When walking around the woodland garden at The Dingle Garden and Nursery near Welshpool recently we were amazed at the tiny buds awaiting the spring. I want to share these simple photos with you which I hope you enjoy.
We returned to the Dingle Garden and Nurseries for the third time this year, hoping for signs of spring but having experienced such bad weather recently we were expecting few changes at all. We always enjoy a wander around the nursery anyway so that would make up for any disappointments. In particular we enjoy their collections of trees and shrubs.
We soon spotted shrubs we had looked at in detail on our last visit when buds were fattening but not displaying signs of opening. On this our March visit things had not developed at all. However some shrubs further down the slope towards the lake where there was more shelter were in fact in the first stages of bursting into leaf.
The light on this visit allowed the colour and texture of the bark on trees show up far better than in February.
Deciduous Euonymus such as our native Euonymus europaeus, display their heavily textured bark when they are bare of foliage, and Euonymus alatus is a particular star with its winged stems.
A few shrubs had open flowers and looked very special, like gems, among so much deep green of the many evergreens growing on the slopes. Hellebores and flowering bulbs added splashes of colour amongst the undergrowth. The tiny insignificant flowers of Euphorbias sat snuggled into the bright green bracts.
The common native Hazel, Corylus avellena, is far from ordinary. It is an exceptional plant as it gives so much to our gardens. If you plant a contorted variety then you get the strangest of winter skeletons, but with others you get sturdy upright growth and this growth provides us with our bean poles for the allotment. In the first months of each year they delight us with their catkins which look like little lime-green lambs’ tales. These are the male flowers producing mists of pollen on breezy warm days but if you look very closely you may be lucky enough to find a female flower which is a minute deep red flower like a miniature sea anemone.
Buds were just beginning to show the early signs of fattening up when we made our visit in February so we were so pleased to find some fresh brightly coloured leaves beginning to burst forth from them this month.
Fresh growth had appeared from clumps of perennials, with Hemerocallis way ahead of others with the brightest and most advanced growth of all.
Evergreen shrubs have produced new foliage which looks so young with glossy surfaces and extra bright colours.
As we wandered the pathways enjoying the freshness of new growth and bursting buds, we were distracted by surprises and unexpected features, such as this old tumbled-down summer house and a deep fissure in the path where rushing floodwater had flowed beneath the path removing materials.
The stream which we enjoyed watching last month tumbling beneath the wooden footbridge had turned into an angry torrent of water, so noisy that we could hear it from far off. Wherever we were inside the woodland garden we could hear running water rushing down slopes, along tiny streams and over pathways.
Let us hope that by the time of our next visit the garden will be much dryer and the water passing down the site will be back within its banks.
The weathermen tell us that March is the first month of Spring so in this our third look at my 2017 Garden Journal we shall see if our garden illustrates this idea at all.
As an introduction to the month I wrote,”March is the month that should “come in like a lion and go out like a lamb”. This year it came in like a wet fish! Rain and wind dominated, interspersed with occasional bright cheerful days. In the first week we managed very few gardening moments. But the Avocet patch will not be beaten, with leaf and flower buds bursting on trees and shrubs, signs of colour waiting in the wings.”
“Bursting blooms”! I continued by sharing photos of flowers bursting from buds.
Turing over the page reveals a look at our Fritillaries, Fritillaria meleagris and Fritillaria uva vulpis which grow in our Spring Garden and in Arabella’s Garden.
I write among my photos of Fritillaries, “Fantastic Fritillaries – a March marvel!
I looked for all the common local names for this Fritillary. “Our native Fritillary also known as Fritillaria meleagris is a plant of many names.”
“Snake’s Head Fritillary – Chequered Lily.”
“Chess Flower – Leper Lily” – Lazurus Bell”
“Guinea-Hen Flower” – “Frog Cup”
“Drooping Tulip” – “Chequered Daffodil”
We grow our native Fritillary, Fritillaria meleagris in our “Spring Garden”, but we also grow Fritillaria uva vulpis with flowers that are so different inside and out.
“Purple and yellow on the outside.”
“Yellow, orange and red on the inside.”
Over onto the next double page spread and I take a look at a special rather subtle plant combination and some early tulips.
I wrote that “Good plant companions and communities are what lifts a garden above a collection of plants put on display. Sometimes two beautiful special plants with strong attributes of their own shine out even more when joined together to produce a harmonious pairing, each enhancing the other. Here, I feature the combination of a Hebe “Red Edge” and a Prunus, P. “Kojo No Mai”. The blushing of the Hebe foliage is a perfect foil for the “washing powder white” of the Prunus’ petals.”
Moving on to look at some of our species tulips, I wrote, “The tiny flowers of our many species Tulips are now putting in an appearance, impressing with their delicacy and subtlety. The blooms open with the sun and close with its disappearance.”
Next we move on to my plant of the month for March. I wrote.
“My plant of the month for March is a Celandine called “Brazen Hussey”, a chance find by Christopher Lloyd discovered in a clump of our native Celandine in a lane near his home. Our native Celandine, Ranunculus ficaria brightens up our hedgerows with its deeply glossy foliage and yellow “Buttercup” flowers, while “Brazen Hussey” sports glossy purple-black foliage.
“We grow a small patch of our native Celandine but as it can become very invasive it has to be strictly controlled.”
“We grow several other Celandines too because they are such cheerful addictions to the Spring Garden, a white cultivar, Ranunculus fiscaria “Randall’s White …………….”
“….. a pale yellow flower against bronzed foliage ……”
“……. a Giant Celandine and a Green Celandine.”
On the next double page spread we look at our new summerhouse and a selection of special small flowers.
Concerning the summerhouse I wrote, “As we put the finishing touches to our new summerhouse birds are busy gathering nest materials, with many setting up home in the nestboxes we provide for them. The first of our summer migrants are back, the little warbler, the Chiffchaff with its distinctive and repetitive call and the Little Owl calling out in the evening like a yapping Jack Russell Terrier. As we work in the garden the larger of our birds of prey, Buzzards and Red Kites enjoy the thermals overhead, often stooping low over our heads. In contrast our smallest bird of prey, the diminutive Merlin rushes through the garden at head height or lower disturbing the resident Blackbirds.
On the opposite page I looked at those special little flowering plants that catch the gardener’s eye at this time of the gardening year. In other seasons when the garden is rich in flowers these special little gems may get overlooked in favour of the bigger, bolder and brighter cousins. I wrote, “At this time of year every small flower is extra special and deserving of our closest attention.”
“Hacquetia epipactus and Iris reticulata “George”
“Erysimum Red Jep”
The next turn of the page reveals a page about Primulas and the next about pollarding willows and dogwoods.
I wrote,”In February I wrote about the first of our native Primroses coming into flower, but in March they flourish along with their relatives.The pictures below show the diversity that we grow and enjoy.”
When I looked at pollarding and coppicing I wrote that, “The last week of March were mild and sometimes sunny so we took the opportunity to prune down our shrubs that we grow for their coloured stems, Cornus and Salix. We coppice some, pollard others.”
I continued to look at Salix and Cornus coloured stems on the last page of my entries for March, where I featured photographs of the bundles of cut stems.
So that was my garden journal for March. For the next month, April, we will see big changes as Spring becomes established.
We returned to the Dorothy Clive Garden late in March to see what the early spring month presented to us. Our first view across the garden showed little change in fact so we hoped for more signs of seasonal progress elsewhere throughout the garden.
Last time we visited there was a wildlife activity going on and once again we had timed our visit to coincide with a special event, a Rare Plant Fair.
As we made our way in search of our usual coffee and cake we passed the developing area we found on our last visit. The area had been further cleared and a perimeter wall rebuilt. Perhaps on our next visit we may be able to work out what is being constructed.
As we walked along the woodland path skirting around the top edge of the Dingle Garden we followed sinuous grass tracks through naturalised golden daffodils.
Dropping into the Dingle itself we discovered the blooms of Azaleas, Rhododendrons and Prunus in the shade beneath the tall evergreen trees.
Beneath the Rhododendron shrubs small blue flowered bulbous plants shone jewel-like on the dingle floor.
We were looking forward seeing the new Winter Garden again as we were so impressed with it on our last visit. Our first views encouraged us to look closer.
We enjoyed both the flowers and foliage of the new plantings. This area will be such a good winter garden in the years to come. We look forward to seeing it develop.
We emerged from the Winter Garden and wandered around the front of the tea shop to explore the sloping areas of the garden.
The Camellia Walk was at last showing lots more blooms but neither of us particularly like them. I include a couple of shots for those who do!
The views down to the pond through the scree area showed great variations in colour and texture but many of the shrubs still remained totally leafless.
Within the borders in the sloping part of the gardens there were points of colour from shrubs and herbaceous plants.
Among these plants we discovered promises of more to come. Perhaps when we next return these buds will be fully open leaves and flowers. We can’t wait to return!
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