We grow dozens of succulents especially aeoniums and echeverias. We love them because they give us wonderful variations in foliage, texture, colour, pattern and shape, but they all will throw up a flower spike on occasion. This week we suddenly had a few flowering all at once, so enjoy my photos!
While down in Hampshire last September we enjoyed a day out exploring the grounds of Houghton Lodge an 19th century fishing lodge built in a style similar to the later Arts and Crafts style. It is a uniquely beautiful white building surrounded by sweeping striped lawns and fascinating grounds running down to the clear running River Test.
As we took a walk along the banks of a short stretch of the Test a lone trout fisherman cast his fly from the opposite bank hoping in vain for a fish to rise and take his fly. The water was so clear and the stringy water weeds flowed with the water over its stone and sand river bottom giving us the occasional fleeting glimpse of a brown trout.
We were fascinated to find two collections of plants in the walled garden, hostas and dahlias.
But there was far more of interest throughout the gardens here, so here are a few photos of other borders and garden cameos. This proved to be a great find!
So during our weekend up in Sheffield after visiting the garden of Nigel Dunnett, we moved on to explore the garden of his colleague, Professor James Hitchmough. This garden was half way up a steep narrow road near the city centre with terraced houses on both sides.
An NGS sign pointed us through a gateway, where a path took us through the side garden where a wooden gate opened up to reveal the back garden, where glimpses of yellow, orange and red invited us to explore further.
These colourful glimpses hinted at the array of South African bulbs such as watsonias and gladioli, which formed part of a garden that was one low growing meadow below a few gnarled old apple trees. This was no surprise as James Hitchmough is the pioneer of seed sown meadows mixed with such bulbs, but his public gardens such as the one at Wisley tend to be so much larger than his own little patch.
It is a gentle garden with foliage playing an important role and many blues, pinks and whites adding some subtlety.
This was a small but so interesting and atmospheric too.
Dyffryn Fernant is one of those gardens that makes such a lasting impression that I can walk through it in my mind in great detail whenever I wish to. It is one of the best gardens we have ever visited, so atmospheric and so romantic, with such a great choice of plants all beautifully and sensitively combined to show each at its best. It even had a library of gardening books where we were able to shelter from the rain and enjoy drinking coffee.
You know this is going to be a special garden when you feel so welcome as you approach the house.
The library was a great place to shelter from the showers, a place for coffee and cake and a place to study some great gardening and art books. In front of this lovely deep pink building was an area of planting, really original planting with interesting plants.
Sculpture adds so much to good gardens giving them a lift. Gardens can provide great places to display sculptural pieces including found objects of interest. This was definitely the case at Dyffryn Fernant.
We really enjoyed the planting and the atmosphere at this wonderful garden.
Biddulph Grange north of Stoke-on-Trent, is a garden we re-visited this week after decades. We remembered it to be a garden created by the imaginative Mr Bateman who made a garden of several different rooms. Egypt, China, the Dahlia Walk, The Stumpery and two avenues one featuring Lime trees the other Western Red Cedar. This time we visited the gardens with our friend Pam who we know from college 40 years ago. So we were catching up a friend and a garden!
Please come with us for a wander round by following my gallery. Just click on the first photo and then navigate using the arrows.
Our gardening friend Nancy has two gardens – the only gardener we know who has two gardens. They are quite different gardens in the way they are designed but the quality of planting, the use of colour and above all the original and most effective use of foliage are features in both.
We visited both of Nancy’s gardens with the HPS Shrewsbury and South Mini-Group and we all met up at Nancy’s home. Next year Nancy will be opening her two gardens for the NGS for the first time ever so lots more people will be have the pleasure of visiting it.
Later we drove for ten minutes to her other garden, which unusually is a garden with no house. The garden at Elmfield Road in Shrewsbury is small but full of interest and inspiration. The little front garden is based on a central circle surrounded with foliage and flowering plants. It is entered via an archway with a clematis climbing up it.
A little cameo against a blue fence invited us into the back garden where we were welcomed by the sight of a beautiful garden.
Nancy has a wonderful way of building borders to take advantage of the heights and colours of plants and effectively even within such narrow border.
Foliage plays such an important part in the design of Nancy’s plantings and throughout her garden beautiful pairings are evident.
Now you can see just how beautiful a garden Nancy’s home garden is you may want to enjoy my next post which will feature her second garden, Esme’s Garden.
We move into the second half of the year with this visit to my 2019 garden journal, where we shall see what the garden has to offer and take a look at some of our gardening tasks for the month.
The first double page spread featured borders in our front garden, beginning with a follow up look at the New Garden, where I wrote, “July began hot and humid so during the first week gardening wasn’t easy. Every job was tiring, but there is lots to look at. Let us visit “The New Garden” to see how it has developed over the last 4 weeks or so.”
“Three different Agastache, including A. ‘Kudos Yellow’ and A. ‘Kudos Gold’ and an unknown blue flowered cultivar.”
“Step across the grass from “The New Border” and we come to one of our two “Doughnuts”. This one comes in two halves, an airy meadow of Dianthus and Briza backs onto our sun-loving ferns and euphorbias.”
“Dianthus carthusianorum” “Briza and Dianthus”
“Festuca glauca flower buds.”
“Dianthus cruentus” “Rosa Prince’s Trust and R. Enchantress”
Foxgloves feature on the next page and opposite we look at the “Layby Border”.
“This year is definitely the year of the foxglove, and throughout June and into the middle of July Digitalis rule the border roosts.”
“Digitalis fontanesii” “Digitalis grandiflora”
“Across the drive we can have a look at how the “Layby Garden” is coming on.”
The next double page spread deals with some of our Achilleas, of which we grow many as we love them as much as the wildlife does, especially bees, butterflies and hoverflies.
I wrote, “Last year we decided to develop a section of our Beth Chatto Border, which is our gravel garden planted with grasses and herbaceous perennials which never need watering. We added a river of Achilleas.”
On the next page I concentrate on pink and white flowered Achilleas where I wrote, Variations on a theme, “Pink to White”, caused by so many self-seeded natural crosses made by bees and their colleagues. Thank you bees!”
Turning over to the next double page spread, We look at the perennials in the Shrub Border and then some of our jobs for July.
“Staying in the front garden it is noticeable how the perennials towards the front of the Shrub Border are giving extra colour.”
“July is a busy month, but this year it is extra busy as winds and frequent heavy showers mean lots of tying up.”
“Ready to topiarise the box clouds”
“Low level and high level pruning.”
“Deadheading climbing and rambling roses.”
Eryngiums or sea hollies feature next.
I wrote, “Mid-summer is when our Sea Hollies, Eryngiums, are at their best, their blue and silver stems, bracts and flowers take on their metallic tints.”
The first set of photos are of E.bourgattii ‘Picos Blue’
The next four photos are of E. Jade Frost.
The four photos below are of E. ‘Neptune’s Gold’ with its bright green foliage and metallic blue flower heads.
“Eryngiums add so much to the garden in virtually every month. Amazingly textured, coloured and sometimes variegated foliage plus metallic flowers and bracts.”
These are exciting plants to finish off my entries into my Garden Journal 2019 for the month of July.
A return visit to a garden that we have not seen for a few decades is a rare treat. We returned to Stone House Cottage Garden and Nursery as part of a day out with our Hardy Plant Society Shropshire Group friends. In the afternoon we followed up with a wander around Arley Arboretum, another place we have visited before. Both gardens open for the National Garden Scheme during the year too.
We were greeted by Stone House’s owner and gardener, Louisa Arthbutnot, who invited us to wander freely but saying she would be around to answer queries. We entered through a round tower and were soon reminded about what makes this such a special patch, interesting plants combined well and brick-built grottoes.
Entering the garden through the first folly we are given a choice of paths straight away, so enticing.
But we did not make a choice straight as we were attracted to the unusual selection of plants growing right alongside the back door of the entrance folly.
Brickwork and follies feature so strongly in the is cottage garden and enhance it in a unique way.
As we moved through the garden we discovered unusual shrubs with loose meadow-style planting beneath them.
But what makes this cottage garden stand out as being something rather special is its collection of rare and unusual plants and the way Louisa places plants in communities so effectively.
As we left the garden we all made for the nursery where many unusual plants were waiting to tempt us.
We made one of our frequent visits to Wildegoose Nursery and Gardens in the middle of July on a warm bright day. We were pleased to find a new sign at the entrance to the nursery and garden, a beautiful coloured plan of the walled garden. Also new was an area of planting alongside the path to the sales hut.
This new planting reflected the planting style of much of the garden, new perennial style with thoughtful colour matching. The nursery beds also looked really colourful and inviting.
We made our way up to the top of the slope where the tea shop is situated, and we treated ourselves to a coffee and one of their special cakes. Then suitably refreshed we set about exploring this wonderful space. Every gravel pathway led to interesting plant combinations.
We will finish off sharing our visit with you via a gallery of my photos. The whole garden is an exciting example of thoughtful planting groups, sometimes pale and subdued colours others bright and red hot. To follow our tracks click on the first photo and then use the arrows to navigate. We shall return later in the year to see Wildegoose in another season.
Back with the next installment in this series of posts where we visit Bodnant Gardens in North Wales and Wildegoose nursery and Garden in South Shropshire. In this mid-summer visit to Bodnant we enjoyed a warm bright day wandering around this large wonderful garden on the edge of Snowdonia.
After our breakfast enjoyed in the Pavilion Cafe we wandered along the underpass that takes us below the road to the garden entrance. Even before entering the garden itself we were treated to the site of meadow planting on the banks either side of the path.
Leaving the Reception area we turned right where we enjoyed a first glimpse of one of our favourite borders of all, the long, hot wall garden.
I took so many photos that day because the light was so good and the garden so interesting, so it is best now if a share a selection of my images with you in a gallery. As usual click on the first pic and then navigate using the arrows.
We will make a return visit to Bodnant in the Autumn to see how the garden looks in that season.