We returned to the Dorothy Clive Garden for our second visit of the year. In January we walked around the gardens with snow on the ground and we had to wrap up warm against the cold winds. For our February visit we left home with dark grey skies overhead and a slight drizzle in the air but the closer we got to the garden the better the weather became. Patches of blue sky appeared and the clouds turned ever paler. The temperature had reached 15 degrees Centigrade as we parked the car and made our way to the cafe for the obligatory coffee and cake essential for a successsful garden visit. Our visit was going to have an added dimension as there was an activity day for children all to do with wildlife and the natural world. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the Wildlife Trust were there as well as a bird of prey group. Children were given the chance to make bird boxes, bird food cakes and to handle skulls of native mammals. There was also a quiz sheet and a trail for them to enjoy.
As we walked from the car park to the cafe the first photo I took was of a view that in January was simply snow with a few evergreen shrubs rising up. Around the next curve of the path we noticed that a new project was in hand (see right hand picture below). The area had been cleared of old untidy evergreens which were well past their best. The area has already been leveled and large blocks of local sandstone await close by. We look forward to watching this develop over the coming months. The plant sales table looked much better without its covering of snow.
On the lawn outside the restaurant we were enthralled by getting up close to some beautiful owls and falcons. After enjoying our coffee and cakes we took off to walk towards the Quarry Garden, passing a border dotted with tiny pale blue flowering bulbs. As we entered the Quarry we noticed a family making nest boxes.
The Quarry garden was much greener without its snow blanket and early flowering bulbs were adding colour allied with Hellebores in full flower and a few blooms on Rhododendrons and Azaleas.
The textures and architectural shapes of trees come to the fore in winter before the leaves return in the spring. Unusual foliage such as the Rhodendron with orange-ginger undersides to its leaves provide brightness under the shade of taller trees. The upper side of the leaves are glossy but the underside have a matt, powdery feel to them. Close up it gives them the look of a windswept desert landscape.
Leaf shapes and their patterns and textures provided added interest under the tree canopy.
We wandered around a bit trying to find the stag sculpture we found in January and kept getting the wrong path. When we did find him he looked much more majestic without his white coat of snow. We then moved off towards the new Winter Woodland Garden, which is a juvenile garden having been created in early 2015. It already looks and feels a really good seasonal garden, with many shrubs and trees with coloured stems and bark, evergreen groundcover such as Bergenia, several different Carex and Luzula many with striped or golden leaves. Flowering bulbs were putting on an excellent show for us.Ggiven a few years and this will be a beautiful woodland winter garden and will be one of the best close to us so will become a place we visit often.
We left the Winter Garden by walking under the Laburnum arch still devoid of any growth and enjoyed a wander through the Upper Garden where trees and shrubs reigned supreme. A shy sculpture maiden welcomed us.
Having indulged in the powerful scent of this delicately coloured pink Daphne we followed a path that led us around the front of the coffee shop and then down the sloping gardens to the pool.
Species tulips demanded a close look to appreciate their beauty and delicacy.
Can you spot the bee at work collecting pollen from the blue crocus? Great to see this.
So that was our February visit to the wonderful Dorothy Clive Garden. We can’t wait to be back with camera in hand to see what March will bring, perhaps a few touches of spring!