Lessons from English Gardens 1

Sarah and I recently returned from a trip to the U.K., each with a child in tow. Many gardens were on our list of things to see.

Unfortunately, while the kids, despite being 14 and 15, were fairly cooperative, our eyes were definitely bigger than our timetable. With great sadness, we had to cross Stourhead and Tintagel and the Hampton Court Flower Show (and, and, and…) off our list.

We did visit Bodnant Gardens (shown here) in North Wales. Seeing beds full of Agapanthus and Crocosmia in bloom, and giant redwoods towering over banks of blue lacecap hydrangeas – impossible in our zone-challenged Toronto location – was enough to make you want to eat your liver.

BodnantGardensBut, frankly, that could happen with a peep over any garden wall almost everywhere in Great Britain.

It’s a place were butterfly bush (Buddleia) plants itself in eavestroughs and rhododendrons have become a pest of Welsh mountainsides; where florists’ flowers such as freesia and Alstroemeria come up in the ground; where Fuchsia grows into massive shrubs; where, in short, you actually have to work hard not to make things grow.

Rather than whine and complain that we don’t have English gardens, however, why not look for ideas that will transplant to our frosty wintered, sun-baked summered Canadian soil? So, over the next few posts, here goes.

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