My Garden Journal 2019 – December

My Garden Journal 2019 comes to an end this month, so here are the entries for December.

On the first page I wrote, “December sees most of the berries stripped from our shrubs and trees by dozens of  thrushes including migrants who like our winter weather. A few berries remain to enhance he odd flowers, the grasses, seed-heads and evergreen shrubs.”

Over onto the next page I feature some of the more unusual and very subtle coloured foliage in our December patch.

I wrote, “Unusual coloured foliage of our evergreen shrubs come to the fore even on the dullest of days. Bronzes, browns, blushes, purples, blues, greys and greens with flecks of yellow.”

 

Over onto the third page for December and I talk of how much there is to see in our garden if you look down at your feet! “In our garden in winter it pays to look down. Silver glows and glistens at our feet. Silver leaf markings take on so many shapes and patterns.”

     

So just one final page for my December entries for 2019! Maybe my next year’s garden journal will be completely different?

 

For the last page of my 2019 Garden Journal I wrote, “I love sunny winter days when the low sun catches the colour and texture of twig and bark.” Then I featured a collection of ten photos of the light doing just that to a few of our trees and shrubs.

Posted in colours, garden photography, gardening, gardens, grasses, hardy perennials, light, light quality, ornamental grasses, ornamental trees and shrubs, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, shrubs, trees, village gardens, Winter Gardening, winter gardens | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Houghton Hall Part 2 – The Gardens

So here we are with the second part of this visit to Houghton Hall in Norfolk, a post refound!

Although our main reason for visiting the gardens at Houghton Hall was to explore the land art created by Richard Long within its grounds and house, we also planned to enjoy the gardens in their own right.

 

The gardens featured huge expanses of sweeping lawns broken up by pleached hedges and topiary. As we approached the house we were surprised to see a circle of stumps arranged on the grassed area, like a stump henge. Each individual root stump was beautiful in its own right but the circular arrangement added another dimension, the dimension of mystery.

    

The pleached lime hedges presented a strong structural element to the lawned areas. The strong sunlight on the day gave patterns of light and shade, cool and warm. Some of the raised hedges were tall enough for us to easily walk beneath them to experience these contrasts, which was most welcome on such a warm day. Looking out from beneath the pleached blocks of lime gave us framed views of the expanse of the gardens. Further surprises appeared periodically mostly in classical style, stone columns and seats and occasional modern pieces.

      

In complete contrast to the formality of the parkland areas discussed above, roses featured in softer more romantic borders. This planting felt very soft, restful and gentle.

 

The parkland was separated from the farmland surrounding it by a “ha ha”, the cleverest way to keep livestock out of formal gardens.

 

We enjoyed a diversion off one of the main paths while searching for more Richard Long installations, and the narrow path was edged with beautifully cloud-pruned box hedging. The pathway led us to a “Skyspace” by James Turrell. We love his work so spent time sitting inside watching the moving weather. So peaceful!

In complete contrast to the open parkland and grassed areas with architectural planting features, we found another area of the garden at Houghton, the Walled Garden such a contrast. This part of the garden will be the subject of the third post concerning Houghton Hall.

Posted in garden design, garden photography, gardening, gardens, gardens open to the public, Land Art, light, light quality, Norfolk, ornamental trees and shrubs, outdoor sculpture | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Houghton Hall Part 1 – Richard Long at Houghton

This post, one of two about Houghton Hall in Norfolk wasn’t published at the time so here it is now, found again and ready to be sent out albeit rather late!

Richard Long is one of our favourite land artists and until this year we had only seen a few isolated examples of his work. While travelling towards our holiday venue in Norfolk we noticed, as we drove along, large signs advertising an exhibition of his work at Houghton Hall. We could not believe our luck! We soon set aside a day to visit the garden and exhibition.

The exhibition was called Earth Sky and we had seen a few of the pieces there in the past and thought it a great location for his work.

There were a couple of pieces we particularly wished to study, “A Line in Norfolk” and “North South East West”. We have already seen a similar piece to “A Line in Norfolk” at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park a few times over the last few years. There, the line of sandstone ran like a perfectly straight path into a lake. It looked amazing and magical. The other piece we wished to see had been featured in a magazine article and simply looked so perfect and satisfying sitting dead centre in a room in the house itself.

“A Line in Norfolk”

   

“North South East West”

  

As well as the pieces exhibited within the grounds a selection of much smaller pieces were on display along a corridor within the hall itself, delicate prints on driftwood and recycled pieces of wood.

    

Long experimented with splashes of white paint carefully and very deliberately thrown nto wall recesses previously painted black in readiness. The effects were fascinating and got the creative thinking going in overdrive. We saw simple but beautiful patterns, water falls, landscapes and much more within the lively white paint marks.

“White Water Falls”

I shall put more “White Water Falls” pics in the following gallery along with more photos of Richard Long pieces from his exhibition at Houghton Hall. Enjoy!

 

 

Posted in architecture, garden design, garden photography, gardens open to the public, Land Art, Norfolk, outdoor sculpture, sculpture | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Oakley Mynd – a wildlife garden with views

Here is a post I wrote back in the summer which I thought would be good to post now to bring back memories of warmer days.

We always like finding new gardens opening for the NGS, and Oakley Mynd was a real find. As there was no parking we had to park in Bishops Castle where we took the mini-bus provided by the NGS up the narrow steep lanes.

Posted in fruit and veg, garden design, garden photography, gardening, gardens, hardy perennials, kitchen gardens, Land Art, ornamental grasses, ornamental trees and shrubs, outdoor sculpture, sculpture, Shropshire, South Shropshire, village gardens, Yellow Book Gardens | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Grasses at the year’s end.

The growth of interest in grasses has given a whole new dimension to gardening allowing us to soften our borders, listen to their sounds, enjoy their movement and the special way they catch the light.

These three photos were taken in our garden in late December to show how important they are in our gardens.

 

Posted in garden design, garden photography, grasses, light, ornamental grasses, Winter Gardening, winter gardens | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

A canal-side garden in winter – John’s Garden Part 2

I found this unpublished post originally written back in mid-February of 2018. I hope you enjoy it!

Back at John’s Garden for our February visit in the cold we can carry on with our exploration as we wander further along the canal-side borders to the canal bridge. In part two we will move along the canal borders before returning along the opposite side of the patch, while along the way discovering a pool, sculpture and a terrace and lots more exciting plants and plant pairings.

Conifers, grasses and trees and shrubs with coloured stems and bark give a common theme throughout. The first two photos below show the matching gold coloured foliage of a group of conifers and a swathe of grasses.

          

The Rhodendron above has a surprise for you if you turn over its leaves! Who would expect orange on the reverse side of a touch dark green leaf? And it feels like the softest felt.

Skimmia “Kew Green” has unusual green flowers instead of the usual reddish shades, while the Witch Hazels sport many shades of yellow.

 

Snowdrops in drifts light up the ground beneath the tree. Ilex “Ferox” sparkles with variegated leaves curled and heavily spined, probably one of the best hollies available for the small garden.

 

Metal panels with cut-out shapes of fern leaves reflect the planting beneath them in the border. John features many different versions of the low growing evergreen shrub, Leucothe. This one was a real beauty!

 

White can be a powerful colour when the winter sun catches it, as in the bleached stems of Teasels, the trunks of white-bark Birch and the ground covering Carex.

  

Along the way a beautiful pool gave a space to slow down and take a deep breath to take in all we had so far seen.

 

Every garden however small needs seats and they must be chosen to fit the design and atmosphere.

  

Sculpture is scattered around the garden providing us with pleasant surprises among our delight at its plants.

        

Turning at the far end of the garden we had a quick look at the new garden which has just begun being created, Adam’s Garden, designed in memory of John’s gardener who died very young late last year. This will be a great addition to the garden and we look forward to seeing it develop. We then returned on the opposite side of the long garden making interesting discoveries all the way.

The terrace is a place where you need to stop and study the small details, the pots full of original planting ideas, trimmed shrubs, interesting foliage and some floating blossoms.

    

Exploring an interesting little terrace garden finished our visit and we returned to the cafe via John’s lawned area with Betula, Snowdrops, Crocus and sheep.

We have a list of the other few open days the rest of the year so aim to return. All of John’s open days are to raise money for charity including some for the National Garden Scheme, the NGS. We will be back!

Posted in colours, garden design, garden furniture, garden photography, garden ponds, garden pools, garden seat, garden seating, gardening, gardens, gardens open to the public, grasses, hardy perennials, light, light quality, NGS, ornamental grasses, ornamental trees and shrubs, outdoor sculpture, photography, sculpture, shrubs, spring bulbs, trees, water in the garden, Winter Gardening, winter gardens, Yellow Book Gardens | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Sheffield Gardens – Part 2 – James Hitchmough’s patch

So during our weekend up in Sheffield after visiting the garden of Nigel Dunnett, we moved on to explore the garden of his colleague, Professor James Hitchmough. This garden was half way up a steep narrow road near the city centre with terraced houses on both sides.

An NGS sign pointed us through a gateway, where a path took us through the side garden where a wooden gate opened up to reveal the back garden, where glimpses of yellow, orange and red invited us to explore further.

These colourful glimpses hinted at the array of South African bulbs such as watsonias and gladioli, which formed part of a garden that was one low growing meadow below a few gnarled old apple trees. This was no surprise as James Hitchmough is the pioneer of seed sown meadows mixed with such bulbs, but his public gardens such as the one at Wisley tend to be so much larger than his own little patch.

It is a gentle garden with foliage playing an important role and many blues, pinks and whites adding some subtlety.

This was a small but so interesting and atmospheric too.

 

Posted in colours, flowering bulbs, garden design, garden designers, garden photography, gardening, gardens, half-hardy perennials, hardy perennials, meadows, National Garden Scheme, NGS, Yorkshire | Tagged , , , , , ,