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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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An Interest Trail for Children – Dunham Massey

We have created an “Interest Trail” around our allotment community garden, and we see it performing two roles, firstly it guides all our visitors around the site taking in as big a variety of features as possible and secondly it performs as an activity trail for children. It has proved very popular. Whenever we come across a similar trail in large gardens or parks we always have a look to see how the idea has been executed. We visited the National Trust garden, Dunham Abbey, primarily to enjoy the Winter Garden but we discovered that since our last visit a few years ago a couple of the gardeners have created a children’s trail so we could not resist trying it out.

It was wonderful! Come with us and enjoy! We found the sign and below it one of the decorated bikes and then enjoyed a woodland wander before discovering the first of many fun and educational features designed for children.

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Any child who is brought here is very lucky indeed! At our allotment we also have features and arrange activities for the children and grandchildren of our members and their friends so we left with many new ideas.

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Decorated Bicycle Bits in a Garden?

Yes, you have read the title correctly. This post is about decorated bits of bicycles in a garden. These are no ordinary bikes, these are decorated bikes or sometimes just decorated bicycle wheels. We were surprised by the sight of the first of these decorated bikes when we came across it in the grounds of Anglesey Abbey.

We discovered that they were there to celebrate an anniversary of cycling in Cambridge. Each bike or parts of bikes were decorated by knitters!

Just share our enjoyment of discovering them by looking at my photos.

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Three Winter Gardens – Part Two – Cambridge Botanic Gardens

We had never been to Cambridge before. Lots of people told us it is just like Oxford its parallel university city. We decided to put things right and find out for ourselves so spent a few days there. One day we spent in the University Botanic Gardens where we were keen to explore the winter garden as we had heard good things about it.

We were pleased we decided to visit both Cambridge and its botanic garden as we enjoyed both immensely. The Botanic Garden was good enough to make us plan to return in different seasons. If a garden impresses in winter then it will at any time.

So for part two of my “Three Winter Gardens” we shine the spotlight on Cambridge. Look out for a post in the near future looking at the rest of the garden in winter too.

We knew we were in for a treat for within the first 20 yards of our walk after passing through the gate we were mystified by a couple of plants we did not know.

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Luckily they were both labelled and I shall say what they are in my post about the gardens in general but first off to the Winter Garden. We were particularly keen to see this seasonal patch as it had been created in 1989 so now it is well established. Many gardens now boast winter borders or winter gardens and we have even created one on our allotment site in the communal areas, but these are mostly immature.

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Trees and shrubs give the impact in any winter garden often as here at Cambridge they are birches and willows.

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We were particularly impressed with the use of ground cover, an aspect we have not used very well in our allotment version. We were to learn so much and go home full of enthusiasm to develop effective ground cover in our allotment’s winter garden. Ivies, periwinkles and hellebores added so much. We already use hellebores but not ivies and periwinkles but they present so many opportunities, with all the varieties in leaf colour, variegation and shape in ivies and flower colours in the periwinkles. Bergenias and grasses together worked well in other places, because of their unusual foliage colours and contrasting leaf shape.

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This was a very effective colour combination which in any other season probably wouldn’t have worked. Daphne mezereum and Forsythia Lynwood. Of course the daphne also provided that other essential of any winter border – sweet scent. The sweetest scent of all came from another Daphne, Jacquelin Postill.

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The coloured stems of coppiced and pollarded Cornus (dogwoods) and Salix (willows) have to star in any winter garden and they certainly did here along with Rubus.

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Two gems worth a special mention are the winter flowering iris and the wonderful leaves of Arum italicum marmoratum.

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I shall finish with this photo looking back at the gently curving path through the winter border. The third of my winter garden visits will be to Anglesay Abbey, probably the best known and most polular of all the winter gardens in this country. We shall see if it deserves this accolade.

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