Long toms

Pansies and heather
Wimpole Street

I rarely get two blog posts from one street on the same day, but seconds before I clapped eyes on the bonkers Virginia creeper below, I saw these tasteful winter pots.

I’m not that keen on pansies or heathers, but these are transformed by their ‘Long Tom’-style pots. They’re set off to perfection by the huge front door that’s just to the left of this window, painted the most delicious shade of dark purple.

Virginia creeper

Virginia creeper
Wimpole Street, W1

I first walked past this building a while back and was struck by the Virginia creeper, which almost entirely clothed the building in green. It was quite a sight then but it’s really come into its own now – its autumn foliage looks like party streamers.

The first time I walked past, the creeper hung halfway down the doorway, which must have meant people had to duck to get into the house. It’s now had a bit of a haircut around the door, but it’s well and truly grown its fringe out over the windows. It completely covers them, like living outdoor curtains.

I’d love to know who inhabits this building. Whoever it is can’t be too fussed about daylight, or really likes their privacy.

Virginia creeper


St Albans

When I was growing up my mum and dad seemed to be constantly decorating – they still are, in fact. They seem to have rules about how often a room needs updating and I wouldn’t be surprised if they keep a decorating log book. Whenever they tell me they’re redoing a room, they tell me how many (or how few, usually) years it’s been since it was last done.

When I was growing up in the 1980s, there was much excitement in the Peerless household when Dulux brought out a range of white emulsions with a hint of another colour. ‘Apple White’ and ‘Apricot White’ made a real change from boring old magnolia and were used liberally around the family abode.

If these cyclamen were a Dulux colour, they’d be ‘Cyclamen White’. They’re the most delicate shade of pink, with pretty mauve markings that complement the violas perfectly. The silver Senecio cineraria complement the pale markings on the cyclamen leaves and bring it all together nicely.

All of the plants are available at a Homebase near you. Well done for spotting them, Mum!

Inner Temple Garden

If you’re feeling glum because the days are shortening, the temperatures are falling and everything is dying back, take yourself to the Inner Temple Garden without further ado. The High Border is still a riot of colour, and for a few glorious moments you can kid yourself that it’s still late summer.

The border contains many of the plants you’d expect in a late-season garden – grasses, dahlias, rudbeckias, asters, cosmos etc – but head gardener Andrea Brunsendorf puts them together in an original and adventurous way. She chooses varieties for their form, flower shape and colour, and thinks carefully about how they might complement other plants; the centre of one flower might complement the petals of another, for example. And she isn’t afraid to mix colours in combinations that more traditional gardeners would shy away from: orange, pink and red sit happily next to each other in the form of Tithonia rotundifolia ‘Torch’, Dahlia coccinea ‘Mary Keen’ and a red rose (above), as do red roses, magenta dahlias, blue salvias, purple aconitums and yellow rudbeckias (below).

The border also looked pretty amazing when I visited the garden in May. At that time it was filled with alliums, aquilegias and oodles of tulips; oriental poppies then carried it through until June. Andrea admits that the border has a ‘June hole’ when she lifts the tulips and replaces some early flowerers with the tender late season plants such as dahlias. But for a border that powers on until the first frosts (which can be as late as December in central London), that’s a very small price to pay.


Walberswick, Suffolk

Whenever I pass a cottage like this, I wonder why the hell I live in London. I start entertaining fantasies of a weekend bolthole or moving, lock, stock and barrel somewhere greener and more pleasant. One day, hopefully, I’ll make it happen!

Anyway, what I like about this garden is that it’s clearly doing its own thing. The planting complements the blues of the gate and the door, which, if you look closely, are subtly different. But because it’s all gone a bit bonkers, it’s not twee.



Steve’s pond


I was going to take this picture of Steve’s pond from a completely different angle, but an incident worthy of a You’ve Been Framed appearance put paid to that.

Steve is a colleague, and we were in his garden to take some shots of his greenhouse. While we were waiting for the photographer we did a quick tour of the garden, coffee cups in hand.

The garden is deceptively large and cleverly laid out, and home to this very large pond, which pre-dates the house. It’s overlooked by a pergola-covered deck, framed by wisteria and lined with colourful begonias.

Just after the pergola is a short, decking slope that leads to a path around the pond. As we stepped onto it, Steve pointed out that the slope was a bit slippery. He cheerily added, ‘We haven’t lost anyone yet!’. And then I slipped, landed on my bum and started sliding at a rather alarming rate towards the pond.

Everything then went into slow motion. My first thought was: ‘I’m going to fall into the pond. This is going to be embarrassing’. My second was: ‘Even more embarrassing, I’m going to be the first person ever to fall into the pond’. My third was: ‘I must hang on to this coffee’ and my fourth was: ‘Oh no, I’m going to crash into Steve.’ And that’s exactly what I did. I took poor Steve’s legs clean out from under him, leaving us both in a slime- and coffee-covered heap. Strangely, we were both still clutching our empty coffee cups.

I didn’t dare venture down the slope again, so I took this pic from the safety of the pergola. It doesn’t quite convey the Giverny-style scene I was aiming for, but hopefully you can get an idea of how charming it is.