Categories
autumn autumn colours climbing plants colours flowering bulbs fruit and veg garden photography gardening gardens gardens open to the public grow your own hardy perennials Herefordshire irises kitchen gardens light light quality National Trust poppies roses The National Trust walled gardens walled kitchen gardens

Croft Castle Month by Month – October

October was a month made special by a bright, colourful Indian Summer. It made our tenth monthly visit to the gardens at Croft Castle special. Without realising it we had chosen the week when the property were putting on a Halloween trail for the children. The trail sheet encouraged the youngsters to search for clues, so naturally we had to do the same.

2015 10 26_6952-1 2015 10 26_6951-1 2015 10 26_6945-1 2015 10 26_6876-1

The first change we noticed on this visit was how autumn had taken over the garden, with most trees changing their green cloak to one of yellow.

2015 10 26_6843-1 2015 10 26_6845-1 2015 10 26_6849-12015 10 26_6855-1

The first border we pass on our way to the walled garden is the long mixed border alongside the drive.

2015 10 26_6853-1 2015 10 26_6857-12015 10 26_6852-1 2015 10 26_6851-1

We reached the walled garden which is the best part of the grounds, wondering what changes we would find there. Even though some borders were being cleared there was plenty left to attract my camera lens, whole borders of interest …………

2015 10 26_6858-1 2015 10 26_6859-1 2015 10 26_6860-1 2015 10 26_6869-1

………… and plenty of single plants still looking full of colour.

2015 10 26_6862-1 2015 10 26_6871-1 2015 10 26_6872-12015 10 26_6867-1 2015 10 26_6882-12015 10 26_6883-1 2015 10 26_6884-12015 10 26_6888-1 2015 10 26_6890-1

We were amazed by the simple beauty of these Japanese Anemone flowers which had just dropped their petals.

2015 10 26_6865-1 2015 10 26_6864-1

Plants can find their own niche however inappropriate it may seem to us. This bright red poppy chose a spot close to equally blue fencing.

2015 10 26_6875-1

When we made our first of this year’s monthly visits to Croft Castle we found an unfinished insect hotel, bearing the label “unfinished project”. We looked forward to its completion each month but nothing changed, but on our October visit we noticed it was finished at last.

2015 10 26_6900-1 2015 10 26_6898-1 2015 10 26_6894-12015 10 26_6893-1 2015 10 26_6896-1

We didn’t expect to see much colour in the Rose Garden but we were pleasantly surprised by delicately scented Rose blooms and the supporting cast of perennials.

2015 10 26_6906-1 2015 10 26_6908-12015 10 26_6912-1 2015 10 26_6913-1 2015 10 26_6914-1

The veggie beds were still providing late season crops with leeks looking particularly tasty. On the old apple trees clumps of Mistletoe had found a home.

2015 10 26_6881-1 2015 10 26_6915-12015 10 26_6916-1 2015 10 26_6917-1 2015 10 26_6918-1 2015 10 26_6919_edited-1-1

We found this extra bright colour combination which lit up the whole walled garden.

2015 10 26_6923-1

Another Halloween activity for the children was to find big pumpkins hidden around the gardens. Naturally the children in us tempted us to find them too.

2015 10 26_6856-1 2015 10 26_6921-12015 10 26_6948-1 2015 10 26_6947-1

As the seasons move on towards the year’s end signs of plants closing down have appeared. Seed heads are so beautiful at this time of year. They look even better if touched by the hand of Jack Frost.

2015 10 26_6941-1 2015 10 26_6942-1 2015 10 26_6940-1

Our next visit will be the penultimate visit of the year. By then the effects of autumnal weather will cover the garden.

 

 

Categories
autumn autumn colours colours flowering bulbs garden photography gardens gardens open to the public hardy perennials light light quality National Trust ornamental trees and shrubs roses The National Trust walled gardens

Croft Castle Month by Month – September

So here we are with the ninth post in my series about Croft Castle gardens throughout the year, where I shall report on our September visit to this Herefordshire National Trust property.

The long border was sparkling with colour in the sunlight. The sun was beginning to sit lower in the sky so whites looked as wonderful as bright colours. Cyclamen shone jewel-like in the shadow of the ancient trees. Grasses glistened!

2015 09 24_5772 2015 09 24_5773 2015 09 24_5774 2015 09 24_5775 2015 09 24_5776 2015 09 24_57772015 09 24_5913

Once inside the walled garden we immediately noticed how large areas of colour were absent but plant partnerships in twos and threes gave brightness throughout.

2015 09 24_5779  2015 09 24_5781 2015 09 24_5782  2015 09 24_5784 2015 09 24_5785 2015 09 24_57902015 09 24_5780 2015 09 24_5789 2015 09 24_5791

Sweetpeas are always a delight but to see these beauties this late in the season really pleased the eye. And of course the nose!

2015 09 24_5793 2015 09 24_5794 2015 09 24_5795 2015 09 24_5796

This rich blue colour surprised us when we had a close and realised these gems were not flowers at all but berries. This grass like plant with the blue berries is a Dianella, a plant we have been trying to get established on our gravel garden for a few seasons now. Seeing how special they can be made us more determined to get it right.

2015 09 24_5792

Fuschias are not a favourite of our’s but within these walls we enjoyed the simple small flowers of the more natural varieties.

2015 09 24_5783 2015 09 24_5815 2015 09 24_5816

The diminuitive flowers of this Fuschia had blooms less than a centimetre long but its beauty was in the detail.

2015 09 24_5803

I love rich deep colours in the garden but they seem especially intense in the early autumn months, so I was attracted by these Dahlias and our favourite Verbena bonariensis.

2015 09 24_5797 2015 09 24_5798 2015 09 24_5799 2015 09 24_5800

In the entrance to the glasshouses the climbing Cobaea was in full bloom and the plant covered a huge area. Close-up we could appreciate its complexity and incredible beauty. The tomatoes growing in the glasshouse were looking as late to develop as our own, but their Chrysanths were already in flower whereas ours are just budding up.

2015 09 24_5801 2015 09 24_5802   2015 09 24_5805 2015 09 24_5806

The Secret Garden sparkled in the sunshine with every leaf and petal catching the light.

2015 09 24_5907

For bright cheerfulness in the autumn garden you can’t beat the Rudbeckias.

2015 09 24_5879 2015 09 24_5878  2015 09 24_5884 2015 09 24_58862015 09 24_5877

As we made our way back to the car after our most enjoyable garden wanderings two signs of autumn caught our eye, the deep pink of the Sedum flower heads and the colour appearing on the clump of mature trees close to the main gate out of the garden. Next visit will be sometime in October when we expect to see autumn taking over the borders and clumps of trees.

2015 09 24_5916 2015 09 24_5911

Categories
colours fruit and veg garden photography gardens gardens open to the public hardy perennials kitchen gardens National Trust ornamental trees and shrubs poppies roses The National Trust walled gardens

Croft Castle month by month – July

It was getting towards the end of July so was time for our monthly visit to see what had changed throughout the garden at Croft Castle. The weather certainly wasn’t what we expected in July, as rain fell intermittently and temperatures failed to rise much above the mid-teens.

The first big change in the garden was in the long border we have to pass on every visit on our way to the walled garden.

2015 07 27_4249 2015 07 27_4250 2015 07 27_4251  2015 07 27_4253

Our first view of the walled garden convinced us that we were in for a colourful time.

2015 07 27_4254 2015 07 27_4255

The beautiful pink poker like flowers of this Francoa caught our eyes in the borders opposite the grape vines, which were now showing the first signs of little bunches of tiny bright green grapes.

2015 07 27_4261 2015 07 27_42622015 07 27_4266 2015 07 27_4263 2015 07 27_4264  

July was definitely the month for Crocosmias and Japanese Anemones. Crocosmias provided hot colours to enjoy while the Anemones gave us the cooler colours.

2015 07 27_4256 2015 07 27_42572015 07 27_4258 2015 07 27_42592015 07 27_4265 2015 07 27_42522015 07 27_4260

On the north wall Nicotiana and Dahlias were flowering well among a mixture of flowering shrubs, annuals and perennials. Buddlejas were already flowering and we hope to see each bush covered in long racemes of butterfly-attracting blooms on our next couple of visits. Let us hope the sun is out then so that all the wildlife that loves Buddleja will be out seeking nectar and pollen.

2015 07 27_4267 2015 07 27_42692015 07 27_4276 2015 07 27_4268   2015 07 27_4271 2015 07 27_4272 2015 07 27_4273 2015 07 27_4274

Apples were beginning to show the first signs of ripening as they blush a little. Close by there were plenty of Figs forming on the plants grown close to the walls for extra protection. The borders along this side of the walled garden were mostly blue and white.

2015 07 27_4275 2015 07 27_42772015 07 27_4278 2015 07 27_4279 2015 07 27_4280 2015 07 27_4281 2015 07 27_4282

There were few Rose flowers to be seen on this visit but perennials did make up for it, with Morinia, Geraniums and herbaceous Clematis taking centre stage.

2015 07 27_4284 2015 07 27_4286 2015 07 27_42912015 07 27_4287 2015 07 27_4288 2015 07 27_4290  2015 07 27_4292

The veggie beds were looking good with healthy rows of salad crops and the newly created willow walkway was coming on nicely.

2015 07 27_4294 2015 07 27_4295

Views looking over the perennial plantings in the main borders towards the castle and its surrounding buildings showed the softness of the plantings.

2015 07 27_4296 2015 07 27_4297

The final part of our monthly tour involved us leaving the shelter of the walled garden with its own special micro-climate and wandering towards the castle followed by a walk around the perimeter of the building. We noticed that the old Walnut tree is now loaded with green shelled nuts so it looks as if it may produce an impressive harvest in the autumn. Our next visit to Croft Castle will be our August one so we will be able to see if the nuts are still developing.

2015 07 27_4298 2015 07 27_42992015 07 27_4300 2015 07 27_4301

 

Categories
climbing plants colours flowering bulbs fruit and veg garden photography gardens gardens open to the public hardy perennials irises kitchen gardens meadows National Trust ornamental trees and shrubs poppies Shropshire The National Trust trees walled gardens

Croft Castle month by month – Part 6 June

We arrived for our June exploration of the gardens at the National Trust property, Croft Castle, with great expectations as the sun shone, the sky was blue and the temperature warm. We were not disappointed in any way! After our usual coffee and cakes we made our way to the main feature of the garden, the Walled Garden. On the way we enjoyed finding some very colourful plants with the added extra, scent.

2015 06 25_3234 2015 06 25_3235

On entering the Walled Garden the colour and scent continued. Our first glance through the doorway promised a great deal to see and smell.

2015 06 25_3240 2015 06 25_3241 2015 06 25_3242 2015 06 25_3246 2015 06 25_3247 2015 06 25_3244 2015 06 25_3245

Poppies were on top form! Beautiful!

2015 06 25_3239  2015 06 25_3237 2015 06 25_3250 2015 06 25_32432015 06 25_3238

As we ambled up the gentle slope studying the plants in the border against the wall we noticed that the vines were now in full leaf with tiny bunches of flowers forming, the promise of a healthy grape harvest to come. Irises blooming in the borders opposite bloomed with much more complex and colourful flowers.

2015 06 25_3249 2015 06 25_32852015 06 25_3251

As usual we passed through the blue gate to see what was going on in the gardeners’ working area, but not much was going on. We were pleased to see the Cobaea back in flower. It lives up to its common name, the “Cup and Saucer Plant”.

2015 06 25_3254 2015 06 25_3255

Our old favourite, the Cornus cousa was white over with flower-like bracts and beneath it Nancy, Liz and Clementine the Pekin Bantams we met earlier were enjoying their new home.

2015 06 25_3258 2015 06 25_3260 2015 06 25_3261

The ancient apple orchard and the mixed borders hugging the red-brick walls were full of colour, scent and texture. The walled garden had truly come to life!

2015 06 25_3263 2015 06 25_3264 2015 06 25_3265 2015 06 25_3266

More borders have come to life this month in the central area of the walled garden among and around the old gnarled fruit trees. A meadow of poppies, a rose garden and mixed borders all add to the effect.

2015 06 25_3268 2015 06 25_3270 2015 06 25_3271 2015 06 25_3272 2015 06 25_3273 2015 06 25_3274 2015 06 25_3275 2015 06 25_3276

We left the walled garden through a gateway with a shrubby area with Foxgloves enjoying its shade.

2015 06 25_3277 2015 06 25_3278_edited-1-1

The Secret Garden was at its peak, soft colours, gentle perfumes and a multitude of greens.

2015 06 25_3280

Around the front of the residence at Croft Castle we looked over the wall to admire the vast area of meadowland. Deep pink Centranthus bordered the base of the walls giving a bright margin between wall and meadow.

2015 06 25_3282 2015 06 25_3283

We are half way through our year of monthly visits to the gardens of Croft Castle. Our next visit in July will hopefully be bright, warm and sunny too, giving us even more to look forward to.

 

 

Categories
colours garden buildings garden photography gardening gardens gardens open to the public hardy perennials light light quality meadows National Trust ornamental trees and shrubs roses Shropshire South Shropshire The National Trust trees walled gardens

Croft Castle month by month – Part 5 May

2015 05 22_1883_edited-1

We are almost half way through the year now so we were expecting to see some big changes at Croft on our May visit.

2015 05 22_1868_edited-1

We made our May visit to Croft Castle on a warm sunny day so everything in the garden looked colourful and full of cheer. The leaves were fully out on all the trees and herbaceous plants were beginning to flower.

2015 05 22_19282015 05 22_1858 2015 05 22_1859 2015 05 22_1862 2015 05 22_1863

The long border we always pass as we make our way towards the walled garden is now lush with every shade of green with occasional splashes of flower colour. Our view from the long border towards the church and castle is framed beautifully by trees in full leaf. The Horse Chestnuts were in full blossom. They are beautiful flowers when looked at close up.

2015 05 22_1864 2015 05 22_1865 2015 05 22_1866 2015 05 22_1867

On the walls of the buildings close to the walled garden roses were in full bloom.

2015 05 22_1870 2015 05 22_1871

As we passed through the gateway into the waled garden we were amazed by how much the first view had changed. It simply looked so green and lush.

2015 05 22_1872 2015 05 22_18732015 05 22_1874 2015 05 22_18752015 05 22_1869 2015 05 22_1877

For the first time this year the vineyard at Croft was showing signs of growth with shining bronze-green leaves bursting from every bud.

2015 05 22_1879 2015 05 22_1880

We expected to see major changes as we walked through the blue gates to look at the greenhouse and the surrounding garden. Bright reds of poppies hit us first but close by these cute bantams were definitely new. We certainly found plenty of colour in the greenhouse as plants under cover were flowering way ahead of their normal time.

2015 05 22_1884

2015 05 22_1885 2015 05 22_18862015 05 22_1887

2015 05 22_1891 2015 05 22_1892

Leaving the greenhouse area back through the blue gates we could see that the productive gardens had made a lot of progress since our visit in April. Gooseberries were fruiting and rows of vegetable plants were now established. The sunshine brought out the colours in the borders along the walls.

2015 05 22_1893 2015 05 22_1895 2015 05 22_1896 2015 05 22_1899 2015 05 22_1900 2015 05 22_19062015 05 22_1907 2015 05 22_1904

We just had to stop to admire these beautifully pollarded willows, now regrowing strongly. The Cirsium rivulare was in full bloom and looked good against the old garden buildings.

2015 05 22_1908 2015 05 22_19092015 05 22_1911

Along the fourth side of the walled garden the light was so bright that colours seemed extra vibrant and exciting.

2015 05 22_1912 2015 05 22_1913 2015 05 22_1914 2015 05 22_1916 2015 05 22_1915 2015 05 22_1917 2015 05 22_1918 2015 05 22_1919 2015 05 22_1920 2015 05 22_1921

For the first time this year there was interest in the Rose Garden with groundcover beneath the roses in flower and indeed the first roses were open and giving the gift of their scent to anyone passing by.

2015 05 22_1922 2015 05 22_1923 2015 05 22_1924 2015 05 22_1925 2015 05 22_1926 2015 05 22_1927

After leaving the walled garden we wandered around castle itself where we enjoyed tempting views over the meadows to the lake and countryside beyond.

2015 05 22_1935 2015 05 22_1937 2015 05 22_1938 2015 05 22_1939 2015 05 22_1940

The open gate into the meadows was just too tempting for us. We followed a mown path through the wildflowers.

2015 05 22_1941 2015 05 22_1942 2015 05 22_1943 2015 05 22_1945

Croft is well-known for its ancient Sweet Chestnut trees. We were fascinated by the texture of the bark on this group.

2015 05 22_1946 2015 05 22_1947 2015 05 22_1948 2015 05 22_1949 2015 05 22_1950 2015 05 22_19542015 05 22_1957 2015 05 22_1958 2015 05 22_1959 2015 05 22_1960

Our next visit in June will be the half way mark through our year of visiting Croft Castle gardens.

 

 

Categories
colours flowering bulbs fruit and veg garden design garden photography gardening gardens gardens open to the public hardy perennials National Trust natural pest control ornamental trees and shrubs spring bulbs spring gardening The National Trust trees walled gardens

Croft Castle Month by Month – Part 4 – April

2015 04 24_0985_edited-1

It is already time for our fourth visit to the National Trust’s Herefordshire property, Croft Castle. On this visit the sun shone on us and we enjoyed a lovely warm spring day.

2015 04 24_0994_edited-2

The first noticeable change was that there was now life in the trees as buds were bursting and delicate bright green leaves were making their entrance.

2015 04 24_0975 2015 04 24_09762015 04 24_0982

The ancient Sweet Chestnuts were beginning to show glossy ribbed fresh green foliage.

2015 04 24_0981_edited-12015 04 24_1040

2015 04 24_0978 2015 04 24_0979 2015 04 24_0980

Different wildflowers  added colour to the little meadow area that we pass on our way to the walled garden, Lady’s Smock with the softest possible pink petals, white and purple Fritilleries and buttercup yellow Dandelions.

2015 04 24_0983 2015 04 24_0984

Beyond the meadow we passed through the gateway in the stone wall and got a glimpse of the castle and its chapel. We then walked along the deep long mixed border.

2015 04 24_09872015 04 24_0986 2015 04 24_0988 2015 04 24_0989

We arrived expecting to see big changes in the walled garden itself and immediately we were struck by how lush green everything looked.

2015 04 24_0990 2015 04 24_0992 2015 04 24_0993 2015 04 24_0995 2015 04 24_0996 2015 04 24_0997 2015 04 24_0998

In the bothy we read the job list for the gardeners. The greenhouse had a surprise in store for us, these zingy orange Clivia flowers. I couldn’t resist taking a shot of the peeling paint on an old wooden seat.

2015 04 24_1003_edited-12015 04 24_0999 2015 04 24_1000 2015 04 24_1002

Although there was little sign of growth on the vines the Apples were showing their first blossoms and the Rhubarb plants were producing strong stems. The garden staff had already picked a large crop. In the Rose Garden Tulips provided bright patches of colour.

2015 04 24_1004 2015 04 24_1005 2015 04 24_1008 2015 04 24_1010 2015 04 24_1011 2015 04 24_1012 2015 04 24_1014 2015 04 24_1036 2015 04 24_1013

In readiness for the next school holiday the staff had put out games from times past. Jude the Undergardener just couldn’t resist it!

2015 04 24_10452015 04 24_1015 2015 04 24_1016 2015 04 24_1017

Close to the Hopscotch game our noses were attracted to the scent from the Wisteria flowers.

2015 04 24_1019 2015 04 24_1020

We loved this sign explaining why some grass was left uncut.

2015 04 24_1021 2015 04 24_1022

We discovered colour in every border in the walled garden, flowering bulbs and early shrubs.

2015 04 24_1009_edited-12015 04 24_1023 2015 04 24_1024 2015 04 24_1026 2015 04 24_10272015 04 24_1030 2015 04 24_1031 2015 04 24_1033 2015 04 24_1034 2015 04 24_10372015 04 24_1035  2015 04 24_1039 2015 04 24_1041     2015 04 24_1042 2015 04 24_10462015 04 24_1044

Next visit to the gardens at Croft Castle will be in May when Spring will be in”full swing”.

Categories
Church architecture colours flowering bulbs garden photography gardening gardens gardens open to the public irises light light quality ornamental trees and shrubs shrubs spring bulbs The National Trust walled gardens winter gardens

Croft Castle month by month – part two – February

So here we are back at Croft Castle for the second wander in 2015 around the grounds for my February post. We thought we would find that little would have changed since our January visit, but we found plenty to see and really enjoyed our wander. Fresh buds looked ready and waiting to burst into new life when temperatures rise and light values increase. Droplets of rain from a recent shower caught the light where they lay upon the leaves of a Hypericum.

2015 02 21_9601 2015 02 21_9602

In the long mixed border beside the tall walls which enclose the walled garden the first flowers of the year had opened, the delicate blooms of the snowdrops, Galanthus nivalis and a few pink blooms dotted amongst the marbled foliage of the Cyclamen coum.

2015 02 21_9603 2015 02 21_96052015 02 21_9604

Gardeners had recently discovered a cobbled path running diagonally beneath the lawn close to the gateway to the walled garden. We imagined the excitement when the first signs appeared or perhaps the chink of a spade heard as it hit a cobble. When fully excavated no doubt it will join up with the network of cobble path to be found throughout the garden and grounds.

2015 02 21_9606

Inside the walled garden the temperature rose noticeably and we were well protected from the cold of the winter winds. Enjoy this batch of photos showing what we found within the walls.

2015 02 21_9608 2015 02 21_9609 2015 02 21_9610 2015 02 21_96172015 02 21_9626 2015 02 21_96342015 02 21_9625 2015 02 21_9637

The foliage of two different Epimedium plants looked good together, one with its coat of glossy green the other a rich shining bronze.

 

2015 02 21_9631 2015 02 21_9632

 

This old willow with branches rambling haphazardly and randomly caught our attention as its silver catkins shone out in its dark corner of the walled garden. Some branches were severely affected by fasciation causing them to be deformed and tightly curled. Others were subject to gall growths caused by gall wasps.

 

2015 02 21_96182015 02 21_9619 2015 02 21_9620 2015 02 21_9623 2015 02 21_96212015 02 21_9624

 

The blue gate that had enticed us to pass through it in January was open again, and we diverted easily to see what was happening in the bothy and greenhouses.

 

2015 02 21_9611 2015 02 21_96122015 02 21_9613 2015 02 21_9614 2015 02 21_9615

Snowdrops found the shelter under every tree within the walls and encircled their trunks in white bracelets.

2015 02 21_9627 2015 02 21_9628 2015 02 21_9629 2015 02 21_9636 2015 02 21_9640 2015 02 21_9641

We left the protection of the walled garden and wandered around the borders closer to the castle. We were amused by the sight of this caterpillar up a tree. He was a part of a children’s trail discovering the delights of Alice in Wonderland.

 

 

 

2015 02 21_9642

2015 02 21_9643 2015 02 21_9644 2015 02 21_9645 2015 02 21_9646 2015 02 21_9647 2015 02 21_9648 2015 02 21_9649 2015 02 21_9650

When we had skirted most of the castle we reached the little church which on our last visit was covered in scaffolding due to being subject to renovation. We were glad to find the builders had left the little building in peace.

 

 

2015 02 21_9652 2015 02 21_9651  2015 02 21_9653 2015 02 21_9654 2015 02 21_9655

 

Little narrow borders feature in the grounds of the church and looked full of promise. For now though we had to be content with the display put on by this wonderfully colourful Euphorbia.

From there we returned to the car park to make our way home. On our next visit to Croft Castle we will hopefully discover many more signs of spring.

2015 02 21_9657