Gardens, like rooms, fall into many categories; some are beautifully conceived spaces with each element carefully selected, some are work spaces and others are the result of one person's personal passion.
While on holiday in Holland earlier this month, I was able to visit a garden I'd dreamed of seeing for many years – Anja and Piet Oudolf's garden at Hummelo. I've been an admirer of Piet Oudolf's work for many years and have visited many of his gardens – I love the landscapes he creates inspired by nature, art and time.
It was a glorious late summer day, we were the first visitors to arrive at the garden on the outskirts of Hummelo village surrounded by open fields. Anja was watering the plants and saw us drive in, she showed us a cool shady place to park the car, then invited us to take our time enjoying the garden.
This is the back garden, a series of rectangular beds with narrow paths running down to the end of the garden where a painted cut-out 'statue' stands under a tree.
The front garden is the one you may have seen photographed in books and magazines, an area surrounded by tall blocks of clipped hedges contains a tapestry of Piet Oudolf's signature grasses and perennials. I noticed that there are now fewer hedges – the space has evolved and is now a more open and softer than its former design.
Oudolf's style is all about texture and movement . . . and time. In late summer the garden is a rustling, shimmering, sea of grasses and seed-heads.
And what photographs can't convey is the sound . . . of thousands of buzzing insects and the swish and rustle of the breeze through the ever moving stems.
I think this is the most inspiring garden I've ever visited!
And now for a complete contrast – the garden of an eccentric English gentleman plant-hunter and gardener . . .
Last weekend was Open House London, we took the opportunity to see inside the house of one of Britain's greatest gardeners E A Bowles . . . if you've not heard of him, I bet you know Wallflower 'Bowles Mauve'!
Edward Augustus Bowles lived at Myddleton House in Enfield; now the offices for Lea Valley Parks, the ground floor rooms are grade I listed and were open for just one day last Saturday. However, the gardens and new visitor centre/museum have been restored and are open throughout the year. The gardens encompass Bowles passions for Alpine meadows, native water-side plants, bulbs and the weird and wonderful of the plant world . . . as well as odd pieces of architectural salvage!
Cliff and I visited many years ago, before the restoration; I remember the secretive, rambling, overgrown garden. Now the greenhouses and cold frames are beautifully restored and full of Bowles' favourite plants and bulbs. The rock garden restoration is still in progress, but will soon be a fitting tribute to its creator where his ashes rest.
Well – with all that inspiration I couldn't wait to get to work on our garden! Now the tree has gone, the left side of our patio has been transformed into a cutting-garden full of flowers grown from Higgledy Garden seeds.
What was needed was another large border to balance it on the other side . . . to fill with perennials and grasses, with spaces inbetween to grow flowering annuals. Cheep and the under-gardeners helped mark out a shape on the lawn and we've started digging :-)
There's still a lot more digging to do, but I've already planted the plants I bought as souvenirs from Myddleton house – and I can admire progress from the bedroom window.
I've taken some of my favourite books off the shelf to make lists of plants to track down and make more plans for the new plot :-)
Who are your favourite gardeners? Have you ever visited their gardens?