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Showing posts from May, 2018

Found my niche

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Whenever I visit a garden, I’m drawn to the quietest corner, imagining how to recreate a mini-oasis of calm and inspiration.

Recently, I had the luck to visit Wallington in Northumberland, and found the perfect niche.


A joyous combination of modest asplenium ferns, alchemilla and lobelia set in a Regency-era horse-shoe enclosure facing the sun.

Frosted greens and navy are definitely my favourite combination for tranquillity. Add a lichen-encrusted stone feature, a bench and sundry hostas in pots, and I’m in heaven.


A small, naturalesque waterfall gurgled discreetly, reminding me of a wry comment by Alan Titchmarsh, amused at a large garden fountain, commenting that ot sounded like a large equine relieving itself into a deep trough. Oh, dear. I still can’t walk past ostentatious water features without wondering where the nearest loo is.

I may never aspire to the view they have at Wallington, but when we move house, I now have my wish list.

PS I discovered that the gardener at Wallingt…

Fact, fiction and fascinating foraging

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Cragside is a superb Victorian house in the North-East of England with an unusual claim to fame –it’s the first home to be lit using hydro-electric power.
It’s also well known for other gadgets inspired by the owner, Lord Armstrong, a Victorian inventor, innovator and landscape genius whose engineering skills made him a fortune.
There’s a hydraulic lift for the servants, for example, and the first electric dishwasher in the world.But some eerie personal coincidences have made the place even more fascinating.
I’ve been working on a sequel to The Lost Orchid, a tale of botanical skulduggery in the 1880s when orchid fever was at its height. (Doing the research I became something of an orchid addict - see Orchidmania, a small blog of mine.)
Ferns were massively popular in Victorian England, and much has been written about pteridomania, so I thought a fern-themed sequel would be appropriate.
It seemed a good idea to move the action further north and this is when I came across Cragside and its…