The Most Romantic Garden in England – Cholmondeley Castle

Many visitors believe that the gardens at Cholmondeley Castle are the most romantic in England, and after each visit we have made it is hard to disagree. Jude, the Undergardener and I visited in mid-September with a group of college friends, every one of whom loved it for its atmosphere. The “Cheshire’s Gardens 2017″ leaflet describe the gardens as “Romantic, beautiful and wild”.

The Cholmondeley family have lived on the site since 1200 but the castle we saw was built in the early 19th Century. Today the gardens feature the Folly Garden, a Lily Pond, a woodland area, as well as smaller borders such as the grass borders. The wide sweeping lawns encourage visitors to wander freely between the borders and enjoy long views.

As we walked these inviting paths, enjoying wide vistas and clumps of mature trees we stopped frequently when our eyes rested upon some fine planting, beautiful individual plants and imaginative groupings.

   

We had a great day at Cholmondeley Castle discovering what the romantic garden had to offer. It certainly did have a romantic atmosphere!

 

 

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Simply Beautiful – 13

Her we are back with another short post in my very occasional “Simply Beautiful” series where I share a few photos of something that catches my eye, something simply beautiful! For number 13 I want to show you pics of some beautiful early morning spiders’webs, covered in dew, which I found on a cotoneaster shrub.

The webs hung like hammocks with the weight of the drops of dew pulling the structure downwards.

The web below was constructed differently and spun by a different sort of spider, being slumped almost like a open weave fan.

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Garden Walls and Steps – part 4 of a very occasional series

Back again with another selection of photos sharing with you interesting walls and steps we have discovered during our garden visiting adventures.

Let us start at Powys Castle near Welshpool in the Welsh county of Powys, which is built on such a steeply sloping site that there is the need for many steps to get from one terrace to another or simply to move to the lower gardens.

The first photo shows a flight of curved stone steps below the castle itself, while the second shows plants growing against the sandstone walls at the base of the castle. The next shot shows salvias growing in pots in recesses in the lower redbrick walls below the castle.

  

Theses beautiful and huge sculpted yew hedges hug the walls. Flights of stone steps drop down from terrace to terrace. Piers finish off the ends of walls and steps and these are richly planted, adding great interest and colour as you leave and enter stairways. Sometimes the walls at the base of the castle are simply are simply sculpted natural stone outcrops, which provide fine backdrops for flowers of any colour.

   

Balustrades top the stone walls of each terrace and beautiful planters provide perfect finishing touches to the tops and bottoms of each flight of stone steps.

     

The steps down to the lower garden can be steep and narrow.

 

Three very differently built steps at Powys in parts of the garden with equally differing characters.

   

The gardens at Cholmondeley Castle in Cheshire are on much gentler sloping ground s the steps are gentle and softer on the eye. The walls are generally sympathetically planted to give them a much softer look. The steps here are much gentler to walk up as they are so shallow and often sinuously curved.

 

 

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Harvington Hall – a great place for afternoon tea.

Jude the Undergardener and I have become very fond of  indulging in afternoon teas, a true English tradition which has been revived here in the UK in recent years. Our children often treat us to one as a present and we easily find reasons to treat ourselves with friends.

It seems such a civilised English way of giving ourselves a treat even when not celebrating any event. Our visit to Harvington Hall however was a present from our son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter. Arriving at this unusual-looking and very ancient building you immediately sense you are in for a special treat. The walk up the garden path to the entrance took us over a stone bridge over a moat and gave us beautiful views of the frontage. Near the gate was what we imagined to be one of the most ancient trees we had ever met.

    

As we had allowed ourselves a few hours to spare for a casual wander around both inside and outside the hall we indulged in coffee and cake and of course we could check up on the tea room!

Once fully refreshed we set out on an exploration of the outside of the rambling range of buildings that constituted the hall. There was a surprise discovery awaiting around every corner and through every doorway. We found little secret gardens, alleyways and more rooms.

     

Our wanderings prepared our thirst and our appetite for our afternoon tea. It was a feast well worth the waiting.

  

We had just enough time after our refreshments to explore the interior secrets Harvington Hall had awaiting us, doorways with ancient locks, old sculleries and bedrooms fully furnished and even original ancient wall decorations.

We had discovered what it meant to be treated to a traditional afternoon tea at Harvington Hall, dainty sandwiches and fancy cakes with plenty of freshly brewed English Tea plus a whole lot more, a full afternoon discovering and experiencing the architectural and social secrets hidden within its ancient walls.

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Simply Beautiful -12

Pelargonium Ardens is surely one of the most beautiful and at the same time subtlest of Pelargoniums, a family of plants normally associated with bright gaudy reds and pinks. Ardens is so different. Simply beautiful!

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My Garden Journal 2017 – October

We can now look at what I wrote about, photographed and painted during October in my Garden Journal.

On the first page of my October Garden Journal I proposed a “fifth season” for us gardeners, a special one just for us  gardeners, but unfortunately I have so far been unable to think up a suitable name. I have spoken to a few other gardeners about this and they understood exactly what I was talking about. See what you think!

“October, the tenth month of the year, but what season is it in? But before I even look at the appropriate season there is some already some confusion over the name October, which derives from the Latin “octo” meaning eight. October was indeed the eighth month in the Roman calendar.

So let me look at the seasons again and consider where October sits. Is it the end of summer, so we can say October is in “Late Summer” or is it the first month of Autumn so then we can identify October being in “Early Autumn”.

I believe that with the changes to our climate and the developments in garden design and the increases in plant availability at this cross-over period we need a fifth garden season, comprising just September and October. Whatever name we could label it by, it would definitely be my favourite season! As for a suitable name? Perhaps we could call it the “Indian Summer” …… unless someone comes up with a fresh name, a more expressive one!”

On the opposite page I chose a few pics to show the special feel of this new season and I wrote, Our Avocet patch looking special and full of atmosphere in its “5th Season”.

Over the page I continued to look at this time in the garden with its special colours in foliage and seed heads.

“Flowers colours are changing as plants begin to form seeds. The new colours are more subtle and perhaps even subdued, but the low light of this month gives them special qualities. Insects still search plants for the final diminishing supplies of  nectar and perhaps a few drops of pollen.”

  

 

“The big show-stoppers of October though are the colours of fire and sunsets that appear as leaves lose their chlorophyl and allow new colours to take over.”

   

Turning over I move away from the garden in autumn and have a look at the changing fortunes of shrubs in our gardens.

“Shrubs are making a comeback in gardening and definitely in our garden. Over the last few years we have been adding many shrubs into our borders to add a layer of interest between trees and herbaceous planting. Garden centres stock only a limited range of common generally dull shrubs most of which have been around for decades. We are lucky to have two nurseries close to us just over the border into Wales close to the town of Welshpool. The Dingle and The Derwen just ten minutes drive apart are owned by the same family and specialise in trees and shrubs. They are our source of  inspiring plants.”

Some shrubs are grown for their dense foliage and growth habit which let us grow them as a hedge. We use our Buxus (Box) shrubs as a hedge we can shape in whatever form we want.”

“Other shrubs we grow for flowers and berries.”

 

Clerodendron trichitoma fargesii, grown for its eccentric flowers and berries. Luma apiculata grown for variegated foliage, coloured stems and white scented flowers.”

 

“Hypericum are grown for stunning flowers and berries. Hypericum inodorum give us yellow flowers and all sorts of  colours of berries.” 

“Roses provide flowers, scent and hips. Mahonia Winter Sun shines with yellow scented flowers in autumn  followed by purple-black berries in the winter.”

My next double page spread features the wonderful miniature shrub Ceratostigma plumbaginoides which I painted with my new set of Japanese brush pens.

I hope you enjoy looking at my paintings as much as I loved creating them.

 

I also chose Ceratostigma plumbaginoides as my plant of the month for October.

 

“Ceratostigma plumbaginoides is a colourful stalwart of the early autumn mixed border, albeit a little diminutive, growing to just 12 inches tall and 24 inches wide. This beauty is a sub-shrub which bears its rich blue blossom from July to November, and as autumn arrives its foliage turns from apple green to rich red.”

For the final page this month I take a look at white in the garden and wrote, “I have never been a fan of white in the garden be it furniture or flowers, but in October I see quite a few plants featuring white have crept in.”

Here are just a few!

    

Next time we pay a visit to my Garden Journal we will be in the penultimate month of 2017, November. I wonder what our eleventh month will bring?

 

Posted in autumn, autumn colours, colours, garden design, garden photography, gardening, gardens, grasses, hardy perennials, light, light quality, ornamental grasses, ornamental trees and shrubs, roses, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, shrubs, village gardens | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Walk in the Park – Attingham Park October

So here we are back with number ten in this series featuring our wanderings and discoveries as we walk around the pathways of our local National Trust property, Attingham Park. As intimated in my September “Walk in the Park” posting, Jude the Undergardener pushed me around in a wheelchair following my leg surgery so the photographs will be from an unusual viewpoint. But we did manage the walk to the walled garden and returned via the One Mile Walk.

We were surprised that autumn had not advanced as much as we had anticipated, with many trees still carrying their full contingent of leaves. The walled garden was still very colourful.

Fungi was still in evidence and fallen leaves looked less brightly coloured.

 

There were frequent signs of the destructive forces of the wind and the more controlled hand of the gardeners working on tree surgery tasks.

 

The gateway into the walled garden welcomed us into a colourful magical place.

We were really surprised and delighted to find this beautifully presented hand painted poster celebrating the wonder of the apples in the Attingham Park orchard.

Humour is an essential of a good garden but so often missing. Just look at what a gardener here has created to make the visitor smile.

We can complete our journey now by looking at the photos I took as we returned along the riverside path back to the stable block.

Next visit here will be in November – I have no idea if I will still be wheelchair bound by then or not. Fingers crossed!

 

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