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Archive for the ‘Public Gardens’ Category

A real treat at Chelsea!

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

By Tim Sykes of  Gardenproud,

We set off to the 2014 Chelsea Flower Show today with great expectation! Our journey took us via M&S at Charing Cross, where we picked up some delicious sandwiches, then onto the District Line to Sloane Square.

On our list of must sees were:

- The Extending Space

By Norman Fischer & Daniel Auderset

The idea of creating the illusion of a larger space by careful planting is one thing, but the use of architecture in a garden to elongate perspectives is brilliant. This garden gets my vote. It is executed brilliantly. There are parallels with a recent project we designed and I can see their ideas inspiring gardens for us. The very wide span of the feature arch is awe inspiring. Please tell me how you did it?

- The Telegraph Garden

12 roof trained lime trees provide a beautiful canopy for this garden. A mix of formal planting among herbaceous borders are carefully placed around a rectangular lawn. The whole concept is reminiscent of many Italian gardens we have visited.

All very well executed. Not surprisingly this took home a Gold.

- The Laurent-Perrier Garden

Designed by Luciano Giubbilei, this stunner won Best in Show. And it’s well deserved.

The judges liked the way it played with texture, light and form, with a cool contemplative design.
The planting features delicate forms alongside stronger, bolder leaves, stone surfaces, and reflection patterns in the water features.

Nice surprises included:

- The Barron Knights

This spectacle dominated our lunch break when we sat back and enjoyed our M&S sandwiches, washed down by a rather expensive (but very refreshing) two glasses of Champagne Laurent-Perrier. The Barron Knights were slightly more mature than yours truly, but close your eyes and the sound is amazing! A really good move by the RHS to get them on the bill. They played ( and we sang along) to all the old favourites, plus one or two BBC banned tunes, including a rather amusing one about David Bowie! They’ve got a new album out too, you can see more about it at

- The Topiarist Garden at West Green House

This garden is designed by Marylyn Abbott. You can see it in the Artisan Gardens. You Must see it! Marylyn is one of my all time favourites, and her book “Gardens of Plenty” which talks about the art of the potager garden is an all time great. It is my favourite garden at the Show and embodies an eclectic mix of fantastical topiary among lovely perennials. I want it!

- David Harbour

David Harbour’s sculptures continue to be incredible. If you’ve got a big landscape and large pockets then call me first, then look at David Harbour.

His larger than life mirrored spheres and painstakingly produced stone sculptures are a real spectacle.

But be prepared to invest over £20k for something of real scale. See more at

- Paul Vanstone
If you are in the market for something out of the ordinary, then visit Paul’s stand. You’d probably need to have deep pockets too! Paul and his team are brilliant sculptors. But brilliance comes at a price.
They work in stone and create large torsos that will look the business in your formal, or informal garden setting.

I was amazed by their polished pair of faces, called the “Kissing Profiles” which stood some 3m high in Italian Carrara Marble.

Pop them into a meadow and wow what a focal point.

See Paul’s portfolio at

- Outdoor Living

Al fresco living is the name of the game. Fire pits, barbecues, weatherproof loungers, swish terraces and bi-fold doors seamlessly leading from dining rooms and kitchens onto outside spaces.

What if it rains?

Well these Outdoor Living people have thought about this.

They have designed a smart modular system that looks stunning. One minute it can look like a contemporary pergola, open to the sun and fresh air. The next at the touch of a remote, smart shutters close up above you and hey presto you are protected from the elements.

See more about these clever people at

- Hope on the Horizon

Designed by Matt Keightley this garden is a contemporary space that represents the journey of injured servicemen and women through to rehabilitation. So it’s got a strong theme that Matt has expertly executed in both the hard and soft landscaping. All the more impressive when you consider that at 29 this is Matt’s first attempt at a Chelsea  show garden and he take’s home a Silver Gilt Medal!

Other focal points:

It was a great day out. Lots of inspiring thoughts to take into our thinking. Okish weather, and very pleasant company.

For more information about The Chelsea Flower Show, or to discuss your design requirements for your garden please contact Tim Sykes on 07725 173820, or email him at

A Spring time visit to Nymans, West Sussex

Monday, May 5th, 2014

By Tim Sykes

Nymans house and gardens is on the ‘must see’ list of many a horticulturalist.

It incorporates a beautiful house and ruins into a romantic woodland setting.

Only 45 minutes drive from Tunbridge Wells, travel via East Grinstead and Turners Hill.

Nymans was the family home of the Messels who bought this West Sussex Wealden retreat in the late 1800′s. Inspired by the woodland surroundings Ludwig Messel set upon creating a garden with plants and specimen trees collected from around the world.

On our list of favourites were:

- a handkerchief tree from China

- a magnolia tree from Japan

- the beautiful wisteria pergola

- a handsome water feature at the centre of the walled garden

- the pieris japonica bordering in the rear rock gardens

- the many beautiful Rhododendron and Azalea specimens that surround the gardens

- the castellated yew topairy surrounding the house

Wherever you looked there were some beautiful vistas:

There was an excellent nursery at Nymans. Among our purchases were:

- beautiful Nectaroscordium Siculum’s - a bulbous perennial with attractive bell shaped pink and green flower heads on long stems of c 1.2m
- Geranium ‘Johnson’s Blue’ – a hardy perennial that grows in clumps, with deep lavender blue flower heads that bloom throughout summer
- Hosta Francee - brilliant white edged leaves are the hallmark of this Hosta which pale lavender flowers appear mid to late summer
- Veronica Ulster Blue Dwarf - a compact hardy perennial with deep purple/blue tall conical flower heads

We visited early May, but we could see from the herbaceous borders that there was a lot of colour yet to spring forth, so late May early June could be a good time to see the garden in all it’s glory.

It was a very enjoyable day out and we can recommend a visit. We plan to go back soon and walk around the house.

If you are a National Trust member then you get in free. Otherwise entrance fees are £10.50 adults and £5.50 children. Don’t take your dog. We suggest you visit early (opens at 10am) as the car park is restricted, then leave by lunchtime ( the restaurant didn’t look brilliant)  and find a good local pub.

On your return trip, pop into Pots and Pithoi at Turners Hill for some real Cretan pots and further inspiration! See more at

For further information about Nymans go to

Or, contact Tim Sykes at Gardenproud on 07725 173820

Great Dixter!

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

By Tim Sykes

And Great it truly is!

Great Dixter is known the world over as a place of pilgrimage for horticulturalists.

It was the family home of Christopher Lloyd, journalist and world re-knowned gardener himself, who worked so hard to make it the magnet it is today.

His parents Nathaniel and Daisy Lloyd bought the property in 1910, from Sarah Springett.

At the time the house was a shadow of its current granduer. Nathaniel had a vision for it and he hired the great architect of his time, Edwin Lutyens and his team to transform the building. Quite how he pulled this off is a mystery, as the young Lutyens was in great demand. Although closer inspection of the actual transformation experience would suggest that Lutyens colleagues may have been more responsible for the successful completion than he himself. This included dismantling and transporting another house from Benenden to Northiam, where Great Dixter is situated, and bringing the two together.

As was so often the case with architects of this period, Lutyens went onto design the gardens of Great Dixter. Not surprisingly, Lutyens contribution was fairly formal.

Much of this structure still exists today, albeit this is augmented with Christopher Lloyd’s and his mother Daisy’s own influence, which marries the formality with informality.

Christopher Lloyd being particularly well known for his work with the creation of wild meadows.

One of the great characteristics of the gardens are that they surround the house, so as the visitor you get an excellent view of the house as you journey around each room in the garden….

From the Meadow Areas, to the Mixed Borders, to The Walled Garden with its pebble mosaic, The Sunken Garden, The Long Border, and finally The Exotic Garden, there is a huge wealth of colour and mixing of species that is very Christopher Lloyd and a real feast for the eyes!

Our visit was in April 2014 and we’ll be back.

A must see is the Nursery and Shop. The Nursery is one of the best of it’s type and is championed by a brilliant horticulturalist you will find in the Nursery Shop. We bought loads of plants, so leave some boot space for this! The Shop has all manner of interesting gifts, but the star items are the re-furbed garden tools. I bought a fabulous pair of topairy shears for just £25.

I also bought……

- An ornamental rhubarb – Rheum Palmatum Atrosanguineum.

- Camassia Leichtlinii Caerulea – for its lilac blue flowerheads

- Geranium Maderense – for it’s Spring flowering Magenta Pink Flowers

- Achillea Millefolium Red Velvet – you pop this in a full sun position in moist well drained soil

Great Dixter is based at Northiam, near Rye. So if you are staying at The Mermaid, it’s a must visit.

For further information see

Or call 01797 254044, or go to Great Dixter, Northiam, Rye, East Sussex TN31 6PH

If you are visiting Chapel Down Vineyards, go to Great Dixter first, then call into Chapel Down and book a taxi home. On this occasion we ended up at The George in Robertsbridge.

This is a fine Coaching Inn, run by John and Jane Turner.  See more at or call Jane at 01580 880315. The food is excellent, there is a very fine Argentinian Malbec on the wine list, and you have to leave room for the deserts as they are just brilliant!

For more information about Great Dixter call Tim Sykes at Gardenproud on 07725 173820.

Visit Sissinghurst Castle Gardens this April

Monday, March 17th, 2014

By Tim Sykes

It was interesting to watch on BBC’s Countryfile recently the feature about Vita Sackville-West and her upbringing at Knole. As the daughter she unfortunately didn’t inherit Knole but with her husband Harold in the 1930′s she went onto buy Sissinghurst Castle and began a transformation of the gardens. Harold mainly planned the garden structure, whilst Vita turned her attention to the planting schemes.

Today the house and grounds are looked after by The National Trust. It’s only a short drive (half an hour) from Tunbridge Wells, along the Biddenden Road, near Cranbrook.

The gardens are open from 11am – 5.30pm. The Castle and Grounds are surrounded by a working farm, ancient woodlands and parkland of c 450 acres. The house dates back to the Middle Ages. It was bought by Sir John Baker ( one of Henry V111′s Privy Councillors) in 1530, when it was greatly enlarged by him and his son.

The Castle and Gardens are well worth a visit and during April are bursting with colour.

A brilliant vantage point is to climb the Tower and see the structure and beauty of the garden, then plan your tour accordingly. You will see from the Tower that the garden is split up into a whole series of rooms, all with their own unique planting schemes.

The Lime Walk is among my favourites, but you must spend time in The White Garden. The White Garden was originally planted as a rose garden in 1931, but later altered in 1950. Vita referred to it as her grey, green and white garden. There is no escaping the brilliance of her focus, and the end result is a captivating space, that’s very romantic.

For a good lunch, nearby Biddenden is a picturesque Kentish Village with pleasant pubs. Alternatively stop off at Goudhurst on route. I’m reliably informed that The Vine, Goudhurst has just undergone a restoration and offers excellent fare. I must treat myself to a visit!

You can see more about Sissinghurst Castle and Grounds at

Further details about The Vine at Goudhurst can be found at

For further information about Gardenproud please contact Tim Sykes, on 07725 173820,  or via email at

It’s March and the garden beckons

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014
After one of the wettest winter periods on record we all look forward to March with a little prayer that the weather might improve for us gardeners.
At the time of writing Sarah and I have just returned from a very pleasant walk with Basil our dog, around the grounds of Burrswood, Groombridge. It was heartening to see that the daffs were starting to appear and the snowdrops were out, so maybe Spring is not that far away! Visit the Crown on the Green. You will be welcomed by a very friendly landlord, and if you are lucky the dog will get a treat!

Before we journey outside, I wanted to share with you some photographs of Amaryllis that have been appearing on our Gardenproud Facebook page. We gave a number of our friends Amaryllis bulbs for Christmas and pictures have been flooding in of their progress, so we have posted some of these on our Facebook page. Interest in the progress has come from a number of people, including would you believe Judi Cohen from New Jersey, USA – the wonders of social media! Judy sent us some amazing photographs of her Amaryllis. Her secret to creating wonderful flower heads is to restrict the soil content of the pot. I put the bulb in very little soil, forcing the action away from the roots and into the bloom.” So a tip to remember for 2015.

March is always a good time to be attacking the moss on your lawns, and boy have I seen a lot moss around the gardens of Tunbridge Wells recently! So a good scarifying, followed by a feed could help give the lawn a bit of a lift before the growing season gets a hold. If the lawn is particularly bad you may need to aerate the surface and give it a top dressing and over seeding. Watch the temperature though, because your seeds won’t germinate in cold weather.
Cotswold Grass seeds who are one of the leading suppliers recommend “Soil temperatures needs to be in excess of 4°C, usually late February in Southern UK, two weeks days later in the North. The optimum soil temperature for seeds to start chitting is 7-10°C which is usually reached by mid – late March across the UK.”
One of the things you are going to have to watch (as soon as the temperature rises) is weeds. Last year we had quite a wet start to the year and the weeds grew like mad. So given this years dose of rain you’ll need to get on top of the bed maintenance pdq.
Here a few additional thoughts on March from our friends at RHS:
1. Remove dead foliage, weed and top dress pots and containers with fresh compost
2. Protect new spring shoots from slugs
3. Divide overgrown clumps of perennials
4. Start mowing the lawn, as the weather becomes drier
If you have a vegetable garden then now’s the time to plant out your shallots, onion sets and early potatoes. When the ground is suitable you can plant new fruits, including raspberries, gooseberries, blueberries and blackcurrants ( lots of fruit plants like a free draining, acidic soil, so it maybe sensible to check the pH levels and then mix in horticultural grit, with a good ericaceous compost).
If you haven’t done it already remember to prune your apple and pear trees before the first leaves start to break.
Whilst things will be hotting up in the garden, March is also a great time to be tweaking the beds for your summer borders. Think about the effect you want to achieve, the relative heights of plants, or bulbs once they are established, then look at the borders and decide which of your existing plants you want to keep. It’s also a good idea to have a colour palette in mind. The trend is towards more focused palettes, which I like. So you might mix lilacs, violets, blues, creams and whites, but avoid yellows, pinks and oranges. You’ll be able to select your summer flowering bulbs from the local nurseries.
All of the local ones have a great choice, but you can also find an excellent selection on the J.Parker’s website If you prefer a catalogue, then call them on, 0161 848 1124

Finally, another date for all your diaries! Don’t miss the Tulip Festival at Pashley Manor this year! It starts on April 23rd. Entrance is £10 and the festival runs until 5th May. This year will mark their 20th Anniversary, so I’m sure the displays will be stunning. Don’t miss the restaurant, so time your visit around lunchtime!
I hope you enjoy your garden this March.
For further information please contact Tim Sykes, at Gardenproud 07725 173820, or at

Happy New Year from View

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

View is the quarterly update from Gardenproud on what’s new in the garden.

The new 2014 edition is out now. You can order a copy in the post, or via email. Just send an email request to

In this quarter’s edition are Gardening Tips, 2013 Highlights from Gardenproud, some ideas for Window Boxes, details of our latest Equipment updates – of special interest to the demands of larger gardens, our latest recruit, and news of our latest Design Projects.

Prague Castle Gardens

Monday, September 2nd, 2013
Sunday 1st September 2013, by Tim Sykes, Gardenproud

We’ve just returned from visiting Prague.
There are a number of gardens to see here, but one I recommend is attached to the world famous Prague Castle situated in Prague 1.
Prague Castle dates back to the 9th century, it was originally the residence of Bohemian princes and rulers, and since 1918 the seat of the president. It is one of the largest castles in the whole of Europe.
The guides warn you about the amount of time you need to dedicate to a Castle visit. With visits of c 4 – 5 hrs often suggested. We only had 3 hrs, so decided to not join one of the guided tours. Instead planning our own tour. Suffice to say the Castle complex is so vast we nearly spent 4.5 hrs there!
The Castle stands high above the City commanding superb views.
If you are walking, cross over the Charles Bridge then up the cobbled streets until you reach the steps. The steps, don’t attempt these unless you are feeling fit! You can take the tram to the top. The number 22 or 18 tram will get you up there.
Alternatively take a taxi ride. It was a sunny morning so we walked. I didn’t count how many hundred steps there were but the views of the city were breathtaking(not that we had any breath to take by then)!
One of the highlights you must see at the Castle is the St Vitus Cathedral. The stained glass windows are incredible. They are vast (as is the Cathedral) and so beautiful.
Not surprisingly, an attraction for me were the Royal Gardens. These were originally created by the last crowned Czech king, Ferdinand V.  He chose Prague Castle as his residence upon his abdication in 1848. Apart from music he was
especially interested in nature.
Ferdinand V and his wife, Maria Anna of Sardinia
Having learned about botany in his youth he remained interested in gardens and following his move to the Castle he became interested in the strip of land above the Deer Moat. He rented this land together with a small garden house and farm buildings. He had 3 greenhouses, one of which was devoted to growing camillias, another to rhododendrons and azaleas.
A new feature of the Royal Gardens is the Orangery. This is a futuristic looking piece of prize-winning architecture.
The Orangery features a computer controlled environment designed to create just the right climate for the many tropical plants that flourish inside. Lemon and Lime trees, palms, yuccas, phormiums, figs and orange trees all thrive in the humid climate.
Outside the gardens feature some remarkable garden buildings including the Queen Anne Summer Palace, adorning Czech statues and plasterwork typical of the Prague landscape.
There are formal and semi formal areas reminiscent of park landscapes.
We travelled to Prague with Easyjet, and stayed in the Barcelo Hotel in Prague 5. This was very good. If you go treat yourself to a Junior Suite. There is also a Barcelo in the City Centre, currently being refurbished. Maybe worth a look on our next visit!
For information about the Prague Castle Gardens see Also see more about Barcelo Hotels at If you are visiting Prague for the first time make sure you pre-book a taxi transfer. We used Prague Airport Transfer, booked through Easyjet. They were very good.
For further information about Gardenproud contact Tim Sykes on 07725 173820

King Charles Summer Fete – Plants Stall Blossoms

Saturday, June 15th, 2013

By Tim Sykes,

Well it’s time to enjoy The King Charles the Martyr Summer Fete!

Along with Richard Still gardener supremo at King Charles I ran the plant stall today (Saturday 15th June). Here’s Richard pictured with the famous Tunbridge Wells Town Crier who opened the Fete.

We thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Our stall was set amongst the flourishing gardens at the Church Hall, tended with loving care by Richard.

We were lucky enough to have a whole host of plants donated to us by members of the congregation. Salvias, Courgettes, Geraniums, Cosmos, Japanese Blood Grass, Bamboo, Squash and Ophiopogon were among the wide range of species on sale.

A box of assorted French Marigolds

Some beautiful Red Salvias.

It was a really successful event enjoyed by all.

We look forward to next years event.

For further information about events at King Charles the Martyr check out their website at

It’s May so what’s going on in the garden?

Saturday, May 4th, 2013

Typically May is one of the busiest months in the garden. The grass is growing, the weeds are growing and the spring flowers are all coming into bloom.

The tree blossom is out and early leaves are starting to appear.

Well if the weather continues to improve then these things will all happen, probably with vengeance! There is so much water in the ground that I can only imagine that as the temperature rises and the sun pokes its head above the clouds that it’s all going to go berserk.

We seem to be running a month behind at present, but it could all suddenly catch up. So for what to do in the garden this May you could refer back to my April column and combine this with these few tips……

- It’s typically the time to increase the frequency of the mowing, it’s also a good time to over seed any bare patches, and give the lawn a good feed. My tip is not to mow your lawn too short, as this will hinder the root structure and lead to weaker grass

- If your Daffs and Tulips have flowered, then dead head them, but leave the leaves for 5-6 weeks before you cut these back

On the subject of Tulips. If you haven’t already visited the Tulip Festival at Pashley Manor, then you haven’t lived! This year the festival is open from Wednesday 24th April and runs every day until Monday 6th May. Pashley Manor is open 11am – 5pm.

It’s a sight to see with over 20,000 blooms on show. It’s well worth a visit as we discovered and the tulip festival is just the splash of colour we all need after the dreariness of that long cold winter. The gardens and setting are beautiful, with a wide range of plants and sculptures on show, plus a real find is the restaurant. Expect to queue, but the wait is worth it! So take your debit cards and get there just before lunch.

Pashley Manor is a short drive away from Tunbridge Wells, situated just out of Ticehurst village on the B2099. You can easily access it from Wadhurst, or via the A21.

You can see more about Pashley Manor at their website

Plants to look out for include Delphiniums, Euphorbia, Peonies including those wonderful Tree Peonies, early Alliums, Choisya, Rhododendrons and Azaleas. If you are lucky the Wisteria might also come into bloom.

Here a few more gardening tasks you might consider for May:

-       Prepare containers and borders for Summer planting

-       Keep a check on any pest activity and spray roses/shrubs/fruit if necessary

-       Plant up your hanging baskets, but keep them in the greenhouse or under glass until there’s no risk of frost

-       Keep on top of the weeding

In the vegetable garden look out for Asparagus as this is one of the most exciting harvests for May. The other May favourite for me is Spinach.

Enjoy May in your garden

If you have any questions, or are interested in Gardenproud providing you with some advice or help in the garden then contact Tim Sykes on 07725 173820 or at

So Spring is nearly with us. What’s going on in the garden?

Monday, March 18th, 2013

By Tim Sykes – March 2013

As we approach Spring the bulbs start bursting through and for many of us this is the signal to focus on getting the garden sorted for the Summer.

In reality looking after the garden is a year round thing. But after the dreariness of the winter those daffs coming into bloom are a great moral booster and really help to re-engage us!

Spring is nature’s way of saying, “Let’s party” – Robin Williams

I can’t believe it, it’s March already and 2 months have passed since the festivities of Christmas and the New Year.

If we are all agreed it’s time to party, what should we be focusing on in the garden?

-       If you haven’t got the mower serviced yet you need to get it seen to, just getting the blades sharpened will help ensure that you achieve a nice cut.

-       You need to prune the roses before the buds burst into growth.

-       If you’ve got any patches of lawn that are looking sad then now’s the time to sow some fresh seed and apply a dressing, or re-turf sections.

-       If you haven’t already done so then prepare your borders, removing any old weed growth and dead foliage and apply a mulch or well-rotted manure. This will help add nourishment and suppress fresh weed growth.

-       Prune back any climbers such as clematis before they get going.

-       Choose and plant out your Summer bulbs and sow the seeds of your herb garden (in particular Basil, Coriander and Parsley).

-       Plant out any new perennials.

-       If you have a fruit section in your garden then now’s the time to plant the raspberries and strawberries.

These are just some of tasks that spring to mind, but please let me have your thoughts and contributions.  Also feel free to fire any gardening questions at me and I’ll do my best to answer these for you in the next edition. This is my email address

Flowers to look out for in March include; Daffodils, Primrose, Hellebores,  Cyclamen,  Crocus,  Hyacinths, Dwarf Tulips, Violets and of course Bergenia Cordifolia (Elephant’s Ears).

Enjoy the awakening of your garden this March.

For further information about Gardenproud’s design, landscaping or garden maintenance services please contact Tim Sykes on 07725 173820, or at