Barnsdale and Geoff Hamilton

One of the main reasons for going down to England recently was to visit the late Geoff Hamilton‘s plant nursery and garden at Barnsdale, which for years was where the BBC’s Gardeners’ World programme was filmed. In my opinion those were the glory days of the programme, it has been nowhere near as good in recent years. We stumbled across the place when we were driving to Holland last year but as we were dashing to catch a ferry we only had time to visit the shop that day. Since then Barnsdale has been on my bucket list.

Barnsdale  bust

The photo below is of the same memorial bust shown from a different direction and I’m pretty sure that the tree in the middle is the one which he wanted to have planted on top of him when he died, presumably his ashes are there.


Barnsdale has been split up into lots of different small gardens, 39 in total over an 8 acre site, most of which were planned to show viewers how to carry out such projects and give people ideas for their own outdoor spaces.


It’s almost 20 years since he died and he was one of the first people to promote organic gardening, to help protect bugs and beasties from chemicals, he was a bit of an organic trailblazer.


His sons have taken over the running of the place and it looks like they’re managing to keep a healthy balance, no slugs taking over completely anyway.


The Japanese garden below was the only bit which I was disappointed with, there wasn’t enough colour in it and I think that I and in fact most people interested in gardening could have designed something better.


At this time of the year I’m always wondering why such a thing as wasps exist (and ants) and people always say that they do a good job of cleaning up around the garden, as the ones below are doing with this apple. I suspect that they damaged the apple in the first place, so I’m still not a fan of wasps.


The birdbath below seems to have been made with roof tiles piled on top of each other at an angle, an effective design.


I took loads of photos so no doubt I’ll be doing a Barnsdale part 2 at some point.

Winfield House Gardens/ U.S. Ambassador’s Residence

I had never given a thought about where the U.S. Ambassador lived in London I think I assumed that he had an apartment within the embassy but watching Gardener’s World a couple of weeks ago I learned that he lives in Winfield House in Regent’s Park.

Monty Don was given a tour of the beautiful gardens but for me it was all too brief. I had to have a look to see what was on the internet and I found these images. Go on, have a look if you like plants and gardens.

It’s a lovely mixture of formal and informal and I can see why on his first visit there President Obama remarked that he thought he had applied for the wrong job! What a perk to live in surroundings like that, on the other hand it must be difficult to leave it all for an office in the middle of London. I wouldn’t.

Gardeners’ World on BBC 2

For me having Gardeners’ World back on TV is one of the first signs of spring. Well I’ve never heard a real cuckoo calling which is the usual sign beloved of correspondents to The Times letters page.

I had actually given up watching Gardeners World last year because I just couldn’t take to the new presenters, Toby and Alys. I gave them a really good try but it just wasn’t happening for me. So I was chuffed when I heard that Monty Don is back at the helm again, and it should be even better than before because the action is all happening at Monty’s real garden, Long Meadow in Herefordshire.

Having just viewed the first programme I think it’s going to be a big improvement on Greenacres. Long Meadow is my kind of garden, I’ve been taking cuttings from box plants for years, with the intention of designing my own Celtic knot garden sometime in the future so it was nice to see that Monty has been doing the same thing.

Mind you, I still miss poor old Geoff Hamilton and Barnsdale, he was my absolute favourite – a knowledgeable gardener with a great sense of humour. He died far too young, but at least he left us a fair amount of books about gardening to look back on.

But if you want to see a wee bit of his last programme you can see it here.