Gardens of note

This series is about the pleasure of visiting gardens – particularly influential or otherwise significant ones. While I take the reader with me around a garden my underlying subject is garden design: ‘What makes a garden feel pleasant?’ and ‘To what extent does it reflect the culture from which it emerged?’.

Ryoan-ji

Early morning at Ryoan-ji

It is very quiet. Nothing moves. The precision of this highly fragile arrangement is breathtaking. It is the expression of a simple idea full of infinite variation. This is the most famous Zen garden in the world – Ryoan-ji.

High Beeches

High Beeches is different

There are no prescribed routes to follow, no obviously engineered views. The remarkably sparse planting opens a multitude of angles. Walking through the garden presents ever changing compositions of shapes, textures, colours. Every visitor is invited to find their own perspective.

japan

Travelling to the gardens of Japan

I had been fascinated – and mystified – by Japanese gardens for as long as I could remember. Seeing them in person was going to be so exciting, but would I be able to comprehend them? My interest in the history of European gardens had taught me that cultural context was essential to their understanding. Japanese culture being so very different from European, I tried to acquire as much knowledge about it as possible prior to your trip.

savill-garden

The pleasure of horticultural excellence

Not everything has to be cutting edge to be interesting. Sometimes, classic can be just as exciting – particularly if it is done with as much skill and expertise as at the Savill Garden!

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019

Garden design or Why I miss Chelsea

Gardens are spaces where humans interact with plants. Therefore their design should evoke and shape emotions. I expect this to work without the need for explanations. The intended feel of the garden should be immediately and intuitively accessible to the visitor.

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show

The plants lacked classic perfection. They might even have looked weedy had they not been perfectly selected and placed. It looked like each plant was in the exact spot where it had chosen to grow. This was spectacular show garden design with a foundation of quietly sophisticated botanical excellence.

Savill Garden in spring

Fresh green perfection

One reason why the Savill Garden appeals to me might be that it is what I thought a garden ought to be when I was growing up in Germany in the 1970s and 80s. Today I know this garden style represents just one school of thought. But I still enjoy it, particularly when executed so well.

Great Dixter exotic garden

An Afternoon in the Tropics

Within this spartan simplicity, cultivated with meticulous care, I feel as if I am in a Japanese temple, pleasantly sheltered, meditative. The perfect place to contemplate the beauty of nature.