My Garden Journal 2021 September

September is a lonely month, a month that neither belongs in summer or autumn but sits in its own time. The weather can be as good as August and often treats us to an “Indian Summer”. September presents us with late flowering perennials, early signs of autumn and berries begin to colour up. Birds are keeping their eyes on them so that they can get at them just on the cusp of ripeness, leaving none for human foragers.

I began my September notes with the words, “September is, I feel, a month that deserves to have a mini-season all to itself. It doesn’t fit into summer or autumn, it is simply itself, the month when we look forward to an ‘Indian Summer’ and gardens full of colour and wildlife. Salvias flower in so many colours and are joined by a wide variety of late-flowering perennials.”

Below are four photos of some of our many salvias in flower.

Aster, rudbeckia, alstroemeria and hesperanthas.

On the opposite page I featured a selection of persicarias currently in flower.

Turning over the page to the next double page spread I feature firstly many of our sedums and opposite selections of perennials that give clumps of flower colour.

I wrote, “We grow dozens of different sedums throughout our borders, some herbaceous perennials, others succulents. Botanists have decided to rename some of them but we enjoy ignoring their advice!”

I then shared 9 photos of just a selection of our dozens of sedum varieties and cultivars.

Above the photos on the opposite I noted, “Some times as well as the beauty of individual blooms, plants produce their blooms in bunches to give extra impact.”

I then selected nine such perennials to photograph and share.

Over the page I share with you the hard but enjoyable work we have been doing transforming existing borders, totally re-inventing them.I wrote ,“We had lots of tasks in the garden in September, the most important being to continue the revamp of the “Chicken Garden”. We finished clearing the area of existing plants, potting them up to re-use or add to our nursery stocks in our little nursery.” and “We top dressed the area with a deep mulch of organic compost, pruned the water shoots from the trained apple trees and potted up displaced plants.”

On the opposite page we looked at other garden tasks for later in the month writing, “We fixed our new corten steel sculpture into the bed with concrete, planted all the new planting scheme for a gentle open feel prairie garden. We used carex, hakenochloa, and heuchera as edging. We then needed to thoroughly water the plants in! While the concrete set around the base of the sculpture we supported it using temporary tree stakes and clamped the sculpture to these stakes. The red gloves were to protect our eyes.”

Moving on through the September pages I next shared a set of pencil and watercolour drawings of the seedheads of our mature Acer rufinerve. I wrote, “Our largest snakebark maple, Acer rufinerve, is now dropping clumps of its seeds, coming down before they dry off and turn brown.”

I then shared seven photos of such instances.

For the final page for September in my garden journal I looked at some surprise dried stems we found. I wrote, “While walking one of our several garden paths, I noticed how the flowering stems of hemerocallis (Day Lilies) stood upright and firm, dried to bone colours. Each head was different but all were reminiscent of deer antlers.”

We will return to visit my journal at the end of October.


Another Riverside Walk in Shrewsbury late September

After isolating for ten days after suspected Covid-19, we were in need for a wander and Jude particularly wanted to walk by water to appreciate its magical calming qualities. We are never sure why but we feel so much better when we breathe in the special air around water be it sea, lake, river or stream. We even enjoy a good puddle!

So we parked in the Greenfields area of Shrewsbury near the weir, enjoyed an ice cream as we sat by the weir and talked about the salmon leaping season which would soon be upon us. We decided to walk away from town out towards the countryside north of the town.

It wasn’t long before we left Sydney Avenue and the path became very narrow and enclosed by trees, shrubs and wildflowers overhanging the edge of the track. All the time we remained close to the River Severn.

Berries became more obvious as the tree and shrub varieties changed, and we found several different sorts of berries which would become food for thrushes before long, our own natives and joined by winter migrants.

All the time as we walked the river was nearby and then we had a real surprise – we came across the overgrown basin of local Shrewsbury Canal, “The Shroppie”. We had heard about this old overgrown canal but had no exact idea where it was.

And now, here is “The Shroppie”.

I will finish off with this beautiful moss covered broken branch decorated with strands of ivy.


Another Favourite Village Garden – Ruyton XI Towns

We have known this village garden just north of Shrewsbury in the centre of the village with the unusual name of Ruyton -XI-Towns, for several years now. The owners and gardeners are Jill and Stephen, such imaginative gardeners, with wonderful use of plants and artefacts.

It is a long thin garden with several areas each with a character of its own. The front garden plantings set the scene beautifully.

In the back garden we were attracted to the several pieces of metal sculpture and found objects integrated into the plantings.

The choice of plants and the sensitivity with which they are placed and combined makes each border a delight to discover.

Some areas in the garden deserve to be looked at standing back and admiring their design as a whole.

The area around the pond is more intense in its planting and the pond itself sits in the centre of the garden so becomes a natural stopping off point.

Beyond the pond the garden opens up into a softer area with a summerhouse, sitting area, long thin grass area alongside a meadow area and a shady border. The meadows feature rusted metal sculptures based on found objects with a rusty trio of hens sat on the grassed area alongside.

Every cottage garden ancient or modern must have a productive patch usually at the bottom of the garden and here we find one at Jill and Steve’s.

In a narrow strip between the veg patch and the summer house and meadow Jill and Steve are creating a secluded seating area, a place where they can sit and ignore the world at large.

I will finish off this visit to one of our favourite gardens of all with a shot showing the ingenuity and sense of humour that lie beneath the surface throughout the garden, a trio of sculpted rabbits hiding away among plants.


A Walk to Jane’s Garden Part 2 – Jane’s Garden

You can travel for hours to see a well-known garden but never ignore what is around the corner or what is going on in one of your friend’s garden.

We first visited Jane’s garden just after she had moved in and was still discovering new things. So now after a few years have passed by and plenty of hard work has been given to this patch we returned for another detailed look.

Jude opened up the wooden gate within the stone walls and we were greeted by beautiful woodland style planting to our left.

As we approached the house a colourful border sat in front of a seating area where we spotted the beginnings of Jane’s succulent collection, including this spoon-leaved cotyledon. We followed along the front path enjoying the border along the house wall, with its agastache, alstroemeria and eryngium.

Miss Wilmmott’s Ghost, Eryngium gigantium was popular with pollen-searching bees.

The garden opened up to reveal the side garden with its cotinus covered arches and colourful borders.

I shall finish off with this set of photographs which illustrate Jane’s artistic use of colour in the garden.


A Walk through Plealey to Jane’s Garden – Part 1

We often take a wander along the lane through our village of Plealey until we reach almost the last house of all, and this is owned and the garden gardened by owner Jane. We love to visit each others gardens. This post looks at what we saw along the way there and back to either side of us.

Some views are of neighbours’ gardens others are created by Mother Nature along the roadside and hedgerows. This first group of four shows the plant sales table on our drive, the Sambucus ‘Black Beauty’, A Fuschia ‘Hawkshead’ and the community box that we plant and maintain.

The next set of 4 photos shows a hedge draped in perennial sweetpeas, a miniature rose in a gateway, a mature White Beam and white flowers in the hedgerow.

Then we moved onto the next set of four photos showing a well-clipped mixed native hedge, an old gate post, wild roses and a tiny flowered native.

These following four photos show an old garden gate, a ladybird larva on a nettle leaf, a purple wildflower and Jude reaching Jane’s garden gate.

We enjoy several hours in the company of Jane and her garden before we returned home along a slightly different route. (Jane’s garden will have a post to itself). For now let’s get back to our lane and its hedges.

A lovely seed head of a grass, a nettle, anchusa and a bramble flower.

So here now are the final few photos taken on our walkaround. We have a blue and yellow patch of flowers in a front garden, a scented privet bush and a golden variegated large leaved ivy, possibly ‘Paddy’s Pride’.

It is amazing if you take your camera or smart phone with you as you wander close to home you will see things you would otherwise ignore.

A post will appear soon all about Jane’s garden.


Return to a Favourite Garden – Wollerton Old Hall – Post Covid Visit

The gardens at Wollerton Old Hall a half hour drive from home are a real treat. Sadly due to Covid-19 restrictions we have not visited for quite a while, but once able to we soon made a return visit.

We knew we were guaranteed a real treat and met up there with old friends from college days in late July. The hall and its welcoming plantings always set us up for what we have to look forward to.

The garden is a four acre site divided into many rooms of differing atmosphere and themes, each one a true delight. It was created in the second half of the 20th century and has never stopped developing in subtle ways.

Some rooms are strongly formal in structure and based mainly on greens while others overflow with colour. The rooms are entered through arches and gateways thus giving visitors lots of fresh surprises.

One of the many strengths of the design of the garden is the use of colour combinations and plant communities.

The favourite garden room of us and many other visitors is the hot border which is an exceptional display of planting for atmosphere which never fails to warm us up.

A strongly featured family of plants throughout Wollerton is the hydrangea family. They obviously enjoy the soil conditions and the balance of light and shade.

So there we have it, another wonderful visit to what is perhaps our favourite garden in Shropshire.


My Garden Journal 2021 August

I began my entries into my 2021 Garden Journal by noting, “August is traditionally the holiday month because there should be more chance of guaranteed fine weather, warm and sunny. Sadly this year august has been a month of erratic weather, alternating wet and dry periods. This is most confusing for our garden residents, especially the butterflies and bees.”

Over the page I looked at yellow and orange flowers in the garden in August. and then shared ten plant portraits. I noted, “The most colourful patches of flowers in the borders in August are those in the yellow, orange and red spectrum. So many late summer flowering plants fit into this colour range.”

On the opposite page I continued with the brightly coloured flower theme when looked at the many forms of crocosmias that we grow, where I wrote, “One family of plants within that colour range is crocosmia, of which we grow so many cultivars. They provide a colourful presence throughout the garden.”

I then put in a set of crocosmia portraits.

Turning over to the next page we look at a different colour range of blooms and I wrote, “Not all flowers fit in this bright range of yellow, orange and red as there are many out now that fit into the pink, purple, blue range.”

Below I shared a set of photos of flowers within this colour palette.

On the opposite page I shared a photo I took of a selection of seed heads I had recently found while gardening.

Overleaf I featured just two close-up photos of a large flowered bright orange lily and noted, ” These deep orange lily flowers are the last lilies to flower in the garden. These three inch flowers have numbered up to 13 per stem.”

Turning over the page to the next double page spread I look at seed heads and then finish off for this month with a quicklook at the garden tasks we were presented with by the garden in August.

I wrote, “As early-flowering perennials die down an interesting array of seed heads appear adding the delicacy of biscuit, beige, brown and ginger colours.”

As the header for the last page for August I added, “August presented us with a wide variety of tasks to keep us busy in our patch. I cleared the drive edge of the ‘Beth Chatto Border’ to open the area up and plant a few new irises. Jude sorted out plants to sell at the village’s ‘street market’. We changed the hose on one of the reels with a new 100m length. We also began clearing the ‘Chicken Garden’ to give it a fresh look. And we watered!”

We will be back to visit my garden journal at the end of September when we can share what we have been up to and observing in our patch.


An Afternoon in a Village Garden – Chapel House

We have visited Jane and John’s garden in the village of Cardington in South Shropshire, not far from home several times before and it is a garden we always enjoy and appreciate. It is a garden of character, peaceful and calming with great plant combinations. Each different room has its own atmosphere.

A colourful set of stone steps welcomed us to the garden. Nearby a patch of planting featured some unusually coloured dahlias.

The garden at Chapel House takes you through gaps in hedge and archways into each area of planting.

We took a long wide grass pathway between meadow areas which lead us to the bottom of the garden where it met the countryside.

We finished the afternoon off with tea and cake! What a great way to finish enjoying a great garden!


A Summertime Woodland Walk – Attingham Park Part 2

As promised we are back after leaving the walled garden. In this post I will share a gallery of my photos taken on the pathways through the way-marked woodland walk.

We walked through the orchard on our way to the main woodland area. Here it was good to see young families enjoying exploring the fruit trees and picking up fallen fruit. We were amused to spot three mums pushing a set of twins each in double pushchairs and also a picnic table displayed as a “Wind in the Willows” picnic.

Off now to enjoy walking beneath beautiful mature deciduous trees seen from the woodland walk pathways.

So there we have it! Two posts sharing our woodland walk at Attingham Park a place we visit often so it probably won’t be long until we share a follow up post.


A Summertime Woodland Walk – Attingham Park Part 1

Because of Covid-19 restrictions we have not visited Attingham Park for quite a while so have not been able to follow the woodland walk paths. But towards the end of August we drove the short half-hour journey and after coffee we walked the “Woodland Walk” for the first time for months.

The woodland had a definite late summer look to it with early fruits, seed heads on wildflowers and the birds were silent during their moult time.

After wandering slowly along a bark chip path beneath mature deciduous trees we walked through the walled garden which was looking neat and productive again now that volunteers are back working.