A lakeside walk at Trentham Gardens

It was another hot day with clear blue skies and temperatures just short of 30C when we decided to take a drive out to the outskirts of Stoke-on-Trent to visit two very different gardens. The first was a courtyard garden at the Emma Bridgwater Pottery Factory featured in my recent post, and the second the vast gardens at Trentham.

We decided to walk the perimeter of the lake now that my newly rebuilt leg was working well. This was a walk we had always wanted to do but I was unable, so it felt good to be setting off on the walk. We were looking forward to discovering new planting by Nigel Dunnett, meadows integrated into the trees and waterside planting designed way back by Capability Brown. We usually wander around Trentham by turning to our right and going through the Piet Oudolf “River of Grasses” then travelling through his prairie gardens before going on to Tom Stuart-Smith’s modern planting within the original structure of the Italian Garden.

On this day though we decided to turn left an make our way around Capability Brown’s lake. Nigel Dunnett’s first meadow plantings tok our breath away. The subtle colours worked so well together and led our eyes twards the water beyond.

As we moved into the shade of mature trees from Capability Brown’s original designs, his choice of flwers changed with brighter flowers being integrated with the purples and whites. This gave the opportunity for Dunnett to use the strong opposite colours, purple and orange, guaranteed to set the heart racing a little faster and smiles to appear on our faces.

With his designs there are always surprises to make to pause and think and we came across just such a place, a plantation of young Birches, Betula Doorenbos. Close by a flowing piece of metal sculptural pieces were integratred within a stretch of the meadows. Corton steel waves to reflect the waves on the surface of the lake when rough. It looked beautifully satisfying floating above the meadow flower colours.

After wandering through the woodland more meadows appeared with much softer planting style. These stunning owl sculptures were a fine finale to our visit.

 

 

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Simply Beautiful – part 21 of a very occasional series

While enjoying the courtyard garden at the Emma Bridgwater Pottery in Stoke-on-Trent in mid-June and mid-heatwave too, we found the drying seedpods of honesty in different stages of drying out in readiness to spread its seeds. Gentle shades of grren decorated the circular pods of the Honesty, circles of fly away seeds sat atop allium stems and the drying pods of sweetpeas looked just like petit pois.

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Return to Mark’s New Hope Gardens’ Day Lilies

Friend Mark Zennick, is well known for his wide range of Hemerocallis or Day Lilies and he has many varieties for sale at his nursery not far from Plealey. He began his love for Day Lilies while still living in his native US.

We find it by taking a lane for just three quarters of a mile to the A488 road towards Bishops Castle and Clun. After passing through the Hope Valley and the outskirts of Bishops Castle we soon found Mark’s little specialist nursery on our right. We had come to collect a particular cultivar called Alabama Jubilee and it is featured in the first photo below. We love it for the intense orange colours and the darker areas like shading. As always though we were tempted by several more, especially the dark flowered ones.

 

We were greeeted with a broad smile and a warm welcome, from both Mark and his trusty old Labrador. Behind him the colours of row upon row of Day Lilies stretch out away from the car park. So much colour in such a small nursery! These rows led our eyes out to the beautiful countryside surrounding the nursery.

  

It was so hot and bright that Jude the Undergardener used her ladybird umbrella to keep the sun off, which amused Mark. Crazy English lady! I promised to send him a photo!

  

We wandered very slowly up and down each row of plants making notes on the order form Mark had given us for that purpose. The list of “wants” kept getting bigger and we had to start some editing. We decided that shortening the list was such a difficult task that we would allow ourselves ten plants maximum!

There was so much choice, diffirent colours, flower shapes, habit and flwering period. Here is the selection we started off with. We eventually left with eleven plants.

          

Mark made us promise to return soon when even more of his special plants would be flowering. How many Hemerocallis will we be tempted by then I wonder?

 

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One little girl and a hat!

Jude and I were looking after our granddaughter, Arabella for a day which is always great fun as although just 18 months old she has a brilliant sense of humour and is full of fun. She likes sharing things that belong to me especially my food and my walking stick. As the weather promised to be sunny and warm we decided to take her to Sudbury Hall to wander around the park and gardens. Arabella enjoys walking but will give in and reluctantly accept a lift in her pushchair when she tires out.

It was only a matter of a few minutes of being pushed along when she called me and asked for my hat. This is what happened over the next half hour. Enjoy!

 

That was fun!

 

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An oasis in a city – the Emma Bridgwater Courtyard Garden

On a sunny day in late June we set off to the city, Stoke-on-Trent, to visit two gardens. Emma Bridgwater Pottery shop has its own courtyard garden with its own gardener caring for it and nurturing every plant. I had read the book he had recently written and emjoyed his words and the accompanying photos so wished to see it in real life. The second garden was Trentham, one of our favourite gardens and one we visit often. This visit was to see for the first time the new meadow plantings by Nigel Dunnett. These will be the subject of a following post. First we visit the courtyard garden.

The raised beds in the entrance courtyard are an antedote to the city, to the factory behind.

We arrived in temperatures nearing 30C and started off with drinks in the cafe there before wandering through the pottery shop exiting a doorway at its far end that was the entrance to this secret garden. It felt a special place, an atmosphere of colour, calmness and peace in a city. the blue of the window frames, the step banisters and various railings are enhanced by the greens and other colours of the flowers in the beds. The entrance is softened and made more welcoming.

   

We wonder if this is going to be the garden in its entirity but are heartened when Jude spots a sign to the “Courtyard Garden”. Peering through the door as we step over is threshhold we are amazed by what is before us inviting us to explore. The garden is no bigger than a back yard of a terraced house, but it packed a punch in the gentlest way possible.

     

The brightest colour came from sweet peas, dahlias, lilies and other more subtle colour was provided by hardy herbaceous plants. The sun brought out their colours and the accompanying shadows emphasised their textures. Annuals were dotted through the borders, poppies and phacelia.

     

       

The gentle clucking and chatter of Pekin hens and the chirp of their chicks provided a calming backdrop and cut out the traffic sounds from nearby roads.

 

As we left the courtyard we noticed a display of succulent Echeverias in terracotta pots alongside the door close to a beautiful self-seeded native Euphorbia. This little patch of garden inside the city was so gentle and succeeded in hiding the sights and sounds of the busyness outside its walls.

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Simply Beautiful No 20 in a very occasional series

As we struggle to keep our garden going in our current drought and extremly high temperatures, here is a post to remind us of cooler times!

Hellebores! Everyone loves them. Here are some of the latest colours from breeder of new cultivars, John Massey.

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The Dingle Garden in June

As we reach the middle of the year we made our monthly visit to the Dingle Gardens, and for once the weather looked set fair. This meant that we had strong contrast between light and shade and any colour was brightly lit when the sun hit it, leaf colour or flower colour.

A Cornus kousa on the lawned area loked at its best, with creamy white bracts covering it from head to toe. The light emphasised the shapes and textures of quite ordinary trees ans shrubs lifting them above their normal character, including this tall conifer and the little Box shrub.

  

Hosta leaves and fern fronds looked lush and fresh and appeared in every shade of green, some glaucous and some almost yellow. Their textures were emphasised also by the light, every curl and ripple of leaf and each curl and twist of fern fronds.

      

Conifers are difficult to appreciate in such a heavily planted hillside garden but on this day they seemed extra interesting with extra interest in their needle shapes and colours.

  

Conifer foliage appeared far more textured and more varied in colour than on the dull days of our earlier visits as the bright sunlight emphasised both the colours and textures.

   

The shubs were flowering well on this visit and some petals became almost translucent and a few perennial plants had cme into bloom too. These flower colours had an extra element of richness to them as they presented strong contrast to the multitude of greens and greys of foliage.

Roses seemed to have appeared from nowhere. In a garden full od trees and shrubs with interesting foliage, bark and stems rose bushes out of flower really do disappear. But in June suddenly the subshine finds heir beautiful scented flowers. Most here are simple blooms including our native roses.

To finish off my post on our June visit to the Dingle Garden I shall sign off with a gallery of flowering shrub photos, which I hope you enjoy. We will be back in July for our next monthly visit to see what is going on.

 

 

 

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