Tag Archives: PARHAM

Finally the Dahlia Papers on dahlias

The perfect crimson dahlia ‘Doris Day’, 2017 dahlia trials, Parham, West Sussex

I track down Parham Head Gardener, Tom Brown, in his office where he is carefully stowing away a fat pile of seed packets into a battle-worn filing cabinet.  ‘Melon seeds’ he grins. The seeds have been brought back from Italy by the Barnard family, who live in this beautiful Elizabethan house in West Sussex, and one of the many challenges Tom will be cheerily taking on in the coming months will be to see how successfully he can get these new varieties of melon to grow.

Tom has invited me to Parham to see his 2017 Dahlia Trials. I am delighted to be returning to this atmospheric and constantly inventive garden (see my July 2016 post) and I am thrilled to have the chance at last, after four years of writing a blog called The Dahlia Papers, to consider this most uplifting plant.

I love pretty much everything about the dahlia. I love the sheer ballroom-dance-competition glee of each fluffier, more neatly sequinned variety:

Gorgeous salmon pink and cream dahlia above and Dahlia ‘Karma Yin Yang’ below spotted at the Chelsea Flower Show

And I love the neat pompom and ball dahlias for the impossible regularity of of their daintily sculpted, rounded heads – here in polka dot form at the Great Dixter Autumn Plant Fair  (7th and 8th October – go if you can!).  

There are single dahlias too, of subtle or dazzling shades, that can lift or add depth to a border over a long period in late summer. Dahlia ‘Poppy Scotland’ is a particularly clear bright red cultivar available as a rooted cutting from the National Dahlia Collection .

                                                                       Dahlia ‘Poppy Scotland’

Dahlias have, of course, become fashionable again in recent times. As has my part of London, Peckham, where exquisitely wrapped English dahlias are available alongside equally exquisite flat breads, pears and cheeses at the lovely General Store in Bellenden Road.

Exquisitely wrapped English dahlias, General Store, Peckham

Naturally, for the 21st birthday party of our twin sons at the beginning of this month, dahlias were the obvious cheerful choice:

Party preparation – rainbow candles, bunting and dahlias

21st birthday party – with dahlias – photo by Freddie Reed

21st birthday party – with dahlias – photo by Freddie Reed

But back to Parham where fifty glorious dahlias have been trialled this summer alongside swathes of gladiolus and a huge patchwork square of zinnias.



The 2017 dahlia trials at Parham, West Sussex

This is the third year of plant trials in the garden. They began as an ingenious solution to the question: how do you get rid of an infestation of bind weed in a tired border and simultaneously offer something for the visitor to look at? As an experiment, Tom Brown asked his team to see if they could come up with 100 varieties of sunflower. The team cleared the bed and covered the ground with plastic membrane to smother the regrowth, but at the same time  planted the sunflower seeds through small holes in the plastic. The result was a fantastic display and of course the chance to really get to know and compare the sunflowers so that future selections could be based on their own close observation and not just the persuasive description in a seed catalogue. This is gold dust research – for the record, favourites include ‘Alchemy’ , the creamy white ‘Vanilla Ice’ and ‘Munchkin’.

The ‘Munchkin’ sunflower has been a particular favourite of the Parham ‘flower ladies’ who use cut flowers from the garden throughout the spring and summer to create displays for the house. They like the smaller scale of the flower heads and its branching habit is helpful when creating relaxed arrangements. As we pass a particularly exuberant ‘Munchkin’ plant, Tom admits that he is unable to explain what happened to the supposedly ‘dwarf’ characteristic on this one:

An inexplicably tall  ‘Munchkin’ sunflower

In 2016 there was an equally seductive allium trial and for 2017 Tom enlisted the help of dahlia expert Richard Ramsey (of nearby specialist dahlia nursery Withypitts ) to come up with a list of fifty favourite dahlias for the Parham gardeners and visitors alike to get to know better. The dahlias are arranged in long rows, supported with a grid of string, and have been picked continuously so that their vase performance can be tested too.

The sumptuous pink Dahlia ‘Prefet Demange’, Parham dahlia trials

Each of the six Parham gardeners has had their say in the ultimate list of top ten favourites and some tubers  will be immediately reordered for use around the garden next year.

The perky orange and yellow ‘Charlie Dimmock’ has made the top ten and will be used in the about-to-be-revamped Gold Border. Again the flower ladies liked its lightly spreading, smaller flowered form when left to its own devices. To get a larger flower on a long straight stem, the trick with a dahlia is to remove the two side buds and leave the terminal bud to develop into a champion flower.

Dahlia ‘Charlie Dimmock’ – a long stemmed champion flower

Dahlia Charlie Dimmock – left to grow as more relaxed sprays

The substantial semi-cactus Dahlia ‘Black Jack’ has also confirmed its place as an absolute favourite (I particularly love the energy of ‘Black Jack’ as a just opening bud).

Dahlia ‘Black Jack’ – open and in bud

And Dahlia ‘Small World’ – a free flowering crisp white pompom dahlia did not in fact get to the Top Ten (it was pipped tot the post by ‘Snowflake’ but has been selected by one of the gardeners, Reese, to be used next year as a sort of small mounding shrub at the front of the White Border.

Dahlia ‘Small World’

There is a gorgeous, waxy salmon pink dahlia ‘Aljo’ which also made the top ten.

Dahlia ‘Aljo’

And two of my favourites which are looking particularly good on the day I visit (not such a reliable approach, clearly) are featured below: The cheerful, ‘Dutch Carnival with its super neat circles of red and yellow petals and the delicate, almost transparent ‘Brother Josh’.

Dahlia ‘Dutch Carnival’ (above) and ‘Brother Josh’ (below)

The trial bed is buzzing midweek in September with visitors examining and selecting their own preferred blooms.  The next stage, of course – if you are not growing dahlias on their own as cut flowers –  is to work out how to combine them in the border.

Dahlias are always used with exhilarating panache at Great Dixter . Visitors to the Autumn Plant Fair will be able to catch the late autumn garden there in full swing.

I love the sugar pink Dahlia ‘Hillcrest Candy’ here soaring to the sky with a backdrop of arching miscanthus.

Dahlia ‘Hillcrest Candy’, Great Dixter

In the Barn Garden, the fiery red Dahlia ‘Wittermans superba’ is used with brilliant simplicity against a plain green foil of a fan trained fig. 

Dahlia ‘Witterman’s Superba’ against the magnificent fan trained fig, Barn Garden, Great Dixter

And here a deep pink dahlia – possibly ‘Hillcrest Royal’ – is a rich accent in a celebratory dance of a border with spiky cardoons, the burnt orange Helenium ‘Sahin’s Early Flowerer’ and the crazily tall Persicaria orientalist – kiss-me-over-the-garden-gate.

Dahlia ‘Hillcrest Royal’ adds a deep accent to a border, Great Dixter

One of my favourite Great Dixter combinations is Dahlia ‘Mexican Black’ – a single flowered dahlia which is actually a cross with the chocolate scented Cosmos atrosanguineus  – used as a covetable bobbing partner for the rhythmic, deep purple Salvia ‘Amistad’.

Dahlia ‘Mexican Black’ with Salvia ‘Amistad’

I cannot leave Parham, of course, without endless other aspects of the garden catching my eye.

The Entrance Border is looking spectacularly bruised and moody.

Entrance Border, Parham

I am smitten by Dicentra scandens – a pale yellow, climbing bleeding heart I have not met before that lightly clambers over and through the bed which Tom assures me can be grown as an annual if planted in June.

Dicentra scandens clambering over sedum in the Entrance Border, Parham

I like the subtle combination of both pale pink and coral pink persicaria with feathery calamagrostis:

Persicaria amplixicaulis ‘Rosea’ and ‘Firetail’ with feathery calamagrostis, Entrance Border, Parham

There is a slightly more silvery version of this palette in the Prairie Border. I love the use of pale yellow Bidens heterophylla to lighten the mood and the way the silky tassels of miscanthus and the dull pink of Eupatoreum work so well with the mottled brick of the wall behind them.

The Prairie Border, Parham with pale yellow widens lighting up the border

There are simple, strong effects such as this stand of white Japanese anemone against an open garden gate

Japanese anemone against garden gate, Parham

And the zinnia trials introduce me to the delicious antique looking  ‘Queen Red Lime’ (which did indeed make the Parham 2017 top ten):

Zinnia elegans ‘Queen Red Lime’

Of the many exciting projects at Parham, I am particularly intrigued by a new planting of lilac and Iris sibirica .

New planting of Syringa vulgaris ‘Katherine Havemeyer’ and Iris sibirica

Landscape designer,  Todd Longstaffe-Gowan comes to Parham a couple of times a year to act as an advisor and sounding board. A plan was developed to do away with a tired looking lavender cross and fill the space with romantic and traditional lilac shrubs emerging from pools of slender Iris sibirica. The gorgeous ‘Katherine Havemeyer’ was selected for the lilac: Ashridge Trees describes it as is a scented, double flowered lilac with ‘an elusive colour that ranges from lavender pink to mauvey blue depending on the time of day and  the intensity of the light’.

Syringa vulgaris ‘Katherine Havemeyer’

100 each of 12 different cultivars of Iris sibirica were planted, as a sort of fast track on-the-job  trial. ln fact Iris sibirica ‘Silver edge’ is already outstripping its neighbours as ‘by far the best blue’. This part of the garden is looking young and quiet at the moment and Tom and his team are making sure that the iris are given a couple of years of pampering, removing any competing grass and mulching generously to get them established. I can imagine a visit in late May in a year or two’s time when the groups of iris with their fine mauve-blue flowers and slim sword shaped leaves form a wonderful graceful understory to the clouds of lilac in full flower.

Iris sibirica ‘Katherine Havemeyer’

A quick peak into one of the new glasshouses reveals that Tom has, despite his initial modesty, already succeeded in growing some perfect specimens of melon. The glass house is heady with their scent and I feel very stupid not to have known before that melons are supported in string bags.

Melons in the glass house at Parham

My contribution is to recommend the passionate Amy Goldman’s book on melons  (I have written about Amy Goldman in my post A Gardener’s Letter to Paris ).

As I am leaving Parham a magnificent stone trough catches my eye. Airy rich yellow bidens, scarlet salvia and gorgeous trails of the purple bell vine, Rhodochiton atrosanguineus. The planting is one hundred percent Parham: exuberant, delicate and slightly unexpected. Thank you Tom for another inspiring visit.

Stone trough with widens, salvia and purple bell vine, Parham, West Sussex




IMG_5573Electric blue delphiniums emerge from the box parterre in The Vegetable Garden, Parham

IMG_2959Quietly psychadelic succulents fill a stone trough in The Herb Garden

I must have visited the gardens of Parham House for the first time about ten years ago in the era of talented Head Gardeners Ray Gibbs and Joe Reardon-Smith. I remember the uplifting, overspilling opulence of the planting and trying to hold onto exactly what was making each group of plants sing. The dashes of white which turned out to be the palest blue Veronica gentianoides and the subtle interweaving of burnt – or not so burnt –  orange and terracotta to jolt a border soft blues into something richer and more velvety.

IMG_5518Parham House, West Sussex

The 16th Century house at Parham has been owned and lived in by a member of the Pearson family since the early 1920’s. The Pearsons, together with architect Victor Heal and American garden designer Lanning Roper, did much to create the shape and atmosphere of the current garden and there was another big push in the 1980’s when, with the help of garden designer Peter Coats, the 18th century walled enclosure was moved one step further away from its original life as a productive garden for a large household and turned into a garden of mixed borders and lawns. The current Head Gardener is Tom Brown. A Sarah Raven article in the Telegraph about his recent allium trial – ‘How to Grow the most show-stopping alliums for your garden’ – triggered seductive memories of my earlier visit. The last day of June was one of brooding skies, but no rain, and I found myself heading towards the South Coast, hoping quietly to find some midsummer inspiration.

IMG_5521St Peter’s Church, Parham

IMG_5519Parkland and views to rolling Sussex countryside, Parham
IMG_2923A stand of mature oak trees, Parham

I am delighted by pretty much everything. The parkland around the house, stretching out to the rolling Sussex countryside,  is exquisite, with views framed by the dipping branches of mature cedar and oak trees. The grass is still mostly green with just the beginnings of faded coral where bands of grass have allowed to grow tall.

I walk through the Clock Tower courtyard under glowering skies and enter the garden via a walkway of lovely multi-stemmed box and holly trees.

IMG_2918 The Clock Tower, entrance courtyard, Parham

IMG_2926Multi-stemmed box trees lead the way into the garden.

The  Entrance Borders are just beginning to come into their own but I am thrilled to see the radiantly highlighted, bruised colouring I have been trying to recall. The borders are wide enough to accommodate a series of tree-like pineapple-scented philadelphus, and the famous tapestry-style planting uses claret coloured berberis and cotinus together with the bright greens of Alchemilla mollis and golden hops to frame the borders which are laced with fiery red marigolds, the cooler almost mint green of Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (in its June guise) and an almost apricot yellow daylily:

IMG_2928The dusky Entrance Borders, Parham, illuminated with spreading white Philadelphus

IMG_5628Golden hops, bronze fennel, apricot-yellow day lilies, and yet-to-ripen head of Allium sphaerocephalon, The Entrance Borders, Parham



Philadelphus, Sedum ‘Autum Joy’ ( June stage!), Alchemilla mollis, aliums, marigolds, bronze fennel – Entrance Borders, Parham

As with all good planting the proportions of plants and the way they are combined is constantly and skilfully varied. There are more sombre areas – here a leggy mauve geranium is screened by a haze of bronze fennel with just a small quantity of red marigold at the base of the planting:

IMG_2931A sombre moment of geranium, bronze fennel and a flash of red marigold

Elsewhere, a stretch of quiet green and white is lit up by a dazzling pocket of Berberis thunbergii “Aurea’:
IMG_5527                          The border is lit up by a pocket of the shrub Berberis thunbergii ‘Aurea’

Berberis seems to me such an old-fashioned plant, but I am smitten by the way it works in this border and am tempted to try it myself. Here it is again as a fine contrast to a clear mauve geranium (possibly ‘Mrs Kendall Clarke’ ) which in turn sings out against the shady burgundy seed heads of honesty, Lunaria annua:

IMG_5530Berberis thunbergii ‘Aurea’ , mauve geranium and seed heads of Lunaria annua

A little further up the same geranium is more intensely luminous against the rounded, deep red leaves of the smoke bush, Cotinus coggygria (probably ‘Royal Purple’):


Geranium ‘Mrs Kendall Clarke’ against Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple

And a little further on still, the Cotinus becomes more intense – almost black –  when it is a foil to the bright green leaves and  vivid pink-red tapers of persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Firetail’:

IMG_2949Persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Firetail’ against Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’

The smaller leaves of the equally dark red berberis, a form of Berberis thunbergii f. atropurpurea, catch the light more easily themselves and form a more balanced picture with the marigold, sedum and daylily in this group:

IMG_2948A balanced, light-catching group of Berberis thunbergii f. atropurpurea, red marigold, orange yellow day lily and Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’

Looking up, I love the dirty gold-green of golden hops, Humulus lupus ‘Aureus’, and the way it is encouraged to loop and festoon its way over the handsome smudgy green trellis, casting a greenish light on the already not-completely-white Philadelphus.

IMG_2943Golden hops festoons the trellis, with sweet-scented Philadelphus in the foreground

And I cannot help but be enchanted by the mushroom of brilliant green wisteria foliage that forms a fairy tale entrance into the nursery:



Wisteria foliage makes a fairy tale entrance into the nursery

Further along, another softly clothed opening in the border – alchemilla, pink geranium, red marigold: why not? – leads you through a brick opening into the Herb Garden:IMG_5528 (1)                                                      Softly clothed entrance into The Herb Garden

The Herb Garden at Parham is pretty perfect. There are four completely charming, immaculately proportioned, wooden benches, one in each corner of this voluptuous space enclosed in high hedges of clipped yew. Each bench is settled lightly and invitingly into its corner.  I love the bench below with its patchwork apron of worn flagstones and Alchemilla mollis, its simple backdrop of upright ferns and its anchoring neighbour, a rectangular stone trough which is gently fizzing with slightly psychedelic pink and grey succulents.

IMG_2956 IMG_2957 IMG_2958

IMG_2959One of four perfect benches in The Herb Garden – this one settled into its space with a stone trough planted with slightly psychedelic pink and grey succulents

Another bench is at the end of a small, winding green path brightened with tantalising spires of the slender cream foxglove, Digitalis lutea:

IMG_2965Winding gravel path to a second bench with slender spires of the creamy Digitalis lutea

A third bench is satisfyingly deeply set in the shade of an old apple tree:

IMG_2963 (1)A third bench deep in the shade of an old apple tree

The centre of the Herb Garden is exuberantly planted with culinary herbs and herbaceous perennials. The almost decadently fading flowers of the towering Angelica archangelica take centre stage, with the tall daisy-like flowers of inula providing a fresher yellow, and the tiny button like lemon-yellow flowers of the green leaved santolina, Santolina pinnata subsp. neapolitana, making a handsome curved edging for the central pond.

IMG_2944 (1)


The centre of The Herb Garden with towering Angelica archangelica, Alchemilla mollis everywhere and the tiny lemon yellow flowers of Santollina pinnata subsp. neapolitana edging the pond.

The way out of the Herb Garden looks as richly enticing as the way in – you know you are in the hands of masterful gardeners:

IMG_5539View as you leave The Herb Garden

A central pair of borders, The Blue and Gold Borders, cross the entire walled garden, with cooler blue colours to the West and warmer gold colours to the East:

IMG_5550FIrst view of the Blue Border

The borders are flanked at intervals by muscly espalier apple trees and elsewhere by simple wooden fencing which is cleverly broken up by basic wooden arches in a staggered art deco shape. These work brilliantly, especially as they age and become covered in lichen and, as here, host the purple leaved vine Vitis vinifera ‘Purpurea’:

IMG_5549Espalier apple trees edge the border

IMG_5571Art deco style arches act as pause points in the fence – the older lichen-covered arch above is clothed in Vitis vinifera ‘Purpurea’

The planting at the ‘blue’ end is particularly inspiring. In this photograph, the white rosebay willow herb, Chamerion angustifolium ‘Album’, is planted with the palest lilac-flowered Valeriana pyrenaica. Tall stands of red orach,  Atriplex hortensis  var. rubra, pick up the maroon staining of the Valerian’s stems and allow the white and dusky lilac to be read. It is a gorgeous group of plants.

IMG_5551Chamerion angustifolium ‘Album’, Valeriana pyrenaica and red orach

A little further on, the all-yellow, fluffy headed thalictrum, Thalictrum flavum subsp. glaucum (which I have never used, but faithful readers will know that I am becoming an unstoppable fan of the colour yellow in the garden) provides a soft foil for the vibrant Persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Firetail’:

IMG_5553Thalictrum flavum subsp. glaucum and Persicaria ‘Firetail’

And elsewhere, the bicolour taller thalictrum, Thalilctrum ‘Elin’, is an intriguing combination of soft yellow and purple:

IMG_5540Thalictrum ‘Elin’

At this point in the border, the mix of low-key yellow, faded pink and white have a seductive 70’s polaroid quality:
IMG_5544        Thalictrum flavum subsp. glaucum, Valeriana pyrenaica, Chamerion angustifolium ‘Album’

The classic, mound-forming, silver foliage plant, Artemisia ludoviciana ‘Valerie Finnis’ is one that has definitely moved higher up my list of plants to try to bring a border together with a gentle sparkle. It is used throughout the garden and is a wonderful foil for both bright and more subtle colours.


The silver foliage of Artemisa ludoviciana ‘Valerie Finnis’ with the just emerging Chamerion angustifolium ‘Album’

Elsewhere there are the rich purple uprights of Salvia nemerosa ‘Caradonna’ together with the dreamier mauve-pink catmint (probably) Nepeta grandiflora ‘Dawn to Dusk’ – the opposing qualities of each plant work surprisingly well when put next door to each other.


Salvia nemerosa  ‘Caradonna’ with Nepeta grandiflora ‘Dawn to Dusk’

The salvia, together with classic blue catmint and a rich blue geranium, anchor the border and                      keep it just about in the blue/purple spectrum!
IMG_2998                              Mounds of salvia, catmint and blue geranium anchor the border

There is an immediate colour shift as you approach the Gold Border. Stipa gigantea erupts with its usual brilliancy into a series of fine bronze fireworks and, here, the sword-like foliage and pale yellow flowers of Sisyrinchium striatum anchors the planting:
IMG_5558 IMG_5559

IMG_5563The bronze fireworks of Stipa gigantea are anchored by the swordlike foliage and pale yellow flowers of Sisyrinchium striatum in the Gold Border

The subtle colouring continues with the coppery mauve foliage of Rosa glauca acting as a foil for pale lilac Valeriana pyrenaica – with the dirty gold of Humulus lupulus ‘Aureus’ above and golden marjoram below lighting up the scene.


Rosa glauca with Valeriana pyrenaica, Humulus lupulus ‘Aureus’ and Origanum vulgare ‘Aureum’

The dusky mauve Sedum ‘Matrona’ – my favourite sedum – is introduced as a deft rhythmic base plant and then little shocks are introduced: more golden hops threaded though at low level, a burnt orange knifophia singing out from a haze of bronze fennel, and then a flotilla of flat red brown heads amongst the mauves: Achillea millefolium ‘Terracotta’:


                                                                          Sedum ‘Matrona’IMG_3016                                                  Sedum ‘Matrona’ with golden hops

IMG_5561An orange Kniphofia amongst sedum and bronze fennel
IMG_3018The flat heads of Achillea millefolium ‘Terracotta’ with Sedum ‘Matrona’

Next to the Blue and Gold borders is The Vegetable Garden – a huge box parterre for growing cut flowers so there are sudden bursts of electric blue delphinium, cloudy white heads of Amni magus, or pokey heads of the last-to-flower giant allium from the June allium trials.

IMG_3024 (1)


IMG_5575Clipped box, electric blue delphinium, Amni majus, and giant allium in bud
IMG_5574The Vegetable Garden Parterre

The spring meadow grass around a pair of charismatically ageing medlar trees has been raked into stook-like piles at the base of the trees. I am suddenly transported to the South of France and summer holidays:



Medlar trees with raked meadow grass

There is the charming wendy house built in 1928 by Clive Pearson for his three daughters – a perfectly detailed two storey cottage built into the garden wall  – and there is the rather less impressive photographic record of me hopelessly trying help you work out the scale of the perfectly formed wendy house for yourself…. I love the idea that the family still have an annual tradition of spending one summer night here, lighting the fire, cooking sausages and telling ghost stories.

IMG_5582                                                                 The 1928 Wendy House

IMG_5586 (1)                                        A not very helpful selfie to show the scale of Wendy House …

Next to the wendy house, another perfectly lichened bench surrounded by ferns and mounds of silver Artemisia ludoviciana ‘Valerie Finnis’:


And then a lovely stretch of old brick and flint wall, gates painted with red estate paint and confident shady planting of Digitalis lutea, hosta, Alchemilla mollis, and the rather brilliant addition of sea holly – Eryngium giganteum ‘Silver Ghost’? – which at this point of the year is a pale silvery green (it will turn to silver blue as it matures) and a fantastic counterpoint to the acid green of the alchemilla:IMG_5585                                                                                Digitalis lutea



IMG_3042A fine stretch of shady planting – the bottom photo shows the acid green of Alchemilla mollis and the pale silvery green of the young Eryngium giganteum ‘Silver Ghost’

Moving round the garden, the orchard has also been mown and neatly raked, and is ready for summer. There is a feisty wildlife-friendly strip of ferns and stinging nettles against the orchard wall: proof that wild life friendliness and a sense of order can be happy bedfellows.


IMG_3050                         The orchard with a strip of wild-life friendly nettles at its edge

I pass the elegant lake with its latticed wall and views out to the Sussex hills:

IMG_5599The lake at Parham

And as I leave the main part of the garden I notice this excellent combination of plants for shade – Begonia evansiana ssp. evansiana whose heart shaped leaves will be joined by simple shell pink flowers in late summer – and Tiarella ‘Spring Symphony’ with its starry pale pink flowers and purple blotched leaves which will carpet the ground all summer.

IMG_3046 (1)

Begonia grandis sbsp. evansiana and Tiarella ‘Spring Symphony’

One final leg to my tour. I pass through a shadowy room with lead paned windows where jewel coloured pelargonium flowers are collected in simple glass vases:

IMG_5631 IMG_5632                                            Pelargoniums in simple glass vases against lead paned windows

through the elongated kaleidoscope of the greenhouses:

IMG_3061Route through the greenhouses

to the loveliest, completely simple composition of flint wall, catmint in quantity, stone pineapple, glossy banana plant and pair of orange fox tail lilies:



IMG_5637 IMG_5643

Emerging from the green houses to a sea of catmint, a stone pineapple, a banana plant and some brilliant orange foxtail lilies

I sneak inside the house before I leave, I am running out of time. Worth visiting alone for the 160ft Elizabethan Long Gallery ceiling painted with a twisting design of leaves and flowers in green and gold against white by stage and set designer Oliver Messel in the 20th century:
messel 1 messel 2

Barrel vaulted ceiling of the Long Gallery, Parham,  restored in the 20’s and 30’s and painted with a design by Oliver Messel which was completed in the 1960’s

Even the windows of the house have subtle colour shifts that offer dreamy pallor and sweet intensity in the most enticing combinations:


View of the park at Parham from one of the house windows.

Post Script:  I will not be posting again for a couple of months as I am travelling all over the UK on writing and also garden design commissions .  Wishing you a very good summer, Non.