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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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….