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. 

In a Vase on Monday- cow parsley and forget-me-nots

After all the excitement of the Chelsea Flower Show, I came home in need of some peace and calm. Nearly a quarter of my garden is smothered in cow parsley, and forget me nots pop up everywhere. So this week’s Monday Vase is a simple one -just frothy white and blue. 


I re-used my willow heart and mossy “nest” vase, which I wrote about Here.  

Look carefully and you’ll see little green hearts in amongst the forget me nots. I wish I knew the name of this pretty weed. It grows wild in my orchard. I treated myself to this lovely cream Vase from the Waitrose Easter collection. It’s in constant use! 

Also there’s a basket of white viburnum. This one is Viburnum Plicatum Mariesii which overhangs the horseshoe pond. 


From a distance, the viburnum looks like a tiered wedding cake. A delight for weeks on end during May. 


Thank you to  Cathy from Rambling in the Garden for hosting this meme.

I’ll leave you with a picture of my summerhouse. And I wish you all a happy and peaceful bank holiday Monday. 

#wordlesswednesday -Jewel-like flowers

Haven’t the spring bulbs been gorgeous this year. They seem to have loved the cold April temperatures. March was mild and brought them into flower early. Then the cold weather and lack of rain made them last for weeks.

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This is Leucocoryne ixiodes purpurea -or purple glory-of-the-sun. originating from Chile, these are bulbous perennials with grassy foliage and umbels of star-like purple, white or blue flowers in spring. The flowers are 2.5cm across and scented. Plant 10cm deep in very well drained soil, or in containers with lots of sharp sand.

And the tulips have had the longest flowering time I can ever remember.

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Have the bulbs done well in your garden this year?

Words and Pictures

THE GARDEN PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP

Andrea Jones (Timber Press £17.99)

The postman arrived to find me wobbling at the top of a step ladder, peering through a piece of black cardboard with a square cut out of the middle. “I’m composing photos of my garden,” I heard myself saying. Oh dear. How mad does that sound! I rather sheepishly climbed down and made him a cup of tea while he chuckled away. 

Over tea and biscuits in the potting shed, I explained that my new photography workbook recommended using a piece of card to practise framing a view.  It works close up, as well as for landscape views. I just had to learn how to squint through the cut out square- while up a ladder, and while keeping my balance. The postman declared it could all end in tears.

Anyway, as he continued his round, laughing as usual, I went back to my new book. Andrea Jones has produced a fabulous masterclass giving hints and tips on the best ways of capturing the garden. 


 Some of the ideas were a complete revelation. I had never heard of making a viewfinder to try out different angles. And I had never thought of looking down on my garden- or looking up.  Most of my photos are straight shots, taken from a standing position. So I tried it out on these tiny species rockery tulips. Looking down: 


Looking up. A worm’s-eye view. 

I haven’t quite got the best shot. They are so tiny, I needed to move some of the stems out of the way.  But it’s still an interesting view. I shall work on the idea. 

And here’s another photo I took from a standing position. A glorious garden at Burghley House near Stamford, open for the NGS scheme. 


And the worm’s-eye view, crouching down amongst the flowers: 

Over the past 25 years, Andrea has built an international reputation for her photography of landscapes, gardens and plants. Among the many awards, she was voted Photographer of the Year by her peers at the Garden Media Guild. Her website for more information is andreajones.co.uk

Andrea suggests making a plan of action- rather than just casually wandering  around the garden taking random shots (like I do now). Some of the best ideas I gathered from the book include:

Use a compass – a smart phone has a compass app- to get an idea of the light direction and potential shadows.

The best light for taking photos is the “golden hour” the first hour after the sun rises and the last hour of light before the sun sets. Use an online sunrise and sunset app to estimate the time. 

Tripods make a world of difference for taking good photos. But if, like me, you are using a camera phone, a small piece of tack or Plasticine can be used to position a phone temporarily on a secure surface to avoid camera shake. I tried this on top of the garden gate. 

If taking shots in bright, contrasty light, use your body to create a shadow and reduce the amount of light reaching the plant or subject of the photo.

Other headings in the book include: Photography in all Seasons, Photographing Pets and Wildlife, Working with Weather, Light, Macro, Micro, and Close-up, Essential Kit, and Catching the Moment. 

I am working my way through the rest of the book. There are 10 inspiring gardens featured with step-by-step lessons on observation, storytelling, composing, and editing. Andrea’s book helps you take your photography to another level, whether you are using a smart phone like me, or have the latest DSLR. It’s a master course on capturing the magic of gardens. 

Unfurling. My Black Parrot Tulip. A favourite this spring. Except, my foot is also in the photo. Sigh. I still have some work to do then. 


Thank you to Timber Press  for supplying The Garden Photography Workshop-  in exchange for an honest review. I will leave you with my cat Grace who shares my home- and garden- and who sits very patiently while I practise my new photography skills. 


Do you enjoy taking photographs of your garden?