with grasses Molinia caerulea Poul Peterson and stipa  to form the orange swathe. The yellow planting band includes Kniphofia Lemon Popsicle and varieties of helianthus and helenium. 


I don’t think anyone could miss the message of hope in the sunflowers. They sing out amongst the grasses. 



Moving through the spiral of colours,  you come to restful purples and blues. It has a calming influence after the whirlpool of emotions you feel as you walk though this garden. I found it hard not to cry. 


Purple plants are  Veronicastrum virginicum Fascination (above) Nepeta Six Hills Giant and Verbena bonariensis. Blue shades feature Agapanthus Navy Blue (below) Agastache Black Adder and Blue Fortune, and Centurea cyanus Blue Boy.


Grasses in the blue section are Calamagrostis x acutiflora Karl Foerster.


And finally as you follow the spiral path you reach the sanctuary of a green oasis. The sounds of the outside garden fade and it feels like a place of safety. 


Tom’s design highlights the difference Perennial makes to thousands of horticulturalists each year. It’s humbling to read the case studies. Heartbreaking accidents leaving families in dire circumstances. Perennial – a charity many people may not have heard of before- helps with financial arrangements, navigating the benefits system and being there as emotion support. A lifeline for anyone in need. 

Find out more about Perennial here . Click on the highlighted words or on http://www.perennial.org.uk 

Buy Products to support the charity at shop.perennial.org.uk

Get involved. Raise money at www.hortaid.org.uk

More about Tom Massey here. http://www.tommassey.co.uk

The garden was built by www.landformconsultants.co.uk 

Plants supplied by www.hortusloci.co.uk 

Stone bench www.londonstone.co.uk

Additional suppliers : Linden Turf, water feature The Pot Company, self binding gravel and steel edging AllGreen Group

More about RHS Hampton Court 

In a Vase on Monday 

I’m cheating this week- as I’m on a train to London to visit the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show. So I haven’t even got a jam jar with me. But, as always, I’ve picked a bunch of flowers from home to keep me company on my journey. There’s a comfort in a reminder from home.


The scent of my sweetpeas is an antidote to diesel fumes and the ever -louder tannoy announcements. I enjoyed wandering around the veg plot at dawn picking  these flowers.
This year I’m growing a variety of new and heritage varieties. My favourites are High Scent, Albutt Blue and Mrs Collier white. I love the small flowered heirloom type. They seem to have the strongest scent. Here’s a slideshow from my garden this morning.

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I wish you could smell the sweet peas. It’s the scent of summer. As always i’m grateful to Cathy from Rambling in the Garden for hosting this meme. Go and have a look at what Cathy’s growing and showcasing in a Vase this week.
Meanwhile…. I’ve made it to Hampton Court. What a trek! ….here’s a taster of the gardens …..



#wordlesswednesday- wild geraniums on the march.

Wild geraniums billow in the long grass on the lane outside my house. Back lit, they look like mini- stained glass windows. This pretty white seedling turned up on its own- probably a hybrid with one of my garden plants. I am thanking the bees for this little beauty. 


The common name, cranesbill, comes from the shape of the seedhead which resembles the long tapering beak of a bird. Meadow cranesbill, or Geranium pratense, comes in a range of colours from white to deep blue. I love the violet-blue veins and the dark plum anthers. The flowers glisten in the sun as if they’ve been coated in sugar.


A favourite of mine is this pale violet flower with delicate silver veins. I ought to be getting on with my work, but I spend more time than I should just gazing at these beauties, comparing their hues and pondering on the wonders of nature.


And luckily for me, these gorgeous plants have drifted in through the front gate and settled in the garden- all along the path to my front door. It’s a wonderful welcome home- and I haven’t done a thing to create it. It’s happened all on its own. Isn’t nature grand. 

I’ve found a beautiful violet form called Beth Chatto  on the RHS website. Click on the highlighted word to find out more. Geraniums can be grown from seed. Flowers appear from June to September and plants grow to about 70cm in sun or slight shade. Perfect for grass meadows- or you can plant in drifts in amongst shrubs and perennials. Highlighted in the RHS Perfect for Pollinators list. Bees and butterflies will certainly thank you for planting geraniums.

In a Vase on Monday….er…Friday 

Having tried and failed to upload this from home, I’ve finally given up on our dodgy internet connection and decamped to Mum’s house. We haven’t got fibre optic cables to our village yet. And we live a mile down a single track lane. So there’s really no hope for us. The only up-side to this story is that mum made a cake. And regular readers know how much I love cake! As I’ve said before, I grow and pick flowers for my MIL Joan as a way of keeping her connected with me and my garden- showing her what’s in flower 52 weeks of the year. But this time I also picked a bouquet for a friend who is having an operation today. Hopefully the sweet williams, alstroemeria and first sweet peas of the season will brighten her day. Flowers do have the power to calm and reassure. 


Pink alstroemeria -from Viv Marsh Postal Plants, flowers virtually all year round in my unheated poly tunnel. I grow them in 60cm pots, as the roots have a reputation for spreading. Growing them under cover protects them from the weather and also from snail and slug damage. Flowers last  for about three weeks in a vase. Easy to grow, repeat flowering, and long lasting. They are no trouble at all. Please excuse the state of my poly tunnel, which needs a good clean. I’ve bought some special detergent from LBS Horticulture, which apparently just needs spraying on. Will report back when I’ve tried it. The one problem with poly tunnels is the algae. It’s not like having glass which can easily be washed down. And it builds up on the inside and outside surfaces. Still, it was cheap to put up and gives me a dry working area in the winter. 

I planted these sweet williams last summer. They arrived in a parcel as a twitter plant swop. I love free plants, and always have loads of my own to spare. I’m quite often posting margarine containers full of little seedlings all around the country. You can see my rather rickety hazel A-frame structure for sweet peas in the background. I just hope it doesn’t blow over in a storm. 

I love the jewel-like colours of these sweet williams. They last for ages in a vase and produce large quantities of flower in a small space. I’ve just sown some more to plant out in the autumn. The seeds germinated in two days in all the hot weather we’ve been having, and there are hundreds of little seedlings to prick out.

My sweet peas have just started flowering. I had a disaster with the autumn-sown seed. A mouse got in the propagator and snaffled the lot in one night. There was just a sea of snapped off stems. Not to be deterred, I planted the stems as if they were cuttings, and amazingly they carried on growing. Another tip if you are growing sweet peas is to use the pinched-out tips as cuttings. They will produce plants that will flower right up until November. I discovered this by accident when I left the pinched-out tips on a tray of moist compost and they rooted down and planted themselves.  Aren’t plants just amazing.

I’m growing High Scent, a good reliable sweet pea variety- and it really does have a wonderful old fashioned scent. It was raised by Keith Hammett and introduced in 2003. It has a creamy  ruffled flower with a delicate lilac edge. I’m also growing Albutt Blue, a very pretty pale blue flower with a deeper blue picotee rim.  It was raised by Harvey Albutt and introduced by Eagle Seeds in 1999. It’s been a favourite of mine ever since. I buy seed from Easton Walled Gardens, Roger Parsons and Eagles. If you don’t have  facilities to grow your own, you can buy mail order plants in the spring from Easton. Also, Mum and I spotted some really great sweet pea plants at Coton Manor garden nursery in Northampton in May, for just a few pounds each.  It’s good to have a back up plan. 

I always put lemon balm and mint in my cut flower bouquets. It goes so well with the sweet peas and roses. And for my friend, who’s spending the day in hospital, it will be a lovely scent to come home to. 

My potting shed, where I’m sowing seeds and making cut flower posies, overlooks a horseshoe pond and tall willows. On the other side of the trees is this view of surrounding countryside. I’ve cut holes in the hedge to make viewing points through. And all my hedgerows are woven with scented roses and honeysuckle. It’s a peaceful place….just don’t look at the weeds! 

Are you growing any cut flowers for friends and family this year? I’d love to hear  what’s  growing in your garden. And thanks, as always, to Cathy at https://ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com  for hosting In a Vase on Monday.  You can join in even if you have jamjars like me.  And if anyone knows any miracle cures for low internet speeds in the countryside…..please, please let me know! Sigh 🙂 x 

Behind the scenes tour at Gardeners’ World Live Show

It’s always a treat to get a behind-the-scenes tour. This week I was lucky enough to be invited to the preview of Gardeners’ World Live. So I found myself wandering  around the show gardens, instead of pressed up against the boundary ropes and fences surrounding them.  Here’s a few highlights from my special day out. 

My favourite garden was a wildflower haven with climbing roses galore. Claudia de Yong won gold and best show garden for her Romance in the Ruins 


Castles,with their history and romance, inspired the design. I loved the ruins with trickling waterfall, wild roses, foxgloves and ferns. The pink spires at the base of the waterfall are purple loosestrife, Lythrum salicaria.


A rustic pergola was swathed in Albertine and Mortimer Sackler roses. Walking through the garden, the scent was so delicious on a hot sunny day. Salvia Love and Wishes is the focal point plant in the old stone urn in the centre. CED Stone supplied the Golden Amber pathway material- a self-compacting gravel. It makes a beautiful and affordable surface for cut flower gardens and veg plots.


One stand-out feature for me was the white Desdemona rose. Bred by David Austin, it is exquisitely beautiful with peachy pink buds opening to pure white blooms. It has a strong perfume and flowers until November. Grows to about 4ft and is disease resistant, plus  the flowers cope with rain. The designer has used it as a low hedge underplanted with Nepeta Six Hills Giant. 


I spotted vetches, yellow rattle, clover and crested dog’s tail  grass in the wild flower turf. The focal point tree is  Malus Rubra- brilliant for spring blossom, autumn crab apples, and attractive plum-coloured leaves all summer. The multi-stem tree used in the garden looks like a river birch, with peeling bark blending in with the colour of the ruins alongside. 


Winning my prize for the garden I’d most want to roll up and take home – and providing the garden bench I would most like to recline on,  a show garden with many elements worth “borrowing.” A triumph of great design and plant knowledge.


Designer: Claudia de Yong Designs,

Contractors: Twigs Landscapes Design, Big Fish Landscapes

Sponsor: Wyevale Garden Centres

Supporters: Parkers Building Supplies,CED Stone, Home and Garden Ironworks, Woody Fox Willow, Hilliers, Rolawn.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my behind-the-scenes tour. If you are going to Gardeners’ World Live, let me know which gardens you  love this year, and which is your favourite feature. There’s plenty to see…. and I haven’t even mentioned the floral marquee. That’s a wonderful place worthy of a blog post all on its own. More to follow!  

#wordlesswednesday -RHS Chatsworth Flower Show

This is what greets you as you enter the show grounds via the Palladian Bridge. Jonathan Moseley’s floral extravaganza is a foretaste of what’s to come. Rising from the River Derwent is the base of a willow snake, inspired by the Cavendish crest. It is covered in waxy-textured flowers and succulents to evoke the serpent’s scales. As soon as I saw it, I hoped the show would be as spectacular. And it is. I travelled a long way today to visit the show, and I’ve come home smiling-all the way down the M1. 


The RHS has managed to capture the essence of summer.  A real festival feel.  The new Chatsworth Flower Show showcases everything that’s fabulous about horticulture. 

#mygardenrightnow – Chelsea Fringe event

Take a virtual peep over the garden fence and see what real gardeners are getting up to right now. Have a look at Michelle’s blog for more blog posts around the country.

Mum and I spent the weekend planting the cut flower garden and messing about with roses.  Is there anything more glorious than a basket of scented roses at dusk.


My favourite rose is Madam Isaac Pereire, the deep pink rose on the right. Such a wonderful old-fashioned scent, and flowers on and off all summer. I’ve got it growing over a pergola walk from the back of the house right round to the front drive. 


You can just see my wedding cake tree in the background, Cornus controversa variegata. It’s smothered in white flowers at the moment. A shrub that’s interesting all year round.  Also spreading along the pergola is pale pink Constance Spry. A fleeting beauty- it only flowers once. 


Regular readers will know that I take cut flowers to my MIL Joan who can’t visit my garden as often as she would like. If she can’t come to me, I take my garden to her. Flower arranging is something we both love. Joan was on the flower rota at Cosby Chapel for 65 years. So I never arrange the flowers I take to her. They are tied loosely with string. And she can spend an enjoyable time creating little posies and filling vases for every windowsill in the house.  My cut flower patch this year contains sweetpeas, butterfly gladioli, cosmos,rudbeckia,sweet williams, love-in-a-mist, sunflowers, and pot marigolds. 


I grow roses on the veg plot for cut flowers. Rhapsody in Blue is a beauty, and repeat flowers too. 


The veg plot runs alongside the boundary hedge, 15 feet high and dripping with arcs of wild roses. I use them in my flower bouquets, and the hips are useful for Christmas decorations.


Here’s a peek into my potting shed tonight. I’ve used the pink roses to make a flower wreath for the summerhouse. Ivy and elderflowers fill in the gaps.

The scent drifts in on the breeze.



I hope you’ve enjoyed a tour of my garden, as it is right now -on Sunday 4th June. Are there any roses you particularly love? Do you grow cut flowers for friends and family, like I do. Do get in touch and let me know. 

For more information on this Chelsea Fringe event click on the highlighted words. It’s my first time joining in and it was fun to be part of the gardening community sharing photos of our gardens and what we are growing right now. You can also find more on instagram and twitter, searching for the hashtag #mygardenrightnow .  I am @kgimson on twitter and karengimson1 on instagram.  Not very exciting tag names, I know, but do come and say hello if you can. 

#wordlesswednesday- a cider press planting for summer 

In a quiet corner of a farm garden where I work, there’s a beautiful old cider press. I’ve planted it with scented white nemesia, white waterfall lobelia and perennial Salvia Nemorosa Caradonna. All thrive in the semi- shade cast by the cathedral of beech trees in the background. It’s a heavenly spot. And while I’m working, there’s gentle longhorn cattle looking over the granite stone walls nearby. Their newborn calves are quite a distraction. Tea breaks are spent with elbows resting on the walls. We laugh at the calves capering like lambs. They race about, enjoying their fleeting chance to be light as air. I could stand there all day. But work in the walled garden calls. Spring is a busy, but wonderful time to be working on a farm. 


A rare glimpse of my working life. I usually keep quiet about work, but this is one of my favourite gardens. I just had to share this tranquil scene. You’ll just have to imagine the cuckoo calling. A sound that accompanied us all afternoon and into the early evening when this photo was taken. Click on the highlighted words for more information.