There’s nothing like spending months cooped up in your home to feel as if the walls are closing in. No matter how big your home is, it can still feel too small, especially when multiple members of the family return, others are working from home and the young are homeschooling. So it’s understandable that this summer, more of us are looking to expand outwards, into our gardens, to create new spaces. We’re seeing the rise of the super shed. “The whole idea of a shed space is to get you away from the house, where domestication can drag you down, even if just by a couple of steps,” says Joel Bird, winner of Shed of the Year and author of The Book of Shed. Bird, who also builds bespoke sheds, says that he’s been exceptionally busy since lockdown ended, building spaces destined to be everything from recording studios to home offices (there is a gender divide, Bird says: men “want somewhere for their drum kit and to keep their dreams alive; women often want a place to start a business from”). It’s nothing new: men have long been retreating to their sheds for a quiet potter, with sheds earning the moniker “man caves”. But now they are not just places to store the lawnmower and an illicit radio to listen to the cricket.
A few months ago, the primary purpose of the garden shed was a haven for tools, gloves and, let's face it, spider webs - but during lockdown, when gardens replaced parks and beaches as a destination for respite and escapism, needs changed; sheds offer a place to hide from the kids (or parents), smell the roses and raise a glass. Entries for the 14th annual Cuprinol Shed of the Year competition opened in March, inviting entrants to submit their fantastically creative builds into one of nine categories - two of which are new this year, Lockdown Repurpose and Lockdown Build. Focusing on those who have transformed their sheds in order to help the community over lockdown, entrants in the Lockdown Repurpose category include Sarah McGoldrick, who responded to the PPE shortage in the early days of the pandemic by supplying frontline NHS staff with visors, and online teacher Ashley Bates, founder of The Shed School, a free online educational platform for key stage one children. Meanwhile, the Lockdown Build category is for those who started construction after cancellations or loss of work. In Norfolk, Joe Melton built a back garden bar to compensate for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Florida being cancelled, while retired lecturer and mechanical engineer Michael Roberts has created a space in which to spend his time lovingly restoring clocks. Many entrants share stories of hope, frustration and kindness: Pat Crook recreated a beach hut to provide her father (who suffers from dementia) with much-needed peace; Patrick Seaman and his son Finn teamed up to create a family hideaway after loss of work allowed the pair more time together. A winner from each category will be decided by public vote, then an overall winner will be crowned by a panel of shed experts with a golden crown for the winning shed. “More than ever, the events of recent months have shown us what a valuable role sheds can play in our lives," says head judge and competition founder, Andrew Wilcox. “They are spaces where we can help our NHS heroes, educate our children and care for our family. They highlight all that is great about Britain - our ingenuity, our eccentricity and our determination to help others.” The overall winner will also receive £1,000, a plaque and £100 of Cuprinol products. Public voting is now underway will close on Sunday 9 August. Cast your vote here: www.readersheds.co.uk. PUBS AND ENTERTAINMENT The Pizza Folly by Colin Naylor
Few of us will be going anywhere exotic this year but don’t worry, I have a plan. Bring the tropics to you with an atmospheric garden full of emerald leaves and glowing flowers. For instant impact and a long season of interest, turning your garden tropical is an excellent choice. Traditional tropical stalwarts include the hardy banana, tree fern, Chusan palm and red hot poker. As useful and lovely as these are, tropical gardens have evolved. A new trend has extended its coiled tendril to redefine the genre. In my own designs I’ve been bringing a naturalistic planting approach to tropical gardens, and using unusual new plants for greater creativity. The natural look I was in denial about our garden. “It’s not tropical,” I’d defiantly say to puzzled faces, until I realised one day that that was exactly what I’d created. It simply didn’t look like the tropical gardens I knew. Our living room looks through bifold doors on to a half-sun, half-shade patio, which I’ve filled over the past six years with luxurious rarities, colourful gems to be treasured. I find that having exotic plants close to the house jolts me out of whatever head space I’m in to one of calmness through curiosity. Employing naturalistic planting techniques – usually seen with grasses and airy perennials – while using tropical-look plants, recreates the feel of a wild jungle to wade through. I have paddle-shaped leaves of Canna ‘Shenandoah’, hardy in mild areas, pushing vertically through spreading mounds of Persicaria neofiliformis, both competing with Phytolacca ‘Laka Boom’ (possibly the greatest name in horticulture).
Gardening is a profession where social distancing is a real possibility. So there is no reason to anticipate that standards will necessarily have fallen, now that they are opening up again. There may even be new things to see at familar gardens, as head gardeners have been taking the opportunity to do jobs and projects which have been put on the back-burner in previous seasons, while the gardens themselves have benefited from a well-deserved break from the attentions of hundreds or thousands of visitors. Cafes and restaurants at gardens may be closed or offering takeaway meals only, but picnicking is now being positively encouraged. Perhaps now is the time to dust off the old thermos flask and picnic hamper, and try one more time to make that perfect cucumber sandwich? As lockdown is eased, Britain’s great gardens are opening up again. At present, many gardens are open to pre-booked visitors only – but while on the one hand this requires some forward planning, on the other there are likely to be fewer people once you get there, and most likely a better experience of the site. The need to plan also presents the opportunity to draw up an itinerary of favourites. There is much to look forward to, and there is surely a garden out there to suit every taste and temperament. We have indicated in each case if pre-booking is required. Best for classic herbaceous borders Newby Hall, North Yorkshire
Something wonderful arrived in the post this week: three little feathery clumps in 9cm pots, from the Beth Chatto nursery in Essex. The feathery clumps are Corydalis cheilanthifolia, a species of fumewort – similar but separate from close cousin, fumitory – that I have wanted to get my hands on for months. For me, this species is the zenith of its genus, raising yellow flowers to new heights and amplifying a characteristically delicate, pinnate foliage to the point of actually being mistaken for a fern. The leaves also redden for autumn. So a fern with flowers and autumn foliage; what more could you want in a plant? Acquiring C. cheilianthifolia concludes my preoccupation with the corydalis clan, for now at least; a fixation that began with frequent sightings of rogue yellow C. lutea undermining London’s civic stone walls last summer, and continued through exotic cultivars of pink C. solida, electric blue C. flexuosa and a handful in between. I have now gathered a small collection at the Garden Museum – my most recent horticultural whim – sitting together in a quiet corner of its sheltered courtyard garden. The clan belong to the poppy family, Papaveraceae, comprising a herbaceous rabble notable for their tubular, four-petalled flowers that, en masse, form a soft, frilly carpet. They hail predominantly from temperate Asia; China and Tibet in particular, where species number in the hundreds, but also East Africa, Iran and North America. Corydalis lutea, perhaps the species most commonly recognised, is an escapee from subalpine Europe that appears to thrive wherever it is not wanted. On account of this roguish behaviour, British gardeners often dismiss it as a weed, albeit an inoffensive one like herb Robert, common violet or garlic mustard. Last year, however, I rescued a runaway C. lutea from the perils of a well-trodden pathway, stuck it in a small pot with a grit mulch and left it on a shady stone step. Unexpectedly, the little plant flourished into something very pretty. The spring flowers were attractive, but the foliage more than warranted its place on permanent display, multilayered like a maidenhair fern yet bolder and, dare I say it, more elegantly splayed. Deadheading and the occasional removal of spent leaves kept it prospering through to winter: I became quite proud of my little experiment and repeated it in adjacent pots. What intrigues me most about corydalis is this aptitude for mimicking the foliage of other plants, as apparent in their botanical designations. You have C. thalictrifolia, for example, with leaves resembling thalictrum and C. rutifolia reminiscent of rue. C. anthriscifolia does a wonderful cow parsley impersonation while C. chelidoniifolia is named for its likeness to greater celandine, Chelidonium majus. My Corydalis cheilanthifolia apparently takes after a genus of sweet little rock ferns called Cheilanthes. Looking them up, the similarity is really quite something, the fumewort uncannily frond-like for a plant so taxonomically polar. Corydalis experienced a renaissance in gardens during the 1980s and 1990s as new species came into commercial cultivation. Loud colours caused a stir: hues ranging from deep red and purple to brilliant white, sprouting quickly and generously from a bulbous root system. Prior to lockdown I visited a garden in Suffolk all but neglected for over a decade. Under the dappled deciduous shade of an ageing hazel, pink and white C. solida ran riot: the effect was absolutely mesmerising. This is how you’re likely to encounter fumewort, overjoyed at being left alone in a pleasant enough spot with available moisture in the soil. Indeed, at the Beth Chatto Gardens it is the intermediate site their corydalis prefer – somewhere in between the extremes of shady woodland and exposed gravel. The task this week has been to find a suitable home in the museum garden for my latest purchase. Visually, C. cheilanthifolia’s “fernliness” suggests an Arcadian approach, fitting them between crumbling ledger stones (the museum gardens occupy a 17th century churchyard) in the Georgian romantic style. Horticulturally, however, their needs are not as straightforward as ferns. On the whole, corydalis delight in a confusing range of site preferences. Look up most species in any given plant-finder and you’ll be presented with such ambiguous specifications as: “exposed or sheltered”; “sand, chalk or clay”; “sun, shade or both”. The correct answer ought really be “wherever they choose”, as, being devoted self-seeders, corydalis prefer to place themselves rather than be placed, however inconvenient the favoured spot (I refer back to wall crevices and well-trodden pathways…). With this in mind, I am hedging my bets across three independent locations: one in a pot, another pressed into a west-facing wall (beside some adventitious C. lutea), and the third in cool soil, peeping out from a southern-lit tombstone. May the happiest win, and, with a bit of luck, self-seed a rambunctious new colony. Undoubtedly, I have taken great pleasure from growing fumewort in pots (mine are individually planted, but they would look just as good grouped below a potted shrub). In this way the full plant is exhibited, in all its fine-foliaged glory, and may benefit from free-draining compost and considered watering. Besides ferny C. cheilanthifolia, I suggest trying the popular C. flexuosa cultivar ‘China Blue’, or C. solida ‘White Knight’ for its prominent white flowers. C. anthriscifolia is next on my wishlist for interesting foliage, while in the greenhouse I’ll be sowing the striking purple-pink Corydalis hyrcana. The beauty of these plants is that they are compact and travel easily. They are the perfect choice, therefore, for home delivery: lovable rogues to lift the spirits. Matt Collins is head gardener at the Garden Museum in London. Follow Matt on Instagram: @museum_gardener C. solida 'Beth Evans'
Winter jasmine – scented or not? Full marks if you said no. Of course, it isn’t. What made me ask the question was the arrival of one of those slightly breathless email from Thompson & Morgan, offering me a “scented shrub collection” for £9.99. The three shrubs in the collection were Philadelphus ‘Belle Étoile’, lilac ‘Miss Kim’ and – you guessed – winter jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum). Of course T&M; know that winter jasmine isn’t scented, and I guess some apprentice web scribbler just got momentarily carried away. But it did make me think that winter jasmine is a bit of a black sheep of the genus, because jasmines are usually scented. Which, in turn, made me wonder how easy it would be for a novice gardener to make the mistake of thinking that all jasmines are scented? Quite easy, apparently. For example, look up winter jasmine on the Gardeners’ World website and you find, of jasmines in general: “Jasminum are evergreen or deciduous shrubs that often climb via climbing stems. Their fragrant flowers are star-shaped.” It then goes on to tell you all about winter jasmine, without mentioning scent again, one way or the other. The RHS also introduce jasmines with: “Jasminum are evergreen or deciduous shrubs, many climbing by twining stems bearing usually pinnate leaves, and star-shaped white, pink or yellow flowers, which are sometimes very fragrant”. We then move on to the details of winter jasmine but, again, there’s no further mention of scent. Although, to be fair, they only say jasmines are sometimes fragrant, and maybe they think we’re all familiar with a common plant like winter jasmine. Nevertheless, I see a pattern here, and it’s not just about jasmine, or about scent. It’s about how far you need to go in telling gardeners about things that aren’t there. Of course most plants aren’t notably scented, but it would be tedious to have to put that in every description. On the other hand, I think in a genus where scent is a big selling point, you can’t just assume that everyone knows that this or that species or variety happens not to be scented. For example, although the RHS may have slightly taken their eye off the ball with jasmines, they don’t make the same mistake with honeysuckles. They introduce them with: “Climbing honeysuckles have twining stems with green or variegated leaves. They have clusters of trumpet-like blooms, with colours ranging from creamy-white, through yellow to red, that are often sweetly scented in summer”, but then go on to warn that “Not all climbing honeysuckles are fragrant (Lonicera × tellmanniana is an example of one that is not), so do check the label before you buy”. But Gardeners’ World don’t seem to have noticed that there are non-scented honeysuckles: “Honeysuckles are usually hardy twinning (sic) climbers or shrubs with scented flowers. Choose from evergreen and deciduous forms. Climbing honeysuckles produce scented flowers, followed by red berries that are very appealing to birds.” In fact, so keen are Gardeners’ World on scented honeysuckles that further down the same page we find: “Lonicera × tellmanniana – orange, yellow flowers from May to July. A deciduous climber with wonderful scent”. Yes, this is the same plant the RHS rightly warned you about: a lovely plant, but without scent. The lesson, I think, if you’re contemplating buying a plant in a genus where most species have some particular feature, is to assume nothing, and do your research first. Ken Thompson is a plant biologist with a keen interest in the science of gardening. His most recent book is a second collection of his Telegraph columns: Notes From a Sceptical Gardener. Order a copy from books.telegraph.co.uk.
David Austin on roses. Gertrude Jekyll on colour. Reginald Blomfield on the English formal garden. Culpeper on herbs. The garden books I’m unpacking might be the favourites of my Aunt Rosemary, the parish council chairman of her village in Suffolk. But open the books and they are signed: “Derek Jarman, Prospect Cottage.” Jarman died 26 years ago this year, and his books, drawings, tools and paintings go on display in an exhibition that opens at the Garden Museum today. Jarman’s work was an assault on the establishment. Films such as The Last of England (1987) presented Mrs Thatcher’s England as a fascist, derelict state; as an outspoken activist for gay rights he criticised Ian McKellen as too chummy with the Establishment; Jarman was also one of the first celebrities to speak publicly about having Aids. Watch Jordan’s Dance, restored by the Luma Foundation and now on the website of Manchester Art Gallery as it prepares to open its postponed exhibition “Protest!” Jordan, the original punk – whom Jarman met at Victoria station and who, he said, gave the Sex Pistols their style – dances in a white tutu around a bonfire of burning books in Deptford. How did a man with such a heat of anger come to give Beth Chatto tips on gravel gardening? Jarman was a very English radical. He wished to be buried in an ancient and picturesque church in Romney Marsh, but prayed to God to be “reincarnated as queer”, the words carved into one of the “black paintings” on the bedroom wall of Prospect Cottage. Life and death came together in this house and garden he made on Dungeness, recently rescued for the nation almost as Jarman left it, by The Art Fund, Tate, and Creative Folkestone with a £3.5 million campaign.
With loosened lockdown rules and warm weather on the horizon, now is the time to stock up on some brand new garden games. Truth be told, these kind of games are as much for kids as they are for adults, offering families new ways to connect, play and enjoy the sunshine with very little effort. Like paddling pools, they’re also a brilliant instigator for children who typically find it more appealing to furrow away and play video games indoors than go outside. What games can you play in the garden? Realistically, your imagination is your only limit! Classics like football, badminton or even a simple game of tag will always have a place in Britain’s backyards, but if you’re looking for something a bit more special, we have you covered. Here are the best garden games you can buy now: 1. Early Fun All Surface Swingball £20, Argos
And on the 14th week of lockdown, we were granted a heatwave. Temperatures are set to hit 34 degrees in some parts of the country this week, with the hottest June day for over 40 years due to be recorded on Thursday – meaning anyone blessed with a bit of green space is probably setting up camp in it for the foreseeable. But if the past three months have taught us anything, it’s that for your garden to truly serve as a functioning outdoor office, kitchen, bar, leisure centre and even cinema, you need the right kit – and you probably don’t have it. Here, then, are some clever last-minute purchases that could help you move a little more seamlessly from the working day to lunchtime workouts, al fresco dinners and balmy movie nights. Office-proof your garden For those with no immediate requirement to return to the office, setting up a desk your garden has never been so appealing. But squinting to see your screen and struggling to get a reasonable WiFi connection isn’t conducive to actually getting much work done. First, enter the laptop hood: essentially a computer tent, often used by photographers who are accustomed to working outdoors whatever the weather. The iCap ( £89, Amazon.co.uk) comes with all sorts of bells and whistles you’ll never need – “frost resistant film”, anyone? – but will do the all-important job of allowing you to actually see what you’re typing. Second, try a WiFi extender to increase your router’s range (visit telegraph.co.uk/recommended for our pick of the best from £20 to £300).
Twelve weeks of lockdown living and the driest spring and early summer on record so far have encouraged even the most reluctant of us to pull on our bathers and jump into a hot tub, it seems, as British suppliers are reporting the kind of sales boost that most business managers can only dream of. According to the British and Irish Spa and Hot Tub Association, its members have seen a 480 per cent surge in sales during the period – Jacuzzi UK saw a year-on-year rise of 300 per cent in May alone – and the home spa market is now worth more than £350 million. “With our freedom to roam and going on holiday curtailed we’ve all had to find new ways to disconnect from our homes and from the stresses of life,” says Julie Young, UK Retail Sales Manager for Hot Spring World. “Our personal wellbeing has become a priority and 20 to 30 minutes spent relaxing in a hot tub helps you discover peace of mind, a little world of your own, in the privacy of your own garden.”
In Autumn De Wilde’s film adaptation, Emma (played by Anya Taylor-Joy) favours blousy arrangements at Hartfield. In the opening greenhouse scene, cascading stems of sweet peas, jasmine and clematis hang softly. Hinting at the romance and humour yet to play out, Emma – ever the wild card – picks stems for a tussie-mussie (a posy of hand-tied plucked stems, popular at the time) decisively. “Ensuring flowers are appropriate to the period is key: they tell their own quiet tales, illuminating the scenes,” says Gypsy Rose Flowers floral artist Tamsin Scott, the stylist responsible for creating the botanical backdrops in the film – out this week on DVD – alongside set decorator Stella Fox. Fashion photographer Tim Walker has described Tamsin Scott as the Constance Spry to his Cecil Beaton (Spry the florist created the flowers for not only Beaton’s photographs, but also for the nuptials of the Prince of Wales and Wallis Simpson, the Queen’s coronation and for Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers routines). As well as telling the tale of Emma Woodhouse through blooms, in keeping with Georgian and Regency-era tastes, Scott is also responsible for the floral design in James Watkins’ Edwardian-era The Woman in Black and Pathé’s Oscar-winning Judy, starring Renée Zellweger (set in the Sixties) on the big screen.
Spring brings a hectic round of planting and sowing, but summer is a gentler season. The gardening doesn’t stop, though; this is the time to keep the show on the road. Experienced gardeners have a few tricks up their sleeves, managing plants so that they flower when needed and tweaking borders like a hairdresser with a longhandled comb. They eradicate the shabby – and are not afraid to cheat and bed in a new addition or two from the garden centre, either. As well as tips on how to squeeze flower power out of your borders, I have this advice: don’t attempt the year-long border – it’s fraught with difficulty. You’ll end up with a fading peony going dormant in August, spoiling an aster gearing up for September glory. Create borders that concentrate on one season and make careful additions. For example, a spring woodland border will shine again in September if Hydrangea paniculata is woven through. And I favour H. ‘Limelight’ for its neater panicles that eventually age to green jade and rose quartz. Summer borders linger on until November with the aid of penstemons, Gaura lindheimeri and annual cosmos. Autumn borders, set to blaze from August on, can be livened up in April-May with a blend of Triumph and late tulips. Don’t concentrate wholly on flower. Echinacea buds look like fairy coronets long before the daisies appear. The silvery parchment scales on the buds of Catananche caerulea (Cupid’s dart), are works of art for weeks before the flowers unfurl. Japanese anemone buds hang like grey seed pearls strung on garlands. And foliage, well, that’s the most important long-term benefit of all. Just snip away the odd shabby leaf. Delaying tactics for long flowering The Chelsea chop
Have you slept in much lately? If you were up before 5am today, and will be out in the garden till nearly 10pm tonight, then you will witness either end of the longest day of 2020. Welcome to this year’s Summer Solstice, a moment I always find the most thought-provoking time of the year in the garden. There’s something delightfully pagan about the solstices and equinoxes that puncture our calendar. I’m firmly of the astronomical camp when it comes to the start of the seasons; while others will merrily usher in spring, summer, autumn and winter on the first of March, June, September and December accordingly, as is meteorologically correct, it never feels like the weather has caught up yet. I enjoy the slight slipperiness of the dates, the notion that we can pinpoint the moment when the Earth has tilted on its axis once again. What does this mean from a gardening perspective? Well, I always use the solstices (both in summer, and the winter one a few days before Christmas) as an opportunity to take stock. From here on in, the days that have been gradually lengthening over the past six months will begin to shrink. I can’t help but think of the autumn and winter ahead, and what I would like and expect from the garden over that time. When the beds are as abundant, billowing and demanding as they are now, it can be difficult to imagine them bare and in need of mulching. So, rather than making any grand design decisions, ask yourself instead if your garden is offering you what you want and need.
Yahoo Lifestyle SEA rounds up five online plant delivery stores that will send your chosen plants to your doorstep, aiding in your quest to liven up your space beyond that one succulent by the windowsill.
La Roche is exactly how you picture a little village in South West France. Roofs of terracotta, bleached walls. Sleepy and shuttered against the blaring sun. A cat picking its way from the village hall to the cemetery. If you are coming down the stone track from the forest we are the first house. If ascending from the village, the last house. Either way, we live in what our neighbours call “La maison tout seul”, or sometimes “La maison bleue”, the latter nomenclature in honour of our particular wooden shutters, as brilliantly azure as the Charente sky. The house was built fin de siècle by La Roche’s priest, Father Jacques, and provided him with a fine outlook over his flock in the trickle of medieval lanes below. By the same positioning, I have an eyrie over my neighbours’ gardens. Or more precisely, over their potagers. To describe a potager as simply a Gallic kitchen garden is to lose sophistication in translation. The potager is, indeed, intended to supply the soup pot the year round but, since its origins in the palaces of the Renaissance, it is ornamental too. Function and style in a single entity, which, if you think about it, is very French indeed. Every house in the village down the hill has a potager, even the two new bungalows. “Grow your own” is a philosophy and a praxis alive and well in deep France. And, Mon Dieu, self-sufficiency has been vital during Covid-19. The plague has hit La Roche hard. Here fraternité is more than an official word on the wall outside the Mairie. We only live in La Roche for part of the year, but have become wholly adopted, in the words of village elder, Jean-Luc, as “part of the furniture”. In La Roche on meeting your neighbours you automatically, sincerely, ask “Ca va?” Then parse Stade Rochelais’s latest performance (rugby in SW France is a fundamentalist religion), or matters epicurean. We talk all the time. Normally. Confinement has killed company and conversation on the rue. Masks and social distancing have sadly turned us inwards. True, Rocheans are not as paranoid as the people of the cities, who seem intent on mass enactment of Sartre’s existentialist drama Huis Clos (No Exit). You know, his play with the line: “Hell is other people.” But, strange days, indeed. Rocheans have survived coronavirus spiritually and gastronomically courtesy of the potager. We are not alone. The regional newspaper, Sud Ouest, recently declared “Potagers – les stars du confinement.”
Michael Heseltine is known for many things. That leadership challenge. Being nicknamed “Tarzan”, on account of his resemblance to the actor Johnny Weissmuller, who played the jungle-loving character. And let’s not forget the mace grab in the House of Commons. But it is Thenford, his 70-acre garden in Northamptonshire, that he’d rather be known for. “Who remembers any politicians?” he asks. “But you do remember Westonbirt.” Thenford is a miniature Westonbirt, snuggled in the crease where Northamptonshire meets Oxfordshire, six miles from Banbury. The Heseltines bought what was then a 400-acre estate in 1976, having searched high and low. They upped sticks to this lovely county – once described by Charles Spencer as so anonymous that mention “you live in Northamptonshire and people look automatically confused” – after Lord Heseltine (who was made a life peer in 2001) had his Tavistock constituency in Devon abolished under his feet. When he was selected for Henley in 1974, the couple relocated. “We advertised in Country Life, and flew around in helicopters,” explains Lord Heseltine, as if this is a completely ordinary course of action. “If we saw a promising-looking place with a good wall, we would drive in and say we were looking for Mr Wilkinson. One day someone said, ‘Just a minute, I’ll get him.’ So we fled.” Eventually, they found Thenford. Built in the 1760s for the Wodhull family, for 30 years it had been owned by the Summers family. When in 1976 Sir Spencer Summers, Conservative MP for Aylesbury, died, it was put up for sale. It was a house, not a garden, that they were initially looking for. After all, “houses of the sort we were looking for had gardens”, says Lord Heseltine. But they were “obsessed” with Thenford, “and just assumed there would be a garden”. This was not to be. Where the garden ought to have stood was “freedom valley. If anyone wanted the natural state of things, this was it”. The walled garden was, as Lady Heseltine writes in the book the couple published in 2016, “the only trace”.
In 2016, Juliet Sargeant became the first black designer to create a garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Her Modern Slavery Garden won gold. Sargeant said at the time: “I don’t come across any other black garden designers when I’m out and about. But that doesn’t mean black people aren’t interested in gardening and design. I think they do not culturally feel part of the horticultural scene.” Now, after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in the US and subsequent Black Lives Matter anti-racism demonstrations in the US and UK, many industries are under the spotlight due to a perceived lack of diversity, from food to fashion. Gardening is among them, too. Flo Headlam, who became the first black Gardeners’ World presenter in 2017, says: “It is the moment to be talking about diversity in all walks of life and industries.” The RHS is keen to crack the diversity issue and in August a £45,000 a year diversity and inclusion manager will start work to create equality initiatives. An RHS spokesperson says: “We are under no illusions and realise there is much more for the RHS and the industry to do.”
How much will you be missing Glastonbury this year? It probably depends on whether you’ve ever been, and what the weather was like when you were there. This was set to be my sixth visit, and that, combined with Taylor Swift – an artist who reduces me to a giddy teenager – rounding off the Sunday night, blinked like a beacon in the summer that will never come to pass. In my own outdoor space, there’s no way to conjure that mix of flare and cigarette smoke in the air, the sense of communality of 135,000 strangers singing together. But there is one, much lesser-known part of Glastonbury that I can recreate: its permaculture garden. While the rest of the festival gets taken down and packed away and the stragglers make their way to the car park, Glastonbury’s permaculture garden remains. Founded in 1989, the garden sits between the hedonism of Shangri-La and the energy of the Green Fields, a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it nook off the old railway line that spans the festival site. Once inside the woodland grove, the mania of the rest of the festival quietens. Instead, peonies sit in milk bottles on wooden tables, bees flock to wildflowers and friendly, blissed-out souls gather around the campfire of the outdoor kitchen. Smoke and sunshine collide in the air. It offers a restorative hit for the hung-over.