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Return Visit to a Favourite Garden – Stockton Bury

Back in the summer we traveled down the A49 trunk road through Ludlow and almost reaching Leominster we find one of our favourite gardens of all time, Stockton bury in our neighbouring county of Herefordshire. I hope this reminder of a summer’s day in a beautiful garden will drive away any cold and dreary winter weather.

We visit this garden a few times every year and enjoy every one of our explorations around it. There are so many interesting plants grown around an old cider mill, the garden itself being divided up into distinct areas. Join us as we look back at our August visit in warmer times!

Walking from the carpark to the cafe in the tithe barn we enjoy views of one of the most beautiful old cider orchards, thousands of trees in long rows all equally spaced out.

The buildings around the garden entrance soon give away its heritage.

These beautiful old red-brick farm buildings provide a wonderful foil for interesting plants.

Longer views of borders rather than plant portraits show the atmosphere of the garden.

Thoughtfully pruned shrubs always have such character, displaying its character and soul.

The large pond and bog garden near the grotto are a delight all year and we always enjoy walking all around their banks, alongside the marginal plants.

I shall finish off this post with three of my favourite photographs from this visit to Stockton Bury.

The garden is now closed until the spring of 2022 when I feel sure we will be back.

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Garden Sculpture at Lower Hope, a Herefordshire garden

I have already published a post considering our visit to an NGS garden in our neighbouring county of Herefordshire.

I want to return now to just look at the garden sculpture we enjoyed discovering there, which ranged from simple sculpture which can be found at garden centres right up to beautiful exclusive bronze pieces.

These two modern bronze and stone pieces worked well together round a short set of stone steps.

After looking at this selection of all sorts of sculptures featured so far, I will now move onto the collection of beautiful bronze sculptures. Each is elegant and so full of character.

I want to finish with a set of smaller bronzes that we found around a set of stepping stones crossing a shallow stream.

We really enjoyed the way these sculptures add such richness to this garden that was wonderful in its own right.

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The garden at Lower Hope – another Herefordshire NGS garden.

It is always exciting to find gardens to visit which we do not know anything about, especially if they are National Garden Scheme gardens which allow us to support such worthwhile charities at the same time as having a satisfying day out. The gardens on the Lower Hope Estate were described as 5 acres which included rose gardens, herbaceous borders, and Italian, Mediterranean and Japanese influenced areas.

We parked the car up in the field abutting Lower Hope Gardens and we were both delighted to spot some interesting perennials for sale, gown at a local nursery. Temptation got the better of us and we bought a dozen or so healthy looking plants before we took a step into the garden itself.

We entered the gardens through a wooden gate and followed a path through a small woodland area, and it soon became clear that this garden had a lot to offer. There were clues as to what we might expect to find.

The Italian influenced garden had a gentle feel to it with stone pillars, several seats and water features.

We left the Italian Garden behind and soon found some impressive mixed borders. The selection of dahlias was most impressive!

After admiring the borders with their impressive selection of dahlias, we wandered off around a small lake to find the Japanese area.

We finished off our tour of the garden by making our way to the lake with its native planting around its edges. We found plenty to catch our eyes along the way.

I thought it would be fun to finish off with this photo of Jude sat on an oversized garden chair. She found it extremely difficult to get back out of it! We love gardens that show a touch of humour!

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My Garden Journal 2021 – December

I shall begin a look at my Garden Journal 2021 for December by reflecting on the week in which November ended and December got started. Storm Arwen had left us with work to do!

On the first page I noted, “December began as we cleared up Storm Arwen’s mess and destruction.”

This first page features photos of some of the tasks we undertook in the early part of the month.

A group of six photos showed some of the damage caused by Storm Arwen. Beneath them I noted that, “Grasses, fences and half of our Liquidamber tree have been broken by Storm Arwen.”

I also included two photos showing a couple of usual seasonal work, planting a new climbing rose to replace Rosa ‘Falstaff’ and Ian our gardener pruning the blackberry plant. I wrote, “Normal garden tasks happen alongside the necessary repair work after sorting Arwen’s damage.”

On the opposite page I featured some of our clematis in their winter coats and I wrote, “On clear mornings the low winter light highlights seed heads of some of our large selection of clematis growing throughout our garden.’

I also noted that, “Evergreen winter flowering clematis still show leaves and buds ready for flowering in January and February.”

I followed on with two pages about grasses, firstly deciduous and secondly evergreens. I wrote, “The most effective light-catching plants in our garden are the many grasses we grow particularly the deciduous ones, which all add new layers of soft colours to the borders.”

And so onto the next page where we change to evergreen grasses especially the carex family.

Ten of my photos of such grasses featured on the page.

Three photos followed on illustrating that not all evergreen grasses are members of the carex family.

Stipa tenuissima, Uncinia rubra and Nasella.

From grasses I looked back at roses, one particular rose called Rosa ‘Bengal Beauty’, a beautifully simple, single flowered shrub. I wrote, “We have Rosa ‘Bengal Beauty’ growing alongside our drive so we can appreciate the softness of its winter petal colours and the beauty of its long pink stamens.” Below I added a water colour painting of the buds at different stages.

On the opposite page I featured more gentle colours of our winter garden, this time the dried flowering stems of a couple of herbaceous perennials. I wrote, “In that same border I found the gentle, soft tones of biscuit, ginger, brown with hints of green, forming equally beautiful dried flower stems of perennials.”

Below I featured a couple of sketches using Japanese Brush Pens, featuring a Libertia and Japanese anemone.

For the final page of my December report for 2021 I featured another Japanese Brush Pen drawing, this time a more colourful sketch of the winter foliage and berries of one of our many Hypericum inodorum shrubs.

So that is it for my 2021 Garden Journal. We shall re-visit in 2022!

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Quirky Cottage Garden in Farnham – a second visit.

So back in Farnham I am going to share with you my photos of the rest of this most interesting garden.

And so, there we have it, a visit to an amazingly interesting garden.

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Christmas Day Post from our Avocet Garden

I decided that the best way to wish everyone a Happy Christmas is to share some photos of our Avocet garden, and I chose to photograph a selection of grasses, flowers and berries three of the most important features of our garden.

Grasses …..

Berries …..

Flowers ……..

And a few roses ……

Happy Christmas!

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A Short Break in Farnham Part 3 – “Another Brick in the Wall”

The town of Farnham is known as a Craft Town and is very active in the creative arts. The town is also very active in relation to conservation and climate change. There is so much going on! My brother Graham is involved in many ways in both these spheres.

When staying for a short break with him and his wife, Vicky, we had the honour of attending the unveiling of a special piece of community based craftwork.

Any resident of the town could collect an unfired brick to personalise by carving, adding texture or patterns or anything that takes their fancy.

These were then returned and fired ready to be added to a beautifully curvaceous wall as a piece of public art.

Nearby were other signs of the creativity of Farnham people, a beautiful garden bench in the park area where the wall is situated and even the council trucks looked smart.

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A Short Break in Farnham – Part 2 – a community project

For our second day of our days away in Farnham, Graham and Vicky took us for a wander through the town itself making our way to “Space 2 Grow” a mental health and well-being charity all in one acre of garden.

This space had a wonderful calm atmosphere where so many different community groups could work involving groups for all ages. Their work was recognised by RHS Britain in Bloom who gave them a Level 5 Outstanding Award. We walked slowly around discovering interesting craft pieces and productive spaces.

One community group had been busy getting creative and thoughtful with bicycle wheels of all sizes. Many were to be found hanging from trees catching the light.

We found some communal sheds all with their own set purpose with one called “Men in Sheds”.

The “Bodger’s Shelter” …………..

We particularly enjoyed a pair of island beds designed with pollinators and predators in mind.

A wildlife pond was to be found at the entrance to the productive area and the forest school. The pond had sadly been damaged by a severe flash flood within the last week or so.

As we left the community garden we found even more decorated bicycle wheels.

We really enjoyed our visit which was sadly on a day when no groups were using the site and rain was in the air. As we left the garden we passed this fascinating old vicarage.

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A Short Break in Farnham -Part 1 West End Flower Farm

I recently published my post about our break in Farnham and then my brother pointed out that it was part four but he hadn’t seen the first three. I had missed publishing them in fact so I am going to do so this week so here retrospectively is part one.

England has seen a growth in the production of cut flowers, after a reliance for decades on imports from South Africa and Holland. Forward thinking individuals and often couples have taken the plunge and tried to change this bad habit of imported flowers being sold above home grown. Some buy up or rent old walled gardens or plant nurseries. We now have some superb examples in several counties.

When enjoying a few days away staying with Graham and Vicky, my brother and sister-in-law in the beautiful town of Farnham in Surrey, we were treated to a visit to West End Flower Farm. It was not the best time to visit any such establishment but there was plenty to discover, including of course the obligatory coffee shop!

We first had to collect coffees which we drank in a lovely teepee in one of the flower fields, where Graham was to meet up with group of like-minded residents of Farnham. Here we met ‘Ben’ the plastic dog that Graham had created as part of a campaign concerned with plastic waste, which all fits within Farnham being a ‘Craft Town’.

Around the cafe area were so many little places of interest, cameos that drew the eye ………..

The yurt and ‘Ben the Plastic Dog’!

Now we will look at the flower farm productive areas where signs of summer grown cut flowers survive especially late flowerers like dahlias.

Sunflowers ………….

Dahlias ……………

As we made to leave the flower garden one of the gardeners informed us that they were currently preparing the ground ready for autumn sowing of hardy annuals in the open ground. what an interesting place West End flower Farm turned out to be!

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A Short Break in Farnham – Part 4 – a cottage garden

This is the forth part of my “Short Break in Farnham” series of posts and I thought it would be good to take you on a tour of Graham and Vicky’s (our brother and his wife) garden. It is a garden full of quality plants, original ideas and cameos to catch the eye. It is a long narrow garden with fences and hedges that create the feeling of enclosure making it into a sort of walled garden.

Interesting plants grow happily among objects of interest, both found and created. It’s the combination of juxtaposition and serendipity that intrigues.

I hope you enjoy my gallery!

So now we have visited half of this very quirky cottage garden which I hope you have found both interesting and enjoyable. A second part will follow soon.