Archive for 15/09/2013

Want to improve the attractiveness and functioning of your garden? Then read on...

Want to improve the attractiveness and functioning of your garden? Then read on…

The Reepham Learning Community, here in Norfolk, offers a range of courses in the evenings and during the day in a wide range of topics. I’m hoping to run my second course on Garden Design, commencing next Monday, 23rd September, 7pm – 9pm at Reepham High School & College.

It’s a six session programme using a mixture of discussion, presentation and surgery – type advice to individuals who want to apply some design thinking  to their own gardens. The course will help you:

  • think about what you want from your garden
  • use different ways of appraising and surveying your current plot
  • with an introduction to different garden styles
  • understand what is meant by strong garden structure and appropriate, attractive planting, and
  • how to put this all together in a scale drawing of your future plans.

It also features a garden visit to see some of the principles of garden design in practice and encourage a critical approach to assessing gardens.

The first course involved 9 participants, a good-sized group allowing for a healthy level of discussion and individual attention. I know those that took part felt better equipped to tackle their own garden development after sharing issues and ideas, seeing examples of well designed gardens and picking up some key skills and tips along the way.

The next course is close to achieving a viable number of participants, so if you or someone you know is interested in getting some help in designing their own garden then please see more information at or call Sandie Athow on 01603 308133.

Oh, and by the way, later in the coming week I’ll be starting a new series of articles focusing on design  tips to improve your garden. The series-  called’ Design my Garden’ –  will start with a few thoughts about designing a garden for someone who has some sort of disability.

Old School Gardener


This Rocky island crowned by a medieval church and castle was another of my West Country garden visits – or rather ir wasn’t. Access to the gardens was restricted to certain days during the summer (as a a conservation measure) and yes, we chose one of the closed days! So my visit was confined to aerial views from castle ramparts, glimpses through gates and over hedges. Still, I managed to get a good idea of what the gardens are like and I’ve tried to convey this in the photo montage below.

The island – a ‘twin’ with Mont St. Michel in Normandy on the other side of the English Channel – has some buildings dating from the 12th century. It’s sub-tropical Gardens feature exotic plants clinging to steep granite cliffs and terraces laid out with a mixture of formal and informal borders. These terraces are tiered close to the rocky water’s edge.

I witnessed an ‘abseiling gardener’ carrying out some ‘extreme strimming’ on the grassy slopes!

Plants that are natives of Mexico, the Canary Islands and South Africa thrive in the mild micro-climate created by the sun-warmed cliffs. As we found in many other parts of West Cornwall plants like Agapanthus, Fuchsia, Crocosmia ‘Montbretia’ and Hydrangea thrive here as well as along road – sides and more modest domestic gardens in the area.

I will revisit at some point to get the ‘up close and personal’ experience of actually being in the gardens, but from the views I managed they do seem mightily impressive.

Further information:

National Trust website

St. Michael’s Mount Garden Itinerary

Wikipedia- St. Michael’s Mount

Old School Gardener

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