Categories
birds colours flowering bulbs garden photography garden wildlife gardening gardens hardy perennials ornamental trees and shrubs outdoor sculpture Shropshire shrubs spring bulbs trees Winter Gardening winter gardens

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.

jan-03

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.

jan-04jan-05 jan-06

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”.

j1-1 j1-2 j1-3 j1-4 j1-5 j1-6 j1-7 j1-8

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

jan-07

“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.

jan-01 j2-1 j2-4

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

j2-2 j2-3  j2-5 j2-6

“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.

j3-07 j3-11

j3-01 j3-02 j3-09 j3-08

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

jan-08

“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.”

j3-03 j3-06

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

j3-10 j4-1j3-04 j3-05 j5-1  j5-2 j5-3

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.

jan-10 jan-11 jan-12

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

j7-3 j7-4j7-2 j7-5j7-1 j7-7 j7-8

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

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

j6-3 j6-4 j6-5

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

j6-2    j6-1j6-6 j6-7

January frosts feature on the next double page spread.

jan-14

“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.”

j7-13 j7-03 j7-04 j7-07

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

j7-16 j7-17

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.

j7-12 j7-10j7-02 j7-06j7-08 j7-11j7-01 j7-14j7-18 j7-15j7-05 j7-09

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.”

j8-1 j9-2 j8-3  j8-5 j9-3

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!

j8-2 j8-6 j8-8j8-9j8-7 j8-4

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.

Categories
autumn autumn colours colours garden design garden photography gardening grasses half-hardy perennials hardy perennials light light quality ornamental grasses ornamental trees and shrubs Shropshire shrubs South Shropshire succulents trees Uncategorized village gardens

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.”

nj9-01nj-3 nj-2nj-5 nj-4 nj-1nj1-4 nj1-5 nj1-3nj1-6 nj1-2nj2-1 nj2-2 nj1-1

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. 

nj9-02

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.

nj9-03 nj9-04 nj9-05 nj9-06

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.”

nj9-07nj2-8 nj2-5 nj2-2-1   nj2-1-1 nj2-3 nj2-6 nj2-4

“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.

nj9-08nj4-01 nj4-04 nj4-03nj4-02 nj4-05 nj4-06 nj4-07

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

nj4-10 nj4-08 nj4-09 nj6-4 nj6-5

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.

nj9-09

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.

nj5-04 nj5-02 nj5-09 nj5-03nj5-01 nj5-07 nj5-10nj5-05 nj5-08

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”.

nj9-10nj7-1 nj7-2 nj7-3 nj7-4 nj7-5

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”.

nj6-2 nj6-3 nj6-1

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.

nj9-11

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.”

nj8-02 nj8-11nj8-10 nj8-07nj8-12 nj8-18nj8-01 nj8-15nj8-03 nj8-16 nj9-1 nj8-04 nj8-13nj8-06 nj8-08 nj8-09 nj8-05

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.

Categories
flowering bulbs garden photography garden ponds garden pools garden wildlife gardening grasses hardy perennials light light quality ornamental grasses ornamental trees and shrubs Shropshire shrubs spring bulbs water in the garden Winter Gardening winter gardens

My Garden Journal 2016 – February

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

2016 02 13_8659_edited-1

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

2016 02 24_9066_edited-1

“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.

2014 12 21_8971_edited-1

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.”

2016 02 02_8119-1 2016 02 02_8120-12016 02 02_8121-1 2016 02 02_8131-1 2016 02 02_8122-1

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

2016 02 24_9069_edited-1

“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.

2016 01 26_8057-1 2016 01 26_8056-1

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.”

2016 01 22_8035_edited-1 2016 01 22_8034_edited-12016 02 02_81162016 01 22_8024 2016 01 22_8008 2016 01 22_8009-1 2016 01 22_8018

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.

2016 02 24_9070_edited-12016 02 24_9073_edited-1

“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”.

2016 01 17_7930-1 2016 01 08_7763

“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.

2016 02 18_8904_edited-1 2016 02 18_8901_edited-12016 02 18_8891_edited-1 2016 02 18_8878_edited-12016 02 18_8872_edited-1 2016 02 18_8879_edited-12016 02 18_8867_edited-1 2016 02 18_8847_edited-1 2016 02 18_8869_edited-1 2016 02 18_8863_edited-12016 02 18_8913_edited-1 2016 02 18_8871_edited-12016 02 18_8912_edited-1 2016 02 18_8866_edited-1 2016 02 18_8854_edited-1 2016 02 18_8853    2016 02 18_8887_edited-1 2016 02 18_8873_edited-1  2016 02 18_8902_edited-1 2016 02 18_8855_edited-1

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.

2016 02 24_9074_edited-1

“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.”

2016 02 13_8632 2016 02 13_8640 2016 02 13_8651

 

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”.

2016 02 13_8633 2016 02 13_8634 2016 02 13_86352016 02 13_8630 2016 02 13_8639 2016 02 13_8638

2016 02 13_8655 2016 02 13_86532016 02 13_8654

2016 02 13_8631 2016 02 13_8637 2016 02 13_8636

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.

2016 02 24_9077_edited-1

“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.”

2016 02 24_9078_edited-1 2016 02 18_88972016 02 18_8874 2016 02 18_8898

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.”

2016 01 22_8033 2016 01 22_8032     2016 01 22_7998-1 2016 01 22_7999-1

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
arboreta colours garden photography gardening gardens gardens open to the public ornamental trees and shrubs outdoor sculpture sculpture trees woodland woodlands

A Devon Garden with Betulas – Part 3

Welcome back to Stone Lane Garden in Devon for part three of the report of our visit.

2016 02 03_8352 2016 02 03_8373-1

We continued our meanderings along the grass, wood chip and gravel paths through the woodlands that are home to the incredible National Collections of both Betulas and Alnus.

2016 02 03_8357

Ken Ashburner owner and gardener at Stone Lane collects seeds and plants on his plant hunting travels, so when he plants a grove of a variety there are lots of interesting variations to enjoy.

Betula albosinsensis varies widely with its shades of white or silver with added tints of oranges and pinks.

2016 02 03_8361 2016 02 03_8360

The selection of Betula albosinensis given the name “China Rose” is a particular beauty. The white sign in the photos tells visitors that this particular Betula is available in the nursery which is part of the garden. A great idea!

2016 02 03_8365 2016 02 03_83642016 02 03_8363 2016 02 03_8366

A sudden and very short-lived patch of blue sky passed over the towering old native Birches emphasising their beautiful skeletal winter forms.

2016 02 03_8359

Gardens are great places to site sculpture and it was good to see plenty as we followed the narrow path through the woodlands that led us back to the  garden’s gate.

2016 02 03_8367 2016 02 03_8369 2016 02 03_83722016 02 03_8371 2016 02 03_8370 2016 02 03_8376 2016 02 03_8355 2016 02 03_8380

These tall thin pale stems of a herbaceous plant appeared as a delicate piece of sculpture and where they fell they created a drawing on the woodland floor.

2016 02 03_8375  2016 02 03_8379

We crossed the narrow stream by a narrow wooden bridge made slippery by mosses and algae. From the bridge we looked down into the little stream’s bank side and noticed King Cups already in full flower, looking like golden coins shining against their deep glossy green foliage.

2016 02 03_8378 2016 02 03_8377 2016 02 03_8368

The dampness and shade of the woodland makes it a place favoured by lichen, fungi and mosses.

2016 02 03_8381 2016 02 03_8383

We came across an Alder that had been felled and were drawn to the brightly coloured surfaces exposed by the saw.

2016 02 03_8382 2016 02 03_8386 2016 02 03_8385 2016 02 03_8384

As we spotted the gate which would end our exciting visit we were drawn to bright orange blooms on a shrub in the distance. Once we got closer we knew it had to be a Berberis and we were right. It looked luminous in the dull afternoon light. A delicate pale pink Geranium close by was much harder to find.

2016 02 03_8390 2016 02 03_8389 2016 02 03_8388 2016 02 03_8387

We had spent a really interesting day at Stone Lane Garden that was full of the delights of our favourite trees the Betulas. We left determined to find space for a few more at home. The following two days we planned to spend at the amazing RHS Rosemoor Garden. See you there!

 

Categories
arboreta colours garden photography garden ponds garden pools gardening gardens gardens open to the public grasses ornamental trees and shrubs outdoor sculpture sculpture trees water in the garden Winter Gardening winter gardens woodland woodlands

A Devon Garden with Betulas – Part 2

Back at Stone Lane we continued wandering along the grass paths which were so soft underfoot. We enjoyed discovering more and more Birches with beautifully coloured and textured bark and fine winter silhouettes plus the odd Alder and pieces of sculpture.

2016 02 03_8304 2016 02 03_83172016 02 03_8290 2016 02 03_82912016 02 03_8337 2016 02 03_8354

Alnus barbata diplayed bark as rough and fissured as the skin on the legs of an old elephant.

2016 02 03_8244 2016 02 03_8249

At the furthest end of the woodland garden we found wildlife ponds and two interesting shelters. On the far bank of one of these ponds we spotted two geese and it was only as we approached closely did we realise they were in fact sculptures. Their wings were decorated with simple line drawings of flowers.

2016 02 03_8248-1 2016 02 03_8247-1 2016 02 03_8246 2016 02 03_8251

The second shelter proved to be a total mystery. We couldn’t work out what it had been used for in the past or in present times. It looked as if it had wheels at one time. We thought it may have been a poultry house but today it seemed to be a bird hide.

2016 02 03_8252 2016 02 03_8253-1 2016 02 03_8263

It sat beneath a stand of Alnus glutinosa, which were already showing young catkins bursting from buds.

2016 02 03_8255 2016 02 03_8254

Alnus hirsuta was showing new fresh foliage rather than catkins.

2016 02 03_8261 2016 02 03_8260 2016 02 03_8259 2016 02 03_8257

Back to a Betula – Betula maximowicziana, a real tongue twister of a name, had striated bark in delicate shades of pink and ginger. Fine strips of its bark peeled back in almost vertical lines.

2016 02 03_8266 2016 02 03_8264 2016 02 03_8267

We found a beautiful place for a rest and coffee break, a wooden rustic shelter surrounded by Birches. A stone and mosaic birdbath stood close by and a pink flowered Azalea provided restful colour. Looking straight ahead from where we sipped our coffee we enjoyed a view of more Betulas, of which we cannot get too many.

2016 02 03_8341-1 2016 02 03_8344-12016 02 03_8348 2016 02 03_8310

2016 02 03_8342 2016 02 03_8343 2016 02 03_8346

Now just enjoy coming with us as we wander along grass tracks and gravel pathways discovering the huge varieties of Birches in Ken Ashburner’s amazing collection.

2016 02 03_8347 2016 02 03_8311 2016 02 03_83312016 02 03_8338 2016 02 03_8270 2016 02 03_82882016 02 03_8340 2016 02 03_8271 2016 02 03_8280 2016 02 03_8275 2016 02 03_8272 2016 02 03_8276 2016 02 03_8299 2016 02 03_82812016 02 03_8274 2016 02 03_8277 2016 02 03_8282 2016 02 03_82982016 02 03_8320 2016 02 03_8285 2016 02 03_83212016 02 03_8289 2016 02 03_8293 2016 02 03_8292   2016 02 03_8295 2016 02 03_8303 2016 02 03_8301

Naturally there were many other plants of interest as well as the Birches and Alders we came to see.

2016 02 03_8308 2016 02 03_83062016 02 03_8269 2016 02 03_83122016 02 03_8307 2016 02 03_8305

We were delighted to find a stand of Betula utilis ssp. jacquemontii “Snowqueen”, as we have a beautiful trio of these pure silvery-white barked trees. They have an ethereal quality about them. We open our blinds each morning and our silver trio delight us every day whatever the weather and whatever the light is shining on them.

2016 02 03_8315 2016 02 03_8314

2016 02 03_8313 2016 02 03_8327

To finish part two of our posts about Stone Lane please enjoy another set of pics to illustrate the vast variations in our favourite trees, the Betulas.

2016 02 03_8325 2016 02 03_83332016 02 03_8318 2016 02 03_8328 2016 02 03_83532016 02 03_8336 2016 02 03_8335 2016 02 03_8334 2016 02 03_8339 2016 02 03_8349

 

 

 

 

Categories
arboreta gardens gardens open to the public ornamental trees and shrubs outdoor sculpture sculpture spring bulbs trees woodland woodlands

A Devon Garden with Betulas – Part 1

While visiting Devon in mid-February we planned to spend a couple of days at the RHS’s Rosemoor Garden where an exhibition of sculpture was on show throughout the site.

Before leaving we discovered that Stone Lane Gardens was close by, a garden which holds the National Collections of Betulas (Birches) and Alnus (Alders). Our hotel was situated in between these two gardens, so we  decided we simply had to visit this garden too.

2016 02 03_8165 2016 02 03_8164

We drove across the moors of Dartmoor covered in a cloak of mist and fine drizzle for an hour before dropping a little lower which took us beneath the dampness. We followed small inconspicuous signs towards the garden as the lanes got narrower and narrower until we turned into a cobbled farmyard which acted as the car park. The buildings were deserted but we found an honesty box in which Jude dropped our entry fees. We were pleased to find a map to borrow.

We crossed the narrowest of lanes and entered the garden through a beautiful wrought iron gate. Its beauty was a reflection of the treats that waited for us as we walked along a gravel path into the woodland garden. We stopped to admire a wildlife pond and ahead we spotted a beautiful metal sculpture. Further sculptures were to be found close by.

2016 02 03_8166 2016 02 03_8169 2016 02 03_8168 2016 02 03_8167     2016 02 03_8173 2016 02 03_8178 2016 02 03_8224

2016 02 03_8175 2016 02 03_8177 2016 02 03_8176

It was a delight to find native Daffodils and Snowdrops growing alongside our trackway.

2016 02 03_8172 2016 02 03_8188

We soon came across some of the alders in the garden’s National Collection. February is probably not the best month to see Alders so I only took a few photos. The texture of their bark did look good though as did the remains of last year’s flowers. We will certainly return later in the year and take a better look.

2016 02 03_8182 2016 02 03_8170 2016 02 03_8181 2016 02 03_8184 2016 02 03_81802016 02 03_8242 2016 02 03_82412016 02 03_8240

After passing through a tunnel of coppiced Alders we got our first view of the Birches we had come to see.

2016 02 03_8189  2016 02 03_8187 2016 02 03_8192 2016 02 03_8193

We were drawn to a group of dark barked Birches. Luckily the trees here are well labelled so we discovered them to be Betula ermanii “Mount Zao Purple”.

2016 02 03_8202 2016 02 03_8211  2016 02 03_8197 2016 02 03_8204 2016 02 03_82132016 02 03_8220 2016 02 03_8219

The next group we were attracted to through this enchanting woodland was of Betula raddeana. This was a very varied group presumably grown from Ken’s seed collecting expeditions.

2016 02 03_8225 2016 02 03_8223     2016 02 03_8217  2016 02 03_8214

Having explored each of this group touching their bark and having close up looks at their bark and branch structures we moved on soft grass paths through so many young Birches.

2016 02 03_8215

Our native Downy Birch, Betula pubescens looked incredibly gnarled and deeply fissured.

2016 02 03_8221 2016 02 03_8230 2016 02 03_82352016 02 03_8226 2016 02 03_8232

Devon is well known as being a good place for mosses and lichen and the trees here were well covered. As we reached the end of the garden we found pools and odd pieces of sculpture dotted between groves of alders and birches.

2016 02 03_8229 2016 02 03_82282016 02 03_8234 2016 02 03_8237

We shall return to share with you our wander back through the woodland garden.

 

 

Categories
arboreta autumn autumn colours climbing plants colours garden design garden photography gardens open to the public ornamental trees and shrubs shrubs trees Winter Gardening winter gardens

Bluebell Arboretum – Part 2

Back to Derbyshire and we shall continue our beautiful autumnal wanderings within the grounds of Bluebell Arboretum and Nursery. I shall concentrate on a selection of the true favourites we enjoyed most of all. The beauty of this arboretum is that there is so much to discover and enjoy that our favourites would be different each time we visit.

We start again just as we discovered a couple of different Hawthorns which is always interesting as most nurseries sell only the common native as a hedge plant and the double pink ornamental tree form. We enjoyed discovering the unusual Crataegus tanacetifolia, the Tansy Leaved Thorn and the rare Crataegus ellwangeriana “Fireball”. It is amazing how the leaf shapes differ as do the berry colours.

2015 10 19_6264 2015 10 19_6272

Now I will share two very different trees worth growing for their bark colours, patterns and textures, on the left Betula utilis “Grayswood Ghost” and in the centre and on the right Acer davidii “Cascade”. This selection of snakebark maple has a beautiful delicately weeping habit.

2015 10 19_6274 2015 10 19_6278 2015 10 19_6279

This next specimen had me foxed and I had to go in search of a label. Although it is a Lime the leaves were the size of a Catalpa but the label informed us it was Tilia carolina subs. heterophylla.

2015 10 19_6281 2015 10 19_6283

We were attracted to the autumn foliage colour of this Tulip Tree, so crisp and bright on a dull day. It is Lirodendron tulipifera  “Arnold” a tree we had never seen before with its fastigiate form.

2015 10 19_6284 2015 10 19_6285

I love the berries and leaf shapes of all the Sorbus and to see a variety new to me was a delightful surprise, Sorbus eburnia “Harry Smith”. It was growing close to a Liquidamber which was turning from deep green to deep reds, and formed a beautiful open specimen.

2015 10 19_6298 2015 10 19_6299 2015 10 19_6300 2015 10 19_6301

Before I tell you what tree impressed me most at this wonderful arboretum I would like to share a few pics of  Euonymus europaeus “Thornhayes” one of the selections of our native deciduous Euonymus simply because they are my favourite deciduous shrub and a Hydrangea petiolaris just getting established at the base of a tree. This will look great in 5 years time! We can’t grow them and so have given up! I have just discovered that the botanists have now decided that this climbing shrub must be called Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris. I wonder what it did to deserve that!

 

2015 10 19_6302 2015 10 19_6303 2015 10 19_6305 2015 10 19_6306

And the star of the show? Well it just has to be a Birch doesn’t it – Betula utilis “Doorenbos”. White stems with the texture of suede and in places the gentlest hints of salmon pink. This multi-stemmed specimen stopped us in our tracks.

2015 10 19_6307 2015 10 19_6309

Of course before we left with just minutes until Bluebell shut up shop for the day we had to have a peruse around the nursery. We bought this little beautiful shrub with its delicate little scented yellow flowers and bronzed foliage turning red in places as autumn was approaching. It is called Bush Honeysuckle or Diervilla lonicera for our garden at home and a tree for the Winter Garden at our allotment community gardens, an orange stemmed Lime, Tilia cordata “Winter Orange” a tree we have been searching for since we planted this border up over 6 years ago now. So we had a great day and came home with two wonderful new plants. We were so interested in everything the Bluebell Arboretum has to offer that we almost overstayed our welcome. The owners politely asked if they could close the gate now please so they could take their dogs for a walk and they probably deserved their tea! Below is our newly purchased Diervilla.

2015 10 19_6310

 

Categories
arboreta autumn autumn colours colours light light quality ornamental trees and shrubs Shropshire shrubs trees woodland

Arboreta in Autumn – part 3 – Return to Richard’s

We loved our first visit to friends Richard and Anne’s home where we were treated to a tour of their wonderful, atmospheric arboretum. There is something extra special about a small arboretum, the results of one man’s vision. Richard knows every tree he has ever planted, its common name, its botanic name, its country of origin and the source of the plant or seed. The arboretum is now just 20 years old.

After a warm welcome we firstly enjoyed the lovely courtyard garden that Anne tends. It is a soft, gentle area that embraces the south facing side of the old mustard coloured mill house. Red flowered Pelargoniums with deep purple foliage filled an old stone trough beneath a brick wall clothed in soft pink roses of the climbing rose, Rosa “Open Arms”. Its scent is warm and richly fruity and remains with you as you leave it behind.

2015 10 26_6741 2015 10 26_6742

The stone paving is softened by beautiful compositions of flowers and foliage.

2015 10 26_6743 2015 10 26_6744 2015 10 26_6745 2015 10 26_6746

Richard and Anne took us across the gently sloping lawns with a boundary provided by the River Perry, and we climbed up to a gate in the fence which is the entrance to Richard’s fine collection of the finest trees. The real stars of the collection are Betulas (Birches), Acers, deciduous Euonymous and Liquidambers.

2015 10 26_6766 2015 10 26_6749 2015 10 26_6747     2015 10 26_6748 2015 10 26_6790

More surprising was the incredibly deeply coloured red leaved Oak, with its large deeply cut leaves  and……..

2015 10 26_6751 2015 10 26_6752

2015 10 26_6750   2015 10 26_6753  2015 10 26_6755 2015 10 26_6756

……….. this unusual specimen, Pistacia chinensis commonly known as the Chinese Pistacia.

2015 10 26_6757 2015 10 26_67602015 10 26_6759 2015 10 26_6763

Every arboretum needs a selection of Sorbus (Rowans) to give the many coloured bunches of shiny berries, and Richard’s arboretum boasted a lovely group.

2015 10 26_6764 2015 10 26_67842015 10 26_6787 2015 10 26_6786

 

Probably my favourite deciduous shrubs are the deciduous Euonymus with their unusual flowers and bizarrely coloured berries, combining such colours as cerise and orange. Luckily for me it is also Richard’s favourite shrub and he is building up a fine collection.

2015 10 26_6795 2015 10 26_6796

Naturally what we really enjoyed most of all was seeing the wonderful selection of Birches in their autumn glory. We certainly were not to be disappointed. Jude even gave her favourite Betula a big hug – she must be turning into a tree hugger!

Of course you would be expecting me to mention the Betulas, my favourite family of trees and luckily it is Richards too and he grows alomst 180 different ones and several of his favourites.

2015 10 26_6773 2015 10 26_6774 2015 10 26_6779

The River Birch below is Betula nigra “Dura Heat”. This is a particularly impressive multi-stemmed specimen and although just a young tree is already showing its peeling bark giving it a shaggy dog look.

2015 10 26_6761

Now just enjoy my photos of a selection of our other favourites.

2015 10 26_6767 2015 10 26_67802015 10 26_6768 2015 10 26_6769 2015 10 26_6771 2015 10 26_6775 2015 10 26_6776 2015 10 26_6778   2015 10 26_6781 2015 10 26_6782 2015 10 26_6788

What a great day we had sharing Richard’s trees and enjoying his vast reserves of knowledge. We will return in the Spring.

I will just finish with two other trees we found in the second field which Richard is building up into an extension of his arboretum, an unusual Acer, a Cercidyphlum and a black berried Buckthorn, a tree we had never seen before.

2015 10 26_6798 2015 10 26_67992015 10 26_6797

Categories
arboreta garden photography ornamental trees and shrubs Shropshire trees

Richard’s Trees

We are lucky to have a good friend who has built up his own arboretum, a personal collection of the trees he loves, Elms, Liquidambers, Oaks, etc etc. But most of all our friend Richard loves Birches so he has built up a huge collection of Betulas from around the world. To get an invitation for a personal tour of Richard’s arboretum was a privilege and an exceptional honour.

So in mid-September we travelled a short distance to Ruyton-XI-Towns just north of Shrewsbury. Richard told us to look out for a lane outside the village and keep going along it until we spotted their yellow farmhouse. A beautiful bright red climbing rose greeted us as we entered their gravel driveway, and we soon received a very warm welcome from Richard and his wife Anne.

While touring the arboretum Richard’s knowledge and love for his trees became obvious to us. He knew the names of every tree and shrub, their botanic name, common name, their place of origin and even the name of the nursery or plantsmen from whom the trees had been sourced. He loved every tree and was proud of them too.

2015 09 12_5344 2015 09 12_5346 2015 09 12_5370

Even though Richard could tell us the name of every tree he ensured that each was accurately and clearly labeled.

2015 09 12_5335 2015 09 12_5348

Although he has collected many different trees his true love is the Betula family. Here is a small selection of this wonderful collection. As regular readers of my blog will know I am mad about Betulas so to be able to get close up to so many different ones from around the world was very special to me.

2015 09 12_5347 2015 09 12_53542015 09 12_5345 2015 09 12_5349 2015 09 12_53532015 09 12_5350 2015 09 12_5351 2015 09 12_53522015 09 12_5355 2015 09 12_5356 2015 09 12_53582015 09 12_5357 2015 09 12_5359 2015 09 12_53602015 09 12_5363 2015 09 12_5361 2015 09 12_53622015 09 12_5369 2015 09 12_5364

But there was more to this arboretum than Birches. Just check out the selection below.

2015 09 12_5328 2015 09 12_5329 2015 09 12_5330 2015 09 12_5331 2015 09 12_5332 2015 09 12_5334 2015 09 12_5333  2015 09 12_5336 2015 09 12_5337 2015 09 12_53432015 09 12_5338 2015 09 12_5339 2015 09 12_5340 2015 09 12_5341 2015 09 12_5342       2015 09 12_5365 2015 09 12_5366 2015 09 12_5367 2015 09 12_5368

That is just a small selection of the amazing range of trees to be found at Richard’s arboretum! There are so many delights you feel honoured to visit. To have a friend with his own arboretum is pretty special but to have a friend who also loves Betulas is even better. We have been invited back for another wonderful wander around Richard and Anne’s garden and arboretum in the autumn to see their trees in their autumnal costumes.

Categories
Cheshire colours flowering bulbs garden design garden photography gardens gardens open to the public irises light light quality National Trust ornamental trees and shrubs shrubs spring bulbs The National Trust trees Winter Gardening winter gardens

Winter Wonderland at Dunham Massey – part one

We are in the habit of visiting the gardens of the National Trust property, Dunham Massey, especially since their Winter Garden has matured. We tend to visit in February. This year we made our annual pilgrimage on a sunny, mild day right at the end of the month.

The new visitors centre of glass and wood gives a fresh new welcome and these beautiful etchings in the glass feature throughout. They set the atmosphere to prepare you for the wonderful winter garden.

2015 02 27_9709

On the walk to the garden we passed this dead tree now cut down and the wood used to create a wildlife habitat. Brilliant idea!

2015 02 27_9710

As soon as we had taken our first steps in the garden we could see what we could expect, with this border of coloured stemmed shrubs, Cornus “Midwinter fire” and Rubus thibeticanus against a background of ilex crenata and a mixture of conifers.

2015 02 27_9711

A few paces further on and the large numbers of white stemmed birches, Betula utilis “Dorenbos” appeared like a ghostly forest, with a carpet of Snowdrops adding to the atmosphere. You must know by now how much I love Betulas so you can imagine how planting them on this scale impresses me deeply. They enticed me to try out my new wide angle attachment on the Nikon. Not too sure about the vignetting on this one though!

2015 02 27_97142015 02 27_9713 2015 02 27_9717

There was much more than white coloured plants to look at! And some lovingly selected plant partners.

2015 02 27_9719 2015 02 27_97202015 02 27_9769

Not all the trees here in the winter garden were Birch either, there was plenty of room for others like this Prunus serrula and Acer griseum.

2015 02 27_9751 2015 02 27_9721 2015 02 27_9728

As in any well-designed winter planting coloured stems are very potent, especially Cornus and Salix.

2015 02 27_9734 2015 02 27_9733

But of course there were plenty of flowering plants to give us colour in the gloomiest of months, flowering bulbs, shrubs and even a few perennials.

2015 02 27_9730 2015 02 27_97312015 02 27_9732 2015 02 27_9736

In some areas we  stopped to appreciate the beauty of an individual plant or even a single bloom but in others it was the sheer mass of planting that impressed.

2015 02 27_9740 2015 02 27_9741 2015 02 27_9762 2015 02 27_9770

Other fresh growth provided interest without any colour other than browns and biscuits.

2015 02 27_97382015 02 27_9739 2015 02 27_97482015 02 27_9757

Of course it is more natural to think of these lovely warm biscuits and browns when we consider the growth that was green or brightly coloured last year. And I love these colours when they are a result of decay and age as much as any other colour in the garden. Enjoy this little collage of brown and biscuit!

2015 02 27_97422015 02 27_97492015 02 27_97522015 02 27_97532015 02 27_97542015 02 27_9758

 

Thinking about winter of course we mustn’t let the berries in their gaudy reds and oranges get missed out.

2015 02 27_9759 2015 02 27_97602015 02 27_9764

Sometimes the beauty was hidden behind a haze. In the pictures below you need to look through the thin mist and the reflective surface of water.

 

2015 02 27_9761  2015 02 27_9763