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Barmouth Hillside Garden

We have long time friends, who we went to college with in 1969-72, who live in the coastal town of Barmouth. A group of us who studied together at Alsager College in Cheshire, part of Keele University, still meet up regularly in different places.

We decided going to meet up in the Barmouth home of Kath and Andy would be a good idea as the year was moving on and the weather was becoming more promising for a trip to the coast. We travelled there early in the morning and after parking in the main carpark we made our way uphill to their hillside home and garden. We zig-zagged up the steep garden steps and path.

Peaceful figures could be seen from the pathways looking content in the greenery. Spring blooms appeared alongside the paths.

After coffee and a wonderful lunch Andy suggested a wander around the hillside above the house so we took off following steep tracks, steps and wriggled between houses, garden walls and found ourselves far above the seaside town and its beach. We enjoyed superb views until a sea mist blew inland and obliterated them.

The stone walls and rocky outcrops enjoyed their own special collection of plants.

Views over the sea, beach and town soon started disappearing.

Returning to the hillside house we had another chance to look around before making our way home. Andy sat on one of the many blue seats and watched us safely negotiate the paths down the slope back to the gate. We all had a great day out in Barmouth and vowed to return.

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My Garden Journal 2022 – May

The entries for May in my Garden Journal 2022 take us close to the middle of the year and summer has certainly arrived.

On my first page I noted that, “May is a month when the weather should allow us to enjoy our gardens, with warmer brighter days and borders full of life. Plants and wildlife come together to delight us!”

I shared eleven photos of parts of our garden which we are enjoying at the moment.

On the opposite page I considered the garden tasks we enjoyed during the month, where I wrote, “The amount of growth and flowering in the borders mean that we have lots to be getting on with. We pruned water shoots off the trained fruit trees and gave spring-flowering shrubs their annual trim. We planted new plants and potted on perennial seedlings.”

Below are photos of us being busy in the garden.

We then move on to a few pages of flowering plants beginning with irises. We seem to have so many in bloom but you can’t have too many.

Over the page from the irises I shared a sketch I did using ink colouring pencils of a Sanguisorba called ‘Martin’s Mulberry’.

Before looking at more flowering plants we looked at the greenhouse, where I wrote, “In May we harden off our succulents, salvias and bulb type plants such as gingers, cannas and dahlias, leaving us space for a new display. Seedlings and cuttings fill the propagating section.”

More flowering plants appear over the page this time featuring flowers of plants in our greenhouse, our colourful collection of begonias and pelargoniums.

And so onto the final page of my entries into my garden journal 2022 for May and we feature aquilegias. I wrote, “Aquilegias self-seed freely around the garden and we look forward to new surprises every year. Just a few are species but most are random crosses.”

Next visit to look at my garden journal will be marking the middle of the year as I look at our garden in June.

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Two NGS Gardens in One Weekend – Albrighton Moat

I think this is the first time we have visited two NGS gardens on the same weekend. On the Saturday we visited the Albrighton Trust Moat and Gardens, a community garden built around a C13 fortified manor house and moat [the house has disappeared but the moat remains]. We have never visited it before even though it is quite close but dates of opening have never worked out for us before.

Bloss0m and spring bulbs are always so welcoming and cheering.

After our usual coffee and cake we wandered around the moat and found a pool and bog garden in the process of renovation, with a wonderfully coloured acer alongside. We stopped now and again to admire massed planting of muscari, fritillaries, hellebores and narcissi and patches of primulas.

At the moment there is little to be seen of the pond and bog garden because of the renovations but the wonderful acer with its riot of spring foliage gave us plenty to see in this area of the garden.

As we explored the rest of the garden we came across some interesting vistas, little cameos and sculpture.

So now to finish here is a short gallery of some of the plants which caught my eye. We hope you enjoyed this visit to Albrighton Moat.My next post will be all about our visit to the second NGS garden we enjoyed the same weekend.

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Two NGS Gardens in one Weekend -Edge Villa, our neighbouring NGS garden

One of the first gardens we visit each year is nearby Edge Villa who like us open for the NGS (National Garden Scheme) and are only a few miles away as the crow flies. However by road it takes about quarter of an hour as all the way there we follow narrow country lanes.

It is the garden of friends, Chris and Bill, and it is a good example of a country cottage style garden. It is very special in the spring. The drive side border is so welcoming with lots of interesting foliage working beautifully together. We were mightly impressed by the cloud pruned Euonymus.

After chatting to friends at the gate we had a quick look at the plant stall, which is always impressive (we bought three!), we continued to explore the many borders. The borders were mixed with shrubs and perennials, bulbs and the occasional tree.

At the lower end of the gently sloping garden the grass areas are interrupted with borders of bulbs – fritillaries and narcissi – and specimen trees including the most beautiful Acer griseum.

We were amazed to see a row of trained crab apples still with berries on. Why haven’t the birds eaten them all?

I enjoy spotting little cameos, found objects and simply interesting appealing items as we walk around gardens. Edge Hill had plenty to delight the camera!

I shall finish off with a collection of plant photos, which reflect the wide variety of plants grown at Edge Villa.

So there we have my report on our visit to a nearby garden belonging to friends. It won’t be long until we return no doubt.

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A Return Visit Part 2 the Scuptures

As promised here we are back sharing our recent visit to the garden at Brownhills House and we are going to feature the sculpture and collected objects which help to give this garden an element of humour.

Sculptural pieces are a key element of the garden, many pieces being fabricated by the gardeners themselves and others designed by them but crafted by a local blacksmith.

I hope you enjoy this selection. There must be some we missed!

And how about this gang of garden gnomes to finish off this gallery and my post about our visit.

Don’t forget that this garden is often open for the NGS both on set days and by appointment. It is well worth a visit!

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A return visit to a garden after 40 years – part one

It was forty years ago that we last visited Brownhills garden in Ruyton- XI-Towns north of Shrewsbury. The garden is built on a steeply sloping plot of land dropping down to the banks of the River Perry, a small but extremely beautiful river. The garden is open several times a year under the auspices of the NGS and please note it is open by appointment as well as set days.

The reason for the decades of waiting to return was that a serious, life-changing accident left me suffering mobility problems and chronic pain. A few operations over recent years has afforded me better mobility so the time became right for a return.

We received a warm welcome from the owners/gardeners, a green man and a friendly gnome.

Close to the entrance was an auricula theatre absolutely full of a wide variety of colourful specimens. We both love this feature wherever we find one. We were also impressed by a couple of specimen black aeoniums.

General views and vistas through the garden give an idea of its size and steepness.

As with any garden the plants are the stars and the glue that hold the place together. There were so many little gems here at Brownhills and some effective combinations. This first gallery illustrates some effective plant combinations and communities.

And now we can look at a few individual plants that caught our eyes.

One essential element of this garden that lifts it above many others is the huge selection of sculpture, some fabricated from metal, some from found objects and a miscellany of other materials. So this will be featured in part two of this pair of posts all about our visit to Brownhills House gardens.

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A Spring Visit to a Garden in the Hills

We often make our way down lanes up into the hills not far from home for coffee with friends Allison and Martin. Allison is a keen gardener and Martin is a good DIY’er a good combination when making and maintaining a garden.

In mid-April we arrived mid-morning and enjoyed great coffee and ginger easter rabbit biscuits! What a treat!

We soon took a tour around the garden with Allison and we were immediately taken by the variety and quality of her tulips. There were some incredible colours and colour combinations.

Even though tulips were centre stage several clumps of daffodils were still holding their own and looking very good.

If we look beyond the flowery stars of mid-April there was plenty more points of interest, newly emerging perennials, leaf buds bursting forth with life and interesting plant communities.

The driveway looked most inviting with young trees underplanted with daffodils and climbers behind decorating the fence and on the opposite side a beautiful selection of plants.

The two photos of such delicate beauties seem a fitting finish for this post about our visit to see Allison and Martin, enjoy their hospitality and their lovely garden.

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My Garden Journal 2022 – April

Back again with another look at my journal entries for April…..

I began the month by writing, “April saw the weather continue to be mixed up and confused with some frosts, some mild bright days, but few days giving much needed rain to the garden. Seeds sown by Jude, the Undergardener in the greenhouse have germinated and she has pricked out many of them, while outside we added more clematis to our already large collection. Lots to do!”

A seasonal job that comes up a few times each year is the revamping of our welcome personalised planting boxes at the entrance to our garden.

We try to change the planting to reflect the coming season and always provide a warm welcome.

Overleaf I created a double page spread featuring tulips. I noted, “Just as daffodils dominated the March garden, so tulips, in their multitude of shapes and colour, take over in April. Here is just a selection …..”

For the second of my two pages of tulip photos I simply wrote, “And there’s more!”

The next page simply showed a sketch I did using, fine fibre pens ,of a couple of leaf skeletons which we found when weeding a border. Every time we find one it is a magical surprise.

My final page for April looked at the colours showing throughout the garden.

So, that is my journal for April 2022 – back again in May which should be much more summery!

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A Day at Bluebell Part 3

Apart from many fine specimens of betulas and sorbus Bluebell displayed so many other wonderfully interesting shrubs and trees. Here is a gallery of the photos I took of some of my other favourite specimens.

Parrotia persica ‘Jodrell Bank’ (left) and ‘Aesculus chinensis’ (right)

Parrotia persica ‘Vanessa’ (left) and ‘Liriodendron x ‘Chapel Hill’ (rt)

Prunus x ‘Catherine’

Euonymus europaeus ‘Thornhayes’

Euonymus clivicola var. rongchuensis

Metasequoia glyp ‘Matthaei Broom’ and Abies koreana ‘Silberlocke’

Gingko biloba ‘Icho’

I will finish with a special and unusual Euonymus. We were shown it by the founder and co-owner of Bluebell itself, who approached us as we wandered among the garden areas.