5-10-5: Horticulturist Wonsoon Park


Wonsoon and I first met when he attended the annual pool and BBQ party for Longwood Gardens students at Chanticleer. After graduating from the Longwood Graduate Program in public garden management, he returned to South Korea where he now tends and designs plantings. It has been interesting to discover how horticulture is seen and practiced in Korea especially when much attention have been focused on China and Japan.

Wonsoon Park pollinates the flower of the Victoria waterlily at Yeomiji Botanical Garden, South Korea.

Wonsoon Park pollinates the flower of the Victoria waterlily at Yeomiji Botanical Garden, South Korea.

Please introduce yourself.

My name is Wonsoon Park, a plant lover. I majored in Horticultural Science from Seoul National University, and went through several jobs as a book editor. Then I changed my career to be a horticulturist. Recently I have completed the International Gardener Training Program at Longwood Gardens, and Longwood Graduate Program in Public Horticulture at the University of Delaware. Now I’m working for Samsung Everland company as a Senior Manager of the Park Landscape Center.

The arts or horticulture?

The arts based on horticulture

Despite graduating with a degree in horticultural science, you were a book editor prior to your professional development as a horticulturist. How did you first become interested in horticulture and why did you return to the profession?

I grew up in rural town where I helped my family to work for rice paddies and vegetable gardens, and this led me to choose Horticultural Science for my college major. Those plants in the gardens were not the fancy and showy ones but onions, sesame, pepper and cabbages, and my grandmother grew some grapes and persimmon in her backyard garden. So the first impression of horticulture to me was sort of farming or agriculture until I found its real charm later.

I became a book editor since I loved reading and producing books about science and nature. While I was exposed to many books about plants and gardens, I rediscovered horticulture, especially when I visited New York Book Expo in 2003. I’d like to learn more about horticulture not about agriculture but about flowers and gardens. Soon I was obsessed by the world of horticulture and I traveled to many gardens and natural areas whenever I had free time, before I moved to Jeju Island, the most beautiful and ecologically important island in Korea, not only to work in a botanical garden named Yeomiji but also to explore the island’s unique flora and nature.

The tulip display at Samsung Everland Company

The tulip display at Samsung Everland Company

What does your job involve?

I’m currently working for Samsung Everland Company, which has the largest amusement park in Korea like the Disney World. There are several display gardens including the Four Seasons Garden and Rose Garden within the park. As the Senior Manager, I’m mainly in charge of planting design in the park area including the Four Seasons Garden which is a year-round garden from tulip displays to winter holiday season mingled with garden ornaments according to various themes.

Tulips en masse at the Everland Park.

Tulips en masse at the Everland Company.

You were a graduate of Longwood Graduate Program, which gave exposure to North American horticulture. What aspects of North American horticulture did you find interesting?

Networking. It seemed to me all the horticultural professionals and plant lovers were well connected each other from the east coast to the west and to the south. It was very easy to communicate with people since they were willing to share their knowledge and experiences, which I really appreciated. I liked the fact that there were so many great public gardens and nurseries to visit, as well as organized plant record systems, books and other valuable resources.

Heewon Garden, at the Ho-Am Art Museum, is a recreation of a traditional Korean garden. Traditional Korean gardens are less concerned with human intervention (less formal pruning) and more so with spiritual balance and harmony while preserving a wild natural feeling.

Heewon Garden, at the Ho-Am Art Museum, is a recreation of a traditional Korean garden. Traditional Korean gardens are less concerned with human intervention (less formal pruning) and more so with spiritual balance and harmony while preserving a wild natural feeling.

South Korea is better for its Korean pop (as seen in ‘Gangnam Style’) and Samsung, but less so for its fine arts and culture. The Western audience are familiar with Japanese and Chinese gardens, but less so with Korean gardens. Without resorting to broad generalizations, how would you define or characterize a Korean garden to a first-time visitor?

Traditionally, Korean gardens are harmonized with the surrounding nature according to the balance of Yin and Yang and geomancy minimizing possible modification and artificial factors. Since seventy percent of the Korean landscape is covered with mountains, I guess it’s a lot easier to build architecture and gardens using existing topographical properties. As for the planting design for Korean gardens, there are some rules choosing proper trees and shrubs at the right place around the garden, while those ornamental trees and shrubs don’t have artificial shape which can be seen in Japanese garden style. You can find the Korean palace garden style when you visit royal palaces in Seoul such as Changgyeonggung Deoksugung. Besides, one of my favorite Korean gardens is Hee Won garden of Ho-am Art Museum in Yongin city.

Jeju Island's diversity of habitats makes it ideal for a travel destination to see Korean flora.

Jeju Island’s diversity of habitats makes it ideal for a travel destination to see Korean flora.

Because the Korean peninsula is a geographical juncture between China and Japan, its flora is similar with those of neighboring countries. Ulleung-Do and Jeju Islands, as well as Seoraksan, frequently appear on the canons of planting hunting exploits. Where would you take a horticulturist to see plants in the wild?

Jeju Island would be a great place to explore, since there are many diverse habitats within a relatively small area at different altitudes from the seashore to Mt. Halla. Those habitats include Gotjawal (a uniquely formed forest vegetation on the lava terrain), 367 Oreums (volcanic cones), seashores, wetlands and alpine regions. My favorite plants include Lycoris chejuense, Allium taquetii, Lycopodium integrifolium, Aruncus dioicus var. aethusifolius, Crinum asiaticum var. japonicum, Rhododendron weyrichii, Euphorbia jolkini, Abies koreana, just to name a few.

The pale orange flowers of Lycoris chejuense glow against the bracken fern at Jeju Island.

The pale orange flowers of Lycoris chejuense glow against the bracken fern at Jeju Island.

 

Crinum asiaticum var. japonicum inhabits wet habitats in Korea.

Crinum asiaticum var. japonicum inhabits wet habitats in Korea.

Korean plants, like those from China and Japan, are popular garden plants. For instance, we grow Abeliophyllum distichum, Acer triflorum, and Stewartia pseudocamellia var. koreana here. What are some of your favorite native species?

Recently I found Jeffersonia dubia, Heloniopsis koreana, Epimedium koreanum could be those of my favorite ones. I love Abeliophyllum distichum, Disporum sessile, Rhododendron schlippenbachii, as well as Matteuccia struthiopteris, Chloranthus fortunei, and Primula sieboldii.

Jeffersonia dubia, the Asian counterpart to our native twinleaf Jeffersonia diphylla, is one of Wonsoon's favorite Korean plants. It is a true spring ephemeral, disappearing with summer heat.

Jeffersonia dubia, the Asian counterpart to our native twinleaf Jeffersonia diphylla, is one of Wonsoon’s favorite Korean plants. It is a true spring ephemeral, disappearing with summer heat.

 

The flora of Jeju Island - Starting top left clockwise: Hydrangea serrata f. acuminata; Symplocos chinensis f. pilosa; Malus sieboldii; Euonymous hamiltonianus; Lycopodium integrifolium; Maackia floribunda; Aconitum napiforme; Clerodendrum trichotomum.

The flora of Jeju Island – Starting top left clockwise: Hydrangea serrata f. acuminata; Symplocos chinensis f. pilosa; Malus sieboldii; Euonymous hamiltonianus; Lycopodium integrifolium; Maackia floribunda; Aconitum napiforme; Clerodendrum trichotomum.

South Korea is considered the most wired, if not one of most high-tech, country. How does one disconnect from the virtual world and engage with the natural world? Is garden visiting popular among Koreans as it is for Europeans and other nationalities?

The gardens and their cultivation are still less popular in Korea compared to other nations. There are over 60 public gardens on the list of Korean arboreta and botanical Gardens. But many private gardens have been struggling with their operation due to the lack of revenue source, while municipal or national arboreta and botanical gardens are relatively doing fine since they are supported by government. People prefer the latter since they have free or low price entrance fees.

Speaking of engaging the natural world, the baby boom generation loves mountain hiking, while families with young children like to go out for their daily exercise during weekends and holidays. Public gardens are just one of those places. I don’t know much about how teenagers and younger generation are exposed to the natural world.

Koreans still enjoy hiking in natural areas.

Koreans still enjoy hiking in natural areas.

A Korean recently said in Conde Nast Traveler Magazine: “Korean people happily embrace anything that comes off the plane at Incheon Airport, but we won’t eat a pig’s feet restaurant unless it’s three generations old.” Given how Confucianism is ingrained in traditional culture, are Koreans more receptive to wild-looking gardens than ‘big bang’ displays commonly seen in U.S. and Europe?

Although ‘big bang’ displays still work well in many public gardens, Koreans are getting more like to enjoy native plants in a natural setting. In addition, the number of people returning to home village or farming is increasing. They’d like to tend a vegetable garden called “teot bat” as well as enjoy the natural landscape. Also, urban farming and gardening is growing gradually.

The seeds of Camellia japonica, Wonsoon's desert island plant, yield oil useful in cosmetics.

The seeds of Camellia japonica, Wonsoon’s desert island plant, yield oil useful in cosmetics.

If you were marooned on an island, what one plant would you take with you?

Camellia japonica. It’s a nice plant for temperate coastal climate. Camellias have many beneficial properties. Its seed oil is useful for skin care, while the flower bud purifies the blood and stimulates the heart. In addition, the flowers are good enough to please me during my lonesome life in deserted island. I hope for a Camellia forest to form in the future until people find that island and my traces.

Chanticleer in Wayne, Pennsylvania, is an inspirational garden for Wonsoon who wrote about it in a Korean gardening magazine.

Chanticleer in Wayne, Pennsylvania, is an inspirational garden for Wonsoon who wrote about it in a Korean gardening magazine.

What places and gardens inspire you?

Chanticleer inspired me a lot. Whenever I visited the garden, my mind was filled with special feeling by constantly changing flowers every time and different landscapes every year. Chanticleer was the first garden when I was writing a series of articles about the most beautiful American public gardens for a leading garden magazine in Korea. I loved to walk through Asian Woods and Pond Garden, and learned many ideas about containers and hanging baskets around the main houses. I remember Hidcote Manor Garden in UK was a great place full of inspiration and ideas with many different types of room gardens. Longwood Gardens, of course, is like my second home that gave me unforgettable experiences with so many good people and wonderful plants!

Wonsoon Park and Tim Jennings, Senior Gardener for the Outdoor Water Lily Display, at Longwood Gardens

Wonsoon Park and Tim Jennings, Senior Gardener for the Outdoor Water Lily Display, at Longwood Gardens

What advice would you give to your peers interested in studying horticulture in Korea? I noticed that a few number of Koreans have trained and studied in UK, especially RHS Wisley.

Studying abroad as a trainee or intern would be a great help to build a solid horticultural career. To prepare applying those international programs, it might be better know Korean plants and gardens first, as well as having some practical hands on experiences. I think Chollipo Arboretum runs one of the greatest internship programs in Korea to learn a good deal of plant collections including Magnolias, Acers, Hollies and many more.

What do you look forward the most?

I’d like to become a real professional in this field domestically and internationally, and make influential gardens throughout my career path. I want to be in charge of a garden like Chanticleer which I could maintain everyday and learn more about plants for the rest of my life.

Continue reading

5-10-5: Emma Seniuk at Chanticleer

Using grapevine boughs from her father's property, Emma painstakingly wove them over the arches after removing the remnant old branches and wire. A constant in the Cut Flower Garden, the arches are structurally significant, giving height when the beds are bare in winter and early spring. Cloaked in vines and engulfed by the riot of vegetation, they become less visible later in the season.

Using grapevine boughs from her father’s property, Emma painstakingly wove them over the arches after removing the remnant old branches and wire. A constant in the Cut Flower Garden at Chanticleer, the arches are structurally significant, giving height when the beds are bare in winter and early spring. Cloaked in vines and engulfed by the riot of vegetation, they become less visible later in the season.

Can you introduce yourself?
My name is Emma Seniuk and I am the cut flower and vegetable gardener at Chanticleer in Wayne Pennsylvania.
Emma effectively groups tulips in blocks that drift across four beds, creating continuity through color and form, and their simplicity (three to four varieties) is fundamental for success.

Emma effectively groups tulips in blocks that drift across four beds, creating continuity through color and form, and their simplicity (three to four varieties) is fundamental for success.

Tell us a bit about your background.

Like most gardeners, I’ve loved plants since I was a child.  Over the years I have worked at a variety of jobs- nurseries, landscaping, beekeeping, helping to manage a Christmas tree farm but once I was introduced to public horticulture I was drawn in, hook, line and sinker.  I worked at Mt. Cuba Center as a seasonal, Longwood as a student, volunteered at Chanticleer over the years, had a year and half long studentship at Great Dixter and now am fortunate enough to be full time at Chanticleer.  

What was your first gardening experience?  
I remember picking the bulbils out the leaf axils of tiger lilies and snatching sugar peas from my Mom’s garden.
Aquilegia chrysantha 'Denver Gold' and the rich regal purples of Campanula medium (Canterbury bells) glitter like jewelry in the Cut  Flower Garden at Chanticleer.

Aquilegia chrysantha ‘Denver Gold’ and the rich regal purples of Campanula medium (Canterbury bells) glitter like jewelry in the Cut Flower Garden at Chanticleer.

The arts or horticulture? Horticulture
Under Fergus's direction, Emma begins to organize and design the front container display at Great Dixter.

Under Fergus’s direction, Emma begins to organize and design the front container display at Great Dixter.

Who do you consider to be your mentors?

 Fergus Garrett, Executive Director and Head Gardener of Great Dixter, undoubtedly my greatest gardening influence and just about the coolest guy you could ever meet.
What is your typical day at Chanticleer?  
I am a list maker and am always trying to organize and plan the garden in my mind but ultimately so much of gardening is about reacting, reading the garden and the weather and jumping in with both hands when the time is right.
Bamboo canes help delineate the sections where bulbs and biennials are to be planted, a trick Emma learned from Great Dixter.

Bamboo canes help delineate the sections where bulbs and biennials are to be planted, a trick Emma learned from Great Dixter.

Given that you had spent 2 years working at Great Dixter, how do you reconcile their philosophy with that of a different climate and garden at Chanticleer? In what ways do you anticipate the evolution of your style?
Great Dixter showed me what is possible in a garden.  It has been gardened with love for over a hundred years and, in that attention and dynamic style, I can see what is possible with my continued dedication to the craft.  Good gardens are made up of plants which do well in each individual situation.  They must sit right in the space as well as flourish culturally, so instead of trying to grow everything grown at Great Dixter, I am trying to find the right plants for each of my garden sections at Chanticleer.      
Left beginning from upper left to the bottom right: Le Jardin Plume; Hastings Beach; poppies in Normandy, France; dahlias at Great Dixter, England; Promenade plantée in Paris; delphiniums at the RHS Plant Trials beds at Wisley; park in Blois, France; Friends drinking - Rachael, Yannick, and James; Courson Flower Show in France;  Succissia pratensis; Great Dixter's Long Border; Milkweeds and goldenrod in Rhode Island;  Keith Wiley's Wildside in Devon, UK; dinner at private garden; White Clay Creek Preserve, Pennsylvania

Left beginning from upper left to the bottom right: Le Jardin Plume; Hastings Beach; poppies in Normandy, France; dahlias at Great Dixter, England; Promenade plantée in Paris; delphiniums at the RHS Plant Trials beds at Wisley; park in Blois, France; Friends drinking – Rachael, Yannick, and James; Courson Flower Show in France; Succissia pratensis; Great Dixter’s Long Border; Milkweeds and goldenrod in Rhode Island; Keith Wiley’s Wildside in Devon, UK; dinner at private garden; White Clay Creek Preserve, Pennsylvania

We often look towards United Kingdom as the primary source of inspiration and professional enrichment, and few of us venture to continental Europe (France, Italy, Belgium) to see what gardeners are achieving there as well. What are some of the gardens or techniques you found refreshing or inspiring in continental Europe?
While living in England I became enchanted with France and spent a good many weekends tooling around Normandy visiting gardens, staying in Paris and traveling to the Loire.  My most treasured garden experiences in France were visiting and getting to know Le Jardin Plume, a gracious and already iconic garden in Normandy.  Also, I fell for the private garden of Creche Pape in Brittany, where I saw shrubs and and stone work creating ribbons and waves of volume, and a garden festival in the Loire, called Chaumont-Sur-Loire, composed of annually themed garden installations.
Emma is always evaluating plant combinations for their effectiveness - to a casual eye, the  dark purple Tulipa 'Negrita' and bright orange Erysimum x marshallii (Siberian wallflower) are attractive together, but needs a third partner to elevate the duet to something more sublime and interesting. While it is too late to add another plant, Emma will record her observations, a good practice for any gardener looking to better their gardens.

Emma is always evaluating plant combinations for their effectiveness – to a casual eye, the dark purple Tulipa ‘Negrita’ and bright orange Erysimum x marshallii (Siberian wallflower) are attractive together, but needs a third partner to elevate the duet to something more sublime and interesting. While it is too late to add another plant, Emma will record her observations, a good practice for any gardener looking to better their gardens.

You mentioned that your approach towards selecting and combining plants is very similar to that of a fashion designer. Can you kindly elaborate?
Because I work so much with annuals, I am able to alter my display considerably throughout a single growing season.  I generally try to work with a theme each year and this helps me give parameters to plant choices and color combinations.
The foxtail lilies (Eremurus 'Spring Valley Hybrids') and soft orange 'Swansea' lilies rise above Nicotiana 'Lime Green', white Ammi majus,  Anthemum graveolens, and  Consolida ajacis in this delightful relaxed planting (Summer 2013).

The foxtail lilies (Eremurus ‘Spring Valley Hybrids’) and soft orange ‘Swansea’ lilies rise above Nicotiana ‘Lime Green’, white Ammi majus, Anthemum graveolens, and Consolida ajacis in this delightful relaxed planting (Summer 2013).

You’re very involved in propagation – most gardens now have staff devoted specifically to propagation and nursery areas, or the staff tend to order plants in. What is it about propagation you find very appealing (despite the demands your garden makes on you)? 
To grow and propagate a plant is to know it fully.  Also, with my reliance in annual displays I have control over the quality of the plant.  So many of the plants bought these days are grown in a peat based medium and when planted in the garden the root system sits in the peat, unable to acclimate with the surrounding garden soil.  At Chanticleer I have been using a mixture of screened compost and grit to grow my annuals and when I plant them in the garden they don’t miss a beat.  
Emma mixes her own potting medium, which ensures plants tough enough to withstand garden conditions.

Emma mixes her own potting medium, which ensures plants tough enough to withstand garden conditions.

In the cold frames, Ammi majus and A. visnaga await their final homes in the Cut Flower Garden at Chanticleer (Spring 2013).

In the cold frames, Ammi majus and A. visnaga await their final homes in the Cut Flower Garden at Chanticleer (Spring 2013).

If asked to describe your garden in one or two songs, what would you pick? Why?
Tough one.  I prefer to relate plant choices to emotions and, at heart, I’m a terrible romantic.  
Dark plummy purples to wine reds are one of Emma's favorite colors in the Cut Garden Flower at Chanticleer.  Left to right clockwise: Cosmos bipinnatus 'Rubenza'; Papaver somniferum 'Lauren's Grape'; Tulipa 'Rem's Favourite'; Cirsium rivulare 'Atropurpureum'

Dark plummy purples to wine reds are one of Emma’s favorite colors in the Cut Garden Flower at Chanticleer.
Left to right clockwise: Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Rubenza’; Papaver somniferum ‘Lauren’s Grape’; Tulipa ‘Rem’s Favourite’; Cirsium rivulare ‘Atropurpureum’

What guidance or advice can you give to young people interested in horticulture as a profession?
Look to your elders and support your peers. 
Ammi majus is a stellar player in different ensembles in the Cut Flower Garden. Top left clockwise: Papaver somniferum; Digitalis purpurea and Nicotiana 'Lime Green'; Cirsium rivulare 'Atropurpureum', Eremurus 'Spring Valley Hybrids'; Eremurus x robustus

Ammi majus is a stellar player in different ensembles in the Cut Flower Garden. Top left clockwise: Papaver somniferum; Digitalis purpurea and Nicotiana ‘Lime Green’; Cirsium rivulare ‘Atropurpureum’, Eremurus ‘Spring Valley Hybrids’; Eremurus x robustus

You’re highly critical of what makes a good garden plant, as you confess how you don’t have time to mollycoddle them. Can you name some of your favorite plants and their outstanding features you admire? 
Rudbeckia ‘Herbstonne’ for its tall stature, persistent seed heads, and over two month bloom time in the heat of the summer.  Ammi majus and visnaga for their white umbels, ferny foliage, and dreamy appeal.  These plants are good for a beginner grower and a rewarding late spring surprise.  Verbena bonariensis, an annual which self sows when in good spirits and has a way of dancing through the garden, punctuating displays with its purple flowers which last well into the season.  Wiry but sturdy, graceful but impactful, it has a steadfast charm, which will constantly capture the imagination of gardeners.   
Emma values composites for their summer and autumn flowers, which  Left to right: Rudbeckia ‘Herbstonne’ and Helianthus x multiflorus ‘Capenoch Star’; Tithonia rotundifolia and Helianthus angustifolius ‘Gold Lace’; Coreopsis tripteris ‘Lightning Flash’; Helianthus maximilianii ‘Santa Fe’ and the red Amaranthus hypochrondriacus and Tithonia rotundifolia.

Emma values composites for their summer and autumn flowers, which Left to right: Rudbeckia ‘Herbstonne’ and Helianthus x multiflorus ‘Capenoch Star’; Tithonia rotundifolia and Helianthus angustifolius ‘Gold Lace’; Coreopsis tripteris ‘Lightning Flash’; Helianthus maximilianii ‘Santa Fe’ and the red Amaranthus hypochrondriacus and Tithonia rotundifolia.

What is your desert island plant? 
Two Cocos nucifera with a hammock strung between them.
Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
Still gardening, learning and loving it!

Winterscapes

The pearly winter sunrise over the Cotswolds countryside

The pearly winter sunrise over the Cotswolds countryside

Dear Jimmy,

Snow had fallen at Chanticleer in the last few weeks. I remember a visitor interested in seeing Chanticleer during winter, only to have her hopes deflated upon discovering that we were closed after October.

The Pond Garden in Snow at Chanticleer

The Pond Garden in Snow at Chanticleer

It reminded me of how much I gleamed about winter structure in United Kingdom after the masses and voids of plantings have been stripped away, leaving little to distract the eye from the permanent elements. When I saw the Wyeth paintings at the Brandywine River Museum, their economical spareness of colors and subjects revealed a depth similar to those wintry landscapes I enjoyed in United Kingdom. The grays, browns, and dark greens may have a somberness that dampens one’s psyche, but they allow our eyes, loosened from the vise of bright colors and light, to relax. Your images of the Spanish farmlands carved with crop lines, mountains, and forests reflect that chromatic subtleties on our moods, and I returned to the moments of walking through empty Cotswold gardens and villages in early winter mornings.

Brown Swiss by Andrew Wyeth

Brown Swiss by Andrew Wyeth

Hidcote Manor Garden is not open during winter, but my friends and I gained access through the generosity of the Head Gardener Glyn Jones. Perhaps weary from the onslaught of visitors and luxuriance of its beds, the garden slips into a soporific stupor, acquiring a restfulness rarely seen at other times. The French and Italianate influences on its creator Lawrence Johnston are now more apparent – the pleached hornbeams, the holm oak cubes, the gazebos, and the pool take on the starring roles after having ceding to the lush plantings. Without these structural elements the plantings could fall apart and the intriguing secrets of Hidcote cease to exist – just as a woman wears a necklace, a plant is as beautiful as it can be in the right setting. The mystery and drama of Hidcote in winter is strong as it is in spring and summer.

Stripped and cleaned for the year, the Red Borders now frame the gate of the Stilt Garden by letting the eye hone on the geometric lines towards the top. In the Stilt Garden, the angular cubes of the pleached hornbeams echo the gazebo shapes while the two Quercus ilex tower behind like clouds above the hornbeams.

Stripped and cleaned for the year, the Red Borders now frame the gate of the Stilt Garden by letting the eye hone on the geometric lines towards the top. In the Stilt Garden, the angular cubes of the pleached hornbeams echo the gazebo shapes while the two Quercus ilex tower behind like clouds above the hornbeams.

Denuded of their leaves, the pleached hornbeams become wiry edifices that play off texturally the solid boxwood and yew hedges, and the grass panel, walls, and gravel paths are tonally different from the clipped plants.

Denuded of their leaves, the pleached hornbeams become wiry edifices that play off texturally the solid boxwood and yew hedges, and the grass panel, walls, and gravel paths are tonally different from the clipped plants.

Reflected in the still waters of the Bathing Pool Fountain is the cherub and the dolphin centerpiece.

Reflected in the still waters of the Bathing Pool Fountain is the cherub and the dolphin centerpiece.

The yew columns define the separation between the house and the Theatre Lawn.

The yew columns define the separation between the house and the Theatre Lawn.

The view through the yew hedge towards the Beech Allee

The view through the yew hedge towards the Beech Allee

Dwarfed by the beech trees, the gate looks comically out of scale, but forces our eyes to pause and compels to explore beyond its boundaries.

Dwarfed by the beech trees, the gate looks comically out of scale, but forces our eyes to pause and compels us to explore beyond its boundaries.

A lesson can be learned in the nearby villages, and Chipping Camden near Hidcote Manor Garden conveys well the architectural detailing that has long drawn out-of-towners and tourists to this region of United Kingdom. Weathered by the patina of age and time, its stone buildings bespeak not only of the area’s vernacular and heritage, but also the craftsmanship that once characterized the Cotswolds’ hub of the Arts and Crafts movement in the early 20th century. While the front cottage gardens are not at their best, all manner of the buildings’ scale and proportions, their walls, and the link with the outlying countryside held enough interest for a solitary walk.

Andrew Wyeth could have enjoyed painting the front facade of this house - the damp gray cold has darkened the otherwise warm honey-colored stone.

Andrew Wyeth could have enjoyed painting the front facade of this house – the damp gray cold has darkened the otherwise warm honey-colored stone.

The zig-zag framework of this gnarled apple tree is etched in sharp relief against the mist.

The zig-zag framework of this gnarled apple tree is etched in sharp relief against the mist.

The West Banqueting House, a Jacobean building, looks forlorn among the remnants of the Old Campden House destroyed in a fire in 1645.

The West Banqueting House, a Jacobean building, looks forlorn among the remnants of the Old Campden House destroyed in a fire in 1645.

Textural contrasts of natural materials: wood and stone in the West Banqueting House

Textural contrasts of natural materials: wood and stone in the West Banqueting House

Framed by the arching tree, a porch light flickers like a beacon of optimism.

Behind the arching tree, a porch light flickers like a beacon of optimism.

As dispiriting as winter, especially its holidays, may seem for us gardeners, it teaches us restraint and sobriety before the floral excesses of spring engulfs our senses. There is something said about the ability of a bracing walk to contemplate and innovate. And there is always the promise of catalogs to dream, snowdrops, hellebores, and witch hazels to welcome, and a chance to breathe. See you in the New Year!

Take care, Eric

In this warmer corner of the house is the surprise sight of narcissi flowering. The neutral colors of the stone wall flatter the yellow flowers and green lawn.

In this warmer corner of the house is the surprise sight of narcissi flowering. The neutral colors of the stone wall flatter the yellow flowers and green lawn.

10 with Tom Coward

Gravetye Manor

The Long Border at Gravetye Manor

Can you introduce yourself?

My name is Tom Coward and I’m the head gardener at Gravetye Manor

The Arts or Horticulture, which do you feel most associated with?

Horticulture

Tom at Great DixterTell us a bit about yourself and your background?

I have worked as a gardener since I was 15 in various situations. My last job was assistant head gardener at Great Dixter before moving to Gravetye Manor nearly four years ago.

Can you recall your first gardening memory?

One of my first gardening jobs was for a rather rough but charming old man called Cornel Yule. He used to sit on a deck chair and bark commands as I worked, occasionally lashing out with his stick if I missed some weeds. At first he was a bit intimidating but he mellowed over time and I enjoyed it. He was a fascinating man.

Sussex Landscape

Do you remember the first time you were captivated by a color?

I can’t say I do. The colors that really inspire me are in the landscape that’s always around me.

Great Dixter

Great Dixter

What garden public or private inspires you?

Great Dixter of course, Wisley is pretty special, like a library of plants and I found my visit to Chanticleer a few years ago very inspiring.

Pond Garden at Chanticleer

Pond Garden at Chanticleer

Brighton Pavilion

Brighton Pavilion

If  left alone on an island and you could choose one plant and one piece of art, what would be your pick?

Can I take the Brighton Pavilion as my piece of art please? Is that too greedy? And I would fill the grounds with asparagus or fruit trees.

Gravetye Orchard

Gravetye Orchard

Flower Garden at Gravetye

Flower Garden at Gravetye

What would your dream project be?

The work I have been doing at Gravetye is a dream project come true. It is a charming, magical, historic old garden that had suffered a lot of decay. To have the opportunity to try to pull such a special place together again has been so exciting and rewarding.

Horse pond at Great Dixter

Horse pond at Great Dixter

What specific sources of creative outlets do you often turn to?

Other Gardeners and gardens.

Any last words of wisdom that you care to share with others?

I think the most important thing is to never forget the reason why we love working with plants so much and the pleasure that can be shared through growing them.

VeraThank you Tom, and Vera