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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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Return to Waterperry – part 1

Waterperry in Oxfordshire is a garden we have visited a few times in the past and enjoyed it every time, so finding the opportunity to drop in while traveling down south we welcomed it.

Set up in 1932 the garden is the home of the School of Horticulture for Ladies run by the stern-looking Beatrix Havergal. Today it is a glorious garden which gave us several hours of enjoyable wandering.

We visited at a time when I was writing a new garden talk titled, “Fabulous Foliage, the unsung hero of our gardens”, so many of my photos focused on the way the gardeners put foliage colours and textures together. The pear orchard was a very peaceful place and looked to promise great crops before too long.

The garden is punctuated with pieces of sculptures varying widely in style, from the beautiful figure in the canal to the rather formal to the beautiful obelisk with words from the Koran on each face.


Probably our favourite part of the garden was the designated ‘quiet place’ which was an enclosed garden exuding calm and peace. The planting softened the formal layout and the beautiful sculptural figure with the lamp pulled us towards it. I was so impressed by the simple but effective plant combinations at her feet.


The most colourful areas in the garden were the trial beds and the long richly planted herbaceous border.


Waterperry Gardens have so much to offer and there is so much we haven’t shared with you in this post, so I will continue in part 2.



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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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