Monday, June 6, 2016


The greatest garden show of the year, The Chelsea Flower Show, is over for another year. During the week we had the chance to see top garden designers as well as plant growers vie for medals that will likely secure their future in the garden world. For those of us who couldn't be there BBC did a wonderful job covering the whole show daily, inviting us into every one of those show gardens as well as the grand pavilion. We could never get that close if we were among the crowds. It was even  better than being there, although lacking the atmosphere. 
So what of those show gardens? Do they really set the trends for the upcoming year or is it rather like the fashion runway-who actually wears those creations, anyway?
You can see the winning garden here. The Telegraph Garden, by Andy Sturgeon and all the winners here. The Winners.

It wasn't hard to spot a theme running through many of the gardens. There were plenty of rocks, no less than 85 large boulders transported into the showgrounds, and plenty of gravel with naturalistic plantings of grasses and native plants.There were dry stone walls, bubbling brooks, huge limestone boulders, a monster cube of granite with peepholes through which to view woodland gardens as well as walkways of honed limestone. Those gardens certainly appealed to me. Why wouldn't they? You know how much I love rock and naturalistic planting.

large ledgestones in my front garden
Of course it is also easy for me to like rocks because we have plenty of them and it was a given that we would use what we had. I have lived places where there were no rocks but you never miss what you have never had. I certainly would if I had to make a garden again and I didn't have those rocks on my doorstep. But we did bring in the Arizona sandstone slabs we added to the sunken garden. The area was originally decomposed granite but was quickly over run with plants and lost its character. Yes, we could have used some native limestone but our thinking was we needed something to offset the limestone boulders that surround the area. Plus they tie in to the pathways around the sunken garden. And they are so much lighter to work with than limestone. Not that weeding isn't still a chore.

May in the sunken garden
We saved our own native flat rocks for walls and and patios floors.

Dry stone wall English garden
There are places where the native rocks look good used as stepping stones.

And there are places where man-made look better.

Round concrete stepping stones in English garden.

Flat native stones surrounded by brick, English garden.

Here we used a large native stone to tie the patio to the threshold.

There are plenty of dry creeks although of late they have been very wet.

It's fun to think that my garden is in the fashion. But for how long, I wonder?


  1. Your garden will always be in fashion. It's so beautiful!

  2. Well, let me just say that I much pefer your garden over the winning Telegraph Garden! I keep coming back to your blog for inspiration for the next phase of my garden, which will be stone, gravel and native plantings. Perhaps the Chelsea Show designers were inspired by you, too?

  3. See?-You're a trendsetter--loving those rocks before they became the "in" thing!

    I feel the same way about rocks...and our home now is the first place I had rock. At first, I wasn't sure I wanted them........and now cannot fathom gardening without!

  4. A garden like yours that has matured over several years will almost always be better than a garden designed and put together for a show IMO. Yours always satisfies. :)

  5. I love all the stone in your garden. It fits the garden to its surroundings. I have to import my rocks and flagstone, which is funny as this property and the entire neighborhood was the site of a large rock quarry in the 1940s. The quarry was closed and the land sold for development at the end of the decade. Apparently, our house was one of the first built here in the 1950s. I suspect there's still some rock holding my slopes in place but there's not much on or near the surface I can use.

  6. You can take an English gardener out of her country, but apparently you can't prevent her fellow countryfolk from eventually copying her lovely hybrid style. Perhaps we ought to give your style its own name. Rock Cottage Gardening? Hill Country Cottage?

    Whatever we call it, your style is a beautiful collaboration of gardener and terrain, and well worth emulating no matter where we stick our spades in the ground. Happy Summer Rock Rose!