Image byBrinna

The chateau de Chenonceau & gardens, extends across the river Cher, within the Indre et Loire region of France. It is situated close to the Loire valley, having both medieval and Renaissance style buildings and exquisite elegant grounds containing delicate shades of pinks, purples and whites within the lush greenery, lawns, circular boxwood and formal pathways & statues. Roses are grown as standards with beautiful pink flowers that hang downwards and purple lavender growing below in a row of borders. The Chateau was first constructed during the 13th century and was occupied by the Marques family until it was set alight during as an act of revenge. But was again reconstructed with a water mill before it was purchased by Thomas Bower, the senior royal official to King Charles V 111 in 1530 to which he completely built the chateau again from scratch, demolishing most of the original. After Thomas Bower’s death, the chateau was confiscated by the king (Francis 1st) because of money owed to the state. Diane de Poitiers was later given the property by Henry the 2nd during an liaison with him, she loved the chateau so much that she consigned the architect Philibert de L Orme to construct a bridge so that the chateau could have easier access to the other side of the river. She also had magnificent large scale gardens created alongside the river in formal designs with pathways that meet at right angles of 90 degrees & two straight lines joining opposite corners that form triangles containing lawn and aromatic Santolina plants with yellow or white flowers, roses also grow over the elevated terrace that shields the gardens from the overflow of water from the river, other flower borders include Enonymus europaeus spindle hedge plant with bright pink flowers, Viburnum tinus, (Laurustinus)an evergreen hedge plant with leaves very much like a bay tree with white flowers, followed by hibiscus which blooms during the summer months, a fountain is also located in the centre of the garden.
But it wasn’t until after the kings death that his wife Catherine de Medici violently requested that the chateau be returned to her, in exchange for the chateau Chaumont in Chaumot sur Loire. After Catherine gained ownership she resided at the estate regarding it as her most cherished home. She added many costly additional features to the chateau including a grand gallery along the bridge. The overall design of gardens contains a large circular water pool surrounded by five rectangular lawn panels with a line of flower beds and rounded boxwood. Flowering Roses are grown as standards with lavender underneath. & in another part of the garden roses climb over the trellis near to a pathway by the moat. A maze was also created in Italian style using up to 2,000 yew trees, with classical urns planted with ivy and boxwood and a gazebo in the centre made using wicker.
Others who owned the Chateau de Chemonceau at some point in history include Louise de Lorraine (wife of Henry 3rd), Cesar de Bourbon ( son of Henry 4th and François de Lorraine his mistress), Louise Dupin the daughter of Samuel Bernard (financier) and also Marguerite Pelouze during the 1800’s who renovated some parts of the Chateau adding statues of ancient Greek heroes, gods and goddesses.

Image byDorian

It is believed that the countess of Villeneuve had the chateau in her possession in 1825, assigning lord Seymour to create the green garden which is situated to the north of Catherine’s garden, it contains many old trees that surround  the grounds  providing shade and elegance with oak trees, redwood, walnut, chestnut, fir trees, cedar and catalpa trees. By the mid 1900’s Gaston Menier and relatives assigned the architect Bernard Voision to renovate parts of the chateau that was badly damaged during the 2nd world war.
In the flower garden a wide range of flowering and fragrant plants are grown to provide cut flowers for the chateau’s floral workshop for displaying a beautiful array of flowers for the living room, office, kitchen or gallery, the layout is arranged in squares and adjoined with apple trees. There is said to be approximately 400 different types of  roses, 100 flowering plants and various vegetables. There is also events & entertainment such as for private rental, groups and school parties and a restaurant known as the Orangeries that is situated within the green garden.



Image byRobert

The Long wood Christmas gardens, at Kennett square, Pennsylvania in the Brandywine Creek Valley has a spectacular flamboyant display of colourful lights illuminating up to 150 trees during the Christmas period. Music is also played to give an atmosphere of the festive season along with a light show in the evenings lasting for about 30 minutes while in you warm your hands over the fire pit. Long wood gardens is believed to be the best botanical gardens in America to visit during the holidays.
The gardens of Long wood covers an area of 1,077 hectares containing woods, meadows and gardens. The land was first purchased by George Peirce during the 1700’s, a farmer & Quaker, his son Joshua worked on the land, making it suitable for growing crops and also built a farmhouse out of brick which can still be seen within the gardens today.
As time went on Joshua’s grandchildren gained ownership of the farm, who both had a keen interest in tree species and so decided to build an arboretum containing a collection of native and exotic trees, which was open to the public known as Pierce’s park ,the trees were grown in lines at the East of the farm house and during the mid 1800’s it is believed to have contained one of the most outstanding collection of tree species over the whole of the USA. But later fell into decline and so the gardens were again purchased by Pierres Du Pont in 1907 due to the planned destruction of the tree collection.. Pierres from 1915-1919 was the president of the E.I.du Pont de Nemours and company, his grandfather was a french economist who immigrated to America.

Image byRobin

With the new owner, Longwood gardens was developed mainly for the purpose of creating beautiful surroundings to bring satisfaction and joy to his friends when they visited him there and so added many features to the grounds to entertain them and over time creating more and more stunning gardens.
The four acre conservatory is the largest within the gardens and was built from 1919 containing  about 4,600 plant & tree species including beautiful all year round flowering blooms, orchids, decorative foliage and fountains. Many of the plants are highly scented and a delight to walk around the various pathways admiring the breathtaking views and displays, there is also an exhibition hall with a new theme every year at Christmas with decorated trees, ornaments, ribbons and illuminated lights. The conservatory to the east was restored and altered in 2003 which shortly afterwards opened to the public.  Many garden styles over the years were added to the conservatory gardens including a Mediterranean garden created by Ron Lutsko jr, a children’s garden, indoor green wall by Kim Wilkie consisting of 47,000 plants, banana house, fern passage, acacia passage, camellia house, bonsai display, cascade garden, orangery, palm house, orchid house, the new silver garden by Isabelle Greene with an dry desert like setting, desert house and the estate fruit house.

In the outdoor long wood gardens Pierre s. Du Pont added a flower garden walk which is approximately 600 foot long with brick pathways and an abundance of colourful species for all seasons blues, pinks, reds, oranges, yellows, whites and greys featuring tulips, daffodils, allium, foxglove, fritillaria, blue bells, saliva, chrysanthemums, asters and more, in the centre is a round fountain with spurts of water.
An Italian style garden was created from 1925-27 which was inspired by Italian and french  design, situated by the side of a lake to the North East of the estate and contains many spectacular classical water features such as fountains and pools in square and circular shapes along side freshly cut grass, with added features from 1928 and 1921.

image byNelson

A woodland garden was also created on the grounds by planting up to a thousand native Eastern deciduous trees such as oaks, maples, ash and tulip trees known as Peirce’s woods. The taller trees would ascend over the lower shrubs and ground cover along with 10,000 plants which were rescued  from North Carolina before the construction of a new highway. Colourful blooms in spring and Autumn include Virginia bluebells, foam flowers, phlox & trillium (birthroots)  species.
The Meadow garden was formed in 2014 filled with  86 acres of  herbaceous perennials, native wildflowers and also additional  plants to handle invasive species with scenic views of the countryside, designed by Jonathan Alderson and Jonathan Alderson landscape architects of Wayne, PA. The main concept of the garden is to point out to the viewer the connection between nature and the way we live as human beings. There is a farm house that has recently been restored and features two galleries containing artwork, photography and history of architects who have previously  worked on the gardens.



The gardens of Ninfa, in the province of Latina, is said to be the most beautiful and romantic gardens in Italy and possibly the world. The gardens contains ancient ruins from the classical times of ancient Rome, known as Ninfa which gives its name to the area. It is also connected to nymphs which according to myth lived within this expanse of land in nearby springs, rivers, trees, mountains and valleys, there was also a temple built here that was sacred to the nymphs.
In modern times medieval ruins from the 11-12th century are still visible throughout the gardens containing a castle, church of Santa Maria Maggiore, cottages, mills, a town hall and towers. With a multitude of lovely flowers, plants & trees that grow amongst the old ruins with breathtaking scenery, and moss covering many of the ancient buildings & archways followed by roses, arum lilies, jasmine as well as tropical and native species.
The gardens of Ninfa covers an area of 150 hectares and is a natural monument of Italy with approximately 152 bird species which was constructed from 1921 by Gelasio Caetani, (one of five sons of Onorato Caetani the 14th duke of Sermoneta) and with the help of his mother Ada Bootle- Wilbrahaan a lady from England who introduced English roses to the grounds, as well as his brother Roffredo.


Gelasio on his travels also brought many different plant species with him and planted them in the gardens including a large variety of roses, (climbing, musk roses, bushes & hybrids), numerous trees such as cedar, birch, Japanese maples, walnut, apple & smoke tree (coggygria) as well as flowering plants such as catalpa, magnolia, and yucca.
The garden consists of small springs and also a river known as the river Ninfa to the south with water iris and along the bank clusters of hazelnut, silver maple and American tulip trees.
A borgo or medieval moat & draw bridge has many water birds such as ducks & swans and masses of Arum lilies that surround the moat, with the ruins of the castle from the 12th century and magnolia stellata trailing around it at the entrance and a courtyard with trees and grapefruit.
The main pathway has lavender plants and a wide range of trees that include cypress trees, cherry trees, Mexican pine, banana and Himalayan pine which adds colour & beauty to the surroundings with the wide range of oranges purples & reds combined with the green shades of the lawn.
There is also a cluster of bamboo in one area of the gardens and a rock garden with flowering plants consisting of California poppies, veronica, a climbing clematis armandii and hydrangea, bright yellow flowers of Aurinia saxatillis, granny’s bonnet (aguilegia) among others.


Destination-Mount Wilson, New South Wales, Australia

Image by Leah
Image by Leah Wang-

Mount Wilson & Mount Irvine, in New South Wales, Australia is a world heritage site within the blue Mountains that has impressive natural rainforests, bush land, villages, farms, cottages and gardens which can be visited in Spring or Autumn. Although Mount Wilson & Irvine is in a remote place and doesn’t always have access to public amenities it has many trails to explore in the area where you can admire the outstanding views of the natural surroundings and mountain scenery, stop for a picnic, camping, canyoning or to visit the plant nurseries with rare and unusual plants.
Trails include Mt Wilson village walk, Chunamans hat, pheasants cave walk, waterfall walk, Sunday walk spur, Boronia walk and Cathedral picnic ground to the study centre .

Nooroos is a wonderful garden within the blue mountains, at Mount Wilson with exceptional scenery and is particularly beautiful in Autumn with rare maple trees, copper beech (purple beech), cedars, elms, cherry laurels and oaks of various types and colours that range from yellows, oranges and reds which fall onto the ground creating the most wonderful colours of Autumn all around you.

The Nooroos gardens is an important part of Mount Wilson and is one of the eight foundation houses within the estate to which the Valder family has contributed a lot to the gardens since the early 1900’s. Camellias, Indica Azaleas and Japanese maples were planted in the gardens during the 1920’s that were transported from the Sydney Botanic gardens in Epping, and from another plant nursery the Hazlewood brothers also provided the Kurume azaleas to the grounds. The South Western part of the Nooroos estate during the 1970’s was turned into a formal garden where the exceptional array of Wisterias are truly captivating in October and contain twenty eight species which range in colours of dark to light pinks, purples and white that overhang and shade the rhodoendrons. There is also beautiful magnolia trees, cherry blossoms, daffodils, bluebells as well as native Australian flora. The Nooroo gardens is now owned by Lorraine and tony Barrett since 1992.

Yengo also known as stone lodge is another exquisite garden within the blue mountains, Mount Wilson which is one of the original foundation houses of the eight, contains an a Victorian one storey sandstone building within the gardens and plants are still growing from that period including various Eucalyptus trees, conifers, cedrus deodara, cupressus semperirens, Sequoia sempervirens and chamaecyparis lawsonia. There is also a wide selection old trees within the gardens with magnificent colours some of which are said to be up to 143 years old containing 60 types of Japanese maple, plane trees, Spanish cork, Sequoia, oak, chestnut and cedar of Lebanon. There is also wide shrub borders, a laburnum walk and a large western cedar tree to the south west.
The land was originally purchased by A.J Stopps in 1870 but he did not cultivate the grounds so later on he sold it to Jesse Gregson a Lawyer who had an L shaped stone cottage built upon on it.

Since the 1970’s the current owners Bruce & Ann Piggott have added additional features to the grounds including a wildlife reserve, sculpture park, more plants, shrubs and statuettes.
The Sculpture garden contains beautiful realistic bronze sculptures that are spread around the gardens such a mother with her children, a peacock a deer & a stag and a lady looking into a pond that are placed around water features, hidden fountains, ponds with overlapping ferns, on seating or on the lawn which brings much appeal to the surroundings with the beautiful flowers in spring and Autumn shades in the fall, created by the Sculptors Lloyd de le Blanc and Judith Homes Drewry.
The endangered wildlife reserve covers an area of 1,932 and is part of the Yengo National park which is largely made up of sandstone with dry grasslands, wetlands, lakes, waterways and 300 plant species. There is also 161 organized locations for birds, frogs, reptiles & tree living mammals and 28 animals have been recorded as being endangered or vulnerable such as the Glossy black cockatoo, Koala, Hastings river mouse, Regent honey eater, Blue mountains water skink, Bush tailed rock wallaby, South corroboree frog, Quokka, Western ground parrot, North eastern bristle bird and the greater glider. There is also the gardens of Windy ridge, Merry Garth and Bebeach which is open from Spring

Zen style Gardens

Image by Taylor

The simplicity of the Zen or Japanese style garden contains natural & organic sculptural shapes while adding a feeling of tranquilly and peace to your surroundings ideal for meditation or relaxation. They can define natural elements but not necessary in a realistic form and are usually more suited to smaller garden layouts, but can also look great in larger gardens too.
Large natural stones or boulders can be placed around the garden on sand or gravel and then raked in a circular motion to symbolize water or ripples.
This is meant to be seen from one view point and to assist in the concentration of mind. The sand or gravel can border a lawn or flower beds, pruned trees & shrubs, moss, pond or a water feature. The layout can be based on geometric or simplistic designs, like rectangles and squares or circles which could be the shape of the lawn, gravel area or wood decking and to create a balance between them.

A Zen style pond or water feature are usually long rectangular, square or circular with large pebbles or rocks surrounding them or shrubs and trees. A large Buddha statue or a statue representing peace, angels or animals can also add to the character & beauty to

the garden as well as a waterfall, water lilies, fish or even an oriental bridge.
Bamboo, palm trees or grasses can also look stunning as a back drop or for enclosing an area of space for shade or shelter. Cherry blossoms in spring are beautiful and are often depicted in Japanese and Chinese paintings, they not only add a splash of colour but also have a lovely aromatic and delicate sweet fragrance.
A wooden pergola can also look great in a Zen style garden with plants trailing over it which creates shade for simple furniture, such as a sofa, table and chairs or a stone seat, lanterns are also lovely in the evening to create a peaceful atmosphere. Brightly coloured Lights such as pink, blue or purple can also be added to the garden in the evening to show up the trees, water feature or pond.

Alternatively you can also arrange your garden layout to feature the benefits of Feng shui , by using the correct balance of the flow of qi (chi) energy to correspond with your surroundings & to encourage good health, well being, love and prosperity, this has been practised for 5,000 years in China.

Image by June

Creating a fine gravel area in your garden with large stones spaced out upon it, swirls can then be raked over the gravel preferably around the stones to represent ripples in the water giving the impression of nature and peace to your surroundings. Succulent plants also grow well along side the gravel and can even be grown in a small pot in the office, home or balcony. Buddhist monks sit in a Zen garden to practice mindfulness & meditation and the fine gravel is raked everyday to calm & refresh the mind and to repeat the pattern.

Plants and trees for a Zen Style garden

In modern times Zen gardens or the oriental style gardens are becoming more popular and are depicted in various ways, such as simple stylised designs, peaceful retreats or artistic natural elements.
Although not many plants or trees are usually included in a Zen garden, you can experiment with various foliage to add colour, texture or plants that flower at certain times of the year. Anemone hupehensis (japanese anemone) have beautiful graceful flowers with five white or pink petals and yellow stamens in Summer to Autumn, it grows to about 3-4 ft , but can become unstable with drought or over watering.
There are about 300 species of Camellia ( low trees and shrubs) which are native to Asia, the lovely large flowers can contain up to nine petals in pinks, reds and yellows but require acid soil .
Camellia Sasangua has pale pink to bright pink flowers, the leaves are used in tea and the seeds are made into oil for cooking and seasoning.
Acer palmatum or Japanese maple tree/shrub has appealing brightly coloured leaves of greens, oranges, reds and deep purples which has a variety of leaf forms, it can look stunning as a back drop in a Zen style garden or as a bonsai.
The Eastern Asian tree can look spectacular in Spring with its fragrant clusters of pink cherry blossoms especially when it is presented for public exhibits and celebrations in China, Japan and Korea. It can be grown as an ornamental tree up to about 39 ft, although the fruit is small and bitter compared to the wild form.
Japanese water iris (iris ensata) has lovely flowers containing three large petals deep purple in the centre with stripes and a splash of yellow in Summer ideal for boggy areas or close to a pond. This plant can survive temperatures up to -20 and there are also various cultivars available in a number of colours.
Conifer tress also gives a sense of simplicity to your garden these include cedars,firs, junipers, larches, pines and yew which have interesting needle like foliage and and bamboo of various types which include small, medium to large and also a giant species which can be used to make tea, dumplings, fabric and other uses. Hakone grass ( hakonechloa) has long thin grass like leaves similar to bamboo and with a slight breeze it creates a rustling sound, some cultivars also have stripes on the leaves in white, yellow or green.

Destination- The gardens of Thijsse hof


Photo by Peter

Thijsse Hoff is a wildlife garden in Bloemendaal within the municipality and town in Northern Holland and is one of the oldest wildlife gardens in Europe and around the world. 

This garden was designed by Leonard Springer a landscape architect, who created a natural environment & vegetation to help preserve the native wildlife in the area, Also Kees Sipkes who owned a nursery near the city of Haarlem planted native plants in the gardens.
It was given to Jac. P. Thijsse as a 60th birthday gift by his friends in 1925 who wanted to give him a garden which he truly wished for a long period of time.
Jacobus Pieter Thysse was a botanist and conservationist who founded the society of the preservation of nature monuments in the Netherlands which purchases, protects and maintains nature reserves in the country.
The Jac P. Thijsse wildlife park in Amstelveen, Northern Holland was also named after him, he also wrote several garden journals, magazines and two books.
He planned to name the gardens Frederik Van Eeden after the Dutch botanist but was changed to Thijisse Hof as he disliked his friends alternative chosen name of the garden of Eeden.

The wildlife garden consists of many types of vegetation which include:

The dune woodland- has a lovely natural habitat filled with native shrubs plants and trees such as Yew, hazel, bird cherry (prunus padus), European beech (Fagus sylvatica), but mostly consists of oak trees (quercus robur). Below the trees are many flowers which bloom at different seasons of the year such as bell bells, primrose, bird in the bush, leopards bane and wood anemone. Also the delicate snowdrops and Spring snowflake especially looks beautiful in Winter. The woodland also attracts woodland wildlife and birds.

The dune scrub- is a scrub land that is filled with woody shrubs and other types that include grasses and herbs on Calcareous soil, The garden contains shrubs such as the Spin tree, hawthorn, sea buckthorn, buckthorn and barberry.

The pond is at the centre point of the gardens which is surrounded by natural grasses, shrubs and trees such as mare’s tail and spiked water milfoil, there is also fringed water lilies growing in the pond. This area of the garden has many wildlife including birds, dragonflies and other insects. There is also a statue of Thijisse Hof Near to the pond.

The dune slack is an area for plants which grows near or on surrounding ground water, these include yellow loosestrife, meadowsweet and Southern march orchid.

The dry dune grassland has tall dry grasses and wildflowers in Spring/Summer which include salad burnet, knapweed and field scabious.

The coppice- is a woodland with trees that have been cut back to ground level.

History of Gardens -Flower Borders

birmingham-museums-trust-4lDX-xTLl3Q-unsplashPhoto by Birmingham museums

Through the ages gardens were created for their beauty, expression, design, to create food and medicine & for making cosmetics and perfumes.

The first garden was believed to have been created in 10,000 BC in the middle east (The Levant) a Mediterranean region, the Fertile Crescent was a wide expense of land which was similar in shape to a first quarter phase of the moon, which contained wild grasses of barley and wheat so that hunter gathers would grow there own food instead of searching for miles to find it and could then live closer together in settlements.
Later when the advancement of human society began to develop gardens were more appreciated for their attractiveness and was regarded more as a luxury.
The Epic of Gilgamesh contains the earliest recorded gardens from the year 2100 BC when Uruk the ancient city of Sumer was built upon a large man made hill, the upper hill contained buildings & temples and the lower areas of the hill was said to contain gardens with ponds, orchards, date palms and fallow fields, it also had water canal irrigation systems to water plants.
From the 16th century BC the ancient Egyptians created gardens for decorative use, garden cultivation & design seen from early wall paintings containing ponds with lotus plants surrounded by lines of acacia and palm trees.

Over the centuries new garden ideas & layouts where being created, manly for the use of herbs for medicine and vegetables for providing food.
The raised border was first created during the middle ages in Europe but was restricted to monasteries and the wealthy who owned manor houses. Local saplings were woven together to create fences and filled with soil to make raised beds, usually rectangular in shape, they were used in kitchen gardens, vegetable and herb gardens and infirmary gardens.
During the Elizabethan era in England cottage gardens became fashionable and were mainly for easy access to herbs, vegetables and fruit around the cottage grounds, but also contained a variety of flowers such as old roses, hollyhocks, Sweet William, primrose, violets and calendula.
Present day cottage gardens have a mixture of different plants in a border directly outside the cottage with stone or turf pathways, this style has a natural feel with well balanced colours and various flower shapes and fragrances, sometimes mixed with long grasses, these often replaced lawns with many flowers and herbs grown close to each other to reduce the need for weeding.

The potager is a formal garden design in France, consisting of a mixture of fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs grown together in borders, edging beds such as wattle fencing, containers or divided by hedges, walls or pathways. It is usually grown organically and some of the flowers are editable ideal for a kitchen garden, Pelargoniums and geraniums also grow well in this type of garden style with plants such as chives, cauliflower, broccoli, gladiolus, hyssop,
peppers, marigolds, strawberries, violets, lettuce & mallows and many more.

From the May Newsletter

Pelargonium triste- the Morin brothers

Pelargonium Triste was the first recorded pelargonium to travel to Europe & was taken to the botanical gardens of Leiden by the Dutch East India company (VOC).

The seventeenth century was the beginning of plant exploration and collecting from around the world, During the mid 1600s Pierre Morins was a gardener, florist and a distributor of plants and seeds some of which were said to be some of the rarest from around the globe.

He created a garden in Paris at the Faux bourg saint-Germain proche la charite.

According to the diarist John Evelyn Pierre’s garden was oval in shape with cypress trees possibly shaped and flat top pruned, The garden was filled with crocus, anemones, tulips, ranunculus and wild butterflies.

garden of pierre morin small

Evelyn wrote on the 4th April 1644 “Morin was a person who from an ordinary gardener has arrived to be one of the most skill ful & curious persons of France for his rare collection of shells, flowers and insects”.

His brother Rene Morin had the same occupation as Pierre and owned a separate plant nursery and specialised in tuberous plants such as tulips, hyacinths, colchicums, narcissi, lily and a wide range of plants, shrubs and ferns from around the world.

It is uncertain when and how Rene died but I believe after his death many of his plants, Pierre received and added to his own garden.

Rene was the first to have the printed plant catalogue in France to show his large selections of plants to Europe in 1621.

Pelargonium triste was included in Rene Morin’s garden, John Tradescant (the elder) bought this plant from Rene along with many other plants including Tulips, sprekelia, ranunculus and anemones.

Some were believed to be bought back to the gardens of Kew in 1629 and 1631.

Pierre also grew the May apple known as the podophyllon in his garden and even named the plant Anapodophyillon (meaning wild ducks foot in Greek) maybe because of its thick stems which was mentioned in the Hortus Cliffortianus 1737 p202, the name Anapodophyillon was later changed to podophyllon. ( Podophyllon is later said to have been cultivated in Kew gardens).

The Morin brothers later had the plant genus Morina named after them, (Morina longifolia which is native to the Himalayas, It is a tall plant with prickly leaves & Spikes with white/pink flowers.



A seventeenth century Paris garden, prudence Leith Ross garden history vol.21 no.2 pp 150-157

Journal of American horticultual society April 1954 Vol 31 No 2 p 173