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Join me on a tour of garden-related subjects from veg growing to plant science, botany to flower shows and, of course, sourcing and using vintage gardenwares

By Ember Gate, Dec 2 2015 03:33PM

Earlier this year I made a long-awaited visit to The Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall. For those unfamiliar with this garden, it has a fascinating and evocative backstory of a once thriving and elegant estate garden whose fortunes changed when its gardeners left to fight in World War I. Over the next 60 years, the estate house was commandeered twice for military use and let to tenants during peacetime. The maintained garden space shrank as the woodland areas, valley garden and generous kitchen gardens were left to be reclaimed and recolonised by nature. By the 1970s, the main house and outbuildings were sold off and the surrounding land, suspended in the 1900s, lay forgotten by all but a few locals. In 1990, the grounds were 'rediscovered' with trees growing out of crumbling buildings and walls hidden by decades of ivy and bramble growth. An ambitious plan was hatched to restore the gardens at Heligan and open them to the public to share the history of the site with everyone.

My favourite parts of the gardens were definitely the Productive Gardens. They have been restored to their former glory and are fully operational, supplying the Heligan tea rooms with fresh produce every day. It was a bit too early in the season to get the full effect of some of the areas, but the trained fruit trees looked magnificent as the framework for the Vegetable Garden

The structures in the Flower Gardena and Melon Yard have been restored as faithfully as possible. Much of the original form was still standing (just!) in 1990, so photos were taken before rebuilding began to ensure the authenticity and integrity of the form and materials.

And if I had to choose just one as my favourite, it would have to be the Potting Shed. Of course, I am biased by anywhere that contains such a collection of terracotta pots, but this space just evoked the history of the garden and the gardeners who worked there. It's just so important that their memories and their gardening techniques are being kept alive by the present day gardeners of Heligan.

The Lost Gardens of Heligan is one of the Five Great Gardens of Cornwall and is located near St Austell.

By Ember Gate, Aug 3 2015 01:34PM

I think succulents are one of my favourite types of plants. They are winter hardy in most parts of the UK, they thrive without too much looking after and don't need constant watering during the summer. And come June and July they spoil me with a highly varied display of fascinating flowers.

I have a small collection of sedums and echeverias and I'm always on the look out for new additions. Some of them are yet to flower but I've resisted searching online for images of them in flower – preferring instead to wait until they're ready to surprise me one summer.

The flowers of Sedum album start off as tiny white buds at the end of shoots and then burst suddenly into sprays of tiny white stars, contrasted with the dark purple of the anther spreading out from the centre of the flower.

Echeveria minma and Echeveria elegans are both rosette-forming plants that produce similar looking flowers. They send up a little pink stem from the centre of the rosette that forms pinkish buds before opening slowly to reveal a hot yellow flower that persists for a couple of weeks.

By Ember Gate, Jun 17 2015 05:51PM

Overlooking the West Heath is an extraordinary garden and pergola walk created by the coming together of Lord Leverhulme, a wealthy arts patron and idealist, and Thomas Mawson, the leading landscape architect of the Edwardian period.

After acquiring a grand and imposing house named The Hill, Lord Leverhulme purchased land adjoining it and decided to create a dramatic architectural setting for lavish garden parties and evening walks. Thomas Mawson was the man to make the plan a reality, creating the Pergola and Hill Garden.

The garden levels were raised by means of the vast amounts of tunnel spoil from the Hampstead extension to the Northern Line. Work was carried in various stages, beginning in 1906 and finally cacheiving completion in 1925 after being interrupted by the Great War (1914–1918). After this time, The Hill passed through the hands of a number of owners, becoming overgrown and dilapidated along the way. The house and main garden are now privately owned, but the Pergola Walk and Hill Garden are open to the public.

The rotted and missng timbers create an air of genteel neglect along the raised walkways of the pergola structure, though much work has been done to restore or replant the climbers on the collonade pillars. As you make your way along the paths There are many seats and benches from which to enjoy the views over the well-tended surrounding gardens and shade is provided along the way by the many rambling roses, wisterias and shrubs that clad the structures.

The Pergola is a serene place, filled on a sunny day with warmth and callm, an atmosphere of mellow relaxation and decadent grandeur– if you close your eyes you can almost hear the sounds of the Edwardian drinks party guests on the wind.

By guest, Sep 8 2014 04:16PM

After blogging for a number of years at Suburban Veg Plot, it seemed like the perfect time to bring together my garden-related writing with my vintage gardenalia business. Expect everything and anything garden related!

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