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A Week in Cornwall – Part 4 – Heligan

The Lost Gardens of Heligan is one of the top garden attractions in the country as figures have shown. The gardens were discovered and unearthed by Tim Smitt when he explored the gardens which had been derelict since the end of World War I, when so many of the gardeners did not return. The gardens were totally overgrown, buildings derelict and glasshouses tumbling down, glass broken and wood rotting.

Smitt decided to resurrect them and opened the gardens to the public as a team of gardeners and archaeologists began work. They were called, romantically, The Lost Gardens of Heligan. We visited soon after it opened and really enjoyed its romantic atmosphere.

The restoration is now just about complete, so we looked forward to our return visit to see it in its new guise. We soon realised that we were in for a treat as soon as we entered the coffee shop for our usual boost of coffee and cakes before our wanderings. Old garden tools were beautifully framed and displayed on the walls and the building had a lovely old rustic feel about them.

 

As we left the cafe a fingerpost presented us with plenty of options. We were most interested in the productive walled garden with its glasshouses, coldframes, bothy and potting shed. So we made our way there passing interesting plantings along the way.

   

We entered the walled garden through a gateway and made our way towards apple arches forming a covered walkway, rich with fruit. Around all border edges fruit is trained to create living productive fences. Across the length of each garden patch vegetables, roots, beans and salads march in long strong rows as straight as can be.

    

The gardeners were busily strengthening the traditions laid down by their gardener predecessors. One gardener was spreading seaweed collected just hours before from the beach and driven back to the walled garden by tractor and trailer. Nearby potatoes were being harvested and boxed up in wooden trays in readiness for storage in dark sheds or cellars.

 

Flowers for cutting were blossoming in lines parallel to the veggies, zinnias, dahlias and antirrhinums.

 

Leaving the walled garden we moved into a smaller attached walled yard, where coldframes sat wide open for aeration.These sat happily alongside a collection of glasshouses. These glasshouses were the very ones we had seen years ago in a state of total dereliction. Now they stand proud and productive thanks to the skills of craftsmen utilising traditional craftsmanship and skills.

The walls were furnished with ancient trained fruit trees, apples, pears, peaches and plums.

    

Beyond the glasshouses the potting shed stood holding the memories of those gardeners lost in the first world war, terracotta pots filled each row of every rack where close by garden tools hung on whitewashed walls. We could feel a special atmosphere in this shed, full of the skills of gardeners past and present.

     

Leaving the potting shed we still had lots to see and plenty to explore. See my next post for Heligan Part 2, Beyond the Potting Shed.

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Our Short Break in Stratford -on-Avon – Part 3 – Anne Hathaway’s cottage and garden

Anne Hathaway was Shakepeare’s wife and her cottage and garden are probably one of the best known tourist destinations in England, so we were pleased to be visiting in mid-week when we hpoed it might be a little quieter. Luckily we arrived just ahead of a party of schoolgirls, excited, boisterous and noisy.

Visitors were allowed into the cottage in small groups each of which received an introductory talk from a knowledgeable guide. Her chat prepared us well for our visit. We had a wandewr around the cottage interior although really we wnated be outside exploring the cottage style garden.

This set of photos give you the sense of the cottage’s beauty, intimacy and atmosphere. Beautiful gable windows pierce the tiled roof while climbing and scented plants snuggle up to its walls. The gardens are both productive and ornamental, with vegetable patches, fruit production and orchards as well as meadows and mixed borders. A beautiful woven “moongate” adds interest alongside many other sculptural pieces.

  

To help share our experiences at the Anne Hathaway cottage and garden I will use a gallery of shots taken during our exploration of the cottage interior, the garden and the grounds further afield. Enjoy by clicking on the first photo then navigate with the arrows.

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Garden Revisiting Part One – The Garden in a Cider Orchard

We are so lucky to have so many great gardens that we can visit in a day from home. I thought a week of posts all about revisiting gardens would prepare us well for the warmer weather and get our creative gardening juices flowing again.

There are many in our home county Shropshire itself and we have easy access to Herefordshire and Powys where there are even more. Several of our favourite gardens we like to visit every year or so, so that we can see how they develop over time and change with the seasons. In this occasional series we shall do just that. I shall be featuring those gardens that we like to keep going back to.

For the first of these we travel down the trunk road southwards, the A49 which will take us through South Shropshire and into the Herefordshire border. It is just a few hundren yards from this road that we find the gardens of Stockton Bury which are described as the “Gardens in the Orchard”. The garden was born in 1900 and has never stopped developing. The present gardener, Raymond Treasure has developed it into rich tapestry of unusual trees, perennials and even a few follies, all wrapped around the old farm buildings.

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It is a garden with a surprise around every corner, and however many times you visit this still happens. A living garden!

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The mixed borders are rich in perennial plants that the wildlife enjoy.

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At any turn in the path you can find a surprise, brightly coloured planting, secret rooms, unusual plants you can’t name,

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Please enjoy this special place by browsing through my gallery of photos. There are probably too many but Stockton Bury is such a photogenic location it becomes hard to edit your shots.

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Our return visit to Stockton Bury was as special as the first we ever made, full of special plants, secrets and surprises and touches of humour.

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My Garden Journal 2018 – May

Here we are with the fifth visit to my garden journal for 2018, where I report on what is happening in our Avocet garden in Shropshire. Does it show that spring may eventually have arrived?

On my first page for May I wrote, “May began wet with continued patches of cold winds from the East. We continued to garden whenever the rain was not torrential but through it all the garden burgeoned. Fresh greens of every shade brightened our patch and contrasted beautifully with the colours of flowers.”

“The brightest leaves of all are those of ferns, hostas, Jacob’s Ladder and Euphorbia.”

  

Turning over the page I looked at a job that Ian our gardener completed in May, plus a look at our wildlife in the garden.

“We decided as the first week ended, to clear the greenhouse out and change two soil borders for gravel. Ian, our gardener did the hard work and enjoyed working under cover. The day he did there were intermittent heavy showers and periods of humid sunshine. His waterproof coat was constantly on and off, one minute hanging on his back, the next hanging on a hook in the greenhouse. The soil from the borders became a useful mulch material for nearby borders.”

 

“Ian cleared the soil away and put membrane down. We covered this in grit.”

“By the end of the first week of May temperatures soared and the rain faded away. Daytime temperatures doubled. The garden has filled with life and as flowers abound, bees, hoverflies and our first butterflies, Orange Tips and Brimstones take to the wing. We garden every day with the constant knocking sound as a Great Spotted Woodpecker bangs away at the finial on top of the wooden telegraph pole opposite our front garden. He hits his own notes!

A woodpecker family nests every year in the old Oak tree in the paddock behind our garden. During the winter several of them visit the feeding stations but once the female is laying and incubating the male makes more frequent visits to our garden feeding himself as well as his partner and the youngsters. 

There seem so few Swallows and House Martins wheeling around overhead this year, further signs of a terrible downward trend in population figures. Our Swifts have only just arrived back from their migration so we can look forward to a few months of their squeals overhead.”

Over the page I moved on to look at Dan Pearson’s thoughts on the sudden growth seen in May.

 

I wrote, “Reading Dan Pearson’s “Natural Selections”, I enjoyed his reference to the noticeably rapid growth in gardens in May.

“The growth is a remarkable thing during these weeks between spring and summer. If you could hear it there would be a tangible hum, made from a million buds breaking and stems flexing. The tide of green sweeps up and over bare earth, cloaking it as fast as the leaves fill out above us.”

For us May is also the month when the first of our visiting garden groups come to share our patch with us. They enjoy wandering around our many paths, taking photographs, asking questions and finishing with tea, coffee and Jude’s home baked cakes.”

I then move on to look at some of our flowering trees and shrubs that are features of our May garden, about which I wrote, “Flowering trees and shrubs add colour and often scent at a higher level than the spring bulbs and early perennials.”

Viburnum farreri

Weigela middendorfiana

  Cercis siliquastrum 

Eriostemon Flower Girl White

  Calycanthus floridus        Buddleia salvifolia

Over the page we look at our Japanese Garden and alpine plants. “We spent more time in mid-May working in the Japanese Garden, where a month ago we added a new step into the lower slope. We planted a miniature Rhododendron at each end of the step. These are now in full flower. Beneath our Prunus subhirtella autumnalis which we have pruned in a Japanese style, we have planted a group of “moss plants”. 

 

On the page opposite are photos of some of our alpines and I wrote, “May is the month when alpine Saxifrages peak.”

   

“Miniature alpine shrubs, Pinus mugo “Mumpitz” and an alpine Daphne.”

 “Alpine Silene”

Turning over the page we find the final double page spread, which featured the first Hemerocallis and the first of our roses to flower. On the opposite page blossom was the star.

“The end of May sees the first Hemerocallis coming into flower, and the first of our roses which is a very late start.”

  

On the final page of my journal for May I featured photos of the fruit blossom which was looking so good and promising a healthy harvest later in the year.

“Fruit blossom this May was the best we can ever remember with apples, pears and quince flowering heavily. We await a great fruit crop!

“Bunches of apples will need thinning out more than ever before!”

So that is the end of my May journal, finishing off on a positive note as the garden feels so full of life.

 

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A Walk in the Park – Attingham Park October

So here we are back with number ten in this series featuring our wanderings and discoveries as we walk around the pathways of our local National Trust property, Attingham Park. As intimated in my September “Walk in the Park” posting, Jude the Undergardener pushed me around in a wheelchair following my leg surgery so the photographs will be from an unusual viewpoint. But we did manage the walk to the walled garden and returned via the One Mile Walk.

We were surprised that autumn had not advanced as much as we had anticipated, with many trees still carrying their full contingent of leaves. The walled garden was still very colourful.

Fungi was still in evidence and fallen leaves looked less brightly coloured.

 

There were frequent signs of the destructive forces of the wind and the more controlled hand of the gardeners working on tree surgery tasks.

 

The gateway into the walled garden welcomed us into a colourful magical place.

We were really surprised and delighted to find this beautifully presented hand painted poster celebrating the wonder of the apples in the Attingham Park orchard.

Humour is an essential of a good garden but so often missing. Just look at what a gardener here has created to make the visitor smile.

We can complete our journey now by looking at the photos I took as we returned along the riverside path back to the stable block.

Next visit here will be in November – I have no idea if I will still be wheelchair bound by then or not. Fingers crossed!

 

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A Walk in the Park – Attingham Park in September 1

We returned for our monthly visit for a wander around the park at Attingham Park, the gardens, woodlands and walled garden. Here is my report on our visit in September. We made the visit early in the month as I was due to go into hospital for some pretty major surgery, a rebuild of my right leg to be precise, so we don’t know when the October visit may happen. You may get a series of photos taken from a new angle, from a wheelchair.

We arrived expecting to see early signs of autumn, such as some colouring up of leaves and looked forward to spotting some early fungi. As we followed the path surfaced with bark chip beneath the mature trees towards the destination, we noticed how autumn’s harvest of nuts had been blown down onto the path in front of us, acorns, Sweet Chestnuts, and Horse Chestnuts. Shrubs were putting on displays of rich shiny berries for us to enjoy looking at and for wildlife to cache away until winter digs in deeply or to enjoy a few now.

   

    

Autumn fruits were in abundance in the Walled Garden, fruit trees and bushes, some trained against the walls for extra warmth, were dripping with fruits awaiting harvest time.

We left the walled garden and followed the woodland walk trail, hoping to find some fungi and signs of foliage changing their colours. In part two I will share with you what we found.

 

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A Walk in the Park August- Attingham Park – Part 2

As promised, I now return to Attingham Park to look at the creative feature and the walled garden. I shall start with the “creative feature” we found and which fascinated us. In the children’s play field which adjoins the orchard we spotted a colourful feature at a distance which demanded a closer look.

 

Tall willow wands were attached to a wooden fence and they were decorated with coloured wall. Children had written their thoughts about Attingham Park on card labels and tied them to the uprights. We enjoyed reading them greatly.

   

We wandered through the orchard towards the Walled Garden and first off had a look around the bothy.

  

The vegetable and fruit crops were looking very fresh and healthy and the staff and volunteers were busy weeding and thinning out the rows of crops.

  

The most colourful crop of all though was the cut flower section where row upon row of flowers grown to display in the hall or for sale to visitors added stripes of colour to the walled garden.

 

Wandering through the gateway in the brick wall separating the two sections of the walled garden colour was everywhere we looked whatever direction we glanced in.

              

So the next visit we will be making for a wander around Attingham Park will be in October when Autumn will be making an appearance.

 

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A Walk in the Park – Attingham Park July

Here we are back at Attingham Park for another wander, this time to see what is going on in the walled garden and woodland pleasure gardens in July.

We arrived in the rain and carried on regardless. Foliage was glossy with moisture because of the steady drizzle, and large puddles had formed on the path.

 

The gardener’s cottage garden gave a little colourful cheer to the day, and water droplets hung on flowers and berries. The heritage rare breed cattle in the field at the start of the track ignored the drizzle and continued tearing at the grass heads down.

 

The walled garden gave protection and the day began to feel a little warmer as the rain stopped.

    

The beautiful, recently restored, vintage glasshouses are now becoming productive with melons, grapes, tomatoes, chillies and cucumbers.

   

We particularly liked the amazing textures of this melon and its subtle mix of greens.

 

As we entered the gardeners’ bothy we could instantly enjoy the fresh uplifting aroma of bunches of freshly picked lavender, and the sight of simple flower arrangements and freshly harvested lettuces.

   

After taking in the sights, scents and sounds offered by the walled garden we continued on our wanders, following the One Mile Walk trail.

 

Come with us as we take you along this track in a gallery of photos. As usual click on the first and navigate with the arrows. We will return for another wander in August.

 

 

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A Walk in the Park – Attingham Park May

Spring is slowly turning into summer as we enjoy our monthly visit to our local National Trust property, Attingham Park. The walks are getting busier, the volunteers in the walled garden even busier.

    

Continuing our through the woodland we were attracted to a bright patch of colour beneath the tall mature trees, which turned out to be a clutch of Rhododendrons.

This bright yellow variety, Rhododendron luteum was beautiful with the hints of salmon orange, had the added interest of a rich sweet scent, which could be appreciated from metres away.

Throughout the woodland we discovered signs of wildlife living there.

         

Wildflowers decorated the grassy patches beneath the trees and alongside the tracks.

   

I shall finish my report of our May visit to Attingham Park with a gallery for you to enjoy. Click on the first photo and navigate with the arrows.

 

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A Walk in the Park – Attingham Park March – The Walled Garden

I shall post two reports for our March visit to Attingham Park, the first about the Walled Garden followed by one about the walk we followed, the Woodland Walk.

We walked our usual track beneath tall mature deciduous trees to take us to the walled garden. We had a detour to look at the nut walk, lined with coppiced Hazel trees and to have a look at Attingham Park’s famous old bee “building”, the Georgian Bee House. It is a very decorative wooden construction painted white and featuring fancy trellis-work.

    

On route we discovered naturalised Daffodils and native Celandines glowing bright golden-yellow beneath magnificent mature trees. The lawns and borders of the gardener’s cottage looked neatly prepared to celebrate Spring. A Clematis alpina displayed deep purple buds fit to burst. Species Tulips were already in flower among emerging growth of herbaceous perennials.

    

Approaching the gateway into the walled garden we noticed colour on the trained fruit trees, the white and pinks of blossom.

  

Once we were within the walls we could appreciate the extra warmth and protection afforded by the tall red-bricked walls. Leaf buds were opening on fruit bushes and canes and perennial plants were emerging strongly now the soil had some warmth to it. Bulbs were already flowering and sharing perfume.

   

We were sure that the gardeners, who like to garden organically, were delighted at the sight of emerging Ladybirds.

We were so pleased to find the glasshouse doors open to allow us to wander inside to study their structure and mechanisms as well as allowing us to check what the gardeners were up to.

             

The informal decorative and cut flower borders surrounding the glasshouses were most colourful, with Primulas and bulbs taking full advantage of the extra degree or two of warmth afforded by the walls.

 

A quick look into the gardeners’ bothy showed us that lots of seed potatoes were chitting nicely and we noticed that the volunteer gardeners had plenty of jobs to challenge them.

When we return next month we look forward to seeing big changes in the productive borders.

When we left the bothy we continued to walk beneath tall trees along the way marked track taking us towards the start of the Woodland Walk. This walk will be the subject of the next March Attingham Park post.