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My Garden Journal 2020 – May

My May pages for my garden journal are full of summery gardening. I opened with a page featuring two of my paintings of blue irises, one Iris germanica and the other Iris sibirica. I used Japanese brush pens.

I wrote, “May is the month when spring morphs into summer, a time when we can get warm sunny days and blue skies occasionally interrupted by days with biting cold winds and frosty nights. The garden fills rapidly with boisterous growth with flowers on trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants.

The iris family have the most unusually structured flowers in our garden, with their flags, falls and landing strips for bees.”

In contrast to the bright blues of our iris I looked at euphorbias on the opposite page where I created  a montage of photos of closeups of the heads of euphorbias, with their bright greens and yellows of their bracts and flowers. I wrote, “Bracts and flowers work in harmony on our large collection of Euphorbias. The flowers are very much less significant than the bracts that surround them.”

Turn over onto the next double page spread and we consider azaleas and succulents. I wrote on the first page, “We grow very few Azaleas in our gardens apart from a couple of deciduous varieties, ‘Luteum’ and ‘Golden Eagle’. My painting is of  ‘Golden Eagle’.

 

 

On the page opposite ‘Golden Eagle’ I discussed some work I was doing with succulents and I wrote, “For a few days in May I busied myself sorting out our succulent container gardens, using cuttings from last year plus some new selections. By the end of summer all these containers will be full and each plant will give me new cuttings.”

Onto the next double page we look at more azaleas and thalictrums, with azaleas on the left hand page. I wrote, “I have selected miniature azaleas as the flowering plant of the month for May. A few pages back I shared my watercolour painting of the orange flowered Azalea ‘Golden Eagle’, which is deciduous and scented. In the Japanese Garden we grow a few evergreens as used by Japanese garden designers.”

Pair of A. japonica ‘Ageeth’                              A. japonica ‘Spek’s Orange

 

A. japonica George Hyde

A. japonica ‘Spek’s Orange’

This next page looks at thalictrums, my foliage plant for May. My foliage plant of the month is Thalictrum of which we grow a wide selection. These are herbaceous perennials grown for both their flowers and foliage , but for now the foliage has the largest presence.”

For the final page of May I feature one of my favourite trees, a betula (birch). “Plant of the month for bark and stems is the most beautiful of birches, Betula albosinensis ‘Septentronalis”. It boasts white bark peeling to orange and salmon pink. The sun catches the peeling bark and it becomes fine brittle toffee.”

  

   

So when we next visit my garden journal we will be half way through the year – it is going far too quickly!

 

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flowering bulbs garden design garden photography gardening gardens gardens open to the public hardy perennials irises light quality National Trust ornamental grasses ornamental trees and shrubs shrubs spring bulbs The National Trust trees Winter Gardening winter gardens

A Favourite Winter Garden – Dunham Massey

This will be our third visit to the relatively new winter garden at Dunham Massey, a National Trust property in Cheshire, our neighbouring county to the north of our home county, Shropshire. The leaflets concerning the garden refer to it as a “Curiosity Garden”, while inside is written, “Forget hibernating until spring, Dunham Massey’s Winter Garden is wide awake with colour.”

 

The leaflet then invites us to “Take a refreshing walk in the Winter Garden along meandering paths with shocking red cornus and brilliant white birch trees trees glittering in the winter sun. Discover bright winter berries, late flowering scented shrubs and thousands of snowdrops and iris in the new year.”

We approached the winter garden by meandering along gravel paths across a shallow valley, when upon passing through the first red-bricked outbuildings we discovered some of the best pleaching we had ever seen. It stops us in our tracks on every visit.

The pleached limes look a few decades old and possess the ubiquitous knobbles from where the new wands of growth spurt in the spring after their annual pollarding.

Shrubs come into their own in the winter season with their coloured stems, their scent and beautiful hanging flower clusters.

     

Early flowering bulbs add much of the colour in the garden in February. Sunlight catches them and highlights their bright colours.

 

All winter gardens open to the public make strong features of trees with coloured, textured bark, Betulas, Acers and Prunus.

 

Shrubs with coloured stems provide effective partner planting for these trees, especially Cornus and Salix varieties. The gardeners at Dunham Massey are adept at transparency pruning, effectively lifting the akirts of shrubs and small trees to expose their trunks and lower branches.

  

The one plantingcategory that sorts out the best winter gardens from the average is the good creative use of ground cover. It is all too easy to use bark mulch but there are good interesting plants that can cover the ground and add new dimensions to planting schemes. Dunham Massey is on the way to sorting this well, using Carex, Bergenia, Ophiopogon, ferns and Pachysandra.

So there we have it, a thoroughly inspiring visit to one of our favourite winter gardens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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garden design garden photography gardening gardens gardens open to the public hardy perennials National Trust ornamental trees and shrubs outdoor sculpture sculpture The National Trust trees

Anglesey Abbey in mid-Summer

Anglesey Abbey gardens are best known for their brilliant Winter Gardens, which were the first well-known gardens designed to be at their best and visited at this season. But there is far more to these premises than this seasonal garden, such as beautiful gentle herbaceous borders and lots of plants that attract wildlife.

 

The famous Winter Garden is still worth wandering through though!

 

We set off beyond the Winter Garden to see what we could discover of interest in the rest of the garden. We felt sure we were in for a few surprises! Turning a corner and rounding  a hedge of glossy leaved Laurel we found a mystery. A piece of sculpture? A clock? We explored it for a while before we realised its true identity.

The oak structures are designed to support visitors as they lean back to enjoy the wide Fenland skyscapes.

To return to the entrance we followed a tow path alongside a very overgrown canal, its surface carpeted with our native yellow waterlily.

Looking upwards we noticed an open structured sculptural piece hanging from a bough of a mature tree. It presented a strong contrast to the stone griffin close by.

  

In the end though what makes a good garden great is the quality of its plants and how they are put together. The photos below prove just how great the gardens at Anglesey Abbey truly are whatever time of year you visit.

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My Garden Journal 2017 – April

We are well into Spring now as I share my April journal with you and there has been lots going on. This April has been the most colourful ever in our Avocet Patch.

The last week in March or the first in April is the best time to cut down willows (Salix)  and dogwoods (Cornus). It is a careful balance between enjoying these shrubs’ beautifully coloured stems for as long as possible and cutting them down in time for fresh coloured stems to grow in time to enjoy next winter. I wrote, “Before taking the Dogwood and Willow stems to be made into community compost, I decided to attempt to draw them in fibre tip pens.” Collecting them together and then selecting a bunch to draw emphasises the wide variety in colours these shrubs produce.

In complete contrast we look at brightly coloured flowering bulbs over the next two pages.

I wrote, “Bulbs continue to give brightness and colour at ground level in the garden this month but above them trees and shrubs perform equally well.”

Below I shared photographs of small flowering bulbs all coloured blue, what I labelled “The “lbj’s” of the bulb world – the little blue jobs.”

    

“One of the most beautiful and brightest of all Spring bulbs is a native in the UK after becoming naturalised. It grows in the South, Central and Eastern parts of England and scattered thinly around Scotland. It must give flowers that are as bright as yellow can become and it is scented too. Tulipa sylvestris.”

   

Returning to the shrubs and trees I wrote on the next double page spread, So, what sort of performances are our trees and shrubs putting on above the bright flowering bulb?”

“Amelanchier lamarckii”

 

“Spiraea arguta”

 

“Viburnum in variety”

 

“Ribes odoratum”

 

“Mahonia aquifolium”

 

“Ribes sanguineum King Edward VII”

“Fruit blossom”

  

On the next turn of the page we notice two pages about my favourite tree, Betulas (Birches)

I began by writing, “As our Birch trees grow we have to occasionally prune off some lower branches to create a specimen clean-trunked tree. When I recently took off two branches of our Betula albosinensis septentronalis, I kept a few lengths for me to paint or draw.” I created a picture using fibre pens and watercolours.

I continued, “By mid-April our Betula are all at different stages of realisation that spring has arrived. Some are almost in full leaf while others still have tight buds, some have long catkins, others none at all.”

    

I then moved on to reveal my plant of the month for April and on the opposite page looked at some of our April flowering Clematis.

“Plant of the month, April, is Corylopsis spicata, a flowering shrub with a beautiful habit of growth and beautiful pale yellow flowers, almost lemon shades, which hang in racemes as light as a feather so shimmer and dance in the gentlest of Spring breezes. The flowers are gently, sweetly scented. Our shrub at 2 metres tall is probably fully grown. It grows with an open “airy” habit.”

  

“April sees our early flowering Clematis putting on their show, with delicate hanging bells of calmness.”

   

Tulips feature on the next double page spread, with photographs of a small selection of the many tulips we grow.

“Tulips are the powerhouse of the April borders here at our Avocet patch, giving bright, shining patches of colour from white, to pink and purple and from yellow through orange to the deepest reds. Some are plain, others striped, splashed or streaked for added interest. In Spring clashing colours seem not to matter. Tulips add colour to every border! Enjoy the show!”

         

The final two pages of my April entries in my journal feature Acers and a few very special plants.

“Acers spring to life during this month giving wild splashes of colour from their freshly opened buds. Every shade of green with the colours of fire!”

    

I shall finish my April entries with a look at a selection of a few of our special plants, those plants that are not often seen and in our garden demand a closer look.

“Akebia quinata”

“Muckdenia Crimson Fans”

“Erythronium Pagoda”

“Jeffersonia Dubia”

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My 2017 Garden Journal – January

It feels good to be back sharing my Garden Journal with you once again. So here is the first for 2017, my report on what was going on in our Avocet garden in January.

For 2017 I will share the beauty, the happenings and the stars of our Avocet garden month by month. I will consider the wildlife that visits and shares our garden with us and see what it is up to. I aim to record the birds we spot, the creatures which live in our pond and the mini-beasts who appreciate our plants in our borders.

I hope to set up my moth live-trap and carry out a pond dip regularly. I will record using words, photographs, paintings and drawings.

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My 2017 Garden Journal opened with a comment about the weather, the favourite subject of the English and particularly English gardeners, “We were well into the third week of January when we were pleased to get typical January weather, frosty mornings followed by bright glue skies. Fog joined in on odd days. Until then every day was dull and wet, dull to the point of darkness at times. Not a good start to a new year of gardening and enjoying our garden.

Extra colour and movement, and of course sound, is added to the atmosphere of our garden by the birds who visit. This winter we moved our main bird feeding centre closer to the house so that we could observe the birds in close up. Surprisingly this had the extra bonus of increasing the birds visiting, in particular the finches.

Birds of our January garden: 

Blackbird                    Goldfinch                    Blue Tit

Robin                           Greenfinch                  Great Tit

Wren                            Chaffinch                    Coal Tit

Dunnock                      Blackcap                      Long-tailed Tit

Jackdaw                       Siskin                            Collared Dove

Mistle Thrush             Song Thrush                Nuthatch

Turning the page finds me discussing scented shrubs starring in our January garden.

Scented shrubs add an extra element to enjoy in our Avocet garden all  year round, but winter-flowering shrubs are probably the most important of all. Their rich scents, warm and sweet and spicy, spread far to attract the few insects flying in the colder months. In January we are enjoying the welcome aromas of Mahonia, Sarcococca, Witch Hazels and Daphne. The local honey bees are drawn to the Mahonia and we can hear their gentle humming whenever the sun gives some unexpected warmth and brightness.

I used my watercolours to create a painting of a Honey Bee, Apis mellifera, and it was a very difficult painting to do.

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On the page opposite my bee painting, I included photos of the “Scented flowering shrubs of our January garden at Avocet, our home in Shropshire, a very cold county in winter.”, Sarcococca confusa, Daphne bholua “Jacqueline Postill”, Hamamelis Jelena and Diane and Mahonia “Winter Sun”.

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Over the page we look at “new” gardening tools, one brand new and one new to me which is a vintage tool.

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“Acquiring new tools to use in the garden is always a pleasure. Recently I have treated the garden, and myself of course, to a few interesting implements”. 

Firstly a pair of Japanese secateurs, with the unusual problem of instructions written in Japanese. As I had ordered them from Japan I should not have been surprised really!

I painted a picture of my new Japanese secateurs, which was a lot harder that it looks.

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“Okatsune secateurs are the favourite of  professional gardeners in Japan. They are manufactured from Japanese high carbon steel so they sharpen easily and well.”

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“My second “new” gardening tool is actually a vintage piece, a 1930’s turfing spade made in Birmingham by a company called Vaughan’s. The long handle is crafted from solid forged iron and the handle is made from Ash wood. The long wooden shaft reduces the workload and the beautiful “D” handle makes the tool comfortable to use. The shape of the blade makes it efficient at even lifting an even 1 inch thick slices of turf. The unusual shaped metal shaft increases the efficiency of this wonderful old tool. So my turf lifting spade is vintage circa 1936 but “new” to me.

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I moved on to show how Ian, our gardener, used the vintage turfing spade to replace the grass on some of our paths.

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“We bought the Vaughan tool specifically to use in our garden, to lift the turf paths in our back garden. Our gardener, Ian, loved using it and found it easy to use, a real joy. Now it is part of my vintage garden tool collection, a great addition.”

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“The old turf from our worn paths is soon removed and new rolls are soon down.”

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I next looked at a beautiful totally dried seed head of an Allium, which, with its spherical shape, tends to get blown around the garden with several others. We meet them at random times and places all overthe garden. We are always surprised by their simple beauty. I drew the Allium seed head using just a pencil. Looking and studying the Allium took much longer than the time spent with pencil moving on paper.

jan-09

“The dried spherical seed heads of all our different sorts of ornamental Alliums remain in the garden through the winter months. They act as our own Avocet “tumbleweeds” as wind takes them on journeys.”

I hope you enjoy the close ups of my drawing below.

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By turning the page we see little white birds and colourful bulb flowers. I wrote: “We bought three new stoneware sculptural pieces for our garden, three cheeky and chirpy Sparrows. We loved taking them around the garden seeing where they looked their best. We decided to keep moving them around as the mood took us. They, however, decided that their favourite place was our garden bench in “Arabella’s Garden”. Cheeky chappies indeed!

jan-13

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Opposite the photos of the sculpture birds are photos of early flowers, Irises and Hellebores.

“Iris reticula, the first bulb to flower in 2017.”

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“Meanwhile Hellebores are budding up strongly, so we will have flowers in Feb.”

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January frosts feature on the next double page spread.

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“On the early hours of the days following cold frosty nights, the flowers which give colour to our January garden, were topped off with cold, icy halos.”

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“Cold nights also gave our sculpture pieces a thin layer of icing sugar.”

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My next page was titled simply “January Frosts” and featured a series of photographs of foliage and seedheads covered in a thin covering of frost and icy crystals.

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Turn over to the next page and we leave the frost behind and take a look at one of our Birches, Betula albosinensis “Septentronalis”, one of the best Betulas around.

jan-15

“Plant of the month – Betula albosinensis “Septentronalis”. This Birch is an elegant tree with an open canopy so casts little shade. We grow it mostly for its colourful bark which peels to expose clean, more colourful bark beneath. This is best described as pale salmon coloured which peels back to show gingers beneath. This tree also produces beautiful long catkins.”

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I collected up some peeled bark from the tree and glued two pieces side by side to illustrate how different the layers of bark can be.

jan-16

Betula albosinensis “Septentronalis” is probably one of the best trees for the small garden and no garden should be without one. Larger gardens can host a trio of them!

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And that is it for my Garden Journal in January. Perhaps in February winter may be biting deeper or we may be experiencing one of our occasional February heatwaves when temperatures can reach 17 celsius.

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The one that nearly got away! – My Garden Journal in November

Imagine my surprise when checking back through my list of posts to find my Garden Journal for November still waiting to be posted. It nearly got away but here it is. Better late than never! Imagine we are back in the autumn!

This will be the penultimate visit to my 2016 Garden Journal as we look at what November has in store for our Avocet patch.

Colour launches my November pages with a double page spread of rich colours with the words, “Autumn has crept in further as November arrives and the garden is starting a new chapter where foliage colours dominate and individual plants become the focus of our attention rather than whole borders of blooms.”

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I move on to share our purchase of three new trees for our patch, an oak and two birches, all trees that we have been seeking out for several years. The oak is good for a small garden like ours because it has a columnar habit of growth growing tall but very slim. It is Quercus palustris “Green Pillar” which hides the fact that its main reason for growing it is for its bright red autumn leaves. I wrote, “Three new trees have been planted at Avocet. Tree planting is such a satisfying experience as is choosing and collecting your selection. So a journey down to the best tree nursery near us, The Dingle at Welshpool, saw us returning home with 3 specimen trees neatly tied up and fitted, threaded in fact, into our car. We sat with three of our favourite trees surrounding us, embracing us with the scents of Autumn. We chatted excitedly of the emotions of tree planting, the positive messages and the future joy these trees will give us. 

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Quercus palustris “Green Pillar”is an upright growing, narrow oak and is a relatively new introduction. The deepest red leaves imaginable hold on through the Autumn and odd batches of foliage remain on the columnar tree into the Winter. To add further magic, the foliage is highly glossed almost like Japanese lacquer.”

I chose three leaves to paint in watercolours and fibre tipped pens trying to capture the texture and colour variations.

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My next double page spread featured our other 2 new trees and I started by writing, “Anyone who knows us as gardeners will have guessed that the other two new trees are our favourite Betulas, B. nigra “Heritage” and B. “Hergest”. Both of these Birches should be the same dimensions reaching 16 feet tall by 6 feet wide after 10 years. We have planted them either side of a covered bench in the front garden. “Hergest” is a Birch we have been longing to plant in our patch because of its wonderful bark texture and colour. It is in the “albosinensis” family of Betulas described by tree

specialist Frank Matthews a rare and beautiful tree possibly a cross between B. albosinensis and B.ermanii. We look forward to the bark turning light copper-brown and glossy. Another reason we love it is because it orginates from a local, favourite garden, Hergest Croft. We chose B. nigra “Heritage”, a variety of River Birch, because of its peeling bark of cinnamon, pink, purple and gold. These Betulas will add so much to our garden.”

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“Betula albosinensis “Septentronalis” (first 3 pics top row) and Betula utilis jacquemontii “Snow Queen” (bottom row) with the odd photo of our immature B. albosinsensis “Chinese Ruby” awaiting a colourful future.”

Moments of delight come next in my journal for November, “Autumn in the garden is he time and place for special moments, seen once and never repeated. Cobwebs, droplets of dew and a beam of sunlight catching colours. November moments!” I would like to share seven photos of some of our special moments in our garden.

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“Often our moments of delight are light shows starring grasses, their movement, their filigree seed heads and their biscuit and ginger hues.”

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Turning over the page we encounter a page looking back at early tree planting and I checked out how one favourite is doing now 13 years on.

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I reported, “Looking back into the early November pages of my first Avocet Garden Journal, I notice that back then we were celebrating Autumn by planting trees. “Tree hunting at Harley Nursery, saw us ordering 16 trees. Should give us structure, a top plant storey and the colours of leaves, flowers and berries.” Later in the month I continued, “Three Betula utilis jacquemontii “Snow Queen” and a single Liquidamber styracifolia “Worplesdon” were planted along the road side border to begin the required woodland feel. In the Winter Garden we planted a snake barked maple, Acer rupestris.” We had intended to choose between the more usual snakebark maples, Acer greggii and A. davidii, but our friend Duncan who owned the nursery promised to find us a much better one, A. rupestris. This he did and it has proved to be the right choice. It is a true 12 month tree and a visitors’ favourite.”

My photos show some of its attributes including the bark which varies in colour and texture up the trunk.

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In my October journal I featured the tiny flowered Fuchsia minimiflora and promised to look at two other Fuchsias this month, so I began by stating, “Unlike F.minimiflora these two have long thin flowers and colourful foliage. They are so similar that we are not sure if they are identical but sold under different names. One we bought as F. thalia, the other was a thank you gift from friends and its label gives its name as Fuschia x hybrida “Koralle”.

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A strange creation makes an appearance next, a phenomena we have never seen before anywhere. A sculpture created in grass by the wind! “We grow the delicate grass, Stipa tenuissima , or Pony Tail Grass, on our green roof. The flowering stems grow to 15 to 18 inches long and move in the slightest breeze. Passing the roof and looking up I noticed this strange knot which the wind had created by spinning a few flowering stems together. It hung still attached to the plant presenting an amazing silhouette against the blue sky.” I captioned my photos of it “garden magic”.

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The colour red is the theme of the next section in my November journal. I noticed how powerful this colour looked in the garden at this time of year so took my trusty Nikon out for a walk.

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Red is such an important colour in the November garden. In life red relates to many different emotions from love and passion at the one pole to danger and anger at the other. Red in the garden simply draws me to it and makes me smile. David Bowie wrote, “Put on your red shoes and dance the blues”. The garden puts on its red shoes and chases away the winter blues. Red appears in flowers, berries, leaves, stems and bark, but also on the handles of Felco secateurs and the wattles of garden hens.”

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And there we have, the garden in November. My next look at my garden journal will be the final one of 2016. Where did the time go, simply flying as we enjoyed being in our special patch.

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Another NGS Yellow Book Garden – visiting a friend’s garden.

Our friend Mary and her husband Bob open their garden for the National Garden Scheme just as we do, so we were determined to go and see her garden this year. A few weeks before her open garden she told us she hoped her tulips would still look good. She had no reason to worry – they were a treat for the eye and lifted the spirits!

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It was a perfect day for garden visiting, bright, warm and so sunny.

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We began our visit with big hugs from Mary followed by our usual tea and cake and found a seat where we could enjoy views over Mary and Bob’s garden. From there we could see interesting plants that deserved a closer look and inviting winding paths and archways. We watched with interest the reactions of other visitors and which plants they made a beeline for. Once suitably refreshed we explored!

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We found tulips throughout the borders some in exciting unusual colours. We enjoyed them all.

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These purest of white tulips were beautifully displayed in their containers which raised them up and gave the afternoon sun the chance to light them up.

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There was a lot more of interest here though than these beautiful tulips. Neither Jude the Undergardener or I are particular fans of evergreen coniferous plants and indeed have just a single alpine Pinus mugo “Mumpitz” in our patch, but the cones on Mary and Bob’s trees caught our attention.

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I think the best way to see the rest of this lovely garden will be to enjoy the following gallery. As usual click on the first picture then navigate using the right hand arrow.

 

 

 

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My Garden Journal 2016 – February

Back with the second post sharing my 2016 Garden Journal, we will look at what it holds for February.

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On the first page for the month I mention the changing light values that occurs during February.

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“This is the month when light values really start to improve. We also get longer days when the weather allows. This change in light coupled with slowly rising temperatures encourages birds to change their songs and calls. The Great Tit is the master of calls with its huge repertoire. Luckily they are very frequent visitors to our garden. They are great entertainers! Their song in February is a “see-sawing ditty with mechanical overtones.” (Collins Bird Guide)

I added my gouache painting of a pair of Great Tits.

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On the opposite page I carried on talking about our continued development of our greenhouse.

Having completed the construction of our new heated propagation bench last month we then sorted out our pots, trays, pans and cells ready for the new sowing and growing season. We ensured we have plenty of labels as well as sowing compost and horticultural grit. Jude finished putting up insulation bubble wrap.”

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From greenhouse gardening to pond gardening, my next page features two photos of Jude the Undergardener in her waders playing in our wildlife pond.

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“Mid to late February is the time each year when our Common Frogs come to sing, mate and then leave balls of spawn in our wildlife pond. Thus early this month Jude donned her chest waders and cleaned up the pond. She removed Duckweed, Blanket Weed and fallen leaves, then thinned out the water plants.

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We tidied up the narrow border that edges the pond, pulling a few hardy weeds and taking up seedlings of our Cornus “Midwinter Fire”. It was heartening to discover how workable our soil was, this being the result of a decade of improving it with the addition of our own garden compost and the regular mulching deeply with organic matter.”

I continued onto the next page discussing the welcome appearance of sunshine in the February.

“Sunshine is not often in evidence this February but when it does make an appearance its effects are magical. It highlights the peeling bark of our trees and directs a spotlight on blossom and glossy foliage.”

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As I turn the page I see that I have written about cold temperatures and on the opposite page and on the following double page spread I share the amazing number of plants in flower on one day in February.

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“A sudden overnight plunge in temperature can have drastic looking effects on our early flowering plants. The flowering stem of this Bergenia can be standing to attention during the day but cold at night can make it droop, with the flowers almost touching the cold soil”.

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“The following day when the sun has driven away any frost and added a degree or two to the temperature, the Bergenia flower slowly rises again and returns to its former pink glory.”

February flowers are celebrated over the next three pages. I hope you enjoy sharing this selection of plants that keep us cheerful and the garden colourful.

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These pictures certainly illustrate how colourful and interesting the garden can still be in the depths of winter. From flowers I moved on to foliage, as on my next double page spread I celebrate Phormiums and how important they are to the winter garden.

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“Form, texture and foliage colours are so important in the garden in winter, so we are lucky to have discovered and planted Phormiums as they give us all three. They move beautifully too, swaying in the slightest breeze.”

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For some of our Phormium I took a shot of the whole plant and then one of the top surface of their leaves and finally the final surface. Their two surfaces are usually very different.

“I love plants that hide some facet of their beauty from us”.

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In the final pages of my February entries in my Garden Journal I wrote about coloured stems and look back at my first garden journal to see what I had put for my February entry.  I discovered that I was writing about grass and grasses.

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“It is in the dull times of February that we appreciate the brightly coloured stems of our Cornus, Salix and Acers. Once their leaves drop the colours, yellows, oranges and reds begin to intensify. I then shared a watercolour painting of a selection of these stems from our garden alongside a trio of photos.”

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Looking back at my original Garden Journal, I notice that I had commented “14th February and the grass gets its first cut. As the North wind died out the strength of the winter sun meant a good day could be had doing general maintenance work.” This year our grassed areas are wet and slimy and definitely too slippery to get a mower on. But the grass has continued to grow slowly so it is in need of its first cut. Meanwhile our ornamental grasses continue to delight.”

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So that is it for another month. Next time we make a visit to my Garden Journal we will be in March and maybe we shall be seeing signs of spring.

 

Categories
flowering bulbs garden design garden photography garden ponds garden pools gardening gardens gardens open to the public hardy perennials ornamental trees and shrubs RHS spring bulbs trees water garden water in the garden Winter Gardening winter gardens woodland

A Garden in Winter – RHS Rosemoor – Part 1

We love to break up the winter months with mid-week breaks away around the UK. In February this year we took off down to Devon for a short holiday where we planned to visit a garden which holds two National Collections, Betulas (Birches) and Alnus (Alders) and the Royal Horticultural Society’s Rosemoor Garden.

My previous couple of posts shared with you our wanderings around Stone Lane Garden and Nursery with its wonderful national collection of Betulas and Alnus. In this post we will share with you the two days we spent exploring the Royal Horticultural Society’ Rosemoor Garden.

We had visited many times before but never in winter before, so we were keen to see if the RHS’s claim that Rosemoor provides “Great days out for every season” and  “Rosemoor continues to enchant visitors when the Winter and Foliage Gardens are filled with a surprisingly intoxicating combination of colour, fragrance and texture.”

After a quick coffee in the restaurant we braved the rain and began our walk around.

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We made our way towards the Winter Garden which we knew had been redeveloped since we last visited so we longed to see what it looked and felt like now.

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As expected foliage took a leading role.

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Coloured stems and bark of shrubs and trees add strong structure to a good winter garden.

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After enjoying and being highly impressed with the renovated Winter Garden, we took a gravel path which led us to the Foliage Garden. We were looking forward to seeing the role that foliage could play in the February garden. We were not to be disappointed with what we saw. Perennials and grasses played key roles with the richness of texture and the delicacy of colour. Richly coloured foliage on many shrubs joined the party.

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Wherever we went we noticed evidence of the RHS gardeners and the volunteers who worked alongside them. In the Rose Garden these roses had been pruned so precisely just like illustrations in a gardening book . The soil between them had been neatly forked over to give a very professional look to the gardeners’ work.

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When we returned to the restaurant for a warming coffee we noticed in the terrace outside a little wooden framed alpine greenhouse. Here we found an impressive array of flowering bulbs.

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Leaving the alpine house we took meandering paths through the gardens where we noticed many early blooms that added cheer to a day of dull damp weather.

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These paths took us down a gentle slope towards the lake and along the way we passed through open gra