Romancing the Sandstone, a Love for a Garden Divine.

Reach for perfection and strive to achieve those life challenging goals, then and only then are you truly living my friend, long may you grow and flourish, for the Love of Gardens.

Perched high on a sandstone ridge, the hall is a fine example of a formal Georgian mansion with immaculate lawns and topiary, vista’s and views, romanticised beds and borders of a parterre front garden. Furnished with a walled kitchen garden, with intricate pathways and box edged borders.

The following container display is my tribute to a love of life in gardens.


Romancing the sandstone, a love for a garden divine in a stone trough. (Well stone water trough that used to grace the farms and yards across our shrinking countryside.)

Having been asked several times to send the details of this planted stone trough, I included the recipe below.


I spend a longtime thinking about the design of our next seasonal container display. Inspiration taken from the surrounding influences of location, materials and a seasonally influenced theatrical theme.

From the dwarf spires of flushed pink Verbena to the breeze animated dancing flower heads of the wiry stemmed butterfly Scabious.


My latest performance is to take centre stage in a cobbled courtyard of a Georgian style hall. High brick walls and gold tipped wrought Iron dominant the scene.


While large stone urns and shallow troughs grace the hall’s courtyard against the rosy umber of the exterior against a silverised timber frame.

The inspiration for this years stone troughs and urns is for the love of gardens, a grateful Welshman’s tribute to all that is Love of British Gardens.

verbena lollipop
Verbena ‘Lollipop’ offers the show stopping display of its lofty counterpart V. bodnarienensis at half its height and double the flowers.

As Head Gardener for these spectacular country estate gardens, I am provided the opportunity to rejuvenate a plant lovers garden. I am also going to excite and thrill, calm and softly feminize the edges of a very male dominant domain.

Purpled, black tubular bells of Cerinthe with fleshy silvery foliage and stems makes a dramtic addition to a summer-time display.

I chose a theme, a play on colours and contrasts and seasonal play, I enjoy containers that grow, they change they imitate tiny outdoor gardens.

Zinnia’s make your world pop! Bold, bright and brave they add the fizz to a summer spectacular.

Take your imagination on a journey and watch it grow, I chose Romance and the stone, wavering Pink’s and Mauve Scabiosa ‘Butterfly Blue’, starlit with velvet Verbena ‘Lollipop’ a dwarf popular perennial of V.bonariensis adorded by so many.

Consider shapes, heights and the habit of perennials and annual bediing you chose for your containers, will they compliment or contrast? How do they work with the surroundings?

I have romanced this garden off it’s feet, I am exhilarated at work, I am challenged, encouraged and rewarded with the satisfaction of knowing we are restoring the beauty of an incredibly well furnished gardeners, garden. Loving every minute of it!

Romancing the sandstone, a love for a garden divine, planting plan and recipe for a romantic cun loving Summer container.

Scabiosa ‘Butterfly Blue’ and ‘Pink Mist’

Nemesia ‘Berries and Cream’

Calibrachoa (Million bells) pink and deep blue

Cerinthe major ‘Purpurascens’

Verbena ‘Lollipop’

Diascia pink

Zinnia pink & purple

Francoa sonchifolia

Bacopa ‘Liliac Pearl’

Verbascum ‘Lavender Lass’

Thymus pink

Join me on


Stephen Pryce-Lea

Head Gardener and International Horticultural Consulatant




“It’s a beautiful thing when a career and a passion grow together, when you find it in a Garden it’s like finding Paradise“

iGrowHort – A Head Gardener’s Horticultural Journey of love, life and learning.






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About Head Gardener 290 Articles
Award winning, 40 something year old professional plantsman and horticulturalist with National Trust, private parks and estate management background. My vast plant knowledge and hands on techinical experience, afforded me the opportunity to work in various horticultural landscapes, in the UK, USA & Eastern Europe. Having worked in both garden retail & the design service industry gave me the practical diversity and managerial skill set, required for running a large prestigious gardens and stately homes. I strongly believe knowledge is to be shared and have worked closely with people and staff of all ages and abilities keen to develop their passion for gardening, including groups of children, special needs and adults. I have hosted guided walks, talks and tours for those keen to learn about cultivated and wild plants, garden development, history and design. As an member of the NNCPG and National Trust, I am actively involved in the preservation of several important plant collections both in public and private gardens throughout the UK. “It’s a beautiful thing when a career and a passion grow together, in a garden it’s paradise” Follow @IGrowHort on GardenTags. Stephen is passionate about gardening as Head Gardener with a team of ten staff he manages a prestigious Cheshire country estate of 55 acres, inc wild flower meadows, woodland, organic kitchen and formal gardens. Follow Stephen today”

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