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The Dorothy Clive Garden in May

Today we returned to the Dorothy Clive Gardens to see what was going on in May and to see what had changed since our last visit in March. We had to miss out on our planned April visit due to commitments of giving talks to garden groups and opening our own garden. It was worth waiting a little longer because we really enjoyed our visit discovering so many changes and new things to see.

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But an extra element for this visit was our arranged meeting with friends from college over 40 years ago. After meeting up again as a consequence of one of our college friends spotting me during my TV appearance in a gardening programme last year we now meet regularly at cafes and gardens.

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The mystery patch being developed this year is now beginning to take shape and we think it may eventually become a scree bed or gravel garden. We shall see. Time will tell.

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The first views of the garden showed a much greener scene. Deciduous plants were beginning to show colour in their leaves and the last of the spring bulbs continued to flower.

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The area around the pond was gradually coming to life and the Camellia Walk shone pink.

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The first leaves were bursting from their buds in the Rose Garden and the productive areas showing promise.

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However the real star of the Dorothy Clive Gardens at this time of the year has to be the area called The Dingle, a woodland garden full of azaleas, rhododendrons and ferns, an area of bright colours and rich fresh greens. Enjoy wandering through the narrow winding gravel paths of The dingle with me, the Undergardener, our friends and of course my camera!

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We will return in June for our next excursion to the Dorothy Clive Gardens.

 

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The Dorothy Clive Garden Month by Month – January

This is the report of our first visit to this year’s featured garden, the Dorothy Clive Garden. We have been making occasional visits to this beautiful garden for about forty years now and have enjoyed many new developments for this is not a garden to rest on its laurels. It is affiliated to the Royal Horticultural Society and is run by the Friends of Willoughbridge Garden Trust.

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The garden was born way back in 1940 when Harry and Dorothy Clive lived in the large white house, Elds Gorse. The first area to be tackled was the old quarry which is now a richly planted Dingle Garden. Harry Clive created this first part of the garden so that his wife, who was suffering from Parkinson’s Disease could take daily exercise in a beautoful garden. Sadly she died in 1942 and Harry continued to develop the garden as a tribute to his wife. In 1958 the Willoughbridge Trust was founded to ensure that the garden continued for ever as a place of “rest and recreation” for the public.

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We made the one hour journey to the Dorothy Clive Garden on a very cold morning in mid-January. We were surprised to drive through areas of snow and arrived at the garden to find snow covering the garden in a shallow layer. We left our tracks in the snow as did a Grey Heron before us.

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Snow decorated the foliage of trees and shrubs where later in the year we will discover the colours and scents of their flowers. The weight of wet melting snow bent grasses down towards the ground and gave the plants a graceful shape.

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The first view of the garden opened up before us as we climbed a gently sloping path towards the tea shop which in winter doubles up as the ticket office. Naturally we were tempted by the aroma of warm coffee and the sight of home made cakes. The little flower arrangements in the centre of each table added to the warm welcome we received from the staff.

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Just outside the tearoom the little nursery area held plants hidden under snow and sculptures of rabbits and hares wearing hats of snow. The gardeners had been painting acorn fence-post tops a gentle shade of green.

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We left the tea shop and mini-nursery to walk towards the Dingle Garden an area of woodland garden created in an old quarry. Snow topped off the buds and leaves of Azaleas and Rhododendrons and the seed heads of the occasional herbaceous perennials.

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But we were particularly delighted to find flowers out, the simplest of Snowdrops with droplets of melted snow hanging from their stems, the occasional Rhododendrons and Camellias and Witch Hazels in sunshine colours.

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The overnight snow and ice had turned this pink Rhododendron translucent and delicate, while the flowers in the Camellia Walk were just managing to hang on. The pink scented flowers of this Daphne however shrugged off the cold and looked fresh and cheerful.

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Hydrangeas looked as good covered in seed heads as they do in flower with gentle biscuit and ginger hues.

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During the winter when undergrowth has died away and low growing deciduous shrubs have dropped their leaves the trunks of Rhododendrons and Azaleas are exposed. We can then appreciate their amazing scrolls and curlicues.

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The new winter garden at the Dorothy Clive Garden was a surprise to us as it is totally new so we didn’t know it existed. A great surprise! The Laburnum Arch through which we left the Winter Garden has been a popular feature of the garden for many years.

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The colours and textures of trees can add so much to any garden and the gardeners at Dorothy Clive certainly know how to choose them and place them to best advantage.

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You only need the tiniest touch of light on berries to make them sparkle. The last drops of melting snow hung on many.

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Mahonias are always a good plant in any garden with their glossy evergreen leaves which show rich autumn colours and in the winter yellow scented flowers appear to be followed by black berries with a white floury dusting.

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We shall return for part two of this January visit to our feature garden of 2016 to see what other treats the Dorothy Clive Garden has in store for us.

 

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A new garden for monthly visits – The Dorothy Clive Garden

After visiting Trentham Gardens monthly throughout 2014 followed by Croft Castle Gardens in 2015 we searched for another local garden which changes with the seasons and has interest every month of the year.

We have chosen The Dorothy Clive Garden, a forty minute drive from home and a real favourite of ours for years. It is one of the gardens we share with family and friends who come to stay. The garden has a postal address which places it in Shropshire but the garden’s guide book says it is situated in neighbouring Staffordshire. Perhaps on one of our visits we may discover its real location.

The garden guide describes it as “An informal hillside garden.” On its website is an invitation to “Explore this charming English country garden. Enjoy great plants throughout the seasons, delightful views and tasty homemade food.” This sounds just up our street – great plants and tasty food!

The website continues describing the Dorothy Clive Garden as “A place to relax and unwind in an intimate, informal and inspiring setting. Experience a really welcoming and friendly environment.”

So it sounds as if we have chosen our feature garden for 2016 rather wisely.

For now here is a gallery of pics from a previous visit just as a taster.

Later this month we will make our first visit to the Dorothy Clive Garden and then create the first monthly post.

 

 

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Wild Colours at the Dorothy Clive Garden

We visited the Dorothy Clive Garden recently with a few fellow Hardy Plant members. This garden is famous for its spring planting in the section called The Dingle – Rhododendrons and Azaleas in the wildest colour combination possible. These aren’t our favourite shrubs but we do enjoy going to this garden to see them once in a while.

Just look at these pics! From the moment we arrived at the cottage the borders on either side of the doorway were alive with colour.

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I know I said we are not the biggest fans of these flowers but Jude the Undergardener was impressed with this one. She was impressed by the gentle colours and contrasting spots.

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I however was taken with this bright orange beauty! Certainly nothing subtle here – I simply love orange in the garden and this flower and bud is so rich.

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In the next post I shall look at the rest of the garden where things are a little calmer and kinder to the eye.