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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My Garden Journal 2018 – June

I finished my latest entries into my garden journal just as we reach the mid-point of the year. June has once again been a month of mixed up weather and the garden plants have continued in their state of confusion.

My first words for June were positive words about the weather, a rare occurence to use such words this year. “The first week in June treated us to warm bright weather but thunderstorms, really wild powerful ones, broke the spell several times. Humidity was so high that it sapped our energy and made our joints ache.

Through all this the garden looked wonderful and full of atmosphere, with bees, hoverflies and day-flying moths adding sound and movement. The borders have filled out with fresh lush growth.”

I used six photos to illustrate this lushness.

   

On the opposite page I continued in the same vein using my quote this month from Dan Pearson, “My quote this month from Dan Pearson’s “Natural Selection” concerns greens and promises of the June garden. 

“The June garden is still full of promise and greens remain fresh and foliage pristine. There is a quiet rush to the longest day of the year with everything reaching towards this moment. The roses are never better than with the first flowers out and the promise of buds to come.”

I followed on with another six photos.

   

Turning to the next double page spread I considered our roses and add a few more words from Dan Pearson.

“Dan Pearson later singles out one Rose, “Bengal Beauty”,  for comment. This is a rose we grow and love it for its buds and unusual flower shape.”

Pearson wrote, “I have also set aside room for “Bengal Crimson” (or “Bengal Rose” or “Bengal Beauty”, depending where you read about it). I was first smitten when I saw it at the Chelsea Physic Garden years ago, but forgot all about it.” He recalls how he was gifted a specimen as a present for opening their summer fair.”

 

 

“Dan Pearson describes Bengal Beauty as “a delightful, informal bush and all the names describe it well – its single cherry-red flowers splayed wide and recoiled on themselves as if they were stretching are like sweet wrappers scattered over the bush.”

I then included photos of Rosa rugosa and Rosa “Summer Wine” in flower and in bud.

  

“Rosa rugosa”

 

“Rosa Summer Wine”

Over onto the next two ages I looked at Thalictrum, Centaurea and Gypsy Dianthus.

I wrote, “Thalictrum in all their guises are a real favourite of Jude, who has now brought together a good collection. The varieties include Thalictrum delavayi, T. Black Stocking, T. Elin, T. Rochebruneanum, T. Hewitt’s Double and T. flavum glaucum.”

    

“This Thalictrum has grown so tall it passes the apex of our greenhouse!”

 

“Centaurea put on a fine display throughout June, but do tend to flop if we forget to give them support”

 

“This biennial Dianthus has been with us for a decade or so now, but still performs reliably and beautifully.”

 

My next double page spread considers the colour orange in the garden and complimenting it with purple.

“Blazing orange for a blazing June. The sun lights up oranges as if they are on fire!”

“The zinc bath planted hot!”

  

“Geum Totally Tangerine and G. Koi

 

“Euphorbia griffithii “Dixter”

 

“Rosa Warm Welcome”

“My favourite colour to compliment orange in the garden is purple. Each colour intensifies the other in this strong partnership.”

     

To finish off my June entries I shared some of our cameos and combinations to be found in our garden during the month, and on the opposite page I had a quick look at “pin cushion” plants.

First here are my photos of “Cameos and combinations of the June garden.”

   

“Some flowers in the June garden remind me of pin-cushions especially Astrantias and Knautia macedonica. Each flowerhead is a tight circle with fine stamens, the pins.”

     

June this year ended with a fortnight of high temperatures and beautiful blue skies, two weeks of the beginning of a heat wave. Next time we return for a look at my 2018 Garden Journal we will be into the second half of the year. Things may have changed a lot in the garden by then. Perhaps we might even get a splash or two of rain!

 

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Snowdrops and Creative Pruning – Ivy Croft Garden

I often publish posts about summer days out in winter to help us warm up so as we are in the middle of an exceptionally hot period of weather I shall do the opposite and publish this post I wrote in the winter in the hope it may cool us down!

There were two main reasons we wanted to visit Ivy Croft Garden and Nursery to look at, firstly their huge collection of snowdrops and secondly their imaginative pruning techniques. Both these elements are highlights of the February garden. We drove down to Herefordshire with gardening friends Pete and Sherlie who had never visited the garden before. We had been once before several years ago, when it was still quite early on in the development stage. We were looking forward to seeing what it was like after so many years.

The garden which was started in 1997, surrounds the cottage which has a formal area close to the house partly enclosed by an ivy hedge. Further afield the garden becomes less formal and a wander around gave us the chance to look at its pond, willow and dogwood collections, a perry pear orchard and a vegetable garden enclosed with trained fruit trees.

The area around the house featured many flowering bulbs and in the spring and summer alpines would take over. A colourful Acer griseum stood with two variegated Hollies in a circular bed surrounded by a gravel pathway.

   

The pruned features we discovered as we parked up included a pleached limes, box balls and all were neatly presented.

  

An amazing selection of ivies made up the ivy hedge which surround two sides of the formal garden around the cottage. It was a beautiful, unusual feature to welcome visitors.

 

The huge work shed had a unique humorous tough, buttresses created by training and pruning yew trees. Close by stood this beautiful white barked birch tree.

 

As we walked away from the pleached limes and box ball topiary, we wandered through the wide selection of rare and unusual snowdrops. Beyond this border was a trellis-like “fedge”, a living hedge made from willow.

 

Shrubs with coloured stems and trees with coloured bark are strong features of the winter garden, and Ivycroft had some fine examples of both. Coloured stems were provided by Salix and Cornus, whereas the coloured bark appeared on Betulas and Prunus.

       

Little details reward those who take a closer look, a catkin, a flower or an old seed pod.

      

As mentioned earlier Snowdrops were a special feature of the gardens at Ivy Croft, but we also enjoyed cyclamen, miniature daffodils and hellebores. Colours shone from shrubs too, Hamamelis, Daphne mezereum and Hedera helix in its shrubby form.

       

We certainly had plenty to enjoy at Ivy Croft and it had changed so much since our last visit over 10 years ago. We will certainly be visiting once again when it opens again for a day in the spring.

 

 

 

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Anglesey Woodland in mid-May

During our family holiday on Anglesey in the middle of May we spent a few days discovering ancient pre-historic sites on the island. The walk to a fortified hut group took us through this beautiful patch of woodland growing happily on a gentle slope. I hope you enjoy the photos I took.

       

The beautiful light worked as a spotlight to help intensify the colour of the flowers and the bright greens of the many ferns.

 

What a spectacular little patch of woodland, a real treat to walk through and enjoy the trees and the flowers growing beneath them.

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