Category Archives: Garden Visiting

RSPB Lodge Sandy Wildlife Garden

Garden Finder entry for RSBP Lodge Garden

I don’t miss the Lodge Garden of the 1870s – because there is no reason to think its quality was exceptional. Nor do I miss the Lodge Garden of the 1930s, partly for the same reason and partly because the National Trust has made so many ‘improved Arts and Crafts’ gardens.

The RSBP Lodge bulding, near Sandy, was designed by Henry Clutton (above) for Arthur Wellesley Peel (below)

Photographers are able to find angles which make the Lodge Garden look National Trusty, which is the right thing to do near the house. But by taking a close look one can see that the RSBP has begun work on something more innovatory and more important. It is using its technical expertise to make a wildlife garden. There is every reason for the RSPB to know more about this and to do it an way that can be an inspiration to both amateur and professional gardeners. My suggestion is for the RSPB to make a garden that is beautiful, as well being habitat-rich. My video was taken in 2009 and I am sorry to criticise such a worthwhile effort. The Lodge Garden looks as though a group of conservation volunteers from a sixth-form college had been invited to have a bash at making a wildlife garden. There should now be a concentration on design quality.

Garden birds have been popular at least since the gardens of ancient China and ancient Rome

London has 13.2% of the UK’s population and the area of private gardens  in London  37,900 hectares. Gardens tend to be larger outside London so land devoted to gardens in the UK could be 300,000 ha. Comparing this with the area of the National Nature Reserves in the UK (94,400 hectares) it is obvious that the RSPB could do a lot for the UK’s bird population by creating a first class example of an Ornithological Garden for the Lodge. Birds were highly valued in ancient Chinese and Roman gardens.

Stockwood Park historic period garden styles

A period garden in the old walled garden at Stockwood (photo Stockwood Discovery Centre)

 Stockwood Park in Bedfordshire has an interesting collection of period gardens in various styles. I like them but would like them even more if the the designers had been more careful in making use of known information about historic styles of garden design in the UK.

Steven Desmond Gardens of the Italian Lakes – book review by Tom Turner

gardens Italian lakes

Marianne Majerus’ photographs of the gardens of the Italian lakes are delightful

The Italian Lakes are a fantastic place for gardens, comparable with Kashmir. They have great scenery, wonderful light, a terrific climate and extremely wealthy residents who have been building luxurious villas and gardens since Roman times. Though only a small proportion of the total, many villas and gardens are open for visits. Even better, you can travel to them by public ferries, which is so much better than driving long distances on exhausting roads. The book describes 17 gardens.
Of its type, this is a very good book. Readable, well-illustrated and and informative. If you are wondering about a visit to the gardens of the Italian lakes, this is the book to buy. The last chapter has maps and details of garden opening times ‘at the time of writing’. Garden owners do tend to be conservative about opening times but, in case they change, you can find links to the the garden websites below.
But what type of book is this? More than anything, it puts me in mind of a set of articles which might have been written for a glossy magazine. Steven Desmond, the author, ‘is a gardener’ who leads garden tours and ‘advises on the conservation of historic gardens and writes for Country Life.’
He is good on general chit-chat and sets the gardens in the context of the personalities and historical contexts in which the gardens were formed. The plants and planting are very well handled, picking out notable examples but keeping horticulture in balance with other considerations.
The things I miss in the book are garden plans and an art-historical account of the styles represented in the gardens. The terms Renaissance, Mannerist, Baroque, Romantic etc are used but without any information either about their characteristics or about how they apply to gardens (see our Style Guide for further information on design styles and please contact us if you offer tours of the gardens of the Italian lakes to add to our Garden Tours section on Italy.

Gardens of the Italian Lakes by Steven Desmond was published by Frances Lincoln in May 2016



1 . ISOLA BELLA Open from late March to late October, daily 9 a.m. to 5.30 p.m.
2. ISOLA MADRE The garden is open from late March to late October, daily 9 a.m. to 5.30 p.m.
3. VILLA TARANTO The garden is open from late March to the end of October, daily 8.30 a.m. to 6.30 p.m.; during October, the garden closes at 4 p.m.
5. VILLA DELLA PORTA Bozzolo The garden is open from March to November, from Wednesday to Sunday 10 am to 6 pm
6. VILLA CICOGNA MAZZONI The garden is open for guided visits on Sundays and public holidays from April to October, 9.30 a.m. to 12 noon, and 2.30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
7. VILLA PALLAVICINO The garden is open from mid-March to the end of October, daily 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., with the last entry at 5 p.m.
8. ALPINIA The garden is open from mid-April to mid-October, daily 9.30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
9. BOTANIC GARDEN OF THE BRISSAGO ISLANDS The garden is open from late March to late October, daily 9am to 6pm.


10. VILLA MELZI The garden is open from late March to the end of October, daily 9.30 a.m. to 6.30 p.m.
11. VILLA CARLOTTA The garden is open from early April to mid-October, daily 9 a.m. to 7.30 p.m. (the ticket office closes at 6 p.m)
12. VILLA DEL BALBIANELLO The garden is open from mid-March to mid-November, daily except Mondays and Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with last entry at 5.15 p.m.
13. VILLA SOMMI PICENARDI The garden is open by prior arrangement
14. VILLA SERBELLONI Tours are available from mid-March to the end of October, daily except Mondays, at 11 a.m. and 2.30 p.m. I POI-points-ofinterest/villa-serbelloni-garden
15. VILLA CIPRESSI Access to the hotel garden by ticket from reception:
16. VILLA MONASTERO The garden is open from March to the end of October, daily 9.30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
17. VILLA D’ESTE The garden can be visited by arrangement with the hotel:

Most of the gardens are beside the lakes and easily accessible by ferry

Most of the gardens are beside the lakes and easily accessible by ferry

Is Greenwich Park London’s most interesting Royal Park?

I think the answer is ‘yes’ – and it should certainly be included in London garden tours. For a start, it is the oldest of London’s Royal Parks. Greenwich has associations with the period in British history most loved by the BBC and English schools. Only the 1930s and ’40s rival the Tudors.
Greenwich was enclosed by Duke Humphrey of Gloucester, who also built what became the Royal Palace of Placentia. Henry VIII was born here. So was his daughter, Elizabeth I. The design and the design history are also of great interest. Greenwich Park began as a late-medieval Hunting Park with an Early Renaissance garden. It was then influenced by the Baroque Style in the seventeenth century by the Serpentine style in the eighteenth century and by the Gardenesque Style in the nineteenth century. The green laser beam is a Post-Abstract twenty-first century addition – and a great idea. The designers who influenced the park include Inigo Jones, André Le Nôtre, John Evelyn Christopher Wren, Lancelot Brown and John Claudius Loudon.