Early Spring at Bodnant Garden – Part 1 – to the Dell

I promised a few reports on our planned visits to Bodnant Garden in North Wales so we are pleased to share our visit in early spring, a day with the most perfect weather possible to make our exploration a good one.

Warm, calm and blue skies! We stayed over nearby to make sure we had time to wander slowly around this large garden at a leisurely pace, the only way to appreciate a garden so full of interesting plants.

After parking up we soon spotted a bank of little blue bulbs which we thought were possibly Scilla. As we entered the garden itself we came across this informative and attractive sign prepared by the head gardener giving us ideas of what was looking good in the garden.

Our visit coincided with the height of the flowering seasons for Magnolias, Rhododendrons and Camellias as well as spring flowering bulbs and the earliest of perennials, so we were in for a colourful day’s exploration. Bodnant is a garden designed to present choices where paths fork and cross.

We made our way to the Winter Garden, one of our favourite parts of the garden, a place so full of ideas for anyone to use to add winter interest to their own patches.

     

We then found a gateway that took us into a field of daffodils, simple old cultivars, creating a peaceful place to wander slowly and take in the atmosphere of this special space.

We strolled through the field slowly and then made our way down to the top of the Dell. The gallery that follows shares this part of our time at Bodnant. In part 2 we shall wander along the dell and then back up the long slope to explore the areas around the hall.

 

 

 

 

 

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Simply Beautiful – no 29 – winter yellow

At the beginning of every year we are treated to the amazing display of flowers on our Cornus mas. The shrub gets covered in its citr us yellow unusual flowers. The flowers have to be looked at very close up to appreciate the details of its structure. The bees love it as an early food source.

I hope you enjoy sharing ours through my photos.

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The NGS get together at Hodnet

Every year in late March we attend a get together with the NGS county organiser and the garden openers. This year was our friend Allison’s first year as county organiser and as her garden is small she had to arrange an alternative venue. To everyone’s delight the owner of Hodnet Hall and Gardens offered the use of his restaurant and also allowed us free range of the gardens. We were in for a treat!

To start off with we were warmly greeted by the car park attendants, Martin and George, then after parking up as we reached the courtyard fronting the restaurant building, we received more warm welcomes from Allison, our County Organiser, and Sir Algernon Heber-Percy the owner of the hall and its garden. He formally welcomed us all with a humorous speech. After informative talks by representatives of MacMillan Nurses and Horatio’s Gardens we indulged in a sumptuous meal.

Then we were left to explore the gardens, all 60 acres of it! We began our exploration by following a small flight of stone steps into an area of tall mature trees and then moved on to take a slow wander around the string of lakes and back to the borders below the hall itself.

I will continue the tour by sharing a gallery of photographs with you. As usual click on the first pic and navigate using the arrows.

So that was our day out at Hodnet Hall – a great time was had by all! I wonder what next year’s NGS get together will entail!

For information Hodnet Hall is open for the NGS but does have other opening dates throughout the year so do check them out.

Posted in garden design, garden paths, garden photography, garden pools, garden seat, garden seating, gardening, gardens, gardens open to the public, hardy perennials, lakes, National Garden Scheme, NGS, ornamental trees and shrubs, outdoor sculpture, pathways, Shropshire, shrubs, spring gardening, trees, Yellow Book Gardens | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Returning from Cornwall – Part 1 – RHS Rosemore

We like to enjoy a few extra visits on our way back from any holiday we go on to extend our enjoyment, so we tend to book hotels partway back. On our way back from our Cornwall holiday we stopped off at a hotel in Devon so that we could visit RHS Garden Rosemore.

We try to visit all the RHS gardens every year if we can, so we know them well and tend to enjoy them at different times of the year. An early autumn visit to Rosemore was going to be a real treat. It is a garden of two halves, the newer section developed from scratch by the RHS and the older original garden donated to them.

The beauty of this garden is its overall design which can be discovered by exploring its series of differently themed rooms joined with walks across grass areas, through woodland and even under a road via a tunnel.

My photos show some of our favourite plant combinations.

      

Trees feature in several favourite plant communities which really appealed to us. They add strength, texture and structure to any border. We use trees in many of our borders at home in our Avocet patch.

  

Dahlias and roses were particularly colourful when we visited

    

Sometimes added interest can be achieved by including cameos and views, pieces of sculpture, arches, pergolas, garden buildings of all sorts or other features.

       

The involvement of ornamental grasses in garden borders can add so much if carefully matched to their partners. Light catches their seed heads, they wave about with just the slighest of winds and softness of their textures adds touch to the mix of border interest.

            

I shall finish with a set of three photos that illustrate the quality of planting and gardening work at RHS Rosemore, a truly great garden full of interest and ideas for us all to take home with us.

  

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Simply Beautiful – more catkins – No 28 in a very occasional series

Simply beautiful no 27 was about the catkins of Hazel and as a follow up to that here is Simply Beautiful no 28 where I share my photos of the beautiful catkins of one of our Salix shrubs, Salix gracilistyla Melanostachys. A willow with a mouthful of a name but also the most amazing of all catkins coloured black and red.

 

 

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My Garden Journal 2019 – March

It is already time for sharing my third month’s entries in my garden journal. So here are the March pages for you to enjoy and for you to see what the garden has been up to and what we have been up to in the garden.

I began by writing, “March came on the scene dull, grey and lifeless looking. After the mild temperatures of the last few weeks with virtually no rain, the last day of February was very wet. Thank goodness for Daffodils, the spring bulbs that can cheer up the dullest of days.”

I then showed 9 photos of our wonderful early daffodils, mostly miniature narcissi.

 

On the next page I looked at our selection of Carex.

“We grow dozens of grasses and sedges in our garden with some in virtually every border and container. In the winter the evergreens dominate and their deciduous cousins add gentle colours – ginger, biscuit, coffee, clotted cream, latte, cappuccino and many more subtle shades. The largest family of evergreens are the Carex family. Here are just a few that we grow!”

Here is a selection of the many Carex we grow.

On the opposite page I consider how well the Carex family of grasses fit in with other plants and plant combinations. I wrote, “They fit in almost anywhere, sun or shade!”

 

“Meanwhile we have cut down deciduous grasses to stimulate new growth.”

Turning over to the next double page spread I have a look at a couple of under-appreciated plants.

I wrote, “An unknown plant and an under appreciated plant, both stalwarts of the March garden, Bergenias and Drimys. I love them both!”

“Drimys lanceolata ‘Winter Spice’.

On the opposite page I looked at two places of warmth, a warm welcome and the warm greenhouse. Firstly I wrote, “A warm welcome to your garden is essential throughout the year. We welcome visitors to our Avocet patch using three fruit boxes planted up with interesting seasonal plants. Here they are in March.”

“When winter weather gets too much we retreat to the greenhouse where Jude has been pricking out seedlings and I have been nurturing my delicate succulents and Fuschia thalia which is in flower in the first week of March.”

  

On the next couple of pages I consider March pruning and some flowers we enjoyed in our March garden.

Of pruning I wrote, “March is a busy month in our garden. As well as cutting deciduous grasses rather drastically almost down to the ground we have to coppice or pollard Salix and Cornus to ensure we will enjoy their coloured stems next winter.”

“Flowers are appearing, some expected but others well out of their season.”

 

Over the page I moved on to consider the fresh growth appearing throughout the garden during March.

I wrote, “Fresh growth in March always seems urgent and gives us confidence for the seasons to come. The excitement and vibrancy of new growth on Clematis, perennials and our cloud-pruned box edging.”

On the opposite page I considered a favourite shrub growing in our “Shrub Border”, Rhamnus aureomarginatus, and looked at the importance of all the greens in our March garden. About Rhamnus I wrote, A true all year round shrub which graces our shrub border, lighting up the dullest winter days with its silver margined variegation. Early in the year the golden-orange flower buds light up the plant and these will open in summer to give yellow flowers followed later in the year by tiny black shining berries.”

 

Opposite I wrote, “Green is the colour. Lots of shades of green.”

 

So that is it for my March gardening report so in a few days it will be time to start on April’s entries.

 

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A Week in Cornwall – Part 5 – The Japanese Garden

As we left Cornwall after our week’s holiday we spent the morning at The Japanese Garden which was part way back to Devon where we were going to stay for a few days. We had visited this garden years ago but could not remember it at all, so it would all be a surprise.

A Japanese gardens has certain elements that make it a Japanese garden, a feeling of welcome, topiarised trees and shrubs, stone sculptures often in the form of lanterns, beautiful calm vistas, paths to invite calm slow wandering and moss in abundance, plus of course that essential water.

Let us begin at our Cornwall garden to see if it gave us a warm welcome, and see if there were areas that gave us the right feeling of calm and peace. Throughout this look at the Cornwall Japanese Garden you will notice how powerful the sense of light and shade can be in creating an atmospheric garden.

 

Peaceful areas appeared regularly at the end of winding paths or through archways.

   

Moss featured here as groundcover or growing on branches and tree trunks in the damp atmosphere. These patches of moss either on the ground or aerial are great for wildlife especially as they are always moist. Overall wildlife feels happy in Japanese gardens in the UK, and effecively act as predatorial pest controllers.

    

Training trees is an ancient Japanese art practised for centuries by Japanese gardeners following set rules using coniferous ans deciduous trees alike. It is a skill just coming into being in 21st century Britain. I love using it in the garden!

    

Stone sculptures were visible throughout including many forms of lantern. We use a few of these in our interpretation of a Japanese garden her at home in our Plealey patch.

       

Bamboo of course is another essential element of any Japanese garden, either growing in its many forms or used as a fencing or building material. It is beautiful and structural whichever way it is used.

 

I hope you have enjoyed this little tour of the Cornwall Japanese Garden as much as we did. There is so much Western gardeners can learn from Japanese garden design and from the skills of Japanese gardeners. They can teach us a lot about creating peace and harmony in our gardens.

 

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