A Garden trip to England: Charleston and Monks House.

I am trying to wrap up my garden trip posts real quick now so that I can blog about other things! The last post of this series is (hopefully) coming up on Friday, and today´s post is about the second day of our garden trip to England when we went to see Charleston and Monk´s House.

As for gardens, there probably would have been a dozen more exciting destinations nearby. But after reading this wonderful book last year, I really wanted to see Monk´s House and since Charleston is nearby, it made sense to go there as well. A Bloomsbury day, so to say.

Because of the tricky opening hours, we went to see Charleston first.We arrived around noon and it was super sunny so not the best condition to take pictures, but I hope you get an idea anyway. Incidentally, Gardenista recently posted a Charleston garden tour with much nicer pictures so do hop over there as well!

The most interesting thing about Charleston is the house, really. It reminded me a lot of the Münterhaus with all the painted furniture and the murals etc. If you visit, make sure to pre-book one of the guided tours which are really great.

But Charleston also has a really nice, small-ish garden that both my friend and I loved. It truly is a "painter´s garden" with a great sense for color and texture.

One thing to take away from the garden at Charleston is the exuberant use of white flowers. It made everything seem so light and bright. Really lovely.

So, yes, definitely do visit Charleston if you are in the area.

Then we went to see Monk´s House and alas, it was very disappointing. I really, really love that book but it is a good example that pictures can lie. First of all, the garden is tiny. Like, really tiny. You´ve seen everything in 30 minutes, including the few rooms in the house that are open to the public. That was the first surprise.

The second surprise was that the garden looked tired and frankly, neglected. Maybe it was just a bad day, but still, I was very disappointed. I know that people who visit Monk´s House are usually interested in all things Virginia and not so much the garden, but still... disappointing.

And that was the second day of our garden trip!


The veggie garden, July edition.

Plenty of produce coming out of the garden these days - the first carrots and beets, sugar snaps, cucumbers, cauliflower, zucchini, fennel, salad... so good. And it doesn´t hurt that the garden looks really pretty, too.

The tomatoes aren´t there, yet. I wonder how much of a success these will be... I mostly planted cherry tomatoes this year which need a lot more space than I thought and it´s really getting crowded in the beds. The marigolds don´t help but again, they look really pretty. 

Sugarsnaps, cucumbers, fennel and basil happily growing in one bed. Also, see the black hose? My heroic husband built me a drip irrigation system for all of the beds so NO MORE WATERING THE VEGGIE GARDEN. Huzzah. 

One of my goals this year was to add more colors to the veggie garden. I planted marigolds, cosmos, nasturtiums and a few wildflower seed blends. It´s not all blooming yet but it does look promising. 

Parnips, carrots, onions, garlic. Such a good combination, very happy with this bed. 

The potatoes are looking promising, too. Did you know that for a while, people grew poatoes for their flowers? I can see why! 

The cabbage bed is a joy every single year. Cabbage seems to love our soil. Also I tried growing sweet peas just for cutting. They´re growing well but not a lot of flowers yet. I have a feeling that trellis wasn´t the best choice. You live, you learn.  

Hi, butternuts! You seem to enjoy your new digs in the cold frame. Now grow some nice pumpkins, will you? 


This and that. 

Here are a few random pictures that I´ve taken over the last few weeks. Starting with my lovely rose that is in full bloom now. (Because somebody will ask, it´s a rambler named Filipes Kiftsgate).

I have a huge peony in the garden just for cutting. It doesn´t really smell, and the pink is a bit too vibrant for my taste, but hey! Not complaining. 

Emma and Marlene. The tomboy who rarely is at home in summer and the old lady who sleeps through the the entire summer (and winter). 


I repainted the gate two weeks ago and I love the new color. I am planning to paint the gable the same color in autumn. As for the door, it might stay as it is since the colors are in the same family and the combination kind of works, I think. 

One day I´ll write a post about our passageway, I promise! But here here is a sneak peek of its new glory. It turned out so well. 

Since the recent heat wave has put a temporary stop to any gardening, I´ve been spending quite a bit of time in the hammock! It´s actually awfully nice. (The pink rose is a rambler named "Raubritter". How someone can name a sweet, pink rose robber knight I do not know).


A garden trip to England: Great Dixter. 

Of the five gardens we visited, Great Dixter was my favorite. I probably wouldn´t want a garden like this myself, but Dixter is just so unique and special. 

The garden comes with a house that you can visit, and quite a fascinating house it is. There was no photography allowed in there, but there is a house tour on the website if you´d like to see. 

The garden was created by Christopher Lloyd and I need to read more about his gardening philosophy. For me, this garden felt wild and exotic, with lots of plants I hadn´t seen before. It seemed Lloyd had a thing for tall flowers and unusual combinations. Lots of texture and bold colors. The beds were huge, borderline chaotic, and not overly maintained. Plenty of weeds and dead flower heads! I understand this was a part of his philosophy though - and really, it was quite charming. You always felt that there was a "plan", that the chaos, if you will, was intentional. When we arrived it was a little windy and standing between the billowy plants was magical. 

I also really loved his meadows. 

Great Dixter is also home to a "specialist nursery" and oh my this would be dangerous if I´d live nearby! Also I really, really want a green house like this. 

I also asked my husband whether we maybe could create a sunken garden. I think the look on his face meant no. But hey, you can´t get when you don´t ask. 

PS: A wonderful short movie about Great Dixter. 


A garden trip to England: Sissinghurst.

So, I went to England to visit gardens. Three days, five gardens, me and a friend. I have a gazillion pictures so I´ll break this down into four posts. First up, Sissinghurst! The holy grail of gardens indeed. I had read quite a bit about Sissinghurst before this trip, particularly this book which I very much recommend. The funny thing about gardens you only know from books is that once you do visit, everything seems tiny. Don´t get me wrong, Sissinghurst is a substantial garden, but I had expected it to be much larger. That tower in the picture above? It is merely 20 meters high! It looks so much larger in pictures.

Now, Sissinghurst is definitely a wonderful garden. But what I liked best were the walls and what grows on them. In the book I mentioned above there is an entire chapter on "plants for walls" which I thought was quite odd until I visited the place. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the walls of Sissinghurst: 

Also - that blue and white border! So lovely.

Lovely, right? Makes we want to build walls around my entire garden. 



The famous white garden didn´t disappoint. And look, that is the same rambler rose that grows in my walled garden!

That was in the rose garden, I think. We were quite lucky to catch the last of the roses. 

The cottage garden was my least favorite... I just don´t like orange and red in a garden, what can I say. 

Next up, Great Dixter! Spoiler: I loved Great Dixter.