|Stephen and Judith Anderton's cottge high in the Black Mountains
|"The slugs are this long" Peter Clay expounds the story of his garden, Sue MacGregor of Boxwood Tours looks on.
Brockhampton Cottage, near Hereford, went down very well. Home of Peter Clay, who runs Crocus the online garden centre. The fact that he took time out of a busy working schedule to talk to us at length about the garden, how it fits into its wide and very English and very beautiful landscape, and his involvement with designer Tom Stuart-Smith, was much appreciated.
H.Avray Tipping was a well-known, but now largely forgotten, garden designer of the early 20th century, and a key part of the Arts and Crafts movement which has dominated British garden design ever since (which is a thoroughly bad thing if you believe my colleague Tim Richardson). A&C gardening is a harmless pursuit and it balances order and growth so well, many of us are quite happy to follow in the footsteps of Tipping, Jekyll, Sackville-West et al. Tipping created three gardens in the Monmouthshire area, only one of which has been restored, by the current owners, Hilary and Helena Gerrish. Helena has just written a book about him. So now you have no excuse to say you have never heard of him.
|High Glanau vintage Arts and Crafts
|The trouble with mounts is that some people just have to stand on top of them and wave their arms about.
We also visited Westonbury Watermill, a modern folly and water garden, where owner Richard Pim is building an enormous (two storey) water-powered cuckoo clock. Watch this space.
|Westonbury Water Mill, at Pembridge, Herefs. features a very impressive gunnera maze. Jo is describing the size of our cabbages this year.
|The loo at The Laskett - strangely austere
You may have gathered that Mr Strong and I don't see eye to eye on gardening matters. I think I once wrote that a garden restoration of his should be bulldozed into the Thames (the Hampton Court Privy Garden). We once had a wonderfully bitchy spat on the radio, which could have been the start of a re-play of Robinson versus Blomfield (a great and rather stylised debate of the A&C era - see above), but I think both of us had rather more important things to do (promoting naturalistic planting design in my case and writing fawning books on the British monarchy in his).
Tour leading is great fun, you get to meet lots of interesting people (even if not Roy Strong), and hear about their lives and interests. Over the days, you learn about what they like in gardens and what they don't like, I always find it interesting getting people's reactions, I also learn a lot too, they always see things i have never noticed, even in places I know well. Seeing familiar places through other people's eyes in this way is actually rather special.
Finally, there was one comment I adored, I'm not saying which garden it was about... "Dolly Parton meets Lutyens".
Well not quite finally, we had Monique and Thierry Dronet, of the wonderful Jardin de Berchigranges, stay with us recently. Lovely people, kindred spirits; Thierry pointed out to us that (unbeknown to us)his garage was on the front cover of a book on green building in the guest room of our (needless to say eco-build) guest room. They had the idea of digging up half a square metre of our wildflower meadow and planting it in the middle of a new meadow area they are creating. So here it is going in, a little bit of Herefordshire in the Vosges mountains.