We visited another NGS garden in Powys as we continued our way through lock down, this time the garden was on the edge of the town of Knighton. Pont Faen was owned and garden by a retired farmer and his wife.
The garden wrapped around the house and had a colourful collection of alstroemeria, several roses, dahlias and many bright coloured patches of rudbeckias.
All these collections of colourful plants were scattered around a garden of lawn and large sweeping borders, which allowed us to see large parts of the garden at the same time.
The gardeners here have a wonderful use of foliage either in clumps of species together such as these hostas or integrated into borders as a foil for the flowering plants.
Another interesting garden visit to help cheer us up while locked down – so enjoyable!
David Clayden is the third gardener from the Sheffield School of Planting whose garden we visited in the weekend arranged by the NGS. His garden was completely different to the other two but enjoyed by us equally. The garden had a gentle feel to it and it was full of wildlife. It had many features that would attract wildlife including dry-stone walls, green roofs and patches of ferns and grasses.
We found the narrow entrance half way down a steep street of terraced houses, and we got a feeling for the garden as we walked through the tiny front patch.
We then wandered around the side of the house into the back and immediately felt calm and relaxed. With plenty of places to sit including seats on a deck in front of a summerhouse complete with green roof, there were opportunities throughout the garden to sit and observe the planting and soak up the atmosphere.
I will finish this report from the three Sheffield School gardeners home gardens with a selection of more images of this third garden. I hope you have enjoyed looking at these three Sheffield gardens which we visited one July weekend.
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.
Part two of this report on our short break in Stratford-on-Avon is all about the gardens of Shakespeare and his family. After spending time indoors studying the life and times of the Bard is was good to be outside discovering some outdoor history.
We will begin by looking at the grounds of the Shakespeare family home, where roses seem the most important plant. The planting today does not necessarily relate in any way to how it was in the Bard’s day. We loved this bronze of Shakespeare which seemed to capture his intelligence and depth of thinking and feeling, as well as the contemporary pencil sketch of the house.
In total contrast but just a short walk away, is “The New Place”, a celebration of Shakespeare’s life with exciting modern garden design and statuary. Each piece of statuary and each plant combination provides hints of the period as well as adding atmosphere. There were brilliant plant combinations combined sensitively with modern sculptural constructions. Softening of modern hard landscaping was carried out using soft, whispy grasses such as Stipa tennuissima Pony Tails.
The globe under the tree feature had a real surprise in store fr when you got close to the tree you realised it was cast in bronze. Goldfinches loved it and sang from its upper branches!
A more open space beyond he building and the modern garden area had a completely different feel to it contrasting strongly and providing a peaceful space to rest and have a quick coffee served by a barista on a bicycle. Long double borders with a central path ran along one side of the large green, with topiarised hedging and perennial planting.
Finally a parterre area felt much more in keeping with the garden style of the Shakespearian era, providing another contrasting area to explore. Lavenders gave off beautiful gentle scent.
I would like now to look back to the summer gone to share some visits and re-visits to other National Garden Scheme (NGS) gardens from a town garden to a huge old garden in North Wales.
The garden at Sunningdale is a half acre town garden in the north Shropshire market town of Wem. Friends had recommended the garden to us so as the garden opening season is coming to an end we decided to make the half hour journey northward up the A49.
We received a warm and very cheerful welcome as we took a path through an open gateway, which took us around the side of the house to reveal a garden that invites visitors to wander. We discovered some interesting bits and pieces on our way around the side of the villa. Plus of course some exciting colours from flowering plants.
This delicate tall elegant yellow flowered plant was unknown to us and luckily labelled, Dendromecon rigida, the Poppy Tree. What a treat it always is to discover new plants.
Interesting pruning techniques and styles by the owners had breathed new life into otherwise rather dull conifers. Conifers are carved into recesses for seats or entranceways to another part of the garden, or simply to frame a piece of sculpture.
These solid conifers have been carefully trimmed in a way that implies almost drawing with shears. Beautiful!
To share the rest of this lovely garden I shall finish of with a gallery which follows our wanderings discovering so many different aspects of the garden. Enjoy by simply clicking on the first photo then navigating using the arrows.
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.
Jude and I have a soft spot for gardens with a Japanese feel to them, and we are lucky to have an excellent example in our home county of Shropshire and just a short drive away. We had heard of the garden at Westgate in Bridgnorth and always intended to pay a visit but circumstances had not allowed us to. But eventually we managed to make their National Garden Scheme open day in April.
It was well worth the wait! We loved it, the planting, the structure and its special atmosphere. The front garden however was of a very different feel altogether being a formal garden designed to match the age and style of the house. Foliage was the star there!
On the flight of steps nearby foliage again featured but this time succulents were the stars.
Moving around the house looking in small borders and corners we found interesting plants and objects that gave clues to the beauty of the Japanese section we were making our way towards. This area prepared us so well for the treat that lay ahead of us.
We stepped through an archway into a different world with an atmosphere of such peace that it made us feel so calm. The Japanese garden at Westgate was one of the best examples we have ever seen in an English garden. Come with us on a journey through such a special place. To view the gallery click on the first photo and navigate using the arrows.
We love visiting community gardens whenever we can find one to explore. We like to see what they are trying to do and particularly how gardening is involved in their client activities. We were delighted to find one open under the auspices of the National Garden Scheme not far away just over the Welsh border into Powys. As we approached over a river bridge and first spotted the building we were taken aback by its sheer size. It looked an impressive building with its gardens sloping down to the river bank.
We received a warm welcome from the volunteers who ran the centre and enjoyed a tasty cup of tea and extravagant looking cup cake each as we chatted and learned more about the work of the group. We were amazed at what we heard and were full of admiration.
We couldn’t wait to wander around the garden and see what the volunteer leaders and their clients were up to on this steeply sloping wooded riverside site.
Bunting and flags always add to the feeling of being warmly welcome in any garden and here they fluttered in profusion.
Mosaics were popular ways of decorating features here from table tops to sundials. The clients created these in their art and craft sessions.
There were clues at every turn that wildlife was welcome to share the garden with the clients, volunteers and visitors.
There was such a sense of humour prevailing throughout the community garden and many craft items created by the clients illustrated this.
As with any garden whatever its primary function fine examples of plants are good to see.
Productive gardening was all part of the work here with the produce grown and nurtured by the clients being sold to help raise funds for the community garden. Wormeries sat in one corner working away producing compost and liquid feed for the veg.
We found some fine examples of craftwork in metal and fabrics among the plants on the slopes.
We finished our tour by taking wooden steps and gravel paths down to the riverside where we ended beneath colourful cheerful bunting just as we had started. We were so glad to have discovered this special place run by such special people and they also told us of another community not too far away which may be a place for a future visit.
You don’t very often find yourself travelling into the centre of a major city to find a beautiful garden but that is exactly what we had to do to find a garden that had been on our bucket list for years, Winterbourne House Gardens. We travelled along three motorways, the M54, the M6 and finally the A38M into Birmingham until we found the street we were looking for and just 600 yards down there we found the entrance to the garden. Putting up with the motorway journey and the city traffic was soon lost from our minds as the entrance was so welcoming and we knew we were in for a wonderful day.
Obviously we started our visit by obeying the sign above! The only downside of a visit to this garden is the tearoom being much too small for a wet and cold day. But the garden itself was a beauty with views, pathways and archways to invite us to explore further.
A botanical garden though is all about special plants and the way they are grown together. There were plenty for us to study at Winterbourne and to help take our minds off the dull skies and increasing threat of heavy showers.
Little features that draw the eye added extra points of interest to our wanderings.
An unexpected treat was found as we took a path through woodland, a shaded walk alongside a large lake. The light was very special there. Looking out over the lake we could see the skyscrapers of the city. This was the only time we were aware of our city centre location during our wanderings.
After enjoying our lakeside promenade we followed the winding path through the water gardens where the giant leaves of Gunneras and Dalmeras dominated and the wide ranging colours of Primulas added interest to the greens.
We love to see sculpture in gardens so were delighted to spot these beautiful slate pieces inviting us to read their words. We were amazed to discover that one piece was based on a clock – beautiful!
So we discovered another garden that we enjoyed so much that we have added it to our favourite list. A great garden in a great city.
We have driven through the Herefordshire market town of Ledbury, which nestles below the Malvern Hills, many times over the years and as we drive along its long wide main street we always vow to stop and have a wander around one day.
Well in early September we did just that and we were so glad we did! Interesting buildings, old and new were to be found round every corner, down every alleyway and in every narrow street. There was an amazing sense of pride in the town and a sense of creativity to be found in the galleries and design shops. This pride was not just of the town’s past but in its present.
Even as we got out of the car after parking up, there were signs of the town’s rich architectural heritage and indications of the town’s pride in it.
Once on the main street which runs through the centre of the town the huge range of ages and styles of architecture was obvious in whichever direction we glanced.
Occasionally we came across a sign of modern architecture glued to the old and it looked refreshing and sat comfortably alongside its elders.
Luckily for us if we wandered behind the main street frontage and searched its alleyways and malls we found plenty of coffee shops to choose from. Suitably refreshed after our usual coffee and cake we continued our voyage of discovery.
Wandering down a narrow side street we found ourselves looking into a garden, a place presented to the town as a place of peace and quiet with attractive, colourful flower borders and several benches to rest on and appreciate the attractive surroundings. We wandered through the “Walled Garden” and found a narrow walled walkway which led us to the church.
After a wander around the church we continued our walk around the streets of this historic town discovering even more architectural gems. This town is so photogenic!
But within, inside, below, above and behind all this architecture hides some beautiful little details, which I discovered through my viewfinder. Please enjoy this gallery of close-ups, secrets and details.
The best place to find these details was by getting away from the shoppers and the business of the main streets and looking into the alleyways and behind doors and gates. I shall finish this celebration of the character of the Herefordshire market town of Ledbury by sharing the photos I took looking into such places.