The Secret Garden- Tom Stuart-Smith

Tonight I'm looking forward to another excellent talk by Tom Stuart-Smith at the Garden Museum, London. The full title of the talk is The Secret Garden or Attachment, Separation and Loss: a Meditation on Spatial Design. It was introduced last week as an insight into the formative influences of Italian Renaissance gardens, including Caprarola and Villa Lante, and the 1740's William Kent garden at Rousham, Oxfordshire.

Giardini segreti are spaces hidden away, for pleasure or escape, and it will be interesting to see the conceptual transaltion of this idea in the contemporary, garden room style that he is known for.

Below is an almost iconic image of planting style: multistemmed rhus tiphina embracing and enclosing the space, underplanted with  hakonechloa and evergreen box.

Talks, events and exhibitions are all on the Garden Museum site.

More well known imagery.... its seduction is about its inevitability;  even in a show space such as Chelsea it seeks to make space for us, to re-establish a connection with an inner space of thought and wonder.

Stuart-Smith commented last week on the relationship between psychology (or being married to a psychologist) and the making of his gardens; listening, I was relieved to find that gardens, like the Renaissance ones, are still being thought of as spaces to delight the body and the mind.

West Woodhay Garden Show, 4th-5th June 2011

Garden Shows are happening all over the country, and we have visited West Woodhay, in Berkshire, this weekend.

This show is hosted in the grounds of a lovely house, built in the 17th Century, and is a mixture of show garden ground plant and country charity  fair. The proceeds of this very well attended event are given to local charities and church funds.

On a sunny Saturday, 4th June, there was a really strong community feel: this is an important event in the local social calendar as much as RHS Chelsea is in our national psyche.

West Woodhay Garden Show

The house and gardens were as beautiful as those seen in National Trust properties: in 1947 the house was taken back to the original footprint and style of its architect, a collaborator of Inigo Jones, and retains a really graceful country house look.

West Woodhay view of house

The planting around the home is consistent with tradition, and below are some details of the D shaped bed at the front entrance. Further afield, a series of distinct garden "rooms", the most notable being the walled garden, provide great visual experiences of the associations between roses, shrubs, kitchen garden plants and arboretum-type woodlands.

West Woodhay -Planting detail- roses, macleya, crambe cordifolia

And so to the show gardens: three in all, they were all on the theme of improving habitats for insects; this is a topical issue, as the National Trust is publicising the plight of the Uk bee population, halved in the last 20 years.

The varied gardens provide a platform for local designers and landscapers, with a school for deaf children providing inspiration and artworks for the one featured below.

West Woodhay Show Garden Bronze

West Woodhay Show Garden Gold