On Wednesday morning, I loaded my phone with podcasts (the devastating S-Town, since you ask, 5 stars from me) and settled into my car for the long pilgrimage up to Scampston Hall on the edge of the North Yorkshire moors.
With its legendary Piet Oudolf garden rooms, the site has long been on on my wish list. But the clincher was the chance to spend several hours drinking in the ideas of Professor Dunnett.
He didn’t disappoint, with lots of nuts-and-bolts advice on how to satisfy our almost child-like need for a colourful evocation of nature. He explained where he stands in the (not so new) New Perennial movement. In a nutshell: increasingly he identifies himself as part of a new British style which is more free-flowing, colourful, painterly. Less purist and dogmatic than its Dutch and German proponents.
To add to the glut of horti knowledge there was tour with the affable Paul Smith Head Gardener at Scampston. More useful nuts-and-bolts stuff. Those iconic grass swathes (Molinia caerulia ‘Poul Petersen’) are the original plants, 17-years old. How so fresh and vibrant? They are raked out and cut to the base in January, their crowns almost “ground down” to reduce woodiness with a ride-on mower.
The event was one of a series of Masterclasses organised by Annie Guilfoyle and Noel Kingsbury: https://www.gardenmasterclass.org/ Next week, they have grass wizard Neil Lucas at Bury Court - a Piet Oudolf, Christopher Bradley-Hole garden double bill – near Farnham.
Should be great, but only enough journey time for half an episode of S-Town.