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seasonal visits to two very different gardens – mid-summer at Wildegoose nursery and gardens

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.

 

 

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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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Packwood – one of the stars of the National Trust.

We have held memberships of the National Trust for over 40 years and one of the first we took our two children to was Packwood Hall. Packwood is now a firm favourite and we made a visit again this year. The welcome sign describes Packwood as “a house to dream of, a garden to dream in”. We were only intending to look at the house from the outside and mainly intended to explore the garden in greater detail. Packwood is well known for its unusual collection of sundials.

 

The approach to Packwood is one of the most welcoming we have ever come across, passing through wildflower meadows and impressive gateways.

    

Once we had passed through a few of these gateways and archways we discovered colourful well-designed borders full of herbaceous perennials and roses. Much of the planting had been chosen to attract wildlife, predators and pollinators.

    

The gardens were well structured, divided into garden rooms with different characters and atmospheres in each. In one formal lawn area we came across a rectangular sunk garden built from limestone and its borders were planted with plants that enjoyed the dry well drained soil. These plants provided a strong contrast to the lush look of the rest of the gardens.

       

Lush planting was prevalent elsewhere throughout the garden making for an atmosphere of excitement. There were wonderful individual plants to be found as well as well designed borders.

         

A well-known aspect of the gardens at Packwood is its topiary, especially a group called the twelve apostles. Personally I found this part of Packwood rather dull but here are the photos I took to illustrate it. However I do have a soft spot for cloud pruning of hedges.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Garden Journal 2017 – June

We have reached the half way point through the year and I am beginning a second book in my Garden Journal 2017. A book of blank pages waiting to be filled with words, paintings and photographs.

On the first page of my new book I started my June reports by writing, “June is the month when our wildlife friends become very obvious, pollinators and predators work away helping us out, and all our wild friends entertain us, stimulating our senses. We had a dip in the wildlife pond with a net and found a healthy population of newts and dragonfly larvae. Whenever we sit in the summerhouse for a tea break we are entertained by birds coming for a drink or bathe in the pebbled shallow end, especially bright are the Goldfinches with their splashes of red and yellow. Next to the summerhouse door a pair of Blue Tits is nesting in one of our boxes. Both parents are making frequent visits into the garden to collect caterpillars to feed to their young. Each day these caterpillars get larger as the youngsters  grow and their appetites grow even more quickly.

Wildlife in the garden is so entertaining!”

Over the page brightly coloured photographs glow from the pages, photographs of Geum cultivars.

“Plant of the month for June is the Geum, the cultivars with hot colours – yellows, oranges and reds, – Totally Tangerine, Koi, Mrs Bradshaw, Lady Stratheden ………………..”

        

Leaving the brightly coloured Geums behind I next looked at a few representatives of our garden’s wildlife friends.

“Double Brimstones, butterfly and moth, the Brimstone Moth and the Brimstone Butterfly. 

The Brimstone Butterflies are one of the earliest arrivals in our garden but a few continue to fly in May and June. The Brimstone Moth flies in both daytime and night time.”

On the page opposite I talk about and paint the Little Owl, a regular visitor to our patch.

“We host three owls in our garden, the Tawny, the Barn and the Little. When we first moved to Plealey our Little Owl migrated in search of warmer places every Autumn to return in Spring.Today they stay with us year round. We love this change!”

 

Over the page I share with you some of our Foxgloves, the Digitalis family.

“Foxgloves, spires of colour buzzing with bees,  flower every day this month. Bumble Bees and our neighbour’s  Honey Bees disappear right inside the larger flower gloves. Bees explore each flower on each spike starting at the lowest bloom and moving upwards methodically.”

             

Next I looked at one of our poppies, Papaver somniferum the Opium Poppy.

“Papaver somniferum comes in a variety of  pinks and lilacs”. 

     

“The small orange double poppy is Papaver rupifragum “Orange Feathers”.

From an orange poppy to an orange rose I moved on to look at a small flowered orange patio climber.

“Rosa “Warm Welcome” is a small climber and a cheerful charmer. Roses continue to flower profusely throughout the June garden.”

    

June turned out to be a difficult month for the garden with extremes of heat accompanied by a long dry spell causing plants to suffer especially relatively recently planted trees and shrubs. We water trees every week for a year after planting but a week’s holiday prevented us from doing this. We returned to find trees and shrubs with brown shrivelled leaves. A sad sight. I wrote, “June ended up being a dry month with many plants showing signs of stress, especially trees planted this year and lawn areas. We need rain urgently!” I included photos of some of the plants looking worse for wear.

    

On the opposite page, which is the final page for June I mentioned the return of the rain, refreshing us and the garden. “In the last few days of the month, steady rain helped put life and vitality back into our garden putting extra sparkle in flowers and gloss on foliage. We can only hope that trees planted earlier this year survive. They look troubled! Lilies however quickly burst back into life.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Coton Manor – an atmospheric gem.

Coton Manor Gardens are so full of atmosphere. Ten acres of hillside gardens are landscaped to give variety throughout the year on this Northamptonshire estate. There are streams, fountains and ponds, a bluebell wood and meadows. We have visited this romantic garden a few times already but decided to visit again in July of 2016.

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Honey coloured stonework make the buildings look warm and welcoming and entering the drive after a short walk from the car park we noticed climbers covering every wall. We entered a cosy courtyard on our right which gave us the chance of refreshments and a peruse of the nursery tables. A surprise here for everyone was the resident Hyacinth Macaw who greets each visitor on arrival with a loud screech!

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The garden itself is designed around a series of garden rooms separated by yew and holly hedges, and each room has its own special character and atmosphere, which makes for a refreshing garden walkabout. Leaving one room you don’t know what to expect next. Close to the house courtyards featuring half-hardy plants such as Pelargonium and Salvia make for a colourful start to our wanderings. Share our wanderings through these areas by following the gallery below. (click on the first photo and navigate through by clicking on right hand arrow)

 

We passed through an archway surrounded by scented pink roses and from there moved on to the Rose Garden and then wandered into an area of woodland shade garden complete with a small stream.

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Some very unusual and interesting plants came to our attention in the wooded and streamside gardens, all beautifully lit by the rays of the sun penetrating the tree canopy.

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Steps, paving and walls of warm limestone appeared throughout the garden affording ideal places for wall plants to get a hold.

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I will finish this report on our visit to the romantic garden at Coton Manor with a few more photos which I particularly enjoyed taking. I hope you like the salmon pink plumaged flamingoes which had free range of the garden but mostly seemed to enjoy sleeping with their head hidden beneath their wings,

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The Dorothy Clive Garden in June

It is half way through the year and also through our monthly visits to the Dorothy Clive Gardens. When we arrived at the gardens for our July visit we noticed signs for a vintage tea party and vintage fair. So we had a little extra to enjoy.

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The Dingle Garden which was so colourful on earlier visits had waned but still had a few points of interest. We were surprised to see several plants in flower but extra amazed by the beauty of the selection of Lilium martigon and Hydrangeas.

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I think the best way to share our June visit to the Dorothy Clive Gardens will be to present a gallery so that you can share our wanderings. As usual just click on the first image and navigate using the arrows.

So there we have it, the Dorothy Clive Gardens in June.

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Croft Castle – month by month – the final report

Illness has prevented us making our monthly visit to Croft Castle where I would take photographs and report back about all that is going on in the gardens of this Herefordshire property run by the National Trust. Thus this final visit for the year took place in early December and will be a joint report for November and December together.

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My Garden Journal – November

The penultimate visit to my garden journal for this year is here already, and I write this as November comes to a close. The strong winds of November howl around the house and roar down our chimneys. The rain has persisted for virtually every day of the month along with the strong winds.

My journal for the dreary month of November began “Our wonderful, heart warming Indian Summer lasts until the very last day of October, so we waited for the first day of November hoping for the continuation of warm, bright days. The eleventh month is usually a time of mists, fog and heavy dews.”

Jenny Joseph wrote of November, “Much of November belies the dread attached to its reputation, the shutting down, the gloom, the fog, the dark wet, the cold and the colds, autumn shrinking into winter.”

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On November 1st we woke to a heavy dew, thick fog and the rest of the day was damp and dreary. The whole first week was the same. Oh dear!

Thank goodness for our garden which on the dreariest of days provided bright, colourful sparks. In every border there is a flower blooming its heart out to please us and of course any brave bees out on the wing in search of pollen and nectar.

All the photos below were taken on the same day in late November.

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I next wrote about a real favourite plant of mine, a shrubby Buddleja rarely grown but oh so beautiful! Buddleja lindleyana.

We grow an unusual Buddleja, which is still flowering this month. Buddleja lindleyana hails from china and boasts beautiful two-tone purple flowers. Racemes arch from the tip of every arching stem. Sadly it is rarely grown. I take cuttings every November to give to friends. They love it too!”

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I enjoyed painting it too!

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I took a couple of photos as well which you may like to see, as they illustrate the colour range found within the flowers.

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On the opposite page from my Buddleja lindleyana painting I have featured another special plant again rarely grown. This one though is a tree, an Acer.

“A young Acer tree is growing in our front garden. At this time of the year its leaves turn into the colours of fire. Its leaf petioles glow red. Acer pectinatum – a very special tree!”

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Turning the journal’s page over we have a mouth watering page about apples! and on the opposite page I look at our Viburnums.

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“By this time of the year we have usually harvested our tree fruit and it is safely in store. This year we are still picking apples, some varieties should have been harvested by early September.” 

I reveled in the chance to get out the watercolours and study two tasty and very colourful apples, Scrumptious and Red Falstaff which grow one either side of the green house door.

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I moved on to consider the Viburnum shrubs putting on performances in our garden this month. “Various Viburnums give Winter interest and start their show now in mid-November. Their show is a profusion of gently coloured flowers, scent and shining red and black berries.”

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More shrubs graced the next few pages too, deciduous Euonymus and a Hydrangea.

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“Our deciduous Euonymus give us so many shades of pink as they metamorphose into their Autumn personas.”

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At the bottom of this page beneath the Euonymus I just found room for a pic of the thistle-like Silybum maritimum.

“The teal-green and silver foliage rosette will give us these colours through the winter. In Spring flowering shoots will creep upwards full of promise.”

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Another all time great of the shrub world is featured on my next page in the journal, A Hydrangea that gives us flowers that change colour, foliage that changes colour and a most unusual shaped leaf for a Hydrangea. It is Hydrangea quercifolia.

I wrote of it, “Hydrangea quercifolia is giving its all in the garden with white flowers turning pink and then finally rust. Autumn turns its leaves from bright apple green through to ruby red.” 

Its name gives a clue to its leaf shape as quercifolia means simply “oak leaved”. Our specimen has an extra attribute in that in Summer on humid days it emits a sweet honeyed scent. As far as I know they are not supposed to be graced with scent of any kind let alone one so special.

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My last double page spread is all about Persicarias, a really useful perennial for any garden with hints of the new perennial movement or a nod towards the Prairie style planting. We love both these styles so we grow several different ones.

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“A plant that gives us great pleasure in the Autumn is the Persicaria. We grow one type for its flowers and seed heads and another for its incredibly coloured and marked foliage. Persicaria amplexicaulis have poker-like flowers in various shades of red, pink and white followed by chocolate coloured seed heads.”

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“Persicaria virginata gives us wonderfully coloured and unusual marked foliage with the addition of tiny white flowers.”

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So that is the November visit to my journal. Next month will see me fill up my lovely little “Moleskine” note book as my December thoughts, photos and paintings bring the journal to an end for 2015.

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Croft Castle Month by Month – October

October was a month made special by a bright, colourful Indian Summer. It made our tenth monthly visit to the gardens at Croft Castle special. Without realising it we had chosen the week when the property were putting on a Halloween trail for the children. The trail sheet encouraged the youngsters to search for clues, so naturally we had to do the same.

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The first change we noticed on this visit was how autumn had taken over the garden, with most trees changing their green cloak to one of yellow.

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The first border we pass on our way to the walled garden is the long mixed border alongside the drive.

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We reached the walled garden which is the best part of the grounds, wondering what changes we would find there. Even though some borders were being cleared there was plenty left to attract my camera lens, whole borders of interest …………

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………… and plenty of single plants still looking full of colour.

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We were amazed by the simple beauty of these Japanese Anemone flowers which had just dropped their petals.

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Plants can find their own niche however inappropriate it may seem to us. This bright red poppy chose a spot close to equally blue fencing.

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When we made our first of this year’s monthly visits to Croft Castle we found an unfinished insect hotel, bearing the label “unfinished project”. We looked forward to its completion each month but nothing changed, but on our October visit we noticed it was finished at last.