Thoughts from a Foreign Field

An Introduction


America. The good old US of A. Land of the Free and Home of the Brave, etc. etc.

I am delighted to be able to move amongst you discerning readers of Fine Gardening, spreading light news from across the oceans, a sprinkling of compost and general garden jollity. Thank you very much for the invitation.

I suppose this first post should explain to you who, what and why I am here. I am a garden designer, journalist, lecturer, occasional broadcaster and blogger based in England. I live with my wife and three large children (who are of an age where they are seldom here) in a house we built on the site of an old farmyard in Northamptonshire.

backpits before
Blackpitts Before
blackpitts now
Blackpitts Now

It is about an acre in size with lots of borders that brim, buzz and fettle with colour. We also have an orchard and share a vegetable garden with my mother-in-law.

So that is about the long and short of it: you now know (almost) everything. I am sure more details will trickle out as we get to know each other better.

Over on this side of the pond we like to think that we have been gardening for longer than anybody (which is manifestly untrue if you factor in the Assyrians, Chinese, Japanese, Babylonian, Romans, Greeks and many other civilisations) and it is definitely a compulsion which affects a lot of Brits. This is helped by the fact that we do have a remarkably tolerant climate with lots of rain, no deserts and not much to speak of in the way of snow. We can grow lots of things and we have gardens of great variety from grand Downton-Abbey-type estates to little back yards in the middle of cities.

I will be writing for your regularly and will use those bulletins to fill you in on insights into British gardening life. The practical, the eccentric, the mundane, the edible, the decorative and the staggeringly lovely.

Please tag along for the ride.

View Comments


  1. shineeday 02/14/2013

    Wow....impressive! Will you please tell me the names of the flowers in your beautiful display and also detail your motivation for planting them? Which are your favorites? What colors are you drawn to? Are any of them fragrant? Thanks


  2. JamesAS 02/15/2013

    Hi Kristine.
    Thank you.
    There is a lot of stuff in there but the rose in the foreground is called Rosa Cornelia, the orange by the steps is a Papaver orientalis whose namer I have forgotten and the pinky/purple flowers with black blotches are just annual Poppies.
    There is a lot of fragrance and I am always changing my mind about colours and favourites. Hopefully, the more I blog here, the more I can tell you.
    Stick around and see!

  3. TheHappyHippy 02/20/2013

    What a great job, done well. Reminds me of my old Georgian home in the UK.
    I'm starting over, house is built and now learning all about tropical plants down here in the Caribbean - coming along slowly but surely. Will be good to watch your progress and be encouraged. Thanks so very much for the inspiration!

  4. jwr15 02/25/2013

    Good morning,
    welcome, I'm sure that we will all enjoy your trans-pond perspective. Having been to England twice, I was most impressed, not by the grand estate gardens, but by what the private gardeners were able to accomplish with their sometimes tiny plots and sidewalk borders. It was a joy to walk in ordinary town and village neighborhoods and take in the variety of lovingly tended plants and metrically edged lawns. One of the simplest and most impressive was a huge hanging basket of blue lobelia. The lady told me that she took it down each day to water it by dunking in a bucket. She was petite and not young, and the basket was obviously heavy!

  5. Phillippa 02/25/2013

    nothing like an English garden...that wonderful swath of colour ! my father in law had the most magnificent roses and peonies, but you could not cut ONE FLOWER!! hilarious... Gardening in Wyoming is challenging, but can be done.

  6. BATCHKEN 02/26/2013

    I will enjoy your blog along with gardeners question time. I garden in the PNW but am from the Lake District. Welcome to the best gardening magazine this side of the pond!

  7. LazyG 02/28/2013

    The flowers look splendid, I hope to create something similar here in N. Carolina. I too am almost starting from scratch. My property has laid in a mediocre suburban state for the last twenty years while I earned a living. I am now retired and am looking forward to developing my dream garden also.

  8. user-4691082 08/07/2015

    What a treat to find your post today...your garden is amazing. Your wife is truly blessed!

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