Croft Castle month by month – January – part two

Welcome back to Croft Castle where we were about to find out what lies beyond the blue gate. We entered the space beyond the gate and found immediately to our right one of the gardeners’ buildings from the days when the walled gardens were a productive fruit and veg garden. Today it is a children’s discovery room complete with nature table. A board showed the gardening tasks for the month. Close by hung an old pruning saw.

2015 01 01_9110 2015 01 01_91112015 01 01_9109

After a good peruse among the dusty artifacts and sharing our memories of nature tables at primary school we moved on to the old, wooden framed greenhouse which until now we had viewed from the gate. On this visit we went inside. We were delighted to find the old iron mechanisms that controlled the windows and vents still intact. We both find these fascinating and are amazed by the ingenuity shown by the greenhouse designers of that era.

2015 01 01_9113 2015 01 01_9112

We were pleased to find a colourful line up of watering cans and a very healthy looking Cobaea climbing up wires and flowering profusely. It was easy to see why it is graced with the common name “Cup and Saucer Vine”.

2015 01 01_9114  2015 01 01_9115

Outside the greenhouse we found a stack of apple trees heeled into a pile of compost awaiting the time when the frozen ground allowed them to be planted. Further old buildings hugged the walls – they were ina tumbled down state. The old window attracted me and my camera but I remain undecided if it is best as a colour or monochrome picture. Any thoughts?

2015 01 01_9116 2015 01 01_91172015 01 01_9118_edited-1

2015 01 01_9118

We continued our tour of the main walled garden following the herbaceous borders to discover ancient apple trees beautifully pruned ready for fruiting next season. Their trunks and branches were encrusted with lichens and mosses creating miniature landscapes. Clumps of Mistletoe decorated several of the trees. This is a common parasitic plant in the orchards of Herefordshire. A Mistletoe Fair and market are held in December every year in the nearby market town of Tenbury Wells. They are famous for their mistletoe auctions.

2015 01 01_9120 2015 01 01_9121 2015 01 01_9122 2015 01 01_9123 2015 01 01_9124 2015 01 01_9125

Along the third and fourth walls mixed borders included many shrubs which were well pruned in readiness for new growth when spring arrives. In the central area among the grass willows had been pruned too, cut into low pollarding and coppicing to encourage fresh, long new wands to cut and use around the garden as plant supports or sculpture.

2015 01 01_9126 2015 01 01_9127

2015 01 01_9128 2015 01 01_91292015 01 01_9130  2015 01 01_9119

I enjoyed a play with this pic on Photoshop!

2015 01 01_9119_edited-1

We were attracted to the opened seed pods of a Paeony with its four sections of woody shell. I certainly enjoyed playing with the image on Photoshop! Here you can select your favourite of three versions.

2015 01 01_9097 2015 01 01_9097_edited-2

2015 01 01_9097_edited-1

The sweet scent of the pink flowers of Viburnum bodnantense reached our noses long before we spotted the shrub itself. Next to it in the border was the giant stalk of the biggest Lilly we can grow in the UK, the statuesque Cardiocrinum giganteum.

2015 01 01_9131 2015 01 01_9132

In the growing seasons there are some lovely features within the walled garden like little garden rooms, including a pool garden and a rose garden. In the winter they are so cold and bare! But an odd Rose bloom was trying hard when we visited. It sadly offered no scent though, unlike the neighbouring Rosemary with its gentle aroma coming from the tiny china blue flowers and the Lonicera frangrantisima, the Winter Flowering Honeysuckle.

2015 01 01_9133 2015 01 01_91382015 01 01_9139 2015 01 01_91422015 01 01_9141 2015 01 01_9140

The gardeners have been busy making a huge “bug hotel” which is now almost complete. They have been having fun!

2015 01 01_9134 2015 01 01_9135 2015 01 01_9136

Reluctantly leaving the walled garden through a stone archway, we found small courtyard gardens linked by interesting textural paths. We gained views of the rear of the castle building and its huge water butt!

2015 01 01_9143 2015 01 01_9144 2015 01 01_91462015 01 01_9145 2015 01 01_9147

A further archway in a stone wall took us to a quartered courtyard garden with white benches and heavily pruned rose bushes. A strong wind blew through this area, making life difficult when I wanted to take a photograph of a Primrose flowering well out of season, resulting in a blurred close up of my scarf. Oh dear! But I did manage in the end. Definitely better without the scarf.

2015 01 01_9148

2015 01 01_9149 2015 01 01_9150

Rounding the next corner we could look out over the low stone wall across the meadows towards the lake and woodlands. The weather was not right for exploring these areas, so we decided to save it for warmer times. Above the corner tower an unusual wooden bell tower peered. Against the house wall we found a second scented Viburnum bodnantense heavy with blossom.

2015 01 01_9153 2015 01 01_9151

2015 01 01_9152 2015 01 01_9154 2015 01 01_9155

The  tiny garden surrounding the estate church is often colourful but in winter colour was total lacking. The tower of the church was covered in scaffolding and it looked as if restoration work was well under way. I will share some pictures of this lovely building when the scaffolding is down later in the year.

2015 01 01_9156

We finally reached the front entrance to the castle, the massive door protected by stone-carved dragon sentinels. As we retraced our steps along the herbaceous border and stone wall we looked back to get views of the whole castle frontage.

2015 01 01_9157 2015 01 01_9158 2015 01 01_9160 2015 01 01_9087_edited-1

Our next visit will be in February when we will see if anything in the garden changes as the days lengthen slightly and the light values improve. It may be a bit warmer too! Fingers crossed.

About greenbenchramblings

A retired primary school head teacher, I now spend much of my time gardening in our quarter acre plot in rural Shropshire south of Shrewsbury. I share my garden with Jude my wife a newly retired teacher , eight assorted chickens and a plethora of wildlife. Jude does all the heavy work as I have a damaged spine and right leg. We also garden on an allotment nearby. We are interested in all things related to gardens, green issues and wildlife.
This entry was posted in architecture, climbing plants, colours, garden buildings, garden design, garden furniture, garden photography, garden seating, gardening, gardens, gardens open to the public, hardy perennials, irises, kitchen gardens, light quality, National Trust, ornamental trees and shrubs, outdoor sculpture, roses, The National Trust, trees, walled gardens, Winter Gardening, winter gardens and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Croft Castle month by month – January – part two

  1. So much to see and so much history and character. I love the bug hotels. 🙂

  2. What a perfectly wonderful tour, again. I love the detail that you show, noticing the things that I too, look for, the fading paint, the rusty fasteners, the delicate seed heads. Thank you so much for this, I loved it! 🙂

Comments are closed.