Gardens of note

This series is about the pleasure of visiting gardens, particularly those of notable design and history. Every article is an account of one of my garden visits, mostly in England but also in Japan and elsewhere. While I take the reader with me around a garden, I share the garden’s history and details of the people who shaped it. My underlying subject is garden design: how it evolved over the centuries and how it reflects wider cultural changes. And, for those who want to visit gardens themselves, I give practical information at the end of each article.


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 the Chelsea Flower Show

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 – The Savill Garden in spring

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.