THE ORIGINS OF THE GARDEN
The idea for this garden came about in Spring 2001 when my husband
Dominic and I went on a short break to Tuscany. We went to Cortona, which I
had read about in “Under the Tuscan Sun” by Frances Mayes. We fell
in love with the area, and spent our whole time roaming around the valleys,
lanes and footpaths, and since we are both keen photographers, taking hundreds
of photos of the wonderful countryside. I was struck by the sheer beauty of
a simple natural space, which I think is the feel that many of us want from
our gardens. I work all day in an environment of concrete, metal and glass,
and for me my garden should represent an escape from that. At one point I exclaimed,
“This would make a wonderful garden for Chelsea.” Dominic said,
“Well go on then, why don’t you do it?” “Ye-es”,
I said – meaning no. After all, although I am an enthusiastic gardener,
by profession I am a television weather presenter.
A year later I was at Chelsea with two friends, also keen gardeners, and suddenly
that idea popped back into my head, and wouldn’t go away. I thought naively
that between us we had quite a few skills and that we should give it a try.
With the supreme confidence of total ignorance I applied to Chelsea, and luckily
along the way, was befriended by many different people who actually did have
the expertise and knowledge to help us turn my wild idea into reality. With
sponsorship from Sky, and the Learning & Skills Council, we set about making
Apart from the sheer beauty of the Tuscan countryside, I was especially interested
in its flora because as a weather presenter I am particularly aware of climate
trends, and some of the research which is being done on the anticipated results
of global warming for the British Isles. Global warming itself is a more or
less accepted fact; whether it is part of a much longer-term cooling trend is
still up for discussion, as is the degree of man’s role in it. What is
becoming increasingly agreed upon is the view that the climate of southern Britain
could, and probably will, warm quite rapidly in less than a century, leading
to the development of a climate more like that of the present-day Mediterranean.
Current research indicates milder winters, hotter summers, and the increasing
risk of both flooding and drought events. With average summer temperatures in
parts of southern Britain perhaps increasing by up to 3°C within the next
fifty years, the very nature of the countryside looks set to change. Our gardening
practices will alter accordingly through a combination of opportunity and necessity.
Some traditional garden favourites will become increasingly difficult to grow.
On the plus side, there will be introductions of exciting new plants –
you only have to look in your local garden centre to see that this trend is
And so………………… this garden,
inspired by a glimpse from a Tuscan wayside, gives hints of how the British
countryside and our gardens could develop in the next hundred years. My hope
is that as well as being a beautiful and inspirational space in its own right,
this garden gives a “View To A Future” – our future.