Sarah Coles
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Olympic Flame

April and the tulips in the pots and scattered over the garden make the place look on fire.  Apeldoorn Elite particularly is a star, with the three essential Apeldoorn signatures, soft orange red petals, a black star at the base of the tulip bowl, and reappearing year after year. In the time of 17th century tulip mania, when Dutch bulbs exchanged hands for thousands of guilders, the most coveted were ones with flames streaking up the petal sides.  In fact this was caused by a virus, so no wonder these prized wonders did not last that long!  I craved some.  Today, the same streaks have been bred...
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Blossom

It’s March, and the weeping cherry at the end of the yard is blooming.  If I step through the weeping boughs when the sun is out, it’s like being dressed in palest pink glass.  Even though the tree is old and odd boughs have died, it still draws people into our...
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DEREK JARMAN’S GARDEN AT DUNGENESS

No one knows where Dungeness is. Bill thought it was near Aldeburgh and Rosie Sturgis in Wales. It’s a high spur of shingle deposited by floods in Kent when a frozen North Sea thawed after the last Ice Age and flooding the vast plain of Doggerland pushed through the Channel. Ann and I found we were both reading Derek Jarman’s Journals, and had to visit his garden in the shingle of Dungeness. Jarman started the garden when he was already dying of Aids but it took more than four years to kill him. He bought this black wooden fisherman’s cottage, and among the surrounding shingle set about...
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Kew Gardens

The Hive is the big excitement. Kew Gardens have bee hives, and their sound is amplified through a construction of metal network, a huge mound of interlacing silvery hexagons. The varying sounds indicate begging for a food sample, pointing to food supplies, ‘tooting’ and ‘quarking’, but you hear not so much a buzz as a throb and hum: live music and the sound of heaven. Perfect for meditation. At ground level we looked up and saw the feet of people through a circle of murky glass, then we climbed and entered the centre of this hive.   Feeling the throb inside us, looking up...
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OTHER PEOPLE’S GARDENS

JUNE The gardens in our village are open today. Broad Street is lined with sedate Georgian houses all built within decades of each other because two massive 18th century fires burnt their predecessors down. Their gardens extend behind, some as far as 75 yards. Every house, in fact the whole area, is listed, which means the owners can’t alter the front facades but behind they can erect garden sheds or summer houses or conservatories. The backs are a contrast, relaxed and higgledy piggledy. You enter a garden, via a gate or garage which was formerly a coach house. Delphiniums and roses are the order of...
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