Ruminations on ‘Light, shade, water and earth’…

Kiftsgate Court, The Water Garden, Gloucestershire, June 2017, and reflected detail below…

Water and earth. I started this theme before Christmas, ah well, so now to pick up on the ‘water and earth’ part.

My remaining ruminations…these feature images that have stuck in my mind and still catch my eye, some many years later. Kiftsgate Court Gardens may be overshadowed by the celebrity powerhouse garden which is a close neighbour, Hidcote. But in my view, it beats Hidcote to the ground with sheer heart and exuberance, and what’s more, it is the work of three incredible generations of women gardeners, and I would revisit in a heartbeat. ‘Kiftsgate Court Gardens: Three Generations of Women Gardeners’ by Vanessa Berridge celebrates the details of their accomplishments, it’s on my next present ideas list, that’s for sure.

This stunning water garden with bronze leaves floating in the wind is a miraculous re-using of an old tennis court and holds its own with the older parts of the garden really well.

Bryan’s Ground, near Presteigne, is one of my all-time favourites, full of excitement, fun and clever design. I love the long, thin, still water capturing the reflection of the noble hound sculpture and the fluffy green of the surrounding trees. Very simple but really effective. To my horror, I saw that Bryan’s Ground was up for sale in 2021 during lockdown. I really hope it survives and prospers.

Bryan’s Ground, Presteigne, June 2017

On a giant scale, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Bretton Hall, near Wakefield, uses an immense landscape of rolling grass, water and formal gardens with real verve. I am pretty sure that this sculpture will have been changed since I took the photograph in June 2019, but the image has stuck in my head.

Tom Lovelace sculpture in the Upper Lake, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, June 2019

The pristine still water against a blue sky, surrounded by the earthen ochre walls of Taroudant in Morocco is the work of La Maison Anglaise eco-lodge. Specially chosen tiles protect the quality of the water and the planting is xeric, but irrigated from waste grey water refined naturally in a tank beneath a fountain in the front courtyard, so no new water is used for the garden. The long, thin shape of the pool is an echo of the traditional courtyard pool in Mudecar design- a nineteenth century version of which can be seen in the gardens of Carmen de los Martires in Granada.

La Maison Anglaise, Taroudant, Morocco, October 2021
Carmen de los Martires, Granada, October 2021

I think that these are my favourite-ever water spouts, part of the QVC garden at Chelsea Flower Show in 2009 and designed by Adam Frost. I love the rolled shape, like a flowerbud opening, and I remember that the sound of the water could be heard clearly over the buzz of the crowds, a good, but not too loud, splashing.

Beautiful water spouts, the QVC Garden at Chelsea 2009 designed by Adam Frost, May 2009

I really got into earth, as in, mostly nothing but earth, in Australia. I would never have imagined that I could love such arid spaces, but the colours of the earth and the rocks were mesmerising at different times of the day, and it was a landscape that really got under my skin. Lost traces of human habitation, places where no human had lived, maybe for thousands of years, and, in the Australian spring, the sight of tens of golden flowering wattles in the middle of nothing, was intensely moving somehow.

Remains of a walled garden, Apppealina, Flinders Ranges, Australia, October 2018
Sunset at Rawnsley Park Station, Flinders Ranges, Australia, October 2018
Ground cover grasses, Brachina, Australia, October 2018
Flowering wattles en masse, Flinders Ranges, Australia, October 2018

By complete contrast, the Water Gardens at Beth Chatto’s Nursery in East Anglia, were more squelchy than even my wellies could handle when I visited with a friend, Shelagh, in May 2012. Look at the prehistoric upward growth of the Gunnera and the Skunk Cabbage….

Yellow skunk cabbage, Beth Chatto Nursery, May 2012

6 thoughts on “Ruminations on ‘Light, shade, water and earth’…

  1. Thanks Alison – a lovely selection of gardens, natural and otherwise. I cannot understand why the RHS or some other group, the National Trust for example, haven’t swept in there. Still up for £1.4 m but no news of any buyers yet online.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s