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Return to Waterperry – part 2

As promised I am back sharing with you our summer time visit to the gardens at Waterperry.

Through this wooden gate we discovered a formal garden divided into four sections all featuring interesting and unusual alpines. The golden crocus lookalikes are Sternbergia lutea. Since seeing this beautiful patch we ordered a dozen for our own garden.

The orange flowers looking somewhat like Pentstemon pinifolia ‘Wisley Fire’ was in fact Zauschneria californica ‘Dublin’. Again, although we already grow P. ‘Wisley Fire’ we have bought the Zauschneria too and planted it in scree,

Occasionally when exploring gardens we come across seats that really surprise and impress and here at Waterperry we did just that. The first, the ‘Head Gardener’ seat seems to suit me! I want one! Jude obviously equally enjoyed the other.


As well as garden seats we discovered a spherical stone water feature which had the thinnest film of water seeping over its edge and down the sides. Completely different but again rather interesting was this thatched dovecote.

These metal and glass screens looked equally good close-up as they did from a distance. The light altered their colours as we moved around them.

I will finish this report on our return visit to Waterperry Gardens with photos of this beautiful figure sculpture sitting on top of the wall and a stunning piece of cloud pruning.


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Wonder Walls

We always enjoy discovering what plants manage to grow in walls and marvel at how they get a foothold and seek out enough food. You can imagine how delighted we were when we came across this 50 metre long wall which was a garden in itself.

This garden on a wall was at Sizergh Castle, a National Trust property in the southern end of the Lake District in Cumbria. there were other interesting “wall gardens” here too.

The wall runs the length of the Dutch Garden and is constructed of limestone. It is now home to many very happy looking plants. They are a sort of hanging garden!

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Along its top edge a narrow border adds an extra dimension to this wall. Forget-me-Nots in pink, white and the more usual blue provide splashes of colour. After enjoying the vast range of plants growing in the gaps, crevices and cracks of the wall a shelter with a comfortable seat provides a convenient resting place.

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Within the gardens at Sizergh we found other examples of “hanging gardens”, one hanging from a flight of stone steps covered in alpine plants, presenting a colourful display. These decorative steps had been roped off to stop anyone using them and damaging the plants growing there. Many visitors stopped to take photographs of this mini-garden which I presume came about by accident. The plants probably self-seeded into the gaps between the stonework. Similarly plants have taken up residence on the side walls of the steps.

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In the kitchen garden at Sizergh the stone walls that make up the sides of the old cold frames also became a habitat for self-seeded little plants.

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The walls around the kitchen garden gave the impression of more hanging gardens for us to enjoy. Many of the plants in these walls were wild flowers of hillsides and cliff faces or ones normally grown on rockeries. It was interesting seeing thes plants growing vertically instead of as mats on the ground.

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Ferns were particularly happy growing in the shade of the walls where they could establish themselves in cooler damper conditions found there.

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These walls also had extra habitats added to them to encourage even more wildlife to shelter or set up home.

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For my final wall I include this stretch of the castle walls themselves where little creeping daisies, Erigeron karvinskianus had settled in happily showing off its flowers in white and many shades of pink.

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We were amazed to find so many plants growing in these walls at Sizergh and wondered how many thousands of tiny critters we could not see as well as small mammals and birds were also sheltering or living there in their own secret miniature world.

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Mary’s mini-garden

Towards the end of 2014 our great friend Mary gave us two old butler sinks to make into miniature alpine gardens. Soon after this a sudden illness took Mary from us. We turned the sinks into gardens just as she wanted us too, so we now think of them as Mary’s Mini-Gardens.

We gathered together a few big chunks of slate, a bag of slate pieces, a bag of John Innes No 3 compost, a bag of horticultural grit and one of horticultural sand together with a lump hammer and bolster chisel. The horticultural grit and sand were mixed with the compost in equal parts to create our growing medium.

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We were lucky to have found two large pieces of slate with holes in to add a sculptural element to our mini-gardens.

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One piece of slate had beautiful colour and texture to it to add further interest. It looked like a mountain range in miniature!

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We added the growing medium to the sinks and put a mulch of grit on top for extra drainage around the base of the plants. We then played around with positioning the large slate pieces until we thought they formed the best arrangement we could manage.

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We then began arranging the plants and once we felt they were in the best positions we planted them up.

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When we opened our garden in mid-April for the National Garden Scheme they were beginning to look colourful and drew some complimentary comments from our visitors.

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Here they are in mid-May. We really enjoyed the project and feel sure Mary would have enjoyed them. Good example of recycling in the garden too!

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Two New Little Gardens

This summer we have added two new little gardens to our “Avocet” garden. In truth they are mini-gardens. We have created a roof garden on the wood store and a tiny alpine garden.

You may remember my post last year sharing with you how I made our log store. I built it with a roof garden in mind so it was already strong enough to take the weight. We mixed up a special mix of a lightweight multi-purpose compost and perlite. We began adapting the roof by adding a second layer of roofing felt before nailing in place strips of 6 inch wide strips of wood as an edging. We then fixed a layer of weed supressing membrane to help hold in the compost mix. Once the compost mix was added we had the pleasure of placing the plants ready for planting. After all the work building the new little garden in the air the planting was a delight. We used mostly alpines and succulents selecting those that could cope with a shallow root run. We used sedums, sempervivums, dianthus and thymes.

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Our second little creation was an extra space for small alpines. We call it our “Alpine Throne” – once you see the photos you will realise why. It is situated within the “Sunken Garden”, although this garden is often now called the “Secret Garden”, in a wasted space below an arch over which our vine grows partnered by a clematis, up against the greenhouse. The space previously was home to a Euphorbia mellifera, the Honey Spurge, which we have to grow in a large container as it needs winter protection here. This beautifully scented shrub has now outgrown its allotted space and has relocated to a new home in the “Tropical Garden”.

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So we got together our materials, some 12 foot long 8 inch by 2 inch planks, which we cut to various lengths and shaped their ends. I then drilled holes in the ends for added interest. I wanted the feature to be a piece of garden sculpture as well as an alpine garden. We also got together some large pieces of Welsh slate carefully selected for shape, texture and colour.

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We needed some weed suppressing membrane and a selection of plants whose flowers complimented the slate. A few bags of fine alpine grit were required to mix with the compost and also to top-dress the finished garden.

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A few months later our new little garden has settled down. It is a nice little feature to enjoy when we sit in one of our favourite sitting places. The roof garden has settled nicely too and the plants look happy and healthy.

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