A Spring Visit to a Garden in the Hills

We often make our way down lanes up into the hills not far from home for coffee with friends Allison and Martin. Allison is a keen gardener and Martin is a good DIY’er a good combination when making and maintaining a garden.

In mid-April we arrived mid-morning and enjoyed great coffee and ginger easter rabbit biscuits! What a treat!

We soon took a tour around the garden with Allison and we were immediately taken by the variety and quality of her tulips. There were some incredible colours and colour combinations.

Even though tulips were centre stage several clumps of daffodils were still holding their own and looking very good.

If we look beyond the flowery stars of mid-April there was plenty more points of interest, newly emerging perennials, leaf buds bursting forth with life and interesting plant communities.

The driveway looked most inviting with young trees underplanted with daffodils and climbers behind decorating the fence and on the opposite side a beautiful selection of plants.

The two photos of such delicate beauties seem a fitting finish for this post about our visit to see Allison and Martin, enjoy their hospitality and their lovely garden.


My Garden Journal 2022 – April

Back again with another look at my journal entries for April…..

I began the month by writing, “April saw the weather continue to be mixed up and confused with some frosts, some mild bright days, but few days giving much needed rain to the garden. Seeds sown by Jude, the Undergardener in the greenhouse have germinated and she has pricked out many of them, while outside we added more clematis to our already large collection. Lots to do!”

A seasonal job that comes up a few times each year is the revamping of our welcome personalised planting boxes at the entrance to our garden.

We try to change the planting to reflect the coming season and always provide a warm welcome.

Overleaf I created a double page spread featuring tulips. I noted, “Just as daffodils dominated the March garden, so tulips, in their multitude of shapes and colour, take over in April. Here is just a selection …..”

For the second of my two pages of tulip photos I simply wrote, “And there’s more!”

The next page simply showed a sketch I did using, fine fibre pens ,of a couple of leaf skeletons which we found when weeding a border. Every time we find one it is a magical surprise.

My final page for April looked at the colours showing throughout the garden.

So, that is my journal for April 2022 – back again in May which should be much more summery!


A Day at Bluebell Part 3

Apart from many fine specimens of betulas and sorbus Bluebell displayed so many other wonderfully interesting shrubs and trees. Here is a gallery of the photos I took of some of my other favourite specimens.

Parrotia persica ‘Jodrell Bank’ (left) and ‘Aesculus chinensis’ (right)

Parrotia persica ‘Vanessa’ (left) and ‘Liriodendron x ‘Chapel Hill’ (rt)

Prunus x ‘Catherine’

Euonymus europaeus ‘Thornhayes’

Euonymus clivicola var. rongchuensis

Metasequoia glyp ‘Matthaei Broom’ and Abies koreana ‘Silberlocke’

Gingko biloba ‘Icho’

I will finish with a special and unusual Euonymus. We were shown it by the founder and co-owner of Bluebell itself, who approached us as we wandered among the garden areas.

Euonymus alatus ‘Chicago Fire’


A Day at Bluebell – Part Two Betulas and Sorbus

So we are here back at Bluebell Nursery and Arboretum when we will look for interesting varieties of betulas and sorbus.

First off a look at some of the arboretum’s betulas.

So there we have my selection from the many incredible Betulas at Bluebell which I shall follow with some examples of their collection of Sorbus.

Sorbus x ‘Yunnan Pink’ (above) and Sorbus ‘Wesley Gold’

Sorbus eburnea.

In part 3 of my Bluebell Arboretum posts I will look at exmples of their specimen acers, liquidamber, malus and euonymus.


A Day at Bluebell Nursery – Ashby de la Zouch

We visit the Bluebell Nursery and Arboretum near Ashby de la Zouch most years and look forward to enjoying the autumn colour in November. There are so many interesting trees and shrubs in the gardens and arboretum some rarely seen elsewhere which makes a visit a real treat.

I am going to publish three posts over three days to illustrate how rich a selection of interesting plants live there, especially trees.

Here are my general photos of our visit, but I will post a more specialist blog later on ‘Betulas and Sorbus’ and another on some of our favourite specimens at Bluebell.

Gentle colours from the late flowers of hydrangeas greeted us as we entered the arboretum and garden, soft blues, pinks and whites with hints of green.

The first part of our wander took us towards the bridge over the drainage ditch. Bluebell is such a wet place sitting as it does on a heavy clay soil. Each time we visit there seems to be new drainage projects.

We crossed the bridge constructed from railway sleepers and moved into the main arboretum field, where we were in for a delightful time enjoying a varied selection of trees and shrubs, deciduous and evergreens both conifers and broadleaves. Most were well signed with names both botanic and common with plenty of useful information to add to our enjoyment.

It felt good to see how felled trees became log piles for wildlife especially beetles. Two birches close to each other were felled and the resulting logs were stacked between the stumps.

We enjoyed a good few hours walking the main arboretum, finding so many unusual, special varieties of betulas, sorbus, liquidamber and acers. We returned to the garden area where these sights entranced us.

What an amazing collection of trees to enjoy! The next few posts will feature our favourite trees mentioned earlier.


Walking up and down Beacon Hill -part one -upwards

You may have noticed that I inadvertently posted part two of my pair of posts about climbing up and down Beacon Hill first. I should of course have posted part one first so here it is!

Spending an autumn break in the village of Belton in the midst of the Leicestershire countryside, made us aware of what a beautiful county it is and how much wonderful woodland it has.

Our son Jamie recommended a visit to Beacon Hill where we could enjoy a gentle uphill walk, encircling the rocky outcrops at the summit returning down a steeper track. An extra benefit of this walk is the wooden cabin containing a friendly cafe.

As we reached about half way up the incline we left the wooded patch and walked alongside an area of heathland with beautifully shaped oaks and tall slender birches.

And then we reached the summit which we will look at along with the slow descent in part 2 0f this report of our Beacon Hill visit.


Up and Down Beacon Hill – part 2 the wander downhill.

We will carry on with our visit to Beacon Hill day out as we skirt the summit with its rocky outcrops and then make our way back down. We loved the carved wooden sculptures created by the onsite sculptor whose hut we found later on the walk. This child’s poster shows more understanding than many adults possess!

We continued on the path below the summit before dropping slowly downhill. The distant views from the summit were far wider than we expected.

Fungi seem to be appearing so late in the last few years as our climate changes, so we found these examples in a patch of birch trees.

We slowly wandered downhill through woodlands with so many species of our wonderful native tree species. Each different patch of trees seemed to have a different atmosphere depending how bright or shady it was.

Half way down the long slope we came across a wood carver’s workshop with unfinished sculptural pieces among felled trunks. Nearby we found some of his work looking wonderful, some seats some upright pieces.

A refreshing coffee and slice of cake each gave us enough energy to follow another short wander around the Native Tree Trail. Here we found well-labeled specimens of all our native trees around a circular route.

As a finishing treat we looked at other examples of wooden carvings of native mammals created by the onsite wood-carver.

We really enjoyed this stimulating walk enjoying a healthy bout of ‘forest bathing’. We look forward to a future summer visit.


A Wander around Bradgate Park – Leicestershire

During our autumn stay in Belton in Leicestershire we spent a cold but bright and breezy day with our Leicestershire family. It was so busy probably the busiest country park or walk we have ever wandered around. So many visitors but so quiet.

There were some impressive specimen Oaks scattered around the parkland, some showing autumnal leaf colours others old and barely alive.

Our granddaughter Arabella showed us her rock climbing skills which impressed us very much. She seemed to understand about balance, hand holds and foot holds, but also knew when a little help would not come amiss.

The impressive ruins were very typical Tudor in style similar in style and scale as more famous buildings of that era such as Sissinghurst in Kent. There were fine examples of ancient brickwork with handmade and it must be said rather randomly sized red brick.

As we turned back and followed our footsteps we stopped to look at a paddock of wonderful deer with young.


Calke Abbey – A Short Woodland Wander

During a short break in autumn in Leicestershire, where we stayed with our son, daughter-in-law and two granddaughters, we made a second visit to the NT site, Calke Abbey, a wonderful place for walks. On our second visit within a fortnight we took a short woodland walk around a reservoir, just a few miles in areas of the woodland.

I shall share my photos in a gallery, which follows below. Enjoy! I hope the gallery manages to convey some of the atmosphere of peace and calm that we felt there.


A Hillside Wander

We traveled down to Gloucestershire to present a garden talk to a gardening club in mid-March. They were a lovely group and the talk entitled “The Power of Gardening” was well received followed by some interesting questions. We stayed overnight at the bottom of Bredon Hill with my sister and brother-in-law. The following day we took advantage of a glorious, sunny day to walk partway up the hill.

As we walked up the lane with its gentle but persistent gradient we wandered through the last of the cottages and marvelled at the beauty of the drystone limestone walls some with vertical capping stones.

We soon left the village behind and continued to climb steadily as the hedgerows become wild and the landscape changed every few hundred yards. Several trees were decorated with mistletoe the beautiful semi-parasitic plant which boasts yellowy-green berries. The seeds inside the berries are distributed by two birds, the mistle thrush and the blackcap. Moss, algae and lichen adorned every fence, tree, gatepost and gate, turning them so many shades of green, yellow and grey.

The hedgerows and verges were hosts to many early spring wildflowers and a few garden escapees. The blossom coming out on the hawthorn was so out of season as their common name Mayflowers give a clear indication of when they normally decorate our hedgerows.

The lane we were following became a track and took us through open countryside and through a hamlet of limestone houses hiddenbehind tall walls, hedges and gates. Here we found interesting little surprises.